Hi, friends! I sure hope y’all are hanging in there.
Here we are, already in September, and our world has changed in ways not many of us (even those of us with very willing suspensions of disbelief) could have imagined. I don’t know about you, but I’m doing my best to stay open, and curious, and kind–and heaven help us, to remain hopeful. Some days I’m like a concave, curved line on one of those math graphs: sinking. Others, I manage an upswing. I figure: one foot in front of the other. (I know, I’m mixing metaphors. This is life in 2020.)
Here are three things I’ve been into lately. They are a piece of writing, a podcast, and a TV show which has struck me in some way, whether by its beauty or agony, its hard truths or easy delights.
1. Jesmyn Ward’s recent essay in Vanity Fair: “On Witness and Respair: A Personal Tragedy Followed by Pandemic”
I don’t have the capacity to describe the power of Ward’s story, her courage and sheer mastery in the telling. You really have to read it for yourself. If you read one thing this week, read this.
2. Hope Through History, a new podcast narrated by historian Jon Meacham. I’m a history buff, and right now, I need history more than ever–as a reminder of what is possible, and also what is imperative. The first episode discusses another challenging time in American history–the Great Depression–and how the people, and a president, rose to the occasion.
3. Sleep has not come easy since the Covid-19 pandemic really began back in March. I’ve tried everything: meditation, diurnal sleep sounds and music, no screens, legal CBD oil (which has been helpful in other ways; more on that later), Benadryl, and prayer. Nothing has worked well, except for listening to audio books as I fall asleep.
Books rarely put me to sleep when I read at night. In fact, reading at night is one of my favorite daily habits–it’s something I do no matter the time I finally am able to climb into bed. But for some reason, when I listen to an audiobook, no matter the audiobook, I drift off. Lately, I’ve been rereading one of my favorite series of all time: Louise Penny’s novels set in the Canadian town of Three Pines, starring the cerebral, brave, and kind Chief Inspector Gamache. The novels are layered with themes, details, and startling craft (I’m in awe of Penny’s powers as a writer). Start with Still Life, the first in the series. I own many of Penny’s novels, so I’m listening via my Libby app through my county library. The audiobooks are narrated by the late, wonderful Ralph Cosham, who won an Audie Award for his narration of Penny’s series.
4. What to watch? I know there’s a complicated psychological reason why the more options we have, the more difficult it is to choose. But I waste precious time scrolling through the choices of what to watch on television (and arguing with my husband about who gets to pick) most nights. On a whim, I started watching Riverdale on Netflix. It made me remember being a teenager and then college student during the days of 90210, Dawson’s Creek, and Felicity. The Gothic-camp combo, plus the old Archie-Jughead comic inspirations, plus the late and lovely Luke Perry, plus the sheer ridiculous teen-angst-drama of it all, are a 100% escape from reality. And I’m in.
What are y’all reading, watching, and listening to these days? I’d love your suggestions!