December 11, 2020

Pretend the extremely pixelated quality of this photo is ~artsy film grain~

Hi again, she says sheepishly. I feel like I’m starting an entry in a long-neglected diary, and feel like I need to explain that “things have just gotten so busy,” or “there hasn’t been that much to write about.” The truth is closer to, “I’m so tired of writing about 2020, and each week it gets easier to Not Write.” But I started this project to hold myself accountable to the things I read and having coherent opinions on them, so I’m back to give it the ole college try!

  1. Will Anyone Ever Love Me?, ¡Hola Papi! I read this weeks ago and it’s compassionate and sweet. “Yes, UL, like you, I am lonely. The loneliness is a reliable ache that at times asserts itself into full-blown torture, depending on the day. The balm is elusive, and I would give it to you if I could. But what I can give you, and I hope it will be enough for now, is what I feel you’re looking for in your letter. I can give you understanding, I can believe you. I’ve heard the same things you have. It can be incredibly unsatisfying, depressing, even, to feel like your reality is being dismissed, even if the heart is in the right place. But I’m here too, aching and wanting and hoping and making peace with things, and you know what, UL? I think most people are. I think most people are lonely, even people who are in relationships, even people who have been married for most of their lives. I think loneliness is part of the human condition. […] Love, wherever we can find it and whatever form it takes, can at times be so close to our faces we don’t even see it. Romantic love isn’t the only or most important kind, and if you have some love in your life, I would encourage you, UL, to meet it happily and let it be enough for a while.”
  2. Dear Fuck-Up: Why Won’t My Friend Text Me Back?, Jezebel. Another advice column I’ve been sitting on for weeks, but still feels relevant. “Covid has obviously eroded or destroyed countless things in all our lives including, for me and perhaps for your friend as well, the ease with which we maintain a lot of our relationships. That vast array of people you talk to somewhat frequently but not every day, the people you have dinner with every few months, the people you would see but not stay with if you are visiting their city. All of those relationships that add immeasurable texture to a life and are predicated on the simple joy of catching up. The problem, for me, is that it feels like there is simply nothing to catch these people up on anymore. Too many things are happening but also nothing much is happening at all, and I find I have nothing particularly interesting to say about it. Life is dull and that has in turn made me a dullard. Even the things that qualify as events don’t feel like enough to sustain any real contemplation. How have I been? Well, I moved to a new city, and now I’m in a new place doing the same things as before, mainly dishes and fretting.”
  3. Deconstructing The Instagram Aesthetic, Ssense. This piece is about antiracist IG accounts that create slideshows for stories on police abolition and other social justice topics, and about how (despite the potential for misinformation/oversimplification) co-opting the IG aesthetic for radical politics is a pretty effective design strategy. “As I meditate on the efficacy and purpose of these slides, I start to see all this DIY design and education as a visible fight between the application design of Instagram and a wing of radical users.” The essay ends with some hope too, which I’m thirsting for: “We lack the resources of the truly powerful, so we must attack with a tiny thousand cuts. Dismantling the mythos of capitalist design is one cut. Combating propaganda in every form with our own is another. When I see young people and organizers galvanized by this movement creating a message of their own design, I see a tiny blade, in sync with many others.”
  4. Are COVID-19 Bubbles a Good Idea?, The Atlantic. My takeaway from this article is to keep my pod small (tiny!) and closed, and to have regular conversations with pod-members about risk and exposure. This was compassionate: “None of us should be shamed for relying on people we don’t live with, or for wanting to maintain our emotional health. We need one another. But we also need one another to exercise caution and restraint so that thousands more will not die in the name of preserving the nation’s social well-being.” 
  5. Shit, Actually: The Definitive, 100% Objective Guide to Modern Cinema, Lindy West. Very few comedy writers make me LOL IRL, but Lindy has my number. I’ve been cackling into the pages of this book all week. She recaps familiar movies (Forrest Gump, Love Actually, The Fugitive, Rush Hour, to name a few) and there’s a transgressive pleasure about being like “Hey, this movie everyone loves is ‘shit, actually.’” She has perfected the balance between feminist killjoy and lover of human absurdity, and I highly recommend this read for a wholesome belly laugh!

Donation Station:

  • The Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs – Normally around this time of year, David and I have gone to the Weinberg to see It’s a Wonderful Life, which fundraises for the Religious Coalition. Obviously we’re not doing that this year, so I’m donating $10 toward the Coalition to assist with families experiencing homelessness and other effects of poverty. (They have a minimum donation about of $10, but if 9 other readers pitch in, our donation will help keep utilities on for one family ♥)

Bonus features: