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Why We Swim and a Smart New Way to Stay on Top of Political Issues

Plus, inconsequential mysteries get solved.

Maybe this is true of all cold weather cities with brilliant springs, but Portland cast me under some sort of spell this week, when 70 degree days came out of nowhere. The best part has been starting and ending every day outside. On Wednesday, the first of a few warm days, Jonah and I kicked off our morning with a long loop in Forest Park, and ended it with a bike ride along cherry blossom-lined streets. I don't think I'd realized how cooped up I'd felt, but I'm planning on book-ending every day the same way for as long as this "fake spring" lasts (because locals have promised me, there's still more cold to come). I hope you're able to get outside, wherever you live. Here are a few other things I'm loving this week:


I've always been drawn to water, and can literally spend hours swimming in the ocean, so the title of Bonnie Tsui's book, Why We Swim, immediately grabbed me. Her book proceeds to explain the paradox that humans are born not knowing how to swim, but learn to swim for pleasure. Part human history, part memoir about her own career as a swimmer, I loved Tsui's exploration of cold water purges, underwater meditation, long-distance endeavors, and Japanese samurai swimmers. The paperback comes out later this month!


In "Mystery Show," Starlee Kine solves extremely low-stakes mysteries: Her friend's novel hasn't been selling well, but then Britney Spears appears to be holding it in a paparazzi shot. How did this book get into Britney's hands? In another episode, a friend of hers would like to know the provenance of a delightful found belt buckle, which features a piece of miniature toast that pops out of a toaster. Similar to "How To with John Wilson" on HBO (a show I love, but didn't recommend here for reasons that will be obvious to anyone who's made it to Episode 4), the joy of the podcast comes not from the mysteries but from Starlee's revelatory conversations with strangers. In one episode, she speaks to a customer service representative about the legacy his father left behind and to a bookseller about their dream of traveling to Ireland. I'm a bit late to the podcast, which came out in 2015, but highly recommend it as a delightfully curious pick-me-up. I only wish there were more than six episodes!

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Political Playlist is a new, non-partisan site that makes it easy to stay informed about young politicians in Congress, to understand how they're serving their representatives, and to hold them accountable for the duration of their potentially long careers ahead. After signing up, which takes about three minutes and addresses the issues and regions you care about most, they create a "Political playlist" for you that's a bi-weekly newsletter on young Congress members, under the age of 45, whose interests align with yours. Check it out here!


The new HBO series, "Made for Love" could easily be confused as a cheesy dating show—until you watch the first two episodes, which came out last week. In it, Cristin Milioti plays the brainwashed wife of Billy Magnussen, who has embedded a microchip in her brain that allows him to track her and know her every thought. In other words, he's the ultimate manipulative narcissist partner. When her request for a divorce doesn't go well, she has to literally dig her way out to escape him—while he can hear her thoughts. Watch it here.

2 copy-8

1. My coworker Lisa just highly recommended this book about the Donner Party. (I also realized I was losing track of my "to read" books, so created a list in Bookshop here if you want to follow along!).

2. Fellow classical music/soundtrack fans, I've been enjoying this re-release of Philip Glass's String Quartet No. 5.

3. I love, love Tagged Swimwear's latest launch, inspired by Italian ceramics designs. (You may remember I bought a bikini of theirs in August, that I'm still eagerly waiting for more opportunities to wear...)

4. Almost enough to convince me to get bangs...

5. Breathwork exercises for sleep.

6. If dropped into a neighborhood, could you guess how people there voted? (NYT)

7. I was in line at FedEx last week, and three people in line (who didn't know each other) were wearing On Running shoes, while a woman shipped what looked like PR packages of them. Am I the last person to learn about these shoes?? Is the downtown FedEx the secret headquarters? Can I get Starlee on this mystery?

8. A reader recommended Chloé Zhao's ("Nomadland") last film "The Rider" in our feedback form—will be watching this week. Thank you!

9. Curious about this new brand of mushroom tinctures (yes, the packaging won me over).

10. I found this Q&A about life post-vaccination to be incredibly helpful! (NYT)

11. Jonah would die of happiness if this happened to him.   

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