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A Beautiful Movie About Grief and the Perfect 'Insomnia Book'

All hail Queen Amanda Gorman.

While most of my friends have already been blessed with quarantine birthdays, it took a while to reach Jonah's and mine, which both fall before March. On Friday, we celebrated Jonah's with pizza from Lovely's 50/50 (a Portland favorite, now available for takeout via Instagram), a movie at home, and the chocolate cake Jess recommended last week! As fans of quiet birthdays (I'm pretty sure last year looked similar), the only difference was the lack of options: Even if he wanted to, we couldn't go out to eat, grab drinks with friends, or go to a theater for the movie. In a way, it was also freeing to have the decision made for us to stay home, and enjoy a quiet, celebratory evening. It also made me curious—how have you been celebrating quarantine birthdays? Here are a few things I loved this week:


[Trigger warning: This film and review discuss stillbirth.]

'Pieces of a Woman' begins in a nadir, with a 30-minute home birth scene that happens in real time and results in the baby's stillbirth. But most of the movie is about what happens after: In her grief, the mother Martha is left with an immense amount of guilt (she feels she contributed to the baby's death by choosing to give birth at home, rather than a hospital), a fractured marriage, and a legal battle with the midwife. It's beautifully shot, raw, and incredibly moving. You can watch it now on Netflix.


I listened to the inauguration on NPR, which felt totally sufficient at the time (and by that I mean I happy-sobbed the entire way through), until I realized how many visual moments I'd missed—Kamala and Michelle's fist bump, Ella Emhoff's bedazzled coat, Dr. Jill Biden reaching to touch her husband's shoulders, and Amanda Gorman's hands floating in cadence with her poem 'The Hill We Climb.' Since that morning, I've experienced the poem in three different mediums—listening to it on the radio, watching the video, and reading it—and each time, experienced full body chills, and noticed different lines. If you haven't already heard it, I highly recommend you watch this video (and then watch it again). Until then, here's one of my favorite lines:

It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it.


The trick to an "insomnia book," my term for a book you read in the middle of the night when you can't sleep, is to find one that's effectively distracting but not so gripping that it keeps you awake. Over the past few months, I've been reading Michael Christie's Greenwood a few pages at a time between the hours of 2 AM and 5 AM—and it fits the bill perfectly. The cross-generational family drama weaves between the early 20th century to the near-future, telling the story of a Canadian logging family and the secret at the center of it. The book reads almost as a collection of short stories, diving into one character for a hundred pages, then skipping half a century into the future to follow another. These skips through time and place make it perfect for setting down for long stretches, should you be blessed with a few full nights of sleep.


When things are up in the air in my life, I find myself drawn to and comforted by simple recipes with minimal ingredients—this five-ingredient chickpea soup by Faryn Drue (you can follow her here!) being a recent stand out. It requires very little chopping (just the dill!) and once you've done that, all that's left to do is wait while it simmers. Though the recipe recommends blending with an immersion blender, I've tried it blended and as-is (as it's pictured in the recipe) and prefer to leave it chunky, and eat it with garlicky toast drizzled in olive oil. 


1. How "bad" is your Spotify? (This bot was not super kind about my Rachel Portman obsession, but made me laugh!)

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2. Considering this comfortable collar for Toast, from a Black-owned, women-owned brand! 

3. What even is fun anymore?

4. I'm really not sure how I feel about this...

5. Turns out Sharona (as in "My") is a real person. Here's what it's like to have a song named after you!

6. This graphic novel, set in 2119 Paris, looks beautiful!

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