If there's been one unifying theme that's emerged from the past three months of quarantine for me, it's been the opportunity to strip things down to bare bones and identify what really matters. I'm working on being more mindful about the content I read, watch, and listen to (it has to either educate me or add joy to my life), how I spend my time (less passive scrolling, more actions that directly benefit myself and/or others), and who I spend it with (even if over a video call).
On a more superficial level, I laughed out loud when I read the first line in this essay, where the author writes that this time has proven to him that he will, in fact, never read the "mind-bending clunkers on my bedside table." In other words, if I'm not using endless hours at home to read Anna Karenina, I will never read Anna Karenina (or get into a "dry brush routine" or use my "cookie shot" maker...). And there's something incredibly freeing in that realization. *Adds Tolstoy to 'Donate' pile after being guilt-tripped by the spine for years.* Over the past few months and weeks, I've been taking a closer look at a lot of physical and mental barriers, in a massive reshuffling of personal priorities, to make room for the more important ones—many of which will be reflected in this List. Here are just a few of the things I loved and found most impactful from the past week:
When cupcakes and cashmere reader and novelist Robyn Schneider reached out to me about her recently published queer #ownvoices novel, You Don't Live Here**, I asked if she could share her favorite novels by and about LGBTQ+ voices. Luckily, recommending books is her "super power," and Robyn, who identifies as bisexual like the narrator of her book, shared a list that includes "joyous romcoms, thoughtful coming-of-age stories, memoir, mystery, hilarity, tragedy, and heartbreak:"
Red, White, And Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Like A Love Story by Abdi Nazemian
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel**
Red At The Bone by Jacqueline Woodson*
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender*
When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri**
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong*
Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown
Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman**
**Books I've read and loved. *Books at the top of my "to read" list.
A few other novels with LGBTQ+ themes I also love: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (possibly my favorite book of all time), The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne, The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai, If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
In anticipation the virtual festival in July, Love As a Kind of Cure (which launched earlier this year with Rachel Cargle), founded by artists and writers Magogodi Makhene and Cleyvis Natera, has launched a 30 Day Anti-Racism Challenge on Instagram. Every day (starting here), they'll be posting an article to read, podcast to listen to, video to watch, or action to take. Because it all takes place on Instagram, it serves as a built-in reminder to pause from scrolling, exit the app and take action or educate yourself immediately.
For the past week, Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Patrisse Cullors-Brignac has been posting two to three minute Daily Digests that include international, national, and Los Angeles updates on BLM. Each episode distills information into quick takeaways, that end with a call to action, like reading Mariame Kaba's work on the prison industrial complex, and standing up for Black trans women by saying the names of and remembering Riah Milton and Dominique Fells. (Thank you to reader Courtney for bringing these videos to my attention!)
There are two types of unread books on my shelves: Those I'm not that excited about but will get around to someday, and those I know I'll love, so I end up "saving" them forever. Tayari Jones's An American Marriage falls into the latter category (kept company by The Nightingale). In it, Celestial and Roy have barely been married for a year when Roy is sentenced to 12 years for a crime they both know he didn't commit. Part of the beauty of the book is the way in which the story is told—first through letters, then in chapters that jump between each character's perspective. But what I know will stick with me is how it illustrates the damages inflicted by mass incarceration (more specifically, of Black men) on a personal level.
A few months ago, Jonah and I realized that we kept coming across the exact same film description—but on different films: Friends at a dinner party agree to place their phones face-up, and read aloud all incoming text messages, and answer calls on speaker. That's because the original 2016 Italian film, Perfetti Sconosciuti, has been remade a record-breaking 18 times! The two best-known are the Korean Intimate Strangers and the Mexican version I watched this weekend, Perfectos Desconocidos. Over the course of the meal, the friends's infidelities and secrets are revealed one by one as the evening devolves into total chaos. I'm already looking forward to watching other versions! And possibly playing the ill-advised game with my own friends?
Last week, Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham ("two culture writers for The New York Times") aired a special live episode of their podcast, Still Processing to discuss, as Wesley put it, the "racial reckoning" happening over the past several weeks. A theme I found impactful was one they discussed close to the end of the episode: the level at which this reckoning has taken place online and with brands, the distrust performative action can create, and the genuine change (not just "cosmetic change") that needs to take place. Watch the entire episode here!
It may smell and look like cat food, but I hopped on the canned salmon train a few weeks ago, and have no plans to de-board. When a farm box got miss-delivered last week, I grabbed a few cans from my pantry (I had plenty following the advice from this post) and threw them into a delicious, easy, and protein-packed sandwich. Here's how I make it:
1. Drain liquid from two 6-ounce cans wild-caught salmon. Use a fork to mix with one can of drained chickpeas.
2. Add mayonnaise to preference, then season with herbs (I prefer fresh chopped dill or basil), and salt and pepper.
3. Layer on toasted bread, with sliced tomatoes and lettuce if you have them on hand!
The mixture is enough for two large sandwiches, but also keeps in the fridge for 2-3 days, and can be used on top of salads as well!
1. A Black woman's take on "Home Sweet Home."
3. A fascinating catalogue of pitch decks used by successful brands.
6. "Explaining the pandemic to my past self, part 2."
7. Intrigued by this app!
8. Watch Dave Chappelle's Netflix special 8:46.
9. I'll be "going" to this NYT event with cookbook author Toni Tipton-Martin!
10. This Onion headline and accompanying article made me laugh this morning!