Over the past six months, Jonah and I have regularly gone weeks at a time without stepping out of our apartment, without so much as feeling the sun (which, as an extroverted, outdoorsy person, has been difficult to say the least). But as we head into fall, we've started to make small, but still safe, adjustments for the sake of our mental health: We've started playing Gin Rummy on the grass at a nearby park most nights before dinner, we've formed a "quarantine pod" with my brother and two friends, and I've been volunteering once a week at Baby2Baby (they are so good about safety if you want to volunteer too!). Over the weekend, we even ventured to Santa Barbara to visit our favorite bakery and grab oysters on the beach (while taking all of the precautions).
The difference has been dramatic—I would compare it to clouds parting—but it still feels strange. I don't think I'm alone when I say that there's a constant tug between "Is this safe?" and "Is it worth it for my mental health?" especially when the cost of being anything but careful is far too high. And, as someone with a platform, I have the added responsibility of influencing safe behavior. I go back and forth about ten times a day between, "Surely I can go to an outdoor yoga class with a mask when gyms are opening in New York," and "The only safe option is to stay home until a vaccine is announced." By the way, I found this article on "trade-offs" to be helpful, in terms of qualifying risk.
I know writing about this will open myself up to criticism in the comments (I have days when I would criticize myself for doing anything that isn't staying home!), but I also think it's important to be honest about where I'm at as we head into Month Six of quarantine. Anyway! How are you doing? Here are a few things I loved recently:
In Amy Schumer's three-part HBO documentary, Expecting Amy, the comedian invites you to follow along some of her most vulnerable moments in her complicated pregnancy. In it, she jokes about the women who weren't "honest" about their own pregnancies, as she suffers from hyperemesis gravidarum—a condition that causes nausea and vomiting severe enough to land her in the hospital more than once. It's enough to make a gal never want to have a baby at the exact same time it illustrates the lengths some women have to go if they're fortunate enough to conceive. However it lands for you on the procreation front, it's a rare, often hilarious, glimpse behind the curtain of celebrity and into a marriage.
Did you read the latest issue of Vanity Fair? I picked my subscription back up after seeing that September's issue was edited by Ta-Nehisi Coates—and the moving cover featuring Breonna Taylor, painted by Amy Sherald. The entire issue is worth reading, but a few stories specifically grabbed my attention, like novelist Jesmyn Ward's account of losing her husband to the coronavirus in January while people were still mocking the virus, Ava Duvernay's interview of Angela Davis, and this short piece that was enough to inspire me to watch film critic Jacqueline Stewart's new introduction to the movie ripe with racial stereotypes, Gone with the Wind, on HBO.
It's been a while since I shared a playlist, and because all I've been listening to lately is my Summer 2020 playlist, I figured I'd drop it here before I start on fall's. This playlist criss-crosses all over genres and doesn't feature exclusively new songs (many are songs I rediscovered this summer), but I hope it includes some new-to-you artists! A few I've been really loving off the playlist: Sienna Liggins, KAMAUU, this Ashe song, and Jensen McRae. It also has some really great covers like this, this, and this.
Since studying French in college, my grasp on the language has done a pretty significant nosedive, which is why I was so excited to come across the Chrome add-on, "Fluent." It's so simple, but so smart: It automatically changes a few words on a page to French, depending on your level, and they're adding more languages soon—though Toucan is a similar extension that offers a few more language options! This far-too-wordy List would be the perfect thing to try it on. 😉
Mike Birbiglia's new podcast, "Working It Out" is a little like Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee except a bit less PC and a whole lot more outrageous. After his first episode with Ira Glass (the most pretentious person I still adore), he invites comedians on to try out fresh material. There are flops, but many more laughs. Listen here!
And if you have no idea who Mike Birbiglia is, I highly recommend you start with this This American Life episode, then watch his Netflix special The New One, and his very sweet movie about improv, Don't Think Twice.
P.S. I also started listening to "Nice White Parents" per Jess's recommendation and I'm so glad I did. On another note, Ellen Pompeo's interview on Dax Shepherd's podcast "Armchair Expert" was surprisingly brilliant (I particularly enjoyed their commentary on cancel culture, which "The Daily" just did a great two-part series on).
P.P.S. I'll be back with more book recommendations soon! I like to read a few for every one I recommend, but it took me a short eternity to finish Paul Auster's 4 3 2 1 (which is great, just long!). I've been meaning to pick up Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson and literally everything Kelly recommended here...
1. This made me laugh!
3. Heard about this "breakup bootcamp" through a friend of a friend—wish I had access to this when I needed it, so passing it along! (On that note, this is my tried-and-true breakup playlist with no sad songs in sight.)
4. How to stay focused on sustainability during this pandemic.
5. A strange, but clever online zine about ~*vibes~*.
6. Hot take: What you lose when you gain a spouse.
7. Our contributor, Jazmine Reed-Clark, just launched a podcast! Listen here.
8. Peloton just launched a new bike and made their "original" a little more affordable!