The other day, I looked down on my way to the dog park and realized, Woah. I look like I live in Portland. Okay, I know this is a ridiculous sentiment, but for months, I felt like I was straddling L.A. and Oregon, not quite belonging in either. This isn't the first time I've transformed a few months into moving to a new city. Flashback to the peasant dress-wearing Angeleno, Kate Spade-toting New Yorker, boat shoe-repping Bostonian I've been in years (lives?) past, but this may be my favorite iteration of myself, as strange as that may sound.
Looking down, my Levi's are dirty from the dog park and paint. My garden shoes have become my everyday shoes—perfect for slipping on before paddle boarding, gardening, or walking Toast. I have dirt under my fingernails from planting tomatoes, and my arms are tan from biking. Maybe it's just the fact that it's summertime, but I've felt just lighter and happier and, finally, like I'm settling in. Here are a few things I loved this week:
TW: The show and this review mentions disordered eating and negative self-talk.
In spite of vows to change, Sheila Rubin (played by Rose Byrne) struggles to break her habit with disordered eating, as an '80s housewife in San Diego: Most days, she withdraws $50 from the bank, orders three burgers, large fries, and a chocolate shake, then goes to a motel to binge-eat it all. The language she uses to talk to herself and berate her body is jarringly cruel and pervasive. Something has to give, but she's stuck in this spiral of self-hate—until she attends an aerobics class, Body by Bunny (which definitely has some of the culty-following of a Soul Cycle or a Barry's, with leotards). For the first time in a long time, Sheila feels empowered—though the hatred she has for herself continues to seep out like poison, in how she treats and thinks about others. The show isn't as happy-go-lucky as I'd assumed it would be from the trailer. It's much darker, and Sheila's voiced-over thoughts are harsh to the point of it being difficult to watch (I strongly recommend avoiding this show if you've ever had a history with negative self-talk), but it's also addictive and smart. It's also piqued my interest in watching, “On Becoming a God in Central Florida," which I've heard takes place in a similar '80s universe.
Our wonderful contributor and my excellent care package-giver, Thao Thai, sent Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai's The Mountains Sing, to me back in the fall and it was every bit as beautiful as I'd expect a book recommended by Thao to be. The novel is told from the alternating perspectives of a grandmother and granddaughter, during the Vietnam War and the Land Reform the preceded it, when the Communist government killed many landowners and reallocated their land to the working class. For much of the book, the granddaughter's, Huong's, mother is missing in battle, as she and her grandmother survive bombings in Hà Nội. The book is incredibly empathetic and strongly anti-war and anti-violence, as it lays out the cascades of destruction violence can have in just one family.
Last week, Jonah and I road-tripped to Lassen Volcanic National Park, and consumed many a podcast over the seven-hour drive there. Edith!, the first scripted podcast produced by Crooked Media, took us a bit to get into, but by the second episode we were both entrenched in the "true-ish" story of "America’s secret First Female President," Woodrow Wilson's wife, Edith Wilson, played by Rosamund Pike. Once you get used to the medium, you'll love D'Arcy Carden as Eleanor "Nel" Wilson Mcadoo, and Esther Povitsky is hilarious as the ditzy Trudie Grayson.
1. This new book about Everest sounds interesting, and this review of it had an Orwell quote that made me think of Emily and all you true crime fans, “Your pipe is drawing sweetly, the sofa cushions are soft underneath you, the fire is well alight, the air is warm and stagnant. In these blissful circumstances, what is it that you want to read about? Naturally, about a murder."