This summer is all about the ultimate socially distanced getaway: Camping. After backpacking in Sequoia over the Fourth, I'm making it a goal to camp every single weekend this summer—with safety precautions, of course (like filling up with gas near my apartment, so I can head straight to my outdoor destination and back without human contact). Although many campgrounds in California are filled-up, I've had good luck finding spots on HipCamp and backpacking to areas that allow dispersed camping. The efforts have yielded practically magical results, like walking down a freshly fallen Sequoia and stargazing under desert skies. Not only that, but it's helped me relish in the time that I have at home each week, which once felt endless. Here's to enjoying summer in a safe and distanced way! And with that, here are a few things I loved from the past week:
Trigger warning: Two recommendations below (#1 and #3) contain information about sexual assault (but do not contain graphic descriptions) and may be disturbing for survivors.
The headlines about Michaela Coel's new HBO show, "I May Destroy You" praised it highly as "the most sublimely unsettling show," "unforgettable, unmissable," and "the best drama of the year" so I expected to be hooked from the first episode. Instead, when the first episode ended, I felt conflicted, but intrigued enough to watch a second... and then a third, which is when all of the reviews clicked into place for me—it is truly unforgettable, but also stunningly real. In it, Arabella (played by Coel, who wrote 191 drafts of the show) suspects she's the victim of a sexual assault she can barely remember, despite having "just one drink." The series compassionately follows her—the victim of drugging and assault—as she pieces together the blurry events from that night through horrible flashbacks (this show may be difficult to watch for some). At the same time, the narrative includes a sweeping look at sex, dating, relationships, and technology. The series is still airing in the States on HBO every Monday, but UK viewers will be able to see the finale tomorrow night on BBC. In the meantime, I highly suggest you read this fantastic interview with Coel in New York Magazine.
Leigh Stein's new novel Self Care will appeal to anyone who lived in L.A. during 2016, has watched the The Bachelor avidly enough to follow the contestants on Instagram, visited Moon Juice, or has ever followed a fitness influencer who made crop tops feel like a state of mind. Stein's satirical take on the wellness industry deals with some serious themes, but can at times be hilarious and eerily spot-on. In it, Devin ("If her body appeared beside a headline about how this woman gets it done, you'd click.") runs a company that feels like the lovechild of The Wing, Glossier, and The Everygirl, an "inclusive community platform for women to cultivate the practice of self-care." But, surprise! The crop tops, almond milk lattes, and detoxes are a thin veneer for the real problems with this girl boss's life and company.
L.A.-based artist Jensen McRae is about to explode (or, at the very least, become one of your new favorites). Although she has only three songs on Spotify, I spent an entire day listening to her last week. Her voice is hypnotizing and her lyrics are stunning. I got chills the first time I listened to the chorus of "Wolves," which is a moving narrative about sexual assault that felt hauntingly recognizable: "Now I bury my smile and show no interest / Now I carry myself a little different / Now I avoid the woods, now I know the wolves." Listen to her here, and read her interview on how she wrote the song "White Boy" to process her emotions about racism.
3. Looks like HBO will be turning Brit Bennett's The Vanishing Half into a show!
4. These black bear cubs wrestling at Big Bend National Park remind me of human siblings—so sweet!
6. The Dalai Lama has a YouTube channel with mantras set to music.
7. These kitchen "before and afters" were so satisfying to look at.
8. Very intrigued by this beautiful grill (you know, if I had an outdoor space to put it in! But still!)
9. Like a Chia Pet, for grownups!