Reading List: Stand In Your Truth, Especially If The Truth Is This Is Really Freaking Hard Right Now, And We’re All Doing Our Best.
Lovelies! It’s Friday! And even though that means that we’ve got another weekend at home, I am so looking forward to closing my work laptop and scheduling out some chores, like cleaning my bathroom and re-reading Station Eleven, because I choose to immerse myself in a fictional pandemic dystopia over the one we’re currently living in.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had to be acutely aware of my own habits during this time. As a person prone to addictive behaviors, I often use external substances and activities to salve my anxious brain, which is a fair thing to do right now, because there’s a metric heck tonne of things to be constantly anxious about! But while I am proud to say that I remain steadfastly booze-free in an international crisis that may drive many to drink, I do know that part of me would rather scroll on instagram stories for a half an hour than actually look my fear of the unknown in it’s stupid face. These are scary times, and I will admit I am someone who kinda wishes I could sleep through this a la My Year of Rest and Relaxation and wake up on the other side, so I catch myself caught in the cheap dopamine feedback loops of social media scrolling and binge watching Criminal Minds. Which, again, better than drinking, but I’m grateful to be self aware enough to know that consuming content into oblivion isn’t a healthy way to counter the loneliness and existential angst that accompanies our current predicament.
So my goals for this weekend are not to necessarily force myself to be productive, but instead be mindful of the choices I am making. That thirty minutes mainlining Tik Tok could be spent learning a new song on the guitar, or baking bread, or FaceTiming my friends, or journaling, or doing yoga, or meditating, or many other things that calm my brain but are also a conscious choice I make to do. And heck, I might choose to binge watch Criminal Minds or scrolling Tik Tok (read: I will probably choose to binge watch Criminal Minds and scroll Tik Tok at some point) but I won’t also have that nagging feeling I’m somehow “failing isolation” by not being super productive and channeling my quarantine anxiety into writing King Lear or something.
And hey you parents out there cooped up with your kids at home, I know you’re reading the above and cursing me for getting to make these decisions like the privileged singleton I am, so if you need me to get on FaceTime with your children so that you can take a moment, I’m willing to do that. I’m excellent at silly faces and talking about farm animals.
Anyhoo, we’ve got stuff to read! So let’s get to it…
Scott Berinato, That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief (Harvard Business Review) - I don’t know if I already shared this (quaran-time got me reading in circles) but it’s filled with helpful tips on how to DEAL with said grief.
Nisha Chittal, Quarantine cooking is about more than just feeding yourself (The Goods by Vox) - Yes, I am one of those who’s rediscovered the joys of no-knead bread during this time—if you haven’t tried that recipe and you still have access to flour, I highly encourage you to try it this weekend!—and I love that other folks are also back in the kitchen. And Chittal’s reason for cooking is the same as mine: “If I don’t pay close attention to what I’m doing, I’ll get the proportion of ingredients wrong for the dough or burn the meat. Cooking forces me to focus on the task at hand instead of watching cable news or scrolling through the infinite loop of increasingly horrifying updates on Twitter.” So here’s to us cookers and bakers and crafters during this difficult time (oooh, maybe I should start brewing Kombucha again…?)
Lauren Bans, Eating for Two (The Cut) - Infidelity is devastating. It cripples the cheated-on partner with guilt and anger and fear and constant self-reflective questions of “what did I do to make them do this?” And once the truth comes out, one looks back and sees all the patterns and clues that seemed innocuous at the time. And I can’t imagine how much more profound that despair would be if you found out about it whilst 7 months pregnant with your partner’s child. This piece reflecting on the end of a relationship, and how food plays a role in partnerships when they are going well AND going down in flames gave me my first cathartic cry in weeks. It’s beautiful and so so so sad.
Alexandra Schwartz, Now Is the Time to Cultivate the Art of Sitzfleisch (The New Yorker) - I haven’t read this yet, but my aunt and Friend of the Missive Louise has been sending me helpful pieces on using this period of involuntary isolation to meditate and sit with oneself. Which, of course, this anxious extrovert finds very difficult.
We can do this. I believe in you. Be kind to yourself.