Hey, team. What's up?
I'd been desperately attached to the hope that this summer would be about traveling to see friends and family, meeting and dating new people, and enjoying big dance parties and concerts again. But there's a lot more going on, even before you factor in the rise of the Delta variant. My therapist reminded me that I still have to, you know, process the grief and trauma of the last year, "and maybe that's just gonna be hard and you can't party your way through it."
I have had some good times this summer, but it's also been really, really stressful in so many different ways. The fast pace of my job got even more intense, and it was taking an enormous toll on my mental health. I quit, but now I'll need to find a new way to make money. My roommate is moving out of state and I can't renew the lease on my current apartment, so I've had to find a new place to live and someone to live with. Both are still TBD at this point, but I'm following every lead I have and making some progress. My annual "reverse seasonal affective disorder" has shown up this month (yes, some of us get it in the summer!). But even when I'm not actively in a depressive episode, it still does feel so much harder to write. It's not quite a "brain fog," like the actual medical side effect I experienced for real with my vaccine doses, but just a general dulling of my creative capacities. I keep thinking of a video about the impact of chronic stress on your brain that my therapist had shared with me last year when I complained abut this.
I haven't had a chance to really, truly take a break from that chronic stress. Since March 2020, my life has consisted of quarantine, protesting, the election, the death of my most beloved family member, two months of constant travel and work while we cleaned out his house, getting a new job during that period, starting the new job, the coup, a hostile situation with a former roommate that resulted in me living on my friends' couch for all of February, ever-increasing responsibilities and expectations at my new job until I hit my breaking point in June, a month of wrapping up every loose end in my role at that job after I quit, and now dealing with S.A.D. while searching for a new roommate, apartment, and job.
All of this is a really roundabout way of saying that I'm going to take a short break from the newsletter. I'm going to spend September getting settled in my new living situation, finding a new job, and seeing friends and family on a trip home to North Carolina for a friend's wedding. I'm hoping that it will make my life a bit more manageable while I work on those goals, but more importantly, I'm hoping that it will feel restorative and boost my creativity and overall brain function.
I can pause payments for a month, so paying subscribers won't be charged for September. I'm not ruling out the possibility that I might pop up sometime during the month if I think of an essay that I'd love to write, but I definitely want to take a break from the pressure of my regular publishing schedule. Hopefully I'll come back better than ever.
Okay! Now that that's out of the way, back to my regular publishing schedule! Starting with recs!
I must insist you watch this
When I was in college, a cinephile friend kept threatening to force me to watch Broadcast News until one day when he finally pulled it off, bringing a copy of the DVD to my dorm room for a movie night. And you know what? He was right to do it! I think that everyone who likes good movies should be trapped in a room with someone forcing them to watch Broadcast News. It's a brilliant, borderline perfect film.
It's streaming now on HBO Max, so I pulled this maneuver off recently. I was hanging out with my brother and he said "I feel like watching a good movie" and I simply pulled up Broadcast News and pressed play before he could question it or protest. I just said "You are going to watch this" and we did and spent at least two hours afterward discussing it because it is just unbelievably good!!
I feel like this movie has disappeared from the cultural conversation for some reason, and I have no idea why. It should have as least as much recognition as something like The Birdcage, another delightful, touching comedy that would never get made today. The script, by Mary Tyler Moore and Simpsons co-creator James L. Brooks, is so tight and rich and fascinating, and the performances are masterful. Please watch Broadcast News and then trap others in your life in situations where they have to watch it.
A jaw-dropping exposé
Ashley Feinberg is probably our best Internet investigator, like the Ronan Farrow of finding politicians' Finstas. I always thought she'd find the Pee Tape. Her latest weird research project is this damning compilation of all of Lena Dunham's abandoned or killed pets. (It is not nearly as sad as it sounds and contains some truly baffling details.) My thoughts on Lena are on record, and this all tracks to me.
Okay other stuff
- Stephen Hillenburg's lovingly assembled SpongeBob pitch bible is a joy to read (and also oddly deep? I've never thought of SpongeBob, here still called "Sponge Boy," as a tragic figure, but the descriptions of the pathos necessary to his character do track with classic episodes!)
- This TikTok feels like peak Vine
- My friend Lexie sent me this essay, "If you can't take in anymore, there's a reason," by Nadia Bowlz-Weber, and I will be thinking of its switch breaker metaphor forever
- There is SO MUCH GOING ON in "Hot or Not," an essay by Elizabeth Barber that begins with a description of her grandfather's erotic novel. (Note that there is one oblique reference to self-harm and the essay is generally about body image with references to diet culture.)
I'll see you again later this week and then next Monday too! Bye till then!