Times formerly referred to as "unprecedented"
Extraordinary Times I had thought I wanted to live during an important age an era that would be remembered by future generations But here I am in an historical moment that will not end here and muddling through alive but not truly living Living through history it turns out is more heels reddened from splintered window glass and less prismatic rainbows in slanted light I had thought I wanted to be extraordinary in an extraordinary time turns out I will gladly settle for extraordinary in ordinary times
Why I Didn’t Read This Poem To You: Because I have a bad cold and I sound like someone trying to communicate through a snorkel. Please know that when I read this one, I do it slowly. Hence all those big big spaces. Slow and heavy.
What I’m Reading:
1. Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead—in honor of the first-ever Katz/Mardis women family book club, meeting date TBD. (Mom, when are we meeting again?) I only just started this but I have been reading Colson Whitehead since high school (shoutout to Mr. Blum who had us reading The Intuitionist before anyone was giving Colson prizes), and he does not disappoint.
2. The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki—I just started this even though I should be focusing on Harlem Shuffle. Ruth is a teacher and a Zen priest, as well as a writer, so, that’s badass. This book is about a kid who loses his dad and starts hearing voices coming from inanimate objects. I haven’t gotten deep into it yet but I like it so far and when I told my 4-year-old the premise he was VERY intrigued and then we talked for a while about what a table would say if it could talk, what a couch would say, and then, inevitably, what a butt would say. (“Stop sitting on me!” “I’m cute and smushy!” “Watch out, poop comin’ through!!”)
3. Alison Roman’s Nothing Fancy and Dining In—I have made exactly one of this human’s recipes and it is a yellow pot of chickpeas and I do enjoy it. I think her cookbooks look like 60s and 70s cookware got wasted and invited tinned fish and sexy splatters over to eat and maybe bang later. (I’m into it.) What I find most interesting about Alison Roman is that she is not particularly intelligent. I have read her interviews and heard her on podcasts and she does not say anything wise or memorable, in fact, she is often flippant and inane. (See also: she got fully canceled.) Her copy says things like, “If steamed artichokes are perfection, grilled artichokes are perfection 2.0” and “Why Are You Always Asking Me To Toast My Nuts?” But since I am not asking her to discuss Maggie Nelson’s newest with me or speak eloquently about diasporas—in fact, all I want is for her to teach me how to make my carrots look so g-d damn saucy—I am perfectly pleased by her quippy little tidbits. The end.
What I Just Read:
1. Sitting Pretty: The View From My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body by Rebeka Taussig—I really truly enjoyed this and devoured it in two days, and…I don’t want to say “this should be required reading for everyone”….becasue that is a tired phrase and sounds righteous…but…that’s what I want to say! I gained a lot of insight from Rebekah’s book and felt like my heart was widened and bruised and healed and widened again. Rebekah is an awesome human woman in a wheelchair with a PhD, a job as a teacher, a partner, and a baby. This book made me angry because her life, which should just be boring (a straight white woman! getting advanced degrees! finding love! living in an old house!), is riveting, due to all the ways that being disabled in this country is mind-boggling, expensive, tenuous, and dehumanizing. (Reminder: boredom is a privilege.) Am I making this book seem heavy? It’s not! Rebekah is fun and weird in about as many ways as we all are. I am glad that she wrote this book but also wish she didn’t have to—I wish that we as a culture were farther along in our understanding of disability, as opposed to ignoring it/finding it a drag/just wishing miracle cures upon people. Rebekah does not need saving but she could use a lot more support. I hope someone Venmos her $500 and she buys herself mail-order top-shelf gin. (Also, her Instagram is great and I cannot get enough of her cute chubby baby.)
2. The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel—I don’t know how she does it, but Alison takes these heavy, HUGE topics, (like DEATH and THE MOTHER and WHY ARE WE HERE) and then goes deep into them, quoting writers and thinkers and philosophers—and it is still really funny and brightening and life-giving. Some might say it’s the fact that she’s drawing comics that makes it so, but I think that’s only partly the case. I love Alison Bechdel because her brain works a little bit like mine, or perhaps, how I’d like my brain to work—blending what is happening in her own life with what has happened to other writers and thinkers she admires. (Although, to be honest, I am pretty bad at remembering which philosopher said what, and tend to instead remember the feeling I got when reading something. But this is not about me [or is it? I mean, this is my newsletter ]—this is about Alison Bechdel’s new book, which is technically about her lifelong journey of doing different types of exercise, though it ends up being about lots of other things as well.) xo.
Postscripts & Shoutouts
I just want to give a big, friendly “fuck you!” to January 2022. January 2022, you know who you are, and you know what you’ve done, and you will not be forgiven, not now, not ever.
Shoutout to citrus season.
Have you noticed I am referring to authors by their first name? This is not standard practice. But hey, we’re all friends here. Even the authors I’m mentioning who are technicaly strangers are friends here.
OK LOVE YOU BYE,
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