July 2020

July vibes, via Unsplash.

100ish words/intro

For a long time, these pandemic days felt like a desperate treading of water, and now perhaps some of us have caught onto some driftwood floating by. We’re not struggling in the same frantic way to catch our breath and keep our heads above water, but we are trying to save our energy, do as little as possible to avoid complicating things, and just wait. There’s still so many unknowns and we’re already so tired and just…floating in this open water, and the metaphor that public health officials are saying that more waves are coming so we’re still just continually bracing ourselves. That’s the mood I’m coming to you with. I hope you’ve found some driftwood that’s allowed you to catch your breath, and that the waves around you don’t crash as hard or come in as high as predictions say. 


On the work/novel front, this month has been about: Revisions. Though, I’m one of those weird writers who tends to like revising and editing, especially after I’ve had some time and distance from a draft, so overall it’s felt productive and promising. 

In random activities I’ve tried since quarantine started, allow me to introduce quilling. It’s been on my radar since I got a massive encyclopedia of crafts from a thrift shop a couple years ago. I recently found a mini quilling kit for kids on clearance, and I swooped in on it (via curbside pick-up), so now here we are. I’ve been into papercrafting since I was a kid, but my main jams were mostly cardmaking and paper flowers. It’s a bit too early to tell if I’ll stick with quilling–would describe what I’m doing as “dabbling”–but it’s nice to have something to do with my hands when my kids are on the floor doing crafts or playing on their own. 

Speaking of papercrafting, there is a 1:1 direct correlation between how productive my writing is going, and how invested I am in my paper planner. Like, when I’m in drafting mode for days or weeks at a time, my planner is little more than a checklist. And when I’m doing anything other than drafting (like right now) my planner becomes part scrapbook/part sketchbook/part treasure box. I’m pretty sure it has something to do with a need to feel organized and creative and productive even when I’m not actively building a word count.  I wonder if other writers have noticed these patterns about themselves? Or really, anyone who works on long-term projects that have different steps and stages. Maybe there’s something to it, or maybe I am just a grown-up who still likes stickers, but explaining it this way sounds better, so.

culture + commentary

I’ve taken short pauses from the internet a few times this month so I don’t have as many links as normal, but nonetheless, a few things have still caught my attention lately, like this delightful musical ode to Dr. Anthony Fauci. Speaking of Hamilton If there are any other stragglers out there who haven’t seen it yet (now streaming on Disney+), allow me to add to the chorus of people telling you that it’s worth your time. My favorite number was Act I’s “Satisfied’, which blew me away. Had I seen it live, I probably would have burst into tears, much like I did during my first viewing of Wicked in 2006. 

Lately, I’ve been scrolling through the Janet Hill Studio collection, appreciating her whimsical and delightful style, and daydreaming about purchasing more of her work. I would like to live in the world she paints, or at least cover my walls with it so I can pretend to (ftr, I don’t have any connection to her beyond my status as an adoring fan)

This Jennifer Weiner essay in the August issue of Real Simple gave me goosebumps. Admittedly, I’m the target audience for this kind of piece so it might not resonate with everyone quite so much, but I recommend it nonetheless.

comfort + coziness

I’ve been joking that my family and I have put some “distancing” in our social distancing lately. We’ve been to the woods a few times in the past few weeks and as tough as it is to pack for small children and to drive long distances with them, it’s been good for all of us. 

I also have found an stupid amount of pleasure in the new caboodle I got for my birthday. It’s so silly and kitschy and yet…nostalgic and comforting. It holds some of my favorite planner and craft supplies. Fellow 90s girls, I don’t want to tell you what to do but…so pretty. 

a [made-up] invitation I’d like to receive when this is all over

looking forward to

Thrift shopping. Under normal circumstances, my family and I have been on a kick for a couple years now, we like to go every other month or so and pick up new toys and trinkets. I miss it.

looking back on

Also, thrift shopping, and the simple feelings of exploration and dare I say, hope, that comes from walking into a store and not knowing what you’ll find. Nothing we’ve bought since the pandemic came without double or triple-checking since we’re either planning ahead and ordering things, or ensuring that our list is complete so there’s no need to go back to the store again, anytime soon.  Aimless searching is over, at least for now.


If you’re reading and thinking, hey Dena, I like this but I’ll never remember to check your website regularly, I have good news for you! I’ll be sending my This Month pages out on a–surprise!–monthly basis to those who are interested:

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