Hello again. This month I’m coming to you in a bit of a daze. Beyond planting a flag to declare that Black Lives Matter, it seems that a white woman miles from any protests or front lines is really one of the last people who should be providing commentary or centering my own feelings on this current moment. So, instead, I’ll use this top space to say that if you have the means and ability, please considering giving your money and attention to black creators and organizations that support and center people of color.
These links are some of the same resources I’m using to continue learning and to try to figure that out potential next steps for me and my family: 97 Things White People Can Do For Racial Justice, Dear White People, This is What We Want You to Do, The 1619 Project, words from Ijeoma Oluo, Roxane Gay, among others. I’m also keeping an eye on protests and action in my city, other U.S. cities and towns, and around the world. It’s not nearly enough, but it is a start.
In the meantime, our regular scheduled programming continues below…
I made an abacus? I know, it’s weird to me too. I started it for my son shortly after the shutdowns began. It was a slow process because I made the beads from clay and hand-painted them and then strung them all on a frame that ended up being too small. But, it’s done now and I’m proud of it (this is pretty much what I did while everyone else seemed to be baking bread).
I’m also still chipping away at my novel which I’ve given myself a deadline of “end of summer,” which yes, is purposefully vague. It’s officially entered the “look at this giant mess I’ve created” stage BUT at the same time, there are some sections I’m feeling really good about, along with the overall plot and themes. Here is the best visualization I’ve seen of this process, which I found in tweet a while back from Cat Bakewell, who shares the same literary agency as me:
culture + commentary
Gen Z is my new favorite letter-themed generation (sorry, X).
Last month, I plowed through Netflix’s Outer Banks, which is a perfect example of the genre of show that’s mostly just attractive twenty-somethings playing attractive teens, in a gorgeous setting, and shot/edited so that it appears to have many instagram filters applied. It was good, but it also made me miss a show I watched last year that was great: The Society. I have had the urge to rewatch The Society, but I’ve held off because its quarantine vibes are just a bit too strong for me to handle right now (the basic jist is a bunch of teens are stranded in some version of their small, New England town, with no adults and no contact with the outside world). But I do recommend it if you can handle that premise.
As one does, I’ve been trying to slow my social media usage, but there is one Twitter user that I remain excited about: Sarah Cooper, a comedian who lipsyncs audio of Donald Trump and adds her own commentary via facial expressions, props, setting, and pretty much everything imaginable except dialogue of her own. The videos are brilliant and also kinda gut-wrenching.
Last month, I mentioned Curtis Sittenfeld’s Rodham, and my plan to wait to read it until I was done with the first draft of my novel. LOL, I failed. Although, tbf, I listened to an audio version from the library so it doesn’t have the same celebratory vibe that purchasing my own copy would have. I was a little skeptical of part of the book at certain parts (there are strong fan-fiction vibes, which isn’t usually my thing) but the end packs a punch and I FELT IT VISCERALLY. And then, Curtis herself retweeted one of my tweets (!!), so I feel good about my small, miniscule contribution to the dialogue around this book.
Speaking of Curtis Sittenfeld…I’ve also been thinking a lot about her short story that ran in Oprah magazine late last year: White Women, LOL. I suggest it, in particular, as a starting point for any of my fellow white ladies who feel like a bystander to the BLM movement, and/or who have the urge to examine their privilege but don’t know how.
Other upcoming books that are on my radar: Self Care by Leigh Stein, and The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (the Fug Girls!). I have a copy of Emma Lord’s Tweet Cute from the library, right now and it’s very fun and witty and light-hearted but I’ve yet to make it past the first few chapters because I’m just not in the right head space for upbeat YA RomCom. Although if that’s your cup of tea, it’s probably worth checking out.
comfort + coziness
I was an avid Baby-Sitters Club reader as a kid, and it’s shocking–shocking!–how much of the series I can still recall. There’s one scene in particular that I think about pretty much every time I paint my nails. especially lately while in pseudo-quarantine. As I remember it, one of the sitters, Dawn, was doing her nails in the dead of a Connecticut winter, and one of the other girls in the BSC called her on it because no one would really see much of her feet for a while. Dawn was not having it, and was like:
May we all channel Dawn these days and do sh*t for ourselves because we like to and want to. Also, if anyone else remembers this or can recall the precise book that has it, you know where to find me.
A fun, related note: Netflix released their trailer for the upcoming BSC show and my heart exploded all over the walls of my kitchen. There. Are. Camp. Scenes.
a [made-up] invitation I’d like to receive when this is all over
looking forward to
My birthday, which is next month. I don’t have anything special planned as of right now, but I like knowing that if I come up with something that I want to do or buy (within reason because hello, budget and coronavirus) between now and then, then I’ll have the excuse to do it. Suggestions welcome.
looking back on
Summer vacations as a kid. It’s been hot where I live lately, so when it heats up earlier in the morning than I expect it to, I’ll get a sort of hybrid nostalgic déjà vu and for a split second, it’ll feel like I’m reliving some moment of a childhood vacation in Lake Chelan, Washington. It’s not the worst.
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: