I've finally been struck and I'm surprised by the first thing to go
First off, I’m putting out the WELCOME mat!
I’ve had a slew of new subscribers (Yeah! Over 1k of you!) and I want to shout out a big thank you! I know you signed up for read.write.eat. and I promise next time I’ll get back to it. But sometimes energy isn’t up to reading, writing, or cooking elaborate recipes. Hence watch.listen.snack. Enjoy low-energy me, and I promise next time I’ll be full speed.
I think one of the surprisingly sad things about finally succumbing to Covid is I can no longer say, “I’ve never had covid.” I thought I was impervious, and I was a tad bit smug. Nothing like life handing you your ass. Thanks, Life!
I'm in the pro-Paxlovid (anti-viral) camp. I’ve got to say, the bad taste in my mouth (which is a side effect)… is redolent of a litter box. But that’s not what I want to tell you. I’ve been taken down by exhaustion, headaches, sore throat, (as I’m certain many of you have experienced)…. and I’m shocked by the first thing I’ve let go of… Recycling! I just don’t have the energy to wash plastic bags, to rinse out the yogurt container, to separate… well, anything. So now, I feel both shitty and guilty.
My inbox today doubled down on the shitty + guilty, as I was sent a tiktok from the Queen of Garbage as well as a ton of other good resources to combat climate helplessness and initiate conversations. I promise to get back to my good Girl Scout behavior as soon as I round the corner. Pinky-swear.
Another reason I feel guilty? TV watching in the middle of the day. I finally watched, and loved, SHE SAID. It’s about the crackerjack reporters, Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, who bust open the Harvey Weinstein story for the NYTs. Both reporters are mothers, one with a newborn, the other a mother of two young daughters. Both women were deeply affected by the stories Weinstein’s victims told them. There was a beautiful moment when Twohey drew a direct line from all women’s pain in the world, the violence, the humiliations, the lack of power and equity, to her experience of postpartum depression, a sort of gender-based trauma that poured into her when she gazed upon her baby daughter.
“I sometimes wonder, when I had Mira, if all the trauma, not just in me, but in all the women I’ve talked to, if this darkness, this constant violence, if it sort of imploded, maybe that’s part of the depression that hits women.”
It reminded me of the way trees communicate with one another through their root systems, in the dark and loamy world beneath the surface.
What I also loved? How the film prioritized and depicted the women’s lives outside of work. They needed to be available 24/7 to talk to their sources, to write, to travel. And their husbands stepped up. (When I first wrote the previous sentence I included an exclamation point, but I’ve taken it away. Let’s normalize supportive partners. Let’s not be surprised by wonderful men.) The movie wasn’t hijacked by the husbands’ needs for their jobs, or hostility about picking up extra childcare duties, or whatever. They simply supported their wives and that was beautiful. The families made it work. (If you read Maggie Smith’s memoir, YOU COULD MAKE THIS PLACE BEAUTIFUL, you will recall that her husband was hostile toward her work, writing poetry and teaching, and resented the time it took her away from her more “pressing” duties as wife and mother.)
The acting is terrific, the story pressing, and Patricia Clarkson is excellent as a compassionate and sharp editor in amazing statement jewelry!
I’ve recently subscribed to two writing podcasts.
THE BOOK I HAD TO WRITE: described as “the podcast where leading authors talk about the stories behind how they wrote some of today’s most influential nonfiction. Learn tips and secrets to getting your own book done, and why publishing one could change your life.” I don't know, the hoopla of the last phrase drives me a little crazy, but I will say, the episode with Abigail Thomas, one of my favorite memoirists, is wonderful. On the difference between writing fiction and memoir, Thomas says:
But my life hasn't been lived like a novel. My life has been lived like a series of moments, you know. I didn't want anywhere to hide, you know. You write a novel, then you can do all kinds of fancy footwork. But if you're taking a moment or a memory, it's so much simpler than fiction because you don't have to dress it up. They don't have to put on their good clothes. You just simply get it down exactly as you remember it and then leave, you know. You're distilling, not decorating.
Please do, check Thomas’s books, here, here, here, and here. Her excellent craft book, THINKING ABOUT MEMOIR, is apparently out of print, so keep your eyes open for it in the world. Meanwhile, check this little book of prompts, TWO PAGES.
THE SHIT NO ONE TELLS YOU ABOUT WRITING is another podcast I’ve been tuning into: “a behind-the-scenes look at the publishing industry. Bianca Marais,
interviews authors, agents, editors and just about anyone and everyone
who's involved in bringing a book to market. She's joined by literary agents Carly Watters and CeCe Lyra from P.S. Literary Agency, who read and critique query letters
and opening pages.” The three women are lovely and kind and thorough. An episode to start with: Ann Patchett speaks about writing multiple storylines in, TOM LAKE.
Lovely piece. So full of details that I'll never know (as a 26 year old man) and yet universal enough that I immediately understand. It's like a mirror for me to see a new side of myself. About to spend some time reading more from you – thank you for writing this!
That a 26 year old man finds common ground with my experiences makes me so delighted. There is universal in the specific! Tell your stories in precise detail and they will resonate with many.
I've made a read.write.eat. Bookshop Store, where you will find many of the books I've recommended in the newsletter. Buying books from my shop is another way you can be a friend to the newsletter.
Big thanks to everyone who has bought me a coffee. I’m so grateful you enjoy my free newsletter, and that you took time to drop me a note and offer support. Yay! Cute button below for anyone who'd like to join in
Before I was taken down by covid, I made this Chunky Apple Cake, modified from THE SILVER PALATE COOKBOOK
1 ½ c vegetable oil
1 ½ c sugar
3 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 ½ c walnut pieces, chopped
3 c chunks of peeled/cored apples (I used Honeycrisp)
3 T whiskey
1. Preheat oven to 325
2. In a large bowl beat oil and sugar until thick and opaque. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat well after each addition.
3. Stir flour, cinnamon, soda and salt together in a bowl, then add to oil and egg mixture.
4. Add walnuts, apples, and whiskey. Stir until pieces are evenly distributed.
5. Pour batter into a greased 9” square baking pan. Bake for one hour and 15 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Believe me! It’s delicious with coffee in the morning or for an afternoon snack.
That’s about it. Guess I’ll go dig my recycling out of the garbage now. Thanks for reading. Here is your prize: Stanley, covid caretaker. He is absolutely the best!
Please, remember to tell your people you love them, and take good care of your skin.