2021 Reading List Update

Two of the biggest effects the pandemic has left on me: my relationships with exercise and reading. I’ve gone on at length about my struggles with exercising and getting my body moving again, but honestly my inability to do much reading bothers me more, because it’s more out of character. I’ve always hated exercise, so being extra uninterested in it isn’t that surprising. But reading has been one of my most favorite things for my entire life (as soon as I learned how, anyway).

But here we are seven months into 2021 and this is all I have to show for it. None of these books are particularly lengthy. In normal times I think I could’ve read the entirety of this list in 2-3 months. But right now I have to really force myself to pick up a book and read. I’d rather do the NYT Spelling Bee puzzle or scroll through instagram looking at cat pix, or if I do manage to read a few pages, I end up falling asleep.

I have a constant feeling of both emptiness and anxiousness and somehow I’m struggling to utilize one of my favorite comfort tools, the joys of reading a book.


Currently Reading:

The Fran Lebowitz Reader by Fran Lebowitz
Before and After: Stories from New York (Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood) edited by Thomas Beller

Read:
Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff (re-read)
Trick Mirror
by Jia Tolentino
Women and Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard
The Deep by Rivers Solomon
A Beautiful Poison by Lydia Kang
Dapper Dan Made in Harlem: A Memoir by Daniel R. Day
Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America edited by Ibi Zoboi
This is How You Lose the Time War by by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead



Gave up on:
A Promised Land by Barack Obama (I’ll read it someday, it’s just not the right book for me right now.)


2021 Reading List Update

where are the endorphins i was promised?

after a year of severely neglecting my body, I started exercising last week. Nothing insane, just 25 minutes of low impact cardio every day. In the pre-pandemic past this is the kind of thing I could do and it would feel like I did *something* even if I didn’t want to do anything, but now it is the HEIGHT of effort. I try not to stare at the little clock on the video because when I feel like five minutes have passed it’s only been ONE minute and I want to cry.

My core has turned into mush and my lower back is trying valiantly to pick up the slack but there’s only so much it can do, and I don’t want to hurt myself even more than 14 months of sitting on my ass already did.

I don’t even seem to get a good endorphin high after exercising. Just a wave of despair that I allowed this to happen.

where are the endorphins i was promised?

2021 Reading List Update


Currently Reading:

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America edited by Ibi Zoboi
This is How You Lose the Time War by by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Read:
Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff (re-read)
Trick Mirror
by Jia Tolentino
Women and Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard
The Deep by Rivers Solomon
A Beautiful Poison by Lydia Kang
Dapper Dan Made in Harlem: A Memoir by Daniel R. Day
Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gave up on:
A Promised Land by Barack Obama (I’ll read it someday, it’s just not the right book for me right now.)

2021 Reading List Update

WELCOME BACK TO MARCH EVERYTHING IS RIGHT WHERE YOU LEFT IT

From my favorite absurdist humor Twitter account @sickofwolves

Last year on my birthday, I came home from work and watched Marc Maron’s Netflix special “End Times Fun” and if there was a more symbolic way to spend that birthday I’m not sure what it would’ve been. Everyone was already very nervous and hand washing was becoming an art form. I’d started wearing rubber gloves on the bus (but not a mask yet, because that wasn’t a thing yet.)

I had a ticket to see Blood Orange at The Vic on the 13th, and I was hemming and hawing about whether or not to go, but they cancelled the show, and that was the day that basically everything got cancelled for the foreseeable future (at least in most places that had any sense). We’d started a rotating work-at-home schedule, but it wasn’t long before almost everyone was working at home all the time.

At my previous job I’d kind of hated working at home. I found it more stressful than being at the office for various reasons (which I don’t need to enumerate here.) But this was a much different experience. I wasn’t managing anyone, there were hardly any meetings to attend. I didn’t have to account for every minute as billable time and I was mostly left alone to do my work.

So naturally, now that I was more or less happy with my job, I got laid off in June. I wasn’t the only one — a big chunk of the staff got axed. Looking for a job is a chore at the best of times, and this was definitely NOT. I signed up with all the freelance/recruiting agencies, but there wasn’t much work to be had. I picked up a few small projects courtesy of friends and former colleagues, but was basically unemployed until November. I was lucky enough to not suffer financially — I managed to get by on severance, unemployment and the few stimulus crumbs tossed our way by the government. Supremely lucky. I finally got a freelance gig that started in November and I’m currently booked until the end of March. I’d prefer a full-time position, so I don’t have to handover most of a paycheck every month for health insurance, but I like this job and I’m content to continue as long as they’ll have me.

99% of the trips I made outside my home in the past year were for doctor’s visits, and there were plenty of those:
1. I fell and landed on the cat food plate which broke and split my knee open, requiring stitches
2. I had heart palpitations and anxiety attacks which ultimately landed me in the emergency room
3. I wore a heart monitor and had a sleep study which resulted in a diagnosis of sleep apnea
4. And I have to go to the lab every 3 months for blood work because of a medication I take

One good place I went to was The Catcade. Friday needed a buddy and now that I was home all the time I (along with a bazillion other people) thought it would be a great time to get another cat. So I adopted an 8-week old kitten and named him Ash and honestly without these two cats around I would be even less mentally healthy than I am. Everyone keeps telling me that the cats are going to have major separation anxiety whenever I have to go back to work in an office. Now that I’ve been working at home for a year, I have no interest in going to back to an office ever again. But if I do have to, they won’t be the only ones with separation anxiety. If I can’t get up from my desk and go say hello to the cats sunning themselves on the windowsill or play Treats Chase in the middle of the afternoon I will be extremely sad.

I worried about my mom. I went to see her in late February for her birthday so I haven’t seen her for over a year now. We talk every day, but I’ve never gone this long without seeing her in person. I’m lucky that she took the pandemic very seriously and wasn’t out doing stupid shit because FREEDOM, MAN. She’s been vaccinated now so I feel better, but I’m waiting to go visit until I get my own vaccine.

I tried writing a zine three or four times but never got anywhere. When would be a better time to do it? I’d get about five paragraphs in and just sigh and say, “Who cares?” and the text file would sit on my desktop for another few months until I tried again and the same thing happened. I started keeping a running list of all the TV shows and movies I watched and the volume feels VAST, though I don’t know that it’s any different than any other year. It’s not like I was watching TV for more hours in the day than I was before. I don’t think. I know I’m not reading as much. I can’t concentrate.

I was also seriously thinking about buying a car at this time last year. The bus commute to my job was a major drag and so I was starting to shop around and stress out about that. That was a bullet dodged. I would’ve had a car payment and then lost the job I bought the car to drive to that I was now doing at home. That’s just *chef’s kiss* as they say on the internet.

While I was unemployed I put in a lot of volunteer time texting to help people register to vote, to request a mail-in ballot, to vote early, to vote on election day, to just fucking VOTE. Most people were decent, but I also got a lot of abuse hurled at me. I took screen shots and saved them in a folder. I might show them to you if you ask nicely. I should probably just delete them. That would be the healthy thing to do.

Something really horrifically awful happened that I’ve only talked to a couple people about, and only barely. Right after Thanksgiving a childhood friend of mine was murdered. He was one of the sweetest, kindest people I’ve ever known, and even though we weren’t close anymore, he was super important to me at a time in my life and the idea of this happening to him is something I don’t think I’ve been able to fully acknowledge yet. Someone was arrested for the murder and I keep track of the court case on the website. The judicial system being what it is, it will drag out into infinity but I won’t forget. I won’t.

Other things happened. I impulse-bought a lot of graphic tees. My skin care routine is pretty good. I listen to a gazillion podcasts because I can’t bear the sound of my own thoughts. Because of the sleep apnea diagnosis I use a CPAP machine now, and I don’t have all the bonkers dreams I used to have all night long. The only thing I take pictures of anymore is the cats. I started drinking Coke again, which is a very bad habit. I’m obsessed with doing the Spelling Bee puzzle on the New York Times Crossword app. I haven’t had a haircut in seven months. I’m trying to hold out for the vaccine before I go to back to the salon.

Now it’s my birthday again. I worked at home, ordered dinner and watched Promising Young Woman, which my brain is still vibrating from so I don’t know when I will get to sleep.

It’s been a year.

WELCOME BACK TO MARCH EVERYTHING IS RIGHT WHERE YOU LEFT IT

😩 oh wow i can use an emoji in my subject line.

*This is not a solicitation for diet or exercise advice. Keep it to yourself.*

***

In the process of keeping myself safe from the virus, I feel like I have also betrayed my body. Lockdown has made it easy for me to let my worst tendencies take hold. My tendencies to be sedentary, to hide, to snack, to bury myself in distracting habits that require little physical effort. Ten months in, I’ve gained weight. I don’t know exactly how much, because I don’t weigh myself anymore, but I know it’s a lot. I know I’m not the only one who has, and I’m not here to compare myself with anyone else. I’m only comparing myself with the person I was ten months ago (or really two years ago, when I was in a huge grief spiral for a long time and started gaining weight back then). I know I’ve already lost an incredible amount of stamina. I think about how much I used to walk every day and now just walking to the mailbox a few blocks away and returning home is an EFFORT. It embarrasses me to say that, and my reflexive response to that emotional/psychological/physical discomfort is to avoid it even more, which is the exact wrong response.

There was a brief window during the summer when I exercised at home every day for a couple months, but then, like always, I drifted away from it and haven’t been able to push myself back into it. EVEN THOUGH I KNOW I FEEL BETTER WHEN I DO IT AND I FEEL LOUSY RIGHT NOW BUT I CAN’T MAKE MYSELF DO THE THING THAT WILL MAKE ME FEEL BETTER. (I know, it’s called depression.) I joke that I’ve turned into a potato, but it’s almost not a joke anymore.

I made a decision about a year ago that I wasn’t going to diet anymore, because it never worked and it’s just a tool of The Man to keep me down. My feelings about my body right now aren’t going to change that. HOWEVER, I do need to get myself moving again before it’s too late.

😩 oh wow i can use an emoji in my subject line.

2020 Reading List – the final update

I’m always astounded at people who can tear through hundreds of books in a year (even a high two-figure list is impressive to me.) Not just that someone was disciplined enough to find that much reading time, but even if I did manage to read that many books, I wouldn’t remember a thing about any of them, and if I don’t remember reading something, what was the point? I read a few more books this year than last, but I had a hard time focusing on the book at hand so it took me a long time to get through anything. Losing my daily commute also eliminated a lot of my regular reading time.

My favorite book this year is What It Means When a Man Falls From The Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah. It was published in 2017, but I came to it through Kara Brown’s book club, “Read a Book with Kara” and GOD I think about this book almost every day. I’m not usually a short story person, but this collection is one of THE best things I’ve ever read and I cannot recommend it enough. Every story is completely devastating. I know I’ll read this again. Probably multiple times.

Currently reading:
A Promised Land by Barack Obama
Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff (re-read)
Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino

Read:
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
Vulgar Favors: The Hunt for Andrew Cunanan by Maureen Orth
Five Minutes to Kill by Fred Stoller
The Fever King by Victoria Lee
The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Total Cat Mojo: The Ultimate Guide to Life with Your Cat by Jackson Galaxy
Obviously: Stories From My Timeline by Akilah Hughes
Tune in Tokyo: The Gaijin Diaries by Tim Anderson
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
Everybody Loves Kamau! by W. Kamau Bell
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (re-read)
Crackpot by John Waters (re-read)
What It Means When a Man Falls From The Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
How to Take Awesome Photos of Cats by Andrew Marttila
Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

2020 Reading List – the final update

2020 Reading List Update


Currently reading:

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino

Read:
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
Vulgar Favors: The Hunt for Andrew Cunanan by Maureen Orth
Five Minutes to Kill by Fred Stoller
The Fever King by Victoria Lee
The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Total Cat Mojo: The Ultimate Guide to Life with Your Cat by Jackson Galaxy
Obviously: Stories From My Timeline by Akilah Hughes
Tune in Tokyo: The Gaijin Diaries by Tim Anderson
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
Everybody Loves Kamau! by W. Kamau Bell
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (re-read)
Crackpot by John Waters (re-read)
What It Means When a Man Falls From The Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
How to Take Awesome Photos of Cats by Andrew Marttila
Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

2020 Reading List Update

2020 Reading List Update

Currently reading:
How to Take Awesome Photos of Cats by Andrew Marttila
Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

Read:
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
Vulgar Favors: The Hunt for Andrew Cunanan by Maureen Orth
Five Minutes to Kill by Fred Stoller
The Fever King by Victoria Lee
The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Total Cat Mojo: The Ultimate Guide to Life with Your Cat by Jackson Galaxy
Obviously: Stories From My Timeline by Akilah Hughes
Tune in Tokyo: The Gaijin Diaries by Tim Anderson
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
Everybody Loves Kamau! by W. Kamau Bell
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (re-read)
Crackpot by John Waters (re-read)
What It Means When a Man Falls From The Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

2020 Reading List Update