Letter 23

October 10, 2019

On renewal

I wouldn’t be happy with any of my work (or with myself, really) if I wasn’t constantly thinking about making changes and improvements, steadily moving forward and transforming. There’s just something about this time of year that amplifies that—back-to-school season has turned into Virgo season in adulthood, my birthday is around the corner, and I’ve already had my annual cold to mark the changing of seasons. I used to think I was afraid of change, but I think I was really just afraid of how much it excited me. You might notice this newsletter has a new look today—Substack gave us a good start, but we’ve decided to move over to Mailchimp so we can do bigger, better things. Our Substack archives will stay up, but all of our future letters will live on our brand new website. It’s the season of changes and renewal. Are you excited?


I decided that adulthood would be marked by several things, one of the stranger ones being not racking up library fines. I’ve had fines at every library I’ve ever gotten books from, except elementary schools. I love the concept of libraries, as many do, but it’s been a long time since I’ve actually held love for a library instead of panic. I’m thankful my education did not totally destroy my positive relationship to reading, but it did alter how I feel in libraries; the sense of urgent productivity, the way your time with a book is not really yours when someone else needs it for research, etc etc etc. Now that I’ve moved, I’ve decided: new city, new rules. Read more, read wider, and use community resources. Jill and I do monthly goal check-ins together, and with her I established September as a reset. The most consistent habit I have is writing this newsletter, and I love it, but I need to do more for myself. October is for rediscovering healthy habits I let go of a long, long time ago.


We recommend

🎶 Rilo Kiley’s The Execution of All Things

Welcome to 2019, where sometimes you’ll be listening to St. Vincent and Spotify will be like hey how about these related artists? and it’s your usual rotation of sad girl music (Mitski, Lorde, Phoebe Bridgers) and then there’s an artist you haven’t heard before and it’s Rilo Kiley and you’re like wow, that name sounds familiar because they referenced this band on Gilmore Girls ALL OF THE TIME so you click on the full album and you’re getting ready for the day and “A Better Son/Daughter” plays and you just kind of stare at yourself in the mirror and cry because this is truly a soundtrack for the everyday morning struggle of inhabiting a body/being a person/existing with depression and all of those other little things that make navigating life difficult and it’s comforting to listen to something that feels very much a precursor for all of the music you like now and also something that’s kind of been present in your life as long as you’ve loved Gilmore Girls, too. So that’s my recommendation.


🎙️ Ologies

This was the first episode of Ologies that I ever listened to, and I immediately fell in love. Some backstory: I met Alie Ward earlier this year when she came to my office to film a segment for her CBS show, which was extremely cool. Then, a few weeks ago, she was on an episode of Forever 35 where she mentioned her science podcast, Ologies. The first episode I listened to was about phenology, the study of seasons, and it made me feel so cozy and ready for fall. Alie has a way of taking a subject like phenology—a word I had never even heard before—and making it feel familiar and accessible. This episode starts out with questions like “Why do leaves change color?” and ends with a broader discussion about climate change, and it is fantastic from start to finish.


📝 Durga Chew-Bose’s review of Call Me By Your Name

As a culture we probably don’t care too much about Call My By Your Name anymore, but it’s been on my mind this past week and so naturally, this essay has been, too. I love Durga’s film writing so much and crave more of it and so I come back to this every few months to fill that need (and honestly, to study?). Her careful observations, like “[CMBYN] delivers romantic tension as it enters a home. Not feverishly as one might expect, but slowly, as if each image is rising from memory,” capture exactly what continues to draw me to the movie—despite the obvious problematic aspects—and are definitely articulated and replicated in her writing style, too. My favorite reviews are ones that parallel their love for what they are discussing in the way that they write, and gentle yearning is one of my favorite feelings—put them together, and that’s a perfect read.


📝 This article about newsletters

Newsletters are great, and we love them. We’ve loved them for a long time, thanks to tools like Tinyletter and Buttondown and Substack that have made it easy for anyone to start their own newsletter. This article by Kaitlyn Tiffany for The Atlantic gives a shout out to all of the people who were writing newsletters before venture capital decided it was cool. Once you’re finished reading this, go read that instead.