Letter 25

November 07, 2019

On coziness

A few months ago, I was in Powell’s looking for an entirely different book when I found Cozy by Isabel Gillies—I had to buy it. I read it slowly, savoring the short but satisfying chapters dedicated to picking apart an activity, a place, or an object and exploring what makes it cozy. Even the book itself is cozy, with its hard cover and blue ink and deckle edge pages, and reading it was a lesson in finding the coziness in everything. I started a note on my phone of things in my apartment that are cozy (you should do this) and looking at it makes me feel warm and safe: the light above the stove, the magnets on the fridge, the light coming in through the linen curtains in the morning, the wood floors, the rice cooker, the eucalyptus in the shower, the noise the dishwasher makes, the kitchen shelf with mugs, the doorbell that nobody knows about, the pink dutch oven that sits on top of the fridge, the candles that I light every night. Cozy is a feeling and a place and a mood and a state of being all at once—and it’s everywhere.


I write this from the perspective of a fragile Californian, but: I am cold. I wake up, more reluctant than ever to throw the covers off and start my day. A few days ago, I was having more trouble than usual leaving my apartment when I remembered this overwhelmingly large, cushy, black cardigan I have (with nice big pockets that sag if you put anything in them), and felt able to go. Coziness is akin to warmth is akin to safety, and there’s nothing that signals safety more than wrapping yourself up. I do not dislike the cold; I have so much affection for the wind, particularly the way it whips my face and how I imagine it filling the bags under my eyes. This, however, only emphasizes the need for comfy things more—if I am to interact with my favorite weather, I have to be prepared. Scarves; it’s keffiyeh season, and I pair my Palestine necklaces with a more obvious symbol around my neck. Sweaters; body dysmorphia does not get solved with a new outfit, but I have always loved turtlenecks. Warm drinks; a constant, but more appropriate than ever.


We recommend

🎙️ The Bechdel Cast

I love this podcast! Jamie Loftus and Caitlin Durante discuss the portrayal of women in movies (and all of the things that go along with that discussion). They are funny, fair, smart, and recognize their points of ignorance as two white women. I’ve made my way through every episode in the main feed that discusses a movie I’ve watched, am now subscribed to the Patreon (Matreon, excuse me), and have gotten to the point of re-listening to episodes to fall asleep to. Which is true love for me and a podcast, basically. They make me happy and I do think I’ve started watching movies differently. They do a great job of balancing criticism and recognizing that sometimes you just like things, too!!!! I’d recommend starting with their Booksmart or Good Will Hunting (a movie I haven’t seen, but I’ll listen to anything with Ayo Edebiri) episodes.


📺 Jenny Slate’s Stage Fright

Jenny Slate is my mother and my wife and my best friend and my baby! I very deeply fell in love with her when I read this Vulture interview from 2017, and then again when I read this Vulture interview from earlier this year, which I have already mentioned in this newsletter and will continue to mention until the end of time. And now her comedy special, Stage Fright, is on Netflix for me to watch on a weekly basis for the rest of my life, probably. It is unlike any comedy special I’ve ever watched.

[note from Summer: it made me cry! that’s comedy, baby!]


📺 The CW’s Nancy Drew

I love Nancy Drew! She has followed me for such a long time, in so many different iterations. Nancy Drew books were my in-betweens, what I would read when waiting for another book to be available at the library. Their inconsistencies bothered me to no end, but I was only ten, and never read two in a row, so why Nancy’s hair was always a different shade of blonde was a mystery I never solved. I learned more and more about the sort of sinister history of the books, their re-writes, the way Nancy was deemed “Too Cool” by a 1950s audience and thus disempowered as a protagonist. The sort of slow burn of understanding the character’s history definitely helps my utter enjoyment of the Riverdale-ification of the new CW series, in which Nancy is cool as shit. There are just a few episodes, and they’re campy as hell, but the show is truly SO COMPELLING. And honestly scary! I’m a big wimp so you can argue with me on that point, but WOW. I am having an incredible time, and my boyfriend who knew nothing about Nancy Drew agrees: this show rocks. It airs Thursday nights on the CW! Please talk to me about it!


🎙️ Cavern of Secrets

Cavern of Secrets was, I think, the first podcast I ever really loved. I remember listening to it and stifling laughter on the Northeast Regional trip on my way home from college. I was devastated when it ended, but I gradually moved on, opening myself up to an entire world of podcasts that I now listen to on a daily basis. What I’m saying is: before Cavern of Secrets, I thought podcasts had to be boring. Turns out they can be deeply funny and interesting and warm! And this one is the funniest, most interesting, and warmest of them all, imho. The extremely good news is that it is back, with six new episodes! It’s the same Cavern of Secrets that I loved in 2016, and it’s kind of wild to listen to it now and remember who I was and what I was doing when I was listening to it the first time, on that Amtrak. I highly recommend listening to the latest episodes, but I also recommend going through the back catalogue, because it has some of the most brilliant, hilarious conversations I’ve ever heard.