Letter 32

February 13, 2020

On goals

Sometime last year, Summer and another friend and I started a monthly email thread to plan and talk about our goals for the coming month, followed by the occasional video chat for progress updates. We talked about things we wanted to accomplish in our careers, in our personal lives, and in our relationships, but we also talked about our feelings, our anxieties, the things we’re grateful for, and the things we need help with. What started as a way to voice our goals and desires and to hold each other accountable became a pleasant excuse to catch up with each other and just talk. And I really can’t overstate how nice that is. We have recommended several methods for setting and tracking goals in this newsletter—including a habit-tracking app, a goal-tracking spreadsheet, a workbook for setting yearly goals, and the app mentioned below—but this is the only one that encourages community with people you love.


Every year, Oscars season approaches, and I tell myself I will watch every film nominated for Best Picture. Sometimes I’ve already seen a handful in theaters, some years I haven’t seen any at all. This year was less than more, from a combination of disinterest, snubs, and general anxiety at being in Public and Seen. The best I did, before this year, was 2015 when torrenting was my friend (but of course I don’t do that anymore; I’m very cool and lawful). I’m not sure why I love awards shows, but I have since even before I loved to be mad online and wasn’t familiar with any material being awarded. I watched 15 hours of movies from Wednesday–Sunday, while still keeping my room relatively clean and putting together a viewing party with my roommate. I still didn’t see all of the Best Picture nominations, but I was satisfied with my breadth. I set a lot of goals for personal and professional development—many that I do not meet—but it’s fun to make something very arbitrary, like a quota of movies, and to achieve it. Goal-setting can be fun. There can be enough time if I make enough time.


We recommend

🎥 Pain & Glory

This was part of my Oscars binge, one of the films nominated for Best International Picture—and Antonio Banderas for Best Actor. Folks! Do you ever watch 14 hours of film directed by straight men and get exhausted, think all movies are just too long, wonder when directors stopped listening to their editors, triggering an existential spiral? And then you watch Pain & Glory, and you are healed? I highly recommend watching this even without the saturation of indulgence beforehand. Antonio Banderas is so good, especially when I realized his most notable role for me is, in fact, Spy Kids. The story follows an aging queer director, reflecting on his past and contending with his present. It is extremely tender, generous with time, and just beautiful. Again, healed. Check it out, hopefully in a theater near you!



I have been using this app for a few months as a beta tester, and I’m so happy that it is finally out there in the world for everyone else to use! Tangerine combines two of my favorite things—habit tracking, and mood tracking—in a beautiful and easy-to-use way. It’s made a difference in the way I approach my daily habits and routines, and has quickly become one of my most-used apps. You can download it on the App Store.


🎥 Birds of Prey: The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

Sorry, I’m recommending two movies!!!! I’ve really done nothing else since the last letter. So, I truly do not give a fuck about the DCEU, and the sparing few movies I’ve seen from that set have been pretty bad-to-mediocre. And yet! I hate that I’m basically recommending this movie because #representation, but it was really so fucking fun. A wonderfully talented cast with women of color, queer characters who get to exist besides that, a perfect soundtrack, bright colors and exciting fight scenes…there’s no reason not to see it! I love to have fun! I would die for Margot Robbie. Ewan McGregor is the best villain. Directed by Cathy Yan. Also in theaters now!


💌 Desk Lunch

I (obviously) love newsletters, and this one is one of my very favorites. Every issue of Desk Lunch is written by a different creative person about their process, their life, their journey, their thoughts. The latest issue, which I read this morning, was so good and relevant to me in particular—Carolyn Yoo writes about struggling to answer “The Question” of her career path: “Perhaps I would keep searching for what I was meant to do for many more years of my life, but I could learn to embrace the spiral instead of resenting that I hadn’t reached an answer yet.” Whew. Subscribe to Desk Lunch for more great stuff like that.