Letter 34

March 12, 2020

On patience

In the mornings, I get myself out of bed and into the kitchen, and I turn on the electric kettle to heat up some water, and while the water is heating up I put a small tea strainer into a big mug, and then I pour the hot water over it and I set a timer and wait for the tea to brew for five minutes. And every morning, I know it will take just five minutes. And I know that when the five minutes is up, I’ll have a cup of tea to drink, and I’ll be able to start my day. I am not patient, because to be patient, you have to be ok with waiting for things that are out of your control, and I have a hard time with things that are out of my control. To be patient, you have to be ok with not knowing how things will turn out, and I have a hard time with not knowing how things will turn out. (Are we seeing a pattern here?) I think it is good, if you are an impatient and anxious person like me, to have some things in your life that you can count on, that you know will be there for you on a certain or at a certain time or in a certain place—things that you don’t need to wait for. I am not patient and I don’t know how to be, but I know that in five minutes, my tea will be ready, and that comforts me.


I am impatient, I am anxious, I do not like waiting for things; I am always way too early or running late and barely have a concept of how much time has passed. I’ve only begun to focus on managing this in the last two years, and my first step was mastering caramelizing onions. Helen Rosner tweeted once about how all recipes lie to you about how long it takes to caramelize onions. They do! I felt dumb! But they were just lying! In the summer of 2018, I became obsessed with putting them in everything. I didn’t realize, at first, they would take upwards of an hour to cook, and any impatience in their cooking (bumping up the temperature) would basically lead to burnt onions, instead. But I did it, to varying degrees of success: notably, a quiche I made for a Bachelor in Paradise viewing, had a chorus of “oh, Summer, these onions kind of taste caramelized.” The true first success, though, was when I had a friend coming over to make a meal, had very little else to do beforehand, and just started prepping; I chopped onions, and there was an hour before they would arrive. I put them on the stove. I had no rush, and so I didn’t need them to be caramel-y sooner. The final meal tasted fantastic. I’ve caramelized onions dozens of times since, some times better than others. A lot of my anxiety comes from thinking I do not have enough time left. I want to learn to give myself that time.


We recommend

📖 Capable Monsters by Marlin M. Jenkins

There are two things I love—Pokemon and poems—so as you’d expect, this chapbook is perfect for me. Marlin does such a good job at capturing something important to a lot of people, emotionally/mentally/sentimentally (Pokemon) and unraveling its smallest parts into these beautiful reflections that communicate just why it hits so hard. I am a big fan of anything that takes something maybe a little silly and lovingly, enchantingly expands on the ways it contributes to our healing. Buy this book from Bull City.


📱 Threads

I don’t know why I didn’t know this app existed until last week, but I have been using it religiously since I first downloaded it. Threads is an app from Instagram just for DMs with the people on your Close Friends list—that’s literally it. It’s great. I have been trying to spend less time on Instagram because (wow!) it sometimes makes me feel bad and I don’t like that, but it’s hard to limit your time on an app that plays a big part in how you communicate with the people you’re close to. Using Threads to separate my daily DMs from the rest of Instagram has been huge for me, and I definitely recommend it to anyone else who is tired of opening Instagram 80 times a day but still wants to send selfies with silly filters on them to their friends..


🎙️ Theme Park Trash

I spent a lot of my childhood in Southern California, about 30 minutes from Disneyland, Universal Studios, Knotts’ Berry Farm, etc. etc. I knew theme park people, I wanted to be theme park people, I could have been theme park people if I’d had a driver’s license, and listen: Miya and Rosie are the best kind! They juggle that loving nostalgia and present romanticizing of places like Disneyland with the absolute full knowledge that yes, theme parks are sort of a capitalistic nightmare! Buuuuuut they’re really fun, and we can give ourselves that! Each episode, they discuss topics or imagine scenarios related to theme parks—like designing a new ride for Harry Potter World, or planning a perfect Disneyland date. Miya and Rosie are really fucking funny and also incredibly brilliant—listen to them here. I’d recommend starting with one of their recent episodes, “Writing a Mickey Mouse Movie.”


✉️ Laura Olin’s newsletter

Laura Olin sends out a newsletter every Thursday with 10 links to nice, lovely things found on the internet, and it makes me feel good every week. Here is this week’s. I’ll let it speak for itself! If you like it, you should subscribe.