Letter 37

May 07, 2020

On nostalgia

I don’t know if it’s because I’m bored, or because I’m desperately searching for new coping mechanisms in the middle of all of this, but I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about a reaching for experiences I had growing up. Last night, after a couple glasses of wine, I went down a rabbit hole searching for all the old MMORPGs I used to play. (Pixie Hollow, anyone? Virtual Magic Kingdom? Toontown? Bring them back!) I’ve been heavily considering joining Summer as she rewatches Glee from the beginning. And now I guess Stephanie Meyer is publishing Midnight Sun, which, alright! Nostalgia is not always a good thing, but I’m finding it comforting these days, when little else is. It makes sense that we’d want to turn our minds to a past in which we could go outside without masks on, and enjoy the things that occupied our time when we were younger and had less to worry about—I think it’s okay to let yourself lean into the nostalgia a little bit! Make a playlist of songs you loved in high school. Revisit your favorite movies and TV shows and books and games, even if they aren’t as good now, just to scratch the itch. And then return to the present, because there is nothing more important than paying attention to what is happening around us right now.


We’re 7-ish weeks into quarantine, which means I’ve been rewatching a lot of TV. Nostalgia used to feel like an ugly word, a feeling I would wrinkle my nose at when I heard people talk about past eras. I now know this is because I was truly too young, and most of the nostalgia my peers had was constructed by media that told them to feel nostalgic for a time they never experienced. It felt artificial and white-washy, like why would you want to experience a time in which the world was noticeably so much worse. Revisiting things from 2009 or 2012, though, I find myself nostalgic not for the Obama era (lmao) but the way that media carried me. Mostly, I’m thinking about shows like Glee, where I can trace so much of my fandom lineage, and that I can thank for so many of my friends (like Jillian 😀), the way I think about media, and the way I process discourse and conflict—my patience was never tested more than hiatus weeks, but the absolute content those breaks generated. Unparalleled. I wasn’t in a great place mentally back then, but I can still pull fondness when I think about my shows. Something to be excited about. Something to make you feel something. I’m trying to hold onto things to be excited about—and right now, that manifests in reliving my urgency for a new episode of Glee each week.


We recommend

📖 Zaina Alsous’s A Theory of Birds

I recommend a lot of poetry in this newsletter, to the point where it seems like I’ve probably never read a novel, but Zaina’s collection gave me the feeling of reading a very immersive piece of fiction—not saying her work reads as prose in anyway, nor is it escapism, but there’s this incredible balance between intricacy and simplicity. Those words are not necessarily at odds, but the weight of Zaina’s work never feels overwhelming, rather gravitational. I was excited to turn each page, excited to see what else she had in store for her reader. This is a work I will revisit over and over and over again—I read each poem twice, wanting to give them all of my time, poking at Hazem to read along with me several times so that they got the attention they deserved. It’s brilliant. It’s brilliant. Check Indiebound, Bookshop.org, or the publisher’s website to get your copy.


✉️ The Creative Independent newsletter

The content that The Creative Independent puts out is always fantastic—beautiful essays about writing and other types of creative work; interviews with artists, musicians, and creators of all sorts; and guides for just about everything (from how to write a poem to how to lose someone)—but their daily newsletter is my favorite way to experience what they have to offer. My most recent favorite featured an interview with Jenny Odell, author of How To Do Nothing, which we have also recommended. Go read it immediately, and then subscribe.


📺 Never Have I Ever

Truly, I was hesitant to begin this show after the last few seasons of The Mindy Project, but that all faded away after the first episode. I love seeing high school shows that do away with strict caste (especially in contrast to the Glee I’ve been watching) and instead focus on the realistic fluidity of relationships; familiarity is present among basically everyone, it’s easy to be friends and find common ground with pretty much anyone when you’re in the same classes. Devi is a fantastic character—ridiculously funny and every mistake feels earned (again, in contrast to Glee). The side characters are precious and have stories I’m excited about, too—they are not set-dressing, so much the opposite in fact that assuming so is an addressed conflict. The Sherman Oaks setting is used with such a wonderful specificity and I am a sucker for anything in LA suburbs. Also there are a lot of hot people! It’s on Netflix, go enjoy!


🎮 ACNH Travel Guide

This probably isn’t news to anyone, but I’ve been playing a lot of Animal Crossing New Horizons lately. I want to give a shout-out to this super nice companion app that I’ve been using that makes it easy to see which bugs and fish are in season (and available at the time you’re playing), what you’ve already found and donated to the museum, what events are coming up, and tons more. It also has links to other great community resources, so you can test out new island tunes or track and predict your turnip prices without leaving the app. Download for iOS here.