Letter 43

July 30, 2020

On community

Sometimes I think the purest kind of joy is telling your friends to watch a show or read a book or play a game or listen to an album that you really, really love just so you can watch them fall in love with it too. So you can send incoherent messages back and forth to each other about how it makes you feel. So you can experience a thing that makes you feel like you’re on fire together. I guess that’s sort of why we started this newsletter—because sharing the things you like with the people you like is so, so good. It’s just a really funny, pleasant feeling to watch a TV series sweep through your friend group, picking off each person one by one until we’re all saturated with love for the same dumb thing. I want to bottle that feeling and experience it every single day, forever.


Online spaces have always been my biggest source of community; I have been so lucky to connect with people across my interests and never really feel alone, despite all of the times I have been lonely. In the early pandemic, there were lots of shifts with how people related to each other, realizing they could not see each other or touch—the majority of my longest, strongest friendships have taken place this way. My community is always with me and always away from me, our sync oscillating (different places in life, different interests, different time zones) but I always know we can fall back into a rhythm.


We recommend

📺 The Great

Very much in the vein of The Favorite (showrunned by the guy who wrote it) *but maybe a little more earnest when it comes to girl power, *The Great is a very fun pseudo-history about the Russian empress Catherine the Great, starring Elle Fanning. She’s so fucking good! Everyone in the cast is! My roommate and I picked this show for our mealtime routine, which was actually a bad idea because it’s really disgusting and has an incredible amount of vomiting, but! It was so fucking funny! I am so happy for Elle Fanning! My main descriptor: fun!!!! Love to have it. Watch it on Hulu!


📱 Netflix Party

People have been talking about Netflix Party since the beginning of quarantine (and probably before that, too!) as one of the ways to scratch the itch of hanging out with your friends when you can’t actually see them irl. I never actually tried it until this week, but now it’s my new favorite thing, thanks for asking. All you have to do is download the Chrome extension, open the movie or episode you want to watch on Netflix, and share the Netflix Party link with your friends so you watch and chat together. I’ve been using it to watch The Untamed with a couple of friends who have seen it before so we can all yell and cry about it together—pure joy!


🍽️ Falastin: A Cookbook

Sami Tamimi is the co-author of Jerusalem, a cookbook that has sat in my house since its release about ten years ago, heavily referenced and respected by my mom (the best cook in the world!). Now, he has taken the spotlight in his own cookbook (still co-authored) on Palestinian cooking. Falastin is beautiful and the recipes are really fucking good. I’ve only made a few things so far, but I’m so excited to try more!! The recipe index is also really awesome, especially for people unfamiliar with ingredients common in Arab cooking; what’s even better is it’s not just defining spices, it’s also defining terms, like BDS or OPT (occupied Palestinian territories)—these terms that describe the limitations of our movement, or the movements behind our liberation are as vital as olive oil or sumac or anything else. I recommend making the sweet tahini rolls, the dough is very good. Buy your copy on bookshop or IndieBound.


🔗 Apply for your absentee ballot

You may have heard, but there are less than 100 days until the election and we are still in the middle of a pandemic and USPS is having all kinds of issues, which is all just to say that you should probably apply for an absentee ballot sooner rather than later. (Yes, even if you think you might vote in person. Just do it anyway.) This form on vote.org makes it very easy to do. I did it earlier this week! At the very least, I recommend looking up the deadline to request a ballot in your state and putting it on your calendar so you don’t forget.