Letter 44

August 13, 2020

On burnout

There are so many things that I want to do every day that I don’t have enough time for it all. At the same time, I’m too tired to do much of anything except sit at my desk all day and then watch TV or play video games for a few hours until it’s time for bed. But I want to do things! I want to walk to the park on my lunch break! I want to send postcards to my friends! I want to participate in a weekly book club! I want to knit socks! I want to make stuff! I want to learn! But, yes, I also want (and frankly need) to lay in bed with a cup of tea and do nothing. Sometimes I want to do that for the whole day. I don’t love it, but it is what it is. I’m working on it, I guess.


I’m so tired all of the time. I start so many letters like this. Jill and I pace this letter very well, and have taken the breaks we needed when we needed them; the practice of writing for the letter has never exhausted me, but sometimes I struggle with content because having things to recommend means doing things besides eating and playing Animal Crossing. I don’t want to say I feel burnt out from being a person? But sometimes? That’s what it feels like! I’ve experienced burnout from school and from writing and from my job; the only thing I’ve ever really taken a big break from, purposefully, was writing poetry. I’m not sure when I’ll fall back into it. Will I ever be a student again? Am I scarred? Maybe! All I know is I have a headache every morning and I’m still watching Sex and the City, slower than I’ve ever watched any show in my life probably. May we all feel energized again, soon.


We recommend

📖 DELUGE by Leila Chatti

August is the time for the Sealey Challenge, where you read a book of poetry every day (named for the poet who started it, Nicole Sealey, who I recommended in one of our first letters). I’m 13 days strong, but haven’t really been able to stop thinking about my first day: DELUGE. Leila captures panic/confusion/betrayal of your body so wonderfully and heart-breakingly, composing a true arc. There is a climax point. There is an urgency to continue reading, one more akin to a thrilling novel. The book, as a physical object, is also stunning, which I generally expect from Copper Canyon. Go get a copy!


📽️ Pride and Prejudice

I’m not sure how many times I’ve watched this movie, but I know it’s a lot. Most recently, with a group of friends on Netflix Party so we could all scream into the chat together. (The hand flex! The hand flex!!!) It has never once failed to make me feel good, and no matter how many times I’ve seen it, it only gets more perfect each time. It’s on Netflix now! If you haven’t seen it, watch it now. And if you have, watch it again. And again, and again, and again.


🍽️ Nory Candy Shop

Liana Aghajanian tweeted about this LA-based Armenian candy shop’s GoFundMe for COVID relief and mentioned that they also mail boxes of lokum/Turkish delight nationally…so I bought two boxes! It’s the best version I’ve ever had, better than the confectioner-sugar soaked boxes or the fresher, gooey-er Syrian versions selected at the Arab market by my parents’ home. I got a box of pomegranate and mango and it feels like such a special treat, and a wonderful break from the copious amounts of cookies and brownies I’ve been baking during quarantine. You can look at their offerings and order here.


📺 The Untamed

Welcome to the thing that has fully consumed me for the past month, I guess! The Untamed is a live-action adaptation of a novel called Mo Dao Zu Shi—I will let you go down that rabbit hole by yourself. It is sort of about demons, but mostly about yearning, and it’s extremely cheesy but will also rip your heart out a little bit. My friends convinced me to watch it, and as we all know, everything is better when you share it with the people you care about. (Full disclosure: my preamble in the last letter was 100% about this show.) Listen: I can’t say it’s the best show I’ve ever seen in my life, but I have spent hours and hours and hours thinking about it, and I don’t think I’ll stop anytime soon. Do with that what you will.