Letter 45

August 27, 2020

On distraction

I feel like I don’t know how to not multitask anymore. I don’t know how to just do one thing at a time, start to finish, before moving on to the next thing. I am always trying to do more than one thing, whenever possible—I read tweets while I watch TV, and then I have to rewind to see what I missed; I pick up my phone in between every chapter of a book; I start new video games before I’ve finished the old ones. Even while I’m writing this, I’m getting notifications that I desperately want to click on. I want to get up from my desk and lay on my bed and check Instagram, even though I just checked it. There’s always something new to be looking at. There’s always something new to occupy my mind. And if there isn’t, I’ll find something anyway. I’m working on setting boundaries, on putting my phone on the other side of the room when I don’t need it, on learning how to (maybe, slowly, barely) strengthen my attention span when every day is the same and mindless scrolling is an easy coping mechanism. Today, I meditated for 10 minutes at the beginning of the workday. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll stand in front of the tea kettle and wait for it to boil without wandering into another room to check my email.


I’ve always had trouble focusing, on sitting still, on staying on one task. I’ve tried methods of blocking out time to devote myself to a single thing, but never kept the habit. I should be working on something else while writing this. Maybe you should be while reading it, too. I have a lot of difficulty deciphering between distraction and break — if I jump on Twitter after completing a task, isn’t it worth it to give my brain a moment of rest? But what if I was on Twitter all throughout the task? If I stamped the document I was meant to be working on each time I moved away from it, I’d never have a legible piece of work again. That might be the solution—creating a system of accountability with myself. What does distraction look like? There are two modes, to me: purposeful and compulsive. Sometimes the world is so bad and I simply want to not exist in it anymore, instead am desperately searching for something to keep my mind otherwise occupied. This is fine. Sometimes I am increasingly bored with what I must do—waiting for the kettle to boil, waiting for a website to load, waiting for an e-mail—and find myself completely away from intention an hour later. Yes, the water has cooled before I made tea, yes I had sixty new tabs open before the page was visible, yes I realized I had been sitting on my bed for nearly a half hour while people were waiting for me in the other room. These are not breaks. Oh, to have someone deep-clean my brain with a vacuum as if I am an old Pikachu plush. Oh, to pick one task and complete it.


We recommend

📺 Search Party

This show had been on my radar since it premiered in 2016, but I hadn’t gotten around to it until last week. Yes, I watched three seasons in a week! Alia Shawkat, my Arab American icon, I love her so much, is so so fucking good and I need her to be a leading lady in everything. The first season is the shiniest for me—the cringe humor is perfectly executed, the mystery is intriguing, and I really, really haven’t laughed that loud that consistently in such a long time. Season 2 and 3 are a little more stressful, a little messier, but still a good reward. I am really excited to see what the fourth season brings. Watch it on HBOMax.


🎮 Awesome ACNH resources

Yes, I’m still playing Animal Crossing! Not every day, and not nearly as much as I did back in March, but I’m still very much loving it. This doc of resources is one of the best I’ve seen, and is helpful whether you’ve been playing for months or are just getting started—it’s got links to help you with everything from tracking turnip prices and planning hybrid flower gardens to finding cute custom designs and keeping track of which bugs you still need to catch. It’s a really good one-stop shop for any ACNH help you might need.


📖 The New Testament by Jericho Brown

I’m 26 poetry books-deep for the Sealey Challenge, and The New Testament is definitely in my top 5 for the month! Jericho Brown is probably one of the most influential poets right now and I hadn’t spent too much time with his work, so this was just an incredible evening of reading. Every page was stunning. I wanted to underline it all. I want to close-read every poem and watch the perfect moments forever. You know the drill—bookshop or IndieBound for your copy! Many libraries are re-opening too!


🍽️ Three Gems Tea

Lately I’ve been really into finding small tea businesses and trying out their different loose leaf teas, and my newest favorite is Three Gems Tea. I ordered their 6 oolong tea sampler and the ones I’ve tried so far are very yummy—I’m excited to pick a couple of favorites and order bigger bags of them. They also have a really cute zine for sale (you know we love zines here) and a helpful brew guide on their website.