Letters to Summer

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Letter 46

Letters to Summer is a newsletter written by two best friends living on opposite sides of the country. Every other Friday, we share the things we're reading, watching, listening to, and enjoying. We hope you like it.

On priorities

Guess what: I tried to do too many activities in my free time and now I’m exhausted because I spend way too many hours a day sitting at my desk and not enough hours a day doing things like “taking breaks” and “drinking water.” Classic me. The thing is, I want to do everything—I want to learn how to make 3d art, I want to play all the video games, I want to be a person who knits socks, I want to make cool stuff with my friends, etc. And the other thing is, I am terrified of starting a new project and then abandoning it. So in my very smart human brain, I only see two options: do all of the things every day forever, or do none of them. Turns out that’s really silly. Two people in my life (my therapist, and my friend Selena) keep telling me that it’s okay to want to do lots of things, and that it’s also okay to give up on those things for any reason. I’m learning this, slowly. I’m learning how to make time for things that matter to me while also making time to take care of myself as a person. I’m learning that maybe knitting is not for me, for example, but I can sign up for a 3d art course and spend a little bit of time each week learning how to do something new. Baby steps.


A few years ago I interned at the Getty. My commute to the museum was about 1.5-2hrs both ways, every day. I had to wake up around 5am, and go to sleep around 9 in order to actually obey my alarm. I got home around 7PM each day. It was terrible! I was so tired, I felt unfulfilled by my job, and worst of all—I had to pick and choose the ways I wanted to wind down. There was no time to both play Breath of the Wild AND read. I couldn’t see my friends if I wanted to have dinner with my family. I just didn’t have time, no matter which way I swung it. When I went back to school, I found myself trying to do everything all of the time and never saying no—everything felt like it was my priority and so nothing felt like a priority. It’s taken me a while to start re-learning how to use my time and decide what I want, what’s important to me—these last few weeks, it’s been reading. I’m trying not to be mean to myself for writing not being a priority, or learning something new. It’s okay to return to my baseline. It’s okay for my day to only contain eating, working, reading, and sleep, even if I want thirty other things, too—soon, one day, I’ll have the energy.


We recommend

📖 The Vegetarian by Han Kang

After my August poetry challenge, I’ve still healthily kept my appetite for reading; it’s September 10th and I’ve finished three books! The Vegetarian, handed to me confidently by my roommate when I said I needed to read a book for adults, was the answer. And holy shit! It’s so fucking weird I loved it! It’s reportedly an excellent translation from the original Korean, maintaining the wonderfully cheeky-bordering satirical-careful tone that makes the various POVs work instead of making you want to roll your eyes into space. It’s about a woman who becomes a vegetarian after having a violent dream, and the absolute absurd reactions of men around her. The descriptions of food are great. The descriptions of body-stuff are vivid and made me upset (in a good way!). IndieBound or bookshop it!


💡 Slowtember

Maybe you’ve heard of Inktober: the month of daily drawing prompts every October that (to me, at least) sounds a bit intimidating and too overwhelming to even attempt. This year, there’s a new guy in town—Slowtember is a series of art prompts for the month of September. The twist here is that you have a few days to complete the prompts, and you have two options to choose from for each piece. I know we’re already a little over a week into the month, but if you’re looking for a chiller alternative to Inktober, this is the one. I’ve been trying out pixel art for the first time and turning all my finished pieces into sweaters in Animal Crossing, and I’m having a lot of fun with it.


📽️ A Star Is Born (1954)

Monday was my partner and I’s one-year anniversary and we celebrated by doing a marathon of all of the Star Is Born films (very cool and normal quarantine anniversary activities!). Although the 2018 one with Gaga will always hold a strange but special place in my heart, I was honestly so enchanted by the 1954 version. Judy Garland is obviously amazing, and the entire movie is so BEAUTIFUL and uses color SO WELL. I love musicals! I love them. Judy Garland will always be a treasure. We had to rent it, but it was worth it!


🔗 5 min/day

I came across this blog post by Kat Fukui a couple of weeks ago, and it inspired me to start taking time at the end of each workday to write a list of what I did that day and what I want to focus on the next day. Sounds simple, but it can have a big impact if you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything on your plate or just need some extra reassurance that you are actually getting work done. My lists tend to be a mix of work stuff (finished a task I’ve been working on for a while) and personal stuff (didn’t eat lunch at my desk), and I like to add an emoji to the top to track my mood.