My second vaccine shot is in the books! As I understand it, this now makes me invincible against all disease, and also impervious to ice falling from the tops of tall buildings.
This allows me to travel to Omaha next week to visit my family for the first time since November 2019. They’ve all been vaccinated as well, thank goodness. Since the trip is about family, and since I won’t be fully protected yet—and since I still have to work—I’m going to play it safe and avoid going anywhere besides my parents’ house and my office. My apologies in advance to everyone in town who I would otherwise make an effort to see! Ashley and I plan to visit again later in the summer, and we hope that by then, we’ll be able to do most of what we want.
A lot of times, when figuring out what to write in this space, I sit and ponder until something interesting or unexpected (or thinkpiece-y) comes up. This does not feel like one of those times—for one thing, it’s been a couple hours since I wrote the bubbly-sounding paragraphs above, and all of a sudden that vaccine is starting to hit me.
Instead, I’m going to try something new, which I will call the grab-bag approach to newsletter-ing. Hopefully you will derive some tiny amount of pleasure from at least one of the following plastic trinkets.
Facebook. I’m on it, but barely. What has kept me on it over the past few years are two things: events, and keeping up with friends and family who use it to share things that I won’t see elsewhere. Well, the last year has dispensed with my need to sign up for events, which, as an incorrigible homebody, was never a Facebook feature that I made the most of.
I do want to keep in touch with people, however. Facebook just makes it so hard to focus on what you want to see and ignore the rest. My grandpa gave me a great idea, though. He asked if I get email notifications from Facebook, and I do, but I have a filter that automatically files them away in the junk drawer. It turns out that’s exactly how he uses the site. He can reads entire posts in an email. So if I can tweak my notifications to only send me stuff for people I care about, maybe I can keep up without actually using Facebook.
I’m a lucky participant in the beta edition of my friend and mentor Bassam’s online course on how to finish projects. I’ve already learned a bunch of new stuff about goal-setting, fears and motivations, and building habits. I’ve been excited about this course for a while, and it turned out that the timing was perfect, as I recently started something new. I’m not ready to share the details yet, but it involves newspaper archives, socialism, old Jewish San Francisco, fake baseball leagues, and the rise of Nazi Germany.
Ashley stumbled across this YouTube channel yesterday, and we sat down to watch a couple of the “video essays” together. They are entrancing. It’s an Irish person about our age discussing fascinating and controversial sociological concepts like gender, sexuality, and the nature of love (e.g., why “love languages” are kinda useful but kinda bullshit). Sounds a little dry, right? They also do this while cooking delicious meals, and they mix in a generous helping of 80s-style production values and irreverent humor. It’s really well done, and some of the revelations in the video about gender blew our minds. Honestly, they had us hooked when they started it off with a phone conversation between two friends, shot in close-up from the nose to the chin, one person with a beard talking to another one wearing lipstick, and it turns out they’re the same person. (Sorry for the spoiler, but the magic continues, and I really need you to check this out!)
Really, that says it all. My mom sent me this fascinating article which is part historical mystery, part academic thriller (seriously), part tragedy, and part Biblical exegesis.
Also courtesy of my mom, the newest addition to our plant family is Fiona the fiddle-leaf fig tree. Known for being finicky variety, she survived the trip to our house in remarkably good shape and has already grown a couple new leaves. We don’t quite have the quality of bright indirect sunlight that she’s used to, which is literally the only drawback to our place, but she’s showing no signs of want thus far. Maybe she can transmit some of her good vibes to her neighbor, the cane plant, who is not exactly thriving.
Bonus pic of our amaryllis, who bloomed recently after we successfully hibernated her over the winter:
That’s all I’ve got. Please take care, write back if you can, and I’ll see you next week.