The Pleasure Of... Pauses

A break, for now.

It’s been a difficult, galvanizing, flickeringly hopeful couple of weeks, out there. In here, our little cocoon feels all the more precious for the sense that it’s starting to crack, ready or not, which is both tantalizing and infuriating (wear a F*CKING MASK, people). It’s only June, but the summer feels... combustible. I’m doing my best to watch and listen and learn as the protests continue, support and amplify what I can, and claw out some time every day to write the best and most honest version of my book: one that reckons fully with the racist history of this country and the blind spots of my mostly white feminist subjects, even the most revolutionary-minded among them. 

To do that, I have to be ruthless. The fog of the past three months is thinning, as X gets chunkier and chattier. He’s a bit more predictable (and quite a lot more delightful) these days, so I actually have a writing schedule now, and we’ve moved things around in the apartment so I have a new little desk area in which to do it. But the days don’t get any longer. I’m teaching a class for Catapult right now (this one, on cultural criticism, which I love) and I am still reviewing, albeit less frequently. And there are other writing experiments pulling urgently at me.

So with all that in mind, I’ve decided to put this not-a-newsletter on a temporary pause. I don’t want to just miss weeks, so I am taking a break for the rest of the summer—though I may pop in now and again when I publish something new. I still want to maintain this as a space of joy, and a place to think about pleasure and its politics, but I also want to be able to devote more time to it, and bring it back better and brighter.  Thank you so much for coming along for the ride so far, which it turns out is almost a year—I sent the first missive on July 12 last year. Or possibly a million years ago, who knows?

A few things that are bringing me joy just now, that are not a babbling baby:

First, a few culinary experiments: For the first time ever, I made jam! And also cooked clams! Not together. The jam was to use up a flat of apricots from, of all places, Costco. I followed David Lebovitz’s very simple recipe, which I find still a smidge on the sweet side. Still, turns out it’s incredibly easy and satisfying to make jam! Clams too are very easy! I made this NYT spaghetti vongole recipe, which worked OK, but I think maybe I’ll try a creamy version next time. These are the kind of recipes that are really more technique than anything, and they take confidence—often the easiest things to cook are the scariest, somehow, because you know that the people telling you how easy they are have them down in muscle memory. I don’t. But I would like to.

What is an anti-racist reading list for? I really appreciated this piece by Lauren Michele Jackson, as I’ve been vaguely uneasy about the collapse of important reading into opportune buying. I am heartily in favor of both, and deeply invested in bookselling, publishing, and author-ing as economic endeavors—but still, but still. I have so much to read for the book, including a major chunk of research on James Weldon Johnson (more especially his wife, Grace) and the early years of the NAACP, but I want to make time to correct my shameful under-reading of canonical Black authors, beginning (why not?) with James Baldwin. We’re also dipping into Criterion’s Black Lives collection, which is free for anyone to access. (Anyone, at least, who can stay awake, while their baby stays asleep, for a whole movie. Godspeed, I hate you.)

I wrote last time about the NAACP’s 1917 Silent March against lynching and anti-Black violence. Apparently it was the inspiration for today’s massive march for Black trans lives, in Brooklyn, in which thousands of protestors showed up in white. The pictures are incredible. History, happening.

(Photo: Corey Sipkin, via Newsday.)