52. Random detritus
What I’m up to
You know the stage of moving when the categorizable items are all packed up, and all that’s left is random detritus? Yeah, we’re approaching that point. (It’s the worst.)
I am currently teaching the essay-writing portion of a university-prep summer camp. I teach a summer class pretty much every year. Choosing to teach during break — and truly enjoying it! — reminds me how much I really do like being a teacher.
Anna and I took a quick trip to the beach over the weekend, one last getaway before we move in earnest. Rain was in the forecast, but minus a ten-minute downpour, the weather was perfect. Nothing feels quite like summer like driving by the ocean with windows down and music blaring.
What I’m reading
While we were there, I quickly got on my library app and looked for a beach read that was immediately available. I ended up with Public Relations by Arianna Rebolini and Katie Heaney, which hilariously ended up being actual Harry Styles fanfic. Ahahaha. It was, uh, not great literature, but it was entertaining.
This week I also read The Maid by Nita Prose. It’s a slow-burning thriller centered on a maid at a boutique hotel who stumbles upon a dead body. The protagonist is neurodivergent, and the main gimmick of the book is the dramatic irony resulting from the narrator’s constant misinterpretations of other characters’ actions.
Still reading The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen. I’m reading this because it won the Pulitzer, but I am, admittedly struggling through it. 20% in, it reads like a more esoteric, less alpha Michael Chabon. I’m optimistic it will get better.
What I’m thinking about
I’m going to be very honest in that this move is harder than I anticipated. Our “new” apartment is actually an old apartment: the floors are stained and cracked, the ceiling tiles have holes in them, cabinets and light fixtures are broken. We’re losing my library nook, our laundry room, our pantry, our front hall closet. We will no longer have a back entrance.
We are moving because the girls are beyond ready to have their own rooms. I still think it’s the right decision, but I’m struggling. It doesn’t help that we have accumulated a lot of stuff these past five years.
Adding to my turbulent emotions: we’ve had to say many goodbyes this month, as several families are returning to the US after, for some, more than a decade here. These goodbyes, paired with the exhaustion of moving, have me fighting the impulse to pull away. I don't really want to paint my new walls, only to have to pay to repaint them when we leave. I’m not sure I can be bothered to purchase new furniture. Do I even want to redecorate? Because even if it’s not for another few years, aren’t we leaving eventually?
I know I have to fight this; I need to dig back in. But it’s hard to be the one left behind.
What I’m learning
This is newsletter #52, which means I’ve been writing these for a whole year. Here’s what I’ve learned from the experience:
Writing publicly has made me feel like a writer
Writing makes me pay attention to the world
When I was a journalist, I had a reporter’s spidey sense. I was always on the lookout for a story. It actually became quite exhausting; anytime anything happened, I wondered if it would make a good news story.
In a less intense way, writing this newsletter has made me pay attention again. All week long, I know I have to write about what I’m learning, which means I have to actively try to learn something.
As I told my students just this week, to be a good writer, you have to experience life. You have to have things to write about.
This newsletter has encouraged me to live a life (or at least, to have thoughts) worth writing about. So thanks for reading.
What I’m doing
Staying up late and sleeping in. I still wake up between 5 - 7 AM, but I stay in bed reading or surfing, then sometimes fall back asleep. Despite the summer school/moving busyness, it does feel like summer vacation.
Target shopping via FaceTime with Paul. We do this every time he’s in the US without me. This time he got me eyedrops, a dress, deodorant, foundation, and a shirt. :)
What I’ve saved
The picture of the “napalm girl” has haunted me almost all my life. 50 years later, the subject of that photo reflects on the power of images. (NYT)
This workout is designed to help you feel more joy. (NYT)
I really enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look into adapting Hamlet for a stage production. It is giving me new ideas for teaching. (New Yorker)
My students had to complete this career test. I took it, too. My recommended careers? Journalist, teacher, blogger, author, professor, producer.
Thanks for sticking with me for 52 weeks!
Until next week,