Weekly Update: 04/03/20

First, some cute things my kid said.

He was talking about flushing the toilet and said that the contents go to the “water landfill.”

Also, I don’t like poop jokes, but he does. He asked if he could tell me a pee joke. I said, “No, I don’t like those either.” He said, “Why don’t you like waste jokes?”

So cute.

It’s the end of week three of social distancing over here, and we’re still relatively okay with each other as a family. M. is doing normal three-year-old stuff, W. and I aren’t sleeping well but at different times of night (he stays up late, I wake up and can’t get back to sleep). I’ve moved from anxiety into depression but am combatting it with as much sunlight as I can and it seems to be helping.

I had a week full of video calls: one with some Bronzer friends (the first two guests on my still-not-available-yet Buffy podcast, not especially coincidentally), with my BFF from middle and high school (that’s a link to her photography portfolio with a picture she took of M. when he was 6 days old). It was so lovely to see her face and chat, and I hope to do it again soon. I did Quarantine Book Club with Austin Kleon. I used Marco Polo to wish another friend’s cat well and was rewarded with a video of said cat making amazing cat sounds.

Today I did a video call with my advisor and another committee member, and we made a game plan that has soothed my concerns about being able to complete my research. It involves revising my methods some and scaling back the scope of the study. As my advisor said, “Would it be cool to do what you said you were going to do? Yes. But you can’t.” Eyes on the prize: me graduated in 2021.

I’ve been reading a lot online (I always read more articles when I spend less time on social media), adding to my ever growing pile of books I’m reading, enjoying watching Picard, and often having chocolate oatmeal for breakfast with a bit of peanut butter added. (It’s like having a no-bake cookie for breakfast; highly recommend.)

With that, let me recommend some online reading you might find fun or valuable.

Supporting Independent Bookstores

McSweeney’s has some thoughts and some advice on how you can help independent bookstores. I don’t have a ton of money to throw around, but I did buy myself and my kid books from our local independent bookstore, which is having their distributor ship the books directly to me.

One way you can support those independent bookstores is by buying books for your book clubs, which are apparently flourishing right now.

Funny Stuff

Speaking of McSweeney’s, their funny stuff often hits exactly the right spot for me. Witness:

  • I Know There Is a Pandemic, but I Am Leaving You for Bob Ross - A friend told me that ASMR videos always help her when she has a migraine. They didn’t do anything for me, but when I started poking around in the broader ASMR world I found the suggestion of watching Bob Ross, and he DOES help my migraines. I’m not leaving W. for him, but if I had a partner like the (I sure hope imaginary) narrator of this does, I might, in spite of his being dead.
  • Self-Isolation or Graduate School? - In case you missed it when I shared it earlier. Comedy gold, if you are in its very narrow target audience.
  • Frog and Toad Are Self-Quarantined Friends is perfect and beautiful, and now M. doesn’t want to play regular Frog and Toad, he wants to play Quarantine!Frog and Toad.

But they aren’t the only ones! Vulture brings it with If I Wrote a Coronavirus Episode. The 30 Rock, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, andYou’re the Worst offerings are perfect and oh my goodness Jane the Virgin actually filmed part of theirs. Will this prompt me to write fanfiction? Very possibly, because I’m sad that New Girl wasn’t in there.

Scary Stuff

Skip this section if you don’t want to read scary pandemic thoughts, but I found these pieces really helpful.

Cut Yourself a Break

Okay, that’s enough scary, here’s some posts to convince you to give yourself some grace.

  • I Can’t Write About the Pandemic, But I Can’t Write About Anything Else “…avoid thinking like a careerist… Use your creative time to escape the zeitgeist… write the book that you most need to write.”
  • Against Productivity in a Pandemic “This is not a time to optimize or stoically pretend nothing has changed… This is a time to sustain.” “We do not tend to see maintenance and care as productive…” - Jenny Odell in How to Do Nothing I’ve been thinking more about maintenance and care since I read How to Do Nothing last summer, and I think right now especially it is where our focus should be. Which brings me to…
  • Why You Should Ignore All That Coronavirus-Inspired Productivity Pressure This is a brilliant map, especially for academics, for how to get through this time. I am taking it to heart fully; once I get my revised research plans in place, I’m going to get some of my home stuff sorted out before trying to get back to work. I will be reading and re-reading and re-reading again this piece over the coming weeks.
  • Now Is the Perfect Time to Lower the Parenting Bar Sometimes I do elaborate activities with my kid. It’s usually to keep me from being bored. The rest of the time, we’re reading or he’s playing while I rest. Sometimes we watch TV, but I try to save it for when I need it. “Unlike the running joke that every working parent, single parent, or stay-at-home parent has uttered at some point, that ‘everyone was alive’ at the end of the day, that is actually the real job we all have right now. Trying to keep people alive. Even people we don’t know and can’t see, at the end of the day, every day, until this thing is done.”

Poetry

April is National Poetry Month. I highly recommend signing up for the Poem-a-Day newsletter from Poets.org. I’ll probably start listening to The Slowdown and watching Patrick Stewart read sonnets, too.

  • The Function of Humor in the Neighborhood “I wrote this poem in response to criticism that my work is ‘too funny to be taken seriously.’ I wanted to explain that I am writing in a Jewish tradition where nothing is more serious than humor.” - Allison Pitinii Davis This resonated so strongly with me. It also reminded me of that old Mel Brooks quote: “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.”
  • Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale”Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope, where you can rest and wait.“ This is a great reminder for those of us who are privileged enough to be in a situation where we can rest and wait.
  • Probably you should check out my friend Kit’s Instagram because he is writing a haiku a day and just… well, go get to know him that way. You won’t regret it.

What pandemic?

This post about Jessica Drew Spider-Woman’s costume (and Batgirl too) speaks much of what’s in my heart. As I’ve been planning cosplays, I’ve been thinking about both the extent to which I feel like playing up my sexiness (I don’t, not in cosplay, really) and also what’s comfortable (hint: not most superhero costumes, especially the ones for women). The awesome moto Spider-Woman costume here is one of my planned cosplays for whenever I can cosplay somewhere. (Still need to put together gloves and glasses.) I was so excited when I learned there would be a new Spider-Woman book, because I’ve been missing her, and so sad when I saw what her next costume will look like. Seems like with every iteration, it gets closer and closer to being less like spandex and more like body paint. I don’t mind unrealistic proportions. I do prefer outfits that look easy to fight in, though.

Until next time!

Kimberly Hirsh @kimberlyhirsh