There’s nothing particularly special about this photo. The framing’s kinda off, there’s a satellite dish cluttering the view. But it was the first time I saw the sky after eight days of thick smoke — so thick that I couldn’t see water, let alone the shore on the other side. If you’ve never experienced days of smoke, it’s not just the visibility that’s the problem. You wake up with a headache. You spend the day feeling lethargic, cranky, like you can’t make words mean the things you want them to.
It’s like being hungover, only your hair is inexplicably greasy and your face is breaking out because the smoke has clogged your pores. You want to sleep all the time but when you do fall asleep, that sleep is shit. Every day I would look at the smoke forecast and every day there was slight hope —and then those hopes would be dashed. The sun doesn’t seem to start or end. The day just fades. It’s incredibly difficult to feel hopeful or like an end is in sight. Every part of you feels flattened.
So when the smoke clears, it’s not just the joy of being able to go outside again. It’s the joy of rediscovering your clear-headed self. It’s what I needed the day after the RGB news, which was so gutting that I felt compelled to write about it immediately. I needed some form of clarity that for all of this fear and dread, there’s still a way forward. We just have to work like hell to actually take it.
I’m spending the week deep in publicity and promotion for Can’t Even, including putting on four Zoom events, each of which will have a panel of four very excellent experts. I’m pretty terrified that no one is going to show up because everyone is Zoom exhausted, but I really think each event will be 1) really interesting and 2) will introduce you to some new very smart thinkers and writers. All of the info on each event is collected here, and it would mean the world to have you there. (There will be time for questions at the end of each event, too!)
I’m also working on a new story sparked by this tweet:
I’m collecting stories from people — not just women — who’ve had to pause or leave their careers in order to deal with, well, everything. If you’re up for sharing your story (which can be done with a pseudonym, if you’d like, or just your first name), here’s how.
I’ll have a story on clergy burnout later this week, but in the meantime: one last request to pre-order Can’t Even if you haven’t already. Your local bookstore is of course the best; if you don’t have a local bookstore you can call one you love and they’ll ship it to you, or you can order on Bookshop or Amazon, where can also find the Audible edition. Finally, here are some….
Things I Read and Loved This Week:
A fantastic piece on changing the language we use to describe space exploration
The most delightful piece of celebrity photography conceit
Learned a lot from this piece on how a Pacific Islander community in NW Arkansas became a COVID hotspot
Why Goodreads is bad for books
I love everything Casey Cep writes
Amanda Mull explains why everything is sold out
The piece I’ve read on how to actually approach changing a Trump voter’s mind
This week’s just trust me
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