A miscellaneous news and reading roundup (or: an enthusiastic summary of the most interesting, weird and worthwhile ways I procrastinated on the worldwide web this week).
TRUTH BE TOLD, I drifted into another extended period of depression, and haven’t been reading or listening to anything meaningful in quite a long time.
Instead, I’ve been doom scrolling, and binge watching lowkey steamy medical dramas or–worse–not even watching them but just streaming them in the background, like a white noise machine, but a white noise machine that instead of balmy breezes or summer rain plays the breathy, squelchy sounds of interns fondling each other in surgical supply closets interspersed with the sustained, solid beep of a cardiac flatline.
(Which is a thing that exists, sort of. Check out these hospital sound effects on Soundsnap: the swift finality of a blood pressure armband being ripped off is particular satisfying to my ears but, like I said, I’ve been a bit down lately.)
DEPRESSION IS A WILY ONE. Somehow, it convinced me that the doom scrolling and binge watching would stop once I started to feel better. When of course (of course!), the binge watching and the doom scrolling (comforting as they undoubtedly are in the moment) are only making things worse.
So, this week, I did my days differently and, lo and behold, I feel a little more myself and don’t crave sugar or oblivion quite as much. Fantastic!
For starters, after years of ‘deactivating’ only to sign back in a few days later, I finally officially deleted my Facebook account. Like deleted deleted, gone forever. Gah!
Not sure if there’s a quantifiable correlation, but that same weekend I binge-read an entire novel–N.K. Jemisin’s fantastic The Fifth Season–and was stuck into the second book in the series by Tuesday evening.
And, instead of streaming deliciously mediocre TV shows in the background while I work my day-job, I’ve started to play the podcasts I’ve been meaning to listen to for months and months.
- The New Yorker’s Poetry Podcast, particularly this episode: Radical Imagination: Marilyn Nelson, Tracy K. Smith, and Terrance Hayes on Poetry in Our Times.
- On Being with Krista Tippet, particularly this episode: The World is our Field of Practice with Rev. angel Kyodo williams.
- Emergence Magazine’s Language Keepers podcast, an award winning six-part series exploring the struggle for Indigenous language survival in California.
SOMETHING DEEP AND FORGOTTEN FLUTTERED INSIDE ME as I listened to authors N.K. Jemisin and Saidiya Hartman in conversation with Kimberlé Crenshaw on this episode of Intersectionality Matters, an initiative of The African American Policy Forum.
It’s a tired and racist cliche for educated, intelligent people of color to be described by whites as ‘articulate,’ but my throat ached as I listened to these women describe their experience with such precision of language and contemplate their craft with such passion and purpose, and all I could think was, “They’re so fucking articulate. How do people think and talk like this?”
DEPRESSION–AND ITS ACCOMPANYING DEGENERATIVE HABITS–HAVE DULLED MY SENSES AND MY INTELLECT. I can’t think straight sometimes, let alone conceptualize or articulate the world the way they do. Basic words fall out of my head. I stammer and ramble through Zoom calls with my coworkers (at least I feel like I do). I used to be smart and inquisitive and capable of approaching complexity. Now I watch sixteen seasons of Grey’s Anatomy in a month. I’m so tired.
I have lost something that I used to have, or I put it down for a second thinking it would be there when I got back…. “And maybe it will,” I thought. “Maybe surrounding myself with creative, brilliant, critical minds will help me find my way back to the me that was by no means brilliant but was definitely not as dull and uninspired as I have allowed myself to become….”
I know (I really do know) that a podcast with three Black women discussing radical reimagination and becoming the authors of our own stories wasn’t made for me or with me in mind. And I took much more from the episode than I’m touching on here. But the hour spent in their sonic company was an aching inspiration, and the beginning of me pulling myself out of the quicksand to (hopefully) imagine my sad and somewhat diminished self anew.
It was nice, for a while, to look at beautiful actors playing beautiful doctors saving and losing lives. But I don’t want to lose my life to that noise. The fact that I’m off the couch and writing something–anything!–apart from a grocery list is a smidgen of proof that the things I’ve been consuming this week are generative in nature. Sure, it’s only a little blog post. But. The rusty cogs are creaking into gear. And it sounds good.