I’ve been thinking a lot about things I value, and I thought I’d jot a few down, in no particular order (but grouped as appropriate).
Hurling is an ancient Irish sport that has made a comeback over the last century or so. It’s the national sport of Ireland and is huge over there. It’s less huge in the U.S. My town has a club I’ve been an inconsistently-attending member of for a few years. The last year in particular was not the best year for the club, though we stayed in touch remotely and organized some socially distant events. With vaccines rolling out, we’re getting back into the swing of things. I’ve improved a lot at some of the basics over the last year through solo practice, and this is emboldening me to want to play a bit more competitively, though mostly my aim is to get some exercise and have some fun while avoiding injury.
I grew up eating really sugary cereal, but I’ve typically eaten more nourishing cereals as an adult. This year I’ve committed again to junk cereal. Cookie Crisp, Reese’s Puffs, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch have been staples. I tried Cap’n Crunch for the first time in probably 25 years and found it disappointing. Oreo cereal was a disappointment too.
The ones I listen to the most consistently these days include:
- Still Processing. This one’s about culture and race, and I learn from it (and also laugh) every time I listen.
- Dice Shame. A D&D actual-play podcast in nice bite-size chunks with a nice balance of silliness and drama. I’ve started a fair few D&D shows but this is the only one that I’ve stuck with. The cast members are really nice and are active on their community Discord server, too.
- The Anthropocene Reviewed. Author John Green reviews the human-centered world. He’s a lovely thinker, writer, and speaker, and his meditations in this show are a pleasure. He’s going on hiatus, but there’s a book coming out in which I gather the essays he wrote for the show will be published.
- Hear to Slay. Roxane Gay and Tressie McMillan Cottom host what they bill as “the black feminist podcast of your dreams.” It’s hosted on the Luminary podcast network and costs a little money, but it’s well worth it. I don’t like the Luminary app, but the content here is A+. I learn and laugh every single episode. It’s one of the more enriching pieces of media I consume, and I await new episodes on Tuesdays eagerly.
- Lady Don’t Take No. Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza talks about current events and politics with various guests. I learn a lot from this one too.
I sometimes dip into A Way With Words, Radiolab (a former staple), and The Last Archive. I’ve got some others in my list too but I rarely listen to them. I used to listen to Ezra Klein’s show, but I think he moved on or something.
I’ve never been much tuned into smells, but the past year has been a year of olfactory awakening for me. A colleague pointed me to a lovely Christmas candle that I burned through much of with a quickness. I’ve tried some incense but am not very good at operating it. I tried some D&D-themed candles from Cantrip Candles and haven’t yet hit on a variety I love, but the candles are much in demand, and if you get one of the larger ones, you’ll find a d20 die in the bottom. My favorite candles I’ve picked up are from a brand called Ash & Fir, and my favorite scent is named Hunter. I also got a nifty wick trimmer.
Although I have made my liveihood on the internet for many years now, I have not much enjoyed reading on the internet. I much prefer to bury my nose in a paper novel. I’ve begun reading a few things online routinely in the past year, though.
- The Audacity. Roxane Gay’s substack offers some neat weekly content, but what really drew me to this site was Gay’s hosting of an online book club. I’ve done a fair bit of book club hosting myself. I’ve also tried over the last few years to read more diversely. I’ve gotten a lot from what I’ve read of Gay’s work, and as noted above, I love her podcast. A book club hosted by her sounded like a dream. I’ve read all of the books so far and really liked them on the whole. I’ve not been as engaged in the discussions or author events as I might’ve liked. Tonight, Gay hosted a discussion with Dantiel Moniz, the author of April’s selection Milk Blood Heat. It’s a really good short story collection — like really good, without a dud in the book — and the discussion was a real pleasure.
- Essaying. I guess there’s a theme here — I’m really digging content created by Gay and Tressie McMillan Cottom. This is Cottom’s substack in which she writes about the craft of writing. Some of her content is open for general reading, but some is premium content that so far has been well worth the nominal fee.
- Pipewrench. This is a new online magazine with (by its editors’ design) sort of a dinner party vibe to it — one long feature per issue with several conversation pieces in response to it. I got a lot out of issue one and am already glad to’ve been a founding subscriber. I suppose I should note that I used to work with (and I greatly admire) one of the founders, so I may be a little biased. One of the big things about this magazine is that they’re, you know, ethical. They pay their writers and attend with care to writers’ rights. It’s the sort of venture you can feel proud to throw a little cabbage at if you’ve got cabbage to throw.
Silence from Certain Quarters
I’ve never been much of a news watcher, but over the last few years, I’ve managed to see what has felt like a very unhealthy share of a certain orange puckered anus of a grifter spouting virulent nonsense. I’ve seen that ghastly face, heard that self-assured, Dunning-Krugeriffic voice, cringed at the weird hand-cuffed gestures, been appalled at the lies and childishness of the microbursts he posted on Twitter. But for the past few months? Nothing. I’ve hardly given the man a thought. It’s been a balm to evict that cakesniffer from the rent-free tenancy he had managed to take up in my consciousness, to stagger eyes streaming through a sort of 4-year eggy fart and finally to come out at the end and exhale in relief, and inhale, and maybe even recall that such wonders as salty ocean breezes and lovely forest-themed candles still exist and can cause pleasure.
Vaccines and Masks
I have a couple of cute masks that I wear with something I hesitate to call pride (pride not really being my way) but with at least an uncharacteristic showiness. One is made of fabric depicting simple cartoonish whales in varying colors on a navy background. The other — a gift from a colleague who is a talented seamstress — has space kittens on one side and trucks on the other. I generally display the space kittens.
Of course it’s not just mask fashion that I’ve taken a liking to. I think masks have helped reduce the spread of COVID-19 (and the seasonal flu and probably lots of other things too). I don’t know that I’ll be a forever-masker, but I’m certainly a masker, and I can certainly see myself masking up well past the time when the worst of the pandemic seems to be over.
I got my first COVID-19 vaccine three weeks ago and felt like Peter Parker about to get superpowers from a spider bite. I get shot number two tomorrow and will feel nigh invulnerable two weeks hence (though I’ll still wear my mask).
I eat ice cream nearly every day, even if it’s just a couple of spoonfuls. It’s just the best. These days I’m eating mostly chocolate, though often enough, I get concoctions with all sorts of junk in them (brownie batter and chunks, for example) that must legally be called “frozen desserts” rather than “ice cream.”