It’s not often I find openly melancholy kindred spirits, but I happened upon one while listening to Susan Cain on the “We Can Do Hard Things” podcast. Cain talked about her new book, Bittersweet, which seems to celebrate–or at least honor–those sad sack moments where you are filled with intense woe (downbeat whoa) and love it. My paraphrasing doesn’t do this state of being justice, which is a different kind of sad. Let it be known here that I feel right at home with sadness and depressing things*.
Before I sink into an upsetting vibe, something I do well, especially as I mourn the lack of purple gel pens near my desk, I’ll share how much I liked that Cain spoke about posting art on her Instagram, just as a way to commune with others in a beautiful way. My favorite melancholy artist, Caspar David Friedrich, came to mind (I’m sounding like Frasier a little). When I look at this painting, I feel deep sadness and a connection to the universe. Plus, two dudes with cool hats, a freaky tree, and sliver of moon.
Friends, in Googling this piece of art, I just discovered that it exists just a short walk from my residence. See ya!
*Knowing that I don’t have anything that should cause me sadness. My privilege is pretty sickening.
I write this having just braved the bomb cyclone side-blowing snow-sleet “event” outside our door. Nothing like what’s happening overseas but subtle encouragement to stay inside and reflect…and watch the $4.99 movies I bought from iTunes. Keanu Reeves in Siberia could be the uplift we need. Maybe today I teach myself the dance moves to Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies” or Tom Holland’s “Umbrella” from the lip-sync battle.
Today should be like any other pandemic day but it’s also forever my last day in the office before we went remote two years ago. I’ll admit I was EXCITED to stay home during what I thought would be a no big deal flu. Sort of like no school days during an Upstate New York blizzard. But my husband and I got over that excitement fast and one month turned into centuries.
Exactly one year ago, I walked into the doctor’s office, feeling “not quite right” and was diagnosed with COVID. It took a lot of time to get through it, but I did. Life gives you those jolts for no good reason. But you can find coping strategies that turn into cozy blankets. During the pandemic, I’ve delved into makeup and more books and clothes and puzzles. They take the place of a morning commute and the sense that rushing around is the best thing one can do.
This March 12, I’m hoping to finish these fine books:
And test out Gwen Stefani’s Original Recipe lipstick, hopefully not scaring my husband. The eyeshadow palette is dreamy.
Here’s hoping you’re enjoying today. And if you’re fighting your way through “events,” may you find as many cozy blankets as possible.
The past six months have been packed with events. So many events–and reunions, confrontations, phew moments, along with minor trips to doctors. Has anyone else been getting reminders to see doctors they didn’t see in 2020? Well, to keep the medical establishment and Aetna afloat and out of an abundance of paranoia, I got another COVID test because VARIANT and I’ll soon be flying for the first time since February 2020.
Before the test, I wondered if, after having a “mild” case of COVID in March, I tempted fate by treadmilling too much at Crunch? Healing from what felt like bronchitis on heroin on steroids took a daily grind of walking/jogging a little farther. Eventually, energy and lungs improved, but how easily it could go away. Turns out, my large dose of antibodies are still there.
One amazing aspect of being healthy again is that my no-time-to-waste feelings are back. More energy means more writing, more running and weights, more trips to Sephora, more listening to my gut, and definitely more reading. My desire to know everything has exploded. See below aspirations for this month:
Reading many books at the same time is common, and this is where I like to reference Barack Obama, who reads about 5 tomes simultaneously. Anyone in school would see multi-book reading as no big deal. Editors, too. But with the soul-crushing topic on everyone’s minds, this past year slowed down for many what had been a steady and voracious reading habit. How could one read when there were walls to stare at and murder shows to watch?
It’s good to have my brain back (for now) to have several reading experiences at once. As a New Yorker, I need the following, not in order of preference except for #8:
1. Subway book
2. Adorable pleasure read
3. Nonfiction, anything from Housewife How-to to Seneca.
4. Literary fiction–for me, usually something old.
5. Something scary
6. The latest big thing everyone is reading
7. Inspiring life or novel
8. Soporific (i.e. Economics for those who flunked this class in college–not naming names)
Reading is a lifeline when you’re just existing or creating, are blocked, needing escape, or just into everything. If you read a single book at a time, savoring each page, you still understand the love. There’s never enough and always time to read and celebrate the worlds that writers create.
Friends, I just got my second Moderna shot. What a great feeling and relief to be vaccinated after this long year. It’s not over, but I am so glad to bid adieu to these dreary COVID times in my little part of the world. My last year was not The Absolute Worst, but it wasn’t fun either.
My true pandemic experience began with breaking my elbow last June. It was an embarrassing trip over a piece of wood on the sidewalk. I went splat on my arm and scraped my legs. As a child, I’d dreamt about breaking a bone, but the reality was thoroughly unromantic. First, the sympathy did not come 24/7 and my doctor did not give me a cast–not even a sling. My grandmother wasn’t here to smother me with cookies and ice cream. With a broken elbow on your dominant hand, there were a lot of things that were nearly impossible. I won’t go into details.
During pandemic, certain quirks came out of hiding. Quirks to which my husband averted his eyes. The burlap sac dresses, dreary pajama bottoms, the sudden need for half and half in my coffee. And it turns out, I am a hoarder. When I sit down anywhere, I create piles around me. There’s the yarn pile, laptop and papers pile, the puzzle pile, and the beverage pile. If I don’t have piles, I order them and generate more stuff than I know what to do with, especially books, leopard print clothes, makeup, and paper products. Instagram knows about your piles and pulls you into the product placement time/money suck. I really had no choice.
Since March 2020, I’ve also become what I vowed never to be: a birder. A few times a week, I haul myself to Hudson River Park. For an indoor girl, this is an act of desperation. My flora and fauna are the beige pages pouring off my shelves and onto the floor. Let me be the first to tell you that the flowers, river, and Canadian geese are gorgeous! Their little flippers moving so gracefully under the water are Disney cute. They swim in beautiful lines, sort of like meandering military planes. My husband says the seagulls are the white ones, so consider me an expert now. Against a wintery backdrop, I caught them gliding and soaring in a dance. Why did I poo-poo my aunt’s obsession with all things avian?
To offset my influx of nature, I obsessively tuned in to everything about the pandemic and presidential election. A giant weight lifted from my shoulders on January 20 and I kicked my news addiction. It’s hard to wean yourself off Maddow, Anderson, Lawrence, Brianna, Brooke, Don, Capehart, Acosta, Cabrera, and Nicolle, but baby steps, you know? Better to focus on the impressive rollout of vaccine. First for my parents, then me and my peers.
Sam and I started to think about life after COVID, like maybe we can go places, take a real vacation, and envision happier times. Getting actual COVID was a big wrench in these plans as I tested positive exactly one year from my last day in the office, March 12. I was sick–not hospital sick, but enough that I checked my pulse oximeter a few times a day. I didn’t think I would die, but you just never know, right? After feeling better in the second week, I realized once again how lucky I am. But who gets COVID a year after the pandemic really begins?
This resulted in a few more orders to Sephora and City Cakes because we all deserve it. But there comes a time to stop and ease back in to what really matters. It is not the latest Urban Decay eyeshadow or obsessing that you can’t wear sparkly makeup anymore. Maybe you don’t need eight pairs of pajama bottoms, 41 rolls of toilet paper, or a sewing machine. It’s time to come out of the comfort cove.
Like everyone, I am ready for some serious fun, good work, and three-dimensional people time. With the blessing of these shots, let our healthy roaring twenties begin.
Ps. The vaccination side effects are *nothing* compared to actual COVID and so worth the ability to hug your loved ones.
Wordsworth wrote that the world is too much with usto bemoan how the iPhone has eclipsed our love of green grass, ducks paddling in formation, soft moonlight on our faces. Confession, I thought it was a James Bond title, until I Googled then Wiki-ed it. Confession #2: I get Wordsworth confused with Walt Whitman. So, I may mean Whitman when I say Wordsworth.
Seriously, what’s happened in the last three months is beyond any words I could offer, but I will try. My will to post has been nil until the speeches at John Lewis’s memorial service. Before that, from my safe perch, I watched weeks of coverage of George Floyd’s murder (and Breonna Taylor’s and Ahmaud Arbery’s — the list is endless), the protests, the violence inflicted by these new stormtroopers, and, more recently, a family forced onto the ground at gunpoint by police. Floyd’s suffering and that of billions over the last 400 years has always been in front of us. Racism is an atrocity that thrives every day in the U.S. You would think a country like ours–with its sickening abundance, history, and brainpower–could treat everyone with respect and kindness.
I have donated to organizations that support Black lives and am spending my time listening, reading, and sharing my appreciation of diversity every day–to support diversity itself and because it enriches my life.
There’s only been this on my mind these last few months–though also the raging virus, the upcoming election, and when I can hug my mother again. I broke my elbow, too, but this has an easy fix: Avoid tripping like a jackass over things on the sidewalk.
I hope you are all taking good care of yourselves and your loved ones. Wishing you good health and a whole lot of good writing (even if it’s bad).
Today was hard. We went out around noon. The streets were empty, even around Union Square, and we couldn’t wait to get back inside. Though, really, who is having a good day? Maybe China, the country seeing the other side of the curve with positive cases slowing down. In NYC, the virus is ramping up for an almighty wallop in 7-14 days. To me, it feels as if we’re already there so a bedtime story from Dolly Parton is the long-overdue crack that we need. I signed “our children” up for a reading this Thursday.
Chris Cuomo now has the virus and is confined to his gorgeous basement. How manipulative of him to contract it and woo me away from Rachel Maddow! He must know that this Bloom household thrives on hypochondriacal symptoms and surgeries on Youtube. Damn you, liberal mainstream media (I love you)!
Right this moment, my husband is teaching an online French class and tending to our meatloaf dinner. He is a patriot and a rock. We are lucky that we’re not destroyed by this virus (yet). But I’m also counting the seconds before we can launch back into The Tiger King, where drugs, cat prints, and murder-for-hire abound! After a day of answering emails, editing, and reading, I’m ready for some trash and a margarita.
My brother and I–both bad with money–decided to buy sewing machines and sew masks. We also talk about doing an uninformed history podcast (funny because our parents are historians and we’re pretty dim). Our sewing could go the way of the podcast. Or we could save the world!
Governor Cuomo urges us to find a silver lining in all of this. Here is ours: We are employed. I’m grateful to writers who write books that I love to edit and read. We don’t starve. Our family is fine. We have a lovely cat, who is now making sweet love to my fleece sweatshirt. He is fixed, we don’t really know what’s going on, except it’s sort of, you know, obvious. I’m sorry, that was indiscreet of me.
Greetings from COVID central! I didn’t step outside once today. As always, it’s my mission not to make things worse. There is irony to this staying inside thing.
Six years ago, I spent several months mildly paralyzed inside this apartment. It was painful to leave, almost Sigourney-in-Copycat bad. I thought I was dying. With time, it got a lot better. Now I *have* to stay indoors when all I want to do is go out! But it’s cool.
My new deadly virus schedule is the following: Go to sleep at 2:30 am after binge-watching Law & Order: SVU (there are 400+ episodes). I see New York through the eyes of Mariska Hargitay and Ice T. Wake-up time is around 8:00 am after COVID anxiety dreams. Chill for hours and hours, do work, check the news–repeat. This is luxurious compared to what health care workers and parents are dealing with.
Sam and I are conquering the minutia. Laundry. Squabbling over where to get groceries. Trying to keep parental units from the virus (some of them want to touch produce). My brother and his husband said there are hours of entertaining failed Zoom meeting nightmares. Google them! So bad but so good.
Hope you are all okay. Is anyone feeling productive?
I had one of those “If I die of COVD-19” thoughts. So I’ll document what I can in dramatic fashion–and eat a Cadbury chocolate caramel Easter egg while my taste buds still work.
The psychological effects of COVID-NYC are real. Like many, I can’t focus on anything except the dulcet tones of Andrew Cuomo telling us that we will “kick Covid-19’s ass.” To get stuff done, I am trying a new game: putting my to-do list items in a bowl and picking tasks, then absolutely doing them or else. So far, it’s been unsuccessful. Sam tiptoes quietly out of the room.
As a devoted treadmill runner, I’ve had a hard time transferring to running outside. There is the uneven pavement and I am self-conscious.
It is eerie out on the streets, also. You can feel the anxiety with people moving away from each other (as they should). Sam and I don’t stay out for long so we are woefully lacking in cardio. Basically, this is all turning into an Emile Zola novel.
Last complaint, I am not sleeping. Because there’s no place to be, this isn’t too concerning, just annoying. Eventually, sleep will happen. And it will be glorious.
Don’t tell my mother, but I sneak into my deli every few days, wearing rubber gloves and holding my breath. The two sandwich artists behind the deli counter are always there. I’ve seen them almost every day since 2005–and now they’re wearing gloves and masks. I can’t quit them or their turkey club.
If anyone needs a sleep aid, I recommend Jeff Bridges’s Sleep Tapes. My subconscious digs it tremendously. You will find oblivion.
We’ve instituted an earlier cocktail hour. 4:31 is okay. Or even noon. Whatever works, right?
I’ve been knitting a complicated sweater for Charlie, a fellow editor. I started two years ago and am 60% done. But now it’s moving along. I think.
Counting my many blessings! Hope your TGIF leads to an easy and safe weekend.
Often, my week exists in tidy list format, so much so that I’ve started to keep a folder. To balance my left-brain tasks, I’m adding what reading and pop culture items have influenced my thoughts, mood, and creativity. This list-thing might only last three days. Two tops.
Ronan Farrow’s Catch and Kill: There are few things I love more than when predators’ misdeeds come to light and we can shun them forever. You can imagine my joy over Ronan Farrow’s gutsy reporting on the victims of Harvey Weinstein’s reign of terror. I’m thankful for the women who told their stories (and the ones who didn’t, you’re so brave too and I totally understand–really). I’m only halfway through and soaking up Farrow’s bold adventure.
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston: My colleague handed me this book and said, “This is how romance is done.” Since starting it, I have only put it down to read the Ronan Farrow book, which is an anti-romance. McQuiston’s story is a big love story on steroids. You will turn into a human heart emoji while reading. Needs to be made into a movie ASAP.
I’ve followed Cat Marnell since she wrote for XoJane. I may not be alone in watching voyeuristically her skirting what seems a bottomless pit of demises. I am afraid to get too invested but am always happy when she shows proof of life. She has many talents and I’m grateful for her lesson on how to do a smokey eye. The one time I was on TV, the makeup artist gave me a smokey eye and it looked amazing. I haven’t been able to replicate it without appearing demonic. But Marnell does way more than this! Her insights, her travels are wildly entertaining. If you follow her on Twitter, you know she has a new book, Self Tanner for the Soul, on Audible after her first one, How to Murder Your Life.
I love reading writing tips. A lot of them, I already know, but they can still refresh your process. Sometimes, there are things you haven’t tried. For me, mystery writing is a skill that has eluded me, so these tips gave me hope that I do could commit many homicides in fiction.
A happy story of the week: As a last resort for my hair, I turned back the clock twenty years and went to a nearby Aveda store in search of their humectant pomade, the product I used in my thirties. I know, this is way too pretentious for words. It gets worse. The saleswoman was so kind that I asked her advice if I was using the right things for coarse, dry tree bark in a desert hair. She said yes, but then asked about my shampoo and conditioning habits. Long story short, I walked out with a bag of product (including samples). Good customer service seduces me every time. The Aveda woman and I could become best friends. Her colleague told me that my purse was washable. Before I left, I donated to breast cancer research.
Including shopping the Aveda on Fifth Avenue and 19th, I recommend blocking off three hours to watch Amazon Prime’s Modern Love episodes. I only watched the first one, which unexpectedly made me ugly cry. I haven’t felt an emotion beyond mildly dead inside for a while, so this was amazing.