Welcome to Midweek Dinner. There’s a whole story behind that name, something about the way Wednesday creeps up on you, and you have to cobble together a meal out of whatever you can scrounge from the fridge. And yes, sometimes there is talk of food in this place. But mostly it’s about what I’ve been reading, in print and online; or what I’ve been thinking, in clarity and confusion; or what I am hoping, in fear and in joy. And you are always invited to join in.
—— The best conversations take place around the dinner table. — —
Where I’m from, we “eat poor” on New Years Day. This old Southern superstition holds that if you eat poor on the first day of the year, the rest of the year will be rich. The money theme continues with the food you are supposed to eat: black-eyed peas and greens, which some say represent both coin and paper (or folding money). We have a pea allergy in our house, (plus I hate black-eyed peas), so I make pinto beans (my favorite) instead. Every year. Beans and greens. Sometimes there’s cornbread. Sometimes there’s not.
This year, with the pandemic upending my easy grocery patterns, I made sure I had all I needed several days in advance. And then, on the first morning of this bright new year, I went to start a quick soak on my dried pinto beans. And found that I did not have any pinto beans. Somehow I had missed that this staple had run out. And there we were. Facing the New Year without our traditional meal.
I probably could have found a grocery store open and picked up some canned beans, but that felt like spitting in the face of fate. So, we ate leftovers (the ultimate eating poor, in my opinion), and I made beans and greens (and cornbread) on January 2.
Believe me when I tell you it was an omen.
A few days later, the first Wednesday of the year rolled around, which should have brought you the first 2021 edition of this newsletter. Instead, we were huddled around cable news in shock and anger.
A week later, here comes Wednesday, and the President is impeached by the House (again!), and somehow, I just couldn’t quite get this newsletter out. Again.
So. A day late (and likely a dollar short), here I am. Without much to say. Just holding out my heart and my hopes for the weeks to come, doing my best to quiet my fears, failing all too often.
I have never tried the Pomodoro Technique. This article isn’t even *really* about that attention trick, but author Alexa Hazel uses it to great effect in her exploration of capitalism, productivity, free time, and creativity, and I highly recommend.
Interesting that David Brooks seems to understand that we have to get different types of bodies in the same room but doesn’t mention school integration at all. Hmmm…..
I’m honored and excited to be joining Garrett Bucks in the winter cohort of The Barnraisers Project. His latest newsletter, “We Don’t Get to Say ‘This Isn’t Us’” is so thought-provoking, especially this:
There is no more dangerous identity than that of the deeply privileged person who is convinced that they, in fact, are the ones who are under siege.
“Michael Cunningham on Virginia Woolf’s Literary Revolution” makes me want to reread Mrs Dalloway just so I can think more on this:
We find ourselves in a world where the past is neither more nor less than a present that occurred in another time.
Published This Week:
I’m a member of this year’s mock-Newbery Heavy Medal Award Committee through School Library Journal. Our discussions have been fascinating, and I still don’t have a winner picked. If you are curious to see what titles are fan favorites and which are the most controversial, you can check out the blog here.
I finished A. R. Ammons Tape for the Turn of the Year on Sunday, and I finished my twitter version of the same. Sunday Poetry shares a bit from both.
The first book you finish in a new year should be a humdinger. Last year, it was Ann Patchett’s The Dutch House. This year, a new book from the brilliant and funny Allie Brosh.
And something new. A weekly column, of sorts. I’m calling it the Lexicon, and it’s basically a vocabulary lesson? Or a love letter to language? See what you think.
Thanks as always for reading and thinking with me. Have comments, suggestions, or questions? Reply to this email, and I promise a response.