MWD29 - On the Shape a Day Can Take

Circle, Square, Rhombus. Now, define Rhombus.

Welcome to Midweek Dinner. If this is your first time here, feel free to poke around and ask questions (just not that drawer). Perhaps you’d be interested in seeing the very first edition? If you like the look of the place, stick around! You can sign up here to receive a new issue every Wednesday, delivered piping hot, right to your doorstep.

So, how has your day been? Most afternoons, when my son comes home, he asks some version of this question. Or he asks what I did that day. Most days, it’s some variation of “oh, you know, writing.” Today, I submitted two pieces to two journals. That’s a big deal, regardless of whether they are accepted. No kidding, two years ago, my only writing-related goal for the year was simply to finish something. Anything. Just take one of those millions of ideas and run it through to a point of completion. So, yeah, submitting is a big deal.

But I also converted the pounds of late-summer tomatoes on the counter to both soup and sauce, and I peeled and chunked five pounds of apples, which is no easy task. Again, I speak the utter truth when I tell you that I was cheerleading myself through the last three. And now those chunks have been happily melding with sugar in the crockpot - phase one of what will be apple butter.

I also had a phone call about final edits on a freelance piece and had to follow up with an editor who had to follow up with the publisher who was supposed to be sending me a review copy that weirdly is listed in its tracking info now as “returning” (I think it was a PO Box thing?), and she’s now expressing me another copy. And I read a little more of Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste waiting for my son at the orthodontist this morning and again waiting for him at soccer practice. And I dreamed a little about the review I really need to post of David Arnold’s absolutely fantastic The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik.

And, you know, Twitter. There was a lot of dead-eyed scrolling today. And taking the trash to the dumpster. And Costco. And the Post Office. And filling the feeders. And cleaning the litter box. And wondering why the fish tank is still so murky even though it has a new filter. I wrote a letter. Read the paper. Walked the dogs.

This is life. This is writing. This is a writing life.

How about you, friends? How has your day been? What have you been up to?

Some links you might find interesting:

This interview with Rebecca Traister has instantly catapulted her to the list of people I want to keep thinking with. And I want to read her book Good and Mad: the Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger.

Ron Finley’s 2013 Ted Talk on guerrilla gardening in South Central Los Angeles is right up my alley. Years on and his Green Grounds organization is still doing important work, work I wish we could replicate in every vacant lot across this country.

Bon Appetit has had quite the tumultuous season, unbelievably not related to the pandemic. In response to some serious interrogation of its editorial leadership and the decision-making at the magazine, they have made a substantial pivot, and this essay from chef Deborah VanTrece is a wonderful addition to the latest issue. She writes — evocatively, painfully, angrily even — about the racism she has faced as a Black chef, especially in the South, and I think it is a must-read.

Meme Culture, man. I hate it. Besides being fodder for my ongoing war against meme-talk, this Atlantic piece from Helen Lewis is thought-provoking, AND it provided me with information about Hans Litten, a Jewish lawyer who got the better of Hitler in the days just before Hitler became, well, Hitler.

Published this week:

On Sundays, #WeReadPoetry, and this week it was Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic, which was tremendously good.

Deaf Republic

And Margaret Renkl (who will be part of the Southern Festival of Books next week) and her Late Migrations, which felt like a member of the family.

Late Migrations

Thanks as always for reading and thinking with me. Have comments, suggestions, or questions? Reply to this email, and I promise a response. And if you know someone who might appreciate this sort of weekly musing, please consider sharing this post with them and encouraging them to join us. There’s always room for more around this odd table.