Hello from the banks of Brays Bayou!
It doesn’t feel real that I’ve been in Houston for a month. My sister said the other day that this feels like a Christmas holiday that just never ended - we always come home for about two weeks, but we’ve been here double that. We celebrated Easter in the strange alone/together way that everyone celebrates everything these days - over Zoom and Google Hangouts. Actually, we didn’t even attend the same Google Hangouts services, since my parents have their home church here in Houston and I have mine in New York.
Sunday was a weird, emosh day. At the end of the service the rector of my church, who has been broadcasting from his dining room, released the mute on all our mics, and there was chaos for about two minutes as all seventy people on the call tried to say hello to one another. Like coffee hour, only chaos. As each person’s face flashed onto the screen for a moment, I could feel myself welling up. I am not the *most* consistent at attending church, but it means a lot to me to see these folks every other week.
Don’t worry, I’m not about to get all evangelical on you. (I’m Episcopalian, anyway.) But as I frantically tried to figure out how to leave the call so no one would see how awful my red crying face looked, I found myself thinking about community. A lot has been written about how weird and isolated a lot of us feel right now, but it’s also true that a lot of people felt weird and isolated before. When your glowing nightmare box is your main connection to people beyond your immediate household, it’s very easy to feel like there is no way of reaching out to people that doesn’t involve the medium act also gives you the Cheeto in Chief’s drunken tweets about hydrochloroquine.
When I started attending my church back in 2010, I felt like I had friends, but they were all work friends. I had college friends but they either didn’t live in New York or they were extremely busy with their own lives. Going to church weekly was a nice way of seeing people that give a shit that you’re there, if that makes sense. And they give a shit not because they need something from you, or they’re trying to keep tabs on your or anything like that. They just want to know how you’re doing.
In the midst of *waves vaguely* all this, whatever you can do to find those spaces - where people are just glad you’re there - do it. There is an idea kind of floating out there that writer’s groups are the way to do this. This is both true and untrue in equal measures - writer’s groups and critique groups CAN be immensely rewarding and sustaining. They can also be stressful and punitive.
I guess what I’m saying is; if something is stressing you out and you don’t absolutely have to do it for, like, work reasons, or to pay your rent or whatever - don't! You don’t have to! Especially right now! If there is a group that you joined thinking it would be helpful or soothing or sustaining and it is the opposite of any of those things, you have my permission to unsubscribe from those emails.
If you can find one of those groups, however - the group of people whose faces you’re excited to see, even if it’s a weird lightning round HELLO screamed at your computer microphone on a rapid-fire Easter Sunday - hold on to it. Even though it hurt not being able to actually say hello to anyone on Sunday - seeing their faces was a balm, and one I sorely needed. Whatever you need to do to get that feeling in this time, go for it.
I’ve started doing the paid newsletters again, on Fridays. They’re just like this, only on Fridays. Also included: more links and gifs, in case those are of interest. As always, access to the paid content is $5/month or $50/year.
If you have a question you’d like answered in these weekly Tuesday emails, please leave them in the comments! Are there any features/topics you’d like to see covered?
Chelsea G. Summers’ novel A CERTAIN HUNGER was released as an Audible Original back in October, and the print edition forthcoming from Unnamed Press now has a cover and a preorder link! This is such a fun book about food and anger and aging. I pitched it as American Psycho meets Eat, Pray, Love.
Preorder from Unnamed Press here!
This Week In Hockey
Sports: still cancelled, shockingly. But we’re starting to see efforts to get them un-cancelled, including some kind of nightmare baseball Biodome proposal from the MLB.
Socialist Star Pitcher Sean Doolittle and Wife Speak Out on MLB’s reopening proposal by Robert Silverman (The Daily Beast)
”For Doolittle and his wife Eireann Dolan, the proposal floated earlier this week to import all 30 teams to Arizona in isolation for four to five months doesn’t seem ethically or logistically feasible. Approximately 4,425 people would be required to pull this off, by USA Today’s conservative estimate—all of whom would consume desperately needed medical supplies and personnel just to bring the National Pastime back.”
Online harassment of K’Andre Miller shows why the Rangers and NHL can’t stick to sports by Adam Herman (Blueshirt Banter)
“Stick to sports” is a common notion that media members and athletes alike have heard ad nauseam. “Shut up and dribble,” was the version of the saying impressed upon LeBron James. For some, the motivation is an avoidance of politics they do not like. For others, the problem may not even be the beliefs themselves, but the desire for sports to be a sanctuary away from the “real world.” The idea is that sports and real-world societal issues should not meet. This premise is flawed. It presupposes that sports are separable in nature from Everything Else. That we can eliminate societal implications from the events happening on stage.
Fran Leibowitz is Never Leaving New York by Adam Schulman (The New Yorker)
"The only thing that makes this bearable for me, frankly, is at least I’m alone. A couple of people invited me to their houses in the country, houses much more lavish than mine. Some of them have the thing I would love to have, which is a cook, since I don’t know how to cook. And I thought, You know, Fran, you could go away and you could be in a very beautiful place with a cook, but then you’d have to be a good guest. I would much rather stay here and be a bad guest. And, believe me, I am being a bad guest.”
The Reality of Writing in Uncertain Times by Kali Williams (SFWA)
There is also this idea that writers are always just waiting for the right circumstances to sit down and pound out that book they’ve been wanting to write. It comes from the same place as the less-of-a-question-more-of-a-comment that every writer hears at some point in their career, the one where somebody says, ” I really want to write a book, I just can’t ever find the time,” as though time is hidden in a scavenger hunt and writers are hoarding the clues as if they were gold, or toilet paper.
Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway on Billionnaire Giving by Intelligencer Staff (NYmag)
Scott Galloway: When the rich guy on the block shows up with the best hose to put out your fire, it’s not saying he’s not a wonderful man. It’s saying we need to fund the fire department. A lot of billionaires, especially around tech leadership, are stepping into the void here. The fear is that this isn’t philanthropy. Philanthropy is giving without any sense or any expectation of anything in return. And then, there’s what I would call going in and buying Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet Luminous Matte Lip Color in La Romanesque. And that’s $28. And you spent some money to make yourself look better. And I think a lot of this philanthropy is not philanthropy. It’s lipstick.
This has been A Faster No, a dispatch on publishing, writing, books, and beyond. This is a free post, but if you’d like to support the newsletter and get exclusive content, paid subscriptions are available for $5/month or $50/year. Feel free to forward.