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Things I’m Super Into at the End of 2020.

The main reason I’m thinking about opening up the blog again was that I want a place to talk about all the things that I’m enjoying and that nobody wants to get texts from me about.

For instance, radio shows. This is a couple decades late, but I finally understand why in old movies, the uncool music kids had radio shows. Somehow I came across me & dad radio, a six-episode series on Apple Music in which Billie Eilish and her dad, Patrick O’Connell, talk about and play songs. It is so cool! Listening to new music has always been intimidating to me, because there’s so much out there and it’s all so unfamiliar and there’s so much going on in all of it and all that. So radio shows! You can just sit down and turn on the radio and listen to someone–someone who knows more or different than you–talk about why they like particular songs–giving you something to look for, or enjoy, or know while you listen–and then you hear a new song you haven’t heard before, or you hear a song you already like but don’t listen to enough, or an artist you’ve never heard of, or an artist you have heard of but don’t know well! I love it. Also, it facilitates listening to music while doing nothing else, or doing only one thing (driving, walking, eating cake), and I think that’s very important. Anyway, listening to radio–despite acknowledging all the ways in which Apple Music is not radio–is definitely my new thing.

Speaking of music, Habibi Funk. Oh my gosh. This label digs up and releases ’70s and ’80s music from the Arabic-speaking world. It’s basically my favorite kind of music in my favorite language that I don’t speak yet and it’s all new to me and, I am 99% sure, to you. Listen to their selection albums while making dinner. It is great music to focus on, and also works well in the background when you’re trying to figure out a strange line of the recipe or when dishwashing gets noisy and clangy.

Speaking of focus: Madeleine said she’d heard good things about Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing; I was skeptical, based on the trendy cover and a vague memory of glossy, empty mentions of the book, but I started reading. It’s so good. Odell has read much more widely and thought much more rigorously than most of the Instagrammers producing “slow down” mantras, and, despite the cover’s “New York Times BESTSELLER” proclamation, criticizes capitalism far more often and truthfully than the NYT would ever dream of doing. Most of all, though, it’s very on-brand for me: Odell surveys the failures of ’60s communes and calls us to instead follow Thomas Merton and hope with certainty. It screams exvangelical sermon illustration.

There’s more, but that’s enough for now. Enjoy.

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Books I’ve Read in 2019

Last year, someone said to me, “but the point of reading a book isn’t to finish it and put it on a list of books you say you’ve read!,” and I thought “oh, you have no idea that that’s exactly what I do.” I’m trying to move away from looking at books as something to achieve and complete, yet I still like to be able to look back on and remember what I’ve read. So far this year —

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Hey there. It’s been a while. I’ve got some thoughts about returning to writing and taking pictures again soon, but they’re still only thoughts.

For now, I can tell you that Fleming Rutledge’s The Crucifixion was my favorite book I read in 2018, with Iris Murdoch’s The Green Knight runner-up. It took me over a month of 2019 to slog through Murdoch’s The Sea, the Sea; I’d been told to read it several times, but it was my least favorite of hers so far. And I know I read something else before that, but I can’t remember what, and that suggests it wasn’t a win.

I can tell you that Bon Appetit’s Adult Mac & Cheese is worth getting down by memory and feel, without measuring cups; it’s not revolutionary, but it’s quick and just a few ingredients and less frustrating than cacio e pepe. Alison Roman’s The Stew, as Instagram calls it, is worth the hype.

Finally, I’ve been thinking about Chuck DeGroat’s words on Transfiguration Sunday & Ash Wednesday. I am a speck of dust. The world was made for me.

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