I’ve definitely been getting progressively weird throughout COVID. I’m already a bit strange, in my own way, but as I meet up with friends, I find myself apologizing for things I say that aren’t quite right. They pat my hand and tell me they’ve also been a little more isolated, a little less sure of the right thing to say, of body language. When the encounter has been sexual, everything feels heightened, more intense. Sometimes there are tears. I enjoy the intensity and the extra sense of intentionality brought to time spent with friends and lovers.
I’m very lucky that social isolation has been most difficult part of my COVID time. I’ve been very productive little bee, shooting content, writing a memoir (which I just finished the first draft of and sent off to my editor!), and completing a Kickstarter campaign! I managed to squeeze in a few indulgent candlelit baths along the way.
My latest passion project is a sizzling novel about a chaotic romance between Hillary Clinton and a young reporter. It’s been keeping a smile on my face these days and it’s been quite fun tormenting my friends by sending them excerpts from the deranged tale. Let me know if you want a peek at what I’ve written this far 😉
I met up with Tourmaline recently, an artist I had been admiring from afar during the pandemic. She recently had a wildly successful show at Chapter NY and she generously invited me into her studio to see her work up close and personal. It is beautiful, vivid, shimmering with joy and abundance. She said she selected the film in an attempt to match the palette of Technicolor, mimic the ecstatic moment of the Wizard of Oz when the film shifts from black and white to glorious color.
We discussed how so much of activism is framed around changing what is lacking instead of expanding what is good. It was something I had read a lot about in the wake of the Ferguson protests, Black activists discussing how to avoid burnout, by working from a place of hope instead of fear, visualizing and building a future of beauty and safety instead of just endlessly ramming your head fighting against the stark evil in this world. Both are needed, but hope is where emotional satisfaction with the endless work of organizing comes from. Tourmaline has a fantastic interview here if you’d like to read her thoughts.
I’ve been thinking about that with sex work for some time. As I first started organizing, so much of what I did was criticizing various companies for their discriminatory policies. Then I started shifting. I focused my energy on creating a clinic for sex workers in New York, a project which is out of my hands now, in the hands of talented and capable people, and I can’t wait to visit. While I did that, the Walking While Trans law was repealed. Eliza Orlins, a public defender, is running for Manhattan DA and has pledged to no longer prosecute sex workers. There is so much to be joyful about.
I recently devoured Ottessa Moshfegh’s startling and wildly successful novel My Year of Rest and Relaxation and simply couldn’t put it down. It’s brutal, hilarious, disturbing, and left me crying with laughter and gasping in astonishment. I then tore through her collection of short stories, Homesick for Another World. Both are wonderful and I highly recommend them. I am excited to read my way through the rest of her work.
I have also been reading Francesco Pacifico’s The Story of My Purity. It has a similar voice to Moshfegh, dark, insightful, and funny with a narrator who enjoys nothing more verbally humiliating himself and others. I picked it up after thoroughly enjoying Pacifico’s n+1 pieces on coronavirus, which I also highly recommend reading.
Movies & Shows
I’ve shifted away from my base anime tastes lately and have been consuming the high brow offerings of the Criterion Collection. They recently curated a lovely collection of feature and short films, Afrofuturism, which I have been sampling. Afronauts by Nuotama Bodomo was particularly brilliant, a short film riffing on an old Zambian space program.
They also recently added Diamontino, my favorite film of 2018, which I highly recommend watching if you are feeling defeated or depressed. It’s hard to feel sad after watching such a ridiculous and euphoric movie.
An Elephant Sitting Still another recent addition, a stark contrast to the joy of Diamontino. It’s perhaps the most bleak movie I’ve seen in my life. It’s long and brutal. The director died by suicide shortly after; I can’t say I’m surprised. The first time I saw it, I walked out of the theatre two hours in, not because I didn’t like it, but because I was overwhelmed. I walked the streets of the city crying for hours. It’s not a movie to watch if you’re in a dark place, but it is a masterful work of art.
Synonyms is a fun and very French addition. It’s silly and artful and I liked it quite a. bit. Next on my watch list is Long Day’s Journey into Night.
I have not ventured to eat indoors for some time, so I am delighted at the various offerings some of my favorite restaurants have made available. Masa has an incredibly indulgent $500 tamaki box that made me cry with pleasure. If you’ve been cooking from home a great deal, as I have, Oxalis has an incredible pantry box with fancy vinegars, delicious wines, and yummy snacks to munch on while you cook. 29b Teahouse, my favorite teahouse in the city, has tea and tea sweets available. Their mochi is sublime.