Hey there. This weekend marks the first anniversary of my #housefire. Just this week, someone who has been working reconstruction at the site reached out to me to return an old phone that was found in the rubble. It wouldn’t turn on initially, and then once it did it displayed a “heat damage” error message. After months of charging, it finally displayed the lock screen—an image of the Penny high-fiving me—and that’s what compelled them to seek me out. “She’s honestly what pulled my heartstrings of, ‘this girl has to get her phone back[,] her dog is the screensaver,’” the text read.
I don’t need the phone. I hadn’t been using it—had, in fact, dropped it in the toilet and replaced it months before the fire. But that interaction on the week of the one-year anniversary of the fire was surreal. My life now is almost unrecognizable to my life then.
I had the good fortune recently to hear Kevin Young read from his most recent poetry collection, Brown, a meditation on all things brown. Kevin has a way of incorporating both history and culture into his poetry; hearing him read was transcendent. The book is still in hardback more than a year after its release. It went into its second printing before publication. Grab a copy while you still can.
Kristen Arnett’s Mostly Dead Things is set in central Florida and centers on a Taxidermist family—mom, (adult) sister, (adult) brother—reeling from the death of its patriarch (though that is too strong a word). I read it in twenty-four hours. It’s candy in the form of a novel. Brain candy.
The premise of this newsletter is that I will recommend two books (ideally one new and one not as new) and then a third thing that is not a book. Sometimes that third thing is something else to read. Sometimes it is another form of media consumption. Last time it was succulents (if you didn’t subscribe before, you can still use the referral code qtF@XGC4n for $5 off your first box. My most recent shipment included Flapjacks and Dedos—completely unlike anything I had received previously.). This time, I want to say a hearty thank you to everyone who has supported me over the past twelve months: friends and family near and far; close and not-as-close acquaintances; my work colleagues more than they will ever know. People have been incredibly generous, with their time and their resources and their emotional support. Sometimes you don’t know the depth of what you’re going through until you’re fully immersed in it. And often times not even then.