172. READ.LOOK.THINK.

Very Quiet Foreign Girls, binge eating, the pain of revision, older Millennials owe younger ones an apology (and Lorrie Moore goes IN). Lastly: collapse is not the end.

Keiko Kitamura and Terry Ellis's Brixton home in House and Garden.

Dear friends,

A quick one today because I still have to pack the whole house up to move 800m down the road (so far I’ve mainly sat in frozen horror and thrown out a few children’s toys: “Mummy, where’s my broken Kinder Surprise car?”)

READ.

Profound and hopeful: Consider the Greenland shark.

The Very Quiet Foreign Girls poetry group made me google “train to be a teacher UK.”

The way I ate: binge eating explored in the New Yorker; such a moving final paragraph.

Patricia Lockwood's coronavirus diary.

"One time, he was behaving so badly that I shut the computer. I thought this was a punishment—tough but fair—but all it taught him was that you could make the whole thing go away. He started shutting the computer whenever he grew bored." I love Keith Gessen's parenting writing. On distance learning. On "discipline." And (in times we did not realise we would one day call “happier”) on finding his son a school.

“It is morally a novel, even though it’s very closely based on my real experience of those three terrible weeks in my life. By calling it a novel I’m saying: this is not a memoir, this is not nonfiction, this is a novel and there will be things in here that are invented, that didn’t really happen, and I’m going to take… every sort of liberty I need to take in order to turn it into the sort of book I want it to be.” Helen Garner quoted in this very good essay about her work and “fictionalised self.”

“If catastrophe (according to the theory of tragedy) is the dramatic event that initiates the resolution of the plot, then its absence suggests a possibility that the tragic plot will never be resolved. A catastrophe, in other words, might be a trap, but it also allows for a narrative escape. If you were lucky enough to have survived the catastrophic plot twist, you get to tell the story—you must tell the story.”

Meaghan on the pain of revising old drafts. (There are two ways into a theatre...)

When dancers have to miss the last dance.

Surprise, surprise, once again a novel that everyone raved about has been proved amazing: spent this week in love with Crazy Rich Asians.

And three friends have brilliant books out now or imminently: pre-order Emily Gould’s Perfect Tunes (read-in-a-day and have 2-3 cathartic cries), Victoria Hannan’s Kokomo (come for the bravura opening and stay for poignance) and lastly, perfect-eyebrowed humourist Sophie Heawood’s single motherhood memoir Hungover Games. (Her interview about it on Emma Gannon’s podcast was great.)

Lots have people have said they’re finally able to read novels again after the pandemic blasted their brains and nervous systems. Here’s a list of some of my all-time reccs.

LOOK.

STUNNING. HOMES. And a converted butcher’s?

And speaking of beautiful lifestyles, I loved this caption:

Whenever I create an image like this one, I always get at least one person asking with a raised eyebrow whether I really eat strawberry’s with one arm outstretched and one leg extended for effect! 😂. It always makes me chuckle because of course - while many of my images are glimpses of my everyday life, many of them also feature a fantasy version of a life that exists only in my head. I’ve said it before, but I spent most of my career in the fashion industry, organising and producing shoots for other people. I was an efficient and highly organised vessel for the creative endeavours of others and was never able to explore my own creativity. These Instagram squares are thus the culmination of a lifetime of vision boards that have finally been allowed to be set free from my mind - and I am thoroughly enjoying myself with it. There is a freedom in reaching an age where you can admit to having felt pain, to have felt duty, to have been that serious person... I have been committed to causes, I have marched for my beliefs. I have had my down years, my insecure years, my lost years. I have lost people that I have loved, and I have had to walk away from ambitions that I have harboured...and yet I have kept smiling.
I am fifty years of age and I see no shame in enjoying pretty dresses, and attempting to live life as beautifully and as positively as I can. Empathy, politics and an awareness of the world issues around us can sit side by side an enjoyment of beauty... one does not negate or diminish the other, and there is a place for both to coexist.
I say this not as an excuse, but as a rallying cry to those of you out there who may feel too intimidated to explore your creativity. Being a joy seeker is like therapy to a weary soul so please don’t be afraid. Show your face, show your homes, show your gardens and celebrate your version of beauty - IF that’s what makes you happy. Be the curator of your own galleries and take the vision boards from your minds and explore them in your real life. Pull that Rubenesque stance and pose like Dovima - After all - life is hard enough without feeling pressured into being self censored by the frivolity police! Happy Sunday! 💫😘x
July 19, 2020

Favourite renovators on IG: @rona_renovation, @since_1859. By far my favourite interiors blog.

Seven methods tested for washing and drying salad. The clear winner was (still click if you want): the salad spinner. How lined-dried laundry gets its nice smell. (You can be too clean!)

Like everyone else with BBC/HBO, and people who know how to pirate television, I was glued to Michaela Coel’s I Will Destroy You. A profile. Her lecture.

THINK.

“Your shame is self-protective, and has a reflexive superiority attached to it that keeps you safe from having to consider other people’s feelings and realities. That superiority likes to tell you that you’re tough and interesting and better than most people, but your shame tells you that you’re weak and terrible and far worse than most people at the same time. You’re battered by extremes every day, and you’re also incredibly moody, so you’re very afraid of your emotions and how they take over everything when you don’t feel secure. You handle all of that chaos by trying to punitively discipline yourself into being a better, calmer, more predictable person, but all your punishment does is exhaust you and make you even more ashamed of yourself and even more afraid of the future.

“If the uncannily accurate descriptions of your personal villain imply that he or she is outside the empire of normal mental health, flickering eerily at the edge of pathology, why do these descriptions also (in moments you quietly bury deep inside you) remind you, sometimes, of an entirely different person—that is, you?” On narcissism.

Older millennials as "the grateful generation": "The 9-5 and Working Girl of our era was The Devil Wears Prada, which taught us that the best way to deal with a bad boss and a toxic workplace is to quit. But, if quitting wasn't an option — either because we cared too much about our careers or lacked the funds to just stop working — we were supposed to find ways to exist within the broken system, by heeding the unspoken rules, watching our own backs, and privately fixing things when they went wrong. Along the way, many of us did more than just survive a bad situation. We learned how to thrive within these environments, becoming devils ourselves. We, the Grateful Generation, owe you younger people in the room an apology." (And did you see Lorrie Moore on millennials? I felt exhilarated reading someone who didn’t care that Twitter was about to get very upset with them.)

“Black women in Britain reside outside the imagined boundaries of the nation even as we’re commanded to hold it together. Black women have spent a lifetime being made to go where the disease is.”

Collapse is the horizon of our generation. But collapse is not the end — it’s the beginning of our future.

X Jess

On Instagram @dailydoseofjess | Twitter @dailydoseofjess.