It’s May. The trees are in full leaf and the pines stretch forth new shoots like fingernails painted in tennis-ball green. Wildflowers spring up everywhere—daisies, wild iris, lupine. There are more sunny days than grey days and many of those days have been truly warm. So why do I feel so exhausted, so languid, so desiccated, so colorless? Why do I lack any creative juice for cooking or creating? Why do I keep watching one episode of a TV series and then shrug at the thought of continuing? Why does most of my reading consist of consumption followed by feeling, “It was fine, I guess”?
Surely, the pandemic plays a role. I very much resonated with this oft-shared essay in the New York Times two weeks ago, “There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing” (may be paywalled). As I head into the final week before I am “fully vaccinated” I also wonder if my body is trying to process a host of emotions (reliefexcitementtrepidationresistancecuriosity) and starting to taking cautious steps to release 15 months of tension and trauma.
Upon reflection, of course it makes sense that I and many of us would have a lot going on, you know, psychically. Which is why I also appreciate this counter to the NYT piece, “I’m Not Languishing, I’m Dormant.” The experience may feel similar but a well-placed metaphor can shift how one thinks about the experience. And how we narrativize and understand an experience can shift our relationship to it. This essay on the aptness of Susanna Clark’s Piranesi to the present moment feels like it comes from an earlier phase in the pandemic and yet had something valuable to offer on how we relate to the world even in isolation.
To close, two bright moments. P. Djèlí Clark’s novella Ring Shout is a 100%, grade A delight. It’s set in Georgia in the 1920s, during the re-rise of the KKK after the success of The Birth of the Nation only some number of Klan members are literal monsters from another dimension who feed on hate. It’s down to three Black women, a crack team of monster hunters, to keep them from taking completely over and destroying the world.
And last, I may have been the last person on the internet to hear about Prancer the Chihuahua. Described as a “haunted Victorian child in a dog’s body,” his rescue listing is hysterical and—good news—successful! Prancer has been adopted and, if his Instagram is any indication, he’s very much living his best life.