The Delights of Distraction No.44

We’re rounding the corner of the one year anniversary, when shit hit the fan, the market hit circuit, we were vilifying the “Corona Kapoors” of the world, and we were still enjoying a state of denial before our worlds changed forever.  
 
Hindsight is a strange, complex emotion that we think everyone has struggled to grapple with in the last 12 months. We’re all struggling to decipher just how long-lasting the effects of the pandemic will be, not just globally, but locally and personally. Scrolling back through messages and emails, it’s almost makes us cringe about how ignorant we were then, and how ignorant we probably are now, of what the future will hold. We may think we will bounce back with blazing vigour like the roaring twenties - but is that optimism realistic? 
 
Anne Helen Petersen wrote in Culture Study about how even with hope in sight, we’re still going to feel awful for a while, and that’s okay. “The brain and the body do not simply bounce back from sustained labor. Going to a bunch of weddings and getting toasted might be part of a strategy, but it is not the strategy. And yet few people are actually making room for an actual strategy.” 
 
As we tentatively emerge from the surrealness of 2020, we turn to a tiny book of wisdom that rings so true for all of us now, especially now, even though the book is a series of letters written between 1974-1989. Pat Parker and Audre Lorde first met in 1969 and began exchanging letters five years later, a correspondence which continued until the year before Parker’s death. The book is a rare opportunity to glimpse inside the minds and friendship of two great twentieth century poets. Here’s extracts of Audre Lorde’s letter to Pat Parker in Sister Love:
 
Things you must beware of right now—

 - A year seems like a lot of time now at this end—it isn’t. It took me three years to reclaim my full flow. Don’t lose your sense of urgency on the one hand, on the other, don’t be too hard on yourself—or expect too much.

-  Beware the terror of not producing.

-  Beware the urge to justify your decision.

-  Watch out for the kitchen sink and the plumbing and that painting that always needed being done. But remember the body needs to create too.

-  Beware feeling you’re not good enough to deserve it.

-  Beware feeling you’re too good to need it.

-  Beware all the hatred you’ve stored up inside you, and the locks on your tender places.

 

And here’s our list to some of our favourite links of the week:
 
To Read: A heartbreaking article written by a mother whose child has disabilities, traversing the tyranny of performative happiness to justify her child’s worth and what sort of people society deems worthy. “In our society, anyone who deviates from the norm had better find some way to compensate. Like fat people, who are expected to be jolly, cripples must bear their lot meekly and cheerfully. A grumpy cripple isn’t playing by the rules. Early on I vowed that, if I had to have MS, by God I was going to do it well. This is a class act, ladies and gentlemen. No tears, no recriminations, no faint-heartedness.”
 
To Joy-Scroll: A long-standing photography series—‘Eyes as Big as Plates’—by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Since 2011, the artist duo has portrayed seniors in Norway, Finland, France, US, UK, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Sweden, Japan, Greenland, Czech Republic and South Korea - each presents a solitary figure in a landscape, dressed in elements from nature that create dramatic sculptures. It’s a gorgeous project that aims to generate new perspectives on who we are and where we belong.
 
To Listen: Nemo Dreamspaces - relaxing soothing and dreamy playlists of over three hours each designed to get you to sleep, find comfort or concentrate on a task at hand. They mostly consist of old songs that sound like they’re playing in another room. YouTube commenters say Nemo’s  Dreamscapes programs help them fall asleep, cry with joy, make their headaches go away, and invoke feelings of sweet sadness and nostalgia. Give them a listen and let us know what they evoke for you. 
 
To Explore: Museo is a visual search engine that connects you with free-to-use image repositories from several major museums and libraries around the world. Also check out  a turntable interface for music playback. You can spin a vinyl of your favorite album, dragged and dropped from YouTube. Drop the needle and find your favorite track, more or less. It’s fuzzy and inexact, and emphasizes the continuous listening experience an album can be.
 
To Learn: A great interactive learning tool about how to apologize (and whether you need to in the first place.) Most people find that they have inadvertently hurt someone even though they didn’t intend to hurt anyone. But "Intent isn't magic." That means that whether you intend to harm someone does not change whether that person was harmed. But: intent is still real, and it matters. Which is why you need to visit this website to figure out if you need to set the record straight. 
 
To WTF: Last year, Japanese scientists created a robotic hand that mimics the feeling of someone holding your hand while you walk. The hand is made from a soft pliable gel that can heat up and mildly sweat (nope, not creepy at all!) The Japanese word “hikikomori” describes people who live in extreme isolation. The problem is so bad that the country created a new cabinet role  -  the minister of loneliness - to help deal with a rising suicide rate. Quarantine rules have exacerbated a bad situation further, and if this means that folks in Japan can feel a little less alone - then we’re all for it.
 
To Cook: With holi approaching, we’re reminded of our grandma’s gujiya: crescent moon-pockets of sweet elaichi-coconut sweetness encased in a flakiness that signaled the beginning of Holi festivities; namely glorified, colourful hooliganism! This recipe is a Western-cookie riff on the gujiya, with a date-rum filling - though we also added nuts and coconut to ours. Okay, we know what you’re thinking - and NO, we don’t recommend adding bhang to these... mostly because we like to be conscious while ingesting much yumminess.  
 
To end, a poem that attempts to deal with grief we mentioned above; a year of loneliness and loss, how do you deal with the normal now?
 
"You Mean You Don’t Weep at the Nail Salon?" by Elizabeth Acevedo
 
it’s the being alone, I think, the emails but not voices. Dominicans be funny, the way we love to touch — every greeting a cheek kiss, a shoulder clap, a loud.
 
it got to be my period, the bloating, the insurance commercial where the husband comes home after being deployed, the last of the gouda gone, the rejection letter, the acceptance letter, the empty inbox.
 
a dream, these days. to work at home is a privilege, I remind myself.
 
spend the whole fucking day flirting with screens. window, tv, computer, phone: eyes & eyes & eyes. the keys clicking, the ding of the microwave, the Broadway soundtrack I share wine with in the evenings.
 
these are the answers, you feel me? & the impetus. the why. of when the manicurist holds my hand, making my nails a Lilliputian abstract,
 
I close my fingers around hers, disrupting the polish, too tight I know then, too tight to hold a stranger, but she squeezes back & doesn’t let go & so finally I can.
 
That's all for this weekend! Have a lovelyly weekend and wear your crown high : your pain may be big, but your courage be bigger. Take a deep breath, have a snack, and go out and crush it.
 
Viv & Ami