When I last updated, I was a temporary New Englander. Now I live in a rented room in a little bungalow in South Tampa and work in a county bureau for the Tampa Bay Times, covering crime and features and pretty much anything that happens in my 868-square-mile coverage zone. Florida is growing on me now that we've reached the winter sweet spot — 70-degree weekend days, bright palms against clear skies.
My time at the Globe wrapped up more quickly than I could comprehend; one day I was driving two hours north to the house of James Foley's parents and a few days later I was lying in bed at 11 a.m. with nothing to do. I filled the still pockets of time with trips: rental bikes on a tiny island in Maine, the water and wildflowers and cliffs too beautiful to really comprehend; frozen lemonade and pizza in Providence; salt-and-vinegar chips and a lesson in sailing on a blue-sky day in Boston Harbor.
And now I'm here. So: here are the best things I've been reading and thinking about lately:
I read 51 books in 2014, a whole bunch of which were excellent. I'd recommend: The Interestings / Americanah / Just Kids / Self-Help / The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing / The Glass Castle / Last Night: Stories / Fair and Tender Ladies / The Woman Upstairs / Bastard out of Carolina / The Miseducation of Cameron Post / Euphoria.
More book stuff because I am who I am: The Millions' 2015 book preview. Some great books I've read so far this year: All the Birds, Singing / Thank You For Your Service / Fun Home. Oh, also, I started compiling quotes I love in one place.
Some more Bechdel for good measure: a reflection on a love let slip away.
Little things: The ghost in the machine/ Clouds / Rooney Mara's style in Her / A poem / Winter swimmers / early 60's Humans of Cape Town / Pretty wallpaper / Love & donuts / Gym man / Iceland in photos / What your subway reading says about you / Heart like a four-poster bed / Losing words / On wearing a uniform / A Really Bad Month.
I've spent the last few months listening almost exclusively to Sharon Van Etten, especially her 2010 album, Epic, plus some alt-J and Alvvays.
"Living your life stuck in the morass of whether or not you’ve achieved enough is counterintuitive to the only thing that powers actual success, which is forward motion."
Tobias Wolff's short story "Nightingale," heard on PRI's Selected Shorts, and his Art of Fiction interview.
New York from above in winter and in summer.
My favorite podcasts of the moment: Anna Sale's Death, Sex & Money (she asks such thoughtful questions) / TLDR (bite-sized and consistently interesting) / Slate's Double X Gabfest / Invisibilia.
"It is impossible to eat well in groups if you cannot eat well alone. I think this is true of anything — if it’s not what you do when no one’s looking, it will never be truly what you do."
A hodgepodge of good journalism: You’re 16. You’re a Pedophile. You Don’t Want to Hurt Anyone. What Do You Do Now? An empathetic piece on a difficult subject by Luke Malone. / Wrong Answer, or what happens when a group of determined teachers push back against the system by fudging standardized test results. / A fascinating profile of the gloriously strange Tilda Swinton. / The Mountains Where Women Live as Men.
"The booming world of web media is almost entirely non-union, for reasons that are as much generational as structural."
What to do when you're falling out of love with New York City, or, with some adjustments, any city.
"And we all get mired in the bullshit, the personality quirks, the personality disorders (ours and everyone else’s), the jealousy, the disappointment, the blocks, the financial struggle, our egos, I do it too, I do it too, but if you can’t remember it is all about the work and nothing else then I can’t help you and you can’t help yourself and you will lose. I promise you. You will lose."