This list was supposed to up for February, but we’ll let it count for March instead. If the weather where you are is still swinging between winter and spring, then this list should be just right.
Every Christmas for many years, my dad gives us all daily calendars featuring works in the New York City MoMA. It’s the best bang-for-its buck gift I know – every day, I look forward to changing the picture, and guessing the artist, place, and time period. You can’t see it too well here, but I love the messy, thick detail and riotous colors of these poppies and other wildflowers, anchored by that bold indigo on the golden vase. It’s perfect for getting through late winter days by anticipating color and light and warmth. Take a look at more of his works; they range from traditional and bright to dark and fantastical, and I like them all.
If you like masterful historical fiction, a compelling mystery, and art + books, then I think you’ll like this novel. I devoured it in less than a week of evenings, and I loved the escape of slipping into war-torn Sarajevo, 19th century Vienna, and 14th century Africa as it traced the journey of an illuminated Jewish prayer book. Can I also just say how much I love the indigo/gold on black cover? It’s gorgeous and I’m a sucker for beautiful book covers.
I’m watching Netflix again! This is not a show I would have picked up on my own, but the boyfriend is a big fan and now I am too. I love the fast-paced, dense dialogue, the quirky characters, and the unabashed idealism. It’s a fantastic antidote to the reality of the current political climate, and plus I get to see Dule Hill, a favorite from Psych, as a little baby actor. It also makes the stakes of my own job seem so much less stressful.
4. OCD Management
I was reminded in January that I have OCD. I had forgotten. I was reminded by finding myself unable to move from bed and wanting to die. Like the dinosaurs in one of my favorite childhood films, it’s back.
This painful reminder forced me to realize —yet again— that OCD may give me breaks for a while, but it is likely never going away completely. I hate that. I hate it. But it’s a fact, and like a diabetic who forgets she can’t eat 5 doughnuts just because she’s been managing her insulin really well, I forgot that I can’t expect this disorder to simply disappear. It hit me hard in January–the worst it’s been in several years–and I’m back to practicing sitting with the awful thoughts (my OCD manifests as “Pure O“), sitting with the anxiety, and trying to resist compulsions (checking, mental rites, etc). OCD/anxiety disorders often bring depression along to play, and that’s happened for me as well this time. It’s been a struggle to get out of bed many (most) mornings, which is also something I hadn’t dealt with in so long that I thought it was behind me.
If you struggle with similar issues, please know you’re not alone. And that you’re not weak if you thought you conquered something, only to find it appear again and lay you out flat on your back. I’m right here with ya.
5. Teaching Literature
For the first time in four years, I’m teaching literature again – and loving it, of course. I have the most beautiful group of students this semester, and they are often the highlight of my week. I love sitting crossed legged on the table at the front of the room, exploring with them what literature has to say to our lives, glowing with pride as they continually astound me with their courage and insight. The other day, a student exclaimed, “I wish we had this class every day!”
“ME TOO!” I said, and meant it. They love each other, and I love them.
So far, we’ve explored dementors and depression in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, questioning religion in King Lear, and the cycle of family trauma in The Gathering by Anne Enright. Up next: The Royal Tenenbaums and Pride and Prejudice. Bonus points to anyone who can guess the theme of the course.
I’ve got a feeling April will feature some seasonal T.S. Eliot, compelling (and disturbing) nonfiction, Joan Baez and podcasts.