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CORRECTION: Latif Nasser's excellent Netflix show is called "Connected"
Life's Library Book Club: (You can join for free or subscribe.)

In which John talks about stuff that is helping him through, which actually turns out to be helpful in and of itself.

Stuff recommended in this video includes:

Feeling the wind against human skin (an experience available outdoors)
Foosballers (available wherever you get movies)
The Speed Cubers (available on Netflix)
Solving Rubik's Cubes (Great tutorial:
Connected (available on Netflix)
The Other Latif (a Radiolab series available wherever you get podcasts)
Invisibilia (ditto)
Heavyweight (so good for crying)
Planet Money (podcast)
Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar (esp. recommended if you can read it with Sarah's high school notes in the margins)
Jacqueline Woodson's Behind You
E. Lockhart's The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
Making lists of the things that are getting you through

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Book club:
aaaaaaaaaaaaauahauhh god.

Good morning, Hank, it's Tuesday.  

You know how like, every e-mail right now begins "I hope you're holding up okay"?  I am not holding up okay, but--actually, there's no 'but' to that sentence.  Like a lot of people I know with chronic mental health problems, I am having a hard time. 

We do, however, have to get through this.  Like, we literally have to, so today, I'd like to share some things that are helping me get through it right now and I'm hoping in comments you'll let me know about some things that are helping you get through and then we can learn from each other and together we can get through better and be encouraged, okay, let's start with wind.

Lately, I find it very helpful to go outside.  I mean, in-line with local restrictions, and just like, feel the wind on my skin.  This works when it's a barely perceptible breeze or when it's like, gale force.  Wind is just so weird and wondrous and feeling it makes me aware of my aliveness.  

Also, wind just reminds me that the Earth contains like, a lot of air and at a time when sharing air in the narrowest sense is very dangerous, sharing air in the largest sense remains absolutely essential.

Then there's TV/movies/YouTube/whatever we're gonna call visual media in the future.  I've been watching a lot of documentaries lately.  I really enjoyed Foosballers, a movie about high-level foosball playing and also Sue Kim's short film, The Speed Cubers, both of which I guess are about people obsessed with niche sports, which is kind of my genre. 

I think I just love stories about humans making meaning where none inherently exists, like at a foosball table.  By the way, I am not a speed cuber, but I can now reliably solve a rubik's cube in under three minutes.  I love this thing.  

I've found it very helpful to pick up an activity that occupies some of my mind without requiring all of it, and Rubik's cubes are kind of like, Tetris or trail running in that they put me into a calm flow state that I really need at the moment.

Also, I really love the Netflix show Connections, hosted by Latif Nasser from RadioLab.  Whether he's talking about sewage or dust, the show gives me a feeling of wonder and it also models how intellectual inquiry happens for me.  Like, making and finding connections is when learning becomes exciting for me.

While we're on the subject of Latif Nasser, I cannot recommend his RadioLab series "The Other Latif" enough. It is brilliant.  

Also, I've been listening to Invisibilia and Heavyweight when I need to cry which is often and I've found Planet Money really helpful for understanding the knockoff effects of the pandemic.

And then there are books.  Oh, thank god for books.  In hard times, I like to return to books I've loved in the past, like I recently reread The Bell Jar and our copy is Sarah's copy from high school so I got to see all her under-linings and notes in the margins, which was just so lovely.  

I also reread some young adult novels I love, including Jacqueline Woodson's Behind You which made me cry so hard I couldn't see the words on the page and E. Lockhart's The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks which is maybe my favorite boarding school novel ever.  

Also, while I always love the Life's Library book club, where Nerdfighteria reads books together while raising money to fight maternal mortality, I really love it right now.  We just read Bernadine Evaristo's brilliant novel Blonde Roots and now we're reading Paige Lewis's Space Struck, which, among many other things, is an exploration of anxiety and dread and it really makes me feel less alone.  

I mean, I've quoted this before in a vlogbrothers video because it just so perfectly describes how I feel.  I feel as if I'm on the moon, listening to the air hiss out of my space suit and I can't find the hole.  I'm the vice president of panic and the president is missing.

That's it.  I'm the vice president of panic and the president is definitely missing.  

Anyway, if you wanna join us, you can find out more about the book club at  

Now that I've made this list, 1) I feel better, 2) it occurs to me that watching documentaries and reading and community and even practicing the Rubik's cube are all ways of learning and listening and these days that really is where I'm finding meaning and comfort, in learning from others and listening to others, even if from afar.

Hank, I'll see you on Friday.