19 weeks into the year & sometimes, nothing feels substantial
In this edition of seastarya: everyday life plot points, my thoughts on The Secret History by Donna Tartt (so far), & a moment of recognition for the whiny reflections piling up in my drafts that I’ll definitely learn from at some point
May is officially here and kicking. I embarked on many walks to my neighborhood coffee shop. I went on a baseball game excursion. I visited tide pools for the first time in more than six months (the picture above is of Aeolidia loui, one of the many gorgeous beautiful stunning sea slugs I saw that day). I traveled to see my partner in LA, and I cracked some major plot struggles in the silly little novel I’m working on. I logged out of my personal Instagram, but I made another video for work that I’m (probably way too) proud of. And we’re just a third of the way into the year, but I’m severely behind on my text messages (though no surprises here, really).
Mostly, I’ve been trying to embrace slowing down and staying present.
Right now, I’m in the midst of The Secret History by Donna Tartt, The Book of Delights by Ross Gay, Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer (more on this coming in a currently half-drafted post that I’m trying *real* hard to actually finish), and The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. I’m three (soon to be four) books behind on my entirely arbitrary 2022 reading goal, but looking back, I think it’s very much due to selecting books that just take more time to take in.
The latter three books I listed (reasonably) don’t feel like inherently binge-able books solely because of how essay-based they are. The Secret History, though, was something I assumed I’d read in a few sittings based on the premise and the rave reviews I’ve come across, both online and by word of mouth. Turns out, I’m actually struggling to get through it because I find it incredibly dense and—to be honest—pretty boring. It’s packed with phenomenal writing that I recognize has immense layers within, but the narrative pace is glacial. It gives ✨literary🤌🏽✨ to the max.
This book feels like it was written to be literature rather than a story … which is good and fine, especially considering the academia setting and (harmfully so) stereotypically intellectual characters, but as I cross the 60% mark in the book, I’m reckoning with the fact that my hard-literature muscle hasn’t been exercised in a long while. From the portion I’ve read, I understand that a big theme is descent-into-madness. I might change my mind on this once I finish reading (because it’s definitely at least good enough to make me want to complete it), but at this point I’m swimming in loose ends and cyclical pieces of story that I as a reader am being driven a little mad. Although, maybe that was intentional. For literary reasons.
Anyways, TL;DR my final feelings on this book are yet to be decided, but The Secret History definitely has contributed to my slow reading lately. Friends, hit me up if you want to start a book club for Highly Literary Works (to the ones who already have, I’ll be bugging you soon; as soon as I catch up on my 80,000+ aforementioned unread texts).
I imagined I’d pivot this newsletter as a place to document things I learned about science and museums and communication, media I consume, art-and-other projects I’m working on, growth of my houseplants … BUT (here comes the whining) lately, everything I draft with the intention to share, I end up deeming to exist in the realm of too-self-serving-for-a-public-blog. In the months since revamping and reviving this site, I’ve become intimately familiar with the nebulous and hyper-fixated self-awareness that’s arrived with my mid-twenties—realizing that it’s good and great to always externalize and document lessons in the moment for my future self to later reflect on … but also that, for me, many of those things aren’t quite meant for this newsletter that’s shared with other humans. (The emergent result of a dramatic-voice journal feels pretty ripe for future fiction projects, though.)
Teenage Arya would’ve hit publish on anything that had a whiff of opinion or reflection, full send. But as of now, I’m trying to practice organizing and re-organizing and re-re-organizing what I learn as a way to engage with things I’m interested in more meaningfully. In other words, slowing down and staying present.