First things first, how's your health? And how's your mental health? You hanging in? Or hanging on?
In the best of times, Wyoming is thin on mental health resources but there are a few things we want you to know about. In Teton County, there is a mental health project through the St. John's Health Foundation. Campbell County Health is offering telephone and virtual visits. And maybe the saving grace of the pandemic is that more virtual services are available. Perhaps the most ubiquitous is TalkSpace. We can't vouch for it (or any of them, actually), but want to remind you there is help out there.
Not sure where best to turn? Your best bet might be Wyoming 2-1-1. Which you can still dial up, oldschool. They'll let you know about the resources available in your corner of the state.
So, yeah, take care of yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself the grace you'd probably extend to the people around you if you still had the bandwidth. Or if you actually still had people around you (outside of whoever it is that lives in your house).
Ok. On to the lists.
A Prairie Home, Abandoned by Wyoming's own Nina McConigley | This is a throwback to 2013 sent to us by our friend Kristen while we were discussing AHP's essay...
The Call of the Long Winter by Anne Helen Petersen | We know, she shows up a lot here. It's just that her writing is so relevant and relatable right now. Can you blame us?
Year of the Rat by Simona Blat | "The rat marks this year as the beginning of some kind of new cycle, though what will be new, and whether or not it will be good, is unknowable."
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee | Because what you need now is a sprawling, epic, generational tale of racism and dislocation. (Probably not. And, also, sprawling and epic can be nice to get lost in.)
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery | Because what you need now is a book from your childhood. And from your mother's childhood. And your grandmother's childhood. (We already smashed the Little House series into racist bits in the essay section. We'll leave Anne alone.)
How Should A Person Be? by Sheila Heti | Be forewarned: the hero's journey is a gendered tale and when a woman rewrites it, she has to unravel it and start again. It might not be what you expect. You might not like her all the time. You might not like her at all. We all might be well served to sit with that and make our peace.
Anne with an "E"
Set It Up | So simple. So charming. So little brain power required.
Greta Gerwig's Little Women
Spotlight | We were introduced to a new category of movie this week:
Twitter Follows | We're subbing twitter follows (maybe not always awesome for your mental health) for a few super chill apps.
Recipes | We're swapping out recipes for a store-bought chocolate chip cookie challenge. Here are our top three, in order of preference.
Tate's Chocolate Chip Cookies | Worth the occasional splurge.
Chips Ahoy (the original original in the blue bag) | They hold up.
Pepperidge Farm Thin & Crispy | We're suckers for most things Pepperidge Farm makes. If we believed in buying stocks and not just stuffing our money in the mattress, we'd probably invest.
Just do the next indicated thing. That's it. Nothing else. Whatever is next. No planning for tomorrow, next week, next year. Just the next indicated thing. This is a trick they teach you when you're grieving because grief is heavy to carry around and sometimes you don't even notice that you're carrying it with you. Which is probably exactly the case for most people most of the time in 2020. There are massive clouds of grief all around us, both personal and collective. It has a weight, a specific weight. And it makes it harder to move through the day. So just do the next indicated thing. That's all.
Done is better than perfect. In 2020, done might also be better than good. In 2020, actually, done is really all we're looking for.
These are the darkest days of the year. But there are only twelve more of them and then it is the *best* day of the year. The day *after* the Winter Solstice when each day is longer than the day before it.
Side note for anyone interested in a religiously inflected take on the solstice and Christmas: It is probably not a coincidence that Christianity locates the birth of Christ just after the winter solstice. Here's one historical perspective from The Golden Bough by Sir James George Frazer:
"An instructive relic of the long struggle [between the Mithraic religion and Christianity] is preserved in our festival of Christmas, which the Church seems to have borrowed directly from its heathen rival. In the Julian calendar the twenty-fifth of December was reckoned the winter solstice, and it was regarded as the Nativity of the Sun, because the day begins to lengthen and the power of the sun to increase from that turning-point of the year."
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’ John 8:12 (NRSV)