After a way-too-cool spring, it is 82 degrees out at last and I am L-I-V-I-N-G. That also means Chuck is miserable and will be for the next several months. He runs so much hotter than I do and it is honestly one of the few stress points in our marriage. A while ago I was wearing a thick hoodie and sweats and he asked me if I thought it was a little warm in the house. I cracked up laughing and told him I was having the realization in that very moment that I am going to be cold for the rest of my natural life. It’s summer, babyyyy! It’s *my* time to shine (but also my time to wear a blanket at my desk because our house is a refrigerator).
So this mask mandate stuff, huh? And by that I mean, the removal of them? How are we feeling? Until earlier this week, I hadn’t been out in the world since the CDC announced that vaccinated folks can forego them if they want. But after work on Tuesday I went to Old Navy and Ulta, to return an online clothes order and then to immediately spend that money on a Clinique skincare set, and both those stores are still requiring masks, it looks like (at least the locations by me). Then I went to sit inside a Starbucks for the first time in 15 months and there was a sign on the door that says masks are optional if you’re vaxxed.
I will be keeping mine on for the foreseeable future, and that’s for a few reasons. I’m not gonna lie, when I first got the news that vaxxed folks are protected, I thought maybe I’d skip masks. You know few people actually like wearing them, right? I feel like the anti-mask crowd doesn’t fully grasp that. But anyway, then I did more reading on it and there are entire populations of people being forgotten by this new guidance, including my own stepson, who is too young to get vaccinated just yet. This isn’t to mention immunocompromised folks who, according to recent reporting, might not be generating the antibodies they need after getting their shots.
Chuck and I booked our June trip to Universal Studios earlier this spring with the belief there would be a mask mandate in place. But my friend Jen sent me their updated guidelines as of this week, and the park isn’t requiring masks outdoors anymore -- just inside. They claim to be only allowing a limited capacity, but I’d really like to know what that is going to look like before we show up in three weeks. I think Chuck and I are just going to have to keep wearing masks there to set a good example for my stepson, since it’s not really fair he can’t skip out on them just yet.
But Meryl, you might be thinking, kids aren’t as likely to get sick! And to that I say, okay! But also like, 300 kids have died from this bullshit and I don’t want him to be 301?? Plus, we don’t know what the lingering effects of COVID are going to look like for anyone down the line.
I liked this article in the Washington Post this week about kids and vaccinations, particularly this bit:
“But you can remain comforted by the low mortality rate in pediatric covid patients while understanding that risk is far more than a single number. Any mortality rate, no matter how low, is a percentage that translates to a greater number of deaths when there are a greater number of people affected, and vaccinating children will lead to fewer covid deaths.”
Anyway, this big ass change is making me a little sorry we booked our trip, but I hope we can make the most of it all the same. If you’ve had a recent experience at Universal, or will in the next three weeks, please hit me up with what that was like!
But enough about that – Let’s move on to the matter at hand:
What I’ve Been Making for the Internet
I published a second e-book, once again in partnership with my friend and talented collaborator, Sarah Morton Taggart! This book, IKEA Furniture, features three of my never-before-published essays and four illustrations by Sarah, including the cover art above. (Just a warning, if you are related to me, you might want to skip this one!!) You can grab a copy via PayPal for five bucks. (PS, if PayPal’s not your thing, reply to this email and we’ll figure something out!)
For Clutch MOV, I wrote a profile about a new local Filipino restaurant in my area and took some nice pictures. The food is SO GOOD, you guys. I also contributed to this staff roundup of the first things we did the second we were fully vaxxed! (Naturally I talked about taking my mother-in-law and sister-in-law to Trader Joe’s.)
On my podcast, The Sleeper Hit Podcast, I interviewed a West Virginia state delegate about her efforts to codify the right to food in our state. Listen to Del. Danielle Walker’s (D-Monongalia, 51) episode here! Then, I got to talk to an Ohio activist about her efforts to get Ranked Choice Voting as an option for the state. Thanks to Elizabeth Gentner for breaking down this cool idea in an easy-to-understand way!
My podcast did not win its category in Best of the Mid Ohio Valley, but! My cat made it onto this photo announcement of the best local veterinary services. That is *basically* the same kind of accolade!!
What I’ve Been Reading
This article makes the case for getting offline a lot more now that the pandemic is ending. “Yes, the internet is a part of our daily lives, inextricably linked from most of the things we do, now. But when not entirely necessary, the internet should be known as the place where work and procrastination get done, and that’s it.” I don’t know about stigmatizing the internet exactly, but I’m definitely interested in spending less time on Facebook and maybe even deleting it altogether.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Catch Me If You Can, you gotta read this article. There is a new book out about its main subject, Frank Abagnale, Jr. and it turns out his biggest con might have been getting everyone to believe he was a wildly successful con man??
During quarantine, I bought a lot of random stuff on Target dot com to solve a bunch of small annoyances around my house, and Anne Helen Petersen gets that. If working out was my ride-or-die coping mechanism, online shopping was a close second.
This article gets to the heart of why what’s going on with John Mulaney is so fixating. He was easy to root for, and here we are. No matter what, I hope he is doing okay with his recovery!
I *loved* this Atlantic article about “familect,” aka, the secret language households share with each other, because this is definitely a thing in my house. Chuck, his son, and I have inside jokes on inside jokes and while most of them are references to sketch comedy we don’t let a 7-year-old watch, we love it all the same. And that’s just how my family was growing up! There would be sentences my mom or dad would say to each other and they’d both crack up out of nowhere. It was nice.
What I Loved This Week
I asked Twitter where women in their mid-30s get shorts and the internet really came through. It turns out the answer is Poshmark, where I got these amazing Madewell shorts for $24. (I also got these Nine West shoes!)
Roller derby folks: FYI, Snot Sessions begins May 27. It’s sixteen weeks of skater skills and drills. It’s $59/month for four months, so it’s not cheap, but take a look and see what you think! Way back in the Before Times, I did a shorter version of this clinic and it was great for drills in small spaces and an awesome overall workout.
I adore Kelsey Weekman’s newsletter, Okay Zoomer, which catches me up on the TikTok celeb news I don’t have time to research myself. If you want to be in the loop about the teenz, let Kelsey break it down for you in an engaging, funny digest.
A new Alison Bechdel graphic novel just came out!
A big thank you to Kirsten at Big League Pins, who sent me some COVID-19 vaccinated pins! I said in my last newsletter I wanted a way to let essential workers know they’re safe around me and Kirsten wrote me back to let me know about these. They’re so CUTE! Spread the vaccination word with them here.
The 2021 List of Twitter Calls for Pitches/Submissions Google Doc is up to date! There are a lot of good tweets from editors who want your pitches right now.
The Deeper Shit Snippet
Just a reminder, there is now a premium version of The Sleeper Hit! It’s called The Deeper Shit and it is a new personal essay delivered to your inbox each week. Here is a lil’ preview of what last week’s was about:
“This has been such a lost weekend, in a year chock full of those. Yesterday I was supposed to go roller skating indoors with my derby teammates for the first time in 14 months, and today the couple that introduced me and Chuck led a bike ride with a bunch of other cool people in Athens. I had to cancel all of that because I got a cold last week, and so did Chuck. We had never been ill at the same time before, and wow, I do NOT recommend it. I don’t remember the last time I was bowled over by a cold, but maybe the sensation of not having one for so long made having one just TOO MUCH. Anyway, I hung out with NyQuil instead and here I am Sunday night, well again *just* in time for Monday morning.”
Okay, that’s all for this installment! Hit reply if you like this newsletter and I’ll write you back. Or, hit forward if you’ve got a buddy you think would be into it. Later, folks!
About me: I’m a writer based in the Mid Ohio Valley after having lived in Chicago and Portland for a few years. Follow me on Instagram (@merylkwilliams) and Twitter (@MerylWilliams) for social media posts about wading into Stepmom TikTok, finding subtle Pride decorations for Appalachia, and being jealous of Chuck for being free from Facebook.
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