IKEA Furniture

Hey folks!

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!

  • This piece in Slate made me really want to watch Girls5eva. Way to go, Sarah Halle Corey!

  • 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!)

  • In other online shopping news, roses and thorns to Jill Gallagher’s newsletter, where I recently read about Boden. I got this dramatic AF white jumpsuit with their first-time customer discount. 

  • 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

~Writing Stuff~

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.”

Subscribe to read more.

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.

Like this newsletter? Reply with some nice words and/or forward it to a buddy! (Said buddies: Subscribe here to get this newsletter every two weeks.)

Thanks to Dot Dodd for making my sweet banner art!

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Vax to the Future

Vaxxed and ready to gooooo

Hey folks!

First off, thanks for those of you who wrote me back last time to tell me about your own anxious pets. Frank the pug continues to be extremely clingy and I guess that's just how he lives his life now. FUN!

How are you?? I have not been feeling so hot this week. I am tired even though I am sleeping a LOT and I don’t have any energy left by the time I am done with work. Today, I was laying on the couch and Chuck reminded me I could just… go to Homegoods. I’m vaccinated now. I can finally mill around a store at my leisure instead of racing in and race out before anyone can breathe on me! So I did. I got in my car, listened to a true crime podcast (instead of my usual news/politics ones), and bought some cute print wrapping paper for NO REASON. I haven’t been physically browsed an Ulta in more than a year, so that one’s next, babyyyy. Once the weather warms up more, you’ll be able to catch me with my laptop outside coffee shops again, something that makes me incredibly happy to think about.

We will have my stepson this entire weekend, which doesn’t usually happen. I’m so excited and making way too many plans with/for him. We are trying to cram in the final Harry Potter book before June 9 because we want to complete the series prior to visiting Harry Potter World at Universal. That book is like, 27 hours long on Audible, so we’ve got our work cut out for us. But we are determined!

I know things are still terrible and we have a lot of problems to work through as a country and a planet. That said, I am feeling optimistic these days. I got to have dinner with my dad and stepmom recently, outdoors at an actual RESTAURANT, and it was amazing. I just made a plan to get brunch with a friend in a couple weeks! BRUNCH! Can you believe it?

I hope things are looking up over on your end too, wherever you are.

A quick lil’ reminder: Subscriptions to the paid version of The Sleeper Hit are $5 per month, or $35 for one year. You can sign up right here!

But enough about that – Let’s move on to the matter at hand:

What I’ve Been Making for the Internet

What I’ve Been Reading

  • Today, the Ringer published an oral history of “Pine Barrens,” a famous and weird episode of The Sopranos. If you dug the show, go give it a read! 

  • Did you know season 3 of Shrill drops on Friday on Hulu? Here is a review in the A.V. Club! I dug the first two seasons so I am excited to see more. 

  • So I guess conservatives are having a meltdown over today’s news that Trump won’t get his Facebook access reinstated (yet). LOLOL

  • You may have heard that West Virginia rolled out a vaccine incentive program last month, through which those ages 16-35 will get a $100 savings bond in exchange for getting their shot(s). This NY Times article gives a rundown of other incentives being considered. Also, I read today the Yankees are going to have a vaccinated section allowing for 100% capacity, *and* they are going to offer vaccines at games! Plus, you’ll get a free ticket for a future game.

  • It’s awesome news that soon the Pfizer vaccine will be made available to children ages 12-15. In the meantime, here is an NPR article about what’s safe and not safe for unvaccinated children, according to pediatricians. I have to admit, when we booked it, I kind of assumed we’d be in better shape by the time our June trip to Universal Studios rolled around, but that’s only a month from now. We’re gonna be packing a ton of masks and hand sanitizer.

  • Stefanie shared this with me and I think it’s an important read for everyone. Know that you have the right to film police. This is a rundown on how to do it effectively and safely.

What I Loved This Week

  • I desperately want an “I’m Vaccinated” face mask or one of these cute “Vaccinated” pins!!

  • Midwest skaters! This one’s for you. If you're open to writer Mandy Shunnarah interviewing you for her forthcoming book about Midwest skatepark culture, Midwest Shreds, please answer the handful of questions in this Google survey. Midwest Shreds a book about Midwest skatepark culture. Mandy is interested in talking to roller skaters, roller bladers, skateboarders, WCMXers, and adaptive skaters who live and skate the skate parks in the Midwest, and she is especially wanting to talk to marginalized skaters (click for more).

  • Tuca and Bertie is coming back, only it will be on Adult Swim instead of Netflix! The second season premieres June 13.

  • Here is a great Twitter thread full of good advice for podcasters, whether you are starting out or established.

  • Make up folks! Do you, like me, need advice for picking out foundations and concealers? This newsletter called Hotline Skin, which exists thanks to the Forever 35 cinematic universe, is here to help. I love this newsletter so much. I’ve learned so much from its first handful of editions. (It also convinced me to finally buy some silk pillowcases.)

  • This Sunday is Mothers Day. If that day is painful for you, I am so sorry. I appreciate that more companies are providing opt-outs for MD-themed sales pitches and I hope that is a trend that continues much more in the future.

  • Want to help ease the COVID crisis in India? Here are some ways to do so.

~Writing Stuff~

The Deeper Shit Snippet

Okay, one more 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:

“Early into getting to know [D], I dived into some stepmom culture: A Facebook support group here, a podcast there, and the occasional article on a parenting site that fit my situation, or similar. It became clear to me that, for some, it’s very hard to be a stepparent because you’re often seen as a third-tier authority figure and the last one to know anything. But I feel like I have had it pretty easy -- Chuck is, by far, the most communicative partner I’ve ever had, keeping me in the loop with a schedule or logistical matter well before I ask. And he has always been very okay with me parenting at a level at which I feel comfortable.”

Subscribe to read more.

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 my cat “helping” me do push ups, dunking on Newsmax for being terrible at reporting basic information, and becoming newly obsessed with Poshmark.

Like this newsletter? Reply with some nice words and/or forward it to a buddy! (Said buddies: Subscribe here to get this newsletter every two weeks.)

Thanks to Dot Dodd for making my sweet banner art!

$ Consider supporting this newsletter via this digital tip jar $

Tip Jar

Reminder: You can now upgrade and become a paid subscriber to The Sleeper Hit: The Deeper S#!t, a more personal weekly missive!

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