Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vacciiiiiiine

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a cream-colored background with ink line drawings of black and red wavy lines and bulbous shapes, with light blue veins in the background
Camillo Golgi, Sulla fina anatomia degli organi centrali del sistema nervoso (1885)   

This week
A medical professional gently suggested to me recently that I am stressed. Putting this detail in the newsletter does not feel like much of a personal disclosure: A year into this pandemic, every single one of us is feeling weighed down, pent up, worn thin. Yet I was puzzled by her observation. I told her, "I am standard-busy with work, not up against any major deadlines, with fewer obligations than usual." How could I be stressed? She pointed out—again, gently—that it's possible to be emotionally stressed.

"Ohhhhhhh," I said. Of course. The cumulative psychic toll of not seeing and hugging most of my loved ones, of doing without the travel and pastimes that bring me joy, the crushing sameness of the days, the worrying about the lives and livelihoods of others. For a full year. Stress. Indeed.

How is it possible that I talk constantly about this pandemic and the difficult accommodations it has required from all of us, yet I am surprised that I feel the effects? It's absurd. On a related note, we're talking about burnout on the podcast this week. How to recognize it. Why it's more than just "being tired." And how hard it is to deal with it in a pandemic. 

I'm reading
A tough but important read about an overwhelmed funeral home in East Los Angeles. How the pandemic has hit disabled workers extra hard. What it's really like to use a prosthetic limb—and why even the most advanced technology is not so great. The health care system is cruel to fat people, so qualifying for the vaccine because of obesity is a complex experience. A damning rundown of all the ways medical racism is killing Black women, who are also in the midst of a burnout epidemic. Illustrating Black history, one portrait at a time. What should be the biggest story in sports right now. Actress Youn Yuh-jung, whose career that spans over half a century, on coming to America and being seen as "a Far East nobody." Jenna Lyons on falling in love with a woman and being outed at age 43. Hari Nef on the agony and the ecstasy of getting mistaken for cisgender. Gabrielle Bellot on Octavia E. Butler’s science fiction, and Patricia Lockwood on the delights of Elena Ferrante. The agony of email. Rest in power, Bunny Wailer.

Pie chart
What do we REALLY not need right now? 20% The news that Kris Jenner had no symptoms and tested negative for COVID-19, 15% Email from a coffee shop we don't even remember visiting, 35% Dad's insistence on still going in to the office, 20% Advice on how sticking to a schedule makes it easier to work from home, 10% That third sleeve of Thin Mints
The Original Pandemic Pie
(A re-run from March 2020, back when we thought this thing might just last a month, aka before I realized I'd go on to make a dozen pandemic-related pie charts. Updates: Dad is working from home, coffee shops have stopped emailing, celebrities are jumping the vaccination queue instead of the testing queue, and it's Girl Scout Cookie Season again.)

Thanks to my paying members for sponsoring this pie chart! You can join them: Become a paying member for just $15/year.

I’m looking & listening
I've been enjoying the German time-travel show Dark, even though it's got some heavy plot points. LaToya Ruby Frazier's portraits that champion the working class. 

GIF of Dolly Parton singing  "Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vacciiiiiine, 'cuz once you're dead, then that's a bit too late."
So much to love about Dolly getting the vaccine: The "dose of her own medicine," the Jolene cover, the shoulder-cutout top.

I endorse
Ok, actually I don't endorse this headline, and that's the point:
Screenshot of a headline: Post Malone covers Hootie for Pokemon anniversary
Did you see this headline last week? If you were alive and listening to music in the 1990s, maybe you had lol-barf feelings about this "news" like I did. I came up with a game based on this headline, and have been playing it with various friends over text message. It's kind of like MadLibs, but for generating your personal cultural nightmare.

Here's the formula: [a modern artist you dislike] covers [a popular 90s song you always hated] for the 25th anniversary of [a cultural relic you'd be comfortable leaving behind in the mid 90s].

Some examples, so you'll see what I mean:
  • Chris Brown covers Rob Thomas x Santana’s "Smooth" in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Tickle Me Elmo
  • Tekashi6X9 covers Crazytown's "Butterfly" for the 25th anniversary of the Tamagotchi
  • Jonas Brothers cover Chumbawamba's "Tubthumping" for the reboot of Boy Meets World.
  • Kylie Jenner covers Goo Goo Dolls' "Name" for the 25th anniversary of the film Big Daddy
  • The Weeknd covers Sugar Ray's "Every Morning" for the 25th anniversary if The Jenny McCarthy Show 
Everyone's personal cultural nightmare is different. Apologies to anyone whose faves are listed above. The game is admittedly very stupid, but my friends' responses also made me laugh a lot.

If you weren't alive in the 90s or if you run out of steam listing the worst charting hits of that decade, you can also play variations:
  • Make it more recent. Formula: [a modern artist you don't love] covers [a popular early-2010s song you always hated] for the 10th anniversary of [a cultural relic from the early 2010s].
  • Take it deeper into the past: [a modern artist you don't love] covers [a popular mid-1970s song you always hated] for the 45th anniversary of [a cultural relic from the mid 70s].
  • Play the all-time least-favorites version, unmoored from time and anniversaries: [your least-favorite musical artist of all time] covers [a popular song you always hated] for the anniversary of [a cultural thing you never got into].
I'd like to personally thank Post and Hootie for making this entertainment possible.

March 10, 5pm ET - I'll be in conversation with Emma Gannon about her new novel, Olive. Free to register, book purchase optional.

March 11, 8pm ET - A conversation with Jenna Wortham and Kimberly Drew about Black Futures. I won't be a part of this conversation, but I'm mentioning it here because a) the book is incredible and you should attend to support these two visionaries, b) I will be in attendance, and c) the Smithsonian advertised this event in last week's newsletter and we got the link wrong. This is the correct link to RSVP.

The Classifieds

Join Watermark's Changemakers Conference on March 25!
Watermark connects women and provides tools and inspiration necessary for leadership. Watermark's virtual Changemakers conference will celebrate women who are using their voices to spark lasting change in their workplaces and communities. As we face the “she-cession,” the climate crisis, and persistent racism, our voices are more important than ever, and we’re stronger when we stand together. For more details or to register, click hereand be sure to use code ANNF20 for $20 off!

"Phew. @annfriedman putting into words a thing I thought was just happening to me lately." -Kate Seabury. The isolation of this moment can make it so surprising to notice our commonalities.

This newsletter is covering Dolly Parton's "Jolene" for the one-year anniversary of the pandemic. Forward it to a fellow burnout.

Ann Friedman

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PO Box 26932 | Los Angeles, CA 90026
© 2021

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