the weird joy of an above ground pool

I currently have three obsessions: Queer Eye, soft-serve ice cream, and pink wine. I’ve fallen hard for the QE Fab 5’s brand of kindness and consideration. Love the way they’re always hugging on each other, smiling and striving to help. Pink wine? It’s crisp. It’s cold. It’s beautiful. Try this one. Soft-serve needs no talking up, right? If you’re anywhere near Portland, Oregon, get yourself to Sugarpine Drive-In.

It’s summer, Lovelies! Sunny days are meant for indulging in all things sweet and pretty.


My pal, R.L. Maizes has a beautiful book out in the world this week. We Love Anderson Cooper is full of characters you’ll follow anywhere–mistake making, vulnerable people who so want to connect, and yet they keep getting in their own way. (Hmmm, that’s reminding me of….me.) There’s a housecat suspected of cheating on its owner, a bar mitzvah boy who outs himself on the bimah, a cast of loveably skewed characters in whom we absolutely recognize our fumbling along selves. The collection will make you laugh, offer insights and keep you turning pages.

Another pal, Dr. Louise Aronson, has a beautiful book in the world this summer as well. Louise is a geriatrician and professor of medicine. Her book, Elderhood is a deep dive into all the ways society fails our aging population at exactly the moment we’re all living longer than ever before. Louise is a visionary with ideas for how we can better support one another, because, let’s be real, we’re all on the way out, right? Funny and whip-smart, throughout her book Louise uses stories from her practice, literature, pop culture, and her life to illuminate her ideas.


Last week at the Tin House Summer Conference I heard some terrific lectures, and generally enjoyed the vibe of being in a big room with a lot of writers.

My favorite panel was called, “On Writing Towards Joy,” with Garth Greenwell, Kelly Link and Justin Torres. The conversation tossed around ideas about the complexity of joy, which, according to these smarties, coexists with other emotions like anger, shame, and sorrow. Joy just outshines them. Joy, defined as an unexpected welling up moves the reader (and the writer) into a space we aren’t expecting to find, in our lives and on the page. We suddenly experience a flash of recognition.

Recently I gave myself the project of writing a happy story. I don’t know about you, but considering… well, politics, planet, everything…I want to be in joyful moments. I want to translate joyful moments to the page. In life, when we find ourselves kicked under the proverbial bus, we’re mostly still alive and intact, right? Let’s celebrate that! Why not write a happy story? Why not give characters something to revel in? Why not write about up times as well as challenges in your memoir?  I’m of the belief that when we’re interested in writing joy, we notice it more in our lives. Consider how joy manifests and reproduces? What are the conditions that allow joy to flourish?

-Joy is riding a bike down a shady country road.
-Joy is an above ground swimming pool. (I don’t know why, they thrill me!)
-Joy is the ocean, all of it, wind, salt, glare, and possibility.
-Joy is a weird and difficult muscle we have a hard time flexing.

I did write that happy story, about young people falling in love. But, like an eyelash in your eye, shame, transience, and pain were lurking just in the corner. It made the joy brighter.

Here’s a great talk by Kelly Link, really inspiring, about all things writing, including how much it can suck, managing our expectations, and this gorgeous bit, “Don’t self-reject. You know what I mean.”


At my local bookstore last week I stepped up to the customer search monitor and saw that the person before me, I kid you not, had typed into the query bar, “upsetting cookbook.” I thought it was hilarious, but even funnier was the book that had populated the screen, A Super Upsetting Cookbook about Sandwiches. I laughed and went about my business, looking up some boring book about Mindset, or knitting, or something. Once home I couldn’t stop thinking about upsetting sandwiches…so I went back, and let me tell you, the book is a gem. It’s performance art. Tyler Kord has a deep and messed up sandwich love. Emma Straub (owner of Books are Magic, author of The Vacationers, and Modern Loversboth of which are terrific novels. Perfect for summer!)  writes the introduction. William Wegman (yes, of Sesame Street Weimaraner fame) does all the collages. (Here’s a bonus gem, a beautiful collage and painting book from Wegman, Hello Nature.)

In the sandwich book, sammies have names like, “Chutzpah Express,” “Gentle Thoughts,” and “the Frito Kid.” Besides normal sandwich fare, they have ingredients like pickled mushrooms, grape and celery salad, bleu cheese/avocado mayonnaise. You’re just going to have to trust me. The book is fabulous.  And, come on! It’s summer. It’s time to eat sammies in the park, at an outdoor concert, in your kayak!
In the meatloaf sandwich section of the book, Kord offers a basic meatloaf recipe in  which he says:

“Don’t overthink this. Or do, and use a thermometer to judge when it gets to an internal temperature of 150°F and it will be perfect, but at what cost? Are you actually satisfied with it? Are you ever satisfied with anything? Why did you buy this book…Throw away the thermometer and live your life!!”