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New From Me This Month
A little over a year ago, Pregnancy After Loss Support reached out to me to help them with an ambitious project: Creating evidence-based explainers for people expecting again after loss. The thing is, for all the pregnancy apps you can download (and there are thousands), none accounted for the fact that some pregnancies end and that experience can change how all subsequence pregnancies feel. So PALS created one that did. The app is out and you’ll find the articles I wrote in it and on their website. This month, they released the final piece I created for it, Newborn Sleep 101: Learn the Basics for Your Baby Born After Loss.
The state of Minnesota is filled with amazing arts organizations. I’ve known this for a while, but I didn’t know it know it. But thanks to two different roles I’ve filled for the Minnesota State Arts Board, I understand it on a whole new level. Since September, I’ve been serving as a grant reviewer (exactly what it sounds like) and as an artistic evaluator (attending events to make sure already-funded arts organizations are producing quality art). My service wrapped up this month, when the Minnesota State Arts Board awarded grantees for the American Rescue Plan Grant FY2022 based on the evaluations I and others completed. I don’t love filling out forms, but doing so on behalf of scrappy organizations who aim to add beauty to the world must be the most inspiring kind of bureaucratic work there is.
Your Curated Reading List
This month, the Macalester alumni book club I run read Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. As I told my fellow alumni, when the fantasy element of this month’s book appeared, I almost stopped reading. I hadn’t read much about Exit West in advance and wasn’t ready for the turn in what felt like a pretty reality-based book. But the thought of talking with smart people about it inspired me to pick the book back up and boy am I glad that I did. I ended up giving it a 5-star review on Goodreads.
Anne Tyler’s latest novel, French Braid, is a tightly wound character-driven yarn (I’ll see myself out). The itch to relieve its tension makes this a compulsively readable family novel.
From college until relatively recently, I mostly didn’t read poetry. I think I felt like I didn’t know how to read poems without a teacher telling me what to think about them. Still, when stress of the past couple years did its terrible work on my attention, the brevity of poetry lured me back in. The genre I’ve found is more accessible than the one I remember. While I’m sure an academic lens would enhance my appreciation, it’s freeing to find the genre filled with more accessible, unstuffy work than ever. If that sounds appealing to you too, I recommend you check out Dana Levin’s newest collection, Now Do You Know Where You Are, out this month.
Here in Minnesota, winter (perhaps drawing inspiration from the pandemic) has been reluctant to leave us. This has inspired me to seek delight indoors, including through one of my favorite pastimes: baking with my kids. This month’s triumph has been sourdough sea salt chocolate chip cookies, otherwise known as “scookies” — a recipe we dreamed up, devoured, then documented. We’ve now made them four or five times, and the leftovers never last more than a day or two. They’ve quickly become my favorite way to use the sourdough discard I accumulate during the production of my other great baking success this extended winter season: sourdough bread a la Tartine.
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