Good morning and happy Sunday!
I'm knocking this newsletter out early this week because I'll be away in Provincetown all weekend with my visiting friend Caitlin, who is an incredible floral designer based in LA.
This week I'm sharing pages 7-9 of my book proposal flash-write, which you can check out here. This has been such an adventure. The point of this flash-write is to determine whether I enjoy the process of writing the book and have enough to say and let me tell you, I'm pretty sure this is multiple books... we'll see, and I'm loving writing it.
This last week I've been working on flexing my fun muscles by playing with clay, painting, playing volleyball, and a ton of playing with my cat. I also wrote a piece about opening up to fun.
By the way... have you seen my cat?
Next week I'll be recording a podcast episode with Carly Mentlik of Chakra Kids Club about building a better future for children. I'm really excited to have that conversation with her because we both believe that self-worth and other emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills should be part of our schooling and, in my opinion, built into the culture of our society.
I'll be recording some solo episodes soon, elaborating on some of the questions that came up in my conversation with Will Reusch. I would really like to continue to have conversations with people who don't agree with me, as I find those incredibly fruitful. My book recommendation for this week has been inspiring me immensely as it really solidly undermines many of the colloquial beliefs that Will brought up in our discussion and that I'm still learning how to succinctly dispute.
The cover image of this newsletter is:
SOCRATES SEEKING ALCIBIADES AT THE HOUSE OF ASPASIA, 1861
signed and dated J. L. GEROME. MDCCCLXI
oil on canvas
I love this painting and use its image often in my work because Aspasia of Miletus is a figure who has inspired me and my work for many years. I even wrote and performed a cabaret play about her. A couple of weeks ago, I finally followed the ping to watch Dangerous Beauty, for the first time, and it reminded me of an archetype that has long inspired me: the Courtesan. Specifically, like Aspasia: the Philosopher Courtesan. The romanticism of a woman embodying both her intellect and her sensuality to experience freedom, despite the odds stacked against her, captures my imagination and resonates in my soul. So, the archetype of the Philosopher Courtesan is one I have been embodying in my work for many years, and this was a timely reminder. I recommend the film and I've also started reading the non-fiction book it is based on, The Honest Courtesan, about the historical Venetian courtesan and poet, Veronica Franco.
I am at the precipice of a project, the form of which I have not yet determined. I want to continue to refine and adapt the cabaret play that I wrote a few years ago to some new format, maybe a web series, a feature film, or a stage musical... I'm not sure. I've been writing original music that I'd like to interweave with historical compositions to tell a story that centers the immortal Aspasia of Miletus from my original project, but is deeper and more refined. So that's a thing I'm working on.
On a similar note, some months ago, I was hosting a bi-weekly literary salon called Aspasia's Garden. I took a break from that project to focus on other things and because I was not feeling inspired regarding the format. It is my absolute desire to bring that event series back again, so I'm letting my inspiration percolate. I'm craving a space for deep intellectual conversation, the presentation of art, and the cultivation of community. It'll be coming back soon.
I'm continuing to work on my talk for speaking engagements. It's shaping up to be, probably, on the topic of becoming better and building a better world through optimistic skepticism and mental flexibility. I'll keep you guys updated.
The Sensual Six:
If, like me, you're a coffee nerd who loves pour over, you might be wondering what to do now that it's summer, as cold brew doesn't lend itself well to complex, light-roast coffees like my favorites: natural, single origin, Ethiopian beans. I started really getting into coffee in the fall and never had to think about this problem until now, so I emailed Trade coffee and they recommended the Japanese Flash Brew method of, essentially, pour over iced coffee. It is divine! If you have a pour over setup, I definitely recommend it. If you're currently single, like me, halve the recipe, because 40 g is a lot of coffee for one person. Zing!
In my quest to flex my fun muscles, I came across the instagram page of Twerk After Work, founded by Bami Kuteyi, an ex-Google-employee who quit her job to teach twerking. The energy of the instagram page and those of the Twerk After Work teachers lifts my spirit and reminds me to celebrate life. I've been doing twerkouts as my cardio and life is good!! Bami is the bomb. Highly recommend.
I did not make this playlist, but I have been listening to it every day! A perfect level of upbeat vacation-y tropical dance-y but not-too-hyphy music, mostly not in English, that fulfills all my hip-swaying, urban bungalow dreams.
I am finally an adult. I bought myself a pair of glamorous pajamas, as a reward for my recent career wins, and I'm obsessed with them. Comfy enough to lounge around in, chic enough to wear to the roof or even out on the town. I have the cami top and wide-leg pants in the Jag print.
This is one of the other luxurious things, besides the Ember mug from last week's Sensual Six, that I bought for myself last year and that has completely changed my life. You may have heard of the ReMarkable. This is similar: a digital notebook that mimics the experience of pen and paper but stores all of your notes in the cloud. When I'm going to buy something expensive, I research A LOT. This one is a newcomer to the game and had consistently higher reviews from Youtubers and Redditers than the ReMarkable, so this is the one I bought. I'm obsessed with it. I have stacks and stacks of old notebooks that I probably need to digitize and recycle. I knew I couldn't keep accumulating mountains of journal pages for the rest of my life and this solution is EPIC in every way.
This is another play-related find. They sell a variety of air-dry clay sculpting kits for a variety of DIYs. I bought the candle-making kit, which is SO COOL because you make your own reusable clay candle-holder and then make your own candle inside of it. Playing with my hands is something that appeals to me most when it comes to fun activities, so I prefer sculpting to things like painting. I'll definitely be using these kits a lot so, don't be surprised if you get a handmade gift from me ;) They also have an awesome instagram full of inspiring work by other people.
Let me count the ways I love this book. You may have noticed that it is by the same author as my last book recommendation and that's, in part, because deconstructing the beliefs and assumptions we take for granted and that prevent us from progressing towards a better society is a core argument in my work and Chris Ryan happens to be providing the evidence that backs the disruption of many of our most cynical and destructive beliefs. If you think that humans are inherently selfish and competitive and that wars and inequality are inevitable outcomes of our nature, please, for the love of the gods, read this book. I haven't even finished it yet, but I can wholeheartedly recommend it, even based on just the first half. I read it on my rooftop at sunset with a glass of natural wine. You should try it ;)
That's it for this week!