Seedling season

Spoiler: One of the seedlings is a puppy


Okay okay I started this new Substack, then said I’d send it on Sundays though warned I may disappear to write a book — and then exactly that happened! I disappeared and finished a “full draft” of a book AND I got a puppy.

His name is Rufus — as in Wainwright and as in red.

Anyway sorry for the many Sundays without a newsletter. Here’s another photo of the puppy:

without further ado,
What’s Helping Toady:

I wrote a draft of a book and I got a puppy and it’s finally seedling season, or the very start of it. I’ve got my first kales and cabbages and onions sprouting under lights. I fuss with them many times a day, water them, check their fan and humidifier. As ever, how I love these tiny babies. How I love the beginning of a season of gardening.

When caring for young beings, you stay in the moment. Maybe that’s very obvious. I haven’t raised human children, but raising seedlings and a puppy right now, time has warped into that young-thing-time I remember from my last puppy and from kittens. My perception is now broken into chunks, mostly into whatever-the-next-task-is. When the puppy finally falls asleep, I get to pee or eat or bathe or even write a newsletter….

My friend Blair Braverman recently on Kara Swisher’s podcast spoke about how, when doing the Iditarod or other such impossible-sounding (to me) dogsled races, she only focuses on the next checkpoint. Just get to the next checkpoint.

I think with a young book and a young pup and even young chard or onions, that’s the best advice I can try to keep in mind.

And maybe for all of us, now, as we get vaccinated, or we wait to, or we try to, or we wait for others to. And we look at numbers and hear about plateaus and lockdowns in Europe (so familiar…). And meanwhile we maybe wonder when and how “normalcy” might return, or we even behave as if that is already the case, it’s a good reminder, to just try to focus on whatever’s right in front of you. On whatever you can affect right now.

(IMO — and I say this a lot but — ‘normalcy’ is THE lie.)

This book I’m drafting isn’t a book yet in the sense that it’s merely a document, as yet unsold, so we shall see. I have to refer to it as a “book” because that’s what it is to me, and it’s an important one (I think) and I truly cannot wait for you all to read it. Like, it might be years before you can. But I’m working as hard as I can to make it happen, I promise.

It’s also a sequel (of a sort) to my first book, so especially if you like my writing and haven’t yet read AKOMP, that is a thing you could do!! (If you want to get more of a sense of it first, here was me talking about it last summer on This American Life.)

Love yous,

p.s. Fuck this guy!

p.p.s. What Amanda said!

p.p.p.s. Here’s the ep of my podcast Mad Chat she mentioned wherein we discussed *extremely reefer madness voice* REEEFER MADDDDDNESSS

p.p.p.p.s. Speaking of which, happy legalization, fellow New Yorkers! (Though, to be clear, fuck this guy.) A book I’ve been reading lately I’d recommend to anybody is Dr. Carl Hart’s Drug Use for Grown Ups.