Mermen, shopping, eating, hauntings, dejection. Here’s some different things I’ve been thinking a lot about this past month. Maybe there’s something here to interest you too?

IT CAME FROM THE DEEP BY MARIA LEWIS

As much of a book hoarder as I am, I don’t think I’ve finished reading a whole book in months, let alone a straight up fiction. And then along came this young adult delight, a tale of a budding young iron woman and an orphaned merman (yes, merman) living on the Gold Coast. Devoured it. We all need more tales of mermen in our lives right now, so was really sad to learn that Lewis had so much trouble getting a publisher to take this title on that she decided to self-publish it. I for one am glad she did. Here’s a link.

ISOLATION SHOPPING
While everyone else has been panic buying toilet paper and hand sanitiser, I’ve found myself enormously suggestible to ridiculous ads on social media, having now bought a DIY miniature bookshop diorama, eco friendly shampoo bars, an acupressure mat, and a set of terracotta pots you mosaic yourself. I have been seriously considering an expensive piece of yoga furniture for at least the last three weeks. There have of course also been numerous books and wine. I may be saving money by not being able to eat out so much, but I do seem to be making up for it in (thoroughly unnecessary) craft and wellness paraphernalia. Has this flavour of anxiety been given a medical name yet?

BROAD BEAN, FETA, PEA & MINT PIZZETTES FROM BAKED BY KEIRAN

I live far too close to a very, very good bakery; Baked by Keiran in Sydney. It’s a tiny shop as most of the place is predominantly set up as a wholesale operation. They have in my opinion close to the best vanilla slice ever, and their hot cross buns sold out every single day around Easter, their lentil and mushroom pie is wonderful – I could go on. But this past month, I have been obsessing over these savoury treats as an increasingly common breakfast. Bread, salt, cheese, fresh, yum. Highly recommended.

THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE – TV SERIES

An exploration of grief told through the eyes of five siblings whose mother took her own life when they were kids, this Netflix series was released in 2018, and I’ve been wanting to watch it ever since. Basically, if there’s a story about a broken, unstable family moving into a big mysterious mansion, I’m there (see also Locke & Key and about 45% of every fantasy novel ever written for middle grade readers). The Haunting of Hill House is a modern adaptation of the 1959 gothic horror novel by Shirley Jackson, and while I have not read the book, I knew it would be fairly solid. Jackson was a masterful storyteller, and her seminal short story The Lottery is as controversial and affecting now as it was when first published in 1948. Sadly, I am a gigantic wuss, so it’s taken me until now to get to this. And I can’t binge it – I have to watch it in the mornings, in small doses, because while it is slow and occasionally melodramatic (it is a definitely a gothic horror), it is creepy and moody AF. And yes, I will now read the book too.

FEELING STUPID AND LAZY

If I’m being honest, I am not handling social isolation so great. I’m fine mostly, but as someone who lives alone in this pandemic, I’m taking even the smallest hiccoughs and rejections greatly to heart as time wears on. As a consequence, I feel overwhelmingly stupid and lazy, and it’s unsettling. I haven’t felt quite so stupid and lazy in years! As a freelance writer, I’m no stranger to bouts of self-doubt, and also know that these feelings are normal and do eventually pass. I’m certain I’m not a dolt, and I know that actually I can be extremely productive – if anything, I am prone to pushing myself to burnout, which I need to be mindful of normally. But everything right now feels like such a slog, every little scratch hurts like someone’s spraying that scratch with lemon juice, every pesky forgotten task squashes down as though it were a missed, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity… These emotional overreactions will dissipate as this wretched pandemic runs its course, I know this. But right now, I’m just riding things out in my sad, slug-like state…

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