A puzzle that shows famous writers including Geoffrey Chaucer, Pearl S. Buck, and Margaret Atwood.

At work, we do a lot of jigsaw puzzles. Like, a LOT of them. One that I brought in (pictured at left) featured some of the world’s best writers, and included indications if the writer had won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction, a Nobel Prize in literature, or both. Doing the puzzle made me think about reading award-winning literature. When I discovered that the first Pulitzer Prize for fiction was awarded in 1918, I decided to read all of the fiction Pulitzer Prize winners—in a completely non-systematic way, because even I’m not ridiculously rigid all the time.

It’s been really interesting. People as a whole don’t change much, though fortunately racism isn’t as blatant as it was in, say, 1942 (Ellen Glasgow’s In This Our Life was the winner that year). A lot of these books are harrowing at times, and I’m still processing The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, which I finished last night. That book required some extra suspension of disbelief so it wasn’t as effective as it could have been.

To alleviate the occasional harrowedness, I’ve started watching the new Queer Eye. The few episodes I’ve seen of the old show were always fun. The Netflix reboot, however, is giving me big ol’ gut punches every episode. The Fab 5 aren’t just making over a few frumpy dudes to help them get chicks—they’re focused on helping their charges find and become comfortable with vulnerability; the makeover recipients, however reluctantly, face the way(s) in which they’re hindering their own progress. Each episode has at least one tear-jerker moment, and the third one, in which Karamo (who is black in addition to being gay) has a frank conversation with a white ex-Marine cop from Georgia, and Cory (the aforementioned white ex-Marine cop from Georgia) shows his mother the quilt that the Fab 5 has made out of his late father’s shirts? Actual crying, y’all. In the words of the 2007 McDonald’s ad campaign, I’m lovin’ it.

All this reading of Great Literature and watching of surprisingly poignant (can’t believe I just used that word; I normally hate it) and even inspiring television, plus a couple of other things, has got me thinking. What would a Fab 5 team have to say about my life and how it’s arranged? And what can I do about that?

Facebook Substitute

So for the third (possibly fourth?) time, I’m off Facebook for Lent. Which means that when something interesting happens, I don’t automatically have an easy way to share it. That can be hard; as much as I feel overwhelmed by self-disgust after I’ve spent an hour mindlessly scrolling through other people’s posts (or worse, reading linked articles and the comments on those articles), I do enjoy sharing pockets of absurdity or delight. Writing a post here is harder; it has to have a title, for pity’s sake, which somehow makes it much more difficult, and, like, formal, or something.

(Re: Lent: I’m not religious these days, but I do still sing in a church [which, yes, is still the highlight of my life], and Lent is a great excuse to get rid of some of the yuck in my life. Hence the Facebook abstention.)

The interesting things that happened today:

I discovered that, should anyone ever need one, it is possible to find, on the internet, a .gif of a yam spinning in a washing machine.

(Okayfine maybe it’s a soup pot. But it could be a washing machine.)

I also discovered that singing Anton Bruckner’s “Christus Factus Est” can cure—well—just about anything. (It’s been a rough couple of weeks, despite having a super awesome birthday on Sunday; we worked on this piece in choir tonight and dear God it just slays me. I could listen to—or sing—the “quod est super” phrase that the sopranos sing from measures 46–50 [2:40–2:54 in this recording] for the rest of my days.)

I also discovered—or, rather, was reminded, rather brutally—that staying up until 2:00 AM reading a book, no matter how interesting this book, is a VERY BAD IDEA if one has to work the next day, and an EVEN WORSE IDEA if one has to work + go to rehearsal, and a SUPERLATIVELY BAD IDEA if one is already running a significant sleep deficit because of a rough couple of weeks and then has to work + go to rehearsal. I finally got dressed at 5:15 PM, because I didn’t want to wear pajamas in Copley Square.

But again, the Bruckner fixed all that, and now I’m enjoying some hot chocolate and waiting for the next bomb cyclone to start. Tomorrow should be interesting, and I intend to watch it from the comfort of my home.