I Decided to Finally Get COVID-19!
Plus, advice on being creative when you feel crappy
After 35 months of doing my own research, I am pleased to announce that I have finally chosen to invite SARS-CoV-2 into my current corporeal form, resulting in a diagnosis of COVID-19. My body, my choice, honey! Please feel free to congratulate me in the comments. (I am exhausted, just like you all said for three years.)
As a result, this issue of your weekly SARATONIN newsletter shall surely be not entirely on its hinges. There is some silly stuff and then there is some serious stuff. At some point I talk about Rita Ora’s fireplaces, which are numerous.
Thank you so much to those of you who are subscribers, most especially paid subscribers, as you really do help support my art and cough drop-based lifestyle. A very special welcome to Sean, who is a new patron (I’ve got a Patreon too, with a weekly private podcast called The Audio Letter - feel free to check that out if you wish).
One more thing: usually, this newsletter is only for patrons on Patreon and for subscribers on Substack. This week, I've chosen to make it public on both platforms, because there is some mental health information at the end that I feel may be of particular value at this time.
All patrons and paid Substack subscribers will receive the customary four essays that I do just for them each month; I will send these essays separately.
Okay, let’s get into these recommendations!
Titanique - An off-Broadway tribute to beloved, beautiful CÉLINE DION (we love her and want good health and healing and joy for her!) This is not just a jukebox musical, but also a ninety minute long hallucination.
Joshua Henry as Gaston - I went to see Into the Woods on Broadway with friends Neil and Holly a few months ago. I had never seen a Sondheim show before (I know, I know) and guess what? I loved it. One of the two goofy, egotistical princes was played by Joshua Henry with charming hilarity that had some little moments of tenderness built in. Anyway, apparently some sort of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast 30th anniversary special just happened on your network television (I’m on day 7 of COVID, I don’t know what is happening in primetime, I am deeply sorry) and Joshua played Gaston and he was great and somewhat arousingly so, according to The Internet.
I suggest following him on Instagram, seeing him onstage whenever you can, and basically becoming a big fan. I don’t know if the special was any good, as I only watched one musical number, and it involved Joshua Henry, but that part was very good. I look forward to winning my Pulitzer Prize in Criticism for this part of the newsletter.
Anything involving Harry and Meghan controlling their own narrative - They are so, so good at press. No, I haven’t seen the Netflix series yet. No, I don’t think any nation on earth ought to have a fucking monarchy in the year of our Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter two thousand and twenty-two. I’m just saying that these hot people, Haz and Meggles, are great at public relations and I would absolutely hire them as my communications team of choice.
Do they have a Substack?! I at least need to know if they have a LiveJournal. I suppose one’s very own Netflix series is really the ultimate LiveJournal, hmmmmmmm?
Oh, I should add here that I have always appreciated that couple’s approach to discussing mental illness and mental healthcare in general. I absolutely think they’ve done brilliant and very kind work in that regard, no joke, no exaggeration.
Between our shared commitment to advocacy for affordable mental healthcare for all and our fondness for the Central Coast of California, we are basically best friends and exactly the same people. Once they have a Substack, the deal is sealed and we will be spending Christmases together in Saint Babs or perhaps in my future cozy mansion in San Luis Obispo.
Wedderspoon Organic Manuka Honey Drops - I don’t know who or what a Wedderspoon is but I would like to become Mrs. Wedderspoon. I love these fucking things. New Zealand is involved: “Proud stewards of New Zealand’s 150-year apiary tradition, our master beekeepers champion a sustainable, bee-first ecology & gentle harvest, allowing our precious pollinators to work as Mother Nature intended.” This copywriting has an undeniable earthy sensuality. With all due respect to my charismatic queen Rita Ora, these kiwi honey people can Taika my Waititi anytime (I hate this joke but continue to love myself.)
Rita Ora’s home tour for Architectural Digest - I swear I’m not trying to make up for that thing I just said. But honestly her London home tour is really great and she’s really great. Did you know she was born in the region that is now Kosovo, to Albanian parents? Did you know that they fled as refugees when she was just one year old, and also she is a UNICEF UK Ambassador? Well, you do now!
She bought the home of one of her favorite children’s book illustrators from Olden Tymes and also she’s got a bathroom in her bedroom and she’s got multiple fireplaces.
At one point she says the phrase “a little naughty fox” and it is a perfect moment.
Randall Park - I don’t know, I just like him a lot. I didn’t even link out to anything, just kinda felt like saying he’s great.
Jennifer Hudson’s television program - It’s on your television and it’s a lot like if church was fun and awesome. (I have only watched clips on YouTube and Instagram.)
Kelly Clarkson’s television program - What I said before is also true about Kelly Clarkson’s television program (I have only watched clips on YouTube and Instagram.)
Advice On Being Creative When You Don't Feel Well
Fuck me, I’m exhausted. And you know what? When you’re exhausted, there are more important things to be done than make your art - unless, that is, making your art helps you feel better.
Writing this newsletter makes me feel better right now, which is why I am doing it. I also want to fulfill my obligation to subscribers, but if I were too ill to write this thing, I promise I would just put up a quick post letting you all know.
When you are sick, people will tell you, “Please get some rest. You don’t have to be active all the time.” And this is absolutely correct. But a bit of creativity here and there can help enhance your healing.
Earlier, I said that I have a Patreon where I do a weekly private podcast called The Audio Letter. Well, in October, at least two of the four “episodes” were actually written, not spoken. Why? Because I had the flu and then RSV, and my voice was shot.
I could’ve just made a post that said “I’m sick and won’t be doing the podcast this month,” and that would’ve been perfectly fine. If people wanted to opt out, they could’ve opted out. That’s part of why I like making (and reading/viewing) art through Substack and Patreon and Medium.
But I knew that I would be likelier to get quite depressed if I wasn’t being creative in a way that felt reasonably achievable. For me, depression has proven dangerous at times in my life. So it actually helped me to keep up with the posts on Patreon, because it helped me feel that I was part of a community of artists and patrons (many of us are both - I support a few artists on Patreon, just as I am both a paid and free subscriber to various publications here on Substack).
Of course, it is not helpful if doing your art somehow worsens your condition. Make sure you talk to your doctor about how much is too much, especially if your art involves physical labor that could aggravate an injury. I will add from experience that some forms of internal mental excavation are not good for writers when we are in crisis.
Let’s all take care of ourselves as best we can, alright? These can be lonely days for a lot of people. Others wish they could have a few more moments of peace and quiet.
I know it’s hard to accept that just as we can’t fix everything that troubles us, we can’t fix everything that troubles others. We lose people we know and we lose people we don’t know. This is sad and confusing. It is okay to feel those feelings. It’s okay to not feel merry and happy and joyous. It’s also okay to celebrate your own good moments even when others are suffering.
It’s okay to pick your art up and use it to express yourself. It’s okay to put your art down, just for now, because you’ve got to tend to yourself or others. Art will always welcome you back. Art will always want you.
I am glad you are here. I am glad you have access to the Internet, and thus access to an array of resources for help if you are struggling. A few places to start: The Trevor Project, Therapy for Black Girls, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
I wish you the best. And again, thank you.