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The problem with falling behind

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After three months on  sabbatical, I recently returned to my job at Amazon. I’m fortunate to work for an organization and for colleagues who were so understanding and allowed me to have some time off.

I’d originally had plans to write a post summarizing all the stuff I did on my leave, but with the Coronavirus pandemic impacting us all in dramatic and unpredictable ways, it just didn’t feel like the right time to talk about how I’d used my sabbatical to try to lose weight, learn Photoshop, and make some podcasts. Who gives a crap?

So I froze. I put off the writing. I said I’d come back to it when I felt like it. Maybe when I had something profound and interesting to say.

But the problem with falling behind when you’re making stuff online is that that feeling of behind-ness is self-compounding.

It’s like forgetting to respond to a text or an email from a friend. The first few days, no big deal. A week later, you’re definitely going to need to apologize when you hit ‘send.’ By the time you’re a month in, you feel better off just pretending that text never existed. (For this reason, I support Reply All’s notion of an Email Debt Forgiveness Day).

Bottom line, I got so far behind that I didn’t see a path towards not being behind. Ultimately, the only way to get on that path was for me to sit down at my keyboard, accept my shame, and just bang something out, no matter how unsubstantial. So, that’s what this update is: My attempt to get back on a somewhat normal schedule with these posts.

One thing that I think this pandemic has really helped to crystallize is exactly what one’s standing is in relation to society. Doctors and medical personnel? Essential. The people who help you get your food and other important items? Super necessary.

People who write and podcast about movies and TV and the internet? Eh.

My colleague C. Robert Cargill recently described someone who works in Hollywood as “an entertainer when times are good and a distraction when times are bad.”

This pandemic is causing inconceivable horrors, inflicting pain, suffering, and destruction all around the world. Our medical system is under threat and our political institutions may never recover. But one side effect of this carnage is that it’s forced many of us to reconsider exactly what it is we are doing with our lives. What do we want to dedicate the majority of our days to? What do we want to build? What do we want to change? What are we willing to stand up for? How did we help others? Did we alleviate or accelerate people’s suffering? And also: How do we want to be remembered during this time?

The political tumult of the past few years have forced me to discard many of my life’s plans and opt instead for stability and safety as much as possible. The pandemic has accelerated those impulses even further. But in the midst of it, I want to keep challenging myself to constantly re-evaluate out how I can best spend my days. If there’s one thing we are all acutely aware of now, it’s that those days may be limited.

If you’ve read this far: Thanks for sticking with me, even despite my irregular updates! I’m really going to try to write more consistently, even if the updates are shorter, just because I find it valuable to have a way to communicate with y’all directly. I may even invest in a better platform that Tinyletter (looking at Substack, Revue, or perhaps a full-blown Mailchimp account).

While I haven’t been posting here very often, I’ve still been cranking out content all around the internet the past few months. Here are a few highlights.

  • I continue to publish Culturally Relevant each week, my podcast featuring interviews with filmmakers, artists, and writers. For the past month, I’ve been recording audio diaries reflecting on what it was like to live through this pandemic in Seattle, where one of the first outbreaks in the US occurred. But I also recently had one of my heroes on the show, Alan Yang, who joined to discuss his new Netflix film, Tigertail. Listen here.
  • Speaking of Alan Yang, he joined the Slashfilmcast to review Demolition Man. We also had Dan Trachtenberg on to discuss Judgment Night. And if you’re looking for our review of Tiger King, well, that’s right here.
  • I was honored to be profiled on Letterboxd recently. You can follow my account there, where I try to make fun reviews and lists.
  • Patrick H. Willems makes some great film-related YouTube videos and I’ve recently started recording video commentaries with him. Check them out on his second channel.
  • Speaking of YouTube, I’d gotten into a pretty good groove making YouTube videos for my YouTube channel. I was grateful to have Melissa Tamminga join me to review movies like The Invisible Man and Birds of Prey. And when she couldn’t join me, I’d tackle reviews myself like this one I made for Sonic The Hedgehog. On occasion, I’d make videos like this one about anti-Asian racism in the age of COVID (which I was grateful to see was picked up by NowThis). But the COVID pandemic not only blew a hole in my plan to review a new theatrical release each week (hard to do that when there are no theatrical releases anymore) — it also temporarily destroyed my desire to keep making videos. But I’ve already got some new ideas cooking and I really want to get back into the game. So hey, do me a favor and hit subscribe if you can. I’ll (eventually) make it worth your while.

Until next time, I hope everyone is staying well, staying safe, and staying indoors if it’s at all possible for you to do so. Thanks for doing your part for the collective good.

Photo credit: Burst, from Pexels