Here for It w/ R. Eric Thomas, #193

Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
Hi!

This week: Thank you for being a friend, Tracee Ellis Ross; plus another journey into Lovecraft Country.

Some members of David’s church were asking for our new address so he checked with me to see if I’d be okay with him sharing it. Eventually, it will be in the updated church directory and at some point in the hopefully not-too-distant future we’ll have the church over for a housewarming in the backyard, so it’s not like we were planning to live in secrecy. But I did appreciate him checking with me because one never knows when I’ll be on my paranoid conspiracy theorist nonsense, trying to erase my digital footprint despite the fact that I wrote a whole book that was like “here is my life and my thoughts and identifying details about what I do and where.” That said, I was purposefully vague about certain things in my book because I don’t need people showing up to my parents’ house or whatnot. Not that that happens, but one can never invent too many wild scenarios in one’s head, can one? Every once in a while I think about forming a shell corporation and transferring the deed of our house to the corporation for an extra level of obfuscation. But that’s just a completely reasonable preventative measure on the odd chance that, say, Tucker Carlson complains about my column on his show and I get a bunch of other paranoid conspiracy theorists coming ‘round my door for a cup of sugar. The members of the church are the opposite of Tucker Carlson in every possible way. They can know where we live. They could even drop by for a cup of sugar! I mean, call first because we don’t have a door knocker and I refuse to get a Ring doorbell (don’t even get me started on my conspiracy theories about Ring). But yes, in general if you are not Tucker Carlson or one of his acolytes, you should come by. (This is what it says on our wall, actually. It’s that whole sentence and it’s written in the “Live, Laugh, Love” font and it was a real bear to put up. But worth it! Interior design is my passion!)

The members of David’s church are so very lovely—kind, generous, funny, and laser-focused on social justice. It’s a beautiful congregation and I’m proud of the work he does. I didn’t used to regularly attend, mostly because I’m often out of town or busy with work, but once quarantine started and church went remote I was promoted to volunteer Zoom stage manager, our living room became the virtual sanctuary, and now I’m there every week. I’m not saying it’s a consp*racy but I do think it’s interesting.

After David sent the address, we received a couple of housewarming cards, which I thought was very nice. I love greeting cards! (David is nowhere near me right now but I can sense him clearing his throat meaningfully as I type this so I must also confess that although I love greeting cards I also become the greeting card police after a certain amount of time has passed. Every year an alarm goes off in my head some time in mid-January and I start racing through the house, putting Christmas cards into plastic Ziploc bags and into drawers because they’ve gone from lovely mementos to being Things On the Counter! I really become unbearable. But we all know that if a Thing On the Counter stays there long enough it becomes a permanent fixture, like a stalagmite of clutter, and I cannot risk that.) In any case, the cards are still mementos now as it’s only been a few days, but I’m remaining vigilant.

One of my favorite cards came from a congregant who has been particularly kind to us over the past couple of years. I won’t share the note she wrote but I must show you the message that was waiting inside.

This is the best card I have ever received and it will never go in a drawer. She explained in her note that she hoped we don’t mind a repurposed sympathy card because it’s all she had at the moment. She an older adult and lives in a retirement community, so it’s not safe to be making a lot of unnecessary trips. Which is how we got “With sympathy (not)” which is a phrase that makes me giggle every time I read it. I love the idea of housewarming well-wishes being the opposite of sympathy. I love a parenthetical (not) in a sincere greeting card! I also love that the other message from the sympathy card is still applicable. Yes, I would like the love of those around me to help me in the days ahead, thank you very much.

This is perfect. I often like to buy cards for the wrong occasion on purpose and give them to friends and family. I think it’s very funny but no one seems to agree. (They are wrong.) I’ve stopped doing it so much, though, because you can only give your dad a Father’s Day card that says “To the Bar Mitzvah boy!” so many times before getting disowned.

I like greeting cards but I also find it a little strange that a person I don’t know is ghost-writing messages for me. Especially when those messages make me cry! How dare you, ghost! More often than not, though, the card isn’t quite what I’m trying to say (I have a few notes, ghost!) so I just write a treatise on the side. It’s a whole exhausting thing that no one asked for. I have a lot of stress around the greeting card industry in general. Perhaps Big Card is conspiring against me. I’m working on a theory.

For years my mother would send us greeting cards that she didn’t sign. She’d say it was in case we wanted to use the card again. Practical! This is totally true and also truly peculiar behavior. In a normal circumstance, a person might not have a lot of other uses for a card from the Mahogany line that reads “My beloved son, I am so proud of the man God is making you” but I have hundreds of occasions it would be perfect for. Wisdom teeth extraction, congratulations on leaving the cult, Christmas, even sympathy or, rather, sympathy (not).


Give Zoom Emmys To The All-Black 'Golden Girls' Reading

In the half-hour live reading that was broadcast over Zoom on Tuesday night, King played Dorothy Zbornak, Tracee Ellis Ross portrayed the pride of St. Olaf Rose Nylund, Sanaa Lathan vamped it up as Blanche Devereaux, Alfre Woodard invited us to "picture it" as Sophia Petrillo, Jesse Williams played a variety of male snacks, and I portrayed myself ascending directly to heaven. Over the course of quarantine, I have watched many Zoom readings, I have participated in many Zoom readings, I have heard about even more Zoom readings; I am not yet certain that I like Zoom readings of TV shows, movies or plays. That said, Zoom readings are the thing that brought me the inimitable Alfre Woodard in a silver-white Kris Jenner-cut wig, telling a ridiculous story about the invention of pesto so I think it's fair to say I love Zoom readings.

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A Scaredy-Cat Recap Of Lovecraft Country Episode 4: 'A History Of Violence'

Lovecraft Country relishes working on multiple levels, bringing the footnotes up to become main text and running an X-ray machine over historical record. On the surface this ep is a rollicking adventure story focusing on the exploits of Titus Braithwaite, who in the universe of the show was a famed explorer, the kind whose toppled statue would be sitting at the bottom of Boston Harbor in 2020. It's a reminder that behind ever Admiral Perry there's a Matthew Henson and behind every Lewis and Clark there's a Sacagawea and a York, people of color whose roles have been elided or erased completely. And, as the thrilling episode reaches a dark climax, it makes the point that one man's exploratory adventure is a horror story for an entire indigenous culture. How scary are the parts that come before? Let's get into it!

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Let’s hang out!


Random Thing on the Internet

Tonight Miss Patti and Miss Gladys go head-to-head on Verzuz, which you can watch on Instagram or on Apple Music (I do not know how you watch something on Apple Music but I will give it my best shot!) In honor of these two phenomenal performers, here’s two of my favorite live videos of them.

With sympathy (not),

Eric