a newsletter by Emily Gould. Writing about writing, teaching and having a toddler, trying not to be too whiny.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018 

my favorite things

Remember the episode of 30 Rock where Liz takes Comanaprasil on a plane and hallucinates meeting Oprah, who tells her that her current Favorite Things include ponchos and calypso music? Obviously you do but I’m putting this photo here so that, our mutual fond memories of 30 Rock can do the work of being funny for me.

This morning I was thinking, I wish I had a platform where I can share my current calypso and ponchos-level random-ass favorite things. Then I remembered that I do! I also wish I had the ability to put one of each of these things UNDER YOUR SEAT!!!! but alas no. Maybe someday.

  1. Cocofloss

    This is $8 luxury dental floss that you can buy online or at Sephora. Depending on your personality and ideology you are either rolling your eyes or already clicking the link. Either way, you should know that this floss is INSANELY EFFECTIVE yet somehow MUCH GENTLER THAN REGULAR FLOSS. I use an electric toothbrush to brush thoroughly and then floss with it nightly and the stuff that comes out shocks me. Like, that stuff was just chilling in between my teeth. Presumably before I started using this floss that stuff was in between my teeth (by extension: your teeth) all the time. It makes flossing as satisfying as popping a giant, ripe, easily-slides-out blackhead. Hope you’re still reading this! I am not being paid by the cocofloss corporation but if they’d like to sponsor this newsletter, they should write to me at emilgou AT gmail. Btw if you, non cocofloss corp. reader, want to write to me you should also use that address. If you reply to this email the emails have to go through Substack via a mechanism they haven’t quite figured out yet.

  2. The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

    Please overcome your bias against buying a new hardcover this slim (I have one too obviously) and just give an independent bookstore your $ already, or get this from the library. It’s the most purely pleasurable yet also thought-provoking reading experience I’ve had in … a WHILE. Other things that might be preventing you from buying this universally lauded book by one of our most accomplished and fascinating authors:

    • not being a “dog person”

    • not wanting to read a book about the exquisite pain of being a writer

    • not wanting to be bummed out (“does something bad happen to the dog?” the narrator imagines “a certain kind of reader” asking about 1/4 of the way through)

    I see your points; I also stalled for these same reasons. It’s hard to explain how a book about something so depressing — adopting a friend’s not-young dog after that friend’s suicide, and watching as the dog’s grief mirrors and augments your own — could be so, well, uplifting. I think the sheer beauty of its prose is one reason; even as the narrator (a stymied writer) wonders about the pointlessness of her vocation, every sentence is a justification of that vocation’s existence. If you’ve already read and loved this book, I highly recommend Sempre Susan, Nunez’s memoir of being mentored by Susan Sontag. It gets at something so profound about the way that relationships shape and warp our lives. Also that romances aren’t always sexual. Sigrid Nunez’s perspective is necessary and timely in the same way that Rachel Cusk’s and Elena Ferrante’s are. If this hard sell hasn’t convinced you, read an excerpt.


    til next time,


Friday, March 9, 2018 

Take care

Before I had a kid I thought of taking care of my kid and having someone else care for my kid as a binary. Like I would be able to leave my child and then, for the time he was being cared for by the nanny or sitter or daycare or preschool, go about my life and work without a second thought, the same way a person with no children might.  And maybe some people (generalizing but: men) can do this, or maybe everyone can do it at times – make their children mentally not exist. I remember, very early in Raffi’s life, my therapist telling me that the goal was to have an hour every day when I didn’t think about him.

Today is Raffi’s last day at his first daycare. Next week we’re on spring break and then the week after that he’ll start preschool.  He’s starting much earlier than we’d anticipated but he has really outgrown his daycare, where he’s the oldest and by far the most rambunctious of a group of kids that includes at least one baby who can’t even walk yet.  We had been so happy with this daycare, which is two blocks from our apartment, that we had been in denial about how untenable the situation was for kind of a while, and then the denial caught up to us and we ended up leaving in much more of a hurry than anyone would have liked. It sucks. I have absolutely no doubt that we are making the right decision, but it still sucks.  I’m trying to think of a single instance, in my pre-parenthood life, when I had to make a hard decision that couldn’t result in an immediate positive outcome for anyone concerned, and I’m drawing a blank.  Breakups, I guess. It does feel like one.  Money is involved, and time, and logistics, and feelings.  Another thing I hadn’t thought about much as a non-parent: that paying someone to care for your child – literally, paying someone to have or to convincingly feign the emotional state that enables someone to summon the patience and skill necessary to attend to the physical and emotional needs of your child – places everyone concerned in a vulnerable and deeply weird position. As a culture, we don’t think or talk about this very much because it’s excruciating. The weirdness and vulnerability only comes to our attention when we’re in it, or when something goes horribly wrong.

I have been continuously mentally chiding myself for not getting any work done this week, except the bare minimum amount of work I need to do to teach my class – an especially galling failure because, technically speaking, I’m supposed to turn in a revised draft of my book next week.  Why can’t I compartmentalize – why have I allowed this stuff to loom so large in my mind that all I can do is think and talk about it with other mothers, the only ones who understand?  But finally this morning the realization dawned on me that if I were the kind of person who was capable of that kind of compartmentalization, I would probably be in some other line of work. I am a professional feelings-haver.

I’m beyond lucky that someone else sometimes takes care of my child while I’m busy having feelings and while I’m busy doing work. At the same time, I am poignantly aware that I am one of the very few people this system is working for, to the extent that it works for anyone.  And if it sucks for me, it’s frightening to think about how much it must suck for everyone who’s on the other side of it.

note re: switching from Tinyletter to Substack — you might have noticed that people are doing this! It’s because Tinyletter will eventually be subsumed into Mailchimp and I wanted to get ahead of whatever that will be like. Substack also offers the opportunity to do paid newsletters and I might experiment with that if I ever decide that I can commit to a regular publishing schedule.

a newsletter by Emily Gould. Writing about writing, teaching and having a toddler, trying not to be too whiny.