Episode #13: A Return (of Sorts)


Wow. What was 2020? There was a lot that happened, a lot of it bad. But there were some moments of clarity that helped show what is also possible in this world. We’ll go in a little about that, why student loans should be cancelled, what the point of social work is at this moment in our lives, and this year’s Goodreads challenges (spoiler: 2020’s challenge didn’t go as planned!)

Full Transcript:

Drew:                   Well, we’ve dusted off the old microphone.

Ondine:               We have.

Drew:                   Yeah.

Ondine:               I almost forgot where we store it.

Drew:                   It was pretty dusty. Literally did have to dust it off.

Ondine:               So how are you?

Drew:                   Probably better than most, if I had to say. As much as the past year has exposed to more people the problems in society, an unequal access to healthcare, most people living paycheck to paycheck and can’t pay their rent if they miss a paycheck. You know, I felt like the other side that it’s showing us is what’s possible. So like for me personally, what happened was I didn’t pay student loan payments for like nine months. And that was an extra $516 in my pocket every month.

Ondine:               Gosh.

Drew:                   So having that pack, I was like, “I actually do make enough money. I don’t live paycheck to paycheck.” That was a big realization to me. And it also made me really mad, because I’m like, “This is temporary. It shouldn’t be, everybody should have this.” And I just think about how so many other people are just saddled with this huge amount of income that just goes right back out the door because of the education loan sharks. And so it’s been nice, thinking about that, but it’s also been, like I said, one of those epiphanies that came around like, “This is actually how it could be.”

Ondine:               Yeah, I think this conversation is probably especially relevant to social workers, because our career, our profession isn’t very well-paid. And so it’s very difficult to pay off student loans. And if you’ve gotten a master’s degree or more than you probably have a lot of debt, I have a lot of debt.

Drew:                   I do too. I have like a $100,000 of debt.

Ondine:               Me too.

Drew:                   And I think probably, this probably isn’t news to people in the social work field, like our best bet is that public service loan forgiveness stuff.

Ondine:               Yeah, and I’m so mad. I’ve been working in mostly nonprofits for a very long time. And I applied for that. I guess it was probably about eight or nine years ago I was working at a nonprofit agency and I was like, “I’m finally going to apply for this.” And I turned in the paperwork and it came back and said that I didn’t qualify. And I was really confused, because all of my loans are federal loans.

Drew:                   Did they explain why you didn’t qualify?

Ondine:               No.

Drew:                   Just, no.

Ondine:               No. I called and I asked somebody and I didn’t understand their response. It had something to do with something that I don’t understand. I don’t know. I don’t know.

Drew:                   We should make a pack. This is the year we will revisit this, because I’m not enrolled in that. And I’ve been at the same non-profit for almost five years now. And if it’s like a 10-year or something like that.

Ondine:               It’s my understanding it was like 10 years. And through that 10-year time, you have to have made all the payments on time.

Drew:                   Definitely didn’t do that when I was selling plasma to get my student loan out of default so I could go to a grad school.

Ondine:               Jesus.

Drew:                   Yeah, take that. Student loans, bank sharks. Anyways, that’s the thing. I’ve actually been, knock on this pressed fiber wood table that we’re on, but I have not gotten COVID. Nobody in my immediate orbit, like my family, has had it. Somehow we’ve all been spared.

Ondine:               Yeah, same. I have not had COVID, nor has my immediate family. I mean, people I know, I’ve had friends who speculated that they had COVID-

Drew:                   Yeah, that’s true.

Ondine:               … in January or February, and I know people who have had close people to them get COVID and die of COVID.

Drew:                   Jesus.

Ondine:               So I don’t know, this last year, it’s so funny saying last year when it’s only like, I guess January 9th. So, it still feel like I’m in 2020.

Drew:                   That’s because this year has basically been the second season of 2020, or this week has been the second season of 2020.

Ondine:               Oh, goodness.

Drew:                   It’s been like not a good start for a clean slate.

Ondine:               My dad got really sick last year and was in and out of the hospital several times. And then also spent a bit of time, a few weeks in a rehabilitation facility. And that was really scary and confusing for my family. Firstly, because I don’t live near them. So I already felt like I didn’t have a lot of information, but then that no one could go and visit him.

Drew:                   That’s awful, awful for everybody involved.

Ondine:               Yeah, and it’s hard when you have aging parents who … I struggle to get information that I needed in order to be as supportive as possible. And I know that that has happened to so many people last year, having loved ones who had been sick, hospitalized, in nursing home care, and not been able to see them or be with them. And I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon.

Drew:                   I am in agreement with you, unfortunately. As I was talking about, we don’t know anybody that … I don’t know anybody that has had COVID or I don’t know any money that has immediately died. Like the longer this shit goes on, the more those odds are against us, right? It’s just going to catch up. I think that’s what’s, I don’t know, I mean, I’ve kind of gotten over the feeling of being trapped at home. It’s just, I don’t know, it took a nine months to get used to it, but.

Ondine:               It’s hard-

Drew:                   Its hard.

Ondine:               … because where we live too part of the year is very cold. So it’s not really easy. I mean, it’s not possible to be outside and to visit with folks and hang out in a wide open outdoor space. I felt a little less restless in the summer when I could see friends at a park or gather in a very big backyard with masks on. But when it’s just too cold to be outside, everything just kind of closes in and it’s just so much smaller.

Drew:                   You know, when you’re talking about like that serious stuff that was happening with your dad and your family, and there’s just so much bad stuff that happened in 2020, it is almost the script of a bad movie. There’s so much, I do think throughout all of that. And I’ve thought about this and are probably lifted this quote or amalgamated this quote or idea from several things I’ve read. But that how, in times like that joy kind of becomes an act of resistance, because, and it seems kind of simplified, but really when all the odds are stacked against you to still find happiness a few minutes a day. It does feel like whether it’s playing video games or seeing a friend outside or something, I don’t know. It seems even more important than ever it is do that stuff, because it’s so hard to come by.

Ondine:               Yeah.

Drew:                   So you mentioned a little bit about that, but taking that in mind or not in mind, how are you?

Ondine:               How am I? Oh gosh, I’m complicated. Or I have rather always changing complex feelings. I was very fortunate last year to not lose my job and be able to work from home. And I’m so grateful, because I can’t imagine, I mean, I can imagine what it would be like to have lost my job, and I’m glad that didn’t happen. And also I feel really guilty about that. I feel like it-

Drew:                   There’s some survivor’s guilt, for sure.

Ondine:               Yeah, yeah. And I’ve gone back and forth with feeling like everything I do is pointless and doesn’t matter. And then, but then I will rebound and then feel like everything that I do right now is so important and powerful and necessary. And so I’m caught in this, I suppose, this yo-yo and it’s just, I have a hard time right now regulating my emotions. And I’m just also trying to accept that that’s a very normal place to be right now.

Drew:                   I’m with you. And I kind of like to talk a little bit more about that, because throughout this year, both through the lens of my job and more broadly, I’ve often thought of like, “What is the point of social work right now?” Because at my job we spent the better part of a year wrestling with government agencies to get rent assistance to people who were desperately needing it and facing eviction. And it’s like there was no way to pivot or for these people with the money basically to pivot or even reconsider, like they’re still wanting to be like, “Oh, we got to put parameters on this, your 40% of the income level to get this.” I’m like, man-

Ondine:               There were also some restrictions too on the funding where folks had to show that the reason they needed the money was COVID-related.

Drew:                   Yeah. Like we’re in fact, we’re all impacted by COVID. Who cares? Why would you ask that? And I just, I thought about it. And my office is a nonprofit, the one I work for, but there were social workers at the city who are also abiding by these like stupid eligibility requirements at this time. And I was just like, “Why are we doing what we do right now?”

Ondine:               We’ve talked a lot on the podcast about gate keeping and means testing, how evil all that is, right? And like what our role is.

Drew:                   COVID put everything into microcosm and you can see things more clearly. There just wasn’t time to means test this. There probably isn’t time to means test it normally in non-COVID times, right?

Ondine:               What I meant by means testing was forcing people to prove they’re eligible.

Drew:                   Oh gotcha, yeah that’s okay.

Ondine:               Sorry. We should never be means testing. That was the point I was trying to get to.

Drew:                   Yeah, yeah, yeah, I gotcha. Yeah, you’re right.

Ondine:               And to be doing it as people are literally about to lose their housing, trying to force people to prove why they need the money is particularly evil.

Drew:                   Especially when the Centers for Disease Control, corrupt as it is, has become unfortunately in the past couple of years, when they even they’ve said you can’t evict people because we’re concerned about the resulting, what it will result, which is more people crowded into the same living spaces and it kind of becoming more … It becoming easier to spread COVID. Even when that came out, it just was still, I don’t know, nobody seemed to … Judges just decided on a whim when they want to do it or not. And I’m just like, “Why are we doing all this?” It’s kind of why-

Ondine:               When you say judges just decide on a whim, what you’re talking about is eviction order.

Drew:                   Evictions, yeah. They all decide if they want to follow the CDC guidance today or not, and there’s been a lot of successful direct action with shutting down eviction courts and stuff. And honestly, again, I’m just like, “Is that what my social work needs to be is just disruption?”

Ondine:               I’ve been pretty inspired by the work of the Image result for Kansas City Tenants union and the Lexington-

Drew:                   Housing Justice Collective.

Ondine:               Housing Justice Collective. And so for a lot of places, maybe most places, court has moved online and folks are now attending hearings through Zoom or WebEx or whatever other platform that that particular County or city is using. And so here in Lexington, if you have an eviction hearing, you show up to your computer or your phone, and groups like these tenant unions that we’ve mentioned and collectives have been Zoom bombing so that they can disrupt these hearings. And what that results in often times is that a judgment cannot be made and it pushes forward, you know? I mean, I know that’s kicking the can down the road, but.

Drew:                   Sometimes buying somebody time though is significant.

Ondine:               Yeah.

Drew:                   So yeah, I don’t know. I’ve really been questioning social work for me. Because it just, we’ve talked about this before, but this fallacy of, “Well, we’re there to connect people to resources and all of this.” But what does that mean when there aren’t resources?

Ondine:               There aren’t any.

Drew:                   These resources are perpetually maxed out. What do you do? And for me, we’ve joked about like, is this the year that I was radicalized to be an anarchist, because anarchistic social work is that where I’m at? To basically scheme and disrupt current systems that aren’t working, weren’t working before. And I guess using the credentials I have or whatever to get myself in the door to basically let the horses out. I just don’t know. So it’s kind of been a question for me of like, “What is the point of this? We just can’t.” And then further last week that insurrection at the Capitol-

Ondine:               Oh, that was-

Drew:                   … that was so, I have a lot of feelings about different parts of that. But the thing after that was like, that happened on Wednesday, I think, so Thursday-

Ondine:               On Wednesday, domestic terrorists-

Drew:                   White supremacists.

Ondine:               … initiated a coup led by their president elect.

Drew:                   Yep. Well their president.

Ondine:               Their president, sorry.

Drew:                   Their elected president. Thank Christ, he’s not president elect again. But yeah, and then like the next day I’m doing a grant report and I’m just like, “I know, it was just this is the most American fucking thing ever. That I just go back to doing mundane stuff after a literal coup stopped the legislative branch of our Federal Government.” But then I have texted my boss too. I was like, “Hey man, the Federal Government’s under a coup, do we still have to submit this HUD report?” And it was just, it was just mad.

Ondine:               It’s yeah, it’s crazy.

Drew:                   Yeah.

Ondine:               It’s crazy.

Drew:                   I just don’t know.

Ondine:               Yeah, my social work license needs to be renewed this year, if I want to renew it. And I sometimes I’m back and forth about it. And for reasons we’ve talked about on this podcast around the professionalization of social work and what that actually means and how that can be. So it closes doors for people, it’s elitist. It’s based on a lot of stuff that I don’t agree with. And also, I guess, I think on the other hand, maybe I will keep it because at some point maybe I want to do some other kinds of work right there requires me to do it. And it’s easier to hold onto it than to let it go. So I have to do all these continuing education things. And you know, I did one, we both did it in December and I am trying to figure out when I can do the other ones. And one of the ones I have to do is ethics. I was like-

Drew:                   That’s all you got to say and the left track roles. I got to do ethics.

Ondine:               I have to do a continuing education credit course on ethics and social work, right now at this time in my life, in this moment in our world. And the horrible thing is, I can only do it, there’s so many horrible things, but where I live, like only certain institutions are even given the permission for it to count for my state license. And I know it’s going to be bad. I know it’s probably going to be rote and boring and not connected to reality. Wouldn’t surprise me if nothing-

Drew:                   A 1005%.

Ondine:               … nothing that’s happening in this world today is going to be addressed. It’s just going to be like, “Don’t sleep with your clients.”

Drew:                   That reminds me of that semester back in grad school. We were just about to start and Charlottesville happened. It was like 2017, and that shit in Charlottesville happened. And I remember emailing-

Ondine:               For the world who we not know who that is.

Drew:                   Yeah. So Charlottesville was, I forget what the purpose of it, was it like a Unite the Right rally, or I can’t remember. Ultimately what you need to know is Antifa counter protesters were there to challenge a bunch of alt-right white supremacist people. And they ended up killing a woman. A dude drove his car through a crowd and a woman died.

Ondine:               The white supremacist killed.

Drew:                   Yeah, the white supremacists killed. A woman was murdered by a Nazi on American soil.

Ondine:               Yeah, in Virginia.

Drew:                   And so that happened and we were supposed to start classes in like a week and I emailed my professors and I’ve probably even said this before on this podcast, like, “This is a big deal. We’re going to talk about this in class?” And they’re like, “Well, the syllabus doesn’t really, I don’t have a room to put this in, but if there’s a place in a paper you’re going to write or you want to talk about it, you can.” I was like, never got mentioned. In this graduate school, social work, we aren’t talking about society. And I just, I think you’re right. That’s what’s going to happen with that ethics course. That’s going to be like, “Don’t sleep with your clients, you know.” [inaudible 00:17:09]

Ondine:               I don’t know. I mean, I guess I will let you all know.

Drew:                   It is laughable though. I mean, I realize we have to, there’s some integrity, right? I want to be a person with integrity, but-

Ondine:               You want to have some ethics?

Drew:                   I want to be ethical.

Ondine:               Whatever that means for you.

Drew:                   Whatever that means. But it’s also just ludicrous in the face of the past four years. A man just was the president of this country with no ethics, with no morals. And I’m like, “I’m basically at this place where the Kentucky Board of Social Work has more integrity than the President’s office, the White House?” It just, it’s hard to take seriously sometimes. It’s like, it’s not a double standard, it’s just inconsistent. Kind of brings me back to this mid-life question of, what is the point.

Ondine:               I know other people are also swimming in the shit and not sure what to do with themselves or whether or not anything matters and what’s the point. Tomorrow I may very well wake up and feel I know exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. So there’s that.

Drew:                   There have been those moments where I’ve actually had, I’ve woken up and felt I’m ready to fight. You know, actually the day they call Biden’s presidency, said that he won the election that we had in November, and I guess drag out for months. I actually felt more motivated to get involved in stuff after that. And I know, he’s not going to save us.

Ondine:               No, God.

Drew:                   Biden is not the liberal Christ God that’s going to redeem us. It’s just, it was sour to have to vote for him. But I also was like, there was somebody I follow on Twitter, named Kelly Hayes. And in an article she had written said something like, “I vote to fight for another day.” And I kind of saw that other day come up, and I was just like, “I feel some spunk now. I got some fight in my-

Ondine:               I’m glad you got that.

Drew:                   And so I’ve kind of been riding on that for the past few weeks. So there was like that glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. I wanted to run to it.

Ondine:               Well, I am also really, I’m some ways in disbelief, but also not the Georgia flipped blue. And I am very grateful to all of the folks who’ve done a really powerful job, doing grassroots mobilizing in Georgia that has resulted now in a completely democratic legislature. And again, I have no faith in the Democrats.

Drew:                   I don’t either. But again, it was a fight for another day.

Ondine:               Yeah.

Drew:                   I’d tell you what I took from that too. To stop talking about like getting your joy or your sense of like, “I’m going to fight.” I saw that and I was like, “That’s a blueprint now. You could do that here. What does that take?” Anyhow, I get pretty grandiose. I was like, “I’m going to do this. I want to start working on this now.” And of course it’s like, “Hello depression, my old friend.” And I’d rather lead or I’d rather follow somebody else’s lead than try to do it. And then the people are doing it here.

Ondine:               Well, I mean, in respect with following somebody else’s lead, that victory in Georgia was led by black women and by black and brown groups working in coalition to make that happen in groups like-

Drew:                   The New Georgia Project.

Ondine:               The New Georgia Project, like southerners on new ground. And we know people from here who went down there to do the work too. We can follow those people.

Drew:                   Yeah, I think that’s right to lift that up because it got buried I think in how significant it should have been, because that was announced on Wednesday when the insurrection happened.

Ondine:               The coup.

Drew:                   The coup, and it was so buried down the New York Times homepage. And it’s like you had to actually scroll that wheel maybe two or three times to get to it. It shouldn’t have been like that.

Ondine:               Yeah, onward, I guess. So what now? I have been off of work and I go back to work tomorrow and I’m feeling people know, probably because I think I’ve talked about it on here before, but I work in the abortion access world. And so this is a really, I mean, it’s always a very hard time access for abortion, to abortion care and abortion services has always been difficult. And I feel like I’m always … And I live in Kentucky. So I live in a place where-

Drew:                   It’s hateful here.

Ondine:               Its always a fight, right? And it’s been especially challenging when there’s a global pandemic. It becomes even harder for people to get access to the healthcare that they need. And we have a really, a very strong organization here that coordinates volunteers to try to help people get across the state or to other sides of the state to get their reproductive healthcare needs met.

But you know, suddenly you couldn’t drive somebody across the state because of quarantine and pandemic and social distancing, right? And that just was really, that’s quite a blow in some ways, in a lot of ways. And I’m rambling a little bit, but I guess what I’m just saying is that coming back around to this kind of absurdity of the moment. Just yesterday, which was a weekend, over the weekend our state legislature is trying to ram through bills that would continue to make it difficult to receive abortions, to get abortion care. So in the middle of the fucking coup and pandemic and people getting evicted, and they’re like, “This is our priority. We’re going to try to hand over power to the Attorney General.” Daniel Cameron is our Attorney General, who is a horrible person.

Drew:                   Might know him from his totally shady dealings with the grand jury for the police officers that murdered Breonna Taylor.

Ondine:               That’s right.

Drew:                   So yeah, that’s the guy in charge now.

Ondine:               That’s the guy. And so this is just, yeah I’m just like, I don’t know. We watched a really good movie last night though.

Drew:                   Good. I’m so glad you brought this up, because I was thinking about that. Talking about joy, there was joy in that.

Ondine:               If you have not seen Vampires vs. the Bronx, then I highly recommend it.

Drew:                   Do you want to share just a brief one sentence about what the premise is?

Ondine:               Yeah, so the premise, and it’s like horror comedy. So it’s not terribly gory or scary.

Drew:                   Shaun of the Dead probably.

Ondine:               Yeah, for people who are not really into that, it’s lighthearted, it’s cute. But it’s about these, mostly it’s four kids who live in the Bronx and they find out that the company responsible for quickly gentrifying the area is actually owned by for real vampires. And then-

Drew:                   Oh, and the private premise of it too is like it’s all black and brown people that live here and the vampires are white.

Ondine:               Are white, yeah.

Drew:                   Led by, well, that would be a spoiler. Nevermind.

Ondine:               Yeah, don’t say.

Drew:                   But yeah, it was pretty fun. It was pretty fun to watch.

Ondine:               Yeah, that was great.

Drew:                   You got like, what are you working towards this year?

Ondine:               Like personally, or professionally?

Drew:                   What do you want to happen?

Ondine:               I guess I just am always sort of on this quest around how I can continue to use my talents and my gifts and whatever privileges that I have, and connections, and energy, and learning to make this world better. So professionally, how does that continue to evolve as someone who identifies as a social worker? I guess that’s kind of a big answer to a question, like that’s actually kind of a big question because you were very specific about what you were looking for.

Drew:                   It was a choose your own open-ended thing.

Ondine:               What about you?

Drew:                   I am going to try to continue to learn German. I had a first lesson of that. I’m really at a state. I think the Biden term will probably give us a little bit of a chance to catch our breath before getting back in the fight. And it’s two parts. One I’m getting ready for whatever’s coming down the pipes at us, but also practicing languages that will allow me to go somewhere else if need be, you know?

Ondine:               You want to go to Germany?

Drew:                   I have limited abilities to do things. And it’s also my ancestral language for my family. So there’s that affinity for it. But no, actually that’s not a good reason to go to Germany, in fact. So I don’t know what I’m talking about now.

Ondine:               I’m giving you some shit, I’m sorry. I apologize if I’ve derailed you.

Drew:                   That’s okay. Yeah, I probably can’t go to Germany, they don’t want us. Honestly, I’d rather stay here and fight, then leave. But I guess this year I’m just, I’m probably going to be wrestling with this idea of, social work just can’t be the same from now on, right?

Ondine:               It couldn’t be before either.

Drew:                   It shouldn’t have been, yeah. But like, as again, the COVID microcosm we’ve seen that it’s by and large not working. People are doing pretty revolutionary things, pretty cool things. And I think more people need to start, we need to start taking the lead from them instead of just this, the same old thing, which I’m complicit in. I participate in the same old thing, social work. And I just need to continue to redefine social work so that it doesn’t become the thing that it’s always been, which I think is at best complacent and at worst just more policing and harming that gets perpetuated by the state.

Ondine:               Yeah, I hope that you share these learnings.

Drew:                   I’ll have to think about how to get an audience to tell this stuff to and share it in a way that’s shareable and that is accessible to people. I’ll have to think about a way to do that.

Ondine:               So I know you, and I know what you’re doing right now, which is joking. It’s so flat though.

Drew:                   Yeah, it’s the podcast problem, which is you can’t see like the little twinkle in my eye when I’m bullshitting you.

Ondine:               Yeah, its so funny-

Drew:                   I’m talking about this podcast.

Ondine:               It’s a funny medium, it really is.

Drew:                   I guess this is that time of year when people try to resolve for something new, are you doing that this year?

Ondine:               I don’t really, I don’t know. I don’t do resolutions usually anymore the way that we traditionally do resolutions here. I used to, and they were always really stupid resolutions that were about not being happy with myself and how I needed to be better at this, or to do less of that, or more of this. And really wasn’t very kind, or wasn’t what I needed to be spending my time on. So then I moved away from that. Didn’t do anything, then for a few years I would choose a word and let that word kind of guide me through the year.

So one year that word was connect. And so the idea was that I should just, that I could be looking for opportunities to connect throughout my life, whether that was connect to art, or connect to friends, or connect to myself. And that felt a little, it felt better than just sort of this list of like, “I’m going to lose weight and exercise more and drink lots of water and get plenty of sleep and be amazing and get a promotion and have 700 friends,” and whatever people do. This year I have not made a list of things, nor have I thought of a word to guide me. But that doesn’t mean I won’t.

Drew:                   I said something about this, I guess last week, last year, how arbitrary it is that the 1st of January is this time of recommitting and changing things or resolutions. And if any time it was more apparent, there was never a time where it was more apparent that time itself doesn’t mean anything. So you can really start this anytime you want.

Ondine:               Never. I actually really liked the new year for me being when I have my birthday.

Drew:                   Yeah, that is your new year.

Ondine:               It is my new year, it’s my revolution around the sun and it’s very personally meaningful. And I tend to feel more in tune with the idea of recommitting or starting a new or whatever at that time, than I do in January.

Drew:                   The weather is also nicer in your birth month than it is in January. And I think it’s probably easier to feel, to take that energy in as opposed to now when it’s shitty outside.

Ondine:               It’s very cold, and some folks like that. So I don’t want to paint a picture of that. It’s just so miserable all the time. Some people really love winter, I don’t.

Drew:                   I don’t either. That’s very hard for me.

Ondine:               Yeah. Well, I guess I don’t really know what else to say. Mostly just kind of be in my house and stay in my house forever and wait until I can get a vaccine in five years from now.

Drew:                   Yeah, whatever can go wrong, we will make sure it goes wrong, yeah.

Ondine:               Yeah, that’s probably a whole other conversation I don’t know we need to have, but around what kind of access people doing social work have to the vaccine against coronavirus.

Drew:                   We talk about this on this podcast a little bit, but we are both fans of good reads-

Ondine:               Oh right.

Drew:                   … and it is that part of the year where you can start a new challenge, you’ve got that, right?

Ondine:               I do. I mentioned my good read challenges before. So in 2020 my goal was to read 30 books, and I read 25.

Drew:                   That’s really good.

Ondine:               And I include short books, big books, graphic novels, all of that. So this year I have set my goal again at 30 and we’ll see. Well, I’m about to finish my second book.

Drew:                   And that’s not even the second week of January. That’s pretty impressive.

Ondine:               Yeah, what about you?

Drew:                   I’m doing that again, because I do it every year. Last year, because of everything going on, my good reads challenge kind of got punched in the dick.

Ondine:               Oh my gosh.

Drew:                   So it just didn’t happen. It was just really bad, I just didn’t read, but I’m recommitting to it again. But I’m also, I’ve been thinking, I’m going to give audio books a try. I tried it with fiction and I realized, I learned something about myself, which is that it didn’t work. And so I want to try non-fiction, but I was also thinking like-

Ondine:               And you said it didn’t work because for you you like to be able to flip back [crosstalk 00:33:21]-

Drew:                   What I learned about myself was that yeah, I like that exactly. And I reread passages to kind of understand it better. I don’t really read linearly, and the audio book format is just exactly that, at least from my limited experience with it. But I had the other thought, I was like, “I would kind of like to be in a book club.” And not you’re kind of just New York Times anti-racist bookseller book club thing, but a book club that you’re just not focused on learning so much as like just discussing the book that you’re reading. Whether it’s like a graphic novel, or I don’t know, the new N.K. Jemisin series, or something like that. And I just thought that would be fun, because maybe I would learn differently, remember the books differently.

Ondine:               So the books that I’ve read this year are both on some bestseller lists, and each of them at the back of the book have questions that can be used in a book club-

Drew:                   I’ve seen those editions out there.

Ondine:               Yeah, and I had not noticed those before and I think, I wonder if I would read differently. I mean, I probably would. I remember in high school and you know, in college too, like being taught how to read. And not actually learning how to read words, but how to think about what you’re reading and literary devices and whatnot. And I’m very rusty, so I’ll get on good reads and I will … My reviews of books are like, “This was good or this was not good.”

Drew:                   That’s the way most people do that though. It’s not like that’s bad.

Ondine:               I know, but then I will afterward go and read other people’s reviews. And I’m just like, “Damn, they’re seeing all kinds of shit I didn’t see. I didn’t know that this was an allegory for that,” or like-

Drew:                   Sometimes, I don’t like spoilers, but sometimes I’m almost like, “God damn, I wish I’d read this before I read the book. Read the review before read the book.” It was just like, “They saw so much or said so much that I was thinking, but couldn’t articulate.”

Ondine:               So perhaps being in a book club would help you read on another level.

Drew:                   I was also thinking about this because I was sitting on the couch, looking at a bookshelf next to me, and I was looking at Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, which is a pretty powerful book. I read that my first year of community college and I had to write a report on it, and I actually didn’t finish it, so I winged it what I thought happened.

Ondine:               Oh my gosh.

Drew:                   And I just remember lots of X’s, big X’s that span the size of a page about like, this isn’t what happened.

Ondine:               When you say big X’s, those-

Drew:                   On my report that I got back from the teacher, just, you know. So anyways, it’s embarrassing, right? Because I don’t know what I was thinking. I was 19. My brain hadn’t dried out, I was stupid. So I’ve been thinking-

Ondine:               It’s so funny the things we try to pass off at that age-

Drew:                   I know.

Ondine:               … and we think nobody is going to know. Nobody is going to know.

Drew:                   The professor was probably my age that I am now. And I just, like just a laser focused through all the bullshit and just like, “What is this?”

Ondine:               We have a good friend who was a high school teacher for quite a while, a high school English teacher. And she told us one time she was grading papers and they had read, the students have read, Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, right?

Drew:                   I think so.

Ondine:               And this person, this student had written this report that was just clearly not about that at all. And she wrote at the top of the page when she returned it was, “Did you even read Things Fall Apart?”

Drew:                   That’s what I got when I … so I was thinking about that. One, I should reread that and actually finish it. But then also just like, “Those are the things that kept me accountable.” If I know somebody is waiting on me to do something, I will do it, like the reverse Patreon.

Ondine:               Oh, it is also terrible that the world we live in and the way that capitalism forces us to feel like we have to be always putting out things.

Drew:                   Yeah, I don’t know. One of my favorite Oscar Wilde quotes, “It’s a shame there’s no such thing as useless information.” I don’t know. I hope everybody, we’re going to get some better vibes going this year.

Ondine:               This last year was also the year I got into watching TikTok videos.

Drew:                   Oh, it’s been great.

Ondine:               Yeah.

Drew:                   People are so clever.

Ondine:               People are really clever and because of what I choose to watch and follow, like my algorithm is curating for me mostly very funny things that are good hot takes on what’s happening right now that help me kind of feel less alone and heartened by especially young folks, people that’s younger than me. And it’s just really exciting to see how they’re thinking and processing what’s happening and how they’re reshaping the world.

Drew:                   Yeah, I’ve enjoyed it too. And I’m not even on there as much as you are, but I’m thankful for it.

Ondine:               That felt like a call out.

Drew:                   It’s not, maybe it was envy, how do you know it wasn’t envy?

Ondine:               [crosstalk 00:38:30], I know.

Drew:                   I spend too much time on Twitter and I certainly don’t laugh as much as I hear you laugh when you’re on TikTok.

Ondine:               Yeah, I think TikTok’s funny. I think Twitter’s terrifying.

Drew:                   Yeah. So anyways, 2021, better vibes. That’s what we’re going to end on. That’s where we’re going to go forward on.

Ondine:               All right then.

Drew:                   Okay. Well, we’ll be back when we’re back.

Ondine:               We’ll be back when we’re back. I have things I want to talk about with you all in the future. And I also am going to give myself space to do what I want in the moment.

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