I wrote this newsletter on Monday, right before I got the news about the draft (emphasis on draft: abortions are still very much legal) SCOTUS opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade. Over the past few days, I have been processing what this means, not just for reproductive rights but for all the rights that are connected to Roe. I have been thinking about what it means to raise kids in a country that is trying to take agency — over their bodies, over who they marry, over how they conduct themselves in the home — away from them. We’re not moving to Canada but I’m not going to say that thought hasn’t crossed my mind.
And so, assuming we aren’t fleeing, the next step is understanding what is happening and what I/we can do about it. My original May recommendations are below, and I hope you find them helpful. But first, I’d like to share some resources that I have found useful in thinking about where to put my energy, resources, and anger/sadness.
I had the chance to join a virtual briefing on reproductive rights with experts Jennifer Driver, Senior Director of Reproductive Rights with the State Innovation Exchange, Dahlia Lithwick, host of the Amicus podcast who reports on courts and the law for Slate, and Mary Ziegler, author of Abortion and the Law in America: A Legal History, Roe v. Wade to the Present. (Huge thank you to Janna Meyrowitz Turner for organizing.)
My biggest takeaways: first, abortion has never just been a women’s issue, and it’s crucial that we remember and remind people of that. Second, while it’s easy to focus on national politics, it is state legislatures who hold much of the power over peoples’ lives.
And finally, if there has ever been a moment to ring an alarm —and there have been many in the past few years — that moment is now. As Ziegler explained, this is not just about abortion because Roe v. Wade is the foundation of so many other rights. If it falls, it cracks open a fault line. The Supreme Court could then take on gay marriage, contraception, voting rights — all these things that are not enumerated explicitly in the constitution.
- How to show up for abortion access, an incredible and comprehensive document put together by activist Alison Turkos
- A toolkit for talking about abortion, from Avow, a Texas abortion advocacy group
- Reminder that abortion funds (majority Black- and brown-led) have been doing this work for decades and we need to respect, acknowledge, and support them
- A Changing America article that explains how abortion affects trans and binary people as well
- The Atlantic on a future without Roe and how people will be forced to self-manage abortions
And finally, if you are in a position to donate, consider setting up a recurring contribution to National Network of Abortion Funds. I also support Run for Something, which works to get young progressives into local and state politics.
Back to regular May programming. We’re coming off a big April, which included Rob’s 40th birthday, many family visits, and Spring Break. It was wonderful and joyful but I’m also excited to be on the other side of it. And, with the chaos of summer right around the corner it feels like a good time to get back into some sort of routine.
I’m welcoming the new month with a wide-ranging collection of things I’m excited about:
Marking the days: While I was taking down our April calendar and starting to fill out May, I realized why I like having physical wall calendars so much. It’s less about the day to day “what do we have planned” and more about having something that grounds us in time and serves as a tactile reminder of “where” the time goes. My favorite is this Poketo one, which I have bought three years in a row. Lilly loves decorating it with stickers and drawings so when I look at any given month, I see not just what we had planned but her lens on it (i.e. lots of hearts around the week she went to Maine for Camp Chen!).
Mini books to remember all the things: I’ve been using Chatbooks for years but recently started subscribing to their Monthbooks. Each month, they ping you to choose 30 photos for a small, soft-sided book. The app pulls from your photo roll and can suggest the best photos, or you can choose. It takes 5-10 minutes, costs $10, and our kids love flipping through them and being reminded of all the fun things we’ve done, and all the wonderful people we have in our lives. (I also love their Toddler Guarantee — they’ll replace any book that your kiddos destroy!)
A full and beautiful exploration of grief: My friend Marisa recently published her book, Grief is Love, about her experience navigating and living with grief after the loss of her mother and a pregnancy. She writes candidly and compassionately about the actual experience of grief, and how it doesn’t look or feel the way you might think it should. In addition to being a useful support to all of us who have and will experienced grief, it is a joyful reminder that the love we feel for people doesn’t go away when they do. It is something we can continue to honor and keep with us.
Flour for a 40th: Many years ago, Rob bought me a flour mill because I “liked alternative flours.” I returned the mill but we continue to use alternative flours (i.e. not all-purpose) in our baking and cooking. We used to get them at the GrowNYC Grainstand but sadly they closed last year. For his birthday, I directed family to Maine Grains and he got a bountiful gift package of spelt, buckwheat, and whole wheat. They also sell various grains and beans for all your healthy bowl needs.
User’s guide to feelings: I have all the feelings, most of the time (see last month’s newsletter about my dislike of uncertainty). That’s why I knew I was going to love Big Feelings: How to Be Ok When Things are Not Ok. It’s by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy of the IG account @lizandmollie and walks you through how to recognize, understand, and navigate seven big feelings (including uncertainty, as well as anger, comparison, and burnout). I found it both therapeutic as well as useful — there are helpful tools and exercises sprinkled throughout and lots of real world examples.
Life-proof nail polish: I rarely get manicures because a) I can’t sit still and b) I ruin them instantly. But Hayley and I had a friend date at Glosslab recently and tried Dazzle Dry, a new-to-me line that dries in five minutes. I was sold on the speed alone but was pleasantly surprised/shocked by the fact that my manicure lasted a record two weeks with barely any chips.
Notion for life management: I recently started playing around with Notion for personal life organization and was struck by how intuitive it is — not to mention more organized and elegant than my current profusion of Google docs/Evernotes/notepads. They have a ton of templates for all different use cases, which makes it easy to get started and I love how you can easily nest different pages within a single hub. Rob and I share “Bonchen Home,” which includes a running list of things to cook, Lilly birthday planning, ongoing to-do’s, and upcoming travel.
Date-sweetened chocolate: I met the Spring & Mulberry founders awhile back and have been eagerly awaiting the launch of their gorgeous date-sweetened chocolate bars. They were inspired in part by co-founder Kathryn’s cancer journey — while she was undergoing treatment, her friends and family wanted to send indulgent treats at the same time as she was trying to limit artificial and refined sugars in her diet. The bars are visually stunning as well as wildly delicious, and a perfect gift for yourself or anyone in need of a little love.
That’s it for now! Thank you for getting to the end.
P.S. Old editions live here.
P.P.S. This weekend, my friend Emily and I will be run/walking the City Tri Brooklyn Mother’s Day 5K and raising money for Every Mother Counts. If you have anything left after rage donating to abortion funds, I highly recommend supporting them.