Amy Shearn
Senior Editor, Forge @ Medium // Bylines: New York Times, Oprah, Slate // Latest novel: Unseen City https://redhenpress.org/products/unseen-city-by-amy-shearn

A shot of a person’s legs as they run down the street.
A shot of a person’s legs as they run down the street.
Photo: VladGans / Getty Images

If you’re anything like me and, well, everyone I know, you’re probably entering the “unhinged” stage of pandemic life. I almost cried the other day remembering the once-mundane experience of sitting in a crowded restaurant on a Friday night, crackling with freshly minted weekend energy. Huh? I stared, stunned, at the page of the Sunday New York Times that summarizes how many people have gotten sick, recovered, and/or died of Covid-19, the numbers smacking me in the eyeballs with new vigor. …


Student taking a multiple choice test while sitting at desk.
Student taking a multiple choice test while sitting at desk.
Photo: Sengchoy Inthachack/EyeEm/Getty Images

“We might as well begin in the middle,” Roblin Meeks writes on Medium. He’s talking, as least ostensibly, about his son’s experience applying for college, particularly taking the ACTs mid-pandemic. But Meeks’ story gets at the same knotty problem we’ve all been wrestling with throughout the past year: How do you plan in a world that is ever-changing?

Meeks writes:

After the July ACT fell through, we tried to recalibrate the schedule again, to find a way back to the familiar path. After nine months and counting of lockdown, no path of any sort has become clear. M still doesn’t know what he wants to study or do in college, or he does have some sense but is (understandably) unsure of whether a plausible future exists with him in it. He doesn’t know how to look for a college that’s a good fit when everything’s closed or how to determine which college will handle an apocalypse better than others. …


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Photo: Stephen Zeigler/Getty Images

Despite knowing that most New Year’s resolutions end in failure, it’s hard to resist the urge to suddenly “improve” myself every January. You’d think I’d know better, especially as someone who works at Forge. And yet, I sort of believed that in 2021 I’d not only become devoted to exercise—in my mind, the worst activity imaginable—but that I’d seamlessly transform into a runner during the darkest, coldest time of the year. Running seemed easy and free and like I could do it whenever, and thus, a good fitness thing (is that what they are called?) to try.

So far, I’ve run exactly once. …


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Photo: dollyhaul / Flickr

Hair is always at least a little bit symbolic. Remember in early pandemic-times when everyone suddenly wanted to shave their head, or grow a beard? It’s like the world was going through a dramatic breakdown or a traumatic breakup or both at once. People needed to mark the change somehow.

I’m still a little stunned at everything I’ve been through over the past year, although out of laziness I haven’t gotten my hair involved. But my tween daughter, whose waist-length golden hair had been her lifelong trademark, went for it. Who can blame her? She started middle school remotely, a pretty anti-climatic way to embark on what’s meant to be an exciting new chapter in a kid’s life. Virtual classes render it near impossible to make new friends or get to know your new school, but at least she could develop a new look, and recently she got a very French-film-star-style bob. (It’s so cute! …


Father loading dishwasher as son watches.
Father loading dishwasher as son watches.
Photo: DGLimages/Getty Images

I’m about to change your life: When loading the dishwasher, sort the silverware as you load. Putting away the clean utensils will be a snap. Oh, and get a sock bag for your laundry — it’ll make folding the laundry so much simpler. Or how about freezing herbs into ice cubes, for instantly fancy cocktails?

Shortcuts are like tiny gifts for your future self, and that’s something we could all use more of these days. As Thomas Smith writes in the new Debugger series on optimizing everything in your life:

A good shortcut isn’t about cheating your way out of the necessary effort. It’s about finding a better, smarter, more efficient way to do something — ideally one that saves time, makes life easier, and gets you closer to your goals. Experts in every field use shortcuts. In fact, in many cases knowing the best shortcuts is what makes someone an expert in their…


This meditation technique is easy to remember and easy to do

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Photo: GI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Since I am a chill and fun person, I often like to power my daily walk with an engine of worry. “Is my friend mad at me? Why didn’t I get through my weekend to-do list and why am I already so behind on this week?” Then, to mix things up a bit, I’ll expand my focus: “What is happening in America right now? When is this pandemic going to loosen its grip? Will I ever be able to afford college for my kids?” (They’re in grade school, but hey, I love a jump-start.)

Yesterday, as I was revving up my daily worries, I put on The Happiness Lab podcast, in which psychologist Laurie Santos makes a rigorous study of the subject of happiness. In the episode “Reconnect with the Moment,” Santos asked meditation teacher and bestselling author Tara Brach: What would happen if we were to accept and love ourselves as we are? How can mindfulness be the vehicle that gets us to that self-acceptance? …


Baby steps toward justice aren’t the most satisfying, but they are not exactly nothing, either. Finally, as David K. Li reports for NBC News, Louisville Metro Police Department detectives Joshua Jaynes and Myles Cosgrove were formally fired on Tuesday by department chief Yvette Gentry.

As Ishena Robinson writes in The Root:

Cosgrove was fired for failing to activate his body-camera during the March 13 raid in which he and two other LMPD officers, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Brett Hankison, entered Taylor’s home on a no-knock warrant granted to the police as part of a drug investigation. The officers fatally fired on 26-year-old Taylor multiple times during the raid, killing her, but none have been charged directly in her killing… Meanwhile, Jaynes, who was not present at the raid, was fired on Tuesday for his role in procuring the warrant that the officers used to enter Taylor’s home. …


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Photo: Liam Daniel/Netflix

We’re supposed to stay glued to the news, keeping close track of the attempted coup in D.C., the slow/fast death-or-maybe-rebirth? of democracy, the ongoing scourge of racist violence, the pandemic that’s apparently still stampeding through the air, etc, etc, etc — right? Well, whoever needs to hear this, as we say here on the internet: It’s okay to take a break. In fact, it’s necessary. Your mental health matters.

Thank goodness Bridgerton dropped in this particular moment. The soapy Regency-era costume drama Shonda Rhimes created for Netflix is fun and sexy and beautiful (the DRESSES) and yet, because of its handling of race, doesn’t feel totally out of step with the realities of our current world. As Salamishah Tillet writes in the New York Times, “the characters of Bridgerton never seem to forget their blackness but instead understand it as one of the many facets of their identity, while still thriving in Regency society. …


Voter suppression and power grabs are nothing new in America

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Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The insurrection or coup attempt or mob riot or whatever you want to call what happened at the Capitol building on January 6 is not actually over yet. As Michael Arceneaux writes for LEVEL: “The courts stood up for democracy this time, but my fear is that if next time around Republicans control more state legislations — or both houses of Congress — their second shot at a coup will be a lot more successful than this one.” Arceneaux notes that Republicans have long worked to suppress Black voters, and that Americans need to keep our eyes on the ball:

While Donald Trump may not get to stay in power this week, if he continues to control the Republican Party in the coming years, he will not only become the most powerful ex-president in recent memory, but he’ll remain a threat to democracy as well. …

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