Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
"Do we like Chris Hayes?" my mother asks. It's 8:50 a.m. and I'm on the phone with my mom who has been happily telling me about her morning at a Walk/Run for HopeWell Cancer Support. She sounds ebullient. In truth, before she'd called I'd been reading a New York Times article through half-opened eyes. Kind of squinting, daring my body to be awake. The article was about a woman who lived above Carnegie Hall for $177 a month, down the hall from James Dean, as you do. I live for this kind of stuff. I'm definitely that stereotypical person. Next stop, crying over Modern Love! Anyway, Mommy calls me and wants to tell me about her morning so I sit up.
The day before she'd called with a favor. "I've been reading your Twitter," she'd said by way of introduction. This was me:
This was her:
But she didn't call to remind me that all of the world can see my social media celebrity thirst traps (HELLO, JUSTIN TRUDEAU. YOU CANNOT HIDE FROM ME FOREVER.) She called to ask for a favor. She wanted me to ask my followers to support her HopeWell Walk/Run team. HopeWell is an organization the she described as "the personification of love." They provide free support services for people with cancer diagnoses and their families. She's been going for the past couple of months and her voice lights up when she talks about the emotional support they've given her. Of course I was happy to share anything she wanted. They make my mother happy.
So, this morning she calls from the race track. She is ecstatic! "You made me a celebrity around her, boy!" People apparently started donating right away in her name, Dr. Judith Thomas. She even showed up on the local news for a few seconds. So, we're laughing and having a good time as she navigates the car away and heads toward church (she has Bluetooth, so she was driving hands-free. I also listened to her order an Egg McMuffin.)
"Do we like Chris Hayes?" she asks. "I've been reading your articles. They're on the internet, you know. Do we like him?" I tell her, yes, we do. "He even wrote back to me on Twitter." I don't mention that his response was to a Tweet in which I wrote "Chris Hayes looks like a hotter Edward Norton. There I said it!" That didn't seem germane.
She's glad that we like him. She's read his book twice now and she loves it. She didn't want to hide that information from me but she would've if she had to. The first time she read it it depressed her and then it gave her hope. It's really making her think.
She tells me about some things she learned about Nixon's underhanded tactics from the book and then we end our conversation talking about white supremacy and community organizing. Another normal Sunday morning.
This week's writing was anything but normal! I had two pieces in the New York Times! I'm a regular Hannah Horvath! They're linked below. And I was interviewed by the Washington Post! Plus, I wrote in Elle about Rep. Maxine Waters, the atrocious Unicorn Frappuccino, and Julia Roberts. But first, a totally normal Easter Egg Roll at the White House...
Under gray storm clouds that presaged rain and the ever-present threat of nuclear war brought on by 140-character missives sent from the president's Twitter account, delighted children showed up in their Easter best to hunt for eggs. "Welcome to the first test run of the Annual Hunger Games!" the president bellowed into the microphone. "Each egg contains health insurance for your family as well as a job. One lucky egg also includes a year-long membership for the Mar-a-Lago bomb shelter. May the odds be whatever who cares." [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
It's odd to say that Rep. Waters isn't a meme; since her quickly aborted press conference on James Comey and her subsequent appearances on All In with Chris Hayes in which she talked about the Kremlin Klan, the Internet has been obsessed with her. She's shown up in videos, in GIFs, and above all, in memes. I have a shirt with her face on it, for goodness sake. You probably do, too. But despite this sudden popularity, meme-fame is not her end-game. And behind the viral videos, the over-the-glasses scowls, and the alliterative catchphrases, there is a black woman who is passionately, tirelessly fighting for the future of this country. But that doesn't mean she won't let you call her Auntie. [READ THE FULL ARTICLE]
From the New York Times...
The look of the campaign is vibrant, energetic, joyful, even. But something’s off. Like a recipe — say for the soul food staple macaroni and cheese — that is missing a secret ingredient, the campaign leaves a funny taste in your mouth. The fact is, putting a group of black people wearing vibrant clothing in a room and asking them to dance does not a revolution make... It’s just drag. This is soul as drag. [READ THE FULL ARTICLE]
The audacity of this beverage is astounding. I walked into my local Starbucks, saw a sign that read "Made with the finest rainbows" and just started screaming. This is a sign that exists in reality?! Not on my watch. What's the calorie count on rainbows, ma'am? I'm on a weird diet that I have no problem telling literally everyone about and so I can't just be eating any old thing. Do rainbows have lactose? This is horrifying. Call the police. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
From the New York Times...
It was the idea of the man who now is my husband. David is an Eagle Scout from the West Coast. He self-identifies as white, outdoorsy and Presbyterian. I self-identify as Vanessa Huxtable. He spent his childhood camping and snow-caving. The closest I got to communing with nature as a child was reading “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” multiple times. [READ THE FULL ARTICLE--scroll down to find it. You can also read this in print in the Sunday edition.]
You can easily carry on a running mental commentary about America's Sweetheart whilst going about your day, applying for Canadian citizenship, binge watching The Good Fight, dying your hair blorange or whatever you're doing. It's almost irresponsible not to think about Julia Roberts at least once a day. It's un-American. Trump's tweets are a distraction from Julia Roberts; don't be fooled. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Not So Random Thing From the Internet...
I talked with Helena Andrews-Dyer for the Reliable Source column in the Washington Post about writing for ELLE, meeting Representative Maxine Waters, being funny in these dumb times and the weird lie I tell about my first name. It went up online on Wednesday and on Thursday my mother called midday. We've talked three times this week! She was not pleased. "Cousin Richard says you're in the Washington Post!" I'd forgotten to email her a link. I was in trouble. There was a page in a scrapbook that was bare right now and that would not stand. I told her I was planning to send the link with the link for the New York Times piece. She wasn't buying it. "Richard says he saw it in the paper!" Y'all can't put nothing past Richard. My mother harumphed and told me she had to go. "I gotta get in this car and go find a Washington Post now!" Anyway, if you don't feel like getting in your car and finding a Washington Post here's a link to my delightful talk with Helena.
Next week will probably not be as wild on the writing front. But it could be just as fun.