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A peek at our book cover, designed by Elizabeth Spiridakis Olson. Click through to see the whole thing!   

This week
Today is many things. It's another day of scary news and graphs. Another day of persistent worry and and survivor's guilt. It's the first Friday in April—even though marking time on a calendar has felt strange for awhile now. It is the birthday of one of my nearest and dearest. (Hi, Bridget! I love you.) It's also the day I get to ask you to support the book I co-wrote with another beloved friend, Aminatou Sow: Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close

WHEW. In some ways, this is the perfect moment for our book, which is about investing in your friendships and staying emotionally connected despite hardship and physical distance. But it is also an awful time to be selling something—which, let's be honest, is what we're doing. It's not without knowledge of these contradictions that I'm asking you for some favors:
  1. Pre-order it, preferably from an independent bookstore, if you can afford to. Ordering in advance really helps us out. It's an early endorsement from you, and it signals to booksellers to order more copies from our publisher.
  2. Ask your local library to order it. We want people to be able to access this book for free!
  3. Tell the world how excited you are to read this book. Big Friendship is on Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads. And, even more importantly, tell someone you love. We are so excited for friends to read this book together.
Thanks for considering it. And I promise you, every future edition of this newsletter will NOT begin with a long plea to order the book. We'll back back to normal programming next week.

I'm reading
Coronavirus as metaphor (in the style of Carmen Maria Machado's In the Dream House, one of the best books I read last year). What it takes to survive a disaster, from someone who survived the unimaginable. Advice for social isolation, from someone who's been living this way for years. Dispatch from a prison in Washington state—and what it's like to be released from incarceration at this moment. A community in Congo that survived ebola prepares for coronavirus. A Roman poet revisits an ancient epidemic, and how artists depicted the Spanish flu epidemic. Buddying up and staying married in quarantine. Unskilled labor does not exist, so pay your house cleaner. How a group of mothers took on the housing crisis. The messy behind-the-scenes of Kinfolk magazine. On going gray. How Édouard Louis, a working-class gay man from the provinces, became France’s latest literary sensation. What does it mean to be visible in a gender? And a really lovely meditation on learning to swim and coming out.

Inspired by Josh Gondelman, here's a pep talk for you today: This moment is terrible and frightening and weird, but at least we are in it together. I am inspired and strengthened by all the small ways you are caring for yourself and for others. We don't have to know what the next week or month or year holds in order for this to be true: You are doing your best. We are all doing our best. Thanks for being here and for reading this. Thanks for leaning on me and letting me lean on you. I think you're great. Truly great! 

Pie chart
The Frustrated Extrovert Pie

If you're a paying member, thanks for underwriting this pie! If you're not a paying member, you can support this newsletter by becoming one for just $5/year.

I’m looking & listening
Did I cry watching this 1973 Bill Withers performance of "Lean on Me"? Yes, I did. Withers, who died this week, wrote the song when he was feeling far away from the community that raised him. It's about "coming from a place where people were a little more attentive to each other, less afraid."

Did I also connect with my teen feelings listening to "Radiation Vibe"? Yes, yes I did. (Adam Schlesinger died this week, too.) Also: All of the SXSW 2020 short films are online. A map of places to lie low after causing a scandal. And much-needed cloud poetry.


I endorse
Making face masks, if you have some basic sewing skills and supplies. There is conflicting guidance about the necessity of masks, but my city, Los Angeles, issued a recommendation this week that everyone should be wearing non-medical cloth face coverings when in public. I've found it very comforting to raid my fabric scraps and sew a few dozen of these for local friends.

Of course, you don't have to be productive in a pandemic. But me, personally? I feel better if I'm busy, and if I'm doing a small kindness for others. Making masks has been therapeutic.

If sewing isn't your thing, I endorse Stay Home, Take Care to find activities and recommendations for caring for yourself and others. 

Annotation: An audio experiment
The first episode is up! In it, I discuss that Fiona Apple profile and play some smart voice memos by my friends Whitney Mower and Jade Chang. You can subscribe on Spotify or listen online. Other podcast platforms are coming soon. (Insert caveat here about my nascent audio skills. It might not sound great!)

For the next episode, I'm going to discuss this article about Kinfolk magazine. If you read it and it sparks some thoughts, you can record them on a voice memo on your phone and send the file to I just might use it.

The Classifieds

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Minimum Viable Planet is a weekly newsletter/community about eco-anxiety, but with jokes and comics. Come read and contribute!

Want to be published? Get the Storytellers Kit, a roadmap to publishing your stories from a NatGeo, BBC, + published photographer & writer.

Need a pick-me-up? SnoozeText is your motivational bedtime alarm for better sleep. We'll text you inspo to unwind + curated recs to take care each weeknight for free. Sign up for your nightly dose of positivity.

My ad revenue this week is supporting Hot Bread Kitchen.
Hot Bread Kitchen is an organization in NYC that organizes paid culinary training for immigrant and refugee women and provides support for small culinary businesses just getting off the ground. They also have a commercial kitchen in Brooklyn that they're donating use of to any NYC relief organization. They place all of their trainees in fair-wage jobs in the food industry—which is obviously struggling powerfully right now. They've launched an emergency fund in order to offer financial stipends their workforce program alumni and grants to small business owners to use for rent/utilities, covering payroll, and essential household needs. 

Thanks to Caroline Lange for putting this organization on my radar. If you have the means, please join me in donating to Hot Bread Kitchen!

I'm donating my classified ad revenue to a different organization or individual every Friday from now until June, with a focus on helping people whose lives and livelihoods have been hurt by this pandemic. If you know of an organization or an individual who could use a financial boost, click here to tell me about them. NOTE: It doesn't have to be an official 501c3 nonprofit. I'm happy to Venmo or PayPal a person directly.

To purchase a classified ad—aka give to a worthy cause while also boosting your own business—click here.

"another comfort nom: @annfriedman’s always interesting, always fantastic newsletter" -Nick Quah. If you are interested in the podcast biz, you should definitely be getting Nick's Hot Pod newsletter.

"An exceptional newsletter... It really sets the tone for what a newsletter should be." - Claire Mazur and Erica Cerulo gave the AF WKLY the nicest testimonial on their podcast, A Thing or Two. For the record, I also love their newsletter.

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Ann Friedman

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