This Month’s Theme Is Not Like the Others

Usually it’s easy to pick the monthly theme for Man Repeller. It doesn’t happen any one way—sometimes we choose it far in advance, apropos of nothing. Other times it happens in a pitch meeting right before the first of the month, and we whip up a few related stories as quickly as we can. I’m personally pretty attached to having a theme, possibly because I studied fiction writing in college and love a good prompt. But if I look at it more deeply, I think the real reason I like having a theme is because it’s just an excuse to invent a reason to bring everyone together for a conversation that makes us feel connected, when our daily lives feel mostly untethered from each other, as they almost always do when life is operating as it normally does.

But right now, the ways we’re inextricably linked to have never been more clear. The proof first arrived via the speed with which the coronavirus spread across the world, through airports and handshakes and big Sunday dinners and offices and church services and on and on and on. Now, as we’ve become physically separated but psychically connected, our lives, and the days—ah, yes The Days of Our Lives—are blurring together even more, creating a weeks-long supercut of precarious baking projects, 1000-piece puzzles, never-ending Instagram stories, 7 p.m. rounds of applause, and group photos of doctors kindly reminding us, via markered-sign, how uneven the exchange of sacrifice is between us.

This is all to say: There’s no invented theme this month because a theme has already presented itself. We threw around a few ideas for specific words and phrases, but ultimately we all agreed that the theme is omnipresent. While we’re all inarguably isolated, there’s also an undeniable togetherness in the rhythms and concerns of our daily existences. Basically: You know what this month’s theme is because you can already feel it.

I’d still like to know what you want to read, though. What would make life easier right now—or more interesting? Do you want more recipes? (Easy or ambitious?) Are you looking for stories about people working in the medical field? For the MTA? For the postal service? Are you staring at your walls for longer than ever, wondering what you should hang on them? Considering a new paint color? DIY wallpaper? What are you feeling this week that differs from last week? What do you want to talk about right now?

Photo by Louisiana Mei Gelpi.

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Mallory Rice

Mallory Rice is a writer who sometimes has bangs and sometimes does not. She was previously the executive editor of this fine website.

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