Radio Silence

but first a sweaty ode to the hot vax summer that never was

ROCK PAPER RADIO is a dispatch for misfits & unlikely optimists by your favorite hapa haole, beet-pickling, public radio nerd. It’s a weekly email newsletter that shares three curiosities every Thursday - something to hold on to (that’s the ‘rock’), something to read (that’s the ‘paper‘), and something to listen to (you guessed it, that’s the ‘radio’). Themes include but are not limited to: rebel violinists, immortal jellyfish, revolution. Thanks for subscribing and spreading the word.

Hi, unlikely optimists. After this week, I’ll be taking a temporary pause from writing our Thursday misfit dispatch. I am also in the midst of a leave from my 9-to-5 to take care of myself and my family (and my monstera propagations). It’s been a long time since a break. Maybe ever. And so.

In the meantime, just know that I’m still here, and all of your funny notes and love letters keep me going, even when it takes me a really long time to reply. Actually, especially when it takes me a really long time to reply.

Thanks for hanging in there with me, friends. Reach out if you’re recalibrating too, transformation loves company.


This! THIS. Bless Carina del Valle Schorske and The New York Times Magazine for giving us this sweaty, pulsing, aching ode to the hot vax summer that never quite came true: Dancing Through New York in a Summer of Joy and Grief.

I recommend settling in with a strong coffee or a big whiskey while drinking this all in. Reveling in del Valle Schorske’s recap of this summer’s brief but vital return to dancing and social closeness before Delta swooped in, had me feeling deep nostalgia both for the fleeting moment last spring when we were all vaxxed up and planning our debaucherous reemergence, and also for my own memories from over a decade ago of mixing drinks and doing permanent damage to my eardrums for a living.

Nostalgia’s so funny. It feels so bad. It feels so good. Seems like the perfect balance for this weird time we’re living in right now.


My beloved child recently covered a empty jam jar with superhero stickers and a little sign that says PLANT TAX 25%. Apparently, from now on I am supposed to put a quarter of the price of all future plant and plant-pot purchases in this container. Where is this money going to go? I’m not sure. But according to my son, this tax is supposed to either help curb my houseplant cultivation habit, or teach me some kind of lesson about taking things too far.

If you too have a bossy teenage roommate, or a hobby that started out innocently enough but has since turned into a Situation, this 8-minute story from producer Elna Baker for This American Life is for you: Mom. Hey Mom. MOM. Hey Mom. Mom. Mom.

On one hand, it’s a story about a precocious daughter and a mom with an alternative life online. On the other though, it’s also about escape, and chickens, and the creative (also crushing) ways the people closest to us remind us that they need us.



This week’s SHOT is Michaela Coel, who we should all be holding on to—to protect her from the fickle social media swarms even if they are swooning over her now, but also for ourselves. She’s our buoy now.

Coel’s Emmy’s speech will be my mantra through this pause. Here’s what she had to say on Sunday before dedicating her award to all survivors of sexual assault:

“Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that isn't comfortable. I dare you. In a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves, and to in turn feel the need to be constantly visible, for visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success—do not be afraid to disappear. From it. From us. For a while. And see what comes to you in the silence.”

And also this from the great E. Alex Jung for Vulture: Michaela the Destroyer How a young talent from East London went from open-mic nights to making the most sublimely unsettling show of the year. I read this profile before I watched I May Destroy You or ever heard of Chewing Gum, and was stunned and enamored. Coel and Jung are a perfect pair to be announcing to the world that for misfits on the rise, our time has come.


That’s a wrap for issue 58, friends. Thanks for reading, listening, and holding on over the past nearly fifteen months of ROCK PAPER RADIO.

I won’t be in your inbox next Thursday, but I’ll be back again soon.

Sending you all awkward virtual hugs, and wishes for rest for you too in the meantime.


You can find ROCK PAPER RADIO on Instagram and Twitter @RockPaperRadio. You can find Kristin on Instagram @leongstagram and on Twitter @kristinleong.