The Sunday Long Read (with Megan Greenwell), 5/16/21

Happy Sunday! We’ve got a few exciting introductions to jumpstart your day.

Contributing editor Jo Piazza, who is also the host and executive producer of podcasts Committed and Under the Influence, has stepped up to fill Jody’s shoes as our Long Pod Editor. She showed up for the first week with two terrific picks.

We’re also launching a new section this week, The Sunday Cartoon, featuring a very cool GIF serial cartoon created exclusively for our readers by innovative artist Gus D’Angelo.

And now, we get the thrill off turning over this week’s SLR to Megan Greenwell.

Megan most recently was the editor of In previous roles, she worked as editor-in-chief at Deadspin; helped launch digital features programs at Esquire and The Cut; edited print features for ESPN the Magazine (RIP); and covered education, philanthropy, and the war in Iraq for The Washington Post. She’s currently taking a minute to figure out what she wants to do next, while doing some freelance editing and editorial strategy consulting, and allegedly writing a book proposal. She would like you to consider hiring her.

When I told Don six weeks ago that I’d happily edit the May 16 edition of The Sunday Long Read, I imagined reading features on a beach, or at least on my patio with a glass of wine in my hand. I knew this would be my third full week without a full-time job, and I had visions of a carefree life where nothing could possibly worry me.

It hasn’t exactly worked out that way. I left a wonderful job running WIRED’s newsroom at the end of last month because I needed a break and was lucky enough to be in a decent position to take one. I hadn’t taken any time off after a very public breakup with my previous job, and I felt like if I didn’t seize the opportunity when it arose, I might never see one again. I naively thought that “funemployment” would turn me into a different kind of person—less anxious, more spontaneous, less driven by what I should be doing and more by what I want to be doing—and while I haven’t regretted quitting, I have not suddenly become an expert at living in the moment or sleeping through the night or keeping my career-related stress at bay.

To be clear, I have zero intention of leaving journalism, and I fully plan to take on another senior leadership role in a newsroom. But at this moment, the very factors that have made this period of rest feel so challenging are the exact reasons I know I need it. I hope the rest of you, employed or not, are finding ways to take care of yourselves too.

I’m not writing this from a beach; I haven’t even been outside yet today despite the fact that it’s one of those rare perfect days in New York. Relaxation is a learning process! But while it has felt a bit disorienting to snap back into editor mode for the purposes of curating this newsletter, it also helped me remember how to consume journalism for pleasure. For the first week in a long time, I didn’t read anything out of a feeling of obligation; I closed tabs when I got bored. My choices below aren’t all about fun subjects—there are pieces about war crimes and pandemic-era suffering and so much racism—but they each sparked a feeling of genuine appreciation. At a time when there is so much to worry about, getting lost in a feature feels like a gift. Here are 15 that might distract you for a bit too.