Things Fall Apart

When you go on vacation.

I kid! Literally no things fell apart, because Catherine and I planned our schedules and workloads and business so that each of us could go on vacations without anything grinding to a halt or the other taking on disproportionate work. Imagine that! Her nothing-falls-apart vacation is coming up.


Things Fall Apart is actually one of the books I read during my week off, along with Piranesi (highly recommended!), Paying the Land, A Thousand Ships, Pandora’s Jar, some meh historical fiction about Margery Kempe, a re-read of The Song of Achilles (still makes me cry), and a comic book about a sudden plague that kills all men except for one guy who got immunity from monkey poop.

I would have read more, except it took me a few days to get into the swing of vacation; it was my first time stepping away from Pipe Wrench and also I didn’t go anywhere. So I was in my house, looking around the living room and thinking of all the things I should be doing and not accepting the fact that it was fine to do nothing at all because that’s what vacation is.

Learnings! Lessons!

Once I got into the swing of nothingness, though, I was a log. Thus, I bring you my pandemic staycation takeaways:

  • The first three days of vacation at home are not vacation. They are, if I might go all Paris Review on you for a moment, a liminal area between normal life and vacation, where you must both re-learn how to do nothing and accept that nothingness is a valuable use of your time. If you’ve traveled to vacate this time can be cut down, but at home, plan for three days and be happy if it takes fewer. The drippy faucet is not getting fixed and you’re not cleaning out the hall closet, and that’s fine.
  • The rest of your vacation may be 100% naps and lolling around with books, and that is also fine. The past 18 months have been a drain. They continue to be a drain. They are a drain on top of other things about the world and life that are themselves drains. You are not going to bounce back from 18 months of Enhanced Drain in four days. Loll. Nap. Read. Fall asleep while you read. Loll some more. Definitely don’t sit around worrying about why you haven’t had a burst of energy after 24 hours of vacation and then chide yourself for being sleepy, not that I did that, I would never.

Consider this your formal permission to get takeout and binge some Netflix and stay up too late and then nap in the afternoons during your pandemic staycation, and by “your” I mean “Catherine’s.”

It’s good to be back, it’s nice to know I can leave, I missed y’all.

Follow Pipe Wrench on Twitter @pipewrenchmag and me @michelleinchief.

The week in Pipe Wrench.

  • Our issue two feature is deep in factchecking, and all our other contributors have a draft to read and reflect on. Conversation pieces are trickling in, and the issue is taking interesting shape just like we hoped it would.
  • Catherine remains in the throes of insurance quotes and comparisons, a publisher par excellence, while she preps for her own week off. 
  • We’re starting to noodle on the community we’d like to build around Pipe Wrench. It’s early days, and we welcome any thoughts about how you’d like to interact with us, other readers, and our contributors, no matter how unformed or pie in the sky. Email us at

Phrases from this and past newsletters that would make good band names, available free of charge.

  • Travel to Vacate (Scottish new wave band)
  • In the Throes (Swedish black metal band)
  • Oversensitive Sitting Duck (Australian emo band)
  • Balloon Into Self-Sabotage (Icelandic punk band)
  • Velvet! Gilding! Incense! (Argentinian glam rock band)
  • Inchoate (South African feminist folk band)
  • Barter Biscuits (Tiktok account of dogs inadvertently doing cute things that are uncannily timed to 80s hip hop hits)
  • The Big Zoom (American ska band)
  • Million-Dollar Badminton (Canadian rapper)

You’re welcome, happy Tuesday. Please send us your Soundcloud links.