Lesley Hazleton will be joining the party from her houseboat on Lake Union, July 22, 6 pm PST. Youre invited.
Lesley Hazleton will be joining the party from her houseboat on Lake Union. You're invited. Photo by Kelly O

For the last three weeks, we've had fancy authors from New York, Toronto, and Iowa City join in the worldwide Silent Reading Party, which happens Wednesdays at 6 pm PST. Special guests don't do anything different than what you do: They sit there and read silently as Paul Matthew Moore plays piano.

It's very relaxing. You can snag a ticket here.

This week, the *special guest* will be a fancy author from Seattle, a genius who lives among us, Lesley Hazleton—the same person who wrote this unforgettable essay in The Stranger last summer.

Back in April, in the early weeks of this crisis, Lesley also made this Message to the City in which she said, "I'm here on my houseboat, waiting for the first batch of ducklings to hatch, the first of the year." That first batch of new wild ducklings on Lake Union didn't show up until a few weeks later. There's a picture of them below.

Awwwwww. Photo by Lesley Hazleton

Lesley's essay from last August in The Stranger, "Mysteries of Menopause," is beautifully written and weirdly thrilling—full of off-hand brilliance, conversationally conveyed research, and stunning self-reflection. It is an essay that explicitly sets out to talk about a subject that most people are too afraid to discuss in social settings.

Here's just a little bit from the first section:

"Do you sleep warm?" a saleswoman once asked as I was shopping for a new mattress. The question came with an oddly meaningful look, but in my premenopausal innocence, I failed to interpret it. What she meant was: "Do you have night sweats?" In which case, as I'd discover a couple of years later, the foam mattress I'd decided on was not a great choice. Rubber and sweat don't mix.

Night sweats are simply nighttime hot flashes. Not such a big deal, you might think, until you start coming wide awake two or three times a night, radiating heat. And I do mean heat. Throw-off-the-covers, take-a-cold-shower, stand-naked-at-the-open-window-during-a-snowstorm kind of heat. Which goes a long way to explaining why menopausal women have a rep for "emotional volatility." When you can't get a decent night's rest for months at a time, you end up seriously sleep-deprived.

But this is far more than simply physical. It's existential. Hot flashes are the clearest possible message, not just inscribed on your body but radiating out from inside it, that you no longer have any biological reason to be alive.

You really have to read the whole thing.

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In addition to being a regular at the Silent Reading Party—and often hilariously chain-smoking throughout—Lesley has been part of the Quarantine Book Club since the beginning. One of the benefits of being in that book club is getting to hear celebrated authors like her react to whatever book you're all reading together.

What book will she bring to read at the reading party on July 22?

You'll have to join the party to find out.