What’s The Commonplace?
For centuries, people have kept commonplace books as a way of collecting the things that mattered most to them — usually wise words from people, thinkers, artists, and writers they admired.
A Common Place is also a shared space to have meaningful conversations, a sacred act to share with people on this side of heaven.
Additionally, as dwellers on this shared dirt, a Common Place should be one of our highest values: prioritizing the care of the common good for the betterment of us all. We become more human, more who we’re made to be, when this is one of our main motives for doing what we do.
All these are commonplace — ordinary yet sacramental — and these three meanings describe this corner of the internet.
Hi! I’m Tsh Oxenreider.
I write books and other sundry, and I’m slowly eking out my first novel. I also podcast, lead pilgrimages, and teach English to high schoolers, though my favorite titles are wife and mom. I’m a nomadic homebody besotted with wanderlust and a nerdy newly-minted Catholic bookworm (after a lifetime of being Protestant) with more questions than answers, and if you relate to any of those things, you’re my people.
Part intrepid pilgrim and scrutinizer of cultural oddities, part whimsical homebody and charming troglodyte, my name really and truly is spelled correctly. You pronounce it as though there’s an i, like Tish, unless you’re a coffee shop barista, in which you pronounce it Lucy because you give them a fake name to avoid the hassle.
I also love exploring the world, but like you, I don’t get to as often as I’d prefer. While the backpacks wait in our closet until our next adventure, stories keep me occupied — books, movies, essays, and beyond.
…And you are?
The Commonplace is for folks who like to explore the world’s nooks and crannies (and the people who live in them), sometimes by being there first-hand, but more than not with a drink in a favorite chair, absorbed in a great story.
You probably side-eye a lot of our modern culture and secretly wonder if you’re from a different era, stuck in a tesseract. You also probably ask honest questions about belonging, exploring, home, faith, education, placemaking, and the sacramental nature of things.
You prefer quiet chats over the vitriol of social media, long-form essays over click-baity sound bytes, and good books over tropey action movies. You don’t know who’s nominated for this year’s Grammys (do they still do those?) and you definitely don’t care. This means you often feel out of it, pop culture-wise, but it’s the price you're willing to pay.
You might occasionally feel spiritually homeless, but you’re also glad there are thousands of years of sage women and men who’ve shared your sentiments. To you, taking heed to the Democracy of the Dead makes more sense than blindly following any modern flash-in-the-pan Thought Leader™ with a color-coordinated Instagram account.
If this sounds like you, even a little bit, you’ll probably like my weekly letter called 5 Quick Things, as well as my essays about beauty, goodness, & truth:
(It’s free, and never ye fear — I, too, hate a deluge of filler, pointless email.)
You may want to adjust your subscription settings so you only get the emails you want. For example, I have a column called Lex Orandi, where I explore my reasons for becoming Catholic after a lifetime of Protestantism. These thoughts are pretty niche, so I don’t automatically assume you want to read those essays — but you’re absolutely welcome to!
Head to your account settings (click on your profile picture, then choose ‘settings’ from the menu) and customize away:
Consider becoming a paying subscriber.
If you enjoy the things I create — podcast episodes, books, essays, and beyond — your involvement goes a long way in making those things happen. It’s only a few dollars per month (and even less annually).
Why? Well, mostly because it’s lovely to pay writers and artists for their work. We’re so used to consuming stuff on the internet for free that we forget that it’s real human beings who labor hard to create the quality work we love. It’s good to pay for good things because it helps those good things continue.
We pay for magazine subscriptions, streaming subscriptions, movie tickets, meals at restaurants, and more — why wouldn’t we pay for the independent writers, artists, and makers as well? It’s a tangible way we can vote with our dollars for more goodness in the world. Let’s counteract the dumpster-fire drama and vitriolic yelling with what’s beautiful, good, and true.
Join in the work of this reader-supported publication — become a subscriber:
When you subscribe to The Commonplace, you’ll receive weekly 5 Quick Things and occasional essays, but also additional letters or audio files from me you won’t find elsewhere, community chats, and other delightful sundry.
Whether you stick to this newsletter for free or become a paying subscriber of The Commonplace… thank you. It’s an honor to write, and it wouldn’t happen without readers! I’m grateful to have you reading.
Ora et Labora, Tsh