April was (obviously) a pretty unusual month, but even with all the staying home, I managed to keep myself pretty entertained. Here’s what I got up to:
I’ve been very good about following our new social distancing norms, the only place I really go outside the house anymore is walking around the neighborhood. Even though my walks take basically the same route every time, it always seems like new scenery as spring takes shape with new flowers blooming and trees beginning to green. I’m trying to enjoy the little things and learn names of the plants and animals I see. The flowers above are periwinkle. Cute, huh?
I made the most incredible cinnamon rolls. I’m very suggestible when it comes to food on TV. Whenever I watch Bob’s Burgers I have an instant craving for burgers and watching Home Alone makes me ravenous for a gigantic, messy ice cream sundae. After recently binging all of Schitt’s Creek—in which cinnamon rolls make a regular appearance—I had to make some of my own. Thanks to this recipe from Joy the Baker, they turned out ridiculously delicious. Honestly, writing this is making my hungry right now.
For a time when we’re all probably watching a lot more TV than normal, I’m having trouble finding a TV show I like. I started watching Outlander but kind of lost interest halfway through season 2. I also started watching Community, but it hasn’t fully captured my interest yet. I’m going to keep trying, but the whole overconfident-white-guy-incessantly-chases-hot-but-edgy-white-girl-even-though-she’s-repeatedly-told-him-she’s-not-interested storyline is really getting on my nerves. There is one bright spot in this desert of good television though: Midnight Gospel. I almost lost my shit when I found out that the creator of Adventure Time had a new show coming out that would be fully geared toward adults. It’s so joyfully amazing and dense with meaning and imagery. I’m definitely going to have to watch this six-episode season more than once.
Per my goal for April, I listened to at least one podcast episode each day. These are the ones in my regular rotation right now:
Up First – a roundup of each day’s news in under 15 minutes from NPR.
Call Your Girlfriend – two incredibly smart and funny women talk with each other and/or smart guests about politics, pop culture, and life stuff.
Everyone is talking about how damn long January felt, but I think I fell behind somewhere along the way because I’m not quite convinced it’s already February.
Here’s what I got up to in January.
I celebrated my 32nd birthday. As a self-employed individual, I get to choose my own time off, so I took advantage of that and gifted myself a 5-day weekend for my birthday. I ate some really delicious food, wandered around a museum, and shared cocktails out with some friends at my favorite local bar.
I did yoga (almost) every day thanks to Yoga with Adriene. Ok so I skipped 5 days, but caught myself back up each time with a double yoga session the next day. Now I’m still going (no days missed yet this month!) with her perfectly curated monthly calendars. Honestly, her YouTube channel is a lifesaver.
I started a habit of doing some light meal prep on Sundays and made this really delicious cashew turmeric granola a few times as part of my regular rotation. Last time I made it with walnuts and dried cranberries instead of cashews and dehydrated fruit and it was SO GOOD.
This collection of essays made me feel like Tolentino was inside my brain, pulling out all my half-formed qualms and questions about modern culture and turning them into deeply smart, well-researched speculations about what the internet has done to human society. She peels away the layers on topics like the performance inherent in social media, the ridiculous extravagance of modern weddings, and the surprisingly similar experiences offered by religion and the drug Ecstasy. It’s a dense read and worth taking some time to fully digest. 4/5
The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness
I was expecting to like this series more than I did. I’m usually a sucker for fantasy stories with magic and witches and prophesies, but this one just wasn’t that exciting. The world-building was inviting, but the story dragged a bit and the romance had me rolling my eyes every few chapters with its Twilight-like undertones. The heroine spent a good portion of the books being a wet noodle and literally got swept off her feet too many times to take any of it very seriously. 2.5/5
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Running 600 pages, this book had the confusing problem of being too drawn out while also making me wish I’d gotten more details on certain plot points and characters. Until the last part of the book, the narrative felt more like vignettes of the characters’ lives instead of a cohesive story, making it hard to stay engaged. There were, however, some really fascinating character relationships and illuminating points about race and the immigrant experience that definitely makes this book a worthwhile read. 3.5/5
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
If internet memes are any indication, lots of us can relate to a desire to forget the incessant traumas of the world and sleep a year away swathed in easygoing movies and a full bank account. This story is bizarre and unsettling but also tender and hopeful. Writing style is a big factor in whether I can really connect with a book, and Moshfegh’s unsentimental boldness telling this truly weird story totally captured me. I’m looking forward to reading everything else she’s written. 4.5/5
The last couple months were stressful. A family health scare consumed most of my time and energy, but things have leveled out now and I’m able to think more clearly again.
I took two weeks off of work for the holidays and to rest my brain. I returned yesterday, still a little unclear about my direction, so I spent most of the day thinking about goals for this year. They mainly revolve around making/saving more money to move to California, which isn’t all that exciting, so I decided to spice things up and create a new daily goal for each month of the year. Every January I do Yoga with Adriene’s 30 day yoga series which always adds a little excitement to the month. I was thinking about how to apply that new year energy to the rest of the year and came up with daily goals for the remaining months:
January: Do yoga every day
February: Meditate every day
March: Read every day
April: List to a podcast every day
May: Go for a walk every day
June: Wake up at 7am every day
July: No TV for the month
August: Talk to/text/message a friend/family member every day
September: Take 1 photo every day
October: Do some art every day
November: Write every day
December: Listen to 1 new album every day
Hoping I can build some new, good habits in the process and add some positive energy to each day. I tried to make all these habits really doable so I wouldn’t set myself up for failure. I’m a little nervous about June—my sleeping habits have always been pretty erratic—but waking up early is something I’ve been wanting to train myself to do for a long time, and this seems like the right opportunity to work on it. I’ll report back on how this all goes.
Are you willing to embrace that truly slight inconvenience — and maybe pay a few dollars more — so that a person’s job is significantly less shitty? Think about in practice: are you willing to wait five more minutes for an Uber so that, when you get in, you know that your drive has health insurance and is making a living wage? Are you willing to pay $4 more for your yoga class (YOUR YOGA CLASS!) so that your teacher, who you likely venerate, can have some semblance of the stability/peace you yourself are attempting to find BY GOING TO YOGA??? Are you willing to have slightly less so that others can have significantly more? Or, as I like to think about it, do you actually care about other people?
Lately, lots of us are thinking and talking about burnout. How our work and daily routines are making us tired and sucking the joy out of our lives. We’re starting to think about what actions we can take to alleviate the feeling of burnout in our own lives. But this article asks us to think about how our actions can create burnout in other people.
In a small sense, that means respecting the boundaries of our colleagues, friends and family in a golden rule type fashion (do unto others…etc). But in a larger sense, that means buying into systems that respect those boundaries and allow us feel like real humans instead of meaningless cogs in the capitalist machine. And maybe MAYBE making a small, slightly uncomfortable impact on our own lives in an effort to make a much larger, game-changing impact on someone else’s life.
I think this idea is so important and one we don’t often think about. Don’t we all just want everything cheaper, faster, bigger? If it comes at the expense of another person’s wellbeing and financial stability, personally I’d rather have it a little more expensive, slower and smaller.
I found this article courtesy of Jocelyn K. Glei‘s newsletter which always has really great links about work, creativity, and making your life more enjoyable.