How to have a nice life in quarantine, part 1

How to have a nice life in quarantine, part 1

Quar is hell. But does it have to be? Not according to my Instagram, which we all know is a perfect facsimile of real life! Joking aside, though, most of us have spent A LOT of time at home for the better part of a year now, and it’s getting kind of old.

My friend, director Ivy Jelisavac, mentioned that she was interested in reading something about how to have a nice life in quarantine, so I decided to use that as a writing prompt. It’s really hard, all of this—and in different ways for different people—so while I don’t have all the answers, I can tell you what’s worked for me. I’m not going to claim I’m thriving in all of this, but I’m not, like, super miserable, which seems like a victory in these times, which are, as well you know, unprecedented.

This is the first part of a ???-part series (I’ll replace those question marks with a number in the next few weeks). Here are a few ideas to start with:

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5 things I love: Week of January 10

5 things I love: Week of January 10

1. Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier

I saw Pizza Girl on a best of 2020 list and knew I’d love it. It reminds me of a Jenny Offill book but with weirder characters and a more-warped plot. I breezed through it and really hope Frazier has another book on the horizon!

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Year of New 2021: Week 1

Year of New 2021: Week 1

I decided at the end of last year that I’d attempt to restart my Year of New project on January 1. I abandoned last year’s attempt pretty early on, even before COVID-19’s impact fully hit the States, as I quickly realized it was feeling more like a chore than a creative outlet.

I sort of feel like I spent the end of 2020 in creative recovery, similar to what Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way aims to do for its students. 202 was a long, hard year where I didn’t feel like doing anything creative. In the last couple of months, however, I could feel this start to change. But instead of launching into something big, I wanted to try a smaller, more incremental endeavor. This led me back to Year of New.

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I wonder what I’ll miss about you

I wonder what I’ll miss about you

I miss very specific things about the last man I loved. His long fingers, strumming a guitar in my kitchen. Both of us singing along to the classic-rock station while we drove through the hills of Central New York. The mixed-media art he made out of reconstructed musical instruments and hung in the woods for his friends’ annual music festival. The pure happiness on his face the time we met a giant Malamute named Gershwin on a snowy street in Hudson, New York. A Thanksgiving trip to Montreal where we ate foie gras poutine and watched Beverly Hills Cop and spent hours wandering Bozar. The way he’d randomly surprise me with bodega flowers or hide a copy of Carrie Brownstein’s book on my bookshelf for me to find. He knew me, in a way I didn’t think it was possible for anyone to know me—still don’t, except for maybe you.

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2021 New Year’s Resolution: Roll with it, baby

2021 New Year’s Resolution: Roll with it, baby

Back in September, I decided that my New Year’s Resolution for the coming year would be the lyrics to “Roll With It” by Steve Winwood. Most years, I come up with a set of 5-10 goals for the year, but after looking at how last year’s list turned out, I realized it made no sense to try to commit to anything that might end up beyond my control. Instead, I’m going to attempt to give up my desire to control anything and lean in to whatever 2021 throws at me. The past couple of months of my life have been marked by tremendous resistance to what is, which is honestly a horrible way to live. I like my life to feel magical, and nothing feels less magical than living completely in my head, being angry about things I have no power over and fruitlessly trying to bend the universe to my will.

Enter Steve Winwood, my spiritual teacher.

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Élodie and Me

Élodie and Me

Élodie Clyde makes a perfect Negroni. On Sunday nights, she draws a lavender-scented bath, lights some candles, and soaks until the water begins to cool, rereading The Dud Avocado or The Golden Notebook. She always has champagne in the fridge, which she serves only when warranted, and in an assortment of mismatched antique teacups. Clad in a series of caftans, she hosts hours-long dinner parties that begin with elaborate spreads from Sahadi’s and end with a range of digestifs and board games. Her closet is filled with Ulla Johnson dresses and confusing t-shirts from Parisian concept stores. Élodie cares about other people’s feelings, but just enough; she never takes responsibility for them. Her life is big, but never suffocating.

Élodie Clyde doesn’t exist.

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October wins

October wins

At the beginning of this month, I started Tiffany Han‘s Raise Your Hand Say Yes Inner Circle, a yearlong course in changing your life. That’s not how Tiffany frames it, really, but this is the second time I’ve done the Inner Circle and that’s the most succinct and accurate thing I can say about it. As I write this, I find myself mourning the fact that we’re already one-twelfth of the way through this cycle.

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Making a mess

Making a mess

Ten years ago, something bad happened and I lost most of my closest friendships. I’m forever shocked that I survived the year that followed, and as a person whose body typically reminds me of residual trauma before I bother to look at the calendar, I’ve been apprehensive about living through the anniversary of all of it.

Weirdly, though, thinking back on everything that happened in the context of what’s happening now, I see it as proof that I can live through most things. That year of my life was truly unlivable, and the one after it wasn’t much better. I hated myself and questioned all of my life choices—the bad ones, naturally, but also the ones that looked good on paper. I believed my life was irredeemably bad and, worse, that I deserved it. It was a long time before I recovered from this mindset in any meaningful way. For years, it dictated who I let into my life and how I let them treat me.

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