Note: This was published on May 19, 2020 and a lot has changed since then.
I think I need to preface this with saying that since I am fairly antisocial these last few months have not been all that different than normal life.
On normal weekdays my wife and I wake up and get ready for the day. Breakfast and whatnot. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is she doesn’t leave in the morning to go to the office anymore.
On normal weekends my wife and I sleep in, make breakfast burritos, and go outside for a run/hike/bike/walk. This hasn’t changed except that we don’t go to busy parks or trails.
What has changed is maybe somewhat obvious:
- We’ve cancelled travel plans such as a 2 week trip to Yosemite in August. We still have the Yosemite campsites booked (which, if you’ve tried to book before, you know that feels like winning the lottery), but there’s little chance we’ll book flights. I’m hoping they cancel for us so we don’t have to pay a cancellation fee, which is what happened with our Memorial Day camping plans.
- We haven’t entered a store or other place of business since early March.
- I carry two N95 masks with me wherever we go. Since we stay away from people and since we don’t go indoors anywhere we haven’t needed to use them, but in case of emergency and all that.
- I’ve been spending too much time on twitter.
- Anxiety 📈
Anyway, this is what I’ve been enjoying in isolation.
Fetch the Bolt Cutters – Fiona Apple
I’ve loved Fiona Apple’s music since her first album Tidal so I am extraordinarily biased, but Fetch the Bolt Cutters is phenomenal. Switched On Pop did an episode about it called Did Fiona Apple Just Release a Perfect Album? which I enjoyed.
Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt. 1 and Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt. 2 – Lil Peep
I discovered his music two years after he died so I’m late to it, but I quite like it. It’s a poppy electronic blend of rock and rap. And when I put it like that it sounds just terrible. It’s not. I find myself humming the hooks often.
On The Widow’s Walk – The White Buffalo
One of my favorite artists released another great album this year. Jake Smith (aka The White Buffalo) also has a funny YouTube series called In The Garage.
Reunions – Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Isbell’s solo album Southeastern is one of the best albums of the past decade and he consistently writes good music.
THE GOAT – Polo G
Polo G’s debut album Die A Legend was one of my favorite albums released last year. This is a great followup.
The High Place Phenomenon
I’ve written some demos of my own instrumental shoe-gazey-ish music inspired by current events:
“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”Isaac Asimov
Song: Asimov Was Right
Last year I released a demo EP inspired by National Parks we visited on a road trip.
I read some of these pre-pandemic.
And Then We Grew Up: On Creativity, Potential, and the Imperfect Art of Adulthood by Rachel Friedman
I gave this 5 stars on GoodReads. My wife loved it, too. (She also loved Rachel’s other book The Good Girl’s Guide To Getting Lost but I haven’t read that one.)
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
I read this and Colson’s other Pulitzer winner The Underground Railroad back-to-back in a handful of days. He is one of the best writers of our time.
Filth by Irvine Welsh
I was told this was really messed up. It is. Not for the faint of heart. The phonetic Scottish slang also makes it a difficult read, but eventually — with the help of Google — you begin to understand it.
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
I saw this on Bill Gates’ reading list and it was a fun read. I didn’t like the sequel as much, and I haven’t read (and probably won’t read) the third in the series.
The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock by Jane Riley
This was one of the free Amazon First Reads and it was a fun read with a slightly morbid premise.
This is mostly skewed to Netflix, because we just got a subscription in March, but I added a couple other things we enjoyed prior to isolation from other services.
Love – Netflix
Starring Gillian Jacobs from Community. The first season was really good and the third/final season bored me, but overall it was a good show. My wife liked it more than me, I think.
After Death – Netflix
Ricky Gervais is never not good. We just started watching this and like it a lot. It’s both melancholic and funny.
#blackAF – Netflix
I’ve actually watched this twice. It’s the funniest show since Letterkenny, which was the funniest show since It’s Always Sunny. Kenya Barris and Rashida Jones play their roles here perfectly and hilariously.
Crashing – Netflix
If you liked Fleabag (Amazon Prime) — you know, if you’re a well adjusted human and all — then you’ll love Crashing. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is so damn talented.
Kim’s Convenience – Netflix
This is one of those things that’s so bad, it’s good. We’ve watched ~10 episodes and it’s good for a few laughs. I mostly only like the scenes with Mr. and Mrs. Kim, and Mr. Kim in particular makes me laugh out loud often. The other characters annoy me because they behave like tweens when they’re supposed to be adults in their 20s.
Escape at Dannemora – Amazon Prime
Watched this last year. Patricia Arquette is phenomenal in everything, which brings me to …
The Act – Hulu
Patricia Arquette is phenomenal in everything, redux. Also watched this last year.
Blow The Man Down – Amazon Prime
Dark. Funny. Great sailor songs from David Coffin.
Circus of Books – Netflix
A conservative woman and her husband open a famous gay porn book store and production company. It sounds like fiction, but it’s a documentary.
Frances Ferguson – Amazon Prime (although it looks like it’s no longer free)
A beautiful young substitute teacher goes to prison for having sex with a student. It sounds like a documentary, but it’s a work of fiction.
Knock Down The House – Netflix
I was not expecting to like this documentary about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other progressive political hopefuls, but it surprised me.
Lil Peep: Everybody’s Everything – Netflix
The barely triumphant, mostly sad, story of Lil Peep.
I think I’ve tried every popular meal kit besides Blue Apron, and they are not all created equal. (Blue Apron looks good but the meals all look too time consuming.)
HomeChef hits it out of the park with nearly every meal, but I got tired of the cleaning and prep. Their oven-ready meals solved this problem somewhat, but they also aren’t as tasty as their more involved meals. I cancelled HomeChef a couple weeks ago, although I might subscribe again at some point. I used to regularly buy HomeChef at Harris Teeter (Kroger) as well, but since I’ve stopped entering buildings that’s no longer the case.
Freshly doesn’t hit it out of the park, but their meals are pretty tasty and quick. The meals are shipped already cooked and you just need to reheat in the microwave. Since I’m only doing grocery shopping every two weeks, and there are limits to what you can buy (and stuff is often sold out), having Freshly delivery helps a lot to make sure we have enough food.
My biggest problem with both HomeChef and Freshly (and every other meal kit) besides the enormous amount of trash they generate is that most of the meals hover around 500 calories or less. For a 6’5″ man that is less than 20% of my required daily caloric intake. It’s just not enough food.
Soylent / Huel
My wife likes Huel (chocolate), I prefer Soylent (chocolate). We drink them a few times per week. I like to have it after a run or when I’m hungry but don’t feel like making anything. I don’t think anybody should have these for every meal, but they’re a nice caloric supplement with a good balance of protein, carbs, and fat.
Walmart Grocery Pickup
I like that you just pop your trunk, they load your groceries, and you’re on your way. I prefer this to grocery delivery because my anecdotal experience with the handful of times I’ve gotten delivery is the delivery drivers don’t practice pandemic-hygiene. Getting pickup also forces me to drive our car for 30 minutes every couple weeks which I’ve told myself is necessary.
Duolingo – Brazilian Portuguese
We were planning a trip to Amazonas for next March, but it’s unlikely that we’ll go before 2023 now since their response to the pandemic has been arguably worse than ours. Duolingo has become less fun without a concrete timeline, but it’s still an enjoyable way to get exposure to a language. I’ve been wanting to go to the Amazon River since 3rd grade, but I put it off so I’d always have something to look forward to. Oops!
I mostly stopped buying books once we moved back to the US four years ago since the library has or can get any book I want (via interlibrary loan). The Libby app from Overdrive.com is great. You can borrow audiobooks or Kindle books directly from your local library. The selection isn’t as good as the print books at the library, but it’s still plentiful. I’ve been using Libby for a few years now and it has come in more handy than ever now that I can’t go to the library.
I think that about covers it. What have you been enjoying in isolation?