We’ve all had our own version of a garbage year, #amirite? I’ve gone through my own emotional roller coaster that has ranged from seriously-I’m-fine to oh-look-I’m-crying-now to please-for-the-love-of-god-can-I-please-just-go-somewhere-without-it-being-a-whole-thing!!
This year has given me a shortened attention span thanks to all the doom-scrolling, emotional unpredictability, and levels of laziness and exhaustion that I did not know a were possible, even though I’m an introvert with, what I would call, a tendency toward laziness. AND THEN I had the cool idea to apply for, interview, and get a new job this year. In addition to the events of this year, I also thought it would be fun to feel like I have to prove to my new boss that she was right to pick me for this job (lol I’m dumb).
My point is that every day brings a new struggle. So go easy on yourself. We’ve still got at least a few more months of this, but it looks like we are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Here are a few things that have brought me joy… or at least helped me pass some time. Maybe they can help you get through this final stretch safely and COVID-free.
Books have been my number one source of comfort this year. Considering my melting attention span, I also do not know how this is possible tyvm. I’m thankful my brain hasn’t completely turned to gravy in the last 9 months. Here’s a list of 10 books I’ve read this year that I loved. For my full book list, find me on Goodreads.
- Beartown by Fredrik Backman – This was a recommendation from my high school English teacher who I ran into at a restaurant last summer. We immediately started talking about books, and he told me this book was better than A Man Called Ove by the same author. When I started reading it, I was like, “Ugh a sports book.” But then it becomes a different kind of story entirely- about men and ego and loyalty, and doing what’s right. I couldn’t put it down.
- A Dream About Lightning Bugs by Ben Folds – I love Ben Folds. If you also love Ben Folds, you’ll probably love this book. Or if you’re interested in the music business or song-writing, you also might love this book. Ben Folds sounds like a neurotic genius nightmare who I would probably never be friends with, but I appreciate his contributions to the world.
- The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead – This is the story of two young, Black boys wrongly sentenced to a reform school in Florida during the Jim Crow Era. There’s a reason this book won the Pulitzer. It is very good. The end is just incredible.
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – I feel like I’m a little late to the party on this one. I had been hearing about it for a while before I finally read it. It’s a story about growing up and survival, and the secrets we keep. Believe the hype. It’s all true. The end is so damn rewarding.
- Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan – This is a mystery set in 1990s Denver. The author worked at our local bookstore, Tattered Cover for a time, which is what the bookstore in the novel is based on. If you’re a very Denver person like me, this is so much fun to read with the references to the Colfax bus and different pockets of the city. It’s great even if you’re not from Denver.
- Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid – This book is about a young, Black baby-sitter and the well-meaning white people around her. It covers race and privilege and saviorism with honesty and even humor. A great read.
- The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson – I’m quite late on this book, as well. It had been on my to-read list for years, I think. Read this book. The white-washed history we learn in school… sucks. I don’t recall ever hearing about the Great Migration or how it shaped the current landscape of our country. We learn history like a series of problems that we put our heads together and fixed and now America is perfect (lol). History is obviously far more nuanced than that. Take responsibility for your education and read this book and books like it.
- Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby – Honestly, read anything by Samantha Irby. You will laugh out loud. I happened to be reading this book the week that Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, and I needed to escape and be able to laugh. This book is a gift in this year of hot garbage.
- My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – This is a darkly funny book about family. Family is complicated, and sometimes you’ll do anything for a family member – even if they might be a sociopath.
- Shit, Actually by Lindy West – I was reading this book the week of the election, so in between refreshing my Twitter feed for updates, I had this book to keep me company. This is another laugh-out-loud hilarious book about movies you love and how they do or definitely do not hold up.
No, I haven’t quite finished Netflix yet. Far from it, actually. But here are a few things I’ve watched and loved (okay maybe not loved, but they all served a purpose) over the last several months.
- Glee (Netflix) – I know there is a very big, dark cloud hanging over this show that just doesn’t seem to clear. At the start of the pandemic, I needed something familiar and comforting, and I loved this show when it was first on TV. It was totally what I needed, and I think Harrison is officially a Gleek now. I’m pretty sure a lot of the deeply inappropriate Sue Sylvester insults went right over my head the first time around, so watching this show again was a wild ride.
- Somebody Feed Phil (Netflix) – I have never really been into food or travel content, so I have no idea why I can’t get enough of this show. It might be that I can relate to the goofball level of happiness around trying different foods when you go somewhere new. This is also how I react to food when I travel. Traveling may not be a super chill thing to do right now (are we even allowed in Europe yet?), but watching someone else’s adventures has brought me some happiness.
- Emily in Paris (Netflix)- No this show is not “good,” but if you want something mindless that you can binge in a day, this is it.
- I’ll Be Gone in The Dark (HBO)- I couldn’t really get into this book, but a lot of people loved it. The docuseries was really, really great – weaving Michelle’s story with the ultimate conclusion of finding the Golden State Killer. Such a crazy story!
There may be no more important task than protecting our mental and physical health. There are days that it is hard, like really hard, for me to get out of bed. I’ll be honest- there have been some Saturdays that I haven’t left my bed, opting to stay under the covers with a book. It’s okay if that’s you some days, but try to give yourself some things to look forward to.
- Go outside as much as possible – Hike, bike, go for a walk. Do something. I have found this to be absolutely necessary for my sanity, and it hasn’t been easy. We did a fair amount of hiking in the spring and summer, but there were long stretches where the air quality here was so bad because of the fires in the mountains that going outside or even having a window open was out of the question. Now it’s dark by the time I finish working during the week, so I’ve had to adjust by trying to get outside in my lunch time hour instead.
- Virtual Game Nights – Harrison and I have been hosting game nights for friends to give them something to look forward to during the week, especially now that it’s colder and outdoor events are more difficult. We just brought both of our families together for games on Thanksgiving since we were all apart that day. Check out Jackbox games party packs. They have a variety of games, and they make it so easy to share an evening with friends when you can’t be physically together.
- Exercise – At the start of the pandemic, the yoga studio I had been a member of for years did a great job shifting classes online, which was such a comfort. Then they closed abruptly in June, and I had no idea what to do. Fortunately, I found Black Swan Yoga online which is only $8 month and has a huge library of classes. If you’re comfortable going to a gym or a class in person, great! For folks like me who can only seem to visualize the respiratory droplets flying around, there are a ton of online options for classes. Whether it’s yoga or something else, find something physical to do.
- Attend Virtual Events – I know it’s not the same, but this year has robbed us of our ability to make plans. These virtual events are a little way of getting that back. Virtual concerts, comedy shows, book tours, or even a hard seltzer festival (yep, we did that) have been small ways that we have been able to pass the time and enjoy an evening. The true silver-lining of this year is that we can do all of these things from the comfort of our homes with or without pants.
- Support Your Local Businesses – Harrison and I have been extremely fortunate this year. We’ve both maintained employment. He got a bonus from his company, and I got promoted- twice. We have tried to be very intentional about how we spend the money we are so lucky to still be earning. We think about the places we used to spend our time before all of this, and how we can play a part in making sure they’re around for a while. Whether it’s a local brewery or distillery, or a local plant shop, think about the places you love and where you want to be able to go when this is finally over.
And it will be over.