In the last twelve days, I have left my apartment only once but, to be honest, it’s been okay. You’ve probably seen those introvert memes that say things like, “stay home and avoid everyone? I’ve been preparing for this my whole life!” I gotta say though, I feel like moving abroad and trying to be a full-time writer have prepared me well.
Before this pandemic, I already worked from home and had to use technology to talk to most of my close friends and family. E and I don’t live paycheck to paycheck, we haven’t lost our jobs, and we don’t have children. We both have health insurance and we’re not part of any at-risk populations. We usually cut our own hair with electric clippers. In many big and small ways, this transition isn’t as hard for us as it is for a lot of people around the world.
I’m grateful that we’re doing so well, and I also know it’s not an accident that we’re doing so well. It’s not luck, it’s systemic privilege. If you’re not sure what I mean by that, I recommend checking out this essay by a writer friend of mine here in Berlin. Even if you do know what I mean by that, you should read her work because it’s just a good essay. Here’s a sample:
I keep asking myself, why do we think health care is something that should be provided as a perk from our employer? Coronavirus doesn’t discriminate. Neither do autoimmune diseases. Cancer doesn’t. Drunk drivers don’t hit only the well insured. Premature babies aren’t born exclusively to the wealthy. Why is healthcare a luxury good in America?“They Call Us the Lucky Ones” -Kate Rosow Chrisman
And this leads me to what this blog post is actually about — it’s a link round-up for anyone who is stuck at home, feeling isolated, and looking for something new to read, watch, or follow.
Want to get informed?
Let’s start with a few more serious links like the one I shared above.
If you haven’t seen it already and you’re wondering how a leader ought to react in times of crises, check out Angela Merkel’s speech to the German people.
If you’re worrying about high rates of unemployment and wondering what the solution is, might I suggest you do some research into the idea of Universal Basic Income (UBI)? This Emerson College student lays out a solid argument for a UBI, based on her experience studying, working, and receiving $1000/month from her parents. If that article intrigues you enough to learn more, I recently read the book Give People Money: How a Universal Basic Income Would End Poverty, Revolutionize Work, and Remake the World by Annie Lowry and it was enlightening. In case you couldn’t tell, I’m pro-UBI!
How about some non-coronavirus-related reading?
I’m so glad you asked! I’ve taken a couple of creative nonfiction writing classes recently and they assigned me some excellent essays to read.
Charles Foster’s “If You Were an Elephant…” is an evocative, unusual piece that taught me a lot about elephants and how to live a good life.
“Crying in H-Mart” by Michelle Zauner is a gorgeous essay about grief and food. One of my favorite parts is the narratives the writer imagines for the other H-Mart patrons, like this one:
At one table is a group of young Chinese students, alone without family at schools in America. They have banded together to take the bus forty-five minutes outside the city, into the suburbs of a foreign country, for soup dumplings.
Garnette Cadogan’s “Walking While Black” is about exactly what you’d expect based on that title: the experiences of a black man in the US who enjoys walking.
“The Snarling Girl” by Elisa Albert is a long read, but I’m recommending it because these are the notes I took on it for class: “It made me laugh aloud and my heart raced and I feel anxious and seen and I want to copy out parts of it onto my walls even though they won’t make sense out of context and I want to write like this. I’m dead.”
Looking for a laugh?
Okay, enough heavy links. Instead, take a look at these delightful travel posters by the artist Amber Share — she’s illustrating all the US national parks and highlighting real one-star reviews from their visitors.
In a similar vein (amusing drawings), a friend mentioned how funny medieval Europeans’ artistic interpretations of elephants were… So, I looked it up and… yes, Europeans trying to draw non-European animals they had never actually seen is a hilarious subgenre of art.
My current favorite funny person on the internet is Brian David Gilbert who makes video game-related comedy videos for Polygon, and general nonsense (usually set to music) for his own channel. He released this video last week:
Lastly, I’m not a redditor, but I have recently followed the AITA (Am I The Asshole) twitter account, which shares a curated sample of posts from the reddit thread of the same name. In case you’re unfamiliar, people use that thread to share experiences and ask the reddit community for a ruling about whether or not they are in the wrong. Sometimes the stories are infuriating or sad (there are a lot of misogynists on reddit), but other times they make me laugh out loud. The current pinned tweet is *chef’s kiss*
Need to brighten up your social media?
I guess I already recommended the AITA twitter account, but I’m really more of an instagram user. And the Peabody Essex Museum (one of my favorite Boston-area museums) has been taking requests for what people would like to see online while the museum is closed. Folks have asked for a variety of things from seascapes to telescopes to the color yellow and the social media team has shared images from the museum’s collection.
If you’re more of a facebook person, you should follow the Monterey Bay Aquarium. You’ve probably seen that the Shedd Aquarium has been filming its penguins exploring the exhibits while the building is closed to the public, and that is some A+ viral content. I’m recommending the Monterey Bay Aquarium though because they were already killing it with their content before coronavirus (almost every image caption is a pun!). Recently, they’ve started sharing guided meditations set to videos of their tanks.
Care to learn a new skill?
Might I suggest you learn German with me? I’m doing a project this year where every Thursday is #DeutscherDonnerstag, and I post a drawing of a German word or phrase on my instagram account. (I told you I’m more of an instagram user.) It’s a more manageable version of the 100 Day Project I wrote about a couple years ago.
Seriously, though, if you want to learn German, let me know and I will gladly share all of my favorite resources.
I’m also trying to learn how to do a split! (This desire was definitely not inspired by watching too much RuPaul’s Drag Race…) I’ve been doing the stretching exercises in this video a couple of times a week for the last few weeks, but… it’s gonna be a while before I’m ready to lip sync for my life.
Tell me about what you’ve been watching, reading, and learning recently in the comments below. And let me know if you want to see silly photos of me attempting to do a split.
I read from Amber Share’s posters out loud to Ian and they are a HOOT
I read them aloud to E when I first saw them!
Learning: How to make MOS virtual. Lots of learning curves there.
Reading: Nothing special. Some random rom-com my sister passed along to me.
Watching: Just binged “Picard” with my roommates. I love Patrick Stewart!
Yes! Photos of the split attempts please!
Sorry I didn’t see this comment sooner! Thanks for sharing what you’re up to! I’ll admit I haven’t checked out MOS’s online programming yet, but I keep meaning to – it seems like you’re all working hard and figuring it out.
I’m learning German! Still in the super early phases but I’m tackling it like I would a course at school. I have a workbook and everything!
That’s amazing! I’m so happy to hear that! Let me know if you ever want to practice together 🙂