Remember the early days of quarantine, when we were all binge-watching Tiger King, content to stay home and have some extra family time for crafting and baking? Well, here we are, months and months later, and the idea of needing to fill time is so quaint. There’s no time for anything.
If you’re finding the news to be crushing and are looking for little shards of joy where you can find ’em, here are some truly bite-sized ways to get that dose of pop culture during your busy days.
Three Busy Debras (Adult Swim)
Anyone else feeling a little unhinged lately? Good, glad we’re on the same page! I’d like to prescribe dipping into the fantasy world of Three Busy Debras. Each 15-minute episode of this delightfully bizarre show features a trio of women named Debra who are busy overthrowing the social order, upending the patriarchy, and committing all manner of crimes along the way. The series is set in a surreal suburban universe, the kind where a woman can cheerfully straighten her hair and then sit down to brunch right after murdering the pool boy. Highly recommended if you are the kind of person who appreciates dark humor (or makes a habit of re-watching Heathers every 2-3 years — or were secretly rooting for Christine on Selling Sunset).
At least once a week, I daydream about ditching it all to go live with Lenny Kravitz in Brazil. And absolutely nowhere in my highly detailed dreamscape do I have an ounce of Covid chub. Instead, I look like ModMandyFit! All miracles aside, I’ve been enjoying her quick workouts lately. I mean, maybe enjoy isn’t the right word. But I’ve been enduring them. Mandy leads 15-minute, prison-style (ha, let’s not go there) mat workouts that allow you to tone up with no equipment required. And she has the bubbling energy of your beloved babysitter who sleeps until 10am and practices all kinds of wellness routines you don’t even know exist. Bless her fit, well-rested heart.
A few things that have been good for my mental health lately: indulging in my 2-year-old’s quest to become a kitten, Bobby Finger’s laugh, and the occasional TikTok impression. The #1 thing that’s been bad for my mental health? Instagram. Have I quit it? No comment. BUT I have learned to slightly curb my addiction by reaching for the Stella Spoils newsletter instead. Curated by Nikki Brand, a surfer/designer from South Africa, Stella Spoils is an easy daily email that offers pretty pictures and a cultural article or two. Best part is, her newsletter serves up a a boost of dopamine that doesn’t require you getting sucked into a 15-minute social media void. Your sanity and eyeballs will thank you.
Yola: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert
Ah, music. Music never lets you down. I accidentally went several months of quarantine without listening to music. What a wash. In the absolute terrible stew of this time, I’m now finding music to be more comforting than ever. Yola is one such discovery I’ve been leaning on during my morning walks. She’s a British singer-songwriter who moved to Nashville to make genre-bending music, blending together Americana, country, rock, and soul. Whatever you call her sound, it’s majestic. Her Tiny Desk (Home) Concert is 15 minutes of pure radiance that will immediately brighten your day. And the fact that she can look and sound so composed in the peak humidity of a Tennessee summer is a holy act in itself.
100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write by Sarah Ruhl
These days, before leaving the house, I dump everything into an endless pit of a tote bag. Recently, one of my kids reached his hand into the abyss feeling around for a snack and emerged clutching an empty Silly Putty container, half a cheese stick, and a single paper clip. One useful mainstay in this tote bag: Sarah Ruhl’s collection of micro-essays. Most of her crisp, irreverent reflections—with titles like Lice Lady—are wrapped up within a single page, making it an easy-breezy book to pull out when you need a moment of relief or insight. Keep it on hand (or in that tote bag) for whenever you happen to have a couple minutes to spare.
Parenting with Sanity and Joy: 101 Simple Strategies by Susan G. Groner
Everybody out there could use a little help right now; we’re all maneuvering through uncharted territory in this decade-year of 2020. Lucky for us, in her pithy book of advice, mom of two Sue Groner shares lessons that happen to be about parenting but could easily be applied to life in general. Tips range from simple—“Spend time with people you like”—to actionable—“Keep cookies around”—and all of them are presented in a fun way. Designed as a pick-up-every-now-and-then reference with charming illustrations by Sanna Mander, this guide deserves a place on everyone’s nightstand. Or, more realistically, I plan to keep mine next to the coffee machine so I can absorb a lesson or two while I wait for my precious caffeine.