Welcome. I’ve had a lot of conversations recently about how difficult it can be to articulate precisely what one is feeling these days. The headlines tell us what is happening, but they don’t always touch on what is happening with us. Us, existing — we know, we know — in times unprecedented and extraordinary. We’re stunned and sad, have good days and bad, look to the future with some hope, some dread, some fantasies and plans.
What’s happening? How are you? A friend recently responded, “Good on paper,” when I asked him how he’s been. That seemed an elegant shorthand for how relative our measures of happiness or alrightness are right now. I loved Jamilah Lemieux’s story in The Cut last week, “I Can’t Complain,” in which she lists the ways in which the pandemic has disrupted her life, chastising herself all the while for griping when things could always be worse.
For some of us, a three-day weekend begins today. For others, it’s the start of a week off for spring break, for us or those we live with. Vacation presents new challenges when travel is off the table, when lazy days at home aren’t a novelty. Yes, time off is a luxury, but too much of anything is too much. Let’s try to fill those off hours, the ones when you’re not working, with diversion, things to watch and eat and read and do.
I’m going to watch “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar,” the latest from Kristin Wiig and Annie Mumolo of “Bridesmaids.” It looks like it’ll go down easy.
You could select something from this quirky and well-designed list of “Very Good Films,” put together by two friends who love “Luca Guadagnino, the ’80s, sunflowers on film, Barbara Loden and ‘Muriel’s Wedding.’” If you’re a Guadagnino fan and didn’t see 2015’s “A Bigger Splash,” definitely check it out, if only for the dreamy scenes of the Italian coast and Ralph Fiennes dancing to the Rolling Stones.
Or take in A.O. Scott’s Critic’s Pick “Minari,” about a Korean-American family in rural Arkansas. Don’t miss Jay Caspian Kang’s profile of its star, Steven Yeun, or Brandon Yu’s conversations with the film’s writer and director, Lee Isaac Chung, and other Asian-American filmmakers.
And this documentary about a long-distance open relationship sounds fascinating.
Check out the companies that are hacking the process of aging whiskey; one claims it can “fashion the equivalent of a spirit aged five years or longer overnight.” Make Melissa Clark’s maximalist brownies, obviously (why have I never topped a brownie with a salted pretzel before?). You could skip dinner and just eat dessert, but these vegetarian soups sound equally divine.
I can’t stop thinking about two stories in The Atlantic: “The Pandemic Has Erased Entire Categories of Friendship,” by Amanda Mull, about the importance of weak ties, one of my favorite subjects. And “Cottagecore Was Just the Beginning,” by Kaitlyn Tiffany, which introduced me to the Aesthetics Wiki, which catalogs the infinite array of personal style cultivated mostly on social media.
The photographer Noah Kalina asked if his friends would bring their mobile wood-stove to his house to make him pizza in the snow and they obliged. The photos are something else.
And read the Times obituary for the jazz musician Chick Corea, who died this week, then head to YouTube for endless recordings of his concerts. I love this one, from 1974, “Someday My Prince Will Come” with Herbie Hancock.
A reader recommends.
Karen Williams in Oshkosh, Wisc., writes that she and her 22-year-old daughter, who lives 90 minutes from her, are doing the Daily Dose, giving each other one task, serious or silly, to perform each day this month. She writes:
The one that I loved most so far was to “listen to a favorite song.” I pulled up the George Winston albums “Autumn,” “December” and “Winter Into Spring” and played more than one of his songs. It brought back such wonderful memories from the ’80s. I told my daughter that Winston’s songs were the background music of my days when I was her age, and she said she was going to go home that night and explore his music. It would not have ever occurred to me to share this with her without this “task.”
How are you? How has your response to that question changed over the past year? Write to us: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re At Home. We’ll read every letter sent. As always, more ideas for leading a full and cultured life at home appear below. I’ll see you next week.