What a strange month April was. We left the house once a day, if that, and the most exciting decisions we had to make were around what to eat. And yet, given the uncertainty of work, health, industry, and…everything else, it was still difficult in its own way. We’re very fortunate to be safe and healthy thus far, including our extended families, but continue to be aware that this is largely a matter of privilege and luck. Who knows what May is going to bring but in the meantime, here’s what helped the past month feel a little less locked down.
Share your faves and finds in the comments, ducklings. Sharing is caring.
Ok, let’s be clear: this show was a wacky, wild trip and has more than a few flaws as a documentary. It is not an objectively good show in many ways, there are no heroes and more than a little fanciful positioning of characters. False equivalents abound and conjecture is presented as if not fact, then likely. And yet, it’s compelling in the worst way: it’s great television.
Its editors in particular nailed their task of keeping audience sensibilities and allegiances shifting, while also holding them in the uncomfortable space of confronting the fact that none of the characters (in every sense of the word) are likeable or even decent. And yet, it gripped the pop cultural landscape because people watched it and couldn’t look away, myself included. It’s a master class in upping the ante with every episode and genre shift. Just when you think you’re watching a perfectly normal wildlife rescue documentary, BOOM. There’s a cult. Then there’s a murder – or is there? Then there’s polyamory. Then there’s an election campaign. Then a hit man. And it’s a true testament that I have given NOTHING away with any of those statements
I inhaled it, I talked about it with friends, I’m still not done thinking about it.
Psycle London (specifically their Instagram TV feed!)
This was a later find in the month, but my goodness what a treasure it has been! Psycle is a very trendy gym brand in London and I’ve wanted to try some of their classes in the past, but the locations stopped being handy when our schedules changed and I never could muster the timing or cash to go for it. Well, like many other brands, they’ve started producing content online and via social media. Apart from being absolutely what’s needed for many right now, it’s brilliant marketing. Several instructors hold their usual 45-minute classes multiple times a day on Instagram Live and, at least once a week, a selection of those videos are then added to their Instagram TV channel. I’ve done a class daily since discovering it and finally getting to try barre workouts – reminiscent of dance days and a killer class. These are all free, though there is pleasingly a way to donate any amount to help them meet costs right now. Once all this is behind us, I will definitely make it to their in-person classes, but I hope they continue an online program in some way – I will definitely keep participating and paying!
My Dark Vanessa, by Kate Elizabeth Russell
This is definitely going to be Not For Everybody, but this book absolutely gripped and gutted me. It needs all the trigger warnings as the subject matter includes sexual abuse and its long aftermath. Straight from my Goodreads review: “What a difficult, complicated book. I’m not sure anyone has successfully tackled the layers of complexity of harms, desires, manipulations, and even bizarre affections that can be part of an abusive relationship, but this book gets the nearest I’ve ever come across. “A haze of unspeakable things,” as the narrator puts it when trying to articulate all the questions she has about her relationship with a person who took advantage of his position and power over her. If anything I think this book gives a visceral account of how our own identities can become interwoven with other people’s and the stories we tell (and tell ourselves) about our relationships to others. Even evil people are the heroes of their own tales. Uncomfortable and confronting.
“The second half of the book isn’t as crisply constructed to me and I think could have been edited down, but that’s a minor technical quibble and I’m still impressed that this is a debut novel.”
I’ve shared this favorite before but I’ve finished my first bottle in record time for any face/makeup product and am already on my second. While I’m certainly not putting on a face every single day, I’d be lying if I said my vanity and desire to look good on video conference calls didn’t mean that I threw some slap on in April. This oil/serum hybrid provided a lovely glowy base for “bare” days and a decent canvas for when I had to look a little more presentable – at least from the waist up. I foresee this being a daily beauty product throughout summer, quarantine or no.
Nothing like a little lockdown to help you focus on your plans to cook more. I’m determined to expand the family cooking repertoire and really master both classic recipes (boeuf bourguignon, I’m coming for you) and as many different cultural styles as I can try. I’m slowly pushing the boat out on vegetarian options as well, both for health and money reasons. Jeff would like it publicly noted that he disagrees strongly with this, but even he had to admit my first dhal was pretty damn tasty. In the spirit of charity, here are a few of things we’ve made this month:
A beautiful savory dhal dish – my first proper attempt at a lentil-based meal
My go-to baking vice – for something with a bit of chewiness and heft
The BEST breakfast or brunch meal on the planet, do not @ me