How to toggle between real-world rage and straight-up fantasy while sheltering in place.

Phoebe Assenza
Jul 24, 2020 · 3 min read
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Happy Friday. Here’s a list of things I’ve found to provide seconds-to-entire minutes of cozy, relaxing and reaffirming feelings during The End of the World. Dare I call it self-care? No, it’s a list of micro-actions that might help one feel a little more like a person, rather than a boxed-up face that lives on Zoom.

Meditation stuff
For trying to fall asleep at night, go to Mary Maddux of Meditation Oasis. She has the soothing voice I imagine a Waldorf-pre-school teacher to have, and lulls me into total relaxationnnnnnn byyyyeeee…

For a more centered, seize-the-day vibe, there are Tara Brach’s guided “presence” meditations, and the freemium version of Sam Harris’s “Waking Up” app.

Moving around stuff
I’ve been doing Yoga with Adriene’s 30-day yoga challenge over the last 90+ days and I’m about 2/3 done. (This is not a time for staying on top of shit.) These sessions are awesome because they run about 20–30 minutes, but you might feel like you did a 60-minute class with a long-ass savasana for the rest of the day.

And for something a little burn-ier, Laura Ashley does this amazing “RELEASE” class on Zoom. I did it once and didn’t even do it right, but felt buff for like two days afterward. It requires a foam roller. I need to go back.

Cooking stuff
What is it about tomatoes, onions, and garlic being the most comforting flavor profile in times of international and existential crises? If you don’t find great pleasure or pride from hovering over a stove all day, consider these one-pot meals. (Two max.)

One-pan farro from The Smitten Kitchen and “Secret Ingredient Pasta Salad” from Alison Roman, who is thankfully no longer canceled, and back to her aspirational-yet-achievable, Steven Alan/Built By Wendy style of recipe sharing.

The latter dish is best-served-cold and perfect “straight out of the container, at the beach,” so it might make you beach-sick and sad if there is no immediate beaching in your crowd-fearing future…still, delicious. The quick-pickled red onions speak to me on a spiritual level. And on that note…

Woo-woo stuff
I saved the best for second-to-last. “Woo-woo” is not a derision; I’ve marked Mercury Retrograde dates on company-wide Google calendars to caution against (or curse) shipping any new products during that time, much to the chagrin of pretty much everyone I’ve worked with.

Less extremely, Jackie Stone —who is way spiritual but also enjoys Nathan for You —is now doing personalized tarot readings. Book her here; she’s simply the best.

Reading stuff
Straight-up escapism only! Go to the newsletter for all the newsy non-fiction links, then open up a physical book made of paper (or a closed-system Kindle) and get into witches and vampires again.

Circe by Madeline Miller — The premise is similar to Wicked, where you get a fan-fiction-y backstory of a villain who only shows up momentarily in a preceding piece of literature. Circe was the island-witch who turned Odysseus’s sailors into pigs. This book explains why! Plus a million other fantastical details. Recommended to me by Sonya B.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness — This one’s less-objectively-good than Circe, and more in the realm of terrible/awesome, so of course it was recommended to me by Ariel H.

Do I even bother telling you what it’s about? Ariel also warns the TV series “just bad, not good-bad,” so she’s only watched it several times.

Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer — Maybe I’m the only schmuck who didn’t read the leaked version 10 years ago but yay for me because now I can 100% look forward to 100% of this book, the upcoming publication date of which I was alerted to by none other than YA author & enthusiast Marisa Reichardt. (Pre-order her cataclysmic teen love story, After-Shocks…I’m assuming there’s a love story there.)

If you try any of the stuff I mention above, please let me know how it went!

Stay safe and sane and healthy.


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