As information headed for overload and change became the only constant, culture provided comfort. As 2020 ends, let’s look back at some of my favorite things from literary, visual, and other worlds that helped me survive this crazy year.
Being Lolita: Alisson Wood’s memoir tells the tale of a “relationship” between her 17-year-old self and her high school English teacher. The structure of the book mirrors that of Lolita, the Nabokov book the teacher used in their relationship and called a love story (it’s not, you know). Wood’s three-part structure breaks from the Lolita mold when grown-up Alisson considers her life after the relationship, something Dolores Haze was denied. I can’t recommend this book enough.
Here for It: R. Eric Thomas tells his story in essays filled with humor, humanity, and connection. It’s a quick, bright read that touches on important themes like identity, family, faith, acceptance, and hope.
Connection: Open mics, author readings, conferences — all through video technology.
Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access): Patrick Stewart in space. That’s enough for me. The fact that this had great writing and acting, a compelling story, and lots of nods to the previous ST incarnations — perfection.
McMillions (HBO): This six-part doc tells the story of how one man and his accomplices ran a $24 million scam revolving around the McDonald’s Monopoly game between 1989 and 2001. The cast of characters alone — a veritable smorgasbord of humanity, and you never know who was in on what. Bonus: this is certainly the most healthy form of McDonald’s you can ingest.
The Vow (HBO):A behind-the-scenes look at the cult NXIVM (NEX-eeum). I still can’t understand how people were indoctrinated by its strange leader on a volleyball court at 3 a.m.
Honorable Mention: The Holiday Baking Championship (The Food Network). I love that stupid show.
And the new year begins with a treat — the third season of Cobra Kai on Netflix. I wasn’t on board with the idea of a Karate Kid series, but season 1 won me over and season 2 was even better. I can’t wait for season 3.
- Jared Halley takes songs you know to new heights, and his own tunes, too.
- A Soft Murmur provides a variety of sounds: coffeeshop, rain, thunder, and more. For these stay-at-home COVID times.
- Online museum tours, classes, et al
- Martha Stewart taught me what I’m sure she taught her prisonmates years ago — how to make homemade spaghetti sauce with just three ingredients: 2 Tbsp olive oil, a can of whole peeled tomatoes (crushed), and fresh basil cut into gleeful tiny ribbons (salt and pepper to taste).
- the world’s softest blanket and socks that kept me cozy and were a comfort on the difficult days
- integrity (it’s not dead… yet)
Thank you for your kindness, especially to those who’ve sent encouraging emails and comments. (Leave any recommendations of your own in the comments. I’m curious what helped you to get through this year.)
To a happy and healthy 2021.