Transcendental Meditation. I started doing this in January. I wouldn’t say I had a premonition that I would need it now. I actually needed it then, to deal with a surplus of anxiety, and it has been even more clutch in recent weeks. I do it for 20 minutes two times a day—first thing in the morning, and then in the early evening. You don’t have to do TM specifically; this is what works for me, and there are various other practices that get it done for other people. But taking time to mediate, at least once a day, even for 10 minutes, makes a big difference.
Dictionary of the Undoing, by John Freeman. I got this a week or two before everything went to hell, when I saw Freeman in conversation with Ben Fountain at Interabang. I’m about three-quarters through with it and it’s really great. He takes a word related to our current moment, the slow-motion kick in the jeans of the last four years, and writes an essay about it, each building on and incorporating the one before it. It’s about the assault on language and our way of life.
PictureThis app. I’m a big walker and an evangelist for the various benefits of daily walks—for health and sanity and creativity and just feeling connected to everything. For the past few years, my walks have mostly taken place downtown (and, in fact, I have a book of photography taken from that urban perambulating, A Pedestrian’s Recent History of Dallas, coming out this year). Lately, stuck at home, I’ve been deeply exploring the world around my house, and so I’ve been taking a lot of nature photos. I use this app to learn what I’m taking pictures of. You don’t have to. Maybe you already know what everything is, and if so, I’m jealous. You don’t have to take photos, either. Just get outside—safely.
Instagram. It’s my favorite social media outlet, though I use others, even as I gripe about them. I love Instagram because it is (mostly) not about words but rather images and I can see how people live or how they want me to think they love or what they’re interested in and escape a little. I like Stories, too, more ephemeral and in the moment. Lately, also, it has helped me stay in touch and helped me check on people. I try to talk to maybe five people a day, just to see how they are or let them know I’m thinking of them.
Seven Samurai Swept Away in a River, by Jung Young Moon. Deep Vellum put this out last year and Moon wrote it (or most of it or at least was inspired to do so) while at the 100 West artists residency in Corsicana. It is wonderfully ridiculous and incisive about Texas and Dallas and Texans and Dallasites, like standing at the elbow of a delightful acquaintance at a party while you get increasingly maybe just a little buzzed. It’s a slim book that proves a novel can be pretty much anything.
color theory, by Soccer Mommy. There are a lot of projects led by female singer-songwriters that I have fallen hard for over the past several years—Mitski, Jay Som, Japanese Breakfast, Snail Mail, Waxahatchee, Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, Big Thief, and on and on and on—but this is the one I’ve been obsessed with lately. It’s not sad, exactly, but it does deal with sadness, and every once in a while a lyric sneaks out and slams you in the chest.
Writing Longhand. I rediscovered this last year and, while at least one of my fingers has paid a fairly steep price and may be permanently disfigured, it has helped me immensely. Why? I don’t know. Is there something freeing about having to commit to a thought, putting pen on paper? Maybe. Maybe the point is just to change your routine.
All photos taken by Zac Crain.