“Inhale for four, exhale for four. Count your breaths. You, my dear, are alive.” —Theresa Avila, girlboss
Last Thursday night I got high and watched two episodes of Great British Baking Show. I laughed and laughed despite the fact that the show isn’t that funny, and sadly enough, it might be some of the most carefree two hours I’ve experienced since 2016. Then on Sunday, Sarah Kendzior asked her Twitter followers what hobbies we’ve taken up since Trump was elected – a reminder that amidst the anxiety, the outright panic, the literal gnashing of teeth (tonight I WILL remember to retrieve my night guard from my suitcase), we must find ways to relax and occasionally even enjoy ourselves. We must still practice self-care, even if the phrase is overused.
Thus, I’ve compiled a carefully curated list of ideas for relaxation and rest and temporary escape for the Trump Era.
- Yes, get high and watch Great British Baking Show! Or, don’t get high and watch it. Either way, the show is delightful.
- Learn or perfect a hobby or skill, preferably one that forces you to be slow, patient, and methodical. Knitting or the like, painting or drawing, learning/playing a musical instrument, baking of any kind. I thought about it and realized my bread baking skills have improved considerably since November 2016. I doubt that’s coincidental.
- Subscribe to a print magazine, preferably one that has nothing to do with current events. This quickly becomes a punctuated bright spot in your life because you get to feel giddy anticipation when you know a new issue is on its way to your mailbox! Plus, you are supporting a worthy industry and paying people for their work. I am fond of cooking magazines (duh), and if you are as well, I recommend Bake From Scratch and Southern Cast Iron.
- If you live in a rural or suburban area (hiiii!!) do yard work. It’s weirdly soothing and restorative. If you live in a city, find a community garden or see if you can volunteer to help out your suburban elderly neighbors tend their yards.
- Explore new-to-you music.
- Shop local whenever you can.
- Watch truly funny movies and allow yourself to succumb to uproarious laughter. Burn After Reading and Bull Durham are my go-to classics, but I recently watched Clue again, and also Game Night is hysterical. (So many jokes in Clue that I did not get as a kid!)
- Read! More specifically, read books from other worlds, because this one sucks. Sci-fi, space exploration, prehistoric ages, etc.
- Stay off Facebook – or even disable your account – and feel really smug about it (despite keeping your Instagram account). Remind yourself you did this when upsetting things that have nothing to do with Facebook occur.
- Take on a meaningless interior decor project, like painting your bedroom a different color, or rearranging furniture and then deciding it was better the old way and moving it all back.
- Work a jigsaw puzzle. You’ll find it a nice distraction and be rewarded with a sense of accomplishment; or you won’t, in which case you can make a big production of sweeping the pieces off the table and having sex on it.
And yes, if cooking is cathartic for you, keep doing it! A word about cooking as it pertains to self-care: allow yourself a lot of moodiness about it. I’m not saying transform into the worst of your former hormonal teenage self and abandon all semblance of impulse control. I’m just saying that we don’t have to be so damn Puritanical about our eating routines unless that helps you. Be moody about what and how you want to cook dinner each night. Worry not one bit that you look inconsistent and possibly kinda nuts. Sometimes I find comfort and beauty in executing a really fancy pants home-cooked meal. Other nights, I… do not. This was one of those nights. You let shrimp swim in some Italian dressing then throw it on the grill. That’s it. I made my own dressing, which I’m sharing here, because one of my quirks is an unmitigated love for making salad dressings from scratch, but a good quality store-bought Italian dressing is just fine.
Take care, everyone!
Italian Dressing Marinated Grilled Shrimp
- ¾ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 4 tsp dried parsley
- 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Black pepper, to taste
- 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined - size doesn’t matter too much here, just make sure they are large enough to not slip through your grill grates
- 1 whole lemon halved
- Combine all ingredients except the shrimp and whole lemon in a 2-cup jar and screw the lid on tightly. Shake for 10 seconds. Let the dressing sit 15 minutes to rehydrate the dried herbs.
- Place the shrimp in a large bowl. Pour enough dressing to cover but not drown them - you’ll use about a third of it. This part of the recipe is not exacting in any way. Stir to combine and let sit no more than 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat your grill or grill pan to high; let it get really hot. Grill the shrimp until just cooked through, flipping once. Timing will vary depending on the size of your shrimp, but shrimp never take long to cook. You’re looking for the centers (where the vein was) to be opaque and they will curl a bit and turn pink. Also, they will feel very firm when you press them with tongs.
- While you’re grilling the shrimp, place the lemon halves cut side down onto the grill and get them nice and charred.
- Remove the shrimp to a platter and squeeze the charred lemon halves over. Serve immediately.