Friday, June 26, 2020

Sam's Weekly Quarantine Digest #16: June 25, 2020

Hi all,

This week, one of the things I'm most thankful for is music.  Whatever mood I'm in, there's a song for that.  No matter what's happening in my life, music has the power to enhance my emotions, console me, give me confidence, or pick me up and set me back on the right track, and always reminds me that I'm not alone.  So many moments of my life are intertwined with the music that marked them.  I remember the songs that helped me handle my grief when I lost my grandfather.  As a 13-year-old, when my first dog passed away, I had my grandmother show me "middle C" on the piano so I could write a song for her (the dog).  When I got my first job out of college, I remember the songs that made me feel like a confident bad-ass who could achieve anything, and in a way nothing else could (like my boss' own "Just Fine" - "I like what I see when I'm looking at me as I'm walking past the mirror...").  I remember re-discovering Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" shortly after graduation - it hasn't left my rotation since.  When I broke up with my first boyfriend, I remember the songs that gave me hope for something better yet to come.  I remember dancing awkwardly to classic 90s songs at sleepaway camp ("Killing Me Softly," anyone?).  I remember finishing my 1L fall exams and coming home, triumphant and exhausted, to Luke playing "I Fought the Law and the Law Won."  I remember, in the final hour of the Bar Exam, singing "Sloop John B" over and over in my head ("I wanna go hooooome, let me go home!").  I remember listening to the Beach Boys and Bob Seger and Three Dog Night with my dad on the way out to my grandparents' beach house in Long Beach, and hitting the high notes in "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" while singing along with the jukebox in our basement as I played ping-pong and pinball with my parents and my brother.  I remember the first song I learned to play on the piano ("Moonlight Sonata" - even in 6th grade, I didn't know how to start small), and the first song I had a chorus solo in ("Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy").  I know the lyrics to just about every song ever written for a Disney movie.  And when I go to the ballet, the moment I engage - the moment when all the stress of my day melts away and my shoulders drop several inches - is that moment of anticipation after the conductor's applause fades away and just before the first note of the music is played.  I don't know what it is about music, but music carries with it memories, and joy, and confidence, and love, and sometimes sadness and anger, too.  My whole life story can be told through music, and I'd bet that many of you feel the same way.

With all of that in mind, I'm sharing a few of my favorite playlists with you.  I shared this Quarantine Confidence Boost playlist a while back, but I'm offering it again now - it's a selection of songs with which I can't help but start singing along.  They inspire me and give me confidence, and they can get me out of a funk every time.  I'll also offer this instrumental playlist, which helps me find my groove during the work day while avoiding distracting lyrics, and one called "Life Is Good," to celebrate when you're feeling on top of the world and want some music to match.  Feeling like you're in a rut and need a pick-me-up?  Try this list of "Fight Songs."  It feels oddly intimate and vulnerable to share these with you, but if they bring any of you even a fraction of the hope and confidence they've brought me, it's worth it.  And finally, this week's section titles come from the lyrics of one of my favorite songs, Lee Annn Womack's "I Hope You Dance."

I would love to hear your quarantine playlists, too, so if you're willing to share, I'm all ears!

Previous digests can be found on my blog at  If you have suggestions or would like to stop receiving these emails, just let me know.


I hope you never lose your sense of wonder (entertainment)
  • Outdoor dining officially launched in NYC as part of Phase II - check out this list of 20 restaurants that opened this week if you're eager to be among the first patrons.
  • Miss bar trivia nights?  Check out this virtual option, which has rotating among bars in Brooklyn to help them stay afloat during the quarantine as well as to save you from another monotonous Monday.  
  • Jon Stewart is back with a new political satire movie, Irresistible
  • Just a reminder that this weekend is the culmination of Pride Week - please see last week's Digest for a long list of ways to participate, or ask Google to show you what's on the menu in your neighborhood.
  • Celebrations of Black culture
    • Just Mercy (the film version) is available for free through the end of the month on Google Play, Amazon Prime Video, and a few other streaming services.  The book (mandatory reading for my 1L year of law school) is incredible, and the movie is a powerful summary.
    • Spike Lee has released a new film, Da 5 Bloods (available on Netflix).  See here for an explanation of some of the pop culture references you'll see in the movie.  If you've never experienced Spike Lee's legendary films, check out this overview, pick one, and get watching!
    • Rather than a typical standup act, Dave Chappelle’s new Netflix special, 8:46, is a raw accounting of police brutality, punctuated with images of Black men who died at the hands of officers, while deftly interweaving his own personal history.  See the New York Times' commentary on the piece, along with explanations of some key references, here.
    • Have some time on your hands for reading?  Ibram X. Kendi has created an antiracist reading list.
    • Looking for additional ways to support the movement?  Check out Black Voters Matter, which focuses on voter registration, policy advocacy, and building infrastructure to ensure that Black voters are able to be heard in future elections (including this November).
Get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger (food)
  • I've been asked more times than I can count how I create a new cookie from scratch, or go off-script to customize a classic.  The answer is simply that I've learned cookie science from years of experimentation.  If you don't have the desire to spend a decade baking thousands of cookies a year, don't worry, you're still in luck: other people have enshrined their learnings on the internet so that you can learn these secrets of baking in just 10 minutes of reading.  See here for tips about how different ingredients and ratios affect the texture and appearance of your cookies, and here for a rundown on pans.  Or just watch the Good Eats episode on cookies, Three Chips for Sister Marsha, in which Alton Brown himself will walk you through many of these same tips.
  • Recipe of the Week: No-Refrigeration Bakery Frosting: You can use this versatile frosting to ice a cake, create sandwich cookies, or slather it on whatever else you feel like putting frosting on.  It will keep for 3 months in the fridge (covered) and should be ok for at least a week at room temperature (unless your room is swelteringly hot - be smart).  Combine 1 cup shortening, 1/4 cup non-dairy creamer (like CoffeeMate), 1/4 tsp almond extract, and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract in a large bowl.  Gradually add 16 oz. confectioners' sugar, then up to 1/4 cup water, a few tablespoons at a time, until it reaches your desired consistency.  If you want chocolate frosting, add 1/2 cup of cocoa powder with the confectioners' sugar.
I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance (self-care)
  • We've all been struggling at times during the quarantine.  Need some help starting to feel like yourself again?  Check out these free coaching resources to help you deal with the stress of the quarantine isolation, parenting, financial turmoil, working from home, being an essential worker, and much more.
  • We're going to be home for a long time.  Now that we're spending so much time here, doesn't it make sense to make it a space we love to be in?  As one of the endless possibilities you can dream up, consider giving yourself some extra "outdoors" time by going back to your childhood and turning your ceiling into the night sky.  You can DIY with a bunch of stars (there are tons of YouTube tutorials if you're interested), or take a shortcut and get some help from the pros with this wallpaper.
  • Please be careful about which hand sanitizer you're using - the FDA recently released a list of toxic hand sanitizers to avoid.  Need new ones?  Bath & Body Works has a ton in stock now, and they smell delicious!
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance...I hope you DANCE!

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