Minimalist Contact: Light Reading, More Exercise, & Less TV

I don’t miss minimal contact.  During a dashing-to-the-store interaction, I might have said, “Isn’t it a lovely day?” and the clerk might have said, “I won’t see it till I get off work.”

But now that we’re all in masks, there is no conversation. The older employees have quit or been laid off, and I hope they’re okay.   I find it hard to say ANYTHING in a mask.  Sometimes I say, “Keep the change.”  But I’m thinking more about money germs than I am about leaving a tip.

Now here’s what is very, very sad.  Curbside pick-up.

We’ve done this only a couple of times.  But how stressful to be a masked employee (or often a store owner) and tote a basket outside with the item, and set the basket down on a sidewalk, or transfer the item from the basket to the trunk! 

We never counted on “minimalist” contact, did we?  It’s a whole new world out there.


TREAT YOURSELF TO A LIGHT NOVEL.  My mood lifted as I read Emma Straub’s witty, absorbing  new novel, All Adults Here.  The setting, Hudson Valley’s Clapham, New York, is a quaint charming small town which becomes blessedly quiet after the summer tourists leave.  I loved the town as much as the characters.  And I lost myself in the daily drama of the slightly dysfunctional family at the core of the novel, the Stricks. 

The first sentence will hook you.  

Astrid Strick had never liked Barbara Baker, not for a single day of their forty-year-old acquaintance, but when Barbara was hit and killed by the empty, speeding school bus at the intersection of Main and Morrison streets on the eastern side of the town roundabout, Astrid knew that her life had changed, the shock of which was indistinguishable from relief.

This tragic death unnerves Astrid,  a 68-year-old widow who suddenly finds herself examining her  control-freak habits and superficial relationships.  She isn’t pleased with what she sees, especially her take on Barbara.  And so she decides to be more honest with her family: she has had a long affair with the owner of Shear Beauty, a beauty salon, and decides to come out.  

It turns out Astrid’s children and granddaughter have secrets, too.  Her daughter, Porter, who runs a goat farm and makes cheese, has chosen a sperm donor and is pregnant ; her son Nicky, a Buddhist pothead who has a French dancer wife, dispatches their stressed teenage daughter, Cecilia, from Brooklyn to live with Astrid, because he can’t cope with her problems; and Astrid’s  oldest son, Elliott, the unlikable one, is proud of the McMansions he builds, but knows his mother looks down on them.

This is a character-driven book: the plot, such as it is, is fairly predictable. But I like the narrative, with each chapter told from a different third-person  point-of-view.

I’ve also been reading light nonfiction.  Who knew there was such a thing?

TO GET OUT OF YOUR RUT, DO SOME NEW EXERCISES.  Yes, you may walk or use the elliptical, but you need to SHAKE IT UP if you’re depressed during this traumatic pandemic.   Find a workout online, even if it’s only 10 minutes.  Yoga or 1980s aerobics class videos can help your mood as well as your body.

TURN OFF THE TV.  Since we got a smart-ish TV, we have watched lots of dumb TV.  Who knew that every comedy on Netflix and Hulu had mandatory toilet jokes? And, really, I’ve seen nothing more hackneyed than the edgy Netflix originals, Amazon originals, and so on.  Good luck to you in finding anything good besides Homeland.  Turn off the TV and you’ll immediately feel smarter.

4 thoughts on “Minimalist Contact: Light Reading, More Exercise, & Less TV”

  1. Well, I’m not watching anywhere near as much TV as most people seem to be these days. But I haven’t run out of good viewing yet. As far as comedians go, I’ve started to rewatch “The StandUps” which only has two seasons; I like it because the episodes are only 30 minutes, so if you don’t connect with the comedian, you find out quickly and don’t spend much time there, but there were only a couple that I didn’t really enjoy the first time, so it was enjoyable overall anyway. But humour’s super personal, so maybe these would drive you bananas.

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