With the fate of our world currently resting in the hands of infectious disease expert Mike Pence (just kidding! It’s still in God’s hands), life seems to be hanging by a thread. Or a square of toilet paper, if you will, which is something I just bought a 24-pack of as it was unloaded off the truck at my local grocery store because for once my timing was good and because this is the world we live in now.

We may all be going out a bit less in/for the foreseeable future, so I thought I’d take a few minutes to run down my latest “Favorite Things” (not affiliated with Oprah) in the hopes that those of you in quarantine, or waiting for it, might have something to occupy your time other than Twitter (which has reached DEFCON 5 levels of anxiety, God help us all).

What follows is a smattering of what has snatched my wig and brought me joy in the past few months, and what I will carry with me into the uncertain future.

MOVIES

Remember when we used to fly on planes? I was on one over the Christmas holidays, traveling to America and back and got to watch movies, glorious movies! There were a couple that I just loved

The first, Ready or Not, was not a critical or commercial darling, but it did have The OC’s Adam Brody, and it was full of campy horror and gore. The premise is that a wealthy game-empire family welcomes new in-laws on their wedding night by having them choose a card from a box. On that card is the name of a game, and hold onto your undies if that game is Hide and Seek, because that means the family will spend the hours before dawn hunting you down and trying to kill you! Cut to the lead character ripping up her wedding dress and having a very awkward chat with her new husband.

In a similar campy, fun, and murder-y vein is Knives Outwhich was a critical and commercial darling. Another rich family, another big house, more dysfunction that makes your own relatives seem slightly more normal. Come for the Clue-reminiscent humor, stay for Chris Evans in a cardigan and Daniel Craig doing a Cajun accent.

Finally, I overcame my fear of subtitles (thank you, God and the Academy) to watch this year’s Best Picture winner, Parasite. Much praise has been showered on this film, and rightly so: it skewers classism and showcases an array of nuanced characters and performances. But I knew it was good when I was an hour in before noticing I was reading the whole thing. And thank Bong for that.

PODCASTS

Against my therapist’s advice, I listened to the entire season of Chasing Cosby which, as you can imagine, covers the downfall of the erstwhile Heathcliff Huxtable via news coverage of his trials and interviews with his victims. If, like me and the host, you were a kid who thought of Cliff as your extra dad, this listening experience was a punch in the gut and an exercise in grief. Fun, right?!

Adam Young is a Christian counselor whose podcast, The Place We Find Ourselves, is free therapy. Like my own therapist, he loves Jesus but cusses a little, and delivers psychological expertise, practical advice, and biblical wisdom simultaneously. It’s a must-listen for any survivor of trauma or anyone, period, especially those seeking self-awareness without sacrificing the Gospel in all our introspection.

Grimm, Grimmer, Grimmest is a podcast ostensibly for kids, but I’m having a grand old time listening to it alongside my boys and singing the theme song with them in the car. It rates Brothers Grimm fairytales on the superlative scale then delivers those tales with the perfect mix of creepiness, humor, and pure entertainment. And anything not on an iPad that can keep my boys focused for twenty minutes is pure miracle in my book.

TV

After a lengthy search for my next new binge, I settled in and chose a documentary. But Cheer doesn’t feel like one. You’ll immediately be drawn into the characters’ stories and struggles. And—as has been noted—much like Friday Night Lights, which wasn’t really about football, Cheer is about so much more than toe-touches and pyramids. 

Oh, and if you want to be sad? Watch Marriage Story, but do it like I did—in about five sittings, so you’re not overwhelmed with all the feelings at once.

MUSIC 

Ben Folds, who probably now has coronavirus, recently did his third stint with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra backing him and it was glorious. Actually, I didn’t know many of the songs but the ones I did were moving. He narrated the show to the perfect degree and the symphonic accompaniment was pure catharsis. Now that live concerts are a (temporary, we hope) relic, let’s all give thanks for iTunes.

BOOKS

I recently finished The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall, and I don’t remember the last time I wanted to hug a book so tightly. With themes of faith, doubt, motherhood, and autism, this one hit close to home in the best way. I found myself doing that thing where I put the book down, close my eyes and nod, and take a deep breath before picking it back up again. To translate: it good.

One of the themes of the book was the juxtaposition of belief and non-belief, of certainty and mystery and how, often, they’re not very different or as far apart as we thought. And in a time when our connectedness both contributes to our sickness and can be the thing that helps us survive it, I cling to the messages—to the Gospel—in its pages. In fact, as I close this semi-silly post which may be followed, down the road, by more serious musings on this current health crisis, I’ll end with a quote from the book—some words that express the thoughts of a new wife and mother on the ways that freedom and love clash against, limit, and expand each other:

“She would never be free again. But she would also never be alone.”

Neither are we. May we go—and stay—in peace as we remember that.