GW staff, faculty and students share the activities, shows, movies and music they’re enjoying during quarantine.
By Ruth Steinhardt
Between work, research and caring for themselves and others, few at the George Washington University would say they’re relaxing during the virtual learning and teleworking period. But the proximity to home and family has led some to explore new hobbies and enjoy new media selections—and to rediscover old favorites. Below, a few of the ways GW students, faculty and staff have found to cope in isolation.
Vice President, Division of External Relations
My latest social distancing activity is badminton. It is much tougher to master than one would think by watching it. My daughter, who lives in New York, has been home with us. She has inspired us to go through the garage and find activities that we forgot we had. As soon as it warms up a bit more, croquet is on the docket and a bocce tourney soon will follow. Thankfully, we have a beautiful yard, although I have not taken up gardening. I leave that to my husband.
Assistant Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences
I've always cooked, but COVID-19 has meant an upgrade. I've needed serious rewards at the end of each day. I’ve made chicken thighs with pancetta and olives. A shepherd’s pie with a crust of parsnips, potatoes and apples. A vegetarian meal of cooked potatoes, sauteéd with mushrooms and shallots and crushed cumin seed, with spinach, over rice. I made fresh guacamole and ate it for lunch (it's easy). Buttermilk pancakes, from scratch. Broiled lamb chops with rosemary and garlic. Curried lentils. Brussels sprouts with maple syrup. Fresh garlic bread. Tonight, it's chicken again, wrapped in prosciutto with anchovy butter and steamed broccoli with capers, on the side.
In my house, we all look scraggly. But we eat like kings. It's helped us cope with this extremely challenging time.
M. Brian Blake
The big thing for me is that I tend to play basketball with my 8-year-old in the backyard every day at 6 or 7 p.m. We basically shoot 40 to 50 half-court shots. My 15-year-old and 8-year-old and I play games of 21, as well.
Managing Art Director, Marketing and Creative Services
For my edition of “How I Spent My Pandemic Vacation,” I’ve succumbed to paper crafting after not thinking of anything better to do than that, so have been making cartoon characters for our 2-year-old daughter. (Photographic evidence above.)
Chair of American Studies and Professor of English and American Studies, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences
I have resisted the idea that this crisis is an opportunity for self-improvement! Any activity I’ve engaged in has been a means of coping during a time of crisis. That said, there are two things that have been helpful for me: baking and coloring. I have celiac disease, and it's been rewarding to learn how to make a delicious chocolate cake—a génoise—with only teff flour (teff is the gluten-free grain in injera, the Ethiopian flatbread). Shout out to Alice Medrich's book “Flavor Flours.”
I never thought I'd be coloring, but my family bought a giant "Mandala Madness" coloring poster at the start of the quarantine, and we’ve found it to be relaxing—and a good way to listen to music. It took us three weeks to finish! The smart, sweet and funny Netflix series “Never Have I Ever” made me very happy. And like thousands of others, I'm a fan of DNice, a DJ who livestreams sets on Instagram. He mixes disco, house, funk and vintage hip-hop in his mixes, so they hit the spot for me, generationally.
Students of Kerry McAleer-Keeler
Corcoran School of the Arts and Design
Associate Professor of Art and Design Kerry McAleer-Keeler asked her students to suggest tracks to create art to during the social isolation period. This playlist contains contributions from Olivia Dias, Maddie Goldstein, Eoin Guidas, Cecelia Halle, Olivia Henderson, Malin Hillemann, Mary Langseder, Catherine Leonard, Hannah Longbottom, Julia Matsumoto, Kerry McAleer-Keeler, Hanbin Park, Maggie Perron, Mari Rios, Katie Sigety and May Viriyapah.
Media Relations Specialist for Arts and Humanities
I haven't really taken up any hobbies (weird or otherwise!), just trying to read more. I did start rewatching “Veronica Mars.” My husband had never watched it so I introduced him to it, and we're in that at the moment.
Director of Communications and Outreach, Facilities Planning, Construction and Management
I have been catching up on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” returning to long-neglected Facebook and taking long walks all over D.C. Never knew the riverfront was so extensive!
Executive Director for Editorial Services, Division of External Relations
Lately, I’ve been binge watching the Spanish show Money Heist. One of the lead characters is named Raquel Murillo so I feel like she’s the Spanish version of me (never mind the fact she is a bad-ass hostage negotiator while I am a mild-mannered editor). When I’m not envisioning a far cooler Iberian self, I am spending a lot of time cooking, baking and eating with my teenage daughters. I’m also taking virtual Spanish and French classes and seem to be making progress on inventing my own Span-fren-glish language.
Interim Director, Corcoran School of the Arts and Design
I’m still in the process of making my way through Netflix, Acorn, Amazon Prime and Hulu (and I’m only a little way down my list). I've streamed Autumn de Wilde’s “Emma” as well as “The Times of Bill Cunningham” (I have a longstanding preoccupation with fashion). At our last Corcoran senior staff meeting, we all confessed to watching Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum's “Making the Cut,” which everyone had seen. We had a fun and lively discussion of the show—it’s Amazon Prime’s new version of “Project Runway”—and its merits…and for a moment, we forgot about the virus and the world outside our WebEx space.
Creative Director, Marketing and Creative Services
I downloaded this app called Quibi. Think of it as a Netflix full of original series where all episodes are short for quick consumption (like six minutes quick.) It has NBC News, BBC News, a reboot of MTV’s “Punk’d,” a reboot of Reno 911, a Chrissy Teigen courtroom show. I’ll pick it up here and there when I’m trying to unwind at night. I was so skeptical when a friend sent it to me, but have really enjoyed it. I think there’s a three-month free trial right now, too.