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Culture

Let's give ourselves a hefty amount of grace for how we used our pandemic 'free' time

Let's give ourselves a hefty amount of grace for how we used our pandemic 'free' time

Just over a year into the coronavirus pandemic, we're finally seeing a light at the end of our socially distanced tunnel. We still have a ways to go, but with millions of vaccines being doled out daily, we're well on our way toward somewhat normal life again. Hallelujah.

As we head toward that light, it's natural to look back over our shoulders at the past year to see what we're leaving behind. There's the "good riddance" stuff of course—the mass deaths, the missing loved ones, the closed-up businesses, the economic, social and political strife—which no one is going to miss.

But there's personal stuff, too. As we reflect on how we coped, how we spent our time, what we did and didn't do this past year, we're thinking about what we'll be bringing out of the tunnel with us.

And some of us are finding that comes with a decent dose of regret. Maybe a little guilt. Some disappointment as we go down the coulda-woulda-shoulda road.


When social distancing and stay-at-home orders were implemented, we were motivated. The reason we were doing it was bleak, but those of us not working on the front lines looked to the silver lining of having extra time. In some ways, that time felt like a gift. We were forced to slow down. We organized all the closets in our houses. We planted victory gardens. We picked up old hobbies or started new ones. We volunteered to sew masks. We played games and did puzzles with our families.

What we didn't know was that motivation couldn't last through an entire pandemic. And with lost motivation came the self-talk: "What's wrong with me?" and "I should be doing XYZ," and "I always wanted more time to [fill in the blank]. Now I have it and I'm not using it."

We look back at how we used our time and make hindsight wishes. We wish we had read the stack of books we'd wanted to read instead of binge-watching so many Netflix shows. We wish we'd worked out like we said we were going to instead of lounging around in our pajamas. We wish we'd cooked the healthy, from-scratch meals we'd pinned to our recipe board instead of eating all the junk food. We wish we'd used that foreign language learning app instead of doomscrolling on social media.

Some of us are adding parental guilt to the mix for the copious amounts of screen time our children have had. Others of us feel guilty because we were able to work from home and our families stayed healthy, so what do we have to complain about really?

It's easy to kick ourselves over any and all of these things. It's easy in hindsight to think we should have been able to do more than we did simply because we had time.

That's why It's vital to remind ourselves that this past year was not a vacation. It's not like we were just gifted extra hours in our day that we then squandered because we were lazy.

This year life was turned upside down and traumatic on a communal level, if not on a personal one. So many of us lost people, but even if we didn't, we bore witness to the single largest mass death event of our lifetimes. We worried about the people around us as well as ourselves as we survived a global pandemic. That alone is huge. But that wasn't even all of it.

We also dealt with the economic fallout of measures implemented to save lives and frustrating conspiracy theories about all of it. We also grappled with centuries of unaddressed oppression during a historic movement for racial justice. We also went through an incredibly turbulent election season that climaxed in a violent attack on our Capitol.

And we did all of that without our normal social supports, without our usual routines and rhythms, and without any precedent for how to cope with and manage all of this.

Seriously, we need to give ourselves an enormous amount of grace and let go of our hindsight regrets over some perceived lack of productivity or creativity or whateverivity. We've been in survival mode by necessity this past year.

As trauma psychologist Alaa Hijazi wrote earlier in the pandemic, when someone suggested that not using this time productively was some kind of moral failure:

"We are going through a collective trauma, that is bringing up profound grief, loss, panic over livelihoods, panic over loss of lives of loved ones. People's nervous systems are barely coping with the sense of threat and vigilance for safety, or alternating with feeling numb and frozen and shutting down in response to it all."

If you managed to thrive in some area or another, great. If you didn't—if all you did was make it through and care for yourself and your loved ones—more power to you.

Surviving this past year is an accomplishment, and it's enough. Anything above and beyond that is gravy.


Pedro Pascal and Bowen Yang can't keep a straight face as Ego Nwodim tries to cut her steak.

Most episodes of “Saturday Night Live” are scheduled so the funnier bits go first and the riskier, oddball sketches appear towards the end, in case they have to be cut for time. But on the February 4 episode featuring host Pedro Pascal (“The Mandalorian,” “The Last of Us”), the final sketch, “Lisa from Temecula,” was probably the most memorable of the night.

That’s high praise because it was a strong episode, with a funny “Last of Us” parody featuring the Super Mario Brothers and a sketch where Pascal played a protective mother.

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AMC Theaters/Youtube, Variety/Twitter

AMC announced that it would be implementing a new three-tier ticketing system.

AMC Theaters, America’s largest movie theater chain, announced on Feb 6 that it will be adopting different ticket prices based on seat location.

Moviegoers will have three tiers to choose from based on sightline of the movie screen—Preferred Sightline, set in the middle at the highest price point, Value Sightline, set in the front of the auditorium at the lowest price, and Standard Sightline, which is basically everything else (including the back seats, which are perhaps the most commonly picked) set at the traditional cost of a ticket.

In other words…heartbreak will feel more expensive in a place like this…or less, depending on where you sit



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Pop Culture

Keanu Reeves shocks a small-town pub by stopping in for a pint and taking photos with the staff

“So today we had a surprise visitor for lunch. What a lovely man he was, too."

Keanu Reeves in São Paulo, Brazil, 2019.

Keanu Reeves has a reputation as one of Hollywood’s nicest celebrities. Recently, he cheered up an 80-year-old fan who had a crush on him by calling her on the phone. He’s also bought an ice cream cone for a fan to give an autograph on the receipt and crashed a wedding to take photos with the bride and groom.

He’s also an incredible humanitarian who gave up a big chunk of his money from "The Matrix" to a cancer charity.

The “John Wick” star was his usual gracious self over the weekend when on Saturday, February 4, he and a friend walked into The Robin Hood pub in Tring, Hertfordshire, about 30 miles outside of London.

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via Pexels

A mother puts a fresh diaper on her baby.

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When the humidity level rises in the diaper, the graphite and the urine are absorbed by the paper and it turns on a sensor powered by a small lithium battery. The sensor then sets the alarm on an app that parents download onto their phones.

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Pop Culture

Kelly Clarkson and Pink's gorgeous unplugged 'What About Us?' duet came with a timely​ message

"We're not listening to each other right now. And it's so loud, and so gross, and so angry…"

Pink and Kelly Clarkson teamed up for a sweet acoustic version of "What About Us?"

Pink and Kelly Clarkson are both known for having powerhouse voices that can belt at incredible ranges but also soften for a sweet ballad. Put the two of them together, and…well, dang.

On Feb 6, Clarkson featured Pink on her daytime talk show, in which she often sings with musical guests. The two superstars sang several acoustic duets with pitch-perfect harmonies, prompting fans of both artists to clamor for a collaborative album.

One song they sang together was Pink's "What About Us?" Pink previously described the song to The Sun in 2017: "The world in general is a really scary place full of beautiful people. Humans are resilient and there's a lot of wonderful—like I said in the song—'billions of beautiful hearts' and there are bad eggs in every group. And they make it really hard for the rest of us."

In the intro to their duet, Clarkson asked Pink about the impetus behind her writing the song.

"We're not listening to each other right now. And it's so loud, and so gross, and so angry and people are being forgotten," Pink shared. "People are being counted out and their rights are being trampled on just because a group of people doesn't believe in them."

"Like, I don't understand how so many people in this world are discounted because one group of people decided they don't like that," she continued. "And I won't—I won't have it. One of the most beautiful things that my dad taught me was that my voice matters and I can make a difference, and I will."

The lyrics of the song seem to address the political leaders and decision-makers who hold people's lives in their hands as they pull the levers of power. It's a beautiful song with an important message wrapped up in gorgeous two-part harmony.

Enjoy:

Saturday Night Live/Youtube

"It's a me."

Pedro Pascal and HBO seem to be a match made in pop culture heaven. His role in the fourth season of “Game of Thrones” shot him to notoriety. He’s currently starring in “Last of Us,” which also boasts a massive viewership.

And now, thanks to one epic “Saturday Night Live” skit, fans are clamoring to see Pascal take on a new role—a brooding, hardened, princess smuggling Mario.

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