Back in mid-March, just as many of us kicked off the Great American Working Vacation, Netflix started streaming one of my favorites: Silver Linings Playbook, the Bradley Cooper–Jennifer Lawrence mental-illness-meets-romance dramedy from 2012. As the movie kicks off, Cooper’s character is being sprung from a psychiatric hospital by his mother even as his doctor protests that he’s just getting the swing of things in the hospital. His mother’s response: “I don’t want him to get used to the routine here.”
Are you getting used to the routine? I am. Every weekday, my wife and I get up, don our masks to walk the dogs, eat breakfast, wake the kids, feed them and plug them into school, then clock in ourselves. After lunch, the kids, dogs, and I head to an empty park near the house to run around, play catch, tell bad jokes. A few more hours of work, then one of us hits the treadmill in the garage while the other gets dinner going. Every two weeks we go to the grocery store.
Cultural quaaludes have helped with the equanimity. Stephen King has leapt to the top of my reading pile, and instead of the punky, grungy, indie waters I’ve swum in since college, I’ve been mellowing out to artists that the Clash, Talking Heads, et al., revolted against: the Doobie Brothers, James Taylor, Steely Dan, and—Johnny Rotten help me—Christopher Cross. No matter how many piercings you sport, some moments are meant for exquisitely crafted songs, gorgeous harmonies, and top-dollar studio musicians filling Laurel Canyon with overdubs.
Then, on April 17, Fiona Apple released Fetch the Bolt Cutters. Raw, musically unhinged, funny—I would beg to disagree, but begging disagrees with me—it’s a bracing reminder that, even now, one of art’s jobs is to rough you up a bit. So while the daily, weekly, and now monthly routines are pretty well set, you’ll occasionally catch me humming a different tune behind my mask.
Take care.
Sean, AB’90
P.S. Once I’m done with Stephen King and Fiona Apple, I’ll need recommendations. What are you reading and listening to (as you share Parental Guidance)?
  May Syllabus  
What’s for dinner?
Is your family’s meal plan in a rut? UChicago Medicine gastroenterologist Edwin McDonald IV has some helpful, healthy suggestions.
Honey, I found the ducks
Take a nature break: the Botany Pond duck cam is live, and ducklings are here!
Time for a real nature break?
COVID or no, getting outside is important for your mental health.
A little night philosophy
Night Owls, a discussion series hosted by philosophy scholar Agnes Callard, AB’97, has gone virtual for spring 2020. You can stream the May 21 episode featuring Callard and her three kids, “What Does It Mean to be a Kid?” (Registration required.)
Screened in
Kids are inevitably spending more time online and on their phones right now, so it’s worth revisiting what Jean Twenge, AB’93, AM’93, had to say about the digital natives she calls iGen.
Thank you
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the UChicago community has helped students, caregivers, and the University’s neighbors, small businesses, and nonprofits on the South Side with gifts supporting virtual internships, food, PPE, and other essentials. On May 5, 900-plus alumni, parents, and friends, along with faculty, students, and staff, contributed more than $2.2 million for these efforts through UChicago Together, part of a national day of giving.
“A successful shelter in place means that you’re going to feel like it was all for nothing. And you’d be right. Because ‘nothing’ means that nothing happened to your family.”
Emily Landon, Executive Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Control, UChicago Medicine
  For the grown-ups  
  Catastrophes can come in many forms, from the far-fetched to the completely predictable. Faculty across UChicago have studied why we have such a hard time planning for worst case scenarios.