Passing the Time

In April 2020, Do, Web Exclusive by Raleigh Magazine

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WEB EXCLUSIVE: We ask locals what they’re doing to decompress during the coronavirus shutdown.

Photograph courtesy of CurEat

Andrew Ullom – Owner/Baker at Union Special Bread
Spending time with our son, Gus, is just about all I need to chill out at the end of the day. We’re lucky at Union to have the bakery and cafe and we’re able to continue to keep folks on during the shelter-in-place order. All that being said, my sources of stress are making sure we can keep the kitchen and bakery stocked up and working on sending out 400-plus loaves per week from our pay-it-forward campaign.

I’ve been watching some of Gus’ favorite shows (Shaun the Sheep, Octonauts and Our Planet), and we usually have music on most of the time when we’re working around the house. Lots of Daniel Romano, Fleetwood Mac, African Funk and ELO at the moment.


Thomas Sayre—Local artist, lives and works out of his downtown studio
“I find myself in the very fortunate position of being able to walk across a small loading dock from our house and working full time in my shop, by myself, isolated, and probably about as safe as you can get these days. With many of the large public projects at least slowed down, my job has become to make new work, to find something fresh. This is my way of coming to terms with life in general; but, more specifically, where I find myself in this strange time of corona. This is the job of the arts: to nourish the spirit, to find new ways of seeing the world, to push back against circumstances which clog the human imagination.”


Zalman Raffael – Choreographer In Residence at Carolina Ballet
I live alone in Mordecai with my dog in a house that I purchased in October. In an effort to stay upbeat and connected, every night around 9 p.m., I take my dog out—no one is out—and I make my rounds of calls to check in on my family in New York City, and friends. I get about three calls in. I walk for 30 minutes or so around the various blocks and try to have a laugh with each person. I like to start every conversation as of late with “shit just got so real out here in these streets.” That helps to acknowledge the severity of what we are all going through, but in a tone that indicates having a little humor will help avoid the anxiety. So, let’s keep it light before bed.  

After that, I make a chamomile tea, which I have always done, even before the days of our newfound neighbor, the corona. Then I put on something that engages me so that I forget until I fall asleep. In the past two weeks I have watched “Sally4ever” on HBO, “Def Jam Comedy,” and, last night, I started the documentary “Tiger King” on Netflix. 


JoJo Polk – Owner, Group Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer at Core Fitness Studio
1. I, and I’m sure husbands everywhere, have been taking care of things around the house that I was supposed to do two years ago anyway, haha. So far the list is: new pantry closet storage and shelves—done. Redo and paint our daughter’s room—done. Rearrange our son’s room and add the big boy bed—done. Keep in mind, it’s only been two weeks. Next up is the garage… stay tuned!!!

2. I have been watching all the movies and shows with my wife, Shirley, I told her I would never watch. Too many to name, pick a Netflix movie or show. I’ve even watched—gulp—Hallmark. Say it ain’t so, JoJo. I wish I could. I wish I could.

3. We both (meaning me and my wife) have been introduced to TikTok. Don’t tell my daughter but I now have more followers!!! Though I do not recommend it. It will consume your time and you will wake up without showering or taking care of social grooming practices for days but you will know at least 50 new dances!!!

4. Trampoline time with the kiddos might just be my favorite pastime!!! We jump, we play, we lay and look at the stars. God I love being a dad!!!

But of course on a more serious note we have taken all our classes online and continue to help the community relieve stress through health and fitness. We use our platform and social media to promote local businesses.

We will continue to stay strong in the face of unpredictability. We love our members. We love our community and, more so, we love this nation.


Jessica Holmes – Wake County Board of Commissioners
My absolute favorite thing to do right now is to deliver meals to hotel families. I find joy in being helpful while practicing social distancing. Otherwise, I’ve committed to get 10,000 steps per day and I’m trying to not treat myself to ice cream every single time I accomplish this goal. My kitchen experimenting has gone so-so but has been edible for the most part. I’ll stick to takeout for the next few weeks to support local businesses and avoid kitchen catastrophes. I’ve been binge watching “All American” on Netflix and welcome suggestions on social media on other series that I should check out.”


Brandon Cordrey – Director of Raleigh’s Visual Art Exchange (VAE)
It has been nonstop work since the global pandemic hit Raleigh. VAE, along with our partners, set up a relief fund for artists in North Carolina and I have been on my computer day and night tracking down donations, reviewing applications and thinking of other ways we can bring in funds to be dispersed. We have received 471 applications from musicians, actors, artists, DJs, and more reporting over half a million dollars in losses due to the outbreak. So far, we have raised about $20,000 to help. We allocated $10,000 to 55 artists last Thursday and we are hoping to do the same again tomorrow! It is exhausting.

So when I do finally close my laptop and put my phone down, I take my dogs for long walks (abiding by social distancing guidelines, of course), make myself a gin martini, play cards with my husband and read the non-COVID-19 articles in the New York Times (I start my day by reading the COVID-19 articles). We are definitely streaming movies and series. I am particularly excited to watch “Crip Camp” which was just released on Netflix. It is exactly the human narrative we need at a time like this!”


Bill Young – Morning/Noon Anchor at CBS 17
I’ll say it is tough to “decompress” in the news biz these days. We are working incredibly hard at CBS 17 to keep people informed. It can be tough to turn it off when the work day is done. I’ve been reading “Rosemary: the Forgotten Kennedy,” which isn’t exactly light reading material. But the new streaming version of “Twilight Zone” on CBSN is fantastic. I also just bought all seasons of “Mama’s Family” on Apple TV to have a simple, old fashioned laugh.”


Ashton Smith – Project Manager at Citrix, Creator of Weekly Newsletter Raleigh, Over Easy
The last few days I’ve mostly been using downtime to sew face masks for UNC Healthcare – they’re now taking homemade masks. While they won’t be winning any State Fair ribbons, It’s a nice way to occupy my mind and my hands, while hopefully helping people out. I’ve also woken my sourdough starter up and been exploring all the recipes for sourdough discard, reading some, listening to podcasts and enjoying what felt like the lost art of the phone call. I’m alternating between reading “Leonardo da Vinci” by Walter Isaacson and “The Secret Lives of Color” by Kassia St. Clair. For podcasts, after I get my daily dose of covid and general news, I’m listening to a host of things: The Anthropocene Reviewed, Broken Record, The Indicator, 99% Invisible, The Equalizer Podcast, The Memory Palace, Every Little Thing, Throughline, Feakonomics Radio, Laughter Permitted with Julie Foudy, Experts on Expert, and several others. I have a bit of a backlog to work through!


Max Trujillo – Co-Host of the North Carolina Food & Beverage Podcast
“The Trujillos have been playing some epic Monopoly games as well as card games, like four-player War and Go Fish. We might also have to teach the girls how to play Asshole…

Our cooking game has been strong. We’ve made a lot of Indian dishes because long cooking times are what we have right now. Put some chicken thighs in stock with mirepoix and spices and throw it in the oven on low heat for hours. In the wake of Chef Floyd Cardoz’s passing, we are going to keep cooking Indian as a tribute to a wonderful man.

I’ve been tinkering with my guitar, too. I finally taught myself how to play Dire Straits’ “Sultans of Swing” and Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill.” Both of those tunes had always given me trouble but now I’ve taken the time to learn them properly.

We just finished the second season of “Succession” and the final episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” both streaming on HBO. Felicia connects to “Succession” because she grew up with a high-profile grandfather and father in Los Angeles. I connect with “Curb Your Enthusiasm” because I’m an annoying asshole. I’ve also double-downed on cussing… because… F*** it.” 


Jonathon Melton

Jonathan Melton – Raleigh City Council, At-Large
I’m spending time with my partner who left New York City to stay here throughout the duration of the pandemic. My days are busy, working with our amazing City of Raleigh staff and my fellow council members to address the COVID-19 pandemic. But to unwind, my partner and I are spending time in the backyard with our dog, Bishop, playing games (Monopoly!) and watching movies and television (recent movies include “Midway,” and for television we are catching up on “The Outsider” and “Picard”).”


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