Q(uar) & A is a series of interviews with some of our favorite storytellers and creators about how they’re living while in lockdown.
Rodney Uhler is a writer in New York who has contributed to GQ, McSweeneys, Paper Magazine, Indiewire, and more. On the side he has a full-time job in film distribution as Director of Special Projects at GKIDS.
Where are you currently sheltering in place?
I am sheltering in place in my place! My apartment in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn.
What does your face mask look like?
My face mask collection grew quite quickly. In early March I grabbed two of the ubiquitous cheap, thin blue ones from my office (not sure why my film office had them) in order to “prepare” for a trip to Japan at the end of March. I grabbed two, bought a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer, and thought, “OK, I’m done, that should do it.” Suffice it to say that trip never happened, but I’m glad I have those masks. They are joined by one of the many my mom has been making for family, friends, and volunteers, and a mask I’m told comes from Thailand that my friend gave me. Every one of them fogs up my sunglasses and makes me question the state of my breath.
Do you follow any kind of routine at this moment?
I’d like to say that as a Taurus I’m best on a schedule, but I don’t know much about astrology so I’ll just say *I* work best on a schedule and routine. I’ve started doing a bit of yoga every morning, which is something I never thought I’d say. I try to combine that with 30 minutes of some other exercise which I do via trainer-led apps. I’m highly motivated by the stats and the little badges they award me based on my activity level; it’s as close to a video game as I’ll get. I’m thankfully and gratefully still employed, so my M-F routine is based around my job. If it’s nice out I try to go for a little walk every day. These have become increasingly directionless but are there to remind me that other humans, flowers, forgotten shoes, and sunshine still exist in the city.
What are some pieces of entertainment that you have consumed and loved during this time?
Watching a movie is being productive to me and I think everyone should take up that mentality, especially now. Some of my favorite films that I’ve watched (for the first time) during this quar have been: Atlantics (Netflix), Strictly Ballroom (Netflix), Big Night (rentable), and The Rider (Hulu). I’ve found podcasts like Still Processing and Seek Treatment are good for listening to while I’m cooking because they are conversation-based and it’s like you have friends over — of course it’s like friends who never acknowledge you, which is rude, but it still feels like good company.
Are you working on anything during this time? And if you’re having trouble “creating” things at the moment, how are you dealing, if at all?
I feel guilty saying it but I have felt pretty productive, particularly with personal writing projects. I’m working on a screenplay (original!) but it is about friendship so that feels weird to be doing during an isolated time. Maybe it will be classified as fantasy if it ever gets finished and made. As little distractions go, I like writing humor pieces, which you can find links to on my website!! If 1,000 people read one of my humor pieces on Medium.com I get a nickel, so thankfully they work for me as things I genuinely enjoy making.
Have you taken up any new hobbies?
I already mentioned yoga but I think it’s very, very important that people know I am doing it. Separate from that I’ve started a funny little drawing club with my mom and her two friends. We take turns sending each other prompts, we all have very different styles which makes it really fun to see what everyone has made. I’ve really taken to using Crayola-colored pencils.
What’s the best meal you’ve eaten so far during quar?
It would be great to say the best meal I’ve had during quar is one I made because, like the rest of the able-bodied world, I have been cooking more than ever, but that wouldn’t be true. The best meal I’ve had is when I ordered two pounds of carnitas from Oaxaca Taqueria. It was good the first time and then dare I say even better when I reheated it combined it with tortillas, sautéed peppers, black bean sauce, and cotija cheese. I still have some in my freezer and I cherish it in a way similar to how I imagine people who freeze a slice of their wedding cake do.
What’s your current iPhone wallpaper and what’s the story behind it?
My lock screen is an image by Hiller Goodspeed. I changed it to this image many months ago and it’s always delighted me but I suppose you could say “now more than ever.” This is my preferred version of the cat on tree-branch poster that say “Hang in there.”
What’s the best quar purchase you’ve made so far?
Tempted to say the carnitas again, but actually I have a few options here. At first my purchasing was erratic and unsustainable (five fancy candles, vintage children’s books). Taurus much? (Again, don’t know!) I’m going to shout out two purchases. First, a piece of art by Jean-Francois Le Minh, I don’t think you need to know much more beyond his name to know he’s a great artist but he did a special sale of primarily works on paper to benefit French hospitals. Feeling like I’m helping humanity while buying art is my drug of choice but I’ve also been coveting his work for years so to finally have one feels very special. Additionally I bought one of the “rubber armchairs” by Brian Kane from Lichen, while they are no secret by any means for selfish reasons I hate to spread the gospel about Lichen because they have the best stuff at very reasonable prices so I want it all for myself.
Who are the writers, storytellers, or makers who are bringing you great joy right now?
On a very visceral level, funny people on Twitter are bringing me great joy right now. You can’t talk about comedians who excel on Twitter without mentioning Jaboukie, who is Twitter Poet Laureate, even though Twitter revoked his check mark. Hunter Harris is not a comedian per se, but definitely the cool girl in the High School of Twitter because everything she puts out is extremely *chef’s kiss.* Sarah Cooper has perfected the art of translating Trump’s asinine press briefings into genuinely hilariously routines. It is now the only way I’ll listen to him speak. In a recent insomniac state I binged Caleb Hearon’s Twitter and it was a truly enjoyable rabbit hole to fall down. Sometimes the front-facing camera video genre gives me gas but there’s something so great and soothing about his performances and his voice.