SUMMER RULES is a series where we ask people to share with us how they’re staying safe and sane during this very different summer season; from mask suggestions to soundtrack selections, we’ll take a peek into how others are making these challenging times work.
In today’s edition we’re joined by Kyle Bornheimer, who you may be especially familiar with via The Lovebirds on Netflix or Avenue 5 on HBO; he’s been keeping his cool these past few months by reading (some very solid book recommendations below), doing a bit of hiking, sipping a Caipirinha or two, cooking and more:
How do you usually feel about summer, as a season overall, and how do you feel about THIS summer, by comparison?
Back in April, I had this thought that I probably wouldn’t feel the transition to summer this year – I assumed the entire year would just run together as one big season of Covid. But I felt the transition. People talk about not noticing the change of seasons in Los Angeles but I always have. It’s not a dramatic transformation like you get elsewhere – it’s more like these subtle notes. Like a flavor. Summer is my favorite season and I’m a fan of Southern Californian summers, in particular. (I’ve become a cheerleader for Southern California over the years and, yes, for Los Angeles, which I think is a misunderstood city.) Back in the day, I suppose I liked the gray and melancholy of fall and winter – it suited my standard-issue twenty-something brooding, but I started to shed that sensibility in my thirties somewhat – I became less enamored by that gray melancholy and more enamored with the the brighter, simpler light of summer.
What is your summer shaping up to look like?
This! Just hoping like heck something like this comes along to keep me busy. You have no idea what a pleasure this is, simply because it’s something to do! The entertainment industry is on hold right now – there’s really no way for an actor to work. I’m writing and developing projects, but there’s so much uncertainty in the industry right now who knows what may actually come to fruition. Outside of work, I’m doing the kind of de-cluttering and organizing around the house that I’m sure a lot of people are doing. I’m trying to be as engaged as possible in the social justice movement and in resisting the destructive administration in the White House. I’m trying to do my part in pushing our elected officials to do better in responding to Covid and protecting myself from falling into complacency about all this. We have to expect more from ourselves and from our government. And more than that – as much as there’s an urge to “get back to normal”, I think we have to resist that notion a bit. We are in this position because our country is broken. We can’t go back to “normal”. We have to build something better from here.
Is there anything in particular you’re actually looking forward to this summer?
It’s obviously been hard thinking of this summer as we normally think of summers. Like pretty much everyone, I sort of cancelled summer for myself. And that’s fine for me. I’m weirdly calibrated for quarantining, to a certain extent. I’m bummed for my kids, though, so I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to give them a stimulating summer experience. They’re 11 and 9 – summer is a big deal for kids that age. I have so many summer memories from my youth. A couple of weeks ago, we played a family game of Ghost in the Graveyard – It’s like reverse hide and seek, played outside at night. When I was a kid, growing up in the Midwest, I would play it with my siblings and about 6 other neighborhood kids on summer nights. It was nice shot of nostalgia doing it with my kids. Other than simple pleasures like that, I’m not sure what I’m looking forward to this particular summer – besides a vaccine and actual leadership from our elected representatives.
What are some of your tips for staying safe and sane right now?
Wear a mask of course, limit your activity, practice good social distancing, and avoid large gatherings. As far as keeping one’s sanity, I can only speak for myself – I’m just trying to get my mind in a place that harmonizes with the reality of what the rest of the year is going to be. And trying to remember that everyone is going through the same lockdown stress and I need to be as compassionate as possible. This has been such a devastating time – furloughs and salary reductions started happening as early as March. We know several people who have contracted the virus. And we haven’t flattened the curve nearly as much as we should have. The combination of economic anxiety and the anxiety from this virus still being out there – it’s taking its toll – trying to be our most compassionate selves when it comes to how we deal with each other – and how we self-care – that’s a good base from which to operate.
Go-to summer wellness practice advice? Any spots in particular that have been helping you on that front?
I try to get up earlier than everyone else and have the house to myself. I write and get organized for the day, try to exercise – often don’t – and meditate when I can – often don’t. I would count that de-cluttering, organizing as a wellness practices too. And bike riding.
Where did you get your mask from? And what, aside from that, has been your more or less go-to summer uniform?
We got some basic masks during the first weeks and are still trying things out to see what we prefer on the mask front. I remember back in March when this all began, I would walk around the neighborhood and see a significant number of people had already figured out their mask game. In general, Los Angeles has been good about mask-wearing. A big element of wearing a mask is out of consideration for others and it’s nice to see that kind of consideration on display. As far as a summer uniform – it’s basically chinos or jeans and a black or blue fitted t-shirt. I don’t wear shorts that much. My thighs are weird and don’t know what they want from a short, length-wise. And then I get in my head about what the shoe and sock situation should be with shorts. Flip-flops are not an answer for me. I feel unprepared in flip-flops – like I may get called upon to do something heroic but I won’t be able to because I’m in flip-flops.
What (if anything) are you reading right now, and why do you recommend it? (Alternatively, just share a favorite book.)
I read a lot of biographies – the Jim Henson one being the most recent. It was published awhile ago, but I just got around to it. I try to have one regular book and one audio book going. I just finished The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates and have that One Day book queued up in Audible. It’s like a collection of news stories from one day in 1984 or something like that. I might also try The Chain – I sampled the beginning and may be sufficiently hooked enough to buy it.
Do you have a go-to summer hang-out recipe that still works for a socially distanced gathering? And/or just a favorite general summer recipe that’s still a go-to, even now?
Blue Apron is about my speed when it comes to cooking. 85 percent of the work is done for you but then you get to stir and flip and turn the heat up and down so it seems like you’re actually doing something. Having sit-down family dinners every night has been nice and I’ve found cooking to be a soothing experience during all this. Even if it is just Blue Apron.
What about great summer cocktail or mocktail recipe?
The Caipirinha. I discovered this summer cocktail on my honeymoon years ago. It uses this particular type of rum called Cachaca, with some muddled limes, sugar, and ice. I told everyone about it when I got back, like I had discovered it or something and I still like to (sarcastically) credit myself with introducing it to the United States.
What’s on your summer playlist this year, or are there three songs that are permanent summer favorites for you?
I make a summer playlist every year. I do one for the winter too. I tend to get bored rather quickly with listening to the same things so I’m always switching it up. I’m a little late getting started this year, I just began putting it together. There are a few songs already on the summer rotation though – “You Can’t Save Me” by SiR and “Waiting” by Timecop1983. There’s this Chemical Brothers/Beck song called “Wide Open” that has become a perennial summer song in my household and I’m sure will make it’s way on to this year’s playlist again.
Where do you wish you COULD GO this summer, if there were no restrictions or safety risks?
In town, I really miss going to the Hollywood Bowl. It’s such a special place – you don’t even have to see a great band there to have a wonderful night. They do outdoor movies there too, with full orchestras – in past years, we’ve seen Jaws, ET, Raiders of the Lost Arc, and Star Wars – all with live orchestras. As far as traveling, I was scheduled to be in London for the second season of Avenue 5 right about now; we were going to do some European traveling before production. Production has been pushed back, though, so we’re on hold until the end of the year/beginning of 2021, so all travel plans are off the table for now.
And is there anywhere you’ve been safely going that you could recommend for people who live nearby? Any day trips or local spots worth mentioning, for example?
I’ve struggled with how much I should or shouldn’t be going out when it’s not necessary. It’s been mostly walks and bike rides around the neighborhood for me. We’ve hiked Griffith Park a few times which I always recommend. And we have our magnificent coast line to go and take in every once in a while. Again, I feel the need to promote good quarantining practices, so try and limit those trips, pick times that aren’t too busy, and mask up. But done the right way, respectful of the seriousness of what’s going, we can all still enjoy simple things like that.