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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.

Today we’re delighted to be joined by writer, artist and speaker Mari Andrew! She’ll be hosting a Big Friendship virtual book talk with authors Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman via Sixth & I tonight, and guess what? We’re running a giveaway where you can snag two tickets, as well as two copies of the book! You can enter to win over on our Instagram now through later this afternoon. (And/or you can play it safe and grab tickets to the event here, copies of the book here.)

Speaking of books, Mari’s AM I THERE YET? and Getting There: A Workbook For Growing Up are out now, and are fantastic! Highly recommended; get ’em here. In the meantime, check out how she’s been keeping an even keel this summer, which has been peppered with takeout cocktails, Indigo Girls, Marianella hand sanitizer and more:

How do you usually feel about summer, as a season overall, and how do you feel about THIS summer, by comparison?

I am historically a summer-hater. Ever since I was a kid, I think I’ve suffered some version of reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder where I get bummed out in the summer and I thrive in cooler months with shorter days. Maybe it’s Scandinavian ancestry? Or maybe it’s a fashion thing? I’ve never psychoanalyzed, but my hatred of summer–especially the east coast humid kind–is a well-documented part of my identity in my art and writing, surely to an annoying degree.

But weirdly enough: Enter Summer ’20. Usually I’d be traveling a lot between June and September, either for work or just to escape (the past couple years I’ve fled to the southern hemisphere or somewhere chilly like Ireland). But now, I’m stuck in New York, and I have to say, I’m loving it. I stan summer now. I get it.

I’ve never been able to actually enjoy a leisurely summer where I wasn’t rushing around all the time and the ability to relax has made a world of difference! I also just discovered that my apartment has a rooftop after two years of living here, so that has something to do with it. Oh, and takeout cocktails are changing my life.

My love affair with takeout cocktails.

What is your summer shaping up to look like?

Pretty chill! Most of my work has been canceled so I’m giving myself a lot of breaks in between editing my second book and working on some products. My days are beginning to sprawl out into one long series of reading on benches, doing yoga at home, making food, and a weekly long walk to visit my boyfriend in Brooklyn from my apartment in Manhattan (that’s my podcast-listening time). It’s a privilege to have a boring life right now, and I know I will miss these boring leisurely days at some point.

Is there anything in particular you’re actually looking forward to this summer?

Something special about this time is that it doesn’t take much to get excited! I have a takeout-cocktail-and-walk with my best friend scheduled for next week and I’m counting down the days. It has truly become all about the little things: I’m excited to go back to the park tomorrow with my coffee and my book. I’m excited to make dinner tonight and try a new wine. I’m looking forward to watching the next episode of my current reality show. Etc. 

What are some of your tips for staying safe and sane right now? 

I’ve learned and re-learned a million times that a sure-fire way to make yourself miserable is to resist a situation you can’t control by trying to pretend it doesn’t exist. When I actually lean into a less-than-ideal situation, I find it’s a lot easier than throwing a fit and pouting about all the things I can’t do. 

My tip for leaning in to social distancing is to switch things up and keep your life feeling fresh and new. New activities, new hobbies, new types of books, new shows you’d never normally watch. I think we’re getting to a point where the novelty of puzzles and sourdough and other Little House on the Prairie activities might be getting old, so I’m remembering to keep incorporating new habits into my life consistently, even in the way I make art or the way I take walks. Take a new route! Bust out the glitter glue! 

Make sure this time feels distinct and different, because it is. And it is temporary. It just might be one of those long-temporaries. 

As for staying safe, the Marianella hand sanitizer is a pleasure to use! 

Go-to summer wellness practice advice? Any spots in particular that have been helping you on that front?

I’m starting to worry that all my best friends these days are the instructors on the Peloton App. I use it every day to do some kind of physical activity, and have no shame about taking a 5-minute class if that’s what I have the energy for. Because most people in NYC live in small places, I’ve seen a lot of folks doing online classes in public and I’ve joined them on occasion, schlepping my mat to the park for an al fresco strength class.

Where did you get your mask from? And what, aside from that, has been your more or less go-to summer uniform?

I’ve been wearing a different patterned Christy Dawn mask every day, but I really need to step up my game. The stylish ladies of NYC are getting very fancy and I feel like I haven’t graduated to their level yet. I need ribbons! Beads! Bows! 

I, too, have canceled “hard pants” and underwire, so I’ve been living in yoga tops by Purusha People, linen trousers, and sweat-shorts (which have been a revelation). If I want to step it up a little, a cotton midi-dress always makes me feel like I should be biking around in the South of France with a bundle of sunflowers under my arm. Just add Birkenstocks and you have a chic look for socially-distanced walks.

What (if anything) are you reading right now, and why do you recommend it? (Alternatively, just share a favorite book.)

I just finished Big Friendship by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, which is such a wonderful book to read for those of us who miss our friends a lot! 

Earlier this summer I read The Art of Possibility by Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone Zander, which really helped me reframe a lot of the ways I was getting stuck in thinking about the state of the world. I’m an optimist who can slip easily into despair, so keeping my mind open to possibilities is an important concept for me to remember. 

Oh, and, The Book of Delights by Ross Gay was as delightful as it sounds. I’m about to start reading Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind–I’ll let you know how it goes.

A quiet moment upstate.

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?

I love a pasta salad. I either mix orzo with chickpeas, dill, scallions, and feta, or I mix a shell pasta with cherry tomatoes, corn, mozzarella balls, maybe peaches, and whatever else I get from the farmers market. These are my go-tos for lunch and dinner til September. Pasta salad is a very social food that can be a bit lonely to eat in isolation, but on the plus side, it stores well for leftovers!

What about great summer cocktail or mocktail recipe?

I leave my cocktails to the experts, and I recently had a frozen Negroni that was absolutely divine. Frozen margs are shaking!!!

What’s on your summer playlist this year, or are there three songs that are permanent summer favorites for you?

Early in quarantine, I decided to listen to well-known music I’ve always meant to get into and never have. This has resulted in an obsession with the Indigo Girls. I can’t believe I’ve never earnestly listened to them before, but I think they came at the perfect time! They are so easy to sing along with and belt to, which is essential for home listening. So, lots of Indigo Girls lately. And Doja Cat.

Where do you wish you COULD GO this summer, if there were no restrictions or safety risks?

Oh I want to go absolutely everywhere, but sappily enough, all I really want to do is be able to visit my mom in Maryland, and I don’t feel safe doing that yet. Sigh.