Home Alone for the Holigays: Watch “Oceans 11” with Carolyn

Welcome to Home for the Holigays! Although it’s been said time and time again — the holiday season looks quite a bit different in 2020. Many of us will be spending these special days solo, in the cozy comforts of our homes. In this series, a few of our writers welcome you to spend the day with them virtually, and live-tweet one of their favorite holiday films, with the hopes and wishes that it will make us all feel a little less alone.

Home Alone for the Holigays

Holidays in general? I don’t know them. I am very bad at prioritizing downtime in my life generally speaking, and while in 2020 I’ve gotten way better at it I still have a hard time letting go and giving myself a break. I grew up celebrating Christmas with my family and the solstice privately and quietly on my own, and I’ve never been “a Christmas person.” I haven’t seen most holiday movies, I really only listen to that one Bruce Springsteen song for seven minutes in heaven once a season, and I am done.

Polaroid style photos of carolyn. The back photo shows them in a white shirt laying down with their dog. Front photo shows them in an all black outfit in the mirror with a wall of books behind them, their dog is in the photo in the corner peeking too.

But this year? This year I started watching Christmas movies before Thanksgiving. Canadian Thanksgiving. This year I am into the holidays like I’ve never been. My one single decoration (fake gingerbread snowflake) (I’m good with just the one, thanks though!) has been up for days, I’m considering getting my dog a festive sweater, and I might actually mail a few holiday postcards. Maybe it’s that, free from accidental or unwelcome holiday exposure (looking at you, maximally decorated outdoor malls across Los Angeles), I now feel free to create it all on my own. Maybe it’s that, free from holiday parties, I simply have the time. Whatever it is I am into it and trying to give myself permission to go with that. If you have the opportunity, however small, I warmly encourage you to do the same.

Happy solstice!

Oceans 11

The cast of Ocean's 11 in front of The Bellagio.

I will be watching the classic holiday film Ocean’s Eleven (2001), definitely set during the holiday season probably! Why do Ocean’s Eleven? Why not do it? This is a personal favorite of mine, and while my feelings on why and the role it’s played in my life are the subject of a personal essay for another time, I’m super excited to be sharing a viewing with you all on Saturday, December 12, at 5 pm PST/8 pm EST! It’s available here.

A Sleepy Solstice

Want to know where to get my hot winter-solstice-meets-working-from-home-on-a-normal-Monday outfit? Here it is! Basically, when I get dressed under almost any circumstances, I look for a high waist, a cropped top (or, to be honest, a bra worn as a shirt), and light-seeming but secretly warm (for Los Angeles) layers. I’m no longer sure how to dress myself any other way, but that’s beside the point! This is the first year I’ve gotten into having my own flannel instead of borrowing dating partners’ flannels for months at a stretch and I highly recommend it. 

December 21 is the Winter Solstice, which I picked because it’s a day that I would celebrate non-socially any year, which makes it not the pandemic wildcard Christmas is. (Assuming everyone in my polycule continues to be covid-free, I will hopefully be celebrating a secular version of Christmas with my partner, their partner, and their partner’s spouse who is also my partner’s ex. We did this at Thanksgiving and it was a dream come true for what I always knew holidays could be like as a poly person — and at the time of writing, on the first day of another lockdown at the end of November, it’s also not something I want to jinx.)

12 am to 6:30 am: Super asleep, probably with my dog physically on top of my entire body, because who needs a human anxiety blanket when you have an anxious canine one!

6:30 am: Get up and ready for work. To talk transparently about money for a second, I took a temp job at the start of November to help shore up my freelance career and business launch, and it goes from 7:30 am to 3:30 pm. To get ready for my day, I will be failing to change out of the compression leggings I slept in, but throwing a collared lavender flannel over them because I am obsessed with lavender right now. Also, because it’s the holidays, I’ll be sprinkling some cinnamon in with the ground coffee for my morning pour-over. Sometime in early fall I also started lighting tea lights along with the start of my workday, so I’ll do that, too. Ideally I will carve out some space during my day to set intentions for the coming year, but if I don’t get to then I’ll do that right after work.

7:30 am to 3:30 pm: Workday number one, probably with two quick dog walks, a second cup of coffee, and some food in there.

3:30 pm: Workday number two! This one’s for me, and I usually start by checking my freelance inbox, my business inbox, and my fake male assistant’s inbox (he does such great work) to put out any fires or fake fires, sometimes go through my feed reader to scan for NSFW or Liberty Lit links, and then start writing either placed pieces, ghostwriting pieces, or sex toy recommendations. If I’m lucky and feeling it, maybe a little “product testing.” Does this show that I have poor work-life boundaries since this is a time-traveling recap of a holiday season day for me? Maybe!! But also sometimes you just have three jobs and have to make it work and also live your life, you know?

4:30 pm: My partner has probably been napping in my bed since the middle of my workday, so I’ll wake them and help them get set up for dinner (they are a chef and I no longer cook, so dinner is theirs when we eat together and sometimes I do the salad, unless it’s a leaves-in-a-bowl kinda night and then there will just be a salad) and then work unless they need something or until dishes start to pile up.

6:30 pm: Dinner. I’ve started to use dinner as my cut-off for working unless something is exploding, and writing from the past (after dinner, lol) I am determined that nothing will be, so non-recreational screens go away.

7:30 pm: Clean up etc.

8:00 pm: This is my fourth solstice with my partner, and while the details vary, we usually light some candles, do some intention setting alone together, read tarot cards, look at the moon, and bone.

11:00 pm: If still awake, we mighttttt head out for a drive to the beach to watch the moon set over the water from the distanced warmth of their car. Or we all might have fallen asleep at 9:45 pm. Who can say!

12:05 am: Moon set. If I manage to stay up that late, sleep.

A “Holigay Meal”

As I mentioned above, I do not cook. Anyone who’s been here for a decade will remember, perhaps quizzically, the time circa 2012 when I wrote many Get Baked posts and what I have to say to that is, I was in love with someone who did cook and was trying to impress her, and then I was in love with someone else and cooking for that person was emotionally stressful, and now I do not do it unless I get in a mood. To me, salad falls under “preparing food” more than “cooking” so it feels fun and simple and full of ease rather t

han stress, and since I want less stress in my life for the coming year it felt like a good pick for a solstice holigay meal component. Also even though I mostly took a 101 approach below, a reminder that salads can include proteins, beans, olives, herbs, cheeses, peppers, roasted vegetables that you don’t know what to do with, raw vegetables you need to eat soon, pasta or/and grains and whatever tf else you want!

A photo showing a recipe for Carolyn's "Leaves in a bowl". Typed out on a lavender background with black and white lettering. A photo of leaves in a bowl sits in the top left hand corner.

A little earlier in the pandemic, a friend reminded me of something that’s been going around the internet: It’s a pandemic. Lower the bar, and then lower it again. I hope that whatever your holidays look like, you give yourselves permission to lower the bar — whether that means embracing having to work through part of them or carving out time to watch a favorite movie because that’s all you have room for or knowing that you’ll probably fall asleep earlier than you want to and that is completely and totally okay.

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Ryan Yates

Ryan Yates was the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for Autostraddle.com, with bylines in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, The Daily Beast, Jezebel, and elsewhere. They live in Los Angeles and also on twitter and instagram.

Ryan has written 1142 articles for us.

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