Comedy Writer JiJi Lee Is Reconnecting with Her Childhood Pastimes

Q(uar) & A is a series of interviews with some of our favorite storytellers and creators about how they’re living while in lockdown.

JiJi Lee’s humor writing has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Reductress. Her pieces were included in The New Yorker‘s Not-to-be-Missed-Shouts of 2019 and published in the new McSweeney’s humor anthology. 

Where are you currently sheltering in place?

I’m hunkering down in Brooklyn with my husband/handwashing colleague.

What does your face mask look like?

I use those blue face masks for long distance walks and Madewell bandanas for short distances — I like that the bandana makes me look like an old timey bandit.

Do you follow any kind of routine at this moment? 

I make coffee every morning and sip it while reading Paris Breakfasts blog. I love this blog — it’s like an old-school Blogspot with photos and entries about the writer’s life in Paris. Reading it makes me feel like I’m hanging out in a cafe on the Left Bank.

What are some pieces of entertainment that you have consumed and loved during this time? 

I feel like I’ve read more books during this time than in my entire life?! The books I’ve read and loved so far are: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, My Life in France by Julia Child, and A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway (I’m leaning into my Francophilia during isolation). I watched Giri Haji on Netflix, a mystery series that takes place in Tokyo and London — it was so nice to see locations that weren’t my kitchen or bathroom!

Are you working on anything during this time? And if you’re having trouble “creating” things at the moment, how are you getting around it?

I started hosting/producing a weekly live stream comedy show called Good Light. I didn’t realize how much I missed collaborating and laughing with others until I started doing this show. Every Tuesday, I get to laugh till I cry. And doing the show helps me remember what day of the week it is. 🙂

If I’m feeling drained, I try to be very easy on myself. I’ll do The Artists Way, make travel wish lists, color with markers, make collages — basically anything that gave me joy when I was a kid.

Have you taken up any new hobbies? 

Do board games count? I was never much of a board game person because I grew up in Miami and played outside in the sunshine (flex). But I’ve started playing Scrabble with my husband. It’s been fun and I feel like it keeps my brain from atrophying. (prayer hands emoji). 

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten so far during quar?

My husband made this delicious risotto using frozen spinach and a box of risotto that expired like four years ago and it tasted amazing! Takeaway: keep things forever!

What’s the best quar purchase you’ve made so far?

Prosecco and beer delivery from Three’s Brewing. Oh and Bisquick! 

JiJi and prosecco

Who are the writers, storytellers, or makers who are bringing you great joy right now?

I love character videos by Hallie Haas and Hannah Solow — they’re hilarious! Viviana Cumplido Wilson is a flutist for the Phoenix Symphony (and my friend from high school!) and her flute videos on Instagram are so beautiful. Shouts and Murmurs pieces by Claire Friedman and Evan Waite always make me laugh. Lexie Lowell is a talented pop-harpist and her voice is just amazing and ethereal. You should catch her Zoom show if she does another one.

Any unexpectedly memorable moments of quar so far?

A few weeks ago, we looked up at the sky and saw Orion’s belt. That was pretty neat! And the time our friends dropped off a surprise package of Shin Ramen and Chapagetti. Actually, that might’ve been better than the constellation!

Find JiJi on Twitter @thejinius and on her YouTube Channel