At Home With: Rick Sebak | At Home With ... | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper
Everybody is dealing with COVID-19 quarantines and restrictions in different ways. While there's no single right way to cope — social distancing and staying TF home aside — connecting with friends, family, and neighbors is a good place to start. You can contact your loved ones on your own, but you might also be curious how your favorite strangers in Pittsburgh are coping, so Pittsburgh City Paper is reaching out once a day to artists, activists, workers, and makers to see how they're doing.

Today, it's Rick Sebak.

What is your day-to-day routine like these days? What did you do this morning? What are you doing this afternoon?
I’ve been pretty diligent about getting up, showering, shaving, and all that, getting dressed as if I’m going to work (although usually now in shorts) and sitting at my dining room table at my laptop, checking email, Facebook, completing my Duolingo lesson, playing online Scrabble, and trying to keep up with tasks for WQED. This afternoon, as most afternoons, I may try to record a short video on my front porch for our #StayHomeWithWQED campaign.

When was the last time you watched My Seven Weeks in Magee? Has your memory or perspective on that time changed since the coronavirus quarantines and stay-at-home orders? 
I watched My Seven Weeks in Magee about a week ago when it was re-broadcast on WQED on a Monday night at 7:30. Of course, I now feel very lucky to have been in the Transitional Care Unit at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital when visitors were allowed to stop by (and bring wonderful food!). I have texted with some of the nurses there in the unit and commented on Facebook posts with my physical therapists, and they are all still working in the hospital, so I’m concerned for them, but I also know they are diligent.

Although I’m locked down here at my home, it’s really not as difficult a life as when I was in the hospital. I’m mobile. I can cook. I can try to sort through some of the books, CDs, DVDs, and paperwork that seem somehow attracted to me and that gather in large quantities near me.

What is an object in your house that has brought you happiness or significance since the stay-at-home order?
Just before we were told to stay home, my cameraman and good friend Frank Caloiero helped me get a very small tripod with flexible legs and a clamp at the top that holds my phone. Without it, I’d be trying to devise ways to prop up my phone for a thousand different reasons. So it’s a new object but handy.

I also have come to love my dutch oven pot in the kitchen. Great for beans and chicken stock and stuff like that. 

Now that we're a few weeks into this quarantine, what is something that you would tell pre-quarantine Rick that you think he should know?
Hmm, that’s rough. I might have warned pre-q Rick to not waste any of this valuable time, as usual. But I might also have suggested that he stock up with more ice cream.

What is a food you've come to love recently?
I may have already answered this: chicken stock. I bought a whole chicken at the East Liberty Farmers Co-op last Saturday, and after I roasted and ate much of the chicken, I put the carcass in my dutch oven, added vegetables, garlic, and spices, slow-cooked, and I was astounded and delighted with the results. 

I also found an old recipe for homemade caramel popcorn that I had saved from the New York Times, and that may be my next project. Or my signature oatmeal-chocolate-chip-raisin-date-whatever cookies.

What is a piece of art/film/book/music/album/etc that you've connected with during quarantine?
I listen to a lot of music, and I watched Tiger King, but reading has been the best and most fulfilling use of time. I finished The Story of A New Name by Italian novelist Elena Ferrante and have the next two volumes of her Neapolitan Novels here to continue with, but I’ve allowed myself to take a short break to read Normal People by Irish novelist Sally Rooney, and I am enjoying it a lot.

What are you most looking forward to after quarantines are lifted?
Seeing people. Going for long drives. Sitting in restaurants with other people! Visiting my sister in North Carolina? Getting started with a new project at WQED.

What's a charity or cause that you'd recommend supporting at this time?
I like to think that going out to get take-out food and supporting your favorite small restaurants is a worthwhile cause and an important sort of activity right now. Leave a huge tip for the people working there. I’ve been to Five Points Bakery, Maenam Thai in Blawnox, Pittsburgh Smokehouse, Pigeon Bagels, on Melwood Avenue, Glen’s Custard, Independent Brewing, Pub Chip Shop, D’s Hot Dogz, and Streets On Carson among others. I rely on these places in good times, so I want to support them and others like them now.

If you want to write a check, I think the Children’s Home & Lemieux Family Center can use some help right now, and I hope WQED is always worthy, but I think helping get food to folks who need it is crucial too, so you might consider Pittsburgh Food Bank. It’s a good time to be kind and generous.

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