🎵 The song for this post is René, by Residente. 🎵
There'll be a bunch of us in nursing homes doing bodyweight exercises on the floor with Dalgona coffee next to us and our adult children will be holding paper coffee cups and be like "yeah, they lived through COVID. Let's go to the gym."
A while ago I answered questions that were meant to kill small talk, tying it back to the fun of chain mails we sent in Middle School. I saw an article suggesting a similar list of questions to ask someone beyond "how are you doing right now?" and thought I'd take a crack at answering them, rapid-fire.
I invite you to answer them too! If you write them in a blog post, do share! Or in a comment. Or in a journal you keep to yourself 🙂
How are you taking care of yourself today?
Today? In Animal Crossing, Karen doesn't know it yet but I built a little graveyard, making a tombstone and sign for all the villagers who've left our town (little reminder). I can't usually surprise her in the game since she's with me all the time, but I found a few hours when she was on a call.
Made a fancy breakfast feast this morning.
What part of your shelter-in-place residence have you come to appreciate the most?
Cooking. Going into an office in normal times and performing for such a long stretch kills any energy I have at home, so I never really got into it. Working right by my kitchen, I spend a lot of idle thoughts thinking about what I'd like and what we have. I get to take 20-50 minutes to do something with my hands, get nice smells, feel productive, and later eat something tasty.
The big enabler of this is working from home, which I love. Don't love the reason, don't love the impacts, but love the lifestyle.
What surprising thing have you been stocking up on (that isn’t toilet paper)?
Rolos, Boursin cheese, and Oreos.
What's a story – from a book, a movie, an article, a conversation – that you’ve been gripped by recently? Why did it capture you?
I'm normally blogging about them! But there are, on any given day, 10 tabs I keep thinking "I should share this," then don't. Looking through them: Ashley Feinberg deducing which Supreme Court Justice flushed, this comic, this comic, etc.
Have only mentioned here it in passing, but someone passed along a rec for a series of paranormal romance novels (not teen fiction/YA like Twilight or its copycats; these are adult Romance novels, starring monsters in mostly human-form who fuck, rather wildly). Yo, they are a blast. If you can get out of your head enough to enjoy a Jason Statham movie, you'll probably find something to like here.
What habit have you started, or broken, during the quarantine?
Started: blogging more, the aforementioned cooking, using RSS as the primary news driver, wearing a hat to keep my hair from falling in my face, especially when it's wet (this one).
Broken: I stopped reading Twitter nearly as much. Almost everything I did around diet and exercise has changed. That no-drinking thing got broken and scared me at one point (it doesn't anymore).
Which specific place in your neighborhood are you most looking forward to visiting once this is all over?
La Bagel Gourmet. I loved that Saturday Morning Bagel ritual.
What's the easiest part about the quarantine?
Not having to wear the Human Suit for 8-10 hour stretches, away from things that comfort me.
What are some things you have realized that you don’t really need?
So much food prepared by other people.
Personal space, apparently.
What's something you own that feels useful?
Haha, back in the salad days of StarCraft 2 (~2011), coinciding with building my own computer for the first time, I got into streaming. I danced like nobody was watching, because they weren't (except Friend of the Blog Ben, and one of my friends I play D&D with. here's an upload). I haven't streamed as much recently since my last few apartments have miserable upload, but wow was it great to have a great webcam and headset.
What is your Covid-19 nickname/alter-ego?
Man, idk. I made waves with my co-workers by sharing a recent love of butter (I never would have guess that this, of all articles, would provide such an inordinate amount of joy in my life, at the age of 33). So maybe The Soft Butter Haver?
What problem—either yours, or something more global—do you wish you could solve?
Small-time: I wish I could have a KVM switch that solved dual-monitor on both my Macbook and my PC. Most KVMs only support DVI or VGA (ancient cables that don't give much resolution), and multi-monitor KVM is expensive, and the Macbook doesn't take DisplayPort or HDMI (only sleek, cool USB-C) and KVM switches mogrify the signals in mysterious-to-me ways; all the reviews say "don't use with an adapter," but, like, I don't have a choice when my laptop is an Apple. I got one for HDMI connections but connected to my Macbook through a dock it just says "No Signal" and the USB line is flaky as hell.
More global: I mean, it's all shit. Pack the courts, abolish the Senate, abolish the Electoral College, abolish ICE, abolish prisons, decrim sex work, decrim drugs, break up the monopolies, tax the rich, make a social safety net that houses the homeless and feeds the hungry and treats our addicts, start a Free Software revolution where we stop writing proprietary code and systems to imprison and impoverish our neighors.
But really, I'd love some suggestions on the KVM thing; I got one but it doesn't play well with my Macbook or my USB hub either.
They have a break in the original article saying these ones are more personal.
What's something that you miss that surprises you? What’s something that you don’t miss that surprises you?
I find myself missing social functions more than I thought I would. It's still substantially less than most people are missing it, but it's more than I thought. Been a long time since I was ever thinking "I wish someone would have a birthday party by saying "we're meeting at the bar at 9:00" where we all lose our hearing in a crowded, overpriced hellhole, not actually able to speak to our friends, and being reminded we're not in our 20's, and it was a bad idea then too." But I did.
I never blogged about it, but Rocco, Karen's dog from before we dated, lives with another family now. The decision we made to re-home him has been totally positive for him and us, but the hardest parts of living with him came from his behavior when we weren't home, and the obstacles that came from both of us working office jobs at startups; now that both are moot, he'd be a great dog to have in this situation.
I've said it a lot, but I miss the gym.
Surprised how little I miss all my normal "outside meals," because they were usually the high point of my day. Meals are still the high point, but not tied to specifically what I used to eat.
Which member of your family/ friend group have you been thinking about the most during this time? Why?
I wrote a bit about it, but my siblings, since they're at substantially more risk than me. My parents and grandparents, since they're in the dangerous age range.
What's the most generous act you’ve seen recently?
I do like the 7:00PM clapping. It's cheesy, it's more for the clappers than the workers, and we really should just be paying/making guarantees for the essential workers and medical staff; like the 9/11 responders and our vets, they're getting screwed pretty hard. But I like that there's something, because it reminds me how I feel about them: I think people working frontline jobs are being incredibly generous with their one and only lives. I wish there was commensurate reward, or it didn't feel like many delivery workers were forced because of the US's barbarism towards the poor.
What's the last thing you experienced that made you laugh, or cry?
Laugh: the Chiitan clips from this Last Week Tonight episode.
Cry: I can't remember. Probably therapy or a breakdown.
What times of the day or the week are hardest?
Tuesdays hurt. I'm thankfully still employed but I do a lot of work that I'm proud of on Mondays and by the end of Tuesday I tend to crash, realizing that I can't keep that pace, looking at the mountain of things I'd like to have done.
What's giving you hope right now?
The Youth. The generation or two after Millenials seem to have their heads on pretty right. They're joyful, justice-oriented, and creative in the face of a boiling planet they'll suffer from harder than their parents.
Speedrunners. I'm serious. Playing a video game is an activity I understand and relate to, so seeing the level of creativity and determination to beat one as quickly as possible reminds me how genius humans can be in other problem domains that worry me, like climate or public policy. If we can do Watch For Rolling Rocks with a 0.5 A presses, goddamn, we can do anything.
What's the best thing that happened to you today?
I was lying in bed, Karen came to gave me a hug, then Sapo climbed on Karen. We have a joke in DC about how many "guy on a horse" statues we have, and I want a "Pablo hugged by Karen climbed by Sapo" statue, if I ever do something honorable.
How do you want this experience to change you? How do you think it will?
I'd like to come out with more clarity about what works, what doesn't, what constraints on my life feel like they're external but are actually internal. I didn't choose to have everything shifted around this way, but since it was, I'll try to make the best of it, be as introspective as I can.
What do you hope we all learn or take away from this experience?
Whatever we need to.
Okay, that's a cheap answer. But it is what I believe most? We're going to rise to the occasion or be miserable, self-defeating apes. I'm not going to pretend to know what should come next, since the clownishness of recent reality demonstrates that whatever I've been anchoring my standards on before was not an anchor at all.
Thanks for the read! Disagreed? Violent agreement!? Feel free to drop me a line at , or leave a comment below! I'd love to hear from you 😄