I’ve been feeling pretty blah about the holidays, and I think Josh Marshall gets to the core of it. I’m just tired of COVID, tired of the constant debate, unknowns, the raging of morons, the lack of common sense and shared sacrifice, of not knowing if I’m doing enough to protect myself and my family, and feeling like I’m not doing enough to help.
I’m just tired.
I’m planning on doing a whole lot of mindful nothing during my time off to see if I can kick the meh out.
It’s going to be a lowercase holidays around here. I hope yours are happy and full of rest. We need it.
This isn’t really a retrospective, because it ain’t over, but we’re doing a relfection on how we’ve been affected by COVID at work today, so I decided to write some things down before the meeting so my thoughts are in some kind of order. I’m sharing it here because, well, I wrote it down.
Now that I’m vaccinated, I’m scared of what’s next. What do I want to do? Who am I now after being in a house-shaped cocoon for thirteen months? I don’t want to do what I did before. Going back feels impossible, not just because it is, but because of how little I want to.
Every time I try to think about the magnitude of suffering from the past year, I get completely overwhelmed and shut down. It’s unquantifiable, and makes me furious to the point of blackout that no one will be held accountable for all the avoidable failures at the national, state and local levels.
I feel guilty for being grateful for all of the time I got to spend with my family this year.
I feel guilty for not having done more to help others, but also feel like keeping my family safe, sane, fed and housed has to be enough… which I understand is a whole bunch of privilege and others had it way worse than I did.
I feel like I adapted to being at home all the time a little too well, and I’m going to have terrible social anxiety for a while.
I’m still disappointed every time I see people wearing masks incorrectly. I just don’t get it. At all. It’s not hard. Over your mouth AND nose.
I really miss a lot of things, and people, and the weird only-in-Savannah moments that used to happen all the time. So many of them that I can’t begin to write them down.
I was talking to a friend in the TechSAV Slack this morning about people running around without masks and being aggressively ignorant about it online and in person and as I was about to spiral into anger and sadness, I just decided… I don’t want to.
Instead, I decided to hop over here and write something about all the good stuff that’s happened while I’ve been stuck at home with my family – the happy accidents, the intentional accidents, and the successes (both intentional and accidental).
The Wire: The Ringer has a new podcast recapping every episode of my favorite show of all time. I used this as an opportunity to get Brian to watch the show with me, and he has! We’re now several episodes ahead of the podcast, but he’s really into the show, so I’m fine plowing ahead.
Home Haircuts: Brian has been growing out his hair since 8th grade (he’s just finishing 10th). The other day, he said, “I’m thinking of shaving my head.” I asked him 3-4 times if he was sure he wanted to. He said yes, so we grabbed the clippers and a chair, and went to the backyard. It was surprisingly fun to take all that hair off his head.
Exercise: I was doing pretty well on the bike last fall and then just stopped… and I can’t remember why. But, I’m back! I closed the Move ring on my watch every day last week, and am on to closing it this week too!
Gardening and the Barter Economy: I decided it was time to try gardening again, so I planted a bunch of seeds and did the whole “throw scallion ends in a jar” thing. The scallion trick works great, by the way. The seeds? Not so much. But, I have a friend who loves bread and is an amazing gardener, so I’m trading her a loaf of sourdough for a bunch of seedlings that will get planted this weekend. I even set up a table for gardening in the backyard that will hopefully keep the terrible weeds from my dilapidated raised beds away from the new plants.
Cooking With Constraints: We’ve been trying to only go to the store every 2-3 weeks, which means towards the end of that time, we have to get creative with our meals. We’ve been trying all kinds of recipes, and it’s been a lot of fun tweaking them to use the ingredients we have instead of running to the store. My favorites so far have been Bang Bang Chicken and Scallion Pancakes.
There are probably more things, but that’ll do for now. I hope you’re staying safe and as happy as you can be.
I left the house yesterday for the first time in over 35 days. It was just to take some soup to my in-laws, but it felt weird hopping in the car and driving. Jen’s been doing all the errands because I’ve been working, and since I’m already a mess thanks to my asthma and allergies, it’s better I reduce my exposure to everyting.
I thought I’d write more during this. I like the idea of keeping a journal during this pandemic to look back on. That didn’t happen. I think mostly because not much is happening. The days all kind of bleed together. I have little projects, but nothing I really feel like talking about. I don’t feel like doing more baking shows. My experimentation in the kitchen is now mostly trying to come up with creative ways to use up almost-expired canned goods.
I love that people are being creative within the constraints of our new reality. I don’t know where we’ll end up after this, but I’m hoping that creativity doesn’t stop.
I wish I had something useful to say. I’m just trying to keep going.
Ever since I discovered Hadestown (the album, not the broadway play, which I would love to see), I’ve been listening to a lot of Anaïs Mitchell. This song came up in a playlist today and it brought tears to my eyes.
I couldn’t tell you why.
Or, maybe I can.
I’m tired, and frustrated, and sad, and angry… and those feelings are stuck in my head and heart. I’m not sleeping much. I’m working a lot… and work is hard, because almost everyone has stopped hiring.
I know I’m lucky. I still have a job. Millions don’t. And maybe that’s why. I’m also feeling ungrateful.
May we all be forgiven for our uncharitable and unhelpful, but totally human, emotions right now.
Due to the outrageous demands of about three people, I did another episode of Baking With Kevin, this time about sourdough and walking through my all-time favorite recipe (including the tweaks I’ve made to it over the years I’ve been making it).
This was my first time trying out Facebook Live and other than the video being portrait, it wasn’t horrible. I could actually see peoples’ comments and questions as I was working, which was easier than the previous Google Meet-based (OK, totally calling it Meetspace from now on) episode. It’s still really weird essentially talking to myself.
I posted these to the Facebook event before I started the video, because the process takes so long, the only live demo part was dividing the dough and forming loaves. So, now you get to see them, and the video at the bottom! Lucky you.
The next episode will probably be Michael Ruhlman’s sandwich bread, since so many people are baking now just to pass the time, and avoid going to the store. If I can help them get a little more comfortable making bread, I guess that’s something.
I’m used to working from home. I’ve done it for years. What I’m not used to is the hit my attention span has taken while trying to grapple with what’s going on in the world – both in my home and outside of it. My routine is totally shot, and all attempts to bring it back in line have failed so far.
But, I have discovered (or rediscovered) some good things that have been helpful in keeping up with the news and keeping slightly distracted during all of this.
The Your Daily Drive generated playlist on Spotify. It’s a mix of news from NPR and the BBC and podcasts that I’m not familiar with. It’s like drive time radio on a station built just for me.
The Washington Post’s live updates page. Short, well-reported, frequently updated stories. I now check it several times a day. It’s a one-stop-shop for everything I need to know about the national news related to the virus.
Journalism. This is dumb, but I think I’d gotten complacent with how important good journalism is. With the constant stream of lies, rumors, nonsense and hysteria, having a few good sources of news and analysis has been super important. I already mentioned the Post, but Talking Points Memo, The Daily from the New York Times and others have all been great.
Jackbox games. We’ve been playing them at work when everyone needs a break, and I played with my kids and sister over the weekend, and they stream pretty well over Zoom. You can play a game in as little as ten minutes, blow off some steam, have a laugh, see other people’s laughing faces. It’s great.
Constraint-inspired creativity. Seeing all the couch concerts, virtual happy hours, 3D printed masks, and the way educators have figured out how to reinvent the entire education system in a weekend, has been inspiring. When people are given constraints, they’ll find creative ways to play with them.
My blog. It doesn’t even know what to do right now. Five posts in a week? That hasn’t happened in years. But, I’ve enjoyed coming back and writing here, and using it as a little journal of the current crisis.
Twitter. I had drifted away from it over the last year. During normal times, Twitter is a sewer of hate and sarcasm. Now, at least among the people I follow and interact with, it feels like we’re all back in 2007-2010 when it was the world’s largest dinner party.
Those are the good things. I’ll spare you my list of annoyances. You probably have the same ones.
It’s weird what we come up with when new constraints are added to our daily lives. I never would have thought of doing a Google Meet with friends while I baked bread and talked to myself. Never. But, here we are. Last Sunday, I did a Google Meet with my friend Jes and her three small children where I showed them how to make pizza dough, and taught them about yeast farts. I made the mistake of posting a photo my wife took of the process to Facebook, which resulted in people asking me to do it again. Which is how we got here, I guess.
I’m seeing a lot of service workers talking about how awful customers have been this week. I get it, people are stressed and used to taking it out on other people.
We don’t have to stand for it. The people working in grocery stores are literally risking their health right now so you can get your kale. Service workers all over are doing the same.
Here’s my idea to combat it. Next time you see someone throwing a fit in a store, start singing Happy Birthday to them as loudly and obviously as possible. Everyone knows the words. People will join in. Everyone’s been singing it A LOT while washing their hands. And if you don’t know their name, “Karen” will do.
This is literally what theater kids have been training for their entire lives. I’d be tempted to belt out “Ooooooooooooklahoma!!!” but I don’t think everyone knows the words. But, if we ham it up enough, everyone will sing along, the offensive person will stop their tirade and everyone can get back to keeping their distance.
Writing a huge blog post (a followup to this one) and slides (for a webinar on 3/19) on remote work, it’s just crystal clear that there’s a huge opportunity during this crisis to make literally EVERYTHING better if we choose to.
Work can be more humane.
Our governments can be more agile, more compassionate and more responsive.
We can be more grounded, more balanced, and get more done.
Our communities can be more helpful and more connected.
It’s all possible. Now is the time to figure out how to do it, experiment, collaborate and do things we didn’t think were possible.