Keeping Score: April 16, 2021

I got my second shot!

Wasn’t quite as easy as getting my first. Yesterday was the first day of general vaccine eligibility in California, so even though I got there around 30 minutes early, I spent most of that time waiting in a socially-distanced line. But the folks there were all still friendly and efficient, and I made it through and out without incident.

I could feel a difference in this shot; felt like more material getting pushed into my shoulder. And about ten minutes after I started feeling light-headed. Had to put my head between my knees and breathe till it passed.

It did pass, though, and I went back to work that day. My left arm (where I got the shot) was — and continues to be — basically useless, too sore to raise up higher than mid-line. Other than that, I had the same wave of fatigue hit me as last time, shortly after I wrapped up work yesterday. Which is why I missed my daily word count for the first time in two months 😬

I might be able to make it up today; we’ll see. I feel mostly fine, though I’ve got some of the symptoms of my asthma being triggered: stuffy nose, lungs can’t quite get a full deep breath (it doesn’t hurt exactly, but it definitely feels like something I shouldn’t do too often). I don’t think I have a fever, which is good.

Will probably still spend most of the day in bed, just in case. Better to take it easy, I think. That doesn’t stop my from having my laptop in bed with me, though (as you can see). Hopefully I can get some writing done in-between doses of tea and naps.

I hope that wherever you are, the vaccine rollout continues, and if you haven’t yet been able to get it, that you soon will be. We need to kick this virus, so we can spend more of our time and energy building a better world than the one we lost in the pandemic.

42

“What’s wrong with you?”

“I don’t know!”

There are lots of ways to find out you’re depressed. For me, it was breaking down crying in the kitchen Monday morning, after berating my wife for my (upcoming) birthday present.

Not my finest moment.

I turned 42 yesterday, my second birthday during the pandemic. And I want to say I’m going to throw a big party once we’re all vaccinated, that I’m fine, everything’s fine here, how are you?

But I’m not fine. I’m tired of being scared, of having to leap out of the way of folks walking by me on the sidewalk. Of asking delivery people to back up from the door and pull up their mask before I step out to show them my ID. Of wondering if this is the week I get the call that my mom’s in the hospital with Covid, that there’s going to be another family funeral I can’t attend.

My wife says I don’t like surprises, and she’s right. This year has been one long series of surprises, one after the other, combined with constant waiting for the other shoe to drop and the disease to claim me, or someone else close to me, or all of the above.

So I’m not fine. I’m lethargic and blasé and if I pause for too long between activities, I start to cry. I can’t get excited about…anything. Not something silly like the new Godzilla vs Kong movie (which, pre-pandemic, I would’ve flipped for). Not something abstract like my wife and her mother deciding once and for all that she will not be moving in with us, giving us a sense of stability we haven’t had since 2015. I want to be excited. I want to be joyful.

But I can’t, and before my wife made me turn and look at my depression, I thought the problem was in the things themselves, not me. I had all kinds of rationalizations for why her news wasn’t exciting (“because she could change her mind”). Why I couldn’t make it through a re-watch of the first two Godzilla movies (“they’re boring”). But those were just excuses, mental defenses to keep me from admitting that I was not, in fact, doing well.

And I think I haven’t been doing well, for at least a few weeks now. I’ve just been covering it up. Hiding it.

I hope that wherever you are, mentally and physically, that you’re able to be honest with yourself. That you’ve got someone who will keep you honest. And that if you’re feeling down, that you let yourself feel it, and don’t try to fight it off or deny it, which just makes it worse.

This time will pass, as all things do. But while it’s here, let’s not pretend. Sometimes, we’re just not okay. And that’s all right.

Memorial Day 2020

Memorial Day is meant to honor those who fell in the service of their country.

So today, I’d like to give my thanks to the grocery workers who contracted Covid-19 while making sure we could feed our families.

To the doctors and nurses who caught Covid-19 while fighting this new disease.

To the truckers, keeping goods and commerce flowing, who risk infection every time they step out of their vehicles for gas or a bathroom break.

To the warehouse employees — for Amazon, Target, Wal-Mart, and others — who died needlessly, because their wealthy bosses couldn’t bear to lose a single cent to sick leave.

In this pandemic, we’ve discovered who the essential workers really are. And it’s not the CEOs of the world.

It’s those keeping us fed, keeping us safe, and keeping us alive.

I thank you, all of you, for your service.

Quarantine Dreams

I’m having trouble sleeping.

I wake up multiple times in the night, thinking I’ve heard our dog bark or someone move in the house beneath our bedroom.

Sometimes I fall right back to sleep, but often I’ll just lay there, my brain chewing over some problem from the day, unable to rest.

When I do sleep, I dream. But nothing comforting: I dream of the world we’ve lost.

I dream of going to a pub for dinner. Of going on a trip at the airport. Seeing a movie.

Mundane things. Well, mundane before.

Even there, the pandemic intrudes. I go to a pub, intending to meet friends like normal, but my wife and I take masks with us, and sit 6 feet apart. The airport we go to is mostly deserted, and the planes never arrive. On our way to the movie theatre, someone yells at us for being outside.

So my dreams bring no comfort. No escape from reality.

In truth, I know I’m lucky. Both my wife and I have been healthy so far. We’ve had enough food and toilet paper (though it was touch and go the first two weeks). And our current house is new enough that nothing major has broken on us (yet).

I just…I wish I could relax enough to rest, and sleep, again. And dream of something else.

More Social Distance Streaming Recommendations

We’re halfway through the third week of shelter-in-place here in California.

It’s starting to feel almost normal, this staying home and avoiding other people thing. Natural to move aside when walking on the sidewalk to avoid passing within six feet of someone else. Odd to think about leaving the house.

But then I think about going out for coffee and donuts, or driving out to the bookstore, and I remember. What we’re doing, and why. And what we’re trying to prevent.

I hope you’re own stay-at-home is going as well as it can. That you’re safe, have enough food, and don’t have to worry about being kicked out by your landlord.

Here’s a couple more shows to keep your mind occupied while we wait for the viral storm to pass:

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

I didn’t want to like this show. True, it’s about a programmer, which should immediately draw me in, but it gets everything about being a programmer at a startup wrong, right from the very first episode. It’s the equivalent of the lazy “enhance” trick we’ve seen on too many shows, drawn out into an entire plot point. It rankles me, every time.

And the lead is….let’s say bland, shall we? The main character is the least interesting part of the show.

But the rest of the cast is phenomenal, the musical numbers are both weird and fun, and it nails the mix of guilt, hope, and love that comes with caring for a terminally ill family member.

So I’ve been gritting my teeth through the software-world bits, and enjoying everything else.

Source: Hulu

Birds of Prey

Ok, not a TV show, but have you seen this movie? It’s currently battling it out with Thor: Ragnarok in my head for the best superhero movie of the last ten years, and I thought nothing would ever get close to Thor.

It’s got goofy comics action — one scene has Harley shooting people with glitter bombs — fantastic fight scenes, a crazy sense of humor (wait till you see what Harley will do for a breakfast sandwich), and incredible sets (one scene takes place inside multiple rooms in a fun house).

The cast is phenomenal, with the exception of the kid playing Cassandra Cain (but she’s young, so can be forgiven).

My wife and I found ourselves watching it twice in a row one night (the second time with the director’s commentary on) and I didn’t even mind. It’s that good.

Source: Online Rental

Keeping Score: March 20, 2020

What a difference a week makes.

Last Friday, I still felt okay going out to my local coffeeshop for coffee in the morning. I thought this week would be much like any other week, that we’d have to take extra care to make sure people that felt sick stayed home, and not congregate in large groups, but that’s it.

But then they closed the schools where my wife works.

And people started posting pictures of empty grocery store shelves.

Now everything is closing down: pubs, restaurants, coffee shops, the zoo, bookstores, publishers, everything is either shutting down or going remote-only.

It’s a frightening time, and I’d be lying if I didn’t confess that it’s made it hard for me to focus.

So I’m not sure how many words I’ve written this week.

I’ve worked on something, every day. I’ve gathered statistics that I’m going to use in a blog post for next week. I’ve been working through Gail Simone’s ComicsSchool, which has been fantastic, and should result in my first complete comics script by the end.

But I haven’t come back to the short story I was editing. Or made any progress on the novel.

I will do both, though, and soon. But for now, I’ve just…gotta work on something a little more low-key, to leave room in my head for processing everything that’s happening.

I hope you find the head space to keep working, whatever your project is, and that give yourself the time to feel the cocktail of emotions this thing is putting us all through.

Happy Post-St Patrick’s Day!

Me, all dolled up for the celebration

Since moving to San Diego, my wife and I have had a tradition: On St Patrick’s Day, we go celebrate at a Mexican restaurant, and on Cinco de Mayo, we celebrate at an Irish pub. We’ve discovered that both kinds of restaurants celebrate both holidays, but while the Irish pubs are standing room only on St Patrick’s Day, the Mexican places are empty (and vice-versa for Cinco de Mayo). We call it St Pedro’s Day (in March) and The Fifth of Mayo (in May). We usually rope a few of our friends in, too, and always have a blast.

Well. Going out this year was off the table. But we still did St Pedro’s right, mixing margaritas at home and joining a group video chat so our friends and we could all hang out virtually.

And it was still fun! (photographic evidence offered above).

Hope you and yours are safe and well, and that if you celebrated yesterday, you found a way to connect with those you love.

Sláinte!