Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Dispatch from the Q-Life: Week 13

It wasn't supposed to be like this. Entering week 13--if it had come at all--I would have a gnarly beard, a strong lip from much trumpet playing, rudimentary banjo skills, a near finished novel, and considerably more blog posts on record. But as the poet tells us...the best laid plans....

Let me deal with my failures in turn.

First, the beard. I still don't know how beard wearing men make it through the itchy stage. I never have. Then there is the complaining. I go in for a little kiss and I'm not even six inches away and I hear "ouch". How fair is that?

I had thought about playing my trumpet more during the quarantine, and it is here in its stand next to my desk, the music book opened to "You've Got a Friend", and I can almost HEAR the oil drying from the valves as they stick into place from lack of use. Why? I don't know. I could get back to it. As for the banjo, although my desired instructor is happy to do lessons by Zoom or some other such contrivance, I'm not up for that. Gonna need a little in-person instruction to get started.

The novel you ask? Like the other times I have taken determined stabs at it, a frenzy of activity for about a week, and then....well, not much. I do hope someday to complete it.

Blog posts? Faithful readers already know that one is pitiful. To be honest, there just hasn't been that much to talk about.

But as we end the month of May, a few things to pass on. First, May is a month of great joy in our house, as both of the Kittens have birthdays (7th, 26th), as does their mother The Kitten (28th). Add to the mix Mother's Day. So lots of little celebrations. The older Kitten turned 21 yesterday, and had a few socially distanced friends (3) over to the house to celebrate in style. We recover today--and prepare for tomorrow's great celebration of The Kitten's Birthday. I am one of six kids. Outside of a FESTIVAL I threw for MYSELF on my 50th Birthday, my birthdays have always been relatively cozy affairs. As a boy, a friend or two would join the family for whatever meat my father was grilling, or pizza, and cake. A present or two. A good day, no doubt. But birthdays in my acquired family are annual rites of godly worship. OVER THE TOP. 

To be honest, the birthdays this month have broken the monotony of things, not that I dislike monotony. In fact--as we've discussed--I'm sorta into it. My day, explained: Wake naturally whenever, usually around 7. Coffee, daily Calm meditation, weigh-in (down 15.4 lbs, thank you), and weight recording in three different places (personal spreadsheet, Noom (the Kitten hornswaggled me into it so that she had a buddy) and MyFitnessPal. Noom requires a few guided lessons/exercises, so I perform them in a desultory manner. Feed the beasts. Onload the dishwasher, which to my great joy, all of the savages I live with have been much better about using as a place to store dirty dishes (rather than the sink and counters). In fact, the team has stepped up their performance in this regard. 

I work until about 2:30pm. Work these days consists of--well, mostly what I did before the quarantine but with a lot of video meetings and teleconferences substituted for formerly in-person meetings, and because scheduling and conducting meetings during the quarantine is a sign of productivity. I read professionally quite a bit. I write about what I've read for people who care what I think. I think for people who care about how I think and then tell them what I think. It is a uniquely fashioned professional life generally well-fitted to a quarantine, although I can do no classified work in the ManCave. 

I drop in on people via Facebook Messenger, unannounced. There is a feature that shows a little green dot next to people's profile feature if they have the program running (even if it is just in the background/not properly closed out). I find my dude friends are very receptive to drop-ins, but 8 out of 10 times I drop in on a lady-friend, I get ignored and then receive a Direct Message saying some version of "I haven't showered". Speaking of showers. I'd say I'm on an every other day schedule. I pretty much wear the same thing every day. I rotate among two sets of Adidas warm-up pants (keen readers will note this is a key element of my travel rig), a T-Shirt, trainers and a fleece (if it is chilly).  Here is me, this very morning:

Honestly, the world's most forgiving mirror

At some point during the day, I get on the treadmill for thirty minutes....20 of them "running" at 5.2 MPH and 10 of them walking at 3.8. I have two metal hips, and I'm told that running shouldn't be part of my life, but I grew weary of having little or no wind, and the treadmill has "give", so I'm back at it. The treadmill is located in my office/Mancave, and I have two three women with varying degrees of desire to use it and the other equipment in here...and so I vacate my office by 3PM.

Generally, I have no commitments after 3, except for a weekly conference call at 4PM on Tuesdays and occasional calls that pop up here and there. We have a pool here at the homestead, but the weather on the Eastern Shore has been SHITTY this spring (longest March since Sherman/Atlanta) and so I am unaware of any humans having been in it (though the dogs love it). But pool chores must be done and usually they get done late in the afternoon, along with a little binge-watching of whatever it is I'm currently addicted to. 

Somewhere around 4:30 PM, I begin preparations for dinner, which I like to eat no later than 5:30PM. I've sorta imposed WARSHIP meal hours on myself here in the Q, and I like it. All four of the residents of this rest-home are on their own special diets/eating plans. I'm high fat/protein, low carb, the Kittens are Vegan (you won't need to ask them), and The Kitten seems to bounce between the two. She (The Kitten) is a good sport, and tries to eat dinner with me, even though I think she'd rather eat later. Once I've eaten and cleaned up, I grab the last cup of coffee of the day and take my place next to the kitchen fireplace (which has actually still been in use) to sit quietly and enjoy the chatter of the Kittens when they come down to the kitchen to begin their meal preps. When I have my hearing aids in, I am able to follow along and even participate. Sometimes I do not have them in.

After a bit, I will head back out to the office to contemplate the next day, to read through notes I've made, and to write out tomorrow's tasks. Then, some reading and or more binge-ing. Taps at 2200.

Sprinkled during the week are a trip to the grocery store now and then, pool chemicals, and the like. Not much though...the cars have had a nice rest during this time. I'm told that the weather will improve, so I'm gonna work some Kayaking or rowing (with the Kitten in her wooden rowboat) or paddleboarding into things.

I woke this morning to news that DoD has rescinded its "don't move until 30 June" order, and substituted a set of conditions based strictures to guide local installations in coming out of the Q. Since the DMV area (District, Maryland, Virginia) remains a hotspot, I expect we'll be in Q for a bit longer, but not much. Then, it is off into a brave new world of I don't know what. I don't think any of us do. Stay tuned for more as we discover it together. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Entering Month 3: Update from the Q-Life

Since I entered the Q-Life on 10 March, two months have transpired and the third is upon me. As I've admitted here before, my sheltering in place is not nearly as tough as some.  I can do much of my job from home, and as my clients are also laboring under the impact of the virus, they are quite accommodating. I have a large enough house to have space set apart largely for myself, and my domestic situation does not include other humans in need of great oversight. Some people are really struggling...financially, psychologically, or both. I have a lot of sympathy for them. The hardest thing for anyone to figure out these days is "how does this all end"? I'm neither a math guy nor an epidemiologist, so all I can do is pose the questions that I consider and that form a good bit of conversation around my house these days, questions like "Does anything really change without a vaccine?" and "Won't there be a ton more deaths if we open the economy too quickly?" and "I wonder if my college is going to have classes on campus this fall?"  All are good questions and I have no answers. One question I don't hear from the others I live with is "what is this doing to the economy?"  This is the luxury of class and position, and sometimes I have to remind others that there are a lot of people truly suffering economically right now, and that suffering is fueling some of the protests underway. Clearly, there are other factors in the protests (political performative theater, identity politics, COSPLAYing), but this pain is real and the pressures to find a middle ground between open and Q-life is probably for the good. We need to find a way to "manage" things while people work and live.

One development that has me truly worried is the slow, grinding, decline of the meat and poultry processing industries as the virus ravages their work-forces. Presumably, after the workforce gets sick and recovers, these industries would be somewhat less impacted by the disease and could "come back", but in the meantime, people are going to suffer and die, and that is a tragedy. 

May is always a big month around the house. Both Kittens and The Kitten have their birthdays in May, and Mother's Day adds to the fun. Lord Bezos of Amazon (all praise be upon him) has made some of the logistics of pulling these events off easier, but birthdays are a pretty big deal around here and they are getting squashed a little. My proposal to shift birthdays a month to the right (with provisions for further shifting) was not adopted.

The younger members of the tribe are getting more restless with the requirements of the Q-Life, and their "salami-slicing" tactics designed to slowly wear down the resolve of decision-makers appears to be having some success. Maryland is still very much in lockdown, but a drive Saturday over to St. Michaels revealed a good bit of humanity on the streets (most with masks, thankfully), and no shortage of cars on the road, etc. It begins to give one a glimpse of where we might be going soon, with social distancing still stressed, mando-masking, lower density in shops and restaurants, etc, while life goes on elsewhere. Even under these conditions, the virus is likely to continue to be spread, and people will continue to be hospitalized and die. The more dedicated to mitigation we remain, the fewer get infected. 

To end this cheery update, I brought my 10 year old Jag (260,000 miles) to a local mechanic with various maladies in need of attention (don't shake your head--this has been the most reliable car I've ever owned). Among other pathologies, it appears mice ate through the wiring harness to one of the fuel injectors.  Country living.

Be well, friends. 

Newer Posts Older Posts Home