Quarantine Diaries – Patriot’s Day Edition

It’s Patriot’s Day here in Massachusetts, a holiday which commemorates the first battle of the Revolutionary War at Lexington and Concord. Every year, the battle is reenacted on Lexington Common, but not this year. Patriot’s Day is also the day that the Boston Marathon is run. After months of arduous training, folks run 26.2 miles from the suburbs to the greatest city in the world, but not this year. Marathon Monday will be held in September, the first time the race has been postponed in it’s 123 year history. On Patriot’s Day there is morning baseball; an 11:05 start, the only morning MLB game, but not this year. Fenway park is less than a mile from the finish line. The end of the game usually works out well so the baseball fans can watch the masses as they run by. The day is truly a Boston tradition. Sure, it’s be interrupted before. Seven years ago for the Boston Marathon bombing, two years ago it rained and there was no baseball (sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains. Well the Red Sox went on to win the win 108 games and the World Series, so..) The weather is not always good, but sometimes it’s stupendous. The true start of spring, but not this year.

We miss the daily rituals, the meeting a friend for coffee or a cocktail, the ability to run to the store for that one ingredient to cook up a masterpiece, leaving the house on a daily basis. I so very much miss fresh produce when I want it rather than making do with what is in the house… so so much. But the big milestone days, the days of rituals past. I miss Patriot’s Day. I do not want to be sitting on my couch writing this, I want to be out in the world doing things, seeing things, seeing people. Today will pass and tomorrow we’ll be back to missing coffee with friends, gossip at the water cooler, going to a movie or a party. I know it won’t be easy. More than a few people have started to hit the wall from being inside, from not knowing when this will end, from job and health insecurity, from lack of the social contacts we are used to having. This really sucks. We’re all grieving for our old lives. And just like in any situation involving grief, everyone handles it in their own way. No matter what your reaction, it’s ok. You don’t have to be productive right now. If you want to take up something new, if that will make you happy, then do it. If you want to watch all of Netflix, do that. If now is the time to track down every dust bunny in your home, go for it. I’m exhausted from feeling sad. I just want to do something positive.. Someday we’ll think back and say: remember that time we all had to wear masks, stand six feet apart, crossed the street to avoid walking by a stranger, only waved to our neighbors and communicated solely on the phone or on ridiculous, insecure Zoom calls? That sure was crazy. But for now, we have to preserver. What other option is there? Stay home if you can, wash your hands. You know the drill. Please think of every trip outside: is this worth risking my life? Is it worth risking the lives of every other person I come in contact with? Is it? Be a a Patriot and do the right thing. Please ask for the help you need, financial or otherwise. People want to help, you would be amazed.

Quarantine Diaries

Cheryl Stayed has a new podcast, Sugar Calling where she interviews writers. Episode One is George Saunders. This is the definition of my wheelhouse, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. In the podcast, George says to notate what life is like right now because maybe in fifty or hundred years no one will believe it, it will all just be the stories we capture.

I’m not George Saunders, so I’ll bullet point out what my weekend was like:

Friday Night

  • Just happy my exhausting work week is over at the job I am grateful to have and glad to be able to work from home. Now for some wine and start re-watching the Sopranos, which is, as you know, so uplifting.

Saturday

  • I went outside, yes outside! I met a friend near a local bakery that we are scared will not make it. They no longer have pick up as the did at the beginning of the quarantine time. Now you can order by Wednesday, and pick up Sat morning. The sign on the door says only one person can enter at a time. A few tables have boxes and bags labeled with names. It’s certainly not enough to keep the store afloat. When I ask the sole person there, who stays well behind the counter away from him if they did well this week, he replies: it helps.
  • After pick up, my friend and I stood six feet apart outside on a sidewalk, both with scarves covering our faces and chatted. Behind us was a line to get into a grocery store which is limited the number of people allowed in at a given time. About half the people in the line had masks, almost no one in the line looked six feet away from the person in front of them. At one point someone walked by with a big package of toilet paper. I said to my friend: look TP!
  • I also gave my friend an unopened box of ten N95 masks that I panic bought in January for her to give to her sister, an ER nurse.
  • Next I went to a drive through pharmacy. The line took forever even though there were only three cars ahead of me. And then I realized: where else do you need to be? It was actually soothing to feel as if I was just running errands like a usual Saturday before. I was happy to see the person staffing the window had both a mask and gloves. I wondered if she’d balk at cash (the prescription is only $4 and I don’t really want to touch a keypad to use a card), but cash didn’t seem concerning to her.
  • I arrived home before noon and got ready for Zumba at home. The Zumba teacher from my gym live streams classes from his home via a private Facebook group which we pay him weekly for. So worth it!
  • I clean a little. Start a stew that will need to simmer for some time.
  • Late in the afternoon the singer from one of favorite bands will play acoustic from his basement. You can tip which he is donating to the people who work in the clubs his band were scheduled to play in.
  • Try not to eat all the baked goods I bought from the bakery after dinner. This is the most normal part of the weekend.
  • Read too much Twitter, watch too much tv. Actually stream too much online content. Decide I should be reading more, but fall asleep instead.

Sunday

  • Watched the Sunday political shows because I’m not afraid enough
  • Laundry
  • Went for a walk on a 60 degree day with a scarf covering my face. The people I came across reacted to my presence like they would to a person they encountered in a dark alley in the middle of the night. I was saddened when people crossed the road not to pass me. I was scared for the people who didn’t, none of whom had masks.
  • Back at home to more twitter. Make it stop.
  • Decide to write this up, but oh! Trump is doing another briefing. I thought I read he was taking the day off from that today, but no. These briefings are such train wrecks that it’s difficult to look away, but I decide not to watch for my sanity.
  • Take a break in the middle of writing this bulleted list to check twitter. It seems the briefing had no news, and was mostly about suggesting there is a drug that may help fight the virus. Dr. Fauci has however said there is only anecdotal information that it will. Who are you going to believe? . Fauci. I start to wonder who has money in the development of this drug because why would anyone sane push a drug that hasn’t been approved for this virus. Why would anyone do that?  Where are those baked goods… and some wine?
  • Time to prep for the upcoming week at work, which consists of Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting.
  • Shit.. need to fold the laundry.

How your quarantine?

Why I’m Doing the #UnreadShelfProject2020

Things people say when they come to my house:

  • You have a lot of books
  • Wow
  • Will I knock this pile over if I’m not careful?

Things people do when they come over:

  • Look at me like this:

shutterstock_751016992 concern

(Yes, I need to have more bookish people in my life, but that is a different post).

(Also, Mike Bloomberg –I am a girl who goes to the library. Look out.)

Once after a contractor looked especially horrified, I stored books under the bed to appear to own an amount of books in the ‘normal’ range. There wasn’t enough space under the bed to actually accomplish this, so I learned to accept that too many books was just my MO.

 

Things people ask me after the see all the books:

  • So have you read all these books?

The answer, sadly, is no. Not even close, bud.

 

Perversely, if I really want to read a book, I buy it. That way I always have it and can read it at my leisure. As opposed to books I take out of the library which have a time limit, therefore I prioritize them. Those are the books that I actually read!  Crazy right? So the books just continue to pile up. Occasionally, I do a cull and donate to the library. Marie Kondo really inspired me to declutter, but probably 95% of the books bring joy! I like having them near me and there is nothing wrong with that!

And then I moved.

The realtor came and said: you must de-clutter to make this place look larger. She had seriously concerned/who has hired me face. The only possible solution was to put some things and many of the books in storage. When you are faced with paying to store your books and hauling them to and from a storage facility, you really start to get real with yourself about whether you actually need ALL of these books. I did a major, major, major cull. I went through all the stages of grief of losing my friends. I talked myself through it. I can always buy them again if I want them. I can always get them from the library if I want to read them. Yes, I can always get them from the library!  I probably won’t even notice they are gone (note: one week after moving, I spent over an hour looking for a book that I really wanted to read, and guess what… I had donated it. But I won’t that stop me).

I still have a sizeable collection (see stats below), but I feel it’s down to the ones that I most want to read, as opposed to the ones that just seemed like a good idea at the time. I decided that I would start a project to read the books I already had (I also decided that last year, but that didn’t work out).

And then by kismet I discovered the #UnreadShelfProject2020   YES!  These are my people! This is what I needed. Some structure, others going through the same issues, other readers. Like any self help program, the first step is admitting the problem. We were asked to add up our owned book totals. This wasn’t difficult for me because I have a crazy huge book spreadsheet. So ta dah, here were my stats when I started in January:

337 Print books

130 ebooks

Keep in mind, this was AFTER my major culls. This means I moved or stored 337 books. Ay yi yi!

But these are the books I really want to read and laid out my hard earned money to buy, so that is why I’m doing to the #UnreadShelfProject2020.  Any questions?

How Bad Is It..

that the book Getting Things Done has been on my To Be Read list for years and I haven’t finished reading it? That a co-worker lent me a copy over a year ago and I still haven’t finished it? I did start it, that is at least something (the very least).  I want to get things done. Getting things down somewhere and out of my head resonates with me. Prioritizing items, giving them due dates if they are important to be done, check and check.

I now have a productivity app. Something that tracks my to do list, organizes it by priority, project. I can tag and label tasks to the point where I start to believe I have OCD. But that doesn’t mean I’m getting these things done. I’m getting organizing things in the app done. I love organizing things in the app! It makes me feel in control. So far I have a list of many, many things that I need to do and want to do someday. I attempt to schedule them out, give myself due dates and accountability. This works to a certain extent. The things that have to get done are getting done, but they were always getting done, as the things that must be done tend to do. Where I struggle is the things I want to do, but don’t have to do. Putting due dates on them has helped only mildly. I must decide to focus on them and not other distractions (Twitter, television, other nonsense). Getting Things Done and my productivity app are just systems to help; they can’t make me focus on the right things (damn it!). I need to change, that is the problem. So why don’t I?

 

 

But I need to focus on getting the important things in the app done. Why is that so hard?

Dear Fire Station 49 in San Francisco

I’m sending this as an email to fireadministration@sfgov.org. You should write, too!

 

In response to the following article, I’m asking Fire Station 49 to reconsider the decision to remove their adorable Firefighter Cat, Edna.

San Francisco firefighters may be forced to surrender beloved station cat after anonymous complaint

IG: @fire_cat_edna

I mean, look at those pictures. How does separating this lovely kitty from the people who love her improve life in this firehouse? Your people have stressful jobs, having a small, non-judgemental, adorable piece of fluff to come back to can only improve their lives. Edna chose them for a reason. Cats know what they are doing.

You don’t have to take it from me. Here are a few reasons to allow Edna to stay:

1. Health benefits of having a cat:

Reduces stress and anxiety

Decreases risk of stroke

Therapeutic benefits

Boosts immunity

Lowers blood pressure

Decreases risk of heart disease and heart attacks

Lowers triglycerides and cholesterol levels

Increase sociability

Provide companionship

Aren’t these things you want for your firefighters?

 

 

2. Cats have a history of being in the workplace:

Whiskers in the Workplace

There is an entire IG account dedicated to Bookstore Cats:  @bookstorecats

Cats have a special history in firehouse and other first responder houses!

From stray to star – Flame, the Greenville firehouse cat, hits the big time

(IG: @flamethearsoncat)  Flame even made it onto My Cat From Hell on Animal Planet!

Stray Cat Wanders Into Fire House and Asks Everyone for “Help”

(IG: @station57cat)

Here is a list of FDNY Cats on Instagram:

FDNY Firehouse Cats Have Their Own Must-See Instagrams

If the FDNY can have cats, you can too!  Do you really want the FDNY to be a step ahead of you?

3. There are even children’s books written about Firehouse Cats!

The Fire Cat

Pete the Cat: Firefighter Pete

4. Perhaps most importantly, pets are family, not something to be gotten rid of due to one anonymous complaint. To separate your folks from their pet will cause them and her pain. They could be distracted, worrying about her. Do you want that.

The benefits far outweigh any downside, so please do the right thing.

 

Gary LaPierre, Maker of Snow Day Dreams

The anticipation would begin the night before. A storm was coming! Maybe there would be no school the next day. Could it really happen? A Snow Day, capital S, capital D. A snow day was a nightmare day for them, but for us they were a day off, an unexpected free day. Growing up in the pre-internet era meant teachers couldn’t reach you. There would be no additional homework, just a free day with all planned activities cancelled. The whole world stopped so you could play. Weee… creative time, snow ball fights, if there is enough snow, a snowman! Sledding! Playing in the snow in the park. Snow angels. When we were exhausted and cold, we’d return hope to warm hot chocolate. Oh please, please, please, please, please let there be a Snow Day!

On any potential Snow Day, the second we got up it was to the radio and crank it up! WBZ Radio 1030, Boston, MA. The WBZ Storm Center and the smooth sounds of Gary LaPierre would tell us our fate. Of course we heard him give the news and Gil Santos the sports every morning, but the potential snow day announcement, that got our full attention. We’d sit with rap attention, whereas other days it was just the background of our morning, something to inform our parents about the world. The school closing list was always alphabetical. Abington, Acton-Boxborough Regional, Andover, Arlington… and so we’d wait for our town. Poor suckers who live in Woburn or Wrentham! Fortunately, our town started with a B so we didn’t have to wait that long, though sometimes we’d tune in halfway through the list and have to listen all the way through, until they started over at A. If our town wasn’t listed the first time, we’d have to wait through the whole list because the list could be updated! The second or third time through, maybe our town would be there. I feel bad for the kids today, who can open a browser and see the list, while their parents receive texts to tell them. Can the joy be as sweet if you don’t experience the anticipation? Sometimes our mother would have to tell us to give it up and start to get ready, but other times: euphoria! Snow Day! Thank you, Gary LaPierre for bringing us the best news!

Gary LaPierre retired around ten years ago, so we’d grown used to the news without him. But that doesn’t mean we don’t pine for the days when his smooth voice brought us all the information we needed. Texting with my sister about his death, she was sad that her daughter, that very day experiencing her first snow day (after a whopping 2 inches of snow in the Seattle area. Amateurs.), wouldn’t have the same experiences we did. He meant something to us and he will be missed.

RIP Gary, legendary news man and of maker of little kids dreams.

 

 

Lectin This

Now that my Three Quarters Thirty month has come to an end, it’s time to party with bread, sugar and wine, right?  I’d come to the conclusion that I should continue this lifestyle the majority of the time, but allow for these things on certain occasions, eating out being the most frequent one. It is so difficult to eat out as a Whole Thirty vegan, let me tell you. Just bring me a plate of lettuce and a sweet potato, please.

Somewhere in my internet travels, I was served up an ad for a Dr. Gundry who claims to have lost 70 pounds by only eating certain foods. Really?  Go on…  A short amount of research gave me the basics of his plans to avoid lectins. Lectins are

carbohydrate-binding proteins, macromolecules that are highly specific for sugar moieties of other molecules. They are also known as phytohemagglutinins. Lectins perform recognition on the cellular and molecular level and play numerous roles in biological recognition phenomena involving cells, carbohydrates, and proteins.[1][2] Lectins also mediate attachment and binding of bacteria and viruses to their intended targets. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lectin).

No, I don’t know what that means, either. But Dr. Gundry’s theory (paraphrased) is plants develop lectins because they want to live. Lectins make them less likely to be eaten by animals while growing. I guess that makes sense on the surface (because evolution is real, people). A little further research and I found Dr. Gundry’s list of Yes and No foods:   Sigh. Almost everything I eat is wrong.  Also, foods like broccoli, cauliflower and spinach are allowed. Don’t they want to live? Do they not have lectins?

What did not escape my notice was the fairly large overlap between allowed and not allowed foods on his plan and the Whole 30. Also obvious to me is the majority of foods that I was allowing my self on my self created Three Quarters 30 (beans, lentils, edamame, tofu and more) are specifically prohibited here. Even tomatoes and cucumbers are banned, unless pealed and de-seeded (as if that is going to happen). Whole 30 is based on reducing foods that cause inflammation, so my bet is lectin causes inflammation. But on Dr. Gundry’s plan you can have a 6 oz. glass of wine and dark chocolate, so perhaps the trade is worth it.

Swinging from one highly restrictive plan to another won’t work. What I need is a plan that I can live with everyday. These diets, plans and cleanses are short term fixes. So my plan is to be as plant based as possible, cut down on these things banned by these plans, especially grains and sugar.  I plan on not having them most of the time, but there are exceptions, else there is the risk of losing it and eating an entire vegan banana bread from Trader Joe’s (which is so amazing, my mouth waters just thinking about it). So back to it… starting tomorrow. Today is the super bowl, the official holiday of carbs, sugar and alcohol.  Go Pats!

Worrying ’bout this wasted time…

The #24in48 has me revisiting my ongoing thoughts and challenges of productivity and time management. See for one weekend, I wanted to prioritize reading, but I didn’t manage to do it. Reading shared the spotlight with all the other mundane things that needed to be done. Sure they need to be done, but do they need to be done right now? I woke up thinking about how people one can’t do everything at the same time so choices must be made, priorities must be set.  I then found that just this morning Seth Godin had described this better than I would: Opportunity Costs Just Went Up, which, of course, I found while checking Twitter rather than getting up and writing this, which is what I claim to want to do. So in this case, kismet, but not most of the time. Why do I make the choices I do when I know they mean I’m not doing other things I want to be doing? Why am I on Twitter or any other app or website rather than doing any of the million other things that I want to be doing, including reading? Every time I read or listen an interview with a person who is considered prolific in their field, they say they don’t spend time on social media. I used to not spend time on social media. Until I was thirty years old, I barely watched tv. Coincidentally, this was the golden age of my reading life. Somehow social media and tv have become and addiction and I need to just stop. As Seth says: I could spend that time learning a new skill, or I could work on a creative project, I could go to the gym. It’s my choice and I need to own that choice.

What about you? Anyone kicked a bad habit and want to give advice on how?

As I often find, The Eagles have some wisdom to impart:

So you live day to day
And you dream about tomorrow, oh
And the hours go by like minutes
And the shadows come to stay
So you take a little something
To make them go away
I could have done so many things, baby
If I could only stop my mind
From wonderin’ what I left behind
And from worrying ’bout this wasted time

#24in48 Wrapup

Here is my final total… plus the 10 hours and 10 min I had when the time reset. Stupid timer

 

So 13 hours 33min. This is 1 hour 33 minutes linger than my goal.. yipee!

I did finish Travels With Charley. Lordy couls that man write and his powers of observation and description. Perfection. Plus a poodle!

I went off stack when I decided to listen to audio book, When Paris Went Dark, about the German occupation of Paris in World War II, something I’ve wanted to learn more about since reading All the Light We Can Not See and The Nightengale. I did, indeed, start The Stranger Beside Me because I want to watch the new documentary on Netflix. I had read this book as a teenager. This edition I’m reading now is updated and I’m a little nerve wracked to say I notice where some of the updates are and that Ssome of the pictures are new. This may be more burned into my psyche  than I like. As a suburban teen I couldn’t believe anyone could do the things he did.

Somehow even though I exceed my goal, I am disappointed. I had envisualized curling up and reading for large chunks of the weekend, coffee, tea or wine by my side depending on time of day. Instead more than half of the time was spent listening to the audio book while I ran errands, cooked, cleaned and did laundry. I know audio books are reading, but I also know I don’t absorb as much, especially when I’m multi-tasking. I missed probably an entire minute while trying to decide between regular or low sodium soy sauce as the grocery store. I also spent the 30 minutes before writi g this o  Twitter and Instagram. Apparently I am the only person not watching Rent live with someone who broke their foot. I was reading, so I’ve got that.  My goal was to put this time aside for me, but I let other things come first, though having clean clothes will be a plus this week. I want to chose reading more often than I do now. So that is my new goal: more reading, less tv, twitter and instagram (I deleted my Facebook account already and you should, too. They are giving out your information like halloween candy, except they make money doing it. But that is a rant for another day).

#24in48

This weekend I’m once again attempting the #24in48 #readathon. For the uninitiated this where you read 24 out of 48 hours in a weekend, starting Saturday at 12am on your timezone. Read all about it… you can still sign up!

Think you can’t read 24 hours in one weekend? You don’t have to! My goal is 12 hours because you know, life. I think of it as having a goal of reading more than I usually would (an actually having an excuse to read more than I usually would in one weekend).

Here is my stack:

20190125_220716

It’s got it all: fiction, non-fiction, essays, classics, recent works, a book about books/reading (I love those), something for every mood so I can switch it up depending on my mood. Though there is a very high probably that I’ll start with The Stranger Beside Me then move on to the Ted Bundy documentary on Netflix. Must.not.

What do you say? Are you in?