Thursday, April 30, 2020

going out/coming in

So here's what going out and coming back in is like, for me, an average citizen, taking what I assume are usual precautions. I'm not in healthcare or front line work, and I still see TONS of people out and about as though nothing has changed. So.
First, I give it some thought. Do I *need* to go anywhere? Can I go early or late and avoid crowds? What's the best walking route? If I need to make more than 1 stop, what's the best sequence?
Then, I get dressed. I'm wearing the same pair of sneakers so as not to mess up more shoes than I need to (more on that in a sec). Most of the time I wear a hat, because the mask straps are pretty tight and either smash my nose against my face or chafe my ears. I put on a mask whenever I leave my place now. Some mask straps stay in place better over a ballcap. I keep a big bobby pin on hand in case I need to loosen a strap off my ear and secure it to a hat.
Thus clad, I head out. I touch as few surfaces as possible but my apartment door and building door must be touched. So, before I even hit the sidewalk, I've already touched 2 surfaces. Boo.
Then, I'm outside. Walking is an exercise in Frogger x Mario Kart. If folks are masked and taking evasive precautions, I stay on the sidewalk. For the oblivious, the couples, the couples with dogs, the couples with dogs and strollers, the talkers, the gesturers, etc., I take a wide berth, either walking on the curb or on the street. I try not to get pinned close to buildings or in construction chutes.
Interestingly, Seattle drivers as assholish as ever. I still narrowly avoid getting mowed down in crosswalks.
If my trip takes me inside a store or building, I keep an eye out for arrows--which aisles are one-way? How to dodge aisle dawdlers? Did I get everything? (One recent dash into Bartells yielded white chocolate chips instead of actual chocolate chips.) Where to stand for checkout--most places now have X's taped off at 6 feet intervals. At checkout, I bag my own stuff, ask the cashier how they're doing--which always yields interesting factoids such as the DIY plexiglass at the smoke shop on Lake City--and then take myself outside as efficiently as I can.
Coming home is the reverse of this. I dodge my way home, and get myself inside, immediately take off my shoes, sunglasses, mask, hat, and throw everything but the shoes into the bathroom sink. Then I wash my hands, and all the sink stuff, and spray my shoes with bleach spray. I also spray the door handle, lock, and carpet by the door. Then I strip off my clothes, socks, underwear, and hop in the shower. Since I'm hand-laundering (avoiding shared laundry), I wash everything and wring it out and hang it up in the shower after I'm done.
And that's it. 

Monday, April 27, 2020

the ups and downs

Staying at home has brought more than a few emotional ups and downs.
There's uncertainty--where are we on the spectrum? How long will it last? Is it safe to go outside, go back to work, go to the store, see friends? Have I had "it?" Will I get "it?"
Some guilt--that I'm not working hard enough or accomplishing enough or helping enough or resting enough.
There's the anger, of course. At the fuck-up politicians who gasbag and bloviate and have their hands out. At the virus itself. It's nature but fuck nature. And anger at my fellow humans, we are kind of terrible at staying away from each other and that's our nature too I guess.
Sadness. That so many people that I care about no longer have incomes and don't know what the future holds. Honestly, I don't know what the future holds. I've read somewhere on the Twitterverse that we're mourning the facade of certainty about our futures, and I guess that rings true.
Frustration for me personally, of not being able to go somewhere or even plan to go somewhere, other than the grocery store or possibly the pharmacy or a walk.
On occasion I experience a kind of denial or skepticism, wondering if it's really all that bad. And then I read that 50, 000 people have died, the number of people who die from the flu every season, but this is just within a month, and whether those numbers are right (and I'm guessing we're waaaaay undercounting since there's essentially no testing)--whether they're right those are tens of 1000's of lives lost and that is a tragedy.
Some days I feel peace; when I've had time to do yoga or go outside and walk, and I've had a nice lunch of pasta with radish green pesto from my CSA, or I've shared some laughs with friends--there are times when it all feels okay and that soon enough we'll be able to resume--well, something.
The despair I don't want to write about, but it's there, lurking. Especially when I read about the incredible cruelty and venality of my government. Wanting to keep poor people poor and help rich people get richer. Seemingly okay with brown people dying at higher rates. When I see my own family members carrying water for these crooks and liars. I don't see any of that changing anytime soon.
I do feel hope, though. I'm part of a community sewing masks--I've made 85 so far and have another 35 to go and we're helping those in warehouses and in medical support locations and doing deliveries stay safe. That feels good. We shouldn't "have" to do it but we are doing it. So in a small way I'm part of that.
There's no big finish here. I'm trying to sit with my emotions and of course failing at that too. Sometimes I medicate with a little bit, whether with a drink (I'm drinking a lot less though, strangely) or an allergy pill to go to sleep early, or reality TV. Anything to check out momentarily and not think.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

maps of our heart

Google Maps are a real-time reflection of the new reality. I realized this the other day when I was trying to figure out what time the grocery store opened (for real, not on Yelp).
The huge swaths of "temporarily closed" or "takeout" are a real knife to the heart.
I hope everyone is okay and will be back soon.
Capitol Hill



Saturday, April 25, 2020

rainbow connection

This may be one of my favorite songs and performances ever: Kermit the Frog singing "Rainbow Connection" to a banjo accompaniment.
I sang it at birthday karaoke a million years ago in January and was actually mocked.
I guess some of my friends haven't heard this before.
And then a true friend got up to sing with me and it meant the world.

Friday, April 24, 2020

close far apart far

I was having almost nightly video chats with friends and family, until it all lurched to a halt this week.
What happened, I don't know.
Weariness maybe.
Other video chats.
It's tedious, I don't deny it, for those of us still working and bouncing from Zoom to Zoom all day for work, and then again in the evenings.
Suddenly everyone wanted to take a break. They're busy again (how?).
Or depressed. (Yeah.) Or just--not into it.
I miss the weekly cocktail hour with one friend group, the family get togethers, the chance to laugh a little and catch up and feel less alone.
It was something to look forward to.
I'm hopeful it'll happen again soon.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020


Some days I'm ready for "this" to be "over."
I write "this" because "this" is all anyone ever talks about.
"This" as a topic of conversation is tedious and also magnetic. Like a devastatingly handsome villain.
Also, I write "over" because "over" seems like a fantasy.
I think we will emerge slowly into some kind of new reality but it seems doubtful we can ever go back to what was.
And yet, we as a species are capable of extreme banality and self-destruction, so who knows?
In any case, other days, I'm enjoying teleworking (except when people get online with cut up apple snacks or bowls of cereal, which happens all too often). It's nice to have no commute and to structure my day in ways that work better for me. To take a break for lunch, an actual break! To see the little kitty across the way as I'm at my laptop.
I think about how "over" could be different, for me.
I hope I will be courageous enough to make the necessary changes.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

credit where credit is due

Realizing as I post photos of art on boarded-up coffee shops, bars, restaurants, etc. that I need to be more diligent about crediting the artist, if the work is signed. So I'm going back through all my covid-19 posts and updating them as best I can.
The barista/owner at Caffe Ladro told me Ballard Avenue is nothing but boarded-up venues, but I won't be able to check it out until some of the restrictions are lifted. He's the last coffee shop open in lower Fremont and says so far everyone is being pretty cooperative. The coffee is good and much-needed, and I always tip about 50%.
Apparently 2 farmer's markets are opening today, with strict limitations?
Much as I want to support farmers, this seems like a terrible idea. Mayor Durkan's "keep it moving" campaign so far isn't really working as the park I passed by yesterday was packed with people sitting on benches, sunbathing, or just lying around on the park grass. (Also, ick.)
There's finally some rain today after about 2 dry weeks, so hopefully that will help us all stay inside.
Weekend takeout adventures continue.
Last weekend from Pecado Bueno: 5-stars for the fresh, lime-y tortilla chips and quick service, plus the breakfast burrito I got for the next day was loaded with tots!
Then, from Ada's: delicious tapenade, and exquisite desserts of flaky baklava and creamy, chocolatey profiteroles. They need to work on their system though, I had to walk around the restaurant and call back into the kitchen to get my order. Still, it was delicious.
Qazi's is also a great choice, particularly for samosas and malai kofta, although waiting around outside on their deck is a little stressful.
Norm's and Roxy's have joined forces and I will say takeout fried pickles scratched an itch I didn't know I had.
Even Blue Star has gotten into delivery, with their delicious breakfast available all day, including the giant cinnamon roll.

more farewells

Lil Woody's
tattoo place at Pine and Broadway @rainbow_tay_tay_tay

Friday, April 17, 2020

the ol' neighborhood

My early a.m. jaunt took me to my old neighborhood today. A rollicking block featuring 3 restaurants, a bakery, and at least 3 bars. Covid-19 has closed the bars and their plywood-covered windows feature gorgeous art and inspiring lyrics.
It was a quiet walk today, one of the quietest so far. I could hear birds cheeping along with the walk signal at a normally busy intersection. A man walked down the middle of Pine Street singing.
The dog-walkers at Cal Anderson stood six or so feet apart as their pooches ran wildly around.
Hillside Bar @color speaks

Revolver Bar

Thursday, April 16, 2020

we got jokes

Wednesday night is trivia night for one of my oldest friend groups and since the Stay at Home order, we've moved online.
A different person acts as host each week and comes up with questions and even a picture round, and we sit around drinking a cocktail or hot tea and answer questions and shoot the shit.
Sometimes between questions it's show and tell (cats, dogs, stuffed animals). Sometimes our friends' new baby joins in before his bedtime or to show off a cute new bib. On occasion the old folks can't get their video camera to work or accidentally hang up and we razz them.
This week our trivia host from IRL trivia joined in and his kid hung out in the background, eavesdropping, coming close once to show us his pet lizard.
At the end of the last round, someone yelled "Ya got a joke for us, kid?" and the kid ran away and then came back and told us a joke.
Then I thought of a joke. And another person did.
It warmed my cynical old heart that we sat around cackling and telling each other and this random little kid dumb jokes. Then our elder stateswoman told a dirty joke* and we fell off our chairs laughing and that was it for the night.
The joke
Q: what's the difference between a staple and a screw?
A:I never got stapled before.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

the constant

I'm an anxious person anyway. I mean, in normal times, or non-covid-19 times anyway.
Add in good ol' corn teen, dire predictions, federal chaos, mixed messaging and a soupcon of conservative tomfoolery and--yep, the anxiety-meter is off the charts.
I don't mean that every day is an exercise in hiding in a darkened closet.
It's the uncertainty. The constant undercurrent of wondering.
--How's the world doing?
--Are things better? Worse? How would we know?
--Am I failing at working from home? Should I be writing more? Reading more? Sewing more masks? Taking more down time?
I walked by QFC yesterday and a man was outside shouting at the clerk working the entrance, regulating ins and outs, clad in mask and gloves. Dude, really. Now? No.
We don't know where we are on the continuum of this (and do we ever, I wonder).
But this feels more tentative to me. I think because so much of the activities that keep me not-anxious are off the table or severely constricted. Exercising outside. Weekend visits to my cabin. Gallivanting around town with friends. The loudest of live shows.
And I'm not whining. Just--working on turning my attention within. What -can- I do?
Besides worry, anyway.
Sunday I went for a long and early walk. I laid on the couch and caught up on Insecure.  I researched and signed up for a local CSA and even got an early delivery today of beautiful purple radishes, broccolini, and some young garlic. (Fresh veg for the win, plus it means fewer trips to the grocery store.)
Yesterday I did yoga. I spent some socially distant time with family members. I saw a hummingbird and chatted with some friends.
Today, the anxiety is back so I just sat with it. I know it's not going anywhere soon. I know it's not rational and that fighting it will only make me more tired. So I accept it and feel crappy and then not so crappy and the day can continue.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Chin up

A few more chin-up messages from around town.
Central Cinema

Barrel Thief

Meanwhile, at Eltana Bagels, paper cut-outs occupy the tables. (It's not-not weird but okay.)

Saturday, April 11, 2020

perspective, bees, and Dina Martina

Walking around outside in the afternoon is rage inducing. Especially in my neighborhood.
People can't resist the allure of the park, hardly anyone wears masks or moves aside on the sidewalk. I need to restrict my exercise walks to early mornings, I guess.
Bemasked, wearing sunglasses and a ballcap, and keeping a vigilant eye out. And taking some deep, hopefully covid-19-free breaths to keep my perspective.
The family chat this week was a somewhat clumsy round of Balderdash. We had some laughs; not the usual full-on giggles, but chuckles, anyway. A couple of the younger cousins shared close ups of their noses.
Today an early morning misty walk, and a quick run to the grocery store, where the clerk told me they'd had a huge swarm of bees just outside their windows yesterday, apparently searching for their queen. They'd called an emergency beekeeper who came out fully suited up and coaxed the angry bees into a box and took them away, presumably to their queen or another queen. What's next, the clerk said. Locusts?
A friend shared Dina Martina's new video, and I've watched it at least 3 times, laughing aloud at the lyrics, the deepfake videos, the sheer lunacy of it all.

Friday, April 10, 2020

you have enough t.p. buy wine

Audacity Wine Bar

how we experience this

The way we talk about "this" and experience "this" is an interesting evolution.
The initial excitement, wondering, borderline panic.
Checking the news every few minutes. Waking up to sniffles and fearing the worst.
I imagine it follows the phases of grief--denial, anger, acceptance, etc.
On group chats, I listen as people in different socio-economic and geographic strata talk about it.
  • The programmer says things aren't so bad.
  • The health worker says they did one procedure in a full work shift.
  • The cook says they had to quit a temp job due to the 4-bus, 3-hour commute.
  • The transit worker says work limps along but buses are restricted to 20% capacity.
  • The parent says they hide in the basement so their kids can't find them.
  • The laid-off consultant says they interviewed last in February.
Once again, the hardest hit are the least equipped with savings or other fallbacks.
Those of us with work from home jobs are the most blase.
Our biggest worry is the line at Trader Joe's or what to watch on Quibi.
Meanwhile, New York is burying people in mass graves.
Meanwhile, 80% of the people I saw on my morning walk yesterday were unmasked, couples hogging the sidewalk and walking dogs, white dudes speed walking and blathering loudly on conference calls.
Meanwhile, the city of Seattle is closing parks on this spring weekend to pre-emptively stop the gatherings.
Today I don't know if I can find a positive. Striving and surviving are my goals for the day.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

stay home

My early walk this morning took me towards downtown.
I'm wearing a mask for all outings but probably 50% of the other walkers I saw were not.
Many boarded-up businesses now have beautiful and colorful murals exhorting us to stay home. (After my 5th or 6th snap, I felt like I should heed the advice and quickly walked home.)
Sam's Tavern   

The Comet

good luck with that

Monday, April 6, 2020

beer to go

To everyone's relief, liquor stores and cannabis shops are deemed essential and remain open. Many bars and restaurants are selling beer and wine with orders. I have had less to drink (and eat) over the past 4 weeks but I guess it's comforting to know it's all still there.
Zoom for work and fun continues, although it's become less of a novelty. We played bingo and held a family "best backgrounds" contest last week and I managed to turn my teeth and eye whites cartoon yellow. A personal best.
At a group chat Saturday, six of us discussed the challenges of working (teaching, offering counseling) via video chat. Even fun hangouts are strange. It's harder to fade into the background, we've realized. Everyone hears and sees everything, where at a table, or a party, you're interacting with 1 or 2 people at time.
Happy hour yesterday got silly with moving backgrounds (a T-rex, a swimming pool), one person's malfunctioning audio, and simulated buttcracks. We toasted a wedding anniversary and decided to check out online card games, because the Stay Home Stay Healthy order has
been extended to May 4.
I haven't written much about the political furor over the pandemic, the states' valiant efforts (including mine) and the feds' utter and criminal failures. It's exhausting and we hear and think and talk of nothing else. Others are covering that aspect far more comprehensively and thoughtfully than I.
Finished another 20 masks. My fingertips are punctured and tired. Time for a rest.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

everyone I know

Everyone I know is Doing Something.
(Well, not everyone, but the ones I talk to on the reg.)
Making masks. Donating money. Working for production kitchens. Painting boarded-up shops. Buoying spirits.

A good friend calls every few days to check in and we've spoken on the phone more in the past  few weeks than in the past 20 years.
We're a month into social distancing and I think in awe and with new respect of my grandparents during the Second World War, apart for years, fighting and serving and helping and not knowing when the end would come.
Yesterday on my early walk there was virtually no one on the streets or in the passing buses. The birds were chirping merrily. No stores or shops are open (or if they are, it's for old folks and immune-compromised only). A bored security guard smoked a cigarette on a street corner. One very fat robin hopped along the sidewalk in front of me, not bothering to fly, giving me the side eye when I finally got close enough to walk past it.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Today. April 4, 2020.
Second time wearing a mask for an early morning walk.
Be safe everyone.

Friday, April 3, 2020

the divide

I keep seeing social media posts from people grateful for this time to "slow down" and spend more time doing things with their families. We're all in this together, they write, and I think, but are we?
The people who can afford it the least are taking it in the shorts.
The cooks, the massage therapists, the bartenders and musicians and baristas.
The people who make our lives wonderful and who make little when times are good, and nothing when times are bad.
So, miss me with the privileged wistfulness.
We are in this together by necessity; I only hope we stay in it together on the other side.

a few tries and my neighbor kitty

It took a few tries to pick up some groceries along my early walk today. I mentioned the lines the other day, so I headed out extra early thinking I'd see if I could slip in somewhere. I forgot about the early hours for seniors, so that meant Safeway was out, unless I wanted to loiter for 45 minutes, but that's illegal. So I headed towards Trader Joe's, but with the lines and the bunched up clientele that was a hard no also. The 3rd stop was successful, although there were probably too many people inside for safety. I grabbed what I could--oranges! apples! potatoes!--and checked out quickly. 
Here's the little friend across from my apartment building. She sits and watches as I work at my table. Today, she had a little snooze on the window sill.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

rent strike, or the complexities of capitalism

I spoke with my apartment manager the other day. I was pretty hacked off about the monumentally tone-deaf e-mail they sent out last week advising tenants to find another job (!) or file for unemployment benefits (!!). It was a good talk, actually, and I realize the manager is also caught in the middle. I got the sense they wanted to help and are being handcuffed by a less than generous owner.
So, I need to figure out who actually owns my apartment building.
The Seattle City Council passed a largely symbolic resolution calling for suspension of rent and mortgage payments.
I did request some rent relief from my property manager, who encouraged me to do so even though I'm still employed, and just taking on extra expenses for my s.o. who is on week 3 of looking for work.
So, mal sehen, as the Germans say. We shall see.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

lines...and Auntie Glam

There are lines outside the grocery stores now. !!! I have no photos (didn't want to violate anyone's privacy) but my early walk yesterday took me past 2 grocery stores and outside each, a long snaking line of patrons waiting to get in.
Mask sewing continues. 18 done and another 20 to go. To pass the time in the evenings when I sew, I listen to the Undisclosed podcast. I'm on season 2 and it's gripping! (although I don't care for the announcer or producer or whomever he is -- too talk radio for me.)
Another new find is radical fairy Justin Vivian Bond's Auntie Glam videos. Her cocktail how-to's are boozy and hilarious.

bsp videos don't sleep on 'em