Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp turned out to be a gateway drug. Now I’m sucked into New Leaf.

“My argument is that it doesn’t really matter whether Tom Nook is good or evil. What matters is that ‘Animal Crossing’ has created this very productive space for people to have conversations about wealth and labor.”

The Nintendo 2DS XL arrived yesterday. Once I picked up a 32GB microSD card, we loaded Pokemon Ultra Sun and Animal Crossing: New Leaf on it.

I’ve set up my New Leaf town (named after Winslow the dog). Otherwise, F has been busy on the new device. Her Switch looks lonely now.

Celebrated our nation’s birthday by purchasing a Nintendo 2DS XL online. My enjoyment of Animal Crossing is taking a big step forward without destroying my budget or my guilt over big financial purchases.

I suspect F will be co-mayor of my AC town and play the preinstalled Mario Kart on the new device. Aside from playing AC: New Leaf on it, I probably will just watch Netflix on the 2DS XL and leave the rest of the game play to the 12-year-old.

The 12-year-old just used the term “canonically” in a conversation about Animal Crossing. Strangely proud of this.

Weekend routine (mid-pandemic edition)

My weekends have fallen into a routine that is neither perfect nor exciting, but it’s comfortable. Much of my off time ends up in the home office, where my personal laptop actually fits into the same dock I use for the work laptop.

It’s probably not a great idea to spend my relaxation time in the same place where I slog through work. But the home office is still my personal space, with a futon sofa and most of my books and arts/crafts materials stashed there. The dogs love the space. Frannie comes in with her gaming and talks Animal Crossing and Pokemon strategy. And I can stream Korean baseball and other video on the big screens. It’s become my happy place, and it helps make work tolerable on rough weekdays.

A typical weekend goes something like this.

Saturday morning: Having biscuits and other breakfast food that C brings home from Chick-fil-A. Then listening multiple times to “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” and maybe other NPR programs either on terrestrial radio or, more likely, the TuneIn Radio app.

Saturday afternoon

** Catching up on Korean baseball, usually with Jason Benetti doing play-by-play, off the ESPN site. I don’t really keep up with the KBO at a detailed level, but I like how the games and the baseball chatter keep me pleasant company while I read or write. Like right now, as I write this. Even when MLB starts up again, I like the idea of having these games on whenever I like.
** Surrounding myself with books, which I may or may not read at length.
** Streaming other video. Sometimes Twitch feeds of Anthony Bourdain shows, Animal Crossing play, or even Bob Ross programs. Other times, YouTube with Catholic videos, Stephen Colbert reruns, or Animal Planet shows; I’ve become fond of “The Vet Life” lately.
** Writing email, snail mail, and/or blog posts. Maybe posting to Facebook (which I’ve done more – weekends only – than I have in a long time, which still isn’t a whole lot).
** Lying down to relax the chronic pain in my lower back (and shoulders and neck).
** Sifting through the piles of printouts and books in the office and bedroom, and filling up the recycling bin.
** Sometimes heading to our parish for confession and 5 p.m. vigil Mass.

Saturday evenings: Dinner, maybe a round of Cards Against Humanity (Family Edition), or maybe a fire with s’mores in the backyard.

Sunday morning: Attending early Mass (if I haven’t gone to the Saturday vigil Mass), then reading/praying through the “Celebration of the Word” liturgy with F when I get home. (F eventually will accompany me to Mass, but not right now.) After that, breakfast – either pancakes at home or hitting a local diner, with the Sunday papers in tow.

Sunday afternoon: Either a Sunday drive for all of us, or a jaunt through a forest preserve for F and C and the big dog while I stay home to relax my back. (See Saturday afternoon activities.)

Sunday evenings: Same as Saturday evenings, plus possibly some catching up with editing work after everyone else goes to bed.

It’s not thrilling or exotic, to be sure, but it works for me. And it’s not like we’re going anywhere this summer, so this is probably my weekend blueprint for a while.

How to destroy your Animal Crossing camp without really trying

So, I learned the hard way that when you uninstall and reinstall Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, you pretty much lose your data (unless you link it to a Nintendo account, which I did not). I ended up destroying my level 77 campsite empire in a matter of seconds.

Fortunately, I was off yesterday (albeit for medical reasons). I spent more time than I care to admit rebuilding my #PocketCamp world; I’m already up to level 17. And yes, I linked it all to a Nintendo account.

And get this: I have lychees! (For the uninitiated, AC Pocket Camp players can pick several kinds of fruits, with one of three rare types: grapes, lychees, or lemons. My old camp had grapes; the new camp has lychees, which I thought only showed up for players in Asia.)

But I’m low on Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp friends. If you play, hit me up: 4365 6093 734

The world I want to live in has a big library, a campsite with pizza, and dancing cartoon animals.

I’ll have what they’re having.

On a videoconference this last e-learning day, F claimed loudly in a “two truths and a lie” session that she had logged 220 hours on Animal Crossing during the lockdown.

It was a lie, but I swear I heard the sound of authorities coming to seize our parenting licenses.

A Muslim video game developer finds community during Ramadan in Animal Crossing: “For Ismail, the biggest benefit is that he’s not alone during inarguably trying times. This gets him a little closer to the real thing.”

Slept in. Woke up to a custom-made Mom’s Day fortune cookie and Animal Crossing figurine made by Frannie.

This afternoon, had a painkiller-powered nap on a heating pad, followed by my requested dinner: Spam, eggs, and rice. Ultimate comfort food that fits well with a low-fiber diet. Grateful.

When Animal Crossing and my appreciation for pro sports collide.

It's been a weekend

  • ER visit with CT scan and – hooray – new painkillers.
  • Lots of Kindle reading between scans and blood pressure checks and nurse/doctor chats.
  • First decent night’s sleep in weeks thanks to Tramadol.
  • Sunday drive with family along parts of the Fox River.
  • Crazed solo drive to a Jollibee drive-thru that turned out to be closed, followed by a visit to walk-in-only Jollibee with a long line. The bucket of fried chicken with rice, gravy, and peach/mango pies made it worth the lengthy wait, which no doubt aggravated my newly diagnosed sacroiliitis.
  • Long nap on a heating pad with the first of many lidocaine patches on my lower back.
  • Achievement of level 50 in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, allowing me access to the second floor of the cabin I operate in the game. And yes, I worry about myself.
  • First backyard fire of the year, cut way short by surprising gusts of wind and a “pneumonia front” that ended spectacular weekend weather.

And with all this behind me, I’m taking a sick day to make doctor appointments and get more acquainted with my new friends Tramadol and lidocaine.

A highlight of my weekend that didn’t involve a CT scan and painkillers.

Things I’ve ordered that are supposed to arrive this week:

  • 3 face masks
  • 2 sets of postage stamps
  • A copy of “The Essential Rosary” by Caryll Houselander
  • 2 graphic novels for Frannie
  • Moomins T-shirt for me
  • Animal Crossing shirt for Frannie
  • A pulse oximeter

Who says impulse shopping is dead?

The Animal Crossing camper is starting to look too much like my real-life environs.

I am enjoying the dress-up options in this game. #AnimalCrossing #PocketCamp #luchadorable

I’ve started quarantining in “Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.”

And so it begins. It’s not “New Horizons” — “Fortnite for moms” — but I’m fine with that. And so is the tween, who loves showing me around “Pocket Camp,” which is likely my Animal Crossing gateway drug.

I’m not on Reddit much (my tween asked me to post her Animal Crossing art there, so I was just on the site). After stopping by just now, I’ve forgotten how much I appreciate the r/BenignExistence subreddit.

I remember making fun of it at first, but I grew to appreciate it for its somewhat soothing nature, especially compared to other pockets of the Internet. It ended up inspiring my own blog, and reminds me of the running commentary I often see on

Benign, in my world, is fine.

The 12-year-old’s wardrobe mashup of “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” and Pokemon “eeveelutions” is complete. #AnimalCrossing #Pokemon #Eevee

It’s Tween Birthday Week here at the Shut-In House: McDonald’s hash browns for breakfast, scrambled eggs for lunch, time with her download of the new Animal Crossing game. Later: maybe a neighborhood walk, more gifts, pizza (us) and fries (her) from the neighborhood pizza joint, and cake with vanilla gelato.

Typically, we might have taken her to Dave & Buster’s for dinner tonight, perhaps with a couple of friends if they were in town for spring break. Obviously, that can’t happen right now. But it’s still a birthday, and we will still celebrate.