Trading one set of anxieties for another

Been disinclined to blog much lately. I post sporadically on Twitter and, to a lesser degree, on Facebook and Instagram.

In recent weeks, I’ve tended to direct my energy outside work and family to following a Twitter list I created with political feeds. I called it my “Doomscrolling” list. I came to my senses this week and deleted the list, leaving my other Twitter lists focusing on faith, sports, and video gaming.

This is the third Doomscrolling list I’ve deleted on my Twitter account. I created this last one as the last weeks of the presidential campaign heated up. I even clung to it during my private retreat a couple of weeks ago, a few days after the election.

I’ve been steeped in anxiety and anger for months now, alternating my attention between the pandemic and politics; sometimes the two areas would overlap. Sometimes my thoughts about faith would in turn overlap with these other areas. But more often than not, the pandemic and politics would suffocate my attention to faith.

I’m long past the point where I’ve burned out on politics. (At this point, I pray to be secure enough in the knowledge that God has got this, and that the transition crisis will be resolved.) But I remain anxious – and am perhaps more so than ever – about the spread of the coronavirus. This, too, needs to be entrusted to God, but not without action on our parts: We will certainly continue to be masked and sanitized and close to home as much as possible. That said, it’s easier to weave faith into our pandemic life; I find myself praying a lot for people, particularly those who have lost loved ones to the virus or are otherwise in the thick of this latest wave of infections. Even on Twitter, I pray along a lot more as I come across requests for prayer and other needs.

But I have a long way to go in keeping my anxieties in check, persisting in prayer, and trusting in God.

One of the purchases from my first visit to an honest-to-God, brick-and-mortar Catholic bookstore in months. Eager to dive in this weekend.

We almost lost Mark Mothersbaugh of DEVO to COVID-19.

NPR declares that the house dress (i.e., caftan, muu-muu) is back. As someone who alternates these days between yoga pants and inexpensive skirts for the sake of comfort, I couldn’t be happier.

The home office goes full-time

My company decided not to renew its lease on the suburban site where I’ve worked for the past 5 years. So, I am officially now working from home full-time.

The decision not to renew the least didn’t surprise any of us; more people based at that office had been working from home, anyway, and our footprint there had been shrinking. Those of us who remained had assumed we’d just be relocated to a smaller space.

One or two folks are requesting to be relocated to the Chicago office, but that office was largely full before the pandemic. But we’re told that space might open up should many workers based there decide to keep working from home. (The company shut down all its offices in mid-March and is now saying offices won’t reopen till early next year.)

Frankly, I’m fine with this. I miss the camaraderie of the office, and I miss my colleagues, though we connect daily via phone, email, and regular GoToMeeting gatherings. But with the COVID-19 situation, I’d rather hunker down. And I’m enjoying reworking my home office now that this is going to be my full-time workspace. I’m moving my crafting and stationery supplies (including my typewriter) up to the bedroom desk area, which I need to clear out. There’s lots of boxes of stuff there that need to go to Goodwill. And I don’t craft much these days, so a lot of those supplies may go, too.

Anyway, C said I need to think about ways to upgrade the home office. Moving out the craft/stationery stuff to the bedroom desk area will help make room for another bookcase, and I need another bulletin board. I’m keeping all my Catholic books in the home office, as I still spend a lot of time there to read, pray, and use my personal laptop for streaming video (religious and otherwise) and writing.

So, the home office is becoming much more of an office. But it will likely remain my favorite room in the house.

Glad I don’t work from home for the Springfield district.

Made a convenience store stop during the virtual #PokemonGOFest2020. This is probably as close to a summer road trip as we’re getting this year. 😐

The Spousal Unit, on anti-maskers and the far right: “Darwinism isn’t fast enough for me.”

I get that logistics can be an issue with the large-scale COVID-19 testing that MLB teams have to do, but it still feels weird to read about it when I was able to be tested and get results in a couple of hours before my medical procedure a few weeks ago.

Went to our favorite neighborhood breakfast diner for the first time in months; it just reopened today as part of our state’s Phase 4 of reopening businesses.

If not for the social distancing need, I would have hugged the staff upon arrival.

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.

Since we aren’t traveling much this summer, I decided to try a little container gardening to spruce up the deck—despite my track record of failure with plants.

Got some Italian parsley, basil, geraniums, and some kind of blue and purple flowering plant that Frannie picked but I had never heard of. Also, a hanging basket of purple petunias, as well as lavender and catnip.

And a pink flamingo that I’ve named Bob.

So, my hospital requires a COVID-19 test before surgeries and other procedures like the colonoscopy scheduled for me tomorrow. Found this out Saturday, so I scheduled testing for this morning at the hospital’s drive-up facility.

It wasn’t as horrifying as I anticipated; the nasal swab wasn’t quite long enough to scrape the surface of my brain, but even with the 10 seconds it took to swab, it was still uncomfortable.

In any event, I tested negative for COVID-19. Never have I been so relieved to charge ahead with extended intestinal purgation.

Celebrating the Word on our own

Looks like Magnificat has ended its free “Celebration of the Word” PDF distribution to help families pray along with the Liturgy of the Word on Sundays. I can understand why: More dioceses are allowing public celebration of Mass again, and it’s understandable to encourage Catholics to return to Sunday Mass. Many of those same dioceses (including ours), however, haven’t reimposed the Sunday obligation, given that plenty of people remain wary of collective worship for fear of COVID-19 infection.

As I mentioned last weekend, I’m starting to return to Sunday Mass at our parish; however, with no Sunday obligation for now and all the COVID-19 complications, I had resolved to keep F home for now and set aside time for us to go through the Celebration of the Word together.

The end of the Celebration PDF distribution complicates that plan, of course. So, I went ahead and created a Celebration of the Word document template, based on the basic Magnificat-created PDF structure, and added this Sunday’s readings and several prayers to align with the liturgy (but not replicate all of it word-for-word, as much of the Mass liturgy requires a priest). Included are the Apostles’ Creed, an Act of Spiritual Communion, and the Hail Mary and prayer to St. Michael the Archangel at the end. F needs to learn the Apostles Creed and the St. Michael prayer anyway, so it seemed a good way to introduce her to those.

Meanwhile, I’m registered for tomorrow’s 7 a.m. Mass. (Registration is intended to help the parish ensure manageable, socially distanced attendance.) Not my favorite time to attend, but I’m still looking forward to it. Then, Lord willing, I’ll come home and F and I will have our own Celebration and connect with God together. Pray for us.

Good morning.

I can’t stomach Catholic social media right now. Too many people getting on the “open our churches immediately” bandwagon. Hey, I miss Mass and adoration chapels as much as the next observant Catholic, but the anger behind so much of the new clamor is disconcerting.

That anger: Is it driven by a desire for spiritual sustenance or rage over being inconvenienced by a pandemic you don’t necessarily care about or believe? All it does is drive people away from the God you say you worship.

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.

“None of us should spend a moment worrying about what these grown people do. There are better ways to expend our emotional energy than on people who eagerly follow Trump, even if he leads them to their grave.”

I wasn’t imagining it. All these COVID-19 ads are pretty much all the same.

I love that now that I’m following a Korean YouTube feed for baseball, I’m getting a ton of Korean suggestions on my YouTube home page. (And no, I’m neither Korean nor understand Korean. But maybe I should learn the language. Ballgames seem more fun in Korean.)

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.”

Someday, I will get out of the house and take photos of other things besides my kid and her dog.

My frame of mind, one Wikipedia definition at a time

I started searching for “ambivalence” in Wikipedia (where I found these definitions) and ended up in “asociality.” I imagine that means something.