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.

“The bitter terms of our racial contract”

The coronavirus epidemic has rendered the racial contract visible in multiple ways. Once the disproportionate impact of the epidemic was revealed to the American political and financial elite, many began to regard the rising death toll less as a national emergency than as an inconvenience. Temporary measures meant to prevent the spread of the disease by restricting movement, mandating the wearing of masks, or barring large social gatherings have become the foulest tyranny. The lives of workers at the front lines of the pandemic—such as meatpackers, transportation workers, and grocery clerks—have been deemed so worthless that legislators want to immunize their employers from liability even as they force them to work under unsafe conditions. In East New York, police assault black residents for violating social-distancing rules; in Lower Manhattan, they dole out masks and smiles to white pedestrians.

~ Adam Serwer, “The Coronavirus Was an Emergency Until Trump Found Out Who Was Dying,” The Atlantic

I didn’t even know the “Racial Contract” had a name. Serwer explains:

The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal; the racial contract limits this to white men with property. The law says murder is illegal; the racial contract says it’s fine for white people to chase and murder black people if they have decided that those black people scare them. “The terms of the Racial Contract,” [philosopher Charles] Mills wrote, “mean that nonwhite subpersonhood is enshrined simultaneously with white personhood.”

Serwer finds this to be the appalling thread that connects the recent shooting of a black jogger in Georgia with the shift in attitude about the pandemic among a small but significant segment of the country.

Collective solidarity in response to the coronavirus remains largely intact—most Americans support the restrictions and are not eager to sacrifice their lives or those of their loved ones for a few points of gross domestic product. The consistency across incomes and backgrounds is striking in an era of severe partisan polarization. But solidarity with the rest of the nation among elite Republicans—those whose lives and self-conceptions are intertwined with the success of the Trump presidency—began eroding as soon as the disproportionate impact of the outbreak started to emerge.

This is a tough but necessary read.

Austin Kleon is one of my favorite people on the Interwebs. Here’s one reason why: “Not everything will be okay (but some things will).”

The upshot of this McSweeney’s list, “Unfollow, Unfriend, or Block: A Pandemic Guide“: Just back away from all social media.

Got the replay of the KBO opening day matchup (NC vs Samsung) on the ESPN app while I fight off some nausea on pain meds at the work station. Korean baseball is totally propping me up right now.

Apparently it takes being hopped up on painkillers to finally win a round of Cards Against Humanity (Family Edition) at our house.

“Just as the initial coronavirus outbreak caught hospitals unprepared, the country’s mental health system — vastly underfunded, fragmented and difficult to access before the pandemic — is even less prepared to handle this coming surge.”

Spent a lovely spring afternoon at the local emergency room trying to get to the bottom of my recent flareup of abdominal pain. A CT scan revealed bulkier-than-before uterine fibroids and sacroiliitis in both sacroiliac joints. Need to follow up with my doctors Monday.

I made C. drop me off, and the nice ER people masked and Purelled me before I asked C. to head home. He had to take care of something first.

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?

I did this week’s big household grocery run. I used to enjoy grocery runs. Now they’re stressful and depressing. (And it didn’t help to wear a mask that I could barely breathe through.) Glad it’s done, though.

I only checked news sites once today. And it felt great.