Friday, August 7, 2020
The State of the Day
Things I Am Currently Enjoying
1. Black Maroo raisins. These are the best raisins in the world, and as far as I know they are only available from Imperfect Foods. They’re inexpensive, tasty, not overtly unhealthy, and you just can’t go back to the standard rabbit pellets you get from the supermarket after that.
2. NHL playoffs. The NHL was smart enough to bubble its players in Canada for the duration (take note, Major League Baseball, whose season is pretty much already over), so perhaps they’ll actually make it through to the end the way the European soccer leagues did. It took me the better part of a week to figure out what their playoff format is (series? round robin? both?) and it’s weird seeing them play in empty stadiums, but still – fun to watch.
3. Claire North’s books. If you haven’t discovered Claire North, you’re missing out. She is a phenomenal writer and has a thoughtful, vaguely melancholy sort of way of telling strange and fascinating stories. So far I’ve finished The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, The End of the Day, and The Pursuit of William Abbey, and I’m working my way through The Sudden Appearance of Hope. Go find these books.
4. The Great British Baking Show. This has been my binge-watch since quarantine in March, though I can’t say I’m doing such a good job of binging it since I still have several seasons left on my Netflix account. But it’s a fun show to watch. There really aren’t any villains, you find yourself cheering for all of the contestants even though you know one of them has to go home at the end of every episode, and sometimes you just stare at what they’re baking and think about how much you want to try it.
5. The company of my family. If there is any silver lining to any of this, it is that I have gotten to spend more time with Kim, Oliver, and Lauren than I would normally have. I can’t say it has led to any great Hallmark Moments Of Timeless Memory, but then it didn’t have to. So much of love and life is just time spent doing the normal everyday things.
Things I Am Not Currently Enjoying
1. The state of the American republic. The Fascist in the White House (and please note, when the founder of the Federalist Society, one of the most conservative organizations in America, is openly calling Trump a Fascist, the die has been cast) is doing everything he can to destroy this country and his enablers in Congress are perfectly willing to let him do so if it means they can cling to illegitimate power, even if that means encouraging tens of thousands of Americans to die needlessly. The full meaning of the GOP Death Cult is on open display this year, not that it bothers their base. They’re perfectly happy to suffer as long as the people they hate also suffer, and that kind of twisted thinking is not something the rational adult mind finds easy to contemplate.
2. Meeting students on Zoom or some equivalent. It’s better than not meeting them at all, of course, but there is no substitute for being there in person. Everything online takes 30% longer and gets 20% less accomplished.
3. Teaching on Zoom. For the same reasons.
4. The lack of restaurants. Yes, I know that many restaurants are now open for in-house dining but I am not an idiot and that’s not going to happen under current conditions. We try to get take-out once per week, if only to do our bit to keep the local businesses open in these hard times, and it’s nice but not the same. But if I’m still around when all this is over I’m going to eat out at a different restaurant every night for a month. And if I can repeat that task in a foreign country once I’m done and Americans are allowed to travel abroad once again, so much the better.
5. Not having the company of friends or far-flung family members. Speaking as the sort of person who is perfectly fine staying home for extended periods as long as I have my books and my tea kettle, too much of a good thing is not a good thing. I’d like to see my friends. I’d like to visit family members in far off states. But until doing so doesn’t carry a non-negligible chance of killing them or me, this is not likely to happen very often or with more than one or two people at a time, outdoors and masked. I miss being in crowds, even if I wasn’t really part of them.