This is not about the brand Chipotle, the Subway-style restaurant that I haven’t visited in ages, not probably since when my ex-girlfriend and I visited it during one of our Hamden reunion tours, back when Hamden felt nostalgic and homey, after we had both managed to escape it and move forward. That was in the past, though, and times have changed since those days. I’m not the same person I was back then, and even though I wish things were different I cant’ change the past. I’m no Gatsby. (Even though he couldn’t turn back time either, but you get the reference hopefully.)
This blog post began with an idea of talking about My Brother, My Brother, and Me, an advice show for the modren era, and a podcast that I listen to regularly. In it, they recently discussed the triplelupa, an item being sold from Taco Bell that seems to explode in your mouth when you try to bite into it. One of the flavors being offered in the triplelupa is some kind of chipotle mix, which seems appetizing only if you’re the kind of person who regularly hits up Taco Bell. I used to be that type of person, so to me I can relate to finding that kind of food appetizing or at least somewhat appealing.
I guess what I wanted to talk about here was the Munch Squad that seemed really cool and full of info for me to riff on, when in reality talking about Chipotle at all kind of dragged down my spirits and brought back some memories of a different time in my life. It’s impossible to ignore the connections you’ve made with people over time, even the ones you want to shove away and put in a different box, away from view.
I’d like to talk about the picture I chose for this blog post first, before going into what I’ve been doing during this quarantine. The picture above states, “Stay home if you’re sick!” however I’d probably amend that just to say, “Stay home in general!” The way this virus works, you can be infected and still be asymptomatic. The responsible thing to do for all of us is to make sure we’re practicing social distancing so that, if for whatever reason we are actually infected, we don’t unintentionally spread it to the people around us who are more vulnerable and at risk. That’s one of the subjects we discussed at our round-table family meeting recently. I’m practicing social distancing and effectively quarantining myself even though I don’t have a cough or any of the other symptoms you would expect from the virus. Other people should be doing that, too, and I don’t think it’s wise for us to go out in public and romp around the world expecting everything to be the same as it once was. We need to be cautious and upfront about our symptoms so that other people know what to expect from us. Even as I write this I question a little bit whether I’m making the right call for everyone, but I hope it’s right.
As for me, I have been playing a lot of Final Fantasy XIV. It’s an addicting, incredibly thrilling MMORPG that has gripped my attention through this whole endeavor and I’m super happy about the ending of the most recent expansion, Shadowbringers. It was fantastic. I know people in the future are likely going to think, you were playing video games during this crisis? But guess what, what else am I supposed to be doing? It worked for me to keep me from going outside and being around people.
This post is a continuation of my previous daily blog, in which I wrote about life in quarantine and how it’s been. I think part of me is interested in writing about this subject because I hope to elucidate a sense of the daily life of someone in America under these circumstances. Not that my experience is unique or memorable or anything like that, just as a sort of normal snapshot.
I’m also writing this out of a sense of obligation, I think, because looking back years from now I think people will want to know how I handled this experience, and what I did during it. By that I mean, my kids (if I ever have any) and future generations might be curious about this, and that’s about it. Not that I expect people will care specifically about my story otherwise.
Now that I’ve justified why I’m writing about this subject, I guess it’s finally time to dive in and begin, right? Living in quarantine has been interesting in the sense that I haven’t done much different from what I usually do. I just kind of shutter myself away from the world downstairs and wait for this all to be over, like anyone else. I don’t go outside unless to pick up a coffee from Dunkin every once in awhile, and I try to limit my money I spend considering I’m still unemployed and looking for work at the moment. Just thinking about all the people who lost their jobs because of this crisis is absolutely maddening to me, and the economy has already tanked so hard because of this.
People are worried about their jobs and how they’re going to survive this thing once it’s over. I hope it ends quickly, but I also hope we take care of what needs to be taken care of before it’s too late.
Living in quarantine hasn’t been easy, and recently we decided as a family to
impose some restrictions on each other to make sure we’re acting responsibly and don’t accidentally spread the infection to each other. I think it’s all fair and makes sense. What I’m wondering is when the end of this will come about, and what to expect of life after it ends.
I was reading on Twitter recently how certain people in the White House want to restart the economy and weigh the benefits and risks of tanking the economy to prevent the spread of the infection. It’s absolutely cynical and baseless, and if it goes through, it will lead to even more deaths. It’s unbelievable that it’s even being considered seriously, but then again, who’s surprised by this kind of rhetoric anymore? It’s all about saving the election in November, and it’s all about making sure the economy is stable in spite of everything. Economy be damned, if people are dying that’s all that needs to be said! Italy is a cautionary tale for how things can look here if things don’t improve on our end, and they may end up in that capacity regardless of how we act, if we aren’t quick enough. If we let things spiral out of control with incompetent management of the crisis, I worry how it will all look when this is over and done with.
Being in quarantine, though, has reminded me of a few things. It’s reminded me of how it feels to have no real professional direction at the moment. I’m really just waiting for the tide of this virus to end so that I can return to normalcy, and hopefully find a job that isn’t entirely shuttered and destroyed by this virus. Hopefully things start to look up soon.
In this blog post, I won’t just be talking about the act of working on puzzles, a meaningful activity that my family has spent a lot of time on already. I talked about that in the last one. I want to touch on a particular anecdote and share it with you all because it’s stuck with me, and it’s an experience you maybe don’t always get to have. Basically, I got to meet one of my good friends’ family friends while working on a puzzle with them at their house about a year ago. We talked about all kinds of things in the time we were there, especially election season and how we were excited to hear what was going to happen next year. How naive we were at the time.
The puzzle we were working on was mostly inconsequential. I don’t remember the pattern or what it looked like at all; I just remember struggling to put anything together, as it had about 25% of it done and was in that stage where people are just putting the pieces next to other pieces and seeing if they fit at all.
About a week or two ago, I spoke to that friend again and we talked about this moment in time. We specifically talked about how weird it is sometimes to recall places and people you’ll likely never meet or see ever again. You were nice and cordial to each other once, and then… poof. They’re gone. You might not even remember their names or where they lived or what their house was like; you just remember that small moment your lives intersected for a bit. It’s unusual to consider this, I guess. But we talked about it together, and I wish I had more examples I could pull out in my head, but they’re all gone.
Back when I used to live at this house, we would sometimes pull out puzzles and try to complete them in one go. They’d never get finished that easily, usually because the puzzles we had were enormous and multifaceted and full of the most ridiculous spots. It’s more difficult than it looks, I promise you, to figure out how this blue spot connects to this other blue spot that looks remarkably similar except for an infinitesimally small sky-blue dot in the upper corner. It’s all about the little details when it comes to figuring out how these puzzles work. You have to have an attention to detail and picking out the finest points of things, and you have to be able to focus. That’s always a tough thing for me: focusing. Puzzles require concentration and dedication to completing it, obviously, but also to looking at those small details and not losing your mind in the process of working all that out in your head.
I give props to my mom and sister, who are much better at completing puzzles than I am. I learn by intuition; I feel things out and hope that they make sense in the process of me figuring it out on my own. I learn in a way that makes puzzles difficult, because they’re not exactly the most intuitive things around. Of course, there are some intuitive elements, like figuring out the outline of the puzzle before anything else, looking for pieces that match each other in pattern, and so on, but more than anything, puzzles are about concentration and a will to not completely give up after staring at the same spots over and over again.
I think I’m going to write about puzzles some more in the next blog post. Stay tuned for that.
It’s one thing to exist as yourself, to be a person who has a solid, single identity that’s unwavering and a part of themselves. It’s important to remember who you are outside of society, outside of the communities you enter and are momentarily a member of, because if you lose yourself, you risk losing the person that remains after the communities inevitably fade away. Lots of these small communities fall apart over time; they don’t last by virtue of the fact that people run into issues and drama if they have to live and be together for so long, and for such a lengthy period of time. Personalities will clash, attitudes will clash, it’s just the nature of the beast. Some people are better at managing those attitudes than others, and that leads to reconciliation and compromise over resentment. Other times, people think they’re good at managing those attitudes when in reality they only make matters worse for themselves as well as others.
Communities are fragile, and only propped up by the people that run them. If communities aren’t willing to resolve their differences amicably then they don’t deserve to exist in the first place. It’s all about amicable reconciliation, at the end of the day. If we’re not doing our absolute best to accommodate for each other, what are we even doing then? Especially our friends and so-called fellow community members? There’s no point in it.
I guess this will be the last post I make about this topic, about this drama that’s made matters worse for me on social media. I guess, above all, I just want closure with this, but it’ll never come. Not while I’m still around, at least. I don’t think it’s the kind of matter that will find closure. Not everything does these days.
When no one listens to you anymore, when friends turn against you and everything seems to be moving into crisis mode in the world, that’s when it’s most important to terminate all connections, isolate yourself, and remind yourself who you are and what this world is all about. It’s not enough to just stand around and wait for things to happen to you; you have to take a stand, be proactive, and move forward regardless of the circumstances surrounding your personal crisis. I know that these words are difficult to hear considering the state of the world right now, what with the pandemic and economic recession and all that, but it’s always important to keep them in mind in spite of things.
Recently, I terminated my connections on Twitter over a bad, unnecessary fit of drama propagated by people who feed off of this stuff. It’s a shame how you’re unable to tell the types of people you’ll encounter in the world until you actually know them for months, even. It’s not something you can just gauge from a close encounter. And people, despite their appearances, deceive all the time; it’s almost as if it’s in their nature to be manipulative to others. I’m the one who terminated all connections and I don’t regret it one bit, but a part of me wants to go back at least for the people who don’t know any better.
Regardless, I’m only talking about this here as a way of getting it out of my system, venting to no one and nothing until the wind sweeps it away into the vast nothingness that is all these other blog posts no one ever reads but once. It’s a sad affair but nothing to do about it but write, write, and write some more, until the last drip of ink seeps from the pen.
The other day, my friend Alex came over and brought with him a big, four-parter box contraption that now sits in my room next to the Playstation and the bureau. Although it’s a bit small, it’s designed so that Jace can explore a space and move around freely, as if he had a little hideout to himself. The thought is that hopefully he’ll calm down a bit more if he has somewhere to go where he can relax and be away from people. The other thought is that, Jace clearly likes his little cat tower, so why not let Jace get a little castle for himself?
I’ve put a lot of thought into getting a more elaborate castle sometime in the future. I’d like to get one mostly because, although it will cost an arm and a leg to buy, it’ll keep Jace busy for sure and he’ll absolutely spend lots of time on it. The hope is that regardless of how long it takes him to acclimate, he will eventually love it so much that he refuses to get into other things in the room. That’s obviously a tough bargain, considering he loves to get all over the furniture and pretty much everything there is to get into in this room.
Another thing we’ve been struggling with when it comes to Jace is figuring out how to trim his nails. He’s not necessarily the most cooperative cat in the world, so that makes it difficult to get him to stay still for me to clip those tiny nails. Alex recommended maybe getting a nail filer instead, but I’m not sure that’s the best idea either. Regardless, it’s going to take time to figure out how to be the best cat dad around. I hope that I get better over time.
Well, I did it. I got to at least 500 blog posts without repeating a title. Everything else has been brand new, with no overlapping topics. I’ve kept this going for over a year now and I feel pretty good about the lasting impact of this whole process on my writing skills. I believe I’m a better writer now than I was when I started this whole thing, and it’s great to go back and look at myself, look at what I did back when this blog was in its nascent stages, and learn from it. Even today, while I was reading the blog back a bit, I saw a post saying “An Apology for Inactivity,” back in 2014. That was a whole six or seven years ago at this point, and yet I was apologizing for being inactive then. Now I’m active every single day, practically, and show no signs of letting up or stopping any time soon. That’s what blogging does to you; it makes you motivated to keep going, and you want to push yourself to achieve higher milestones. Even now, while looking at the title of this blog post, I think to myself: what will I name the blog I write when I get to #1000? Will that also be a milestone worth writing about? Maybe I should title this “Part 1,” so as to motivate myself to keep writing so that I know I have to get to “Part 2,” that being #1000? I’ve never written a two-parter so separate from each other before. It’s all so new and interesting to think about!
Nevertheless, I’ve made it this far. I genuinely thought about quitting this thing for good after my breakup, considering how much of the 100s, 200s, and 300s are about a person that’s no longer a part of my life. But I want to keep going. At this point, I really have to.