Pandemic Dreams

I started out this year thinking, this is my year of sleep. I’m guarding my sleep this year. And conveniently(?) this weird hermiting all year thing is definitely allowing me to sleep in later. But I’ve been getting the weirdest dreams. They trigger my sympathetic nervous system and in my mad flight mode (I never choose to fight, why?!), I startle awake. Last night, I couldn’t go back to sleep. The startling dream kept replaying in my head. I laid about for a while then got up at 3:30am.

My coworker said waking up at that hour means the universe is trying to tell me something. More chaos? Is there another shoe about to drop? Is this a shoe storm?

Head Check

Two weeks into the lockdown, I said I was doing just fine. We are almost three months in now and I take it back. I am not fine. I don’t know what I am, but fine isn’t it. Resigned? Bummed? But mostly I just feel sad. What am I even saying? I don’t know. I’m not a writer. I’ll let a writer say it.

“You are hierarchical. That’s the older and more entrenched characteristic. We saw it in your closest animal relatives and in your most distant ones. It’s a terrestrial characteristic. When human intelligence served it instead of guiding it, when human intelligence did not even acknowledge it as a problem, but took pride in it or did not notice it at all… That was like ignoring cancer.”

Octavia E. Butler, Xenogenesis Trilogy

I watched this adorable video of a dad preparing his daughter for her first day of kindergarten. In front of the mirror, they spoke some affirmations.

  • I am strong
  • I am smart
  • I work hard
  • I am beautiful
  • I am respectful
  • I’m not better than anyone
  • Nobody’s better than me

I hear those last two lines in my head often. One time, when I was home by myself, I walked to a mirror and said them out loud.

So in the vein of learning and self improvement to help me treat my fellow peoples with kindness, I’ve started a book, The Willpower Instinct by Dr. Kelly McGonigal. In the first chapter she explains why humans developed a big prefrontal cortex: to have self control, to exercise judgment, to do the right thing, to delay gratification and not say things in the heat of the moment (I’m working on this one). Basically, it’s the part of the brain that keeps our inner assholes in check so we don’t get kicked out of the community and die alone in the wilderness. So I think it’s related to how I behave. I haven’t finished the book yet, but here are a few things she’s put in my toolbox already to help develop that prefrontal cortex and keep me from being a total asshole. Here’s to hoping some of these things grow my little braincells.

  • Meditate
  • Sleep
  • Breathe long sloooow breaths to increase variable heartrate
  • Exercise (I love her definition. Anything you’re doing that doesn’t involve eating and isn’t standing or sitting still, or laying about.)
  • Eat plants

I haven’t finished the book yet. I’m hoping there’s more. I need all the help I can get.

Finally I want to end with the wise words of Lizzo. “Why are (hu)men great ’til they gotta be great?” It’s easy to know the right thing to do, hard to do it sometimes.

Burning Hours

Since we’ve had close to two months of this, whatever this is, I’ve had time to burn.

GARBAGE TV – A whole lot of YouTube, some Netflix, currently Married at First Sight. Which, I have some thoughts.*

COOKING – A neverending pot of rice. Beans. And greens. Here’s my recent favorite repeat recipe (ingredients only since I don’t measure too much):

BAKED BEANS

  • Beans (red, black, cannellini, whatever you have) 1 lb dry (about) – cook it separately with a few bay leaves
  • Carrots 3 or 4, grated
  • Rough Blitzed together
    • Onion
    • Garlic
    • Mushrooms
    • Garlic
    • Jalapenos (leave the seeds)
  • Nutritional yeast 1/2 cup
  • Balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce/liquid aminos, tomato sauce
  • Dry spices: Mustard powder, turmeric, oregano, basil, thyme, paprika, white and black pepper, salt

Add all the ingredients into the pot of cooked beans, including the bean water (but just make sure the bean liquid just covers the beans and it’s not soup. This is great over rice, toast, or just by itself.

SKIN CARE – Mostly, no skincare except lotion for my cryptkeeper hands. I haven’t been wearing daily sunscreen like I usually do on weekdays. I haven’t been leaving the house, what’s the point? BUT! I have been watching dermatology vids on YouTube and learning so much about skin care. Like apply moisturizer or really, a good occlusive (oils) right after a shower while wet. It will seal in the moisture in the skin, a little messily.

*MAFS Thoughts: Netflix only has Season 9 – North Carolina. The general premise is, three “experts” make four couple matches and they get married sight unseen. The first time they meet is at the alter. No name to Google, no photo, nada. If I had to give season 9’s four couples a TL;DR name, they would be: Virgin, WWJD, Drama, and Sport. I got sooo invested early on in Sport. They seemed so sweet, like they really wanted a home and family. So after the third episode, I looked up if they made it. And they didn’t! In fact, I think only WWJD and maybe Drama might still be together. I think what failed for Sport, that broke my heart a little, is one-sided candor. Honesty is so important in building trust.

Hermiting

So grateful for the job that affords me the flexibility to hermit. I’ve left the house twice since the 15th. Once to get some zoomies out. I was going bonkers. And once to grab some fresh produce. Which was about a week ago and I’m mostly out of again. I am eating an inordinate amount of food. Mentally, I’m doing okay? The biggest challenge is probably feeling trapped in a tiny place where I don’t have room to walk without pacing. Because of that, I usually try to do something active daily to help me sleep. Otherwise, I take 5 steps to the kitchen and 5 to the bathroom and that’s about the extent of it. What I would give for a backyard right now! At least then I could go roll around in the yard or something.

Our incompetent administration that has painfully botched the handling of this pandemic has just decided to extend this physical distancing mission another month (4/30). Obviously too late. Frankly, I don’t think things will improve by then. Telling people who get sick to stay in their homes isn’t effective. They will infect their families. They or their family members will go out to get supplies and will infect others. Not testing more people regardless of symptoms is also a failure. Lying about the efficacy of masks rather than admitting the truth of an insufficient supply of them was a failure.

So about that prediction

I love finding out the end fast. I skip to the last episode of soaps or dramas. I’ll watch the end of a movie first before deciding if I’m going to commit the next hour or two. So it’s nice to find out, almost right away, that I was entirely wrong about almost everything. The economy is most decidedly not fine and toilet paper is the new currency. Although, I still might be right about the negative interest rates.

Be well. May the odds be ever in your favor.

2020 Prediction

This isn’t a prediction for 2020, but it’s a prediction made in 2020. It has nothing to do with what I wish. Otherwise, I’d put in winning the lottery on this list. It’s what I think is likely to happen.

  • The Republicans will win the Executive Branch for a second term. This will lose the Dems another Supreme Court seat.
  • The economy will be fine until late 2024.
  • The US Federal Reserve will have to dip into negative interest rates just like in Scandinavia and Japan.
  • Don’t buy coastal property or get any coastal timeshares. Actually, avoid timeshares in general. This isn’t a prediction so much as common sense.

Covid19

I went to the Asian grocery store to get my pantry staple hulking bag of rice. I ran out late last year and have gone without rice for too long. While at the Asian market, Mom got me so spun up about this virus, we quickly grabbed random greens, some noods, miso paste. While debating over the choices of miso, an old Asian gramps standing by the miso paste let out a big cough and it concluded our miso debate. We were in such a frenzy to get out that halfway to the car, I realized we didn’t get the hulking bag of rice. I went back in for round two. I’ve had rice daily since. Glorious.

Moral of the story – Eat rice, not animals.

Lent is as great as lentils!

Lent, my favoritist holiday, is here again. There’s just something about the budding newness and renewal of Spring that inspires change, growth, experimentation. A 40-day experiment is fun, a little challenging if you want it to be, and noncommittal. Perfect for my 5-minute attention span.

This year, my Lent challenge is to meditate (daily?). I don’t have any rules or guidelines. I don’t even really know how to meditate except to just focus on my inhales and exhales and come back to my breath when my brain invariably wanders to which pot the kumquat plant is going to go.

Dining Hall Entertainment

We actually left our house this weekend! As much as I love being home, it was glorious to get out of the house! We visited Virginia Tech, and while there, decided to go eat at their buffet dining hall, Dietrich Hall. I went twice (breakfast and dinner)! Buffets are actually easier to fill up on plants while eating out because most typical restaurants don’t realize that people need more volume to fill up on plants! But lets be honest here, I really went for the people watching. And boy was it like reality TV. Live! In-person! I purposely parked myself on high top tables to get better views, and conveniently, it was right by the soft serve machines. Soft serve for breakfast is a thing. Sadly, the machines were empty during breakfast. I could see myself use it as a coffee creamer in college.

At dinner, I observed people put soft serve on their plates of sweet sour chicken and other meals. Creative combinations! I also witnessed a male student approach a trio of three females dining together and he asked one of them for her phone number! She seemed flattered and nervous and happy as she dialed his phone using hers. Then after he left, the trio giggled happily. Witnessing this, I was second-hand over-the-moon. In Sim-world, they have three kids already and have climbed to the tops of two careers.

Runners Up Purchases of 2019 (and how my 2019 resolution panned out)

Second to the TV and PC that I got last year, these are other things I treated myself to that made me very happy!

  • Hotplate. I got this at the beginning of 2019 and used the heck out of it. When fall rolled around, it was our daily evening ritual to steam up our place with tasty cooked vegetables. It sits permanently atop our coffee table year round! I love hot pot!
  • Kindle. Anything that can save me space is a winner. I think I read exactly one book in 2019, and I didn’t even finish it until the beginning of 2020! (In case anybody’s curious, it was Fat Chance by Dr. Robert Lustig. Very highly recommend!)
  • Hiking sticks. I went hiking in West Virginia during the early part of 2019 and these came in handy to help keep all of us balanced and just feel generally steadier when navigating unpaved terrain. Not used on a regular basis, but if it prevents even one injury or fall, it’s a win in my book! I love being outside and seeing trees!

Probably Unnecessary Purchases – For my 2019 year of decluttering and minimizing purchases, I probably didn’t need to get these things, even though I did.

  • Cycling shoes with clips. I use them maybe once or twice a week, at most. Some of the bikes in my class have clips that are messed up so I can’t clip into those anyway. I like the firmness and the feel of them when I’m trying to focus on pulling up on the pedals, but either way, I know I can get a good workout with or without these fancy shoes.
  • Seed sprouting lids. I got some lids with screens on them to sprout seeds like alfalfa or broccoli seeds. I had such a hard time using them though, the sprouts just never looked that great and I ended up preferring to eat the broccoli seeds unsprouted anyway. I use the lids now to rinse oat groats, buckwheat, and millet, so they’re used, just not for the purpose I originally intended.
  • Hair ties. I was trying really hard not to get hair ties. Sooo hard that they were all I could think about. So when Prime Day rolled around, what did I get on impulse? Hair ties. What we resist, persists! This was a low point in my life during 2019. I am remorseful. And I use these hair ties and they work fine. I just could have easily lived without them.

Wins (Things I resisted purchasing)

Ok, obviously, this could be a crazy long list, I mean, I didn’t buy a yacht or private jet or dog. The list could go on! So this is just stuff I would have normally gotten when the urge struck and I wouldn’t think twice, but I resisted in 2019.

  • Shoes. Aside from the cycling shoes. My god, I want new shoes all the time! It’s an addiction that will never go away. Eating plant based has been easier than giving up shoe shopping. Hence the cycling shoes moment of weakness. I have shoes pinned on my Pinterest board and the list grows. I fear one day I may explode. But for now, I take it one day at a time. Breathe in, breathe out…
  • Clothes. I got basics that one can’t (and probably shouldn’t) get secondhand such as underwear and socks. For the rest, I am so fortunate and grateful to have friends who are kind and generous enough to give me their clothes they no longer want. I have a closet stuffed to the gills from their generosity! And I’m still in perpetual pare-down mode. Just not the drastic Kondo-method.
  • Earrings and other gewgaws. My ears got sensitive to most of my collection of costume jewelry. As soon as I put them on, they would start burning. So I got rid of them and now rarely, if ever, wear earrings anymore. I could easily restock my collection with hypoallergenic earrings, but I am okay with what’s left of my existing collection. It is tempting though, when I spot something colorful or twinkly.
  • Beans. Surprise! Bet you would have never guessed in a million years that pulses would be on my list of things I don’t buy! I eat them almost daily! We’ve just found that lentils are easier to digest. They’re easier for me to cook (faster) too. And to be honest, I have a pantry full of beans. I’ve just been using up what I have. So even though I love, love, love beans, and I love having a variety at all times, I’ve had to resist adding to my collection. I’ve almost used up what I have and I know this year, I’m going to have to get more. In the meantime, I keep a big 25lb sack of brown lentils in my pantry that I dip into for any dish. They are so versatile and creamy and tasty! Maybe this is why I saved so much on food in 2019. Those Rancho Gordo orders! Ahhh, now I want some Rio Zapes and Alubia Blancas! SOOO GOOD!
  • Baking soda and vinegar and soaps and shampoos. All myriad of cleaning products. I am such a sucker for buying cleaning products. Much less of a fan of actually using them. Or maybe I just don’t use them up as fast as I can impulse-buy them. Also, I don’t know why I feel the need to have 6 giant jugs of vinegar on hand and still throw in a couple more jugs in my cart at every Costco run. What is this fear of running out of vinegar?! Is it biology? Trauma of having the urge to clean and not having the vinegar to do it? I don’t know. But I stopped buying it and I still haven’t run out.