Put a Pin in That

Since I haven’t been practicing piano, or doing much of anything besides working and reading, I should probably be writing more. Things that have floated through my empty head to blog about:

  • Is “none” singular or plural?
  • Pride month stuff
  • Media consumption
  • Fear of aging/losing capability
  • How I fell in love with wind instruments
  • Nothing matters and it’s all pointless

Yeah, some are big and some are small.

Y’all know that my bugaboo from TV or media over the last few years is those who pronounce “divisive” with the same short “i” vowel for all syllables. Makes me twitch. It’s “div-EYE-sive”, like “divide”. But today, someone used the phrase, “none is” and I was like, ‘what’? In the kitchen at the time, I turned to the ether and said, “Alexa, is the word ‘none’ singular or plural?”. Her opinion was that it was singular, but sometimes used as plural. Not helpful.

I guess, technically “none”, which indicates a zero number of things, is neither singular (one of something) nor plural (several somethings). But it feels like it should be plural. “how many of your shirts are purple?” “None of them are.” It’s connotating a negative characteristic of a group of things. The opposite of “none” is “all”, which is certainly plural. Anyway, I vote for ‘none’ being plural, although it’s really just coming from my gut.

Who knows which topic I’ll pick next? It’s a mystery.


So… A week ago, I fell off my bike and fractured my collarbone.I had started writing a huge blog post about it, and in excruciating detail, got as far as my first urgent care visit, and then went, “this is boring“ and stopped. So here’s the highlights version.

Memorial day Monday was the first nice day of the three day weekend I was riding in somewhat new territory, and saw a soft right turn to a Street with very well marked bike lanes. So I turned, and immediately hit a speed bump I hadn’t seen. Not a nice gentle speedbump, more like a curb. Bike stopped, I went over, landed on my right shoulder.I pulled myself together, pulled the bike off the road, found my water bottle which had gone flying, then had to figure out how to get an Uber with a car big enough to put the bike in the back. Got home, had C check me out, took some pills. That afternoon, I went to urgent care around the corner, but they could not see me until the next day. Next day, I went – because my pain wasn’t too bad and my mobility also was OK, doctor didn’t think I had broken anything (although the bruising was impressive and got more so), but set me up for an x-ray on Wednesday. Went for the x-ray on Wednesday, the doctors had me stay until they could look at it, then called me in worriedly. I had a fracture, it was displaced, it might stab me internally, this was bad, go back to urgent care right now. Urgent care sent me to the ER, where I stayed until 2:30 AM mostly sitting around, but got more x-rays and more checks.

Bottom line: yes the collarbone was fractured, no, I didn’t need surgery, but I just need to immobilize the shoulder for 6 to 8 weeks.Both urgent care and ER gave me an arm sling as a temporary measure, but told me to order something called a figure 8 brace, which would actually work better and give me more mobility. Magic of Amazon, it should have shown up on Friday. It did not. Had to order order another figure 8, which showed up late Sunday. In the meantime, had a follow up with urgent care.So, the second figure 8 brace did show up and it works great. I have a follow up with an orthopedist on Friday.

Pain level has not been too bad – they gave me a prescription meds which worked pretty good, and I was icing my shoulder with a bag of frozen mixed vegetables every morning – but this morning it doesn’t seem to be necessary. Every night I seem to sleep better and better.Although it’s annoying, it’s not actually as annoying as the hand fracture was two years ago – for instance I don’t have to cover my arm when I shower. I have laid off the piano for now, and canceled the horn gig I had, but I am needing knitting a little bit.

The end, except I think I will try to blog a little more, since my practice time is not being used right now. Apologies for typos, formatting, weird word usage, etc. – I am using the wordpress iOS app and voice dictation, and it’s not the best.

That Dinkum Thinkum

So, I like audiobooks just fine, but I use them mostly to reread books I liked the first time around (I have a bad habit of skimming when I read – audiobooks force me to not skim). One of my favorite M/M authors turned me on to Chirp. Their regular prices are about par with audibles – that is, pricey and not-worth-it to me, mostly – but every day they send out an email with daily deals. So when suddenly they offer “Red, White and Royal Blue” for $2.99 or whatever, sure, I’ll grab that. And one day they offered “Starship Troopers”, so I was like, oo, absolutely. Turns out they had a bunch of Heinlein for cheap, so I bought several of them.

I’d just finished Andy Weir’s “Artemis”, and John Varley’s “Steel Beach” was my favorite SF novel for years, so clearly I have a thing for “moon colony” stories, but that was probably engendered by The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, one of my favorite Heinleins. And you better believe I grabbed that one when Chirp offered it for cheap. So it’s now my current audiobook, turned to usually after I finish some long podcast, and it’s awesome. The book is hella entertaining, and I’m realizing now that it was probably also somewhat responsible for my lifelong love of computers. The protagonist, Manny, who uses a lot of Russian slang, is given a Russian accent in the narration, and I thought it would be super-annoying, but actually, no, it works fine, particularly since the other main characters (Mike the computer, Wyoh) don’t have accents. Anyway, I’m enjoying the hell out of it. Not sure if I have a point, except getting the Chirp daily email is worth it for the opportunity to pick up entire audiobooks for real cheap, and that if you haven’t read “Moon” or “Steel Beach”, you absolutely should.

(side note: I was reminded recently of, and astonished all over again, that they made a movie of the Heinlein short story “All You Zombies…” called Predestination. It’s pretty good! Spoiler alert: through the magic of time travel, the protagonist is his own parents, creating a teeny little genealogical loop.)

My current print book is a history of the D’Oyly Carte company, which I’m enjoying reading in small slices. And on the Kindle, I’m still rotating through books like “Nomadland”, “Motherless Brooklyn”, and a reread of the Baroque Cycle (which I also picked up for cheap as an ebook, already having it in hardback and audiobook form). And I read a shit-ton of M/M books over the last two weeks, like one a day. It’s starting to feel like I need to cut down… not that it’s an expensive hobby, more a matter of time management.

My schedule is filling up! One thing I really need to do this weekend is update the calendar. People are coming into town, we’re doing the French Horn Nation thing in a few weeks, lots going on. Yeah, I need to switch from piano to horn for my practice slot of a few weeks – haven’t played since last June. It’s fine, I miss it, and I’m in a good spot to take a break from piano for a bit.

What else? TV-wise, we finished “DCI Banks” and am giving “The Good Doctor” a try while waiting for the complete season of “The Handmaid’s Tale” to finish dropping. We both really like Good Doctor, we haven’t watched a medical drama in a while. (I often have to hide my face when they show surgery or needle stuff.) And we finished season 4 of “Kim’s Convenience”, just a tad too early because season 5 doesn’t drop until next week. But season 2 of “Special” is now available so we’re doing that. Then we’ll finish KC (can I just remark again about how wonderful KC is? You should totally watch it.) and then I think finish what we haven’t seen from “The Kominsky Method”.

Hitting the start of summer with things being in basically a good place feels like some sort of milestone. I took myself out for a special lunch yesterday: went whole hawg with a glass of prosecco, a nice salad, penne a la vodka with shrimp, tiramisu and cappuccino. Yeah, it was a lot of money, but, you know, special, and I will have to remember to do that once or twice a year, it was really nice.

Of course, my hope is by Labor Day, which starts our cycle of once-a-month special events that are worth going out to nice restaurants to celebrate, things will be fully open and C will be moving well enough to not have to think about the logistics of it.

Happy summer!

Unreliable Narrator

Someday, maybe, I’ll have actual themes and essays to write. This is not that day.

Things have been fine here, mostly. C has been having health problems, but we finally, after vaccination and the two-week wait, got him to a doctor. Waiting for test results now, but he’s basically fine, except for this leg and balance issue. I’m nervous about him going out on his own alone, so went with him to the doctor’s and to the radiologist, but he went out on his own this weekend to buy a new phone and that went OK. But we do need to figure out what’s going on here, so he can move again.

Work continues to be very busy and I have yet to get ahead of my deadlines in the way I’d like to, but I’m mostly being successful and learning more every day – half the battle is having to stop and figure out stuff, and the more I figure out, the less that will slow me down. And again, I have to keep reminding myself, no one is breathing down my neck, irritated that I just can’t do everything now now now.

The weather’s getting warmer. I still haven’t been on the ice at all, and will probably wait until restrictions are lifted enough that I don’t have to make a reservation to be part of general skating or coffee club or whatever. But I’ve been out on my bike a couple of times and it’s been glorious. I’ll keep going with that every Sunday, I hope, taking longer and longer rides. I should make a list of the routes I want to repeat and the ones I haven’t done yet and want to. I also have this idea of riding to a neighborhood (such as Greenpoint) and then getting off the bike and walking around and exploring, but while that seems like fun, it doesn’t seem like exercise. Maybe if I gave myself a longer time slot and didn’t worry so much about getting other stuff done on the weekend.

So… we were vaguely considering a trip south, which would involve visiting my dad and brother in North Carolina, with stops there and back and maybe a couple of days at the beach. But my brother revived our tentative plan, put on hold due to COVID, of chartering a boat on the Chesapeake and spreading Mom’s ashes. Mom and Dad were avid sailors in their prime and were out on the Bay or the Patuxent River every weekend when I was growing up, and Mom loved it so much. So the tentative plan is to gather in whatever Maryland shore town has the boat charter, us four plus specific relatives, do like a sunset cruise, then have dinner on shore and spend the night in a hotel. That shouldn’t be onerous for any of us, and C and I can head to Cape May after that. (all very up in the air, and not sure when this is happening, but we will see)

Media consumption: I don’t do this deliberately, but managed to pick two movies this weekend with unreliable narrators who’d lost their children in car crashes. The first was The Woman in the Window. I didn’t particularly like it, but a great cast, I must say. Also, the author of the book is famous for having this batshit New Yorker bio.

The other was Wander, starring Aaron Eckhart and Tommy Lee Jones. It’s terrible. Not because of its story or premise, which is quite similar to Woman in the Window in that you have a crazy person trying to convince everyone that crazy things are happening, but they’re crazy so no one believes them. But in the delivery: inaudible dialogue, a constantly intrusive score, shaky camera work. I get that this is supposed to make you empathize with the lead character, who’s crazy, but it’s just completely off-putting. I love looking at Aaron Eckhart, even when he’s playing someone who almost certainly smells bad, and the acting is fine, but it’s a very irritating movie. Also, clearly, a labor of love from those who made it.

I recorded another invention this week, and then realized I didn’t post the last one here. So, here are two inventions. I’m past the halfway mark now, only seven to go!

Fie then, why sit we musing?

Hey, it’s May! Still chilly, but sunny out today for now.

It’s Mother’s Day, the second without our Mom. She never cared much about it – happy to receive the cards and flowers and so on, but if we’d forgotten or gotten them there a day late, there would have been no blowback or guilt applied.

I had a dream about her a couple of weeks ago, and she was just as frail as she had been her last year or so, and in the dream she tried to stand and fell. It was anxiety-producing and awful and another reminder that I have to build up more skills and internal resources to deal with my loved ones’ aging – and my own.

The last couple of weeks at work have been nerve-wracking, preparing test plans (and then using them) for my new product focus. Very much building the plane while flying it – even as recently as Friday, learning new and interesting facts about how things work that somehow had never come up in the weeks of meetings we’d had before. Or, more likely, had come up, but I wasn’t in a place to understand what that had meant yet. Anyway… still very busy, but passed my first big hurdle and it seemed to work out OK.

This past Wednesday, they brought some of us in for an office tour – people like me who had started after the office shut down. I got to meet three layers of my management chain, excellent, and some co-workers and see the space. The office part of the office is purely functional, and that’s fine, but the crown jewel is the place where we deliver the training we provide (or did pre-COVID, and will again). Very big fancy training room, with the ability to split in half so two classes can happen at once, and lots of backstage technology and creature comforts for the students and faculty and so on. Very cool, something we are all rightly proud of.

I’ve mentioned before, I have a dear friend who lost both her parents last year, one after the other and has had to deal with two estates, a house two hours south of the city and two extra cars in the face of overwhelming grief and all the COVID shutdowns. I’d gone down to her house twice last year to help her with stuff – this year, now that we’re vaccinated, a mutual friend suggested we go down together. So that happened last weekend.

Susan (the one with the house) had just had a birthday, Renee (the mutual friend) has a big one coming up. So there were a couple of really spectacular meals. And some shopping and exploration. Part of why we were there was just to reconnect with each other and help each other process – all three of us had lost a parent last year. So there were lots of really good discussions over coffee, or cosmos, or food or whatever.

But we did actual work too. There was some really heavy awkward bulky stuff up in the attic, and we got that down – one up in the attic, one on the floor, one on the fold-out stairs. And then we took an old particle-board kitchen cabinet/hutch thing out to the backyard and just hammered and crowbarred it into little bits, which was cathartic. We also spent some time cataloguing and bagging up clothes from both parents. Renee got some of Susan’s mom’s stuff – I got a nice leather jacket and a camelhair coat from her dad. I also co-opted all the unclaimed hats, gloves and scarves to donate to my charity.

So it was a very successful and delightful trip. The cherry on the sundae is that Renee and I talked about nothing but books for the entire two-hour drive back.

Media consumption: we did see “The Father” the night before the Oscars, it’s excellent. I was not at all surprised or displeased that Anthony Hopkins won Best Actor.

We’ve seen some other movies since then, including “Inherit the Wind”, which I’d never seen all the way through before. And last night, we watched “The Mitchells vs. the Machines”, which is a hoot.

Bookwise, I finished “Artemis” by Andy Weir, which I enjoyed a lot, and have started a history of the D’Oyly Carte company.

m/m-wise, I finished Tal Bauer’s batshit-crazy but very fun Executive Office and Executive Power series, which got more and more over-the-top as far as ‘the world falling apart’, as first the American president and then the Russian president each fall in love (for the first time) with a man. There are submarines and spaceships and weaponized biological agents and spirt journeys and explosions and … they’re insane. I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Harper Fox also dropped the last (I think) of the ‘psychic and his cop boyfriend in Cornwall’ series that I’d read most of a couple of weeks ago, so I tore through that. Wraps it up very nicely. That whole series will need a reread as it involves multiple alternate timelines and can get very confusing.

Ok I have banana bread to bake and calendars to update and a haircut to give (I got mine from an actual barber this past week for the first time in a year, but C doesn’t want to do that yet). And UMGASS’s “Cox & Box/Trial by Jury” to watch. Enjoy the sunshine!

Oh, yeah, this always happens

Ah yes, the return of the anxiety of “why am I tired all the time? Why can’t I concentrate? Why can’t I get anything done”. Followed eventually by the dull realization that this might be connected to “why am I sneezing all the time? Why are my eyes burning? Why are my glasses covered with pollen?”. Yeah, that. Of course I take allergy medication and it works fine, for the most part. But this is the ‘hordes overrunning the battlements’ level of pollen, where it’s time to bring out the big guns (the neti pot) and perhaps even to surrender. The problem is, of course, is that it really gets worse and worse, and longer and longer, every single damn year and I’m not sure what to do about it. C is equally affected, and he refuses to even take Claritin. So.. probably time to order another big box of Kleenex boxes, huh.

Not a lot to report on the life front. In my job, I’ve been co-opted by a new team, somewhat disorganized and I’m trying to figure out not only how to do what they want (build test plans) and how things work at all, but where things are coming from, what the deadlines are and so on. We have all these meetings and I’m like ‘does this thing we’re talking about now relate to the thing we had meetings on yesterday? it all sounds the same’. And the project is unfocussed enough that often the meeting’s stated agenda gets swamped in favor of the crisis du jour.

This sounds like complaining, but no one is seriously upset or bitchy and it’s fine, really, I just need to be more aggressive about saying, ‘wait, what are we talking about? Give me background here…’

It’s also about marketing, and I have never ever been interested in that as a field to concentrate on, but the tech is just yet another flavor of designing workflows and decision trees and that’s actually pretty cool. Anyway, I always hate it when I’m not sure what’s going on, but it just requires overcoming my natural hesitancy to bother people and poke some colleagues to get answers. Again, as always, everyone is perfectly willing to be helpful – I just still need to shake off the residual fear (from my last job) that simply asking a question or the wrong question will bring on the scorn and derision. That’s not this place at all.

I guess there’s a lot of media consumption to report on. We’ve seen some more Oscar-y movies and some others as well. That new Melissa McCarthy movie (Thunder Force) was mostly dumb and sloppy, but had some laughs and a great cast. And we must have watched something a couple of Sundays ago, but i don’t remember what. Last weekend I bit the bullet and signed up for Hulu so we could watch The United States vs. Billie Holiday and Nomadland. I didn’t love the Lady Day movie, although the acting and singing was excellent. I found it hard to believe (although it may be absolutely true) that the FBI targeted her so specifically, almost like a Batman villain. Nomadland is wonderful, although very melancholy. It’s the sort of movie that you’ll think about for a long time, makes you wonder all sorts of things – how does that work? how did they get there? what happens when….? McDormand is excellent as always. I thought the score was a huge part of what’s wonderful about the movie and was surprised it didn’t get an Oscar nom.

I suppose this weekend we’ll probably pay the hefty fee and watch The Father on Saturday and then the Oscars are on Sunday. There are some biggies we haven’t seen yet, but it’s not a big deal.

We’re watching DCI Banks for our British crime drama fix, and mostly like it. It’s set in Leeds, which I’ve been through on a train, and I keep waiting for scenes in Harrogate (there have been one or two, but nothing recognizable). And we’ve really gotten into Kim’s Convenience, which is a pure delight. Often it’s just a silly sitcom, but it also often touches on some really great truths. The cast is great across the board, but Paul Sun-Hyung Lee (the patriarch) is a hoot and a half. (he’s also a bear – rrrowr – which you don’t necessarily see a lot in Asian men) It’s been charming me in a way that feels really special.

Books – I finished the third Jasper Fforde dragonslayer book, which was entertaining with no sticking power, and am now reading Andy Weir’s Artemis. Weir wrote The Martian, which I loved, but I vaguely remember seeing not-good reviews of Artemis. Not sure why, I’m loving it. It feels like a flashback to Heinlein and Varley ‘living on the mooon’ books, which I love, and it’s definitely more of a fun time than a slog to read.

Lots of m/m on the side, of course. I read a book by Tal Bauer, The Night Of, about a presidential assassination and the wild ride to solve the crime and keep the country going as the vice president (now president) and the lead secret service agent fall in love (again). Hugely entertaining. Then I realized that Bauer has a whole series about a completely different fictional president/secret service agent falling in love while they try to keep the world from completely falling apart, and I’m working through that now. It’s even more batshit crazy than the first one and I can’t put it down.

Enjoy the weekend! If all goes to plan, I might be on an ice rink for the first time in over a year. We’ll see how that goes, and whether the knees put up with it.

Waiting for my microchip to connect

C and I got our 2nd Pfizer shots yesterday. Same drill: Uber to the Bronx, a not-bad wait outside in line at Lincoln Hospital (which then became a wait inside). They sort of had two lines, one for 1st and one for 2nd doses. Once inside and through the paperwork, they put us in various lines that made absolutely no sense that I could see. Example: C and I stood in line A, where we were at the back of the line. A medical guy came out and took C. ??? Then I got shown to another line, B. Where I was at the back of the line. And then someone grabbed me. Were they just grabbing the oldest-looking person they saw? Possibly.

We’d both taken the day off in case of side effects, but the only one I had is that I zonked out in my recliner for about an hour and a half. Desiree: “You take afternoon NAPS now!” That could have been equally to the shot, to hay fever or the pizza I had for lunch.

Morning now and still nothing but a sore arm. They had told everyone to drink a lot of water – well, I’ve been hella thirsty, so I guess the body agrees. That also could have been the pizza, or the Chinese food we had for dinner.

Oo, let’s see, what’s been happening? Work’s been pretty low-key, been catching up on a lot of stuff. Downloading unlocked digitized vinyl like no one’s business, such as this one. Will often have thoughts like, “do I have all the Vaughan Williams symphonies?” or “every recording of The Mikado” and go hunting. They do have a lot of operas I don’t have, but the tracks tend to be digitized as large 20-minute chunks, which doesn’t suit my tastes. I get tons of free opera downloads all the time from Opera Depot, so don’t really need to worry about it. Have been grabbing very specific recordings because I’ve heard interesting things about them, like the “Don Giovanni” where Marilyn Horne sings Zerlina.

I also get very caught up in my ‘clean up the metadata on Itunes’ project, particularly with all these new albums coming in. For instance, I downloaded an album of church-type music, and the tracks were mislabelled and I had to do quite a bit of sleuthing to figure out what stuff was. Also running into things like ‘there are two Jean-Baptiste Loeillets’ and multiple Gabrielis and Scarlattis, which have to be looked at. Keeps me out of trouble, I guess.

I’ve been doing a dry April. It’s not hard, but it just makes life a little less delightful. I emailed my neighbor, who did a dry March, and mentioned how weird it was to have a meal at the local Mexican place and not come home buzzing from margaritas. And she said, “The hours of 5 to 9 were long and boring that first two weeks. It made me realize how much I thought of it in terms of I have worked very hard and now I get my reward.” And I was like, THIS THIS THIS.

I’m doing it to see if (a) it kickstarts some weight loss and (b) whether it will help my skin clear up. #TMI So far, no weight loss, but Easter candy and so on… I do have my bike back now, though, and will be starting skating again in a couple of weeks.

Easter happened. C’s on keto still, so didn’t want candy, wanted pistachios. I got him a party tray from nuts.com of six different varieties. I took the opportunity in the same order to get myself two treats. One was mint chocolate malted milk balls, which aren’t as good as they sounded – although I’m still eating them. The other were horehound drops which I thought would be kind of spicy, but didn’t taste like anything, so I tossed them. For Easter dinner, C made rack of lamb, asparagus, artichokes and couscous, with carrot cake cupcakes for dessert. He gave me Ferrero Rochers and cards were exchanged. I also got an Amazon gift card, will have to figure out something extra silly to get with it.

Media consumption: I read and reviewed two different ARCs for a couple of favorite M/M authors, and am waiting for the cliffhanger-resolution book to the ‘psychic and his cop boyfriend in Cornwall’ series I tore through a couple of weeks ago to drop.

Last weekend we watched, not necessarily intentionally, two movies about people taking in unwanted children and then forming a bond with them. One was the Oscar-nominated “News of the World”, with Tom Hanks, which is very good. C said it wasn’t a Western, but it totally is. The other was “Ideal Home”, about a bitchy rich gay couple taking in their grandson, who they’ve never met. The gays (played by Paul Rudd and Steve Coogan) are such awful people it’s borderline offensive, but it’s actually a fun movie and ends very nicely. Rudd, in particular, gives a really delightful performance.

For TV, we saw the four episodes of “Collateral” (eh) and have moved on to “DCI Banks” for our ‘grim crimes in the UK’ slot. We saw all of WandaVision, which C didn’t hate even after it stopped being setups of sitcoms. I didn’t love it, reminded me of why I don’t usually see comic-book movies, but Kathryn Hahn’s performance alone is worth the price of admission.

Movies this weekend: more Oscar stuff (especially if they’ve dropped in price), and probably that new Melissa McCarthy/Octavia Spenser movie that I think just dropped. Speaking of MM, C, who has the TV on all the time during the workday for background noise, has been tuning in to Gilmore Girls reruns, and every time I walk in the room, I’m reminded how much I loved that show and those actors.

Allegro con brio

Continuing to be personally and, um, emotionally? productive. Work’s going well, I’m in the process of wrapping up a first-quarter project. We’re big on quarters at PLI. I didn’t finish the training I’d slated to do for first quarter, but I don’t think my boss cares and I could possibly wrap that up this weekend.

I took my bike to the Bike Stop in Astoria for a tune-up. (insert obligatory snicker here for anyone familiar with the Bike Stop in Philadelphia, which is a completely different sort of establishment) I’ll pick it up this weekend. Of course, I managed to pull a muscle in my back on that short bike ride, but whatever. Bike actually rode quite nicely, although I didn’t have it tuned up last year.

Taxes are done and sent in. I got some work done on blog stuff (made a backup copy of the 17 years of blog posts over on LJ – now Russian-owned – here on WordPress) and want to continue to do so. I’m going to start applying the 3-2-1 process to home projects that I did to the Bach inventions, this has worked really well. You pick 3 things to work on (A, B, C), but you cycle time on them as A,A,B,A,B,C. A gets three times as much time as C. All things being equal, A would get done first, but not always. Whatever gets done first (and for the inventions, it means it’s solid enough for me to make a video of) drops off the list and everything else moves up and the cycle starts over again. So rather than spending an hour on the blog stuff last weekend and not getting around to it again for months, I’ll pick it back up this weekend.

Speaking of piano stuff, I finally, after 10 months of woodshedding, managed to do consistent decent runthroughs of the first movement of the Haydn sonata. Yay!

So I can put that aside for now – although now that the whole sonata is under my fingers, I might try to do a FB live runthrough of the whole thing for the world to enjoy in a few months. That will be terrifying fun.

So again with the 3-2-1, “A” is now the Minute Waltz, “B” is the First Arabesque and “C” will be a Joplin rag, probably “Easy Winners”. I’ve worked on First Arabesque before, I’m hoping that will come together quickly, but there’s no rush. Others plotted for the future, “The Harmonious Blacksmith”, the Pathetique, the Mozart F major, maybe Rhapsody in Blue?

Sad news -although the G&S festival, which was cancelled last year due to COVID, is going up in some form this summer (good), it’s not including any amateur shows (sad) and the Savoynet “Grand Duke” has been postponed again (aaaaugh). I’m not (yet) involved in this production, but my dear friends who are it have been stuck in limbo on this for three years now. It also pushes back my own timeline – I usually go to the festival every three years, and given the normalcy we were denied, this might have been my year again. But the earliest I’m going to get conduct something there would be five years after the last one, and that assumes that the 2023 show is one I want to conduct, and that I get the job. One thing that easily could happen is me just going to the festival anyway, not as conductor. I could go next year as chorus for GD if a spot opens up, or just go over for a week and see the show and perform in cabarets and sightsee and stuff. Probably not this year, but if we’re on track, definitely next year.

Also pondering possibilities for home – there are shows here I can put in to MD – not sure if I should, but possibilities. And horn stuff. Oh, and I’m starting skating lessons again (I think) end of April. That will get me out of the house.

Media consumption: we watched One Night in Miami… and Farmageddon this weekend. ONIM is excellent, although as it’s a film version of a play, it’s not particularly cinematic. The performances are across-the-board good – not sure why Leslie Odom was singled out for his Oscar nomination, they were all good, although Jim Brown had the least to do. Farmageddon was cute, but it wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as the first Shaun the Sheep movie.

We watched all of Behind Her Eyes, which is excellently acted, but batshit crazy, and finished Schitt’s Creek, which was lovely. I still don’t know how a man as centered and sensible as Patrick would be at all attracted to David, but whatevs. So we’ve started Collateral, which has a great cast, including the amazing Nicola Walker, and Wandavision, knowing that WV might not be at all what we like. But C was like “oh, they’re in the Petrie’s living room” and “Oh, this is Bewitched”, so he was right there. Let’s see we buy into the premise once we get more information.

Practically Productive

One of my favorite books, Judith Guest’s “Ordinary People”, introduced me to a phrase I’ve tried to take to heart, that there’s ‘no golden gradebook in the sky’. It’s easy to beat yourself for failing to hit your own goals, even though they don’t make a lot of difference and no one else cares. Anyway, this weekend was ‘perfectly productive’, in that I pretty much got done everything I’d put on my list. It wasn’t a lot, or onerous, but notable because that never happens. I have a list a mile long of things I always could be doing, but, as I keep reminding myself, there is no golden gradebook for them. I guarantee you that no one but me cares about framing this blog inside The Toast Point Page, my largely-obsolete webpage which has been up for over 25 years. Or maintaining a spreadsheet of romance novels I’ve read, so I can remember which authors I like.

Speaking of which, I took a chance on two completely different ‘psychic falls in love with a cop and they solve mysteries together’ series. On the face of it, that’s not a concept with a particular draw for me, and the starting book of the first series didn’t do it at all for me. Put that down after finishing it, thinking ‘oh, well, don’t have to keep going with that’. The other one, though, was crack and I’ve been spending the last week tearing through the series. It’s set in Cornwall, and has a lot of background in ancient woo-woo old traditions – which, again, is not a concept with a particular draw for me – but these characters and the storytelling have been like potato chips. So that’s fun.

But back to the weekend. Saturday, I had a scheduled phone call with an old work friend I’d lost touch with, and while I was looking forward to it, I was also anxious. Basically, I’ve realized after all these years, that I do have a level of social anxiety, particularly with ‘live’ interactions (phone calls, for instance, as opposed to social media or emails). And while it’s not crippling, and I’m not thrown enough to make them miserable experiences, they do take a lot of ‘spoons’ and I have to gear up for them and rest up afterward. All this to say that I’d planned to only do laundry, have that phone call and maybe practice the piano, all of which I did. And we had the call, which as long (as expected) but delightful.

Sunday was free as a bird, and I could have, if needed, spent the day in the recliner reading about my psychic and his cop boyfriend. But I had a reasonable amount of energy and was like, how could I bring some things to a close and start on some new stuff that’s been waiting? So by the end of the day, I had:

  • Cleaned and dusted my home office desk and everything in and around it, including the computer tower underneath, which was filthy. Also swapped the two monitors, putting the larger one towards the room corner and thus less likely to be washed out by sunlight, a problem this time of year.
  • Reorganized my clothes closet, which was the last of the closets I needed to tackle in the ‘closets’ project. So that’s done.
  • Took three bags of clothes to the Salvation Army, then had brunch and a nice walk back.
  • Took a nap. (Needed, right?)
  • Put away the yarn and the tools from the last few knitting projects, and set up the next ones.
  • Juiced limes for cosmos, and then made a batch.

I have high hopes for being productive at work this week, too. Last week was so meeting-heavy. I still have low-level anxiety about being called out for not producing, even though the reality is that this organization is nice enough and mellow enough that if anyone had problems with what I’m doing, they’d let me know about it in the nicest possible way, and even that hasn’t happened. The org has its clear rock stars, who are ‘go go go’ all the time, and I admire them, but no one seems to be upset that I’m not one of them. *phew*

Media consumption. Let’s see. We’re wrapping up “Schitt’s Creek”, which is delightful. I don’t adore it 100% like many of my friends do, but it’s very good. My dream finale would be to see Roland finally getting the slapping-around he’s been asking for for the entire series. All of the characters in the show have foibles, but, to me, Roland’s aren’t funny, they’re just enraging .

We saw the eight episodes of “Bridgerton”. Silly fun. I didn’t buy the reveal of Lady Whistledown – the character they revealed had shown no such capacity to be that clever, although I like the character very much. Well, we shall see. I also was miffed that the hints of making one of the brothers, the friend with the artist, discover that he Likes Boys, led to nothing. Well, I have my books for that, I guess.

And we’ve just started “Behind Her Eyes”, which is delightfully creepy. I love the lead actress, Simona Brown, she’s lovely and very funny and radiantly human. (also the kid who plays her son is a delight)

Oscar season. We’ve already seen “Ma Rainey” and “Mank” and “Soul” and “My Octopus Teacher”. This weekend, we watched “Promising Young Woman”, which I loved, and “Crip Camp”, which I admired. PYW is a delight – although if you want to, you could certainly pick it apart for a variety of reasons. I just enjoyed the hell out of it. “Crip Camp” was interesting and occasionally guffaw-level funny. I love documentaries about the late 60’s, early 70’s, such a weird time in our culture and I was a small child, that weirdness was literally my first picture of what the world looked like.

Speaking of late 60’s, my friend Mitch turned me on to the Internet Archive’s trove of unlocked recordings, vinyl records which are no longer available through normal means and are thus fair game for digitizing and free distribution. Quality varies (crackly records), but what great stuff. A lot of cheesy ’60’s stuff which I’ve been delightedly downloading (bossa nova, Ray Conniff, “Music of the Flower Children”), very odd 20th century classical stuff that we listened to in college classes and which I’ve never encountered again, and a lot of random stuff I’ve been willing to take a flyer on, because, hey, it’s free and I have a 4-terabyte media hard drive that’s less than half full. And I like to collect.

Other than that, I’ve been having the odd experience of turning on the news and thinking, ‘Why are they spending so much time on the Staten Island road signs that were misspelled and have to be replaced? Oh, yeah, because the world doesn’t have a different Trump crisis every day and the pandemic is headed in the right direction and they can spend time on silly stuff now.” So that’s … um… normal? Good.

The most important thing

Had to check the last post to see what I’d shared re our vaccination status. Was it really only last week that C had an appointment at our local (not-chain) pharmacy in a week or so, and I had none? Well… events moved quickly.

First, using the NYC.gov vaccine finder, I tried to get an appointment at the Aqueduct racetrack, one of the mega sites. There were quite a few open, but when I finally got to the point where you pick a time, I’d pick one and then it would be full – and another time would pop up. I went through this about eight times, until I realized I should stop being picky and thoughtful and just grab the first one. Dumbass me finally realized that even if I scheduled myself for a wee-hours-of-the-morning appointment on a Thursday or whatever, that was fine. This was quite literally the most important thing I can do right now, worth upending work, sleep, whatever else was going on. I managed to get an appointment for a Friday in late April. Not ideal, but fine, especially since I’m not actually in the age group (I have ‘co-morbidities’, which sounds, um, morbid). I don’t live anywhere near the racetrack, but lined up a ride with my ever-helpful friend S, who’d actually gotten hers there too and had been plugging that as a possibility.

Then our local pharmacy called C and cancelled completely. Apparently, the big chain pharmacies are hogging all the vaccine for now. So I went online and got him an Aqueduct appointment in late May. This was better than nothing, but not great – C is in the age group and also has shut down his life to a far greater degree than I have. We need to free this beautiful butterfly.

So, we were all set, but were resigned to a tedious wait. But… responding to my FB bitching about all this, my buddy Steve said that a hack he’d used successfully was to go to the NYC Health & Hospitals website right at midnight, when they drop newly available appointments, and you can get lucky. As it turned out, I had insomnia early Saturday morning and, at 3:00 a.m., managed to score two appointments for SUNDAY MORNING for us! In the Bronx, which sounds impossibly far away (and would be, if we did it by subway), but was actually right on the other side of the Triborough Bridge, basically a 15-minute car ride.

Well then, that’s a horse of a different color. So I rejiggered my weekend schedule so everything that needed to be done could be done before we set out at 10:00 am on Sunday morning, in case we felt punky afterward. Cognizant of the time change, I made sure to get us up by (new) 7:00. And at 10:00, I summoned the Uber.

Eh, it wasn’t 15 minutes, exactly, but it was fine. We were supposed to show up at 10:30 for 10:45 appointment and we got there at like 10:25. We didn’t know this hospital or the area at all, and it covered a couple of big blocks, but as we drove around the buildings, we started to see signs up, COVID VACCINES THIS WAY, MORRIS ST ENTRANCE. Oh, OK. So we got dropped off and were pretty much immediately greeted by a guy in one of the big plastic facemasks, directing us to a line and telling us there was an hour wait. Oh… OK. The part of the line we could see looped around an outdoor plaza, and it took us about a half hour to work our way to the door, but it was beautiful and sunny and we were fine and if we had had to sit down, there were outdoor tables and benches right there.

Once inside, we were in a hallway outside an auditorium, with another 15-20 minute wait – during which we were passed fact sheets and forms to fill out. Once we got to the auditorium lobby, they took our picture and put us in another (little) line for an array of intake officers. Once in a seat with an officer, we showed ID, insurance card (you don’t need it to get the vaccine, but they are tracking it) and dealt with that stuff. Then off to another (short) wait for someone to come get you. I got a nice lady, probably a Caribbean Islander (strong accent), who led me to a little curtained-off hospital space asked me the same questions as on the phone (you’re not sick, you haven’t just been vaccinated with any vaccine in the last few weeks, etc.) and then gave me my shot! Shot was painless.

C and I were on separate routes through this whole process, but basically simultaneously – he was getting his shot in the next curtained-off space. Then to the auditorium to get ‘observed’. He’s allergic to penicillin, so the nurse doing the monitoring told him to sit right in front of her and to stay for 30 minutes, not 15. They handed out little packages of hand sanitizer, masks, gloves. And we just hung out for a while until getting the Uber back. (and that took a while because the driver also had the ‘which entrance are they at’ problem)

Tada! We have our next appointments there on April 9th, we’re all set. A teensy bit of arm soreness and a radioactive green glow, but otherwise no ill effects. We basically took the rest of the day off and lazed around.

Hallelujah, that’s all I can say. We’re now already in talks to firm up plans for family visits and so on. I haven’t told him, but I’ll probably start ice-skating again after the 2nd dose. One more step in the country moving forward.

Oh, speaking of that, what about that big ol’ stimulus bill, huh? I don’t expect to get a check out of it if they go off my 2019 income, but if they go off my 2020 income (my tax guy is working on those right now), I might get a little something. One cool thing is the bill makes a chunk of unemployment money from last year tax-free, and I did get unemployment last year, and I did already pay taxes on it, so maybe I’ll get a refund! That would be cool. Quite aside from all the other good things the bill does. It’s exciting, what’s going on the country now! (It was, I guess, exciting before, but that constant undercurrent of dread will not be missed.)

So that’s us! Get your vaccine, please! Wear a mask! Don’t be stupid!

This post is part of a larger project, #MOC19. Read more about the Mass Observation COVID-19 project here