More Like “Whereville”

While I was waiting for what ultimately would be “as good as we could have hoped for” news from work today, I discovered that Universal had torn down the set for “How the Grinch Stole Christmas. (via /Film)

A real-life Grinch may have arrived early to Universal Studios Hollywood backlot. The Whoville set from the 2000 film How the Grinch Stole Christmas has apparently disappeared from the backlot of Universal Studios Hollywood, according to helicopter footage recently taken of the film studio and theme park.

I took a screenshot from the helicopter footage in the article and compared it with the satellite view on Google Maps.

Yep, gone.

I got some of my best performing opportunities because of the Grinch movie. In fact, my first SAG commercial was shot on that very set. I’m sad to see that it’s gone.

The In-Between Time

Citizen Eco-Drive Junction

I bought the above Citizen wrist-watch when I was living in Japan. I found it simple and classy and I loved that it showed the day of the week in English and Kanji. I didn’t wear it a lot at first but, for the last few years, thanks to where I work and a newfound love of all things analog, I’ve been wearing it nearly every day.

Until, of course, recently. Once COVID-19 made pants, basic hygiene and the tracking of time optional, a watch seemed rather pointless.

Anyway, I picked it up the other day and I noticed that the second hand was acting peculiar. It would twitch and stall, moving along in little 2-second jumps. Technically it was still working but it seemed to be winding down. And, because it was running slower than usual, it had fallen behind and was getting the date wrong.

Turn out that, because my watch is powered by light and hadn’t seen any for a few weeks, it had switched to a “low charge state mode”. I just needed to leave it in the sun for a few hours to recharge it. After that, once I reset the time and date, it worked great.

My job shut it’s doors to the public back in mid-March. At the time, they made the remarkable decision to continue paying employees for what they would have worked. So, for the past few weeks, technically, I’ve been “working” but it feels like things are winding down. I’ve been acting peculiar. I twitch and stall. I’m running slower than usual, falling behind and I keep getting the date wrong.

Today is the last day of that payment agreement. It’s been announced how work is going to handle other departments but, because my wife and I are both union performers, our fates are still up in the air. A few hours ago, we finally got an email from our union rep saying that an agreement had been made on our behalf and we’ll find out the terms… tomorrow.

When I got that news, I officially entered my “low charge state mode”. I gave up on the night, showered and will be in bed before 9. I hope there’s good news for my wife and me tomorrow but, right now, I feel like I’m caught in the middle of one of those odd 2-second jumps.


The New Level 3

About a year ago, I bought a Five-Minute Journal to help me find a bit more gratitude in my life.

Finally got around to starting it this morning and, in the introduction, I was struck by the middle paragraph:

I can only hope that, once they survive their second once-in-a-lifetime financial crisis AND a global pandemic, the twenty-somethings out there can finally get back to their mobile-phone games. They’ll have earned it.

Amazing how an, arguably, contemporary book can already feel like such a relic.

[The above aside, it’s a good journal!]

You, Sir, Are No iPhone SE

Is it really an “iPhone SE” if it doesn’t have the things that made the original special?

Apple announces its new iPhone SE as fans hold on tightly to their older versions – The Washington Post

“I always tell people, the unsheathed SE is the phone Steve Jobs intended and that’s why it’s a great phone,” Wessman says.

He’s not alone in his love for the smaller four-year-old iPhone model best known for being the last from the company to have a four-inch screen. Faithful owners praise the phone’s ability to fit into one hand, its headphone jack and its sturdy construction.

Amen. I love my iPhone SE.

I don’t want haptic touch or a larger screen or rounded corners. And I certainly don’t want to need a freakin’ dongle so I can use a pair of earbuds. (Earbuds which, might I add, never need to be charged.)

People keep their smartphones an average of 2.6 years, according to market research company the NPD Group. They’re starting to keep them even longer, due in part to factors like a drop in carrier subsidies and easier battery replacements.

3 years and going for me.

I know eventually that the OS won’t update, webpages will stop fitting on the screen and newer apps won’t be able to be installed but, even then, it’ll be another few years before I buy something new.

Now, get off my lawn.

Good to Be Reminded

Trying to end tonight on a high note so here’s a list of all I accomplished today:

  • woke at a half-decent hour
  • drank coffee and wrote my Morning Pages out on the patio
  • made 2 jugs of cucumber water
  • made a big batch of salmon cakes
  • did a half-hour online joint session with my wife and her therapist
  • walked for 30 minutes on our treadmill (in the Swiss Alps!)
  • napped with my Riley-roo
  • meditated for 10 minutes (Day 879!)
  • watched the follow-up episode of “Tiger King” with my wife
  • shaved my god-awful facial hair
  • took a hot bath and listened to 2 “How To” podcasts on helping stay sane during quarantine
  • wrote this post

Today didn’t look or feel productive to me but, when I lay it all out like that, I actually feel better.

Rough One

Today started OK. Woke up at a decent hour after not enough sleep. Sipped coffee and read the news (which, now that I think about it, probably isn’t the best thing for me in this new dynamic). Then I went and sat on the patio, got some sun, listened to a podcast. Snuggled with my wife once she woke up. Ate a big lunch. So far, so good.

I was hoping to spend the afternoon thanking the last of the people who wished me “happy birthday” on Facebook, maybe do some writing, perhaps finally get my home office looking like an office again.

Anyway, it was about this time that, for some reason, our downstairs neighbors – who are wonderful and always incredibly considerate – started either moving furniture or doing construction or test-firing a cannon collection, not sure really, but it started ratcheting up my anxiety. I’ve got noise-canceling headphones which have been a life-saver in the green room at work and if I’m ever writing at a cafe but are pretty ineffective at blocking out the literal shaking of my apartment floor.

On top of that, a couple moved into the loft next door just a few days before L.A. shut down and, while they may very well be wonderful, philanthropic people who foster animals and are working on a COVID-19 vaccine, all I know about them is that the husband runs up and down the stairs like a 5-year-old several times a day and it sounds/feels like he’s doing shuttle runs in work boots on our rooftop. So naturally, as soon as downstairs would take a break to reload, next door would offer some rumbling to fill the silence.

I started to feel panicky and I don’t normally get that way. (At least I don’t think so.) In the time before the virus, if I felt anxious, I would just take a drive, go for a run or just get the hell out of the house. But now, all of those things actually amplify my anxiety. All my usual coping mechanisms are gone.

Feeling defeated, I told my wife I was going to lay down for a bit. I eventually dozed off but each slam from below or bang from next door jolted me awake, heart racing.

I keep hoping that I’m going to turn a corner and things will start being easier. I pick days which feel like they’d be a good place for a fresh start – a Monday, the first of the month, my birthday – but it just ends up being another anxious or uneventful day.

I’m reminded of a feeling I had back when I left the structure of working full-time in Japan to be a stay-at-home “author” in Seattle. In a blog post I wrote at the time, I described the feeling as follows:

In high school, I was on swim team and we used to train 6 days a week in an Olympic-sized pool with lanes. At first, I couldn’t go very fast and I always seemed to drift into oncoming traffic. But, the more I swam, the more comfortable I became. I got used to where the lane lines should be in my field of vision. I learned how to breathe. I also learned how to take advantage of being able to flip-turn and push off of the wall every 25 meters. Eventually, I reached a point where I could swim for hours with no problem. That’s what Japan was like.

Yet, put me in the ocean and I felt like a beginner again. There was no structure. No walls to push off. I felt, quite literally, out to sea.

And that’s how I feel now. As haphazard as my work hours could be at Universal, it provided the hard landscape I could build the rest of my life around. Now, with no structure and no routine, I’m back out in the ocean but, this time, the life guards won’t let me come ashore.