Those Ole Emergency Room Blues

My wife and I watched the most recent Pet Sematary tonight and it got me thinking about what a huge part Stephen King has played in my life. IT was the first novel I ever read. (At Boy Scout camp. At night, in a tent, during Florida thunderstorms. So yeah, permanently scarred.) His On Writing is one of the best books on being a writer that I’ve read. I saw him speak in Seattle shortly after he was able to walk again after his accident and it was inspirational. The Dark Tower books were an unbelievable journey in and of themselves but were also a bonding moment between my youngest brother and me. And my favorite chapter of all time is Chapter 38 of The Stand.IMG_0498

After several chapters setting up the start and consequences of the “superflu” (AKA “Captain Trips”), Stephen King does an entire chapter about the “second epidemic”, all the people who died of “natural death” after the pandemic had already destroyed 99.4% of the world’s population. When I read that chapter in high school, I was floored by it. Each death felt like a fully fleshed-out story. My mind reeled contemplating at how a skinny, near-sighted kid like me would have fared in a post-pandemic world. (I didn’t think the odds were in my favor.) It’s a chapter that always stuck with me and, when The Stand came back into the public eye thanks to COVID-19, I was reminded of that section.

As recently as yesterday I read an article about how ER doctors are worried because of the steep decline in stroke and heart attack patients, and it reminded me of Chapter 38.

Things are crazy right now (and they’re going to continue that way for a while) but, thankfully, they’re not Captain Trip’s crazy.

To Shave or Not to Shave

Today went a lot better than yesterday. Productive morning. Had a good chat with my brother. Finally managed to do laundry and, as a result, broke 10,000 steps on my Fitbit for the first time since we self-quarantined.

In the middle of the day, my wife told me that she’d read in an article that women will change their hair drastically after a break-up or other stressful event because it gives them a sense of control. It’s something in their power to change. She then said that, with so many things out of our control right now, if I wanted to shave my head, she was cool with it.

Amazing of her to suggest it (especially since I know how she feels about shaved heads) and I’ve been contemplating it all day. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve shaved my head. The first time was my first year in Japan and, while I loved it, the backlash from work was awe-inspiring. I grew it back out and didn’t shave it again for the rest of my time overseas.

The second time was when I was living in Seattle, shortly after moving back to the U.S. In retrospect, I can see that that time it was a control thing. I was fighting reverse-culture shock as well as what probably a serious case of depression. I wanted to feel low-maintenance as well as get away with something I couldn’t in Japan. It only lasted a few months but it was empowering when I did it.

As for now, it seems like this is the perfect time. I won’t be going back to work until June 1st at the earliest and, oh who are we kidding? Theme parks aren’t going to reopen any time soon. But that’s part of why I’m hesitant to shave my head. Yes, it’ll be easier and all but it also means that I’m accepting that this [gestures at everything] won’t end any time soon.

Then again, maybe I need a drastic physical act to drive home that this is going to be the new normal for a while.

We’ll see.

Another Rough One

I don’t know how much longer I can keep not handling this well.

Good news is, we’ve got groceries being delivered in the next 2 hours. Plus, my wife is keeping an eye on me.

I don’t know what I need but something’s gotta change.

Too Tired to Be Clever

Don’t know what I want to write.

I’m tired. Slightly drunk. Preoccupied with everything.

I wish I did these posts earlier in the day so I wouldn’t have to think about them as I’m trying to unwind and go to bed.

Had a good chat with my parents today. They’re doing well. So glad they’re taking this seriously. I miss them.

I made grilled miso-marinated chicken wings tonight and they turned out pretty good. I’m glad I really enjoy cooking. It’s been one of the few things I’ve been able to complete since this whole thing started.

I did get out on the patio again before it got too hot today. Not a fan of this heat wave. It’s bad enough being stuck in the apartment but to have to do it with all the windows and shades shut to keep the place cool makes things feel more claustrophobic.

If I wrap up now, maybe I’ll get a good night’s sleep and have a more productive day tomorrow. Man, I hope so.



I Feel Seen!

Man Not Sure Why He Thought Most Psychologically Taxing Situation Of His Life Would Be The Thing To Make Him Productive

Admitting that a highly contagious, deadly pandemic had done little to stoke his creativity, local man Michael Ayers confided to reporters Wednesday that he wasn’t sure why he had imagined the most stressful situation he had ever experienced would be the thing that finally made him more productive.

“Despite my high hopes, the most devastating crisis of my life hasn’t turned out to be the catalyst I needed to meet all of my long-held personal goals,” said Ayers, who added that he had no idea what he was thinking when he told himself that being furloughed from his job and enduring a sustained period of emotional isolation would be just what he needed to start eating better, acquaint himself with world cinema, and get a jumpstart on the novel he had always wanted write.

“For some reason I took a look at an economic catastrophe that may soon rival the Great Depression and said, ‘Oh great, now I’ll have the energy and the space I need to focus on my creative side.’ But I guess living with ever-present, crushing uncertainty and the knowledge that people all around me are dying wasn’t the stimulus I needed after all.” At press time, Ayers had reportedly decided that, going forward, he would instead focus all his time and attention on feeling guilty about his lack of productivity.

Thank you, The Onion. I needed to read that.

Making Salmon and Mistakes

I’ve decided I’m going to start using every day in the quarantine as an opportunity to learn something. Not in a “Hey, I taught myself Korean!” kind of way but more like “Oh, so THAT is what makes me completely worthless. Good to know”.

For example, I’m finding that I have the most energy in the morning but only once I get moving. If I use that energy to do my morning routing as if I were getting ready for work, the momentum carries me to my next task.

If the timing is right, I can then sit out on my patio while it’s still cool enough and write my journals and get some fresh air. If I wait too long, it gets too warm. Plus, the later in the morning, the noisier the apartment complex. (Between Clompy McClomperton next door and the remodeling of a downstairs unit, it’s the opposite of serene.)

If I eat too big of breakfast, I immediately grind to a halt. Otherwise, I grind to a halt mid-afternoon, around the time my wife wakes up. Good to know. (I may just have to start incorporating siestas into my daily routine. ¡Ay, Dios mío!)

Anyway, I decided I would grill plank salmon for us for dinner tonight. The first time I did it last May, the planks caught on fire but the meal turned out surprisingly good. See?

Plank Salmon
Yeah, I planned it that way.

I tried it again about a month ago and did everything by the book. It took 3 times longer to cook, tasted OK and left the planks in good enough condition to be reused.

So, tonight, I reused them. I soaked the planks. Prepped the grill. Planned the timing of the sides. Put the wet planks on the grill to preheat. Eventually, I went out with the seasoned salmon and, when I opened the grill lid, both the planks had caught fire. (Don’t preheat the planks with the lid down. Good to know.) They were only slightly burning but, no matter what I did, it only made the flames grow.

“Welp, I don’t have time to soak another set of planks and these are already burning and they actually smell pretty good. And the grill is heated. Smoked salmon it is!” So, I moved the flaming wreckage to one side of the grill, put the salmon on the other and then closed the lids. Fingers crossed.

Just about the time I had finished the sides, I pulled the salmon off the grill. And they were, by far, the best salmon I’ve ever made. Crisp skin, smokey flavor, flaky meat and the perfect temperature. Now, I don’t know if I could ever recreate what I did tonight but, at a time when I’m so hard on myself for not doing everything right or handling things perfectly, it’s nice to be reminded that I can wing it and totally mess everything up and still have it turn out better than I could have hoped for.

Good to know.