Logged into Pokémon today to send gifts to my friends’ kids. It isn’t so much fun to play it when I’m not out running around town, getting interesting pokestop gifts to send, catching weird creatures, and hatching eggs. As I then used up the rest of my hoard of gifts on other friends I felt weepy. I miss riding the bus all over town, I miss the J Church, I miss BART, feeling free & intermeshed with the map and all the people of the city.

Sent a gift to some random neighbor whose name I don’t remember but who is a tech journalist and travels around a lot (good gifts from other countries!). We met on the street as I caught him and his partner battling a gym (at the library). Sent another to my pal “yeetrio”, a young man who approached me on the platform at BART since he spotted me playing – we’re ultra friends and nearly to “best friends” months later. I saw him go to Costa Rica and then come back again! Sent one to my dad who is my top Lucky Friend. I can tell he has gone out to do his rounds in the back of Huntwick (Huntwick Stump Bear!) and Meyer Park in Houston.

It is always sweet when someone sends me an obviously cool gift (I’m looking at you Denise and Tarrant but also whoever keeps sending me “Midnight Rollergirl”.

Animal Crossing continues – today I made nearly 1 million on the stalk market by selling my turnips on someone’s island from a discord channel. The fellowship on there is very sweet as well. Sumana and Leonard and I keep visiting each other’s islands to admire the decor and flowers and trade tips.

Feeling sentimental about games – I need to gear up to work on my big game again but it has obviously taken on a different feeling now. It is set in the Before Times, but it’s actually about history and time travel and change as the Traveller deepens their knowledge of the time and place they’re in (and goes back & forward in time as well.) So, I guess that’s where my feelings about the pandemic and our city will go.

Culture growing in its corners

Danny sent me this music video from one of his late night expeditions through the internet and it gives me a little surge of goodness. The dancers and singers are coordinated with their faces and bodies in little boxes like a video conference call, especially well done as the song unfolds and the social motion moves from box to box.

This is so heartening. They took this piece of our reality and turned it to a perfect expression of uncertainty and determination.

Careful I’m an animal
Trap trap trap
First of the secondary class class class
You know I don’t trust you what’s the catch catch catch
Don’t you fucking touch me I will gnash gnash gash

Cause I am an old phenomenon
And I am an old phenomenon

It has been interesting too as I have been interviewing quite a lot and in early March the interviews went all virtual – phone and video rather than going to offices. I’ve been working remote for nearly 20 years so it seems normal to me, but some others weren’t used to it, nervously referring to “Brady Bunch” or “Hollywood Squares” (dating us GenXishly from our afternoons of reruns).

Friends came by on their daily dog walk today, to shout up to me on the porch from below on the sidewalk. I passed them a newly potted succulent in a bag and they gave me a Quarantini cocktail in a mason jar. This is how our social life will be for quite some time. Tonight is another friend’s birthday party via some video conferencing tool. People have planned small performances. I might dress up.

For the last few weeks I dove fiercely into Animal Crossing, and its Discord channels and reddit posts, and also have kept up my Stardew game for kids. The core is now a fairly solid group with a couple of early teens and then my son joining sometimes from virtual-college-campus of his room in Santa Cruz. Others played for a while and then went off and formed their own small groups. I can see them playing together from the Steam notifications of their games and when they earn badges. Hosting these small spaces has been comforting and good for me and I hope for them too. I’m also sending Pokegifts (when I can replenish them) to some younger kids who are newly allowed more “screen time” by their desperate parents!

I did a small amount of work with some local medical PPE maker groups. It’s amazing to see that happen, like any disaster response, small groups spring up fast. As they combine their missions & processes evolve. You can kind of see (from where I’m sitting) some people going a non-profit forming route, some trying to form business connections, either way making something more like sustainable institutions, or finding the existing ones and figuring out how to support them in a way they can handle. The usual institutional or business paths aren’t working at all, so medical staff are just going directly to hackerspace and maker folks, doing fast rounds of prototyping, testing, feedback, & then rapidly scaling up production.

Seeing some of the professional logistics people jump into this was mind blowing (I’m thinking of the guy who works in some kind of concrete/cement industry and his mojo in finding the right kinds of plastic and foam.) That’s still happening and will keep happening for months. I thought immediately of Kevin Carson’s book, The Homebrew Industrial Revolution as small local manufacturing sprang up overnight. I am on 4 slack channels and have so many spreadsheets, docs, wikis, etc. At this point just reading them and speaking up if I see someone asking a question that I know the answer to.

The couple of actual moments I got someone supplies or facilitated a connection were amazing.

The city feels tense. When I go out I’m feeling so aware of the moment between the Before Time and what might come, and trying as always to savor whatever is good and functional about it. The tense feeling, like, you can feel people’s increasing desperation and worry, The people who are out are either a bit freaked like me trying to do their thing, or are a hot mess even more than they may have been before, with less dilution by other people.

I got a mask and a bandana to Bob who lives on the street a few blocks away but the other guy (Junior) was nowhere to be found. (He will lose a mask quickly or forget about it anyway unfortunately.) I wanted to get them masks because the city has just declared them mandatory, and it seems worrisome what will happen to them if they don’t comply.

Everyone seems to be going just a little off the rails.

I’m worried about everyone.

out with mask

Feeling a bit uncreative, and dull, and stressed, but I hope that will pass, I think the stress of unemployment was really piling onto the stress of enormous pandemic and world economic collapse. Thank fucking god for Animal Crossing and my practice from various past illnesses and endurance/resilience, as I just hunkered down to get through some time till I figure out how to Actually Cope.

We are baking and like everyone else in this town I have a pet sourdough starter. Its name is Bubbles.

Our actual pet, Dashboard the cat, is extremely comforting.

I’m excited to watch the Philharmonic Baroque Orquestra’s production of Saul from last November, which I missed b/c I was sick and I was SO SAD about that. I listened to it and read the libretto a zillion times. Because of the pandemic, they’ve made it public.

Another bright spot, Ars Minerva is planning a production of a 17th century opera, Messalina, which can’t fail to be AMAZING.

Giant blockquote because it’s just too good.

Carlo Pallavicino’s MESSALINA plot:
A sex farce with teeth. Clever, lecherous Messalina turns the tables several times on the gullible Emperor Claudius, who is hardly innocent himself. Meanwhile two other couples suffer their own romantic vicissitudes. Furtive assignations, frustrated trysts, kidnappings, betrayals, sudden recognitions, a heroine and a hero both in drag, and a plot as convoluted as only 17th-century Venetian opera can put together, all lead to a reconciliation that will last only as long as Messalina can keep pulling the wool over Claudius’ eyes.

From musicologist Wendy Heller book: Emblems of Eloquence: Opera and Women’s Voices in Seventeenth-Century Venice:

“This chapter deals with Roman empress, Messalina, the adulterous wife of the emperor Claudius, who in Messalina brought to the luxurious stage of the Teatro San Grisostomo an unmatched reputation for decadence and sexual excess […] Messalina provokes the most basic sort of fear — that a woman will deprive a man of his place not only in bed but also in his public role in society. Messalina relinquishes her role in the opera, avoiding the bloody death of her historical model. She serves to reinforce an essential lesson about the dangers of female sexuality.”

This is so my favorite kind of thing!! Bring it on!!! If it has to be delayed another year, I’ll keep donating and waiting!

From the song (remember that, at the top of this post?) by Thao & The Get Down Stay Down,

Sip on joy the purest drink
Move to make
Thought to think
They can feel us from afar
Avenues and boulevards

I’ve been so politely at the bottom
Pull it tight boot strap
Strap it on and top em
I’ve been so politely at the bottom
Pull it tight boot strap
Strap it on and top em

That dull feeling, converted to fierceness, because fuck it,

liz with glitter on