I got my first COVID jab! It's a bit uncomfortable but not too bad, certainly no worse than a flu vaccine. Definitely worth it just to feel like I have a plan to get back to normal and am taking steps in the right direction.
I've decided I'm finally going to turn 38. See, last July we were in the height of a pandemic, and literally nothing fun was open so it didn't really make much sense to celebrate. It was also around that point of the quarantine I refer to as time soup, when it all seemed like this amorphous blob of one day melting into the next, even to the point it was hard to think of anything I wanted. I was probably a wee bit depressed (weren't we all), and as the only people locally I'm really close to are the Kid and Chava (her mum) and they were all a train ride away, it was hard to even get together and celebrate.
So because I am nothing if not overly rational, I just didn't have a birthday. I told myself I'd have a celebration in whatever month things opened up again. I honestly thought it would be August or September at the latest, but that obviously didn't work out. HOWEVER, I will be exactly nine months into my thirty-eighth year this next Monday, and the museums are open again. They're closed on Mondays but I nabbed some tickets to the National History Museum for Wednesday next week, and so the three of us are all going to play hookie and watch IMAX documentaries bout planets in deep space and look at woolly-mammoths and whatnot, and probably get some kind of cake at one of the newly opened to indoor dining delis.
All appropriately socially distanced from other groups, wearing our masks, etc. The NHM is even within a long walk of my current plac so I won't have to brave the buses. So it's a pandemic cheat day, but not too much, and by golly we need one at this point so we can go back to being responsible for a while longer. That's what I tell myself anyway.
So a very happy early un-birthday to me (to you?) to me. And the rest of you all as well.
You know what's a wasted skilll these days? Handwriting. Not just cursive-font but any kind of handwriting. Truly: I have a box of pens by my microwave, because I write things so rarely, I inevitably lose a pen by the next time I need it. I bought them shortly after I moved to the new place in October and it's still half full because the only thing I ever write is my rent check each month, which doesn't accept electronic payment. Literally everything else is typed.
It's a shame, because I actually do have decently nice scrit when I take the time to do more than chicken-scratch.
Ah, well. There's your observation for the day. Everyone who said you needed to learn cursive and people woul judge you by your ability to write nicely and neatly? I name thee purveyor of LIES.
(Also: Happy Easter/Passover to those of you celebrating it and a good nearly-weekend to the the rest of you happening froods.)
(Also-also: I don't know why I'm so perennially exhausted, but that doesn't mean I don't think of you lot regularly. Tumblr is easier because you don't actually have to put much into it, it's very low-key and quick. But here it feels like I actually have to make the words go, which seems beyond me most times these days. But I miss hanging out here and hope you all are doing well.)
Yesterday I got to see Chaos Walking in an actual cinema, and in IMAX no less. It's been pretty well panned by the critics, but I found it really interesting. I guess this is what I love about good science fiction- it gives you a set up that lets you step outside the usual way we think about ethics and the way we assume life ought to work, and pose those questions in a fresh way. It gives us permission to think outside the box I think, and for me at least this movie definitely did that.
The basic premise is that humans flee earth to colonize a foreign planet where there's a natural phenomena that basically broadcast's peoples' inner thoughts. But only for the men. So there's some fascinating world-building on just what it means to be masculine in a situation where there are no secrets and where this lack of control is particular to the men. It also looks at life in poverty , why people are impoverished. Because for the main characters life is a bit "nasty, brutish and short", but ther's enough glimpses at people living a different kind of life, both settlers in other settlements and in the new settlers coming from earth to make you think about why life is like this for these people in particular, and why they tolerate it or aren't able to do anything but tolerate it. Some other questions, too, which I can't really explain without giving too much away. Suffice it to say I found it thought-provoking and relevant without coming off as preachy, and even though I didn't have many answers at the time the movie ended, I really enjoyed having the space to live with the questions.
Plus you have Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley and Mads Mikkelsen all in the same production, which is great fun for any fantasy lover. On top of which you have David Oyelowo, who I don't think of as a fantasy star but he's a longtime favorite actor of mine and he doesn't get much screentime in most major movies because he's I believe British rather than American (and, you know, not white) which means American films tend to not make much space for him. But he has such a great presence of him, I loved him as Javert in the BBC Les Mis, and so I was really pleased to see so much of him!
Made me want to read the books, but who knows when I'll find the time to do that. I do hope the movie succeeds as well as anything could "in these trying times," critics be damned.
I've been thinking a bit about the slightly Pollyanna-ish blog posts and news articles I'm seeing about how we've almost survived 2020 and 2021 will be so much better. I don't think it will be like flipping a light-switch, and I don't think everything will be okay, but I do have a bit of cautious optimism.
COVID-wise, I think we're finally turning the corner, at least with the strand we've been suffering under since last March. (Godspeed, Brits and everyone living Brit-adjacent lives...) We're not there yet, but I think we can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I may be able to see a movie in person again one of these days.
(Don't tell Dr. Faucci, but I actually did when I was down south last week. Goodness, how I miss them.0
Not that it at all is worth the massive suffering, both in terms of death and illness and also economic suffering, but I think the prolonged lockdown made a lot of people slow down and re-evaluate their life choices (or lack of same). And I think that wiped away a lot of illusions about how some of the common assumptions we have for how life has to be is really the best approach, or even equally good for everyone. I've seen a lot of my male friends say they're suddenly much less blind to what their wives have to deal with regarding balancing childcare and domestic expectations and a professional life... just because they saw them doing it across the table from them. Or to take another example, as much a nightmare as zoom-school is, I think it has a lot of families asking if the assembly-line model of American schooling is really the best approach and what more customizable or individualized schooling might look like. And just because we've all been going through hard times together, I think there's a lot more awareness of how precarious life is for the American poor, how hard they work and how depenedent they are, but not because they're bad people. Just because society isn't looking out for them.
Not suggesting everyone is reached, by a long shot. But I think a lot of the reachables, good-hearted and fair-minded people who through inertia or just general business are a bit blinded to these needs, have been much more reached this last year than they usually are; and I see a lot of these kinds of people looking for creative solutions. At least they're admitting there's a problem. This makes me optimistic for 2021.
Politically, Biden isn't everything I'd hope for, but he's so far better than the White House's current occupant. He is someone I see people representing my interests being able to work with. And he plays by the usual rules, which has all kinds of normal problems and biases but is worlds better than the current exercise in raw power and avarice and shamelessness. So while there's doubtless loads of work to do, as an American I'm finally seeing a landscape where we can at least start doing that work.
Poor people are still poor- arguably poorer- but we're also recognizing instacart delivery-men and Walmart cashiers as essential workers. We're also much more aware of how interconnected we all are. Can you imagine that before 2020? And obviously that's a cheap way to get out of actually protecting them, but rhetoric matters.
As do stories. I think like a lot of people are more aware of how important stories are, not because we need to be entertained but because it's so deeply human. I'm thinking about how American society talks about humanities and other story-driven kinds of study as "less" than scientific or career-oriented one; well, we were all touchstarved and depressed and facing a kind of angst in the true sense of the word, and so many of us turned to our stories. I think at a deep level, a lot of people are more reminded of why that's so important to us.
I'd love to hear what makes you optimistic for 2021 too, if you have anything you'd like to add.