I said last week that things were chaotic but this week did its best to top that. One of my coworkers was abruptly removed from the proposal we’re working on, which left her work redistributed to the few that remained and left me learning how to do new things on top of doing quite a lot of my normal stuff. Another coworker died of coronavirus this week, which is really sad. He’d been in the hospital for the last month. I feel for his family, but I did not know him that well. My boss and colleagues are torn up about it all and it seems like people expect me to be the same. It feels weird. I do feel sad for him, but I’m still grieving for Viola, I don’t have the emotional space to cry about someone I barely talked to. On top of all this human stuff, I was working late this week to get the proposal ready. On Friday morning, my boss told us to stop work on it because we’re not going to bid after all. This has been a lot of ruckus for nothing.
Amid all this work-related chaos, on Thursday a squirrel visited me. The fence around our house is a squirrel highway and I often see them cruising around. Sometimes they even stop to (it seems) look at me. On this day, a squirrel with a flower in its hands stopped right in front of me and sat there for at least a minute, as if showing me this flower. It was surreal and made me wonder if I’m becoming one with nature. After this display of what could, perhaps, be called affection, the squirrel started enthusiastically eating the flower. This is probably be a metaphor for something, but fuck if I know what.
In non-work topics, my sister bought me this beautiful artwork from an artist called Club Waaa. I won’t lie, I opened it up and immediately started crying. I love the sentiment but I still feel so raw about losing Viola. I have been trying to take comfort in the fact that time is an illusion and she still exists in the past. Sometimes I feel guilty for not doing enough for her in her short life but, since I started working from home about four years ago, she was in my face demanding constant attention. Perhaps we were able to concentrate a few more years of love and affection into that period. Maybe she knew she wasn’t well in the last year and that’s why she got so possessive of me. Thursday night I couldn’t fall asleep because I couldn’t stop thinking about her and I was crying. I sat on the couch in the dark and held her box of ashes and cried for an hour. It feels almost too personal to talk about this out here on the internet where everyone can read it, but it feels important to share.
Here are some things I’ve recently read, watched, or bought.
Books and Other Words
Other than work, this week I spent a lot of time reading. I’ve been making an effort to read the books I already have, which most recently meant reading Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys. I got this book in my Powell’s Indiespensable subscription last year. This was a hard read, thematically speaking. It told the story of two black teenagers sent to a “reform school” (aka prison for children) in the 1960s. As with most works that illuminate the shitty conditions this country has imposed on black people, I’m struck by how terrible it was (and still is in many ways) and how it really wasn’t that long ago.
Winter’s Orbit was my monthly purchase from an independent bookstore. This month I bought from a small shop called Books and Crannies (which wins the award for cutest bookstore name). This book was a lot of fun. I knew I was going to love it once I found out it was about gay princes in space—I have a tag in my LibraryThing for lesbians in space, so this is an adjacent genre. Winter’s Orbit is a slow-burn romance with an arranged marriage in which one half of the couple is recovering from an abusive relationship. It has good character development and a happy ending.
Finally, I finished last month’s independent bookstore purchase Work Won’t Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone by Sarah Jaffe. This is a great book. Jaffe analyzes 10 professions, split into two groups—caring professions like teaching and “fun” jobs like making video games. For each job, she introduces us to a person in that job then discusses the history and how the myths of doing your job out of love or loving what you do help employers exploit workers. Consider teachers: when they strike, school boards might guilt them (“think of the students!”) into going back to work. The same logic applies in jobs where you do what you love. For example, professional athletes are led to believe they don’t deserve a fair wage since they enjoy what they do. This book gave me a lot to think about and it’s another excellent piece in understanding modern life.
TV and Music
When I wasn’t reading this week, I was playing Nintendo. Kirk bought us a new game, Super Mario 3-D world, a game that asks “what if Mario was a cat for some reason?” and we’ve been playing that a lot. And yes, you literally do play as a cat for a lot of the game. I bought us Mario Kart as a Valentine’s gift and we’ve had fun playing that together too. It seemed a little indulgent to buy a Nintendo Switch last year when the pandemic started, but considering how long this has dragged on, I’m glad I did it.
Because cooking and eating are among my main hobbies these days, my purchases are food related. I’ve been getting a lot of facebook ads for chocolate companies, whether because they know too much or because it was Valentine’s day, I don’t know. In any case, one of the ads was for Compartes chocolate and I gave them a try. The bars come in wild flavors like peanut butter and jelly and they have really nice packaging. I like the ones I’ve tried so far! I saw that they also have a chocolate subscription and I have to admit I am tempted to sign up.
I discovered Burlap & Barrel spices recently when looking for unusual ingredients I could send to my cookbook club friends (among other things, the received some dried Icelandic kelp to work with). I found they have a spice subscription box and signed up because I love subscriptions. I got my first quarterly box this week. It came with multiple spices, plus a bar of soap (more Icelandic kelp! lol) and magnets. One thing I appreciate is that it included a sheet with some recipes so there’s somewhere to start if you don’t know how to use the spices. I’m looking forward to trying some new recipes.
Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. Without Viola to boss her around, Huey has been all up in my business. She has always loved to lounge on top of me, but I hadn’t realized she hadn’t been doing in much in the last year. Now she’s back at it, including, for some reason, sitting on me in the middle of the night and pushing my cheeks with her little peets. Why, Huey? Why wake me up in this way? Huey has finally decided it’s safe for her to hang in my office, which was one of Viola’s main haunts. She spent a lot of time in there with me the last few days; and a lot of time without me because Huey does what she fucking wants.