The Things I Want to do When This is All Over

As of the start of this post being written, I am coming off of receiving round one of my COVID-19 vaccine. I have one more month before I should be protected from the virus that has put my life and the lives of so many on pause. There is a light at the end of the tunnel as more and more start to receive the vaccine and we’re all looking towards what may be the end of this experience. With the end in mind, I want to talk about the things I want to do after this is all…well, I suppose, over. It may never truly be over. The world is changed, forever, in fact; but relatively soon, we may be able to return to something that has the look and feel of normalcy. 

Sitting at Restaurants 

I go out to eat a lot. I like cafe culture and being able to run out and eat, often by myself, and just enjoy a meal with a book or my phone. I have sat in only a few restaurants since this whole thing began and each time it felt like such a weird treat: a choice between the ethics of caring about people and remembering that as a citizen that I have a “responsibility” to keep these places open with my dollar. I look forward to sitting in a restaurant and feeling like I am at very least doing my best to protect myself and those around while enjoying a nice meal. 

Going to the Museum

God, I miss art. I miss waking up early on Sundays to be able to see the SAMA’s general collection for free. I miss being able to just bask in art or see unique exhibits with friends. I didn’t think I’d miss art so much but apparently, I do. 

Going to Con

Last year was supposed to be my ten year anniversary of con-going and I was going to go hard. Remember, increasingly going to con is less about the convention itself but more about paneling and going to places I miss back home or seeing new places and trying new things. It’s about friendship and long nights spent watching TV and swimming in the hotel pool and stressing over last minute costumes. Convention is a key part of my life and one I miss dearly. I went to one convention in 2020 and if I had known that it would be the only one I’d be able to visit, I would have tried to enjoy myself more. But at least late 2021 and into 2022 looks like it has more promise. 

Going to the Mall

Fun fact: I love the mall. I love mall culture. I love shopping. I love being able to grab an Auntie Anne’s pretzel, go to the Forever 21 and spend more money than I should while idly listening in on conversations that people think are private despite them yelling their words while drinking a Starbucks Iced White Chocolate Mocha. I just like being alone in crowds and I love shopping. I didn’t think I’d miss the mall as much as I do but this is just where we are.

Going to the Movies

I love the theater experience. I love the food, the popcorn, the overpriced Icees and sodas, I love all parts of sitting in those dark rooms and being forced to enjoy what is on the screen. I did sneak away to one movie during the pandemic but I wasn’t going to miss the chance to see Lupin III on the big screen. But with so many movies being pushed back, movies I would want to see in theaters rather than in the confines of my home, I can’t help but miss the planning and fun of actually getting up and going to the movies.

Going to the Farmer’s Market

Oh to go to the Farmer’s Market. To get bread and jam and butter. To enjoy a drink. To sample the finest of local fare outside on a gorgeous day. The Pearl Farmer’s Market is a place I often like to haunt when I can and I love to indulge in some of the best food in the city when it’s open. Now, being outside does lower transmission of the virus, especially if everyone is wearing a mask; I just don’t feel safe going to crowded spaces like so even with proper protections in place. 

Going Out With Friends

Despite my status as an introvert, I love my friends. I love going to drinks at local bars, checking out restaurants both new and old; I love deep conversations that linger until the cafe is nearly ready to close. I haven’t seen some of my friends in over a year physically and others I’ve seen once or twice when normally we’d see each other several times during the year. Now, I’ve been lucky to have friends that regularly call or video chat or keep in touch through instant messages and texts but sometimes there’s nothing that beats having company over or going out with someone else. 


There are many things I plan to do when it’s safe enough to do them. Reclaim my birthday, wander around the mall with reckless abandon, go to the Hill Country and do five wine tasting. I’m excited about going to the park with less worry and just being out of the house in moderation as the vaccine isn’t a get out of pandemic free card. But the amount of stress and worry this has taken off of me is tremendous. I realize the amount of privilege I have by even being able to be vaccinated and to have an inner circle that’s very quickly working towards vaccination so that I can reclaim some aspects of my normalcy. The world has been forever changed after this pandemic; I have been forever changed after this pandemic, but in the places where I get to reclaim parts of who and what I was before all this happened: I will do so eagerly and with vigor. 

My Year in Captivity

To say that 2020 was a hectic and insane year is a massive understatement. A pandemic, social unrest and political turmoil made the year exhausting, scary, uncertain and with many many days spent inside. There are lots of things I’ve learned about myself and others and the world as we approach the anniversary of when this whole thing kicked up in the U.S. and we assumed this should be done and finished in no more than a few weeks. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned, things I’ve come to appreciate and hardship I’ve been through this year.

Don’t Be a Dick

I can’t think of a time where I’ve ever ordered so many things to be delivered to my door. I finally get to live my dream of being like the Onceler in The Lorax and just order in all the time and never again be held down by the tyranny of pants or a bra. But with this newfound freedom I’ve found that people on the outside, unfortunately, are still terrible. There have been a few instances where orders have been wrong or items have not arrived on time and each time, thanks especially to the barrier to technology, I’ve been able to just stay chill. I used to work retail and I’ve learned that being cruel to front-end workers is never the way to get anything done. And honestly, not being a dick has carried over into my personal life as well. When my friends seem to need more time to vent or are acting in a way that seems unlike them I am quicker to be more understanding. These are insane times for everyone and it’s important to be mindful of that. You never know what someone is going through: best to air on the side of caution and exchange the grace you may need yourself later on.

Indulge, The World is on Fire

I woke up with a desire for sweet and sour chicken from my favorite Chinese restaurant in the city: and thus I ordered it. I’ve been more mindful of my budget but the benefit of not being able to go out shopping all weekend if a more balanced budget and more wiggle room for indulgences. Now, I admit the amount of privilege I have; however it is nice to be able to splurge every once in a while. The world is on fire. There’s a pandemic outside, white supremacists, people who don’t think the pandemic is real and racism, sexism and homophobia all still exist: even when you haven’t left the house. 

Routine Can Be a Comfort

The times I can think of that I really struggled during the pandemic was my brief stint of unemployment when I had no solid routine. I applied to jobs, laid on the sofa all day, napped like a spoiled house cat and rarely ate anything of substance. The structure of having to clock in for work even if it’s from home and having to take medicine and then getting off of work to have an evening up to my own devices was incredibly important for me to survive the days that all rolled together and continue to do so during the pandemic. It’s hard for me to compel myself to a rhythm sometimes, thanks to years of depression and anxiety, and it’s much easier for me to have a structure set in place for me and then I figure out how to make it my own and bend it to my will. 

Don’t Self-Isolate

It’s an easy thing to do when depressed: close yourself off, ignore humanity, coil into yourself and shun those who care about you. Luckily for me, I have a very insistent friend and family group that refuses to let me climb into the little box of sadness for too long. If a few days pass without contact, someone certainly is messaging me or calling me to make sure that I am still amongst the living and have not fallen into a puddle of self-loathing. And if my friends or family are for some reason busy, I’m fortunate enough to know myself right before I fall off that edge of misery and know when to reach out and say that I’m struggling and need a lifeline. No one has to go through this alone and really, no one should: you are worthy of help if you need it. 

It’s Okay to Not be Okay

How anyone manages to leave the bed without some resistance nowadays is a genuine surprise to me. I often lay there begging the clock to go back, let me rest and try to fill a fatigue that is never relieved. But I still get up but the feeling I have is something in between just existing and being just sort of a grey color. Malaise, I think is what the French would call it. I’m fine but only just so and there are plenty of reasons inside and out that would add to a feeling of not being anything more than “existing” or “alive”. The world is a scary place and even though I think I don’t internalize the anxieties and atrocities of the modern world, I do. I hold onto them and they root deep in me and come up as fear usually right before I try to sleep or in the moments my brain is quiet. But what’s amazing is to talk to my other friends and know they have similar fears: we’re all scared. We’re all aware the future is uncertain and the present is strange and nebulous. I was not and am not alone in being less than peachy and that was remarkably comforting. It’s okay to not be okay within reason; really, is anyone right now?

I’ve spent a year indoors and the last 3 months even more isolated, rarely leaving the house due to either illness or injury. I’ve spent a year rarely seeing friends and rarely seeing family. I’ve been closed off from the things I love doing and I’ve had to find strength in myself and trust in those who want to help me. It’s been interesting: finding small ways to return to normalcy, the little indulgences I’ll allow myself, the small breaks I take when I finally leave the house and for what reason. I’ve done a lot of baking, a lot of podcasting, a lot of writing and talking to my friends but I’ve mostly spent time with myself trying to work through many of the bags I’ve been carrying with me for the past 10 or so years. What else should I do with this vast expanse of introspective time? 

Thank you all for being with me during this year: you’ve all made it a little easier to face the future. 

Getting Sick During a Pandemic

I have said in many posts that I have been blessed and thankful for my health. I was never joking about that but at a few points in the year, I was a little concerned that in fact, I was sick. 

I’m an asthmatic, a lifelong asthmatic. While many will grow out of their childhood symptoms, I’ll be stuck with mine until I go off into that good sweet night. Now, asthma is no excuse to not workout or not move around and I honestly am very lucky. My asthma is pretty mild and there are only a few moments in my life I can think of where my asthma has never held me back. I was not able to climb an active volcano, I could not make short walk up mountain and every once in a while an exercise was too difficult to do without a rest. 

Being asthmatic does mean I am prone to respiratory infections: one of the reasons I have taken the COVID-19 pandemic so seriously. I am already incredibly prone to bronchitis, pneumonia and upper respiratory infections and I do get sick a decent amount of times per year depending on the year. Con plague is a condition I’m very prone to because you will get sick after being in a room full of sweaty nerds all weekend. I get a chest cold usually in the winter as the weather turns cold. Walking pneumonia isn’t super uncommon for me in the summer but I always manage. I’m lucky. My asthma is usually fairly under control and I can be active if I so choose to be. 

During the start of the pandemic, I maintained physical activity the best I could. I’d go for walks, play Pokemon Go outside, play Just Dance; I moved and had no problem doing so. I think it was during the summer when I lost my job that I also came down with a pretty common summer cold that I just couldn’t shake. I got winded much easier than I normally did and thanks to my depression it got easier and easier to ignore my need to exercise. I got weaker and weaker over the months as my new job allowed me to continue to work from home. That’s when I noticed the shortness of breath. It was harder and harder to talk to my car, go to the grocery store; just to live. But I brushed it off and assumed it was part and parcel of the chest cold. The symptoms ebbed and flowed for honestly, months, but the weakness and lack of stamina was the issue I was most troubled by. I couldn’t work out or move around more if I wanted to. It was like my body just quit on me. If my body was willing to quit, I was happy to let it and I slid further and further into a somehow even more sedentary lifestyle. 

It was in November that I had noticed the swelling in my feet and ankles; I assumed it was an injury but quickly I learned that it was from poor circulation due to a lack of movement. I ordered compression socks online and some desk pedals hoping that I could will myself to move at all. Both worked with some success but not in enough time for my symptoms to be gone by the time I visited home for Christmas. My aunts of course noticed my fat ankles and lack of ability to maintain breath while going through the entire grocery store aisle by aisle. My aunts doted on me and that only added to my distress and discomfort about not being as well as I used to be and that feeling of self-hatred made it much easier to continue to push down the fact that really, I should see a doctor. I did my best to ignore that I wasn’t feeling well and hide that from those closest to me. 

It wasn’t until I got home for Christmas that I realized I was backpedaling further than I already had. By New Year’s Eve I was exhausted and couldn’t breathe. After New Year’s I was having a hard time going room to room without having to take a break or having to stop and catch my breath. Friday night I did a telemedicine appointment which reminded me of all the reasons I hate going to the doctor and was given a pretty inconclusive diagnosis. It was either COVID-19 or Pulmonary Edema; neither answer was great. Saturday I drug myself to a local urgent care to get tested for COVID-19 and figure out what was wrong with me. 

Arriving at the med clinic was less than fun but with my symptoms I was indeed tested for COVID-19 because cough, shortness of breath and being tired all ring the COVID-19 bell. I waited for my test results while another storm brewed (one that may be discussed later). I tested negative; a weight that honestly I could feel leaving me and I was left with a much more reasonable solution: it was either pneumonia or a severe upper respiratory infection; conditions I’ve lived with my whole life as an asthmatic. 

I’m finally on the right combination of medicines that make me feel less like I’m dying and more like I can actually breathe. It took longer than usual to get the right medical help thanks to the pandemic but I’m glad to be on the mend. I’ve been sleeping a lot, watching a ton of reality television and trying to make sure I eat because of the literal brown paper bag full of medication I was sent home with. But that’s the story of how I got sick during the pandemic and I must admit, I do not recommend it. There’s a strange kind of hell that people with pre-existing respiratory illnesses have been in thanks to a pandemic that has made coughing, being short of breath and being tired all the time as small pieces of social shorthand for disaster. Spoiler alert, asthmatics will cough. Asthmatics will be short of breath. Asthmatics will be tired; our lungs don’t work, give us a break. I understand the pandemic is scary and bad but jeez, it is exhausting having to feel like every time I cough due to something completely innocuous and feel an entire store’s set of eyes on me. 

Well, that’s the story of how I got sick during the pandemic and somehow, it wasn’t COVID-19. I hope this little bit of vulnerability is helpful for y’all. 

Stay safe and healthy out there.

How I’ve Been Staying Busy

There’s been a miserable sort of boredom that is entirely unique to the current situation that we are in. The shops are closed, the theaters are closed, there are no new movies to see and any of the places are open feel ethically irresponsible to visit considering that we are, still in fact, in the middle of a pandemic. This means I’ve had a lot of time on my hands; more free time than I’m used to having, frankly, as an adult who works a full-time job. I’m fortunate enough to have more than a few hobbies but some of them I keep rather close to my chest, so in a shocking display of vulnerability, I want to share with you some of the ways I’ve been keeping busy during the pandemic. 

Blogging

Despite the earlier attempt at canceling me this year, I still find a tremendous amount of pleasure and routine in blogging. I’ve done my best to maintain my routine and continue to post content for you all that both satisfies me and I hope satisfies you, dear reader. I was afraid that I’d run out of things to write about with “nothing going on” but turns out that being a pedant and someone who takes media too seriously; I rarely run out of things to talk about. The current struggle has just been finding energy consistently to write that isn’t just in fervent chunks or painfully drawn out affairs. 

Baking

I’ve made a habit of dropping off baked goods to my friends at the local card shop and also just baking for myself. I’ve always been one to stress bake and I have a nearly endless sweet-tooth so getting out my energy while baking has been quite fun and nice. Baking is a funny thing because while I think it’s stress-relieving, there’s a huge amount of anxiety that goes into baking for other people. I’m always worried that something is too sweet, too much, too much mint, too much chocolate: well, I’ve yet to receive any major complaints and it is nice to do something for others: not like I don’t benefit at all, I do have to check each cake for poison. 

My Podcasts

Yes, I have more than one! I co-host two podcasts with two friends: one on literature (Unfortunately, Required Reading) and one on yaoi and boy’s love (The Yaoi Shelf). Being a podcaster has become an increasingly important part of my life and between outlines, recording, live shows, research, reading and communicating with two hosts; it’s a role that keeps me busy and adds some much needed bulk to my schedule. That even ignores all the social media work and analytics reading that goes into keeping both podcasts afloat. That’s right, I am the ghost in the machine. 

Crafting 

I struggle with calling myself a maker until I start making. One of the things I love the most and have missed the most about cosplay is making things. I love painting and figuring out things and fabricating and I’ve been able to take on a few crafting projects that allow me to continue to get that need to make and create out of my system. In the pandemic’s down time I got to work on two Halloween costumes (one for each podcast), a small table for my cacti, boards for my pins, patches and buttons as well as continue to focus on organizing all of my books and odds and ends. 

Video Games

While I am the dictionary definition of a casual gamer, the games I do play; I play hard. Pokemon Sword/Shield has released two DLCs this year and that alone has kept me busy if we ignore all the Just Dance I’ve been playing. I also picked up the newest Cooking Mama game because of course I did and a Japanese drumming rhythm game because…of course I did. Honestly, running around Galar and by extension the Crown Tundra and Isle of Armor has been a welcomed and beautiful distraction from the current monotony of my day to day life. Just Dance sometimes is the only physical exertion I can muster and while that means I’m a little too good at Hey, Mama Geisha Version; it makes my therapist happy with my attempts at exercising. 

Writing Fanfic

I know, shocking, right? I have returned to the place I was years ago: writing fanfic and actually publishing it again. I even have: gasp, fans and gasp, a schedule. It’s been nice to write fiction and especially fanfiction. Most forms of writing are incredibly fulfilling but there’s something about fanfic that is just particularly satisfying. It scratches an itch that’s so unique to being a fan and having the ability to articulate your fan wants and needs out and then being able to share that with an audience? Ugh, it’s all just so good. 

Therapy

Probably weren’t expecting that, huh? Yeah, I started therapy this year and like the good patient I am desperately trying to be; therapy takes up a huge amount of time. And not just the hour long appointments but the homework assignments and actively trying to be a better person. My therapist regularly gives me things to read and to focus on and he regularly challenges me and my less than kind thought processes. Therapy is exhausting but the amount of insight I’ve gained and how far I can still go is worth the, what is essentially, an hour I pay a man to make me cry and get no sexual gratification from. 

I’ve been doing my best to keep busy with all my time at home but not every second of my day is accounted for. I spent hours on voice chat with friends, still have weekly call with my best friend, and regularly video call back home to check on things. I stress-watch reruns of ER and rant about comic books online. I waste hours on Twitter, read fanfic that isn’t written by me. I gush about fanart and text friends. I do things to stay busy but also do plenty of things that take up very little brain power: anything to stay sane, or as sane as possible, during this damn pandemic. 

What I’ve Been Wearing During the Pandemic

Wow, we sure are still doing this, aren’t we? It’s been about 6 months now since we were ordered to work from home and avoid unnecessary travel and have our lives uprooted by the pandemic. Working from home has presented a number of challenges for many people and one of those challenges has been what exactly should one wear? I admit it feels weird wearing a dress to make the long walk from my sofa to my dining area (where I have set up shop to work in a sad and sisyphean attempt to separate work from home when I work at home) but it also feels equally wrong to lounge around in my pajamas all day. Working from home often means video calls; that means looking at least somewhat presentable to human society. I’ve been more rigid with my style choices while working from home than some of my friends (no shade, they have said so.) and because of that, I’ve been thinking: maybe I should let you all know what I’ve been wearing during the pandemic. 

Velvet Leggings

You know good and damn well I am absolutely the kind of person to own a pair of velvet leggings. Well, I own more than just one pair. I own 7 at last count. I have them in two colors: green and black and they are effortlessly stylish. It takes a certain kind of boujee to wear velvet pants and despite the obvious luxury of having velvet cover your butt; they’re shockingly comfortable. Wearing something on my lower half does have its advantages: I can run out and pick up lunch without any guilt or worry about having to put on pants. Maximum luxury for minimum effort. 

Joggers

I never thought I’d see the day I’d own more than one pair of joggers but dammit they are comfortable. I got a pair for Christmas from my aunts during a very fun Costco run and they have very deep pockets, make my butt look phenomenal and mean that if I have to rush to the door; I am still technically wearing pants.  

Solid Color and Patterned T-Shirts

Listen, just because I’m working doesn’t mean that I have to dress up all the time. Sometimes a v-neck t-shirt in a tasteful pattern or color is all it takes to get the job done. If I have a client meeting or a big boss call, time to throw on a cardigan. Otherwise, just looking put together enough from the waist up is a solid start. Luckily, since my preppy youth, I’ve kept a small army of v-neck, crew cut, solid, striped, spotted and fruity t-shirts that can help me look just the legal definition of put together. 

Velvet leggings aside and t-shirts aside, this is an absolute departure from the dresses and tights and flats I’m used to wearing for work. If I had a client meeting or not, I took a ton of pride in how I dressed for work. Sure, I rarely wore makeup but I would never wear graphic t-shirts or sweatpants to work. What’s telling in how I’ve been dressing during the pandemic I think is what has been absent still: I’m still not wearing a ton of makeup and I’ve traded athletic socks for stockings. I’ve abandoned jeans, but they do still fit. I try to do my hair every morning I work even if I don’t put heat to my hair to keep it curled under or perfectly just; just to make it go in a direction that makes sense usually via lazy swipes of a paddle brush. I don’t wear earrings unless I have a client meeting now. Overall, I just dress like a more casual version of myself; albeit a version of myself that doesn’t have to wear shoes while working. 

It’s been very important to me not to slip into wearing pajamas or leaving my bonnet on because of how much routine matters to me. I still have to do all the pageantry of work to feel like I’m going to work even if my commute now is just from the sofa to the dining area. If I don’t go through all the steps of getting ready: showering, having breakfast, getting dressed, doing my hair, taking my medicine in the morning I don’t know if I’d have the mental fortitude to get on with the work day. I need structure and routine and I just don’t think I could be one of those people that rolls out of bed 30 minutes before my shift begins and drag my laptop into my lap and still have anything that resembles a productive day. 

I have recently missed having a reason to wear casual clothes. Typically my jeans, joggers, sweats and more were a reprieve from tights, dresses and nicer blouses but when every day is basically a day at home: casual versus dressy just doesn’t seem to matter. I did treat myself to a few new v-neck shirts to spice up my wardrobe and add to the rotation but as I add more t-shirts to my closet, I can’t help but look at all the dresses that have been neglected since there’s nowhere to go. But the new wardrobe additions have helped me feel a little less sad when it comes to getting dressed even if there isn’t always someone to compliment me on my outfit. 

The pandemic has changed every facet of my day to day life and by making sure that I keep the delineation between work time and not work time has been just one of the ways I’ve been able to try and stay sane. Making sure that each morning I work that I get dressed and look even a fraction of what is considered presentable has been a vital part of keeping up the routine that helps me focus on all that needs to be done during my work day. 

I hope you all are staying safe out there. I know this is a trying time; it has been for all of us. 

Fingers crossed, things will improve soon. 

What I Have Been Eating During the Pandemic

I haven’t been shy about talking about my diet (or lack thereof) and my struggles with cooking as a single Southerner. But there has been something particular about this moment in history, you know, with the pandemic and all; that has made me very aware of food as comfort, routine and escape. So let’s talk about some of the ways I’ve used food to cope: for better or worse. 


Domino’s Pan Pizza with Pepperoni and Ham

I moved last year and this complex has a gate that works and is entirely too big. I was fine with ordering carry out and picking food up (obviously, based on my weight) but I hadn’t had something delivered in a while. I don’t know what turned me back onto Domino’s but something did and I discovered that their pan pizza is perfect. Fatty, rich, greasy, cheesy and exactly what I needed on days where I was either too busy or too apathetic to do anything but have food delivered to my home. Go figure, luckily, my complex is a pretty regular stop so no driver has gotten lost yet. They leave my pizza on my doorstep, wait patiently for me to pick up my food and sign my receipt and the whole thing is over: sorta like paid sex in an alley. But the weekly routine of ordering pizza, watching it go through the Pizza Tracker until it arrives at my door; hot, inviting, comforting and ready to distract me from the pains of the day. 

Breakfast

Breakfast is possibly one of my favorite meals of the day. Working an office job and having a mental illness means I don’t get to eat breakfast very often or eat one that’s of any nutritional value (I do love breakfast tacos even though I know they’ll be the death of me) but now with a medication that I have to take in the morning that absolutely wrecks my stomach if I don’t eat; breakfast have become a beautiful ritual in the morning. I’ve reminded myself that I love cereal and love waffles and pancakes and lots of maple syrup and bacon and toast with butter and jam. Coffee is a stunning alchemical reaction made possible by my Keurig and the smell of maple syrup warmed by pancakes. Also, an aside to cereal, I love cereal. I rarely keep it in the house but good lord I can go through a box of Honeycomb or Captain Crunch. Breakfast has become a sacred kind of prayer and a vital part of the routine that helps me settle into working from home. 

Chocolate Silk Pie from Whole Foods Market

I have a huge sweet tooth. This is not new information. What may be a shock is that I can be very picky about my sweets. Chocolate silk pie is something that is rarely done well but when done can be as close to God’s light as possible. Chocolate cookie crust, chocolate custard filling, sweetened whipped cream and chocolate curls; just sublime. But if you cut corners during any part of these ingredients you get what is essentially a dirt cup in a cheap pie shell. Luckily, my podcast means I am often at Whole Foods Market hunting for fine cheeses and that means I get access to slices of their very delicious and very sweet and very well made chocolate silk pie. Each piece is a little taste of decadence that reminds me of a time far more simple and far more kind than the current pandemic world we live in. 


What I’ve Been Cooking

Long time readers of the blog will know that I have struggled to cook for one person since my girlfriend left me and now that I am in a new apartment with a nicer and larger kitchen, that struggle has continued. Thanks to the clarity of antidepressants and the need to cook due to restaurants being open and cravings not understanding how pandemics work: I have been cooking more than ever. So here are a few of the things I’ve made that I am particularly proud of. 

Chicken Katsu 

I love chicken katsu. Absolutely love it. It may be one of my favorite Japanese dishes. It may be a simple chicken cutlet with sauce that is too sweet but dammit it’s the exact kind of comfort food that speaks to my soul as a dual-culturalist. There’s something wonderfully satisfying about frying food at home, even though it is a little messy and I did question many times if it was worth the effort until I took that first crunchy bite and was told that yes, it was indeed worth it. 

Pickled Daikon Radish and Carrot

Like most millennials, I have started pickling as a means to run away from the existential pain of realizing that we are helpless in the face of a capricious world in the midst of a pandemic. Pickled carrot and daikon is a staple of Korean BBQ and something I will easily get from my friends or fight for: the tang of vinegar and sweetness of fruit always makes me happy and I’m more than fine with stealing my friends’ portions if they don’t go for it quickly enough much like I am with gari (pickled ginger) while at sushi restaurants. It wasn’t a difficult recipe to make: just mirin and sugar and time. I did have a small struggle finding a daikon radish during a pandemic until I remembered I have a ton of Asian grocery stores around me and of course, Tim’s Oriental Market had the radish I needed. The crunch and tang of vinegar was fantastic and eating what counts as a veggie made my friends quite happy as well. 

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Apparently I can pickle now.

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Cakes. Too Many Cakes

So. I stress bake. What is a pandemic but stress? I’ve been baking for myself, for friends, to keep busy, to try new things, to find meaning since the pandemic began. It mostly started as a kind gesture for some friends who had their store opened back up way too soon despite being far from essential as a little token of goodwill and support. From there, I just kept going. I’ve made cinnamon maple apple muffins, gooey butter cake, caramel apple monkey bread, strawberry cake with vanilla frosting: anything to keep my hands busy and more importantly; anything I can do to help ease some of the stress my friends are going through. 


These are a few of the things I’ve been eating during the pandemic. It hasn’t been healthy, I’m not ashamed of that; but in places it certainly has been comforting. The return to the routine of making food sacred is nice and comforting especially during these uneasy times and anything I can do to help make those I care about smile is something I’m more than happy to do. 

Stay safe, stay well, stay kind. 

How One Introvert is Trying to Survive a Pandemic- Part 2: How to Save a Life

So. How are we doing?  Doing okay? I figured I’d update you all on how I’m managing and use this time to get through some of my feelings because, let’s be real; this is an ordeal. 

I’ve been feeling mostly tired. My appetite waxes and wanes. I’ve been on a mental health journey that I assumed was failing but then I ate my way through half of a Domino’s pan pizza before realizing that I was stress eating. I was anxious and I was taking my anxiety out on a pan pizza and then I set up an appointment to speak with a therapist online. The therapist said everything I knew already but apparently needed to hear from another more authoritative voice. I was told to keep writing, work out, get some sun, try to keep my appetite in check and to not stop taking my meds. 

Since that appointment, I’ve been doing that. I’ve been trying to write, trying to work out, trying to get sun whenever I can. But this whole thing hasn’t gotten much easier. I guess this gives me an opportunity to check in with all of you and also give myself the ability to update you all on my headspace and how I’ve been doing. 

Well, I’ve been okay. I’ve been talking to friends: my podcasts have been keeping me going. My column keeps me going and this blog keeps me going. I’ve been more active on social media as that is a decent way to feel connection to others. I’m trying to take small bites out of my To Watch anime pile. I’m just trying to stay busy. I’ve been relishing in small comforts like the fact that Domino’s has a delicious pan pizza that makes me feel simultaneously satisfied and emotionally disappointed in myself. Writing hasn’t been easy but I have been trying to schedule out time to do so whenever I get a chance. I guess it’s my concentration that makes writing difficult; I’m still not sure. I also noticed my depression getting worse; mostly what triggered my realization was the vast overeating. My appetite has been up and down for years but after downing nearly an entire pizza and then going back for more I came to realize that I was coping, or not coping at all, by consuming too much food. 

At least talking to friends and family has been a balm from the onslaught of negative thoughts and disappointment that has come from watching large event after large event get canceled. 

Speaking of, I want to talk about a phenomena that I wasn’t expecting: time itself to stop mattering. 

I feel like we’ve been at this for eternity. I was shocked to find that we were only a couple of months into what could be a very lengthy process of returning to normal. To be honest, I’m still not used to the days all running together. I go out of my way to greet my coworkers on Zoom with the day of the week because it helps keep me on track of what day it is. Weekends are particularly difficult for me as those are days I tend to be out of the house the most but now I tend to use them to run errands and get groceries from stores that are just a little further than my local Target. The time in my car is strangely liberating: being able to listen to the music and just not be in the house. I guess the days running together is good in that I got used to this new normal relatively quickly or as quickly as possible considering. I did my best to adjust to working from home and not doing much with my time since I’m encouraged to stay at home. But the slowness of each day is a little worrisome. Day in and day out it seems like the same things happen and even though I have plenty of things to keep me busy; I struggle to start any one project. I’ve been meaning to paint or to work on a collage or to do literally anything that isn’t just laying on the sofa but days like that are incredibly difficult. 

When I do have the energy to do things outside of my sofa I’ve kept busy by making masks and talking to my friends and family. I’ve kept busy by podcasting and still writing and making content. I’ve kept busy with social media and video games. I’m still watching an alarming amount of television: just something to fill the silence, something that is a voice outside of my own, something to give me the illusion of life in my quiet one-bedroom apartment with no other people in it. I’m still playing a lot of Pokemon Sword and still playing Just Dance after work to get my heart rate up. I’m still watching medical dramas and still watching shows about the paranormal because that’s a good idea for an anxious mind. I’m still on calls with friends and still on Discord keeping in touch with those that matter to me. I’ve been doing my best to stay sane. 

It’s been a strange time of going through therapy to help find better coping mechanisms but also trying to figure out which ones just don’t apply to me easily but the ones that I have been able to keep so far have been helpful. It was my therapist who encouraged me to write this Part 2 and to be honest and say that “Hey, I’m doing mostly okay but could be doing better.” sort of post. But I’m doing about as well as to be expected. As well as others are doing. I’m lucky, I can be aware of that. I know I am lucky to be working and to have my friends and to have the luxury of mental health care and therapy. 

It’s actually taken me a while to do this; so it if seems a little disjointed, that’s probably why. But I’m glad that I got it out on paper. The next post, I hope, will be an interesting one.