Lockdown: Answers from the great beyond

Friday I woke up at around 2:30 and got out of bed around 3:30. I worked on the story that had been causing me problems and submitted it shortly after dawn. Then worked on some finishing details of another story (some Photoshop work on a donor’s picture and some double-checks on edits).

I had a couple of hours before a 9:00 short-notice all-staff Zoom meeting for some “good news” from the CEO and was quite hungry since I’d skipped dinner. So I did an online order from Zippy’s. With all the choices in my neighborhood I’m not sure why I wanted Zippy’s, but there it was. They said it would be ready in fifteen minutes, and that’s about when they brought it to my car in the phone-ahead curbside delivery area. Well done.

So breakfast was a chili moco (it’s a Hawaii thing) and a slice of custard pie, enjoyed leisurely while I read the news.

Thursday night, a bunch of us were texting about what the good news was going to be. My favorite suggestion was that the foundation was buying us a pony, but I had a feeling I knew what it was based on something kind of casually tossed out during our training Thursday morning. I turned out to be right: after final accounting, we surpassed our fiscal year goal by about 26 percent. For a fundraising organization like ours, that’s a pretty big deal, a reason to celebrate.

Of course, after Bloody Wednesday, I wonder how many of us really feel like celebrating. We got to that number on their work, too. I certainly feel good about our work paying off, but I’m in no mood to celebrate.

I worked on a story I’m having to restructure some. The donors haven’t responded to my emails so I’m telling it a different way. I actually kind of anticipated this would happen, so I was ready. It still wasn’t gelling quite the way I like, so I didn’t get it done by the end of my workday. I’ll be finishing it up Saturday morning I guess.

I’m pushing an elephant up the stairs
I’m tossing out punchlines that were never there
Over my shoulder a piano falls
Crashing to the ground

It’s an R.E.M. song about Andy Kaufmann. My second-favorite R.E.M. song. Sometimes it pops into my head when I’m thinking about this writing thing I do. It’s a powerful, God-like thing, and it’s also a chaotic mystery that sometimes falls down around me while I try to hold things literarily, linguistically together. Sometimes I’m pushing an elephant. Sometimes I’m shooting punchlines out of my sleeve without even thinking about it. Sometimes the pianos rain while my fingers type desperately away. Gorgeous imagery.

I kept working well past my usual work hours, putting Noelle on again, and then Rocket Science while I fooled myself into thinking I might have enough in me to pull the story together. I didn’t.

So I made a ribeye for dinner and left the work on my screen to look at between bites of my food and glimpses of Anna Kendrick. Steak is one of my favorite meals, but I don’t make it too often because I don’t really do it very well. This one came out pretty good, though, probably because I spent the bucks on a good slab of meat. I wilted some kale and sliced some aliÊ»i oyster mushrooms (Wikipedia says they are also called king trumpet mushrooms, king oyster mushrooms, and French horn mushrooms), then sauteed them together. Ate the steak and veggies with white rice.

The mushrooms were my “something different” during an unplanned stop at Safeway early Tuesday morning. A good choice. I don’t love kale, and I’m not sure these were the best accompaniment for them, but the dish works for me.

Thie chili moco and ribeye were my two meals. I either skipped lunch or dinner, depending on how I want to think about these things. I snacked on a few Lay’s potato chips (kettle cooked New York Pizza flavor). They were pretty good. Actually tasted like pizza.

Deep Purple’s new album has a ridiculous name: Whoosh! It’s been delayed twice because of the pandemic, but it’s finally out and I gave it a couple of spins. The songs range from stupid to pretty good. There’s nothing great, but it’s a nice, fun album. Steve Walsh’s solos are fantastic, though, and I’m pleased with Don Airey’s keyboarding. Jon Lord was always my favorite guy in Deep Purple, the guy who I think defined their sound better than the other amazing musicians in the band, but Airey as his replacement is better than adequate. If I didn’t know it wasn’t Jon Lord (he died eight years ago, and retired from band ten years before that), I wouldn’t be able to tell.

The songs are very positive, a kind of happy-to-be-alive vibe a band like Deep Purple has certainly earned. I’m going to spin it a few more times over the weekend for sure, then add the pretty-good songs to my 2020 playlist.

I texted Crush Girl my happy weekend wishes, then sent the same texts to a few other friends. Jennifer asked me if I’m going to stay up for the election printouts and of course I am. I think majority wins in the major city elections (mayor and prosecutor) are unlikely, but my candidates have an outside shot at making it to a runoff. Which annoys me this year because I think the candidates with the best name recognition are not good choices this time around. Ugggggh.

I remain a libertarian (lower-case L), but I almost always vote progressive in city elections, and my choices in state elections tend to be pretty liberal. There’s a good reason for this: when local governments are liberal, federal governments can be conservative. The federal government doesn’t have to be as far-reaching into our daily lives when needs are taken care of locally, which is really how it should be.

As an extreme example, if every school district in the country had standards (I don’t mean educational standards, dammit — I mean standards for providing equal access to education and competent administration of this education) better than today’s national standards, we wouldn’t need the crappy federal department of education or its idiotic current secretery.

That government which governs best governs least, and all that. Can you imagine what we could do with money we weren’t spending on the federal DOE?

Apply this thinking to stuff like conservation, energy, housing, human services, and some parts of communications regulations, and not only do we lessen the impact of a bad president (purely hypothetically speaking, of course) making bad appointments, but we decrease layers of government, which saves money. Something taken care of locally is paid for much more efficiently than the same problem taken care of federally.

True conservatives would say we could take it a step further: don’t use local governments at all to address many of these issues. Let local organizations take care of it, removing yet another layer of government to the equation. If the states and counties don’t involve themselves as much in feeding the hungry or housing the homeless, real people on the ground in the midst of the crises, like churches and other nonprofits, can do it, and people can support them better when they aren’t paying so much in taxes.

It’s a fair point, and ideally it would work, but I’ve worked in human services here, in private nonprofits, and too many people fall through the cracks. Some involvement by local governments seems important if we really care about every resident, which I think we should. Someone needs to tell the badly run private rehab center that it can’t do what it’s doing (as an example). Because we are all better off when we are all better off.

I didn’t go for a walk Friday but I’m almost sure to Saturday, since I refuse to wait around between printouts for election results. I hate the way the local stations fill time between printouts. I’ll hang around for the early returns, then get some fresh air.

Not sure what I’m doing for the rest of my weekend: either vegging in front of the TV or vegging with some good books. I also picked up some decadent food things with which to destroy my body while I try to mend my spirit. I predict they will work for exactly half this equation.

Hit me up in comments if you would like some more connectivity. Texts, IMs, DMs, that kind of thing.

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