Lockdown: Screw your courage to the sticking place

I slept poorly Wednesday night. I had a feeling I would. I was up too late anyway, after cleaning up the spilled chili and insisting on still dining before bed. So the beach was out Thursday morning.

Thursday at work was pretty much the same as Wednesday. Finalizing drafts, gathering photos, emailing people. None of it was very stressful, and then I got a call from a development officer about a one-page concept document, something to send a donor to give them info about something we have in mind for the generous gift we’re going to ask for in a bit.

I was going to get my info late, and the turnaround was going to be quick, so I was working late. People kept thanking me rather profusely, like I don’t do this kind of thing a lot already. I was even encouraged to take a nap or chill before receiving the material. It made me wonder if I’ve been grouchy about my work lately. But this task didn’t seem especially difficult, and I was confident I could put something together.

Then around six, I was asked to stand by. We’ll put something formal together sometime in the coming week, and I’ll work directly with the CEO. We’re making a rather big ask, so this is a big deal.

Off the hook for the evening, I asked Sylvia if there was still time to join her trivia team for an event hosted by the public radio station. Nearly everything in me didn’t want to do this thing, a virtual trivia event on Zoom, on a team of people I wouldn’t know (except Sylvia), but I think I was looking for something to break the montony of recent days. If I hated it, I could always disconnect and blame my bad wifi.

Our team was about six people. Everyone was nice. Some were more Zoom-outgoing than others. I was among the quiet people. But you know I love trivia, and nobody (except Jocelyn, which I’ll get to in a second) has ever invited me to be on a trivia team. Yeah, I’ve never participated in these trivia events around town.

All participants met together on Zoom for the questions, then the moderator sent teams to their own breakout rooms, where we were free to discuss openly. The first was a geography question, an easy one we all knew. But the second was a sports question: On June 20-something, what professional team sports league was the first in the country to return to play. I let the conversation go for a bit until I was certain my teammates didn’t really have a clue about the correct answer. Which I was pretty sure I did: the women’s professional soccer league. I wasn’t absolutely sure it was right, but neither was it a guess.

We had a couple more questions in the round, one about Meerkat Manor, which Sylvia got right, and something else. Anyway, we did well.

The second round was a list of ten Shakespearean quotes. All we had to do was idenfity the plays from which the quotes came. I could tell the others were out of their comfort zone with this one — one of them called to a roommate to ask how familiar she was with “these books by Shakespeare.”

Anyway. I knew half of them for sure and had good guesses about the others. Luckily, the roommate did know a few I didn’t. And when Sylvia was sure one of the quotes was from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and I was pretty sure it was Hamlet, I didn’t say anything. It turned out to be Hamlet. Ah well. We were still in first place after two rounds.

I got us one more answer, in round three, that nobody else knew. The only animated feature film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Beauty and the Beast. There was conversation about it, and I had enough doubt to agree that a few other answers were possible, but we submitted my answer on the strength of my conviction, and it paid off.

I was useless in the final round, which was identifying from their photos ten world leaders. The ones I knew (Merkel, Duterte, Erdogan, Xi) were easy, so the group got them without me.

We won. The prize was some HPR swag I declined because I’m decluttering. But it was pretty fun, I have to say, and I was happy to be useful to my team.

Shakespeare, movies, sports. That covers my areas, I think. Oh, there were some music questions too, but they were both pop-related and I didn’t have a clue. A Black Eyed Peas song (I like them but got into them later than the period in question) and a Snoop Dogg answer.

Anyway. Jocelyn invited me the day before to be on her trivia team for the LA chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association and I said I was unlikely to accept. Just too much socializing with people I don’t know, on a platform (Zoom) I dislike. But after I had fun Thursday evening, I told her I’d reconsider.

Breakfast was from the Taco Bell drive-through. I know. I’m a bozo. I skipped lunch because I ate too many Frank’s Red Hot Lay’s potato chips for a snack. Then leftover shoyu chicken and fresh hapa rice for dinner.

I didn’t do much texting. Some work-related stuff with Karla. All the back-and-forth with Sylvia about the trivia. That was about it.

I listend to Van Halen’s Diver Down on repeat most of the day. I didn’t plan to listen to anything multiple times as I went through the VH discography, but this fifth album of theirs was the first I heard all the way through, early in high school, and it’s the one that really hooked me, even though many silly people think it’s not a very good album.

Listen: when a good band has a breakout album, the one before it is very often their best. It’s the bridge between whatever cool stuff they were doing when they conceived and whatever mass-appeal stuff they incorporated in finding their mainstream success. Van Halen’s sixth album, 1984, has all the songs everyone knows. “Jump,” “Panama,” and “Hot for Teacher.” For a long time it was my least favorite of their albums. Anyway, dial it back one album and you have Diver Down, which is nowhere near as good as Van Halen I or Van Halen II, but it’s a lot better than 1984. Accessible, humorous, cute, and still pretty rocking.

Reach out in comments if you want someone to connect with. I’m here for it. No Zooming.

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