Lockdown: Peppers and stuff

As I did last Tuesday, this Tuesday I got out of bed at about 4:30 so I could do a Starbucks and McD’s run before the 6:00 conference session. I got my fifth (or so) pumpkin spice latte of the season and another couple of breakfast sandwiches and settled in. It was going to be a long morning.

For the large group sessions, we’re watching streaming video of the presenters, but we’re not on video or audio ourselves. There’s a chat window instead, and an interactive poll widget. I chimed in once or twice but nothing especially insightful. At one point in a late-morning session on writing case statements, I did say, “This is all for real but nobody listens to the lowly staff writer,” to which another participant replied, “Very true.”

We had three presentations of varying lengths. They were all interesting, and the presenters were all great. But they are all seated in front of their computers, just speaking to us and leading us through slides. It’s good for what it is, but if I ever get asked to lead one of these things (and I’ve been asked, for a local group, but I never got the okay from my employer), I’m going to lock myself in one of the conference rooms at the office with a lapel mic and camera with a wide angle, and present on my feet as if I were conducting a class. I don’t really know how to teach sitting down.

That’s not entirely true. Good teaching is good teaching, but I would at least try to deliver while on my feet, if for no other reason than to break the monotony.

We broke into our smaller sessions and had a nice discussion about thank-you letters. Especially helpful was a list of phrases never to use. Ha. When I first started in this job, I didn’t realize how some of the language sounded. I adopted stuff I soaked in from reading existing content. I figured it out, though, and was pleased to see many of the things on the presenters’ list match my own list of taboo phrases.

I mostly worked on my assignment, due at six o’clock Wednesday morning, for the rest of my Tuesday, with breaks for the twice-weekly department Zoom meeting and a pretty decent nap. Hey, I started my work day at six; I was entitled to a good, long break.

Of course, focusing on my conference stuff means I’m behind on my real stuff, but I’ve tried to communicate to people waiting on work from me that this conference is important to me. I don’t want to blame my real work for my missing the deadline on my first assignment last week, but it played a part, and I never got critique on something I worked really hard on. Dang it.

Between the end of work and the beginning of NaNoing, I left the TV on after the evening news, and it was The Bachelorette. Which I have never watched. I’ll tell you what, though. The new Bachelorette, who stepped in after the season’s original Bachelorette left the program last week, is freaking gorgeous. I watched it just so I could keep looking at her.

I took a while to get warmed up in our NaNo Skype session, mostly because I really wanted to get all my laundry-night stuff done. I wrote somewhere around 1100 words, about two-thirds the daily minimum and half my daily goal, but they were a pretty good 1100 words, and by the time I got rolling, the energy in the Skype room was really good.

Finally got to sleep at midnight. Woke up at 2:30 to head for the laundry. Whee.

Breakfast was an Egg McMuffin, hash browns, and oh yeah, a local deluxe breakfast platter. That was way too much food. I skipped lunch.

For dinner I made stuffed peppers. First time. I was disappointed to learn you cook the filling first and then stuff it into the peppers, and then cook it some more. Cooking things twice is mostly something I avoid these days. Most recipes called for also par-cooking the peppers before stuffing them, but screw that. They also said you don’t have to if you like your peppers crisper. Fine with me.

There were a hundred recipes, each different from the others, but the basic idea was to make a tasty ground beef and rice mixture, then stuff the peppers, then cook in the oven. So I winged the filling. Ground beef, tomato sauce, garlic powder, leftover rice, red onion, and halved grape tomatoes. I had three peppers. Stuffed one with this filling. Added kim chi to the filling for a second pepper. Added doubanjiang to a third. Dinner was the first two. I’ll have the third sometime Wednesday.

I texted Sharon to tell her how freaking gorgeous the new Bachelorette is. I don’t know why but I thought she was into the show. She’s not, but it led to some good conversation about her, and we segued into some talk about work. I also texted Suzanne because she kind of loves trashy stuff, and she turned her TV on right away so we could text while we watched together. THAT is a friend.

I also got a late text from a coworker who needed help with some formatting on a document.

Crush Girl and I texted back and forth most of the day, talking about Thanksgiving dishes and some of the latest COVID-19 news.

Many things about this crappy pandemic suck hairy donkey balls, and one of them is the isolation and disconnectedness some of us feel. If that’s you and you need someone, leave a comment and I’ll send you some contact info.

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