I dislike holidays

Special days (or weeks or months) make me feel burdened with the expectation that I can feel some sort of way on command. You tell me to celebrate, what I feel is bad. You tell me to feel grateful, what I feel is resentful. You tell me to be respectful, I am respectful enough to keep quiet about how I feel no different from before.

If I were to organize holidays into tiers, the top tier would consist of the major holidays: Thanksgiving and Christmas. While these holidays nominally are about feeling some particular way, they are more importantly, about doing something. They are designated times for family gatherings. Family gatherings are something we want to do anyway, but we can’t do it every day, thus the holiday serves a practical purpose.

The second tier is national holidays when we get off work. A work holiday is something you do, not something you feel. You can’t take work holidays every day, there’s some value in everyone taking off work on the same day, thus the holidays serve some practical purpose. Unfortunately, many of these holidays also ask us to feel respect or reverence for something, be it veterans or labor activists, Colombus or MLK, and that doesn’t really work on me.

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How my free time disappeared

This article was written for the Carnival of Aces, which this month had the theme of “quarantine”.

Back in February, I got a new job. I like my job, but my main complaint was the long commute–over an hour and a half in each direction. My husband had an even longer commute, so we were in the process of looking for a new apartment in a better location.

In March, my company told everyone to work from home. My husband’s company did the same. Suddenly we had all this extra free time, multiple hours every day that we would have spent commuting. But all that extra free time–and more–got immediately slurped up.

Although it could be said we’re all in this together, I’ve noticed some stark contrasts in the way that COVID-19 has impacted our personal lives. There are those who lost their jobs or were sent home from school, and there are those who kept their jobs and now have to take care of their kids at the same time.

In the ace community, you might expect that since few people have kids, people gain free time rather than losing it. But as someone who keeps track of ace community activity (for linkspam purposes), I’ve observed a precipitous decline in activity in March and April, followed by a slow recovery in May. Other people have noticed it too. I’d like to offer my own experience as a case study of why this might have happened.

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Hoarding is my ultimate boss in Animal Crossing

In early April Animal Crossing: New Horizons celebrated Bunny Day, a secular analogue to Easter. During this event, pastel-colored eggs could be found everywhere, and could be used to craft colored-egg-themed furniture and clothing. This was not entirely well-received by fans, because the eggs would replace other ordinary crafting items, and because the furniture is ugly.

For my part, I crafted every single Bunny Day item, and stuffed them all in a room.

Room filled with pastel-egg themed furniture

And then as soon as the event was over, I sold every single Bunny Day item, and whatever eggs I had remaining. As someone who grew up with a hoarder, I found it cathartic to take all that exclusive special-edition ugly junk, and throw it in the garbage.

Then, I redecorated the room to look like a landfill. [Read more…]

Working out

Another thing I have been doing while stuck at home, is weight training. That’s out of character for me. I’ve never “worked out” in my life, never gone to a gym, or otherwise made a deliberate plan to exercise. Not since P.E. classes in middle school. I used to go hiking occasionally, but stopped several years ago as I decided I wasn’t fond of the activity (in retrospect this may have been asthma-related).

The story goes that my husband goes to the gym on a regular basis. All the gyms are closed. So he bought some gym equipment, which we store on the balcony. I proposed I could join him, so this happened.

Each day, we start with some jumping jacks to warm up, and a few stretches. Then my husband picks out some exercises from a book or youtube, focusing on a particular group of muscles. For each exercise we repeat the motion for several sets, and around 10 repetitions per set. The next day we work on a different group of muscles.

It’s completely different from my P.E. classes from when I was a kid.

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WFH (Working From Home)

Last week, amid rising concerns about COVID-19, I was sick. It was no big deal, just a little stomach bug, highly unlikely to be contagious. But I worked from home for a week, out of prudence.

After a week of this, I decided to go in the office again. I had missed the double-monitor setup and the snack room. But the environment was totally changed from before.

On the train, I was paranoid that I would cough or sneeze, and people would shun me or worse. Well you know, it’s allergy season, lots of people are sneezing. And I have asthma, I cough year round. But imagine explaining that to randos on the train, and to be fair I wouldn’t trust a rando explaining the same to me either.

The office was mostly empty. I raided the snack room.

That afternoon, the company announced that it was recommending everyone work from home, for the next week at least. So I went home–after grabbing every perishable item in the fridge.

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In which I get married

Part 1: In which I have a cough

I graduated a couple years ago. I wrote a dissertation about time-resolved experiments on high-temperature superconductors. I am done with physics. I am switching careers.

Throughout my PhD, I suffered from long-lived coughs. I’d catch a mild cold, get over it, but continue coughing for two months. It got worse over the years and eventually I would just have a permanent cough, if not for medication. I have asthma, and I maintain my health with a combination of fluticasone furoate and vilanterol. It’s a few hundred bucks a month, billed to my insurance company.

Now I’m going to have to explain this, because it might seem wacky to our readers outside the US. In the US, we don’t have universal healthcare coverage, because I guess that interfere’s with Republicans’ civil liberties or something. Health insurance is attached to one’s job, which allows us complete freedom to choose our healthcare plan by, uh, finding a different job.

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My feelings about fashion

Fashion is an artform, one in which we’re coerced into participating. Anything you wear is making some kind of statement. Even if you wear something that tries not to make any statement at all, that in itself is a kind of statement. So, how I feel about fashion is about how I’d feel if I were forced to draw a picture every day, for my entire life. I hate it.

You might guess that I wear clothing that is pretty generic, and which says as little as possible. That’s not entirely true though. My dislike of fashion causes me to particularly dislike clothes shopping. My family picked up on this, so they know I really like being gifted clothing. So what I actually end up wearing is determined by a number of factors that have more to do with my family than with me.

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