Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Seasons of Change

 It’s fall now. Autumn, whatever you want to call it. There’s always an air of change, I think, with the equinox seasons, not just in palette (though that’s certainly there too) but in the general mood as well. And maybe that’s because the palette informs the mood. I’m certainly not calling that out of the question. I don’t know, that’s not something I’ve thought about. But autumn also seems like it’s normally “the bad change.” It’s a lead-in to winter, which is typically this symbolic psychopomp (unless it’s holiday season but we’ll leave that aside for now).

At the same time, though, fall’s supposed to be this season of plenty, right? Harvest festivals and stocking up a surplus for those upcoming winter months. And the new colors on the trees aren’t treated as the trees dying or even hibernating, but the marker of this specific atmosphere.

It’s a weird dichotomy. I thought it might be a glass-half-full/empty situation where it depends on how you look at it? And you have to choose? But that doesn’t sit right with me either. What might work, though, is a synthesis of these two ideas, like, you need to prepare for hard times, but that doesn’t mean you have to be sad about it. The act of preparedness is promising enough, or something like that.

I don’t know, it’s just something I think about.

-F

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Masks and Mask Acessories

 I feel obligated to look at other people’s masks. I wrote before about how there’s this silent judgment that happens when you spot someone not wearing theirs (or worse, wearing one improperly), which is probably why that happens, but, at the same time, I haven’t seen too many unique ones? I have friends who wear some, sure, but the vast majority I’ve seen are just common cloth masks. They might be a nice color, but not much more than that. No designs, no fandom markers, nothing.

Maybe that’s a product of demographics? A lot of the other people I see are at least one generation above me, and expression is (at least stereotypically) a youth thing, so maybe that’s it? There’s also the fact that many have not worn these sorts of masks before, and so this sort of fashion is going to have to build itself from the ground up.

I speak of fashion like I know what I’m talking about, of course, and I don’t really. Maybe everyone else is like me, because while I have a mask with a design on it (a Guy Fawkes mask, for the curious), I never really wear it. I always feel like it draws more attention than I want. I mean, what I want generally is to not draw attention unless I start vocally looking for it, but that feels like another topic for another time.

The last possibility is that there just aren’t that many, and that the internet has only amplified the ones we do see. I could believe that as well -- the internet certainly amplifies so many other low-lying areas, why not what masks exist as well? But in all these cases, I see hope that they’ll become more widespread. I’d love for one more reason to check what’s on everyone’s faces right now.

-F

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Drilled Into My Head

Every Wednesday at noon there’s a siren that goes off throughout the area, the weekly test of the weather warnings that’s not too hard to tune out once you get used to it. It only lasts about a minute anyway, so even if you don’t, it’s still not big a deal, to the point that it generally doesn’t get remarked upon at all outside of the joking question, “What happens if there is severe weather and it’s also the scheduled test time?”

And like, obviously there are serious answers to this question. “They don’t have a drill when there might be an actual threat,” is the actual answer, though my particular favorite is saying “Well, when you hear it, what’s the sky look like?” in a particularly smarmy tone. But the joke answer, “we’ll all be doomed,” still seems to permeate. And this isn’t just a local thing, either. I’ve seen the joke made in entirely different states to the one I’m in.

I wonder if the joke has turned into a memetic device of sorts, reminding people to pay attention to the siren in the first place. Sure, that instant recognition also comes with hearing it all my life, but the additional association makes it harder to ignore when things matter.

-F

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

See You At The Movies(?)

I wrote a little bit about this a month ago, about how, yeah, I missed movies and going to the theatre to see them and all that, but also, like, I understood why places were closed and I was content with being patient, with even perhaps a bit of moralizing judgment towards people who wanted them open. Circumstances have changed now, and I’d like to revise my stance a little bit.

The biggest change was my preferred theatre reopening. It’s a lot easier to make decisions when the riskiest option is inherently off the table, after all. I can understand the impetus to reopen, by the way. I’m not blaming anyone involved in that particular decision-making process. It’s near a pretty big college campus, one that’s welcoming back students right now, so of course they would want to be there for that. And the precautions look reasonable in terms of trying to keep people safe.

So I should want to go now that it’s open? Well, I guess I’m still hesitant about going out into the world for anything I would deem unnecessary. Things like groceries are fine, maybe even going to a cousin’s first communion, but movies? I won’t say every outing I’ve done has been strictly necessary, but it still feels like a wide gap. But at the same time, the fact that the option is there feels like a temptation. It means I can sympathize more with people who do feel like they have to do these things, at the very least. A casual want (“I can’t wait until I can go see a movie.”) has become an active consideration (“I can’t wait until I’m comfortable seeing a movie.”)

It’s weird, that’s all. Like a lot of these blog posts, I don’t have a solution or anything. Maybe I will slip a mask on and sit two rows away from anyone else. It’s a closer possibility than I realized, but it still feels like so many things are holding me back.

-F

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

A Weird Online Chat Quirk of Mine

There’s an old internet phrase (that is, old by internet standards, it’s probably only, like, a year in real-life time) that, boiled down to the essentials, is just “Imagine X” where X is some action you’re trying to downplay. It generally has negative associations, even when it tries to be humorous. “Imagine eating grilled cheese with ketchup,” is one, for example. “Imagine wearing those toed shoes,” is another. There are occasionally follow-ups, like “Couldn’t be me” or “this post brought to you by the Y gang” where Y is obviously opposed to X in some way, but again, this is the memetic phrase in its most basic form.

I don’t know what happened, but I’ve started using it an awful lot online, which wouldn’t be so bad, but like I said, it is kind of a negative phrase, and I think that might have translated over to my general mindset. Or maybe it’s that I’ve been feeling more negative lately and that’s why it’s been creeping in. Either way, I kind of wish I wasn’t doing it. It’s gotten to the point where I’ll type it out, realize exactly what I’m doing, and delete it again. Nobody else wants to see it, I think.

It is getting better, though. Deleting it without posting has meant that I’ve ended up not using it as much in normal online chats. And it hasn’t gotten into my normal speech patterns, so it hasn’t become that sort of habit, just an online one.

-F

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Christ In A Cup

I haven’t been attending church for, well, a lot of reasons, but I did end up going to an outdoor service over the weekend and while I could probably talk all about it the same way I talk about grocery stores and their procedures, I’m more interested in talking specifically about one specific aspect: the sacrament of communion. It was the first thing on my mind when I decided to attend, and I was interested to see how the inherently physical act of passing out wafers and wine was translated.

The answer came in the form of this little plastic container of grape juice. The peel-off lid for it came with an extra pocket containing the wafer, so it was all prepackaged and ready to go. If you’ve seen, like, a kids yogurt cup that comes with a spoon, it was kind of like that but smaller. Now, fortunately, this was a denomination of Christianity that believes more in the symbolic nature of the act rather than literal transubstantiation -- we didn’t have to watch the Holy Spirit seep through the plastic and into the juice or anything like that -- but it still is a wholly different act peeling off a wrapper and slipping it under your mask.

Communion glasses feel like shot glasses. I mean, I guess they always were like that but it also feels supremely odd to take off a facemask to down a slug of grape juice. There’s a feeling of immediacy. You don’t want a mask down for longer than you need to. There’s no ceremony at all.

At the same time, I wouldn’t expect any churches to do any differently. I don’t think people would rather have no communion at all when these are an option. But for me, personally, sitting there toying with the cup while waiting for permission to partake, I still couldn’t help but wonder if maybe there was a better way to be blessed.

Maybe we could all be spritzed with holy water or something.

-F

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

The Grocery (Part Four)

Am I going to do one of these every time I make a grocery run? Probably. I mean, it’s as good a marker as any for how things are going in a general sense. I’m not being scientific about this at all, though. I don’t visit at the same time, I don’t have, like, a set routine where I look for the same things, and, perhaps most importantly, I don’t really want it to be. These are purely anecdotes I just pick up while pushing my cart around.

The most obvious point of interest is that masks are pretty much universal now. I imagine some of that might be to do with the two people that could possibly be greeters who could bar people from entry should they not be wearing one, but it’s a nice change of pace from a few weeks ago. By the same token, however, keeping one’s distance is less of a thing now, which is weird when the cart is such a handy measurement device. You’d think just being a cart-length or two away from other people would be easy for everyone but I still got people trying to pass me getting rather close for comfort.

Some of this I still blame the store for. One-way aisles have been more respected, but the intention behind them -- reducing clogging in these narrow areas -- perhaps less so. The architecture of your standard grocery doesn’t seem to support a pandemic, though I’m sure they only thought about that in retrospect.

-F