What to Do When You’re Quarantined

So. This COVID-19 virus ain’t no joke, ain’t it?

As of now, I’m fine. I’m washing my hands for 20 seconds, practicing social distancing, staying at home, and avoiding human contact where I can. In short, nothing has changed for me except the hand-washing. Unfortunately, I’m still an avid face-toucher because I’m still an anxious person and touching my face has been a part of my anxious existence. But my hands are clean when I do it, so there’s that.

I’m trying not to think about the End of The World (or worse, the World Going Back to Normal and Everyone Forgetting About How We Almost Lost Everything) by staying productive. I can work from home for my $Day Job$, and in the afternoons, spend time writing, playing video games, reading, helping M cook Blue Apron meals, recording podcasts with Doc, or watching something on streaming. If I can keep my mind busy, I can keep myself from philosophizing. For me, philosophizing leads to anxiety, which leads to face-touching, which leads to corona virus.

The following sections are half-written posts I’ve had up here for a while that never went anywhere, either because there wasn’t enough content or I just burned out writing about the subject. While cooped up here, I revisited them and thought they’d all make a single good post rather than multiple mediocre posts.

Enjoy.


I have an app on my phone called Co-Star. It bills itself as a “hyper-personalized, social experience bringing astrology into the 21st century.”

It’s an AI horoscope app. Plain and simple.

I don’t believe in horoscopes, but I understand why people give them value: it’s comforting to have a message or mantra to guide you. As hokey as it may seem watching people pour over newspapers and phone apps to reach some enlightenment about themselves and their futures, I don’t see the harm in it. But I read about Co-Star on The Verge last year and thought the AI aspect was interesting and decided to download it for fun.

The horoscopes that came to my Apple Watch each day were less like personal mantras and more like absurd little non sequiters, popping up at lunchtime. They ranged from the humorous and arguably insightful to downright deranged. But this is what you get when you cross machine-learning with the human interest. At one point, I would get the alert on my Watch, roll my eyes, and then snark aloud in response and earn M’s befuddled reaction.

Imagine me trying to explain my way out of that.

I wanted to share a few of my favorites that I screenshot, plus my responses.

"Listen to jazz."

That’s it. That was the whole ‘scope. No specifics in type or performer, just an encouraging push to change my music habits: Bitch, we gods are listening and you’ve been listening to the same ten songs on repeat in the shower for months now and we are tired of 90’s alternative and today’s hip-hop. We get it, you were born in Detroit, live in Atlanta, but lived through the 90’s. You think you’re cool. Listen to something else, goddamnit.

How dare you. For the record, I do listen to jazz when I’m writing. Dave Brubeck mostly. And one of my favorite albums is Miles Davis’ Bitches’ Brew. I’m very cool.

"You can be with more than one person, you just have to be honest about it."

I’m printing this out as my polyamory hall pass. This counts, right?

"The greatest source of your suffering is the lie you tell yourself."

People tell themselves lies every single day. “I’m happy,” “I’m doing the right thing,” or “I’m going to get that promotion.” My greatest suffering does indeed come from lies that I tell myself. The biggest one being, “I’m very cool.”

"Try not to talk shit today."

I have nothing snarky to say here. When I saw this one pop up on my Watch I just laughed.

"What would happen if you weren't so scared?"

Lots of things. I would promote my books to more people. I’d confront the people I know who didn’t read my books and demand to know why. I’d speak my mind and not worry about hurting anyone’s feelings. I’d apply for another $Day Job$. I’d listen to something other than those ten songs.

"Friendship should be reciprocal."

If you’re talking about from other people, you’re goddamn right. I’ve got people calling themselves my friends who outwardly admit they don’t want to read my books because “they’re too dark” in content. And I just fucking smile like and idiot and say “that’s ok — to each his own!” No, it’s not ok. It hurts my feelings. Read my fucking books if you’re my friend. If you’re a stranger, then I don’t care. But if you’re my friend you should at least pick up the e-reader (or the print version if it’s Icarus) and just start reading.

Sorry, this one hit really close. Moving on…

"Consent is not the absence of a no, but the presence of a yes."

I don’t need an AI explaining to me what consent means, but yes — thank you. Print this out and plaster this on everyone’s goddamn foreheads.

You love and are loved.

Aww. Thank you. Even if I listen to the same music over and over again?

"Ask yourself if you are coping with this new reality or if you are just bored and want to be away from the others."
[Ed – I got this one before COVID-19 was a thing, which makes this one timely and a little weird.] Away from others is my reality and I think I’m coping pretty well. It’s other people that I watch out for.

"Friends don't treat each other like shit."

AND THEY READ EACH OTHER’S BOOKS, RIGHT?


January was a momentous month. Not only was I the maid of honor (technically, matron of honor since I am married, but maid sounds prettier) at my sister-in-law’s wedding, but I got a very nice honor myself at my Alma Mater.

First, here I am in my MoH get-up. This was the first time in my life I had my hair and makeup professionally done. I looked fabulous. The following are shitty phone pictures:

And here’s one of me and the bride herself:

Me, on the left; bride on the right

Finally, if you’re ever at my old campus, go up the steps. You’ll see Icarus’s banner with my name on it. Your humble not included:

Me, standing over a banner of my book, Icarus
Your girl is famous!

One day, I will explain the significance of this poster I made in response to colleagues who do not like using A. the overhead projector or B. the whiteboard to teach:

"Never forget the pleasures of inhaling CHALK. Your lungs might disagree but your nostalgia won't. Your clean dry erase board doesn't compare to the dust clouds of my memories. You project your Power Points. I project my insecurities."
Somethings are better left alone.