log: solstice

WORMDATE: L2-2.5: 869-51,460: 24-722

Although we’ve met the criteria for going to Level 3, we seem pretty determined to stay at Level 2 and 2.5. It’s a bit weird and confusing though. While we’re technically at the lower level, some of the restrictions are much stronger than what even Level 3 offers. For the moment, the government seems to be favoring a more targeted approach, while it attempts to create more hospital bed-space and ramps up testing. Is it working?

Hard to say. We had a string of days with over 1000 new cases a day but have seen a slight decline over the past two. But following the daily numbers is a bit like living and dying with every pitch. All in all, the trend is upwards and that’s not great. The hospitals are getting stressed. Fatalities are on the rise. And the virus is spreading to vulnerable groups.

Like everyone else, we’re waiting for the vaccine. But there’s two parts of this ongoing crisis that I basically avoid thinking about: Vaccines and mutations.

Of course, both are in the news.

I suppose we all have to draw some arbitrary point where we decide it’s just totally out of our hands — often drawing it well past the point where it actually is. For me, that point is vaccines and mutations. I assume that if and when there’s a vaccine available, I’ll be informed. I’ll start to think about a vaccine when I have to think about where the line starts. As far as mutations go, there just isn’t much that can be done about that by the likes of me.

From the start, my feeling about how much load I can bear is basically like — vaccines and mutations are all probably valid shit to think about but hoping for one and fearing the other just seems likely to erode my will to do the basic shit. I would like one to show up and for the other to not show up. Both probably will. Either way, I just have to follow orders and stay at home. Wash hands, wear a mask, disinfect surfaces, ventilate twice daily.

And that’s before I even think about my state of mind. I hate thinking about my state of mind — I’d rather just have a state of mind and never think about it.

All in all, I feel pretty steady and productive. The guilt that plagued me earlier no longer bothers me so much. It’s either abated or I’ve just grown used to it. Maybe the guilt is just exhausted. I’m so used to it that, when I start down that road, I just cut right to the end part without the whole torturous journey. I’m not on such a short fuse.

For a while there, it was like a sideways glance could set me off.

My major irritation at the moment is dry air. In the summer, Korea can get so humid that it almost feels like you’re underwater. But the winter is another story. It’s a dry cold.

I wake up feeling like a fucking mummy. Lips parched. Scorched nose and throat. Wife was waking up with nosebleeds. And drinking so much water. Itchy and miserable. It kind of feels like your skin is in constant light contact with sandpaper. It’s strange. I never had to be aware of dry air on a skin level before. Perhaps, if I put it like this, my fellow pale people can relate — it’s as much of a thing as a strong sun. Just a sort of constant annoyance requiring attention.

Last year, I got a plant to try to deal with this air. It helps, I think, but not enough.

Buying a plant pre pandemic. It’s still alive!

So, today, a humidifier is supposed to arrive. That should help.

Yesterday was the winter solstice.

One of my wife’s co-workers gave us red bean rice cakes to drive out “the body ghosts.”

Often acquired at temples, this dish and red bean porridge are traditional meals for the solstice here. Their red color being rumored to scare off bad spirits. Keeping with the theme, I made a bright red 제육 볶음. I really like rice cakes and these were terrific.

And I took some time to see The Great Conjunction.

Visibility wasn’t great but it was visible.

I don’t know if it’s a pandemic related shift in attention or just a more visible sky, but it really feels like it’s been a great year for sky watching. While I haven’t seen anything on par with the UFOs I saw one night in Mexico, Mars has been amazing, I was treated to an amazing shooting star one night, and now this weird thing. I enjoy these events. It’s always interesting to think about what people might be doing the next time one comes around and the last time one did. They sort of connect you with other weirdos through time.

And, yeah, about the UFO thing. I brought it up so just let me say — I know, okay? I don’t believe it either and I’m not going to make any sort of big thing about it. But I saw what I saw and I don’t know what I saw and I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t see it. I’m also not going to knock myself out trying to figure it out. Some shit is just fucking weird and you just have accept it, get used to it, and move on.

There’s strangeness and high strangeness out there.

For my money, most of the trouble is when people try to make it normal or important. Like, anyone who has done or eaten weird shit, ahem, has had weird shit happen that they probably can’t explain. But it’s important to avoid going through life pretending The Weird never happened. It’s also important to avoid making a way of life out of The Weird or getting obsessed with explaining or, even worse, trying to control The Weird. Weird shit happens. It’s probably not real but it still happens.

It’s fine.

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