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How's everyone doing? Are we hanging in there? Surviving? That's pretty much the best we can hope for at this point. If you're one of those people who's using this downtime to be productive and start life-changing non-food-related projects, shut up. Everyone hates you.


Last weekend I baked all the things and we got fat. Then for Passover I made matzah crack and Alison Roman's garlicky braised short ribs and now they're quite possibly my new favorite meat dish ever. It took me a couple years to get onboard the Alison Roman train, but consider me a first-class passenger now, if not a full-fledged conductor.


When I ran out of steam with the cooking and baking and dishes (so many dishes! A Sisyphean battle of scrubbing and wiping and deluding myself that maybe tomorrow will be the day that I finally oil my poor abused cutting boards) and was forced to face the yawning chasm of uncertainty before me, well...let's just say it wasn't great.


The absence of concerts means the absence of concrete musical goals for me to work on, and the absence of practicing just puts me in a generally sour mood. Every time I try to throw myself into a new piece I end up half-learning it and then dropping it because why bother? I wish I could be one of those people who could just practice for their own personal growth, but I'm not that evolved yet. I'm too pragmatic. I need a reason.


Instead, this week I got into a DuoLingo leaderboard battle with some schmo who thought he could dethrone me from my 1st place position in the Amethyst league. The first day of the week we were neck and neck, and then he kept upping the limit, to the point where he was about 500 points ahead of me. I was all ready to accept defeat and finish with a silver medal this week. It's fine, I kept telling myself, this is good for you. You have to learn how to lose. Second place is perfectly adequate.


Then Tuesday night I got a little drunk off the leftover wine I was using in the short ribs and a steely Cabernet-infused resolve washed over me and I spent the next [number redacted because it's incredibly embarrassing] hours determined to crush this guy's spirit. I went from 500 points behind to nearly 1000 points ahead of him and then flopped into bed, smug and nearly sober (that's how long I stayed up), my brain still conjugating random French verbs.


So that's where I'm at. Don't judge. We're all doing the best we can.



Today, I put on a blazer and pants that didn't have an elastic waistband. I blow dried my hair and put on makeup and earrings. I walked to Whole Foods. There was a security guard stopping people at the door to make sure social distancing protocol was being observed. I bought parchment paper, turbinado sugar, buttermilk. Let us eat cake, am I right? Off with my head.


It was a beautiful spring day, the trees showing off an impossible key lime green as if someone had turned the saturation way up on the Instagram filter. In this time of anxiety and uncertainty, I am determined to appreciate the little things.


I think I have reached the Stress Baking portion of this quarantine. The foray into bread-making a couple weeks ago was a mere foreshock; now we bake in earnest. There's already a disk of pecan sandy dough chilling in the fridge. They'll go into the oven after I finish teaching and will be served after dinner which is spinach pesto and cacio e pepe potatoes. I might not have any concerts for the foreseeable future, but I'll be damned if I can't have carbs.

My first post of 2020 comes in the midst of a global pandemic, a plague of near farcical proportions, a plot Hollywood would reject as being too farfetched. It may seem like writing is a last priority, something to do only when public health mandates shut down the gigs, the travel, the dinner parties. When the cabin fever has crescendoed to a peak (though it may be insensitive to joke about fevers and peaks these days) and you can't bear the thought of putting together a jigsaw puzzle or pulling out an adult coloring book. Anything but that. Ergo, blogging.


The truth couldn't be more opposite. If anything, words carry so much power for me that I can't bring myself to put anything out there unless I have something compelling to share. There is so much drivel on the Internet these days; why add, however negligibly, to the deluge?


I realize that this coming from someone who as a teenager prided herself on adoxography -- elegant writing about a base or trivial subject -- is laughable. After all, I've been known to wax ecstatic about my manic caffeine/alcohol mood swings at least half a dozen times in this compost pile of a chronicle. Trivia is kind of my thing. Therefore, instead of hiding my true persona behind a wall of silence, I'm gonna Sheryl Sandberg Lean In to it, so today I bring you (perhaps the first of many, many installments, since this curve is nowhere close to flattening) Quaran-Scenes, pt. 1.


1. A rousing game of Bananagrams quickly devolved into us using every tile in the game to craft a German word that describes the feeling one gets, under quarantine, of hopelessness and yet camaraderie in knowing that we're all united in our isolation and subsequent destitution.


2. When in doubt, bake some bread and drink some wine. Carbo-load for all those home fitness videos you're no doubt blazing through. Also, liquor stores remain essential businesses because we all know the second they shut down, The Purge is upon us.



3. Been putting these babies to good use lately. As much as it sucks not being able to work, finally having some time to crack open these bad boys has been a welcome diversion from the existential crisis looming just beyond the threshold of the to-do list.


4. Here we have a rare glimpse of the Task-Oriented Boyfriend in captivity. Like others in his species, this type of Boyfriend does not do well in idle times, requiring many projects to keep himself from going crazy. He does not share my aversion to puzzles of the jigsaw variety, and here we see him toiling over a 1000 piece largely monochromatic monstrosity which he has inexplicably chosen to put together with zero help from the picture on the box. When asked why he would do such a thing and whether such a choice makes him a certifiable psychopath, he shrugs and says, "Yeah, it makes it more difficult."


© Copyright 2019 by Choo Choo Hu. All rights reserved. 

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