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That's how long, almost to the day, it's been since my last post. Where has this quarantine gone? (Don't answer that. It's not a good answer.) Reading my last entry, it's startling how much/little things have changed. I bragged about finally getting on board the Alison Roman bandwagon a month before she said some dumb stuff and was momentarily canceled. (Has she been un-canceled? Jury's still out.)

Immediately after said cancelation, the world experienced a resurgence of the powerful social earthquake that is the BLM movement. This time it was longer and more sustained, with lasting aftershocks, reckonings from every corner of every industry, calls for awareness and accountability. I hope this earthquake doesn't subside until every inch of this scorched earth on which our country was founded is razed and redistributed equitably. I'm also too much of a realist to pin too many visions on hope. This is a fundamental failing on my part, but also on the part of a country that has disappointed me too many times to the point where I dare no longer hope.

I'm now on Day 194 of my Duolingo streak. The jury is likewise inconclusive on whether or not I have in fact gotten better at French.

Life in my little corner improved significantly on August 1, when we brought home the new love of our life, Oscar the goldendoodle. I'll spare you the goopy details and photos because that's what Instagram is for, but he is calm and loving and brilliant and perfect. He is napping at my feet as I type this. The morning sky undims from hazy ink to lazy gray. A film of lukewarm coffee on my tongue, bitter and earthy, the taste of home and untapped creative potential.

Our new routine, humdrum yet comforting in its predictability, revolves around Oscar's micturition and defecation habits. Each morning before he leaves for work, Mike takes him for a morning poop/pee walk, followed by coffee/cuddles. I get up an hour later and feed him breakfast in his Kong in his crate, which gives me enough time to brush my teeth/wash my face/put on sweats and take him to the park. He plays with the neighborhood dogs for an hour each morning, and that knocks him out for the rest of the morning so I can work in peace until lunch. Then another short walk, Kong lunch in the crate (sometimes accompanied with a bully stick, other assorted chew toys, and a looped recording of our voices on occasions when I need to leave the house for a few hours), evening park play date, dinner, pre-bed poop/pee walk. A truly charmed life.

Musically, I have been involved in the Atlanta Opera's upcoming production of the Kaiser of Atlantis, an outdoor, socially-distanced telling of the tale of an egomaniacal dictator who plunges his subjects into a hellscape of pain and war from which they cannot escape, not even by dying. Innocence is lost. Artists suffer.

A little too on the nose? It's interesting that the performances will be on either side of the November 3 election, so we will see in real time whether life imitates art, in either direction--whether we experience redemption and solace from our suffering or if we are plunged into four more years of darkness and loss.

Brighter side--and always end on a brighter side, like the ever-lightening day, now the color of a dishwater latte--I am so happy to be making music again. As long as I bury my head in my work, which in this case is the proverbial sand and I am the ostrich, I will get through this in one piece. Maybe I'll be a little dustier, maybe desperate for some fresh air and water, but I'll be intact.

Updated: Feb 9, 2021

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.

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