Playing Out The String

We’re nearing the first of what’s only a few finish lines, folks, as far as our old pal Coron A. Virus goes. With our second vaccinations coming up, the possibility of, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, actually spending time with other human beings for an extended period of time and not in controlled/distant conditions looms. It feels weird just to type that statement, and have no doubt it’ll be awkward as hell to actually mingle again after a year and change of not seeing virtually anyone.

It’s strange enough watching concert videos or, well, anything that involves jolly crowds and gatherings (not counting CPAC or other pseudo-klan rallies/insurrections). We’ll see. Am I excited? Uh…

YES. I can’t wait to see my friends, old and new. I can’t wait to peruse downtown Champaign again. Get some beers at The Blind Pig, eat some delicious vittles at Watson’s Chicken Shack, grab a coffee at Cafe Kopi, and dig in at Sushi Kame with utmost frequency. I want to catch a flick or show at the Virginia Theater, take my wife to the movies at the IMAX just down the road from us. I want to be able to wander Target and TJ Maxx without a mask without feeling like I can’t breathe or that I’m at risk because of the hordes of people present. I want to visit CostCo, people watch, and hell, just engage with society again.

I want to visit friends and for them to visit me without the pang of masks and distance looming. I want a giant family gathering in one small location where we can all talk memories and catch up.

We all want this. Vaccines are on the way, and soon enough it will be available for any and all who want it. Hope springs eternal, and after a shitty 2020 and an obnoxious winter, let’s hit the gas and do this thing.

My brother has moved up to Chicagoland, and it’s been a lot of fun to see him breathe the air again. I felt that rush after getting to Champaign nearly 10 years ago. Sometimes you need pieces to fall into place, take some initiative, and with some luck and no shortage of individual effort you find opportunity, which ultimately leads to some peace. My parents helped me move a lot of my stuff from Charleston up to my one-bedroom apartment a few blocks from downtown, and after they headed home and I was left to my own devices on a hot-as-hell summer day, I felt like I had finally gotten my shit back together. Sure, I didn’t have any ice, no cable or internet, and my source of AC was a loud-ass window unit, but I was in my space station out in orbit, free. I hope my brother feels like a bit of an astronaut up there these days.

One of the hardest parts of the pandemic, in spite of not really being able to go out, was stress/comfort eating. Between Culver’s and inactivity alone I probably gained 10 pounds easily, and feel like shit overall. There were plenty of threats to workout and eat better, but the reality is that I don’t have the discipline for long-term dieting or the will to outright remove a lot from my diet. Since my Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis I’ve gotten significantly better about what I eat, but that’s only halfway. Portion control is a major issue that I’ve always struggled with, and I’m trying to do better. It’s hard. That said, last week I decided to just go for it, in terms of exercise. I’m waking up at 6:30AM every day and putting in my thirty minutes of cardio, no excuses, five days a week.

I don’t know if I’ll lose much weight this way, but I know for a fact I’m already sleeping better and generally feeling better. Wife and I are both determined to pull ourselves out of the Pandemic Funk and wake up in the sun, even just a little bit, to resume getting life back to a happier and more fulfilling place. If our dogs don’t drown us in their feces first, which isn’t for a lack of trying on their part. We love ’em anyway.

Stardew Valley’s five year anniversary was the other day, and I’m absolutely going to give my thoughts on playing through it again with the 1.5 update on my Switch once I feel like I’ve thoroughly played out that experience. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a relaxing and pleasant gaming experience that was lovingly hand-crafted by one developer to take your mind off things, you can’t do much better than Stardew Valley.

I’m also re-playing Super Mario 3D World, which is far more of a pain in the ass on the Switch handheld, so I’ll have to dock it to stand a chance at 100%-ing that sucker (which is nigh impossible, considering the final levels). That and Bowser’s Fury, which looks like a lot of fun, along with Stardew are currently my games of choice while waiting for the Diablo 2 Resurrected release to fill the time.

This is the most boring sports time of year so I don’t have much to contribute in that area. The Blackhawks are overplaying by a mile and are a fun young squad. The Bears remain a dumbass, rudderless franchise. The Cubs are looking at a .500-ish season and if they start slow they’ll gut the franchise by the trade deadline and squander any goodwill they had from re-acquiring Arrieta. The U of I basketball team is kicking ass, but the proving grounds for if they’re a title squad are right around the corner. Here’s hoping they avenge the 2005 team. Sean May can kiss my ass.

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