Category Archives: on life

Final Fantasy VII Remake Keeping Me Sane

The last two weeks or so have been more of the same while staying ‘safe at home’.  If it’s Monday through Friday, I’ll get up, I’ll get myself going and do yoga with Adriene (as of now, it’s been 56 days straight – go me).  Shower, then breakfast, and then I’ll head downstairs (I honestly thought the word ‘downtown’ in my head while typing, lol right – I honestly wonder when I’ll see downtown again) and get to work at my desk.   I’m happy that I did make my desk a standing desk via the on-desk Flexispot thing I bought and put on it late last year:

I’m using a webcam to then dial in to any meetings that we have, as that is now basically kind of our default way to do meetings, which is using video.  Before this, video calls were never really part of the paradigm and it was just voice and maybe sharing your screen.   Anyway, I’ll then continue that until around lunchtime, and by now I’ve kind of gotten into a rhythm of ordering a big family meal of El Pollo Loco, and then spread that out through the week.

They turned out delicious!

Then back to work until 5:30 or so, and then the excitement begins as now I can relax at home.   Home, which I haven’t left except for small things for nearly a month.  If I’m not ordering food in, I’ll probably make my chicken-rice-beans or broccoli combo, or if I have a particular meat in mind, I might grill that up.  It’s good.   The image above is how my pork chop turned out – it was spectacular (I even used Larry’s cast iron skillet to do it – intermediate level skills there).

Lately for fun, I’ve been continuing to rewatch Twin Peaks, as I’ve mentioned multiple times previously.  I’m right now right at the penultimate episode of Season 2, right before the crazy 2-hour season finale (now season instead of series!).   Or I may watch a Marvel movie in my rewatch – I just watched Age of Ultron this morning and that movie still is a slog.  Some fun stuff in it, but it’s just a big meh.  Or I play video games, and honestly, that’s a huge part of my time lately, as it just lets me get lost in something else besides crying over Larry, whether it’s thinking about missing him, thinking about him dying, thinking about if I’ll ever have another relationship again, thinking about if he loved me, thinking about if he’s watching me somehow (it sometimes feels like it when I dream and he’s there – this morning I dreamt I had come home and while trying to turn the alarm off, realized it was off already because he was there.   I didn’t think of him as dead, so I was in a rush and he told he had to talk to me, but I was in the middle of something and that I’d get right back to him in a sec but of course I woke up.  Fun.).  Anyway, some video games have helped me tune the world out.

The latest game is Final Fantasy VII Remake. It’s a thrilling remake (I know, I know, that’s in the title) of the classic 1997 Playstation game that got everyone in the US excited over RPGs – Final Fantasy VII.  Indeed, I was amongst that group of folks who had our minds blown when playing this game – my UCLA roommates Ryan and Rolondo and I played this that year, and it was a blast.  I’ve replayed it throughout the years, but I don’t think I ever finished the whole thing again as well, it’s a lot.  But since 1997, there’s been talk of getting a remaster or a graphical update of this classic game whenever new video game hardware emerges, and every time, it’s always a no-show.   But in 2015, it was formally announced, and by golly, in 2020, we got it.   And hot damn, it’s amazing.   The early news back in 2018/2019 was the game would be episodic, and the first game is set only in Midgar.   That riled up a lot of people as episodic games can sometimes leave a lot to be desired.   And Midgar’s opening 5-6 hours in the original game are literally just an intro, as the whole world opens up to you after it.  And now this whole first game in the Remake is only there?   Potential concern – but the final product has shut my whore mouth.   It’s fantastic – the graphics are spectacular, there’s voice acting now, and the city of Midgar is immense.   A whole lot has been added to the game and it’s all been entertaining.   My first few hours though were spent gawking at the completely stunning and HAWT side-character named Biggs who is just….dayum…..

I didn’t make this image but it captures my feelings completely – thanks, Reddit.  Biggs’ looks and his voice performance are all so damn sexy, and honestly, this whole game is overtly horny and honestly, I’m here for it.  But yeah, Biggs.   Nice.

Anyway, I’m loving playing this game for just the fun of it and for the escapism.   I’ve continued getting through the end-game-ish stuff of The Division 2 as well.   I’m done with the main campaign (although they keep re-invading Washington DC and it’s annoying) so I now am playing the add-on episode content (National Zoo, Pentagon, Coney Island) and I’ll then get to the New York City expansion (which is where The Division 1 was set).   After that, I think I’ll be content to move on to other games.   Anno 2205 is also a background play for me when I need to zone out (you get to build on the moon, ffs!) as is No Man’s Sky (in VR this game truly is just spectacular; in non-VR it’s another addictive, zen game).

So yeah, that’s my life.   I chat with my friends over text and WhatsApp, we have occasional video calls, and it’s just who knows where this all goes.   I’m tired of it, but the alternative isn’t that great without treatment or a vaccine.   So yeah, great year 2020 is.   We manage to have birthday celebrations via Zoom video chat – earlier in April was Paras’ birthday, and it was fun, but it sucks that 2020 will be a do-over year. 

I bought a new Dyson vacuum as I wanted a cordless one so that I didn’t have to schlep the canister one I also have up and down the staircases.   I went all out on it and got the latest, nicest one, and I gotta say it’s pretty fantastic:

Ta-dah

It even came with its own stand and a couple of attachments.   I also bought a film negative scanner that I will use to go through a lot of my old pictures as what else do I have to do?   And while I do love the Google Photo Scan app for a quick way to effectively take a picture of a picture, actual scanning of the negative will get really good quality.  That should come this week.

Some fun stuff is coming up – wine.com has virtual video wine tastings and the first one I signed up for (along with some coworkers and friends who I sent the invite to) is Tuesday – to taste a French Pinot Noir and a California Pinot Noir.   Wine is also what gets me through the day.  So there we are.  Other than that, no pictures I took are worth showing as it’s just sunsets and looking outside.  I look like hell, and what’s the point anyway.

3 Months Now

Yesterday marked 3 months since Larry died.  Yesterday was not a good day accordingly.  I spent most of the non-work day in tears.  Part of that was also watching the series fucking finale of Schitt’s Creek and it’s just not fair that such a wonderful show is ending.  It of course ended wonderfully with David and Patrick’s wedding and the Rose family achieving their happy endings.   It broke me up to see the beginning of a wonderful marriage with all the sentiments that I remember feeling.   But my marriage ended in death as Larry fought and lost his battle with cancer.  “Till death do you part” is a bitch of a thing, especially when it applies to you.   I think about death frequently, whether it’s the hopes that Larry is around in some form or fashion or if coronavirus, if and when I get it, will be how I go.   I think about all the things that probably need to be taken care of and who would actually handle those things, and then I remember that oh yeah, you’d be dead so it wouldn’t matter.  It’s morbid, I know.  But being alone with your thoughts while grieving is a fucking nightmare.  Highly not recommended.

It’s like week 4 of the coronavirus physical distancing / safer at home order we all live in within Los Angeles county.   It’s unbelievable that we’re in this situation.  Our national leadership is abdicating all responsibility for the matter, and today tweeted the hope that we’ll all forget about what we’re going through.   Yeah, not gonna forget that you were aware of the threat since January, took no action, delayed action because you considered it a hoax and a hurdle to reelection, and still just make shit up that you think sounds about right.   There honestly was an opportunity to solidify your re-election:  be a leader and lead the nation through this, and be aggressive and own the situation and help.  But nope, that’s not who he is.  Has never been.   And people who voted for him and will again can go fuck themselves.

So yeah, week 4.  I’m losing my fucking mind, honestly.  It sucks.  I have been doing yoga consistently – in fact, today I count 45 days straight of me doing yoga to start the day off.  That was even before the quarantine had started.  It has helped to calm me down, and frankly it has been great with regards to my overall lean muscle mass.  I definitely feel stronger.  It’s nice.  I play video games a lot – lately it’s been The Division 2, Anno 2250, and some Rise of Nations too, which is such a comforting game to play.  I have a lot on the backburner, especially a lot of my VR games and new ones I’ve bought.  I’ll get to them.  TV too:  Twin Peaks rewatch is in full effect (in fact, today is the 30th anniversary of the premiere of the pilot episode!  There was a rewatch led by Kyle Maclachlan and Madchen Amick which was fun.)  Westworld season 3 is still amazing.  Schitt’s Creek just ended but this past season was phenomenal.  Survivor is kicking all kinds of ass.  So I do have my distractions.  But having no human contact beyond the occasional delivery person (which is a risk in itself!) is no way to be.  I never considered myself that much of an extrovert, but yeah, I am.

Here we are though – I miss Larry unbelievably and talk to him still, as who else do I have to talk to.   I have plenty of texts and calls with my friends and some family.   Mom is safe, but she’s so unconcerned with me or anything besides her own immediate needs so that’s just what it is.  I just have to continue on – do I know what is in store for myself or the world?  No clue.   Honestly I don’t think this distancing will end anytime soon, not until a vaccine is created.   It sucks, but this coronavirus is a bitch.   So that’s my rambling.   I had hoped to have more cogent thoughts or something approaching organization, but nah, that didn’t happen.   Here are some pictures from the last few weeks to tide you over, most from me but also some from my friends too.

Entering a second week

Well, the world is in the midst of something I don’t think anyone in modern times thought would ever happen – a pandemic is shutting down a huge portion of our lives.   The economy is cratering accordingly.   Our president is deciding to pass the buck and not take any decisive leadership or try to ensure that testing and PPE is widely available, so what may have been something much more preventable is just going to get further and further out of control.   I honestly can’t believe this is what’s happening in the world.

I am ridiculously lonely and at times, I get unbearably emotional.  Wine definitely exacerbates those emotions, but I’m not about to be sober during this period.   My friends have been wonderful – we have a text thread, which recently migrated to WhatsApp as Mila and Nicki’s texts were coming in super-delayed for some reason.   Last week my coworkers at PwC DRS in LA all had a virtual Happy Hour via Google Hangout/Chat.  It was amazing – we all had video up so you could see people and it really made for a nice two hours. I got drunk.  And then continued by having a video chat with the girls right afterwards – yeah, that was a fun night, until it wasn’t when I just was drunk and emotional.

I can’t see my mom for obvious reasons, to avoid getting her and anyone else at the assisted living home from getting sick.  So I play lots of video games, I watch TV (Westworld really has been killing it in this new season; I’m also rewatching all of Twin Peaks, which is fantastic), I watch movies, and then distractions end.

I had a dream about Larry last night that felt more than just a dream.   Sveta had let me borrow a book called “Be Here Now”, which is an older book that dives deep into eastern spiritualism.  I’m not going to try to summarize it, but it did help to let me have some perspective on death, life, living and embracing now….etc.   I was reading that last night, and I think it stuck in my head.  I ended up having a dream where Larry and I were just hanging out.   In the dream, I knew he had died, so I knew this was after-death Larry.  He was all smiles and content.   We talked about the Stereogum Number Ones article series I’ve written about earlier that he loved, and I told him that I’d been keeping up on those articles now because of him.  He liked that.   And he smiled.   The dream ended, and I never have ever not wanted to wake up as much as I did during that moment.  It tears me apart to even write about it, as it was both exceedingly happy and devastating to feel this.  I miss him so much.  Not sure I’ll make it through this whole period, but I will try.

Coronavirus Diaries – The Beginning

All things considered, I decided to title this post ‘the beginning’ as I know that from all indicators out there, this social isolation we’re doing is likely not going to be short term.   That frightens me quite a bit.   I have the resources to get through this, but so many don’t.  I am lucky to be able to work from home, but I recognize that there’s so much uncertainty out there, who knows how long things can maintain?  We’re in unprecedented territory – the entire world is basically shutting down, for an unknown period of time.  Our government leadership is a fucking mess and are far too late and far too incompetent (accidentally, willfully, and/or arrogantly) to be trusted to manage the situation, with headlines bearing that out every moment.   A day feels like a week.  It’s just….unbelievable this is happening.

I’m relieved Larry isn’t here.   I think I mentioned that elsewhere in a post?  Maybe it’s just in conversations with others – the idea that if Larry were undergoing treatment now, and him having a weakened immune system because of it, and that if somehow he caught coronavirus from me or someone and that was what caused his death?   It’s utterly inconceivable –  my mind literally can’t deal with that.   I miss Larry so much, and I do wish I had healthy no-cancer Larry here as I am definitely feeling quite lonely and isolated.   I’m obviously not alone in that regard as everyone is feeling that, but a lot of people still have some kind of roommate or family to comfort or be comforted by.  I don’t.  I have my friends via text messages, phone calls, and that helps quite a bit.  But god I miss having my husband here.   Of course my first caveat stands – cancer Larry is not someone I could deal with having here at this moment.

Last week, Stacie and I moved mom into an assisted living facility.   Not much has gone right in my life this past year and a half, but in this case, we got that process started at the exact right (and as it likely turned out, last possible) moment.  She has her own room, all the cable she needs, her own bathroom and shower, and a big closet.   It’s a very nice set up, and there’s someone available 24/7.  She had a few nights where she was able to partake in going to the dining room and meet people, but obviously the older population (especially over 70) is at risk, so they’ve quarantined everyone into their room for safety and they get meals in their room now.   I know it’s not ideal but knowing she’s there versus being by herself at her house when the caregiver isn’t there would have also been a giant amount of stress for me.   Our timing couldn’t have been more critical in getting her there before this all started.   Mind you, the last week was very hard and there were some seriously annoying bumps doing it, but in the course of a week, I can barely even remember something that before might have driven me to still be angry about.  She’s there, she’s safe, and I was able to see her Saturday as I brought some additional things she needed, but now I know I won’t be able to see her again for a little while.

It’s crazy.  How is this happening?   I mean, I literally can’t believe what life is right now.   I watched my husband die just 2 months ago.  I buried him and tried to mourn and grieve him.   I thought that was the lowest I’d have to be, but guess what, my intuition was right.   I knew I couldn’t say ‘things can only get better’ as there’s no bottom in this world anymore.

I persist though and try to occupy my time:

  • I continue to work as hard as I can at my job – I don’t want to lose it as I’m supporting more than just me now.
  • I stay in touch with my friends, but god I miss actually seeing them and giving and receiving a hug.
  • I’ve been playing video games to pass the time.   The new VR set I got earlier this year is pretty fantastic and helps pass the time in a really immersive way (No Man’s Sky in VR is ridiculously cool).  I’m also playing The Division 2 (although the setting is a post-pandemic USA, so maybe I shouldn’t?), Dead Cells, Anno 2250 (ah, a future where things are so nice)….yeah, video games are definitely a way for me to forget the world a little.
  • I find myself falling down a Twitter hole and that is no good for my psyche.   It’s good for staying informed but the emotions there are all extreme, good or bad.   I have to take a break after a bit.
  • I’ve been very consistent with doing yoga every morning with the Yoga with Adriene Youtube channel – she’s amazing.   I found her when looking for lower back relief exercises and I have been a follower ever since.   It’s a wonderful and much needed way to start each day.  If you’ve ever thought of doing yoga, she’s super chill and a very friendly guide who is easy to follow along with.   I contrast it with Rodney Yee, whose ‘beginner’ series I bought, and man, that is false advertising, as his routines are very difficult.   So it was good to learn there are other approaches.
  • I’ve been reading.   I read Tom and Lorenzo’s book “Legendary Children” which covers LGBTQ history through the touchstone of Rupaul’s Drag Race.  It’s fantastic.  I learned so much about our history and the world of drag from it’s beginnings through to its evolution and persistence.   They’re good at telling the history and making it compelling, not that it needed all that much help.
  • Of course television is a mainstay:  Schitt’s Creek‘s final season has been fucking incredible.  I finished the latest season of Project Runway (very enjoyable!).  Just started Westworld Season 3 and am intrigued.  This latest season of Survivor (Winners at War) is epic and I love seeing an all-winner season where everyone is there to fucking play.  There’s others, but this is just me riffing.
  • I picked up the guitar again!  Larry bought me a guitar a few years back after the one I did have in NYC was stolen from our Duarte storage unit (along with my Transformers and childhood Legos, ugh!).  I never got the motivation back to get back into it as like any skill, it takes work and practice to be good at it.  But now I have time and I remember that working at the guitar was a nice way to calm down.  I found an app that is probably a little too simple but honestly, I’m here for slow and steady.   It’s interactive so it can hear what you’re playing and let you know if it’s wrong.  Kinda cool.

Just, fuck.   I was talking with folks at work on a conference call (obvs – we are all required to WFH now) and this truly is a moment that will be changing the world.  Just like 9/11, things were different after, forever.  Things will definitely have to change after this at a government preparedness level as well as how work and business function going forward.   Even just thinking about when finally we get to see other people in person again, it’s like, until there’s a cure/vaccine, you’ll be paranoid.  And then if another virus comes up, which of course it will, is the world going to be prepared and ready to do what needs to be done to prevent the world from stopping like it kind of is now?   So yeah, just, fuck.  Ha, as I write this, it sounds like I’m commanding you the reader to go fuck.  Maybe that’s not a bad idea either, if you can.   I know I miss Larry for that comfort too.   Having someone to hold and hold you, warmly and/or passionately, is something that I miss so much right now.  I didn’t know that feeling as a man in the closet, so when I did get to finally know what that was, and to now have it taken away for who knows how long?   It’s kind of awful.  I don’t know, it’s just all so much.

So why not some pictures?  Here are some from my first few days of social isolationing:

In Los Angeles, we’ve been getting TONS of rain.   There is occasional breaks which is good so it can kind of dry out, but we have a lot of rain still in the forecast!   And with less people out and about, our air quality is quite good.   I’ve seen news reports that the pollution around the world has dramatically improved due to this – maybe the coronavirus was the planet’s way of making us chill the fuck out on pollution.

Two Months

This weekend was two months since Larry died after his year-and-a-half battle with cancer.   It’s still hard to deal with and reckon with.   To allow myself to really let it sink in just brings in the emotions and tears, which happens quite a lot still.  This past week was notably more painful for some vague unknown reason – Fran had the same heightened emotions as I did.  Maybe it’s just that it’s been two months, and it is not a temporary thing, like he’s just been gone back east and I had to stay here.   There’s no un-doing of what happened.  Larry has died and I am alive to deal with the fact that he is absent from the world.  I am talking with a therapist one-on-one every week or so, and later this year, I hope to be joining a therapy group for people who’ve lost spouses.  These things are all good and necessary, but they don’t undo the fact that the love of my life is gone.  I tell myself frequently that he’s free from suffering, which helps me to cope, but what I really want is to believe that somehow his presence is still around us, in some way.   He’s in my heart, I know that.  He’s not forgotten.   But it would make me feel better to know he’s some kind of angel or ghost.  I don’t know why that would matter – maybe it’s to know that maybe he’s able to be happy when I do something he liked.  It wouldn’t feel so empty.

I am trying to make things work for me here in reality.  I’ve been fairly proud of myself in attempting to cook meals much more fancy than I ever would have pre-Larry.  They’re not fine cuisine, but still, I cooked a filet mignon yesterday and that is pretty cool, right?   Cooking has been the thing that for me is what makes me feel closest to Larry, so I’m not keen on stopping.  I have his recipes that he used to make all the time, and I’m going to dive into those.  The Instapot has been amazing too, and Nicki got me a Mediterranean Instant pot cookbook that has some delicious-looking recipes I can’t wait to try.   If the coronavirus doesn’t kill us all.   That’s another thing – I am honestly glad Larry isn’t around in his weakened condition during this pandemic scare – I hope it ends up not being a complete disaster, but it’s impact probably isn’t going to be minimal, regardless.   And with a compromised immune system, if he had gotten coronavirus and that would have been the factor that caused his death, I’d be even more devastated than I already am.

So yeah, I’m just trying my best to make him proud, and to make myself not hole up and surrender.   I’ve been doing a Yoga program on Youtube (Yoga with Adriene – I LOVE IT) every morning and I do feel better doing these things – notably in my lower back, as I think it’s helped undo a lot of the tension-building the last 43 years of my life have stored.  We’ll see.  I’m also trying to be up for going or doing whatever friends are suggesting, within reason.  It’s been good to get out.

This week is tough as it’s when we move mom into the new home.  It’s for the best, and will give some peace of mind.  But I just need a fucking break.  But I don’t think one is coming.   C’est la vie. In the meantime, here are some pics from the last week or so with friends and at home.  Enjoying life as best I can.   Larry is never out of my mind and I miss him so fucking much.  Sometimes it makes me smile, but a lot of times it just makes me sad and cry.

Pot Roast – March 3:

Firefly dinner with Barb – March 6:

Seeing “Couples Therapy” comedy show at The Virgil with Nicki – March 7:

Just Sunday – March 8: