Thursday, December 9, 2021

Life Lately: Almost the Holidays

We only started putting up this little artificial Christmas tree in our apartment last year.

I personally can't quite believe we've almost reached the end of 2021. In some ways, this year has gone by so quickly, but in others, it feels like it's been an eternity. I can barely even remember the events of early 2021, particularly from the months before I was fully vaccinated. Now that I've been fully back in the office for nearly five months, I can also barely remember what it felt like to work from home full-time while COVID social distancing. 

My sister and I are planning to travel from the East Coast to visit our mom in California this year for the year-end holidays. Both of us have already had our COVID boosters, and my mom should have gotten hers as well by the time we arrive. When K and I know we will be trying to see our parents soon, we choose to avoid higher-risk indoor settings like restaurants or parties at friends' homes for two weeks beforehand. (But because I still need to go to the office every weekday, we also can't fully quarantine before our visits with our parents.) We continue to wear masks in all indoor public settings, and aren't currently dining out indoors. 

A few of my law school friends and I originally anticipated needing to do some international business travel in the near term, by January or February next year. Now, with news of the Omicron variant and additional international travel restrictions in various countries, those plans have become significantly less certain. 

Alas, I continue to be unable to focus enough to read for fun. That's really a pity, but oh well. Maybe next year will be a more active reading year. 

Recently, I also feel a bit too mentally preoccupied to even get myself to play video games. There was a significant recent update with new content for Animal Crossing: New Horizons that I'd like to try - as well as a paid expansion pack that looks like it's worth the price - but I haven't been able to bring myself to start the game again after not playing for more than six months. This is totally weird of me, but one of the reasons it feels difficult to start up again after a long pause is because the animal characters will comment about how they haven't seen you for a long time and they missed you, and I find that a little bit stressful. (And yes, I know this makes me a huge weirdo, being worried about disappointing video game characters, hah.) 

The Netflix series Formula 1: Drive to Survive has officially managed to make F1 racing fans of K and I. We've watched all the current season races that took place since we started - and quickly finished - the Netflix series. It may even be safe to say I follow F1 even more seriously than I follow figure skating or women's gymnastics, since I've actually been watching all the F1 races live. Though all the rules associated with the races; technical details about the cars; data about how drivers and cars are performing; and the physics of racing are all far beyond me. (I've also never been good about the technical details or scoring criteria for gymnastics or figure skating, even if I've been following those sports for a long time. I can't identify the different skills or jumps, or count the number of rotations.) 

All the personalities of the F1 drivers and team principals are rather lively and sometimes dramatic, at least after Netflix does their editing for Drive to Survive. And there's a lot of natural drama every race weekend, due to the inherent nature of racing, cars going very fast, potential rule violations, somewhat arbitrary rule enforcement, etc. 

I also recently started watching the new reality competition series School of Chocolate on Netflix, and I've been enjoying it so far. There are no eliminations in this series, which makes it less stressful for me, haha. (I often skip the elimination segments of most reality competition shows I watch.) The host and main judge is a fairly calm and non-dramatic personality who seems to genuinely want to teach the pastry chef contestants how to achieve their full potential with more advanced pastry and chocolate work, and he's not mean in his feedback and critiques. I'm only on the third episode, and there's still a bit of drama because it's still an American reality competition series, but the contestants are generally very professional. 

I wanted to recommend an Instagram account I recently started following, @lostjcrew. The account focuses on pre-Internet age J.Crew catalogs, in other words, from the 1990s and earlier. When I was in my teens or my 20s, I would never have said that 1990s fashion appealed to me, based on what little I remembered from celebrity gossip magazines or fashion magazines that I flipped through in doctor's office waiting rooms or at bookstores or grocery stories when I was a child. Now that I'm a bit older, I'm finding that some aspects of 1990s fashion can appeal to me, including the pared-down classic looks from 1990s era J.Crew and, say, Gwyneth Paltrow's costumes in A Perfect Murder (which I only learned about from Kathy's post about the topic, I don't think I watched the movie back when it was released in 1998). 

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I finally sat down and forced myself to do some of my Christmas shopping this year. It's a relief to have most of it done, but I don't think I had the most creative or best ideas this year, as a few gift cards are involved. My Christmas gifts to K's parents will include a Nespresso Aeroccino 4 milk frother - since K and I continue to love ours and use it frequently - and some Stasher silicone bags (also here and here). Have you done most or all of your holiday gift shopping yet? 

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