The last couple blog entries were really cathartic and I thought I’d keep doing them, but, well, here we are. A lot’s happened in the last few months. And not happened. But I’m going to elide all that and talk about Animal Crossing.
Animal Crossing: New Horizon came out almost the exact same time everything shut down and I held out a week or so, but seeing as a bunch of my friends were getting into it and I had a switch, I figured why not?
I hadn’t played the previous Animal Crossing games, mostly because I was turned off by the idea that it was a real-time world and the animals would get mad at you if you didn’t show up all the time and clean up the weeds. Buddy, I got a job. Nobody’s got time for your weeds.
I have time for weeds now.
And really, they removed pretty much all of that in New Horizon. There’s pretty much no negative consequence to abandoning your village. This, however, has not been an issue for me. According to my switch profile, I’ve logged something like 700 hours in this game. Mind you, I’ll just kind of leave it running sometimes to have the music playing in the background (the soundtrack is awesome). But I do check it every day. What prices are turnips selling for? Who can I give gifts to? Who’s visiting my island today? How are my hybrid roses coming?
The ridiculous animal neighbours with their cookie-cutter mad lib dialog actually brighten my day. They’ll say funny things. They’ll tell me they appreciate me. They’ll get really excited about things I did. You’ll catch them talking to one another and they’ll ask you for advice. They’ll throw me a birthday party. It’s very sweet.
What’s more, it feels like being part of a society that cares about you. In a way that’s difficult to find in the real world right now. I can do the trivial little jobs it gives me to do and feel better about myself, and make my virtual fantasy island a little bit better along the way, one day at a time.
After a few days of taking things in stride, the anxiety kicked in quite a bit harder this week. I mean… I’m worried about my parents. I’m worried about Ellen’s parents. I’m worried about Ellen.
It sunk in a bit more what a nightmare scenario Ellen in a hospital on a ventilator would be, for reasons I’m not going to go into here. Let’s just say it would be bad.
And I’m worried about the world in general. Because I’m like that.
I made one trip out to my lovely neighbourhood bakery last week. I considered stopping by Onkar for a few things last weekend. Onkar in Lakeshore is usually not busy at all, and I’m kind of amazed they stay in business. But their hand-made samosas are lovely and super-cheap and freeze well. So I wanted to get some of those. But the parking lot was packed and I didn’t want to get near a crowd, even though I imagine the risk was still pretty low.
This weekend, I’m not even contemplating going out anywhere. We have tonnes of food, largely as a by-product of how Ellen’s usual food habits. I’ve got a chest freezer here that’s full. Ellen has a smaller full chest freezer and three fridges with full freezers at her house. I’ll probably have to go out at some point (or, more accurately, I won’t be able to prevent my mother-in-law from going out at some point), but I think we’ll be okay.
Like I kinda hinted last time, this new situation isn’t that far off our usual day-to-day. Especially for Ellen. She can’t just go wherever whenever she wants. It’s more restrictive for me (I can’t hunt for minifigures and I’m desperately short on pokeballs), but I’m normally either at home or at Ellen’s. Or work. And I’m about as introverted as it’s possible to be, so staying at home is fine.
It’s sinking in that this is going to be a while. It still feels a bit like calm before the storm right now, but it’s not going to stay that way. For me, I think the biggest thing is going to be managing anxiety. And not letting myself fall into despair.
This is probably an over-reaction. In part, I’m doing it to protect the world from me. My father-in-law (with whom I share a house, for reasons that are complicated, and maybe we’ll get to that) was at that mining convention where some guy went home with COVID-19. Neither my father-in-law, nor I, nor my mother-in-law, nor Ellen have come down with any symptoms. And from what I can tell, that Sudbury guy was the only person at the convention who contracted the virus. But still. I cough lot on a good day. It would probably freak out my co-workers.
Possibly more importantly, tho, I’m doing it to protect Ellen and my mother-in-law from the world. Ellen has a litany of health problems already and doesn’t need another one. The MIL is just getting over pneumonia, probably brought on by the bronchitis I probably gave her a couple months ago.
I do still feel bad about that. I mean, having bronchitis in general feels bad, so I was a bit pre-occupied with that at the time. And I did make a concerted effort not to pass on the various plagues I was carrying at the time. You know, before the big pandemic plague. So I’m not entirely confident of my ability to keep viruses to myself should I encounter them out in the world.
So I’m avoiding the world for a bit.
It’s probably weird, but a global pandemic kinda seems par for the course right now. I mean, I’m fine and everything, but it kind of feels like I’ve spent the last five years being bounced from one crisis to the next. In some ways, it’s kind of reassuring that the rest of the world is along for the ride on this one.