books on my head

[pinned entry] hello

Hi, my name is Hope Swann.

I've had this blog for nearly eighteen years now, and I've been using it on and off since I was in high school. I'm a biologist now and working on my dissertation. I've locked most of my older entries away but kept the more recent ones about reading. My reading entries from 2017 onwards can be found here if you're interested, and I'm over @coffeebased on Twitter and Instagram!

This blog has been revived so that I can log my days during the Enhanced Community Quarantine that's been put up over the entire island of Luzon in the Philippines. I'm doing this because I can't see my psychiatrist until the end of the quarantine and I need a way to track myself and be mindful. Extra, extra mindful.

That's pretty much it, thank you.
books on my head

Day 102: Skipping from day 16 to 102 is the true quarantine experience

I don't need to blog, but I feel the need to ramble.

I haven't shared anything on this blog because the past few months have been a prolonged exercise in reforming boundaries. I lost the walls between days, between my actual self and what I said and did on social media, between my feelings and my thoughts. It is stupid, it was avoidable, but it is still what happened.

So as soon as I noticed it happening, I started taking the time to be more mindful and present. Yikes, psych words! They seem trite, but after December, I have had to be more careful. I am very lucky to have the space to do that. Other people do not have the luxury of stepping away from their realities. Took a week or so. Then I started working again. Helping where I can, building what I can so that I could anchor myself. There hasn't been much done, and the current of events has been very strong. Thankfully other people have stronger foundations and are willing to share. I ape what good I see, say less, do more because I don't trust the borders between the doom in my head and the doom outside of it. I do not want to worsen the worst with my own trifling brain problems.

If everything is bad then why must we bother trying to do good, "In reality, while we aim for excellence, we're always living on somebody's dunghill," TPK by Jo Walton, but the desire for what is right must come from within. The walls were weak so I could not find that desire under everything I had taken in, I could only find the dumb animal need for comfort and for lashing out, those always float to the surface so easily.

I have written "I" a lot. I'll ramble off now, to do what I can.
books on my head

Day 15-16: deft hands

Yesterday afternoon was about friend socialisation! I got to hang out with Sian and my girlfriend on my island in Animal Crossing! And then afterward I went over to my gf's island and got to appreciate how #aesthetic it's becoming.

And then Bunny, Kam, Sian, and I finished our D&D game from last week. We didn't play that long, tbh, since we cut off a little before the climax of the module, so it was a bit anti-climatic. I'm going to be prepping another game for the coming weekend, and I'm going to try to balance it out better. They're going to be using the same characters, so that should be fun!

---

I finished listening to the fourth season of The Magnus Archives yesterday!

~spoilers after~

1) I really loved the way the character arcs have developed.

I don't know how they're going to conclude, but so far it's been very satisfactory. I loved that Melanie got out of the Institute and that she and Georgie are living happily (?) with the Admiral. For now. Daisy hulking out gave ME CHILLS and IDK what the heck Basira is going to do about that? Like, Daisy asking Basira to put her down afterward wrecked me and I DON'T EVEN KNOW. I love Daisy. I love Basira. The Elias is Jonah Magnus thing was so good for me, and Peter Lucas??? A WONDER. Martin's development has been the key to the whole thing, I think. Jon's been groomed, of course, and he's been more reactive than anything else, but MARTIN is going out there DECEIVING MONSTERS. I MISS TIMOTHY STOKER.

2) The relationships

DAISY AND JON'S FRIENDSHIP. IS MY LIFE.
Peter and Martin's interactions have to have resulted in AMAZING fics right? Where Jon is roiling in jealousy? Somewhere????
Daisy and Basira are moirails. Period.
Melanie and Georgie??? DESERVE EACH OTHER IN THE BEST WAY.
Jon and Martin. Episode 159? OH my god. SO SOFT. THE CONTRAST. THE POWER OF MARTIN'S CHOICES. THE POWER OF MARTIN TO BE CHOSEN. JON FINALLY BEING ABLE TO CHOOSE SOMETHING THAT WASN'T CHOSEN /FOR HIM/.
Basira and Jon should never be left alone together to do things ever again. They're. Bad Idea Friends. Chaos Friends.
Jonah/Elias and Peter's rivalry? Their bet??? SO GOOD.

3) The plotting

Jonny Sims, what the heck is going to happen in season 5. 159 was such a good denouement episode I was like, babe what the heck is 160 for, AND THERE IT WAS. WHY WILL IT TAKE FORTY WEEKS TO RESOLVE IT. THAT'S BASICALLY A WHOLE YEAR. I blazed through the latter seasons of TMA in a few days and now I will have to WAIT WEEKLY. FOR LESS THAN HALF AN HOUR OF CONTENT. AH. But Sims really develops the story so nicely, the pacing is so bittersweet. OKAY, the way Jonah Magnus' statement in 160 tied everything up was amazing. AMAZING. Being able to mainline everything made the story blossom really well for me too.

4) Other thoughts:

The Web is not done with Jon Sims. Helen Richardson? I miss her. But can Martin bitchslap Elias? FORTY WEEKS. WHO ALLOWED THIS.

I have my own pet theories re: what'll happen but I'm definitely going to go through the backlog of content on tumblr and reddit to see all the beautiful fanart.

---

Started the Biosafety COVID-19 online course today. It runs from March 30 to April 3, and I'm digging it a lot. I'm doing that and the Data Analyst online course, so mentally, I am all over that now that I'm done with catching up to TMA. The lectures of the Biosafety course are longer and more challenging than that of the Data Analyst one and it's delightfully meaty. I'm still not done with the readings, and I have a quiz to do, so that's what I'm doing tonight.

Tomorrow, unavoidable bank errands and hopefully, going to be able to drop off clothing donations at DLSU.

Good night!
books on my head

Day 12-14: statement begins

See you tomorrow, my ass. It's been three days.

Three days that could have all been the same day, to be honest, save what kind of exercise I've been doing. I've been alternating on that, even though the dogs are less than delighted with the weather. Lettuce' tail has been wagging at half-speed, bless him.

It's just that I've hyperfixated on The Magnus Archive!!! The last time I posted I had just finished the second season, and now I'm 17 episodes into the fourth season. It's just so difficult to tear myself away from it. I'm so close to becoming current with this podcast.

I'm very boring. I've also reorganised my closets while listening to TMA, now that I've taken out the things I'm going to be donating, I've loosened up some space in there. I've gotten a lot of things done to TMA, and I think Jon Sims will just be the voice of the quarantine for me.

The second week of quarantine ends tomorrow, with a little over two weeks left if things go well. There was a CNN Philippines news article being shared yesterday about the quarantine being lengthened but by the time I got to click the link, I received it from FOUR people, CNN had taken it down. Probably because it hadn't gotten clearance from the Palace, and literally every person who had sent it to me was like "oh no I guess they're in trouble :P". Yes, I am related to those people.

My quarantine card arrived the other day. We can't buy things without a quarantine card now, and if you pass a checkpoint without it I hear you get in trouble. People were getting hit with yantok for going around without one, and being rounded up and put into dog cages. I don't think that our barangay would do that because we're in Makati, and Makati is you know, highly visible and regulated. I had assumed that the barangay official bringing them would have a scooter or a bicycle or, something, but she came around on foot at basically noon. She only had a baseball cap to protect her from the sun? I ran into the house and basically forced an umbrella on her because HONESTLY. Mum and I have agreed that we're going to smother the barangay hall in appreciation when quarantine is over.

We're lucky that our mayor's taken such a strong stand. She seems really well-informed, and it does help that our city's pretty financially-capable, so she's just taking care of everyone. I've heard lots of good things about Pasig's mayor and his compassion and problem-solving, but oof, Makati's mayor? She is a G, as my girlfriend would say. There's some intense history regarding Makati and the dynasty that runs it, but I'm not getting into that now. Let's just say her family's been known to be corrupt, but let's all just be thankful her brother isn't in charge because lol, he literally got impeached from his position.

Mum has been watching CNN more, increasingly horrified at what's been happening in the USA. I don't, quite know what to say about it, but I try to not look at the TV when she's listening to American news.

I think I'll have more to write about when I'm done with TMA. I've got the continuation of my dnd game with my friends tomorrow evening so I'll probably be able to talk about that. I don't have any feelings I want to discuss right now. Maybe in the future.

I'll write when I can, I suppose.
books on my head

Day 10-11: clearer eyes

I didn't feel up to blogging yesterday. I woke up with the weird mood I'd had the other day and it stayed until the afternoon. We did have to go back to the deli to pay for Sunshine's gift, and we also passed by the pharmacy for what I hope will be our last drugstore run.

My mood lightened on our way back home. Our barangay had closed its borders while we were away but we didn't have a hard time getting through. The next time we go out though, one of us will need to have a Quarantine Pass to get out, as well as to buy anything out there. If it were up to me, we wouldn't go out until mid-April, when the quarantine will be lifted.

Today, I tried to get back on my normal schedule and I'm mostly succeeding. I've managed to finish the second season of The Magnus Archive. Things are really building up and I'm finding it hard to pull myself away from it! I'm listening to the Season 2 Q&A episodes now, and I may keep on going to the beginning of the third season. I can't listen to TMA while exercising though, because the pace of the podcast ruins my cycling and throws me right off. Thankfully there are a million billion trillion videos on youtube that can help me keep the proper pace.

Cleaned the big kitchen shelves this afternoon and oh, that was cathartic. So very cathartic. And now! I was able to probably organise our stores without knocking things over all the time. It'll also help with keeping an eye on inventory because while I do have an Excel sheet to keep track of our usage it's just important to be able to see everything laid out so that nothing gets forgotten. It's really like being a quartermaster, to be honest. I dig it.

I've been trying to keep off the news these past two days so I'm in a little bubble of ignorance. Except for when mum exclaims about something on social and I HAVE to ask what's wrong this time. I'll be up to checking on the news by this evening, I think. I have to find out the context for the dribs and drabs I've been getting. Especially about that one senator who single-handedly led to the quarantine of the obstetrics ward of a hospital. Because he's apparently a selfish, entitled asshole. I hope he gets a vicious UTI that bothers him for the rest of his life.

---

Have you all seen Griffin McElroy play Animal Crossing: New Horizon? It's pure sunshine and I love it. I haven't finished watching all of it as it is over three hours long and I've been using my precious eyeball time on actually playing AC and my more precious ear time with TMA.

---

Sent some book recommendations to my friend Jmac as she's been bored and apparently drinking books down like they're water. Sharing them here in case anyone wants some quarantine reads. Links read to Goodreads so you can check the summaries if you're interested.


1. The Martian by Andy Weir

-Standalone, humour, yes the movie, epistolary, man stuck on mars sciences his way home


2. Kings of the Wyld and Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames

-Fantasy, on-going, imagine fighting bands were revered like rock bands, geriatric characters doing wonderful things, getting the band together for ONE LAST FIGHT


3. This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

-Sci-fi, short read, standalone, enemies to lovers


4. A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

- sci-fi, first book in an ongoing series, political intrigue


5. Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch

-multiple books, still ongoing, urban fantasy in London, first-person pov


6. Young Wizards series by Diane Duane

-multiple books, still ongoing, sci-fi wizardry, YA, pureness of heart


7. Thessaly trilogy by Jo Walton

-finished trilogy, philosophy, time travel, AIs, Apollo and the rest of the Greek gods, non-con warning but not graphic and written well


8. The Clocktaur Duology by T. Kingfisher

-fantasy, finished, they do the travel and solve a big problem thing, such a good paladin


9. Swordheart and Paladin's Grace by T. Kingfisher

- standalones, same world as number 8, but you don't need to have read it! fantasy novels with romance, deals with mental and emotional abuse and coming to terms with it


10. In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan

-standalone YA, fantasy, snarky, bisexual male lead, child of my heart

---

That's pretty much it! See you all tomorrow. :)
books on my head

Day 9: Our coronavirus coverage continues after this

I had to cancel D&D last night because I goofed up and drank my meds immediately after dinner. I was out by 2130. I was all apologies before I conked out.

This morning mum and I didn't feel like eating breakfast when we woke up. So we hung out on social, and she watched me play Animal Crossing again. It had been two hours by the time we decided that maybe we were hungry. We weren't in the mood for much, so bagels.

I'm on episode 63 of The Magnus Archives. I've been listening to little else. The cases are really building up because the main character's urgency is infectious.

Anyway, we're heading out again. Hopefully, this will be the last time for a while. Mum's hearing rumours that they'll be extending the quarantine, or that we'll have to stay in longer because it'll still be bad out there for the immunocompromised. So she wants to stock up some more.

---

It's evening now, and I've got some broccoli and potatoes roasting in the oven. We went to a warehouse store a while ago. Mum had been asking to go to one for ages, but the lines I'd seen on social had been too ridiculous. A new branch of it had opened nearby, in our city, so we didn't have to get through any checkpoints. And she said we'd do a drive-by; if it looked bad, we'd go home.

The lines weren't long, that's for sure. And I think we've stocked up a bit more, so that'll help with mum's ongoing anxiety. I thought that I'd be a good sport about it, after all, there wasn't anything wrong with getting a few more groceries if we weren't hoarding and there weren't a lot of people inside. Mum and I had added disposable gloves to our kit, which worked out for the best because there were way too many hands touching what we needed to touch.

I had a bad time though. I kept jerking away from people, dissociating and snapping. It was only when we'd gotten home that we figured out that I probably had been having an anxiety attack. I'm still a bit short-tempered now, and not fun to be around. I don't know if it's all the proximity of the people, or the worrying about mum catching something from them, or the worry that we wouldn't be home on time for curfew. I kept chivvying mum through the store, reminding her of our limited time frame.

We got out of the store earlier than I thought we would. There was only one person ahead of us in the check-out line.

After that, mum and I headed to the deli again, this time to pay for a gift we sent to Sunshine, my best friend, for her birthday. Sunshine picked up her gift from their sister branch near her house, in Laguna, and, based on her stories, had an excellent birthday celebration. It's weird to not be able to see her for her birthday, but hey, we Facetimed.

We brought food to the deli from the grocery, a couple of pizzas, because we knew that the staff had been working so hard and they were really so nice to us. In their delight, they forgot to charge us for Sunshine's birthday gift. We had already arrived at home when they realised it, probably when they closed their register for the day.

So mum or I will have to deal with that tomorrow. I still haven't kept most of the groceries from today. We were really wiped out. After a very late lunch of hotdogs, mum and I just kept to ourselves. The news has been on for hours, flipping between local TV and CNN. We're getting overinformed again, and I feel worse than I have these past few days.

Maybe I just didn't like breaking my routine? Maybe I was due? Maybe it's just been too hot? I actually wore sunblock today, even though it didn't get much use.

I don't know. My ears are still warm.

See you all tomorrow.
books on my head

Day 8: Is this real?

"Is this real?"

Mum asks me this a lot now. She's been on social more than usual, because of the quarantine, as a way to keep abreast of the news and to keep occupied, I guess. Mum's been talking to her friends online, and mine, trying to see if everyone's okay, or if anyone needs help that she can provide from her bedroom.

So she asks me: "Is this real?" and then she forwards me a tweet, or a Facebook post, without an obvious source. Mum did this before quarantine, of course, but the rate of questions has gone up the more she stays on social. Some of them are easy to check, like the virus-banishing necklaces that have captured so much interest, or photoshopped images with editing she can't see, or memes. Are memes real? Sometimes, I said.

But sometimes she shows me things that I can't really parse, like the sheer number of deaths in Italy, or the way the US is handling the COVID-19 pandemic, like young kids refusing to stay indoors and heading to the beach for spring break, or the fact that senior officials in the Philippines are having DOH officers come to their houses to test them.

I told her that if it's a news provider it's probably credible.

Probably. Mostly.

This morning mum was messaging some of my friends from uni, all medical doctors now. She found out that one of them, and his medical doctor mother, were symptomatic for COVID-19 and had been waiting for test results from the 17th. Another friend and his partner had had to quarantine themselves after the boyfriend was showing symptoms after being on the frontlines, complete with the fever that's been the clearest indicator of infection. Thankfully, they both tested negative. My other friend's been home, resting up before his inevitable return to the hospital; his fiancé is a pediatrician and has been on the frontlines from the beginning. They're based outside of Metro Manila so they're mostly out of it and my friend's been painting his Warhammer 40K miniatures while doting on his cat.

My best friend, also a medical doctor based outside of Metro Manila, hasn't been on the frontlines as she's more corporate-based. She has been walking around their empty village, getting some exercise with her mother, learning how to play the ukulele, and catching up with all the book recommendations I've thrown at her over the years. She's ready to deploy as soon as they need her in the area.

There are other front-liners that I know, mostly from my confinement in December. We'd become friends on social after I started being able to talk again, and I see their IG posts with their co-workers, the late nights, the PPE kit they don every day and replace like clockwork. Some of them are even billeted at the hospital, a private one, probably because their homes are outside of Metro Manila.

I've been playing Animal Crossing, doing household chores, and telling my mother what's real and what isn't. I also taught her how to add the Grammarly extension to her browser so she can type with a spelling guardian.

---

Last night my girlfriend and I visited each other's Animal Crossing towns. It was pretty cool and we got to take a lot of cute pictures. I've already posted the pictures on Twitter but I'll share them here as well:



I just blazed through episode 41-50 of The Magnus Archives and I'm going to break my only-ten-episodes a day thing. There are still 110 episodes left. I don't really need to ration them out, especially since the fifth and last season is coming out soon.

Speaking of rationing things out, I've been doing a book series readthrough with some of my friends since January, the series being The Queen's Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. The original plan was that we'll read one of the five books during the first two weeks of the month so that we'll all be caught up by the time the last book comes out in June. But since we're all stuck at home, I asked if they wanted to read the third book, The King of Attolia this fortnight, then Conspiracy of Kings immediately after. This'll mean that we'll be done with the series before the beginning of May with Thick as Thieves. But enough about books; that's what my other blog is for.

---

Mum and I did more laundry today, but I haven't kept the laundry we did the other day. So that's what I'm going to be doing this afternoon. I've got D&D with my college friends this evening, and I hope that we'll be able to finish the session tonight.

---

My mental health is all right, I think. All the schedulling and rationing and mindfulness has definitely helped. I did tear up a bit a while ago when I found out my friends had to be tested for COVID-19, but it's silly to worry in advance. Even though other frontliners have been stricken by this disease and have died. Doctors and other hospital staff can't be very healthy right now, what with the stress and the long hours, making them perfect hosts for it since they're exposed.

I can't fix it so I have to let go. And wait. Do what I am able to do. Control what I can control.

Also I ate cold lasagna out of a tupperware container. It's too hot outside and I'd just come in from hanging the laundry under the sun. It was like eating savoury ice cream. I feel soothed, if ridiculous.

Catch you all tomorrow.
books on my head

Day 7: Surprise lasagnas? More likely than you think.

Waiting for friends to pop into Discord chat for D&D.

There's a cool essay in Tor's latest email to their mailing list:

Narnia’s Mouse Knight: Reepicheep and the Dual Nature of Chivalry by Matt Mikalatos. Clicked through and saw that there a whole bunch of essays related to a Chronicles of Narnia re-read over here.

---

Last night's D&D session went well, I think. It was supposed to be a one-shot, but we started a bit late so we'll continue on Sunday night. Like I said in my last post I'm running a module out of Uncaged Vol. 1.

The story so far: a former mermaid guard, Lily, hires three people to help her. An tabaxi assassin on his first job, Blackpaw; a tiefling druid out for fun and profit, Candela, and a pirate who may or may not have gambled all her money away and needs to get solvent FAST, Tam. Lily is out to save a bard named Sanger, a redhead whose voice stole her heart and imagination away.

Lily was on her usual underwater patrol, a word that I couldn't remember for the life of me last night, when she heard Sanger singing her ballads on a caravel, for the delight of a noble named Heks Vand. During the bard's performance, a sudden storm hit the sea around the ship, and it went down. Both the noble and the bard were in the water and Lily had to make a choice: save the bard with the beautiful voice, or a noble she didn't know. She saved the bard, bringing the woman to the shore before slipping back underwater. Her elder sister, tired of all of Lily's moaning about the bard found out through her connections where Sanger lives, right near the shore Lily left her. Lily decided to go to the shore where she left Sanger, hoping against hope that the bard would be looking for her as well.

When she got to the shore, Lily found a witch instead, who promised her legs in exchange for a voice. Lily, well-versed in sign language seeing as she and all her friends and family live underwater, agrees. As sharp pain takes over her tail, the witch reveals himself to be none other than Heks Vand, the noble she chose not to save. As a consequence of her choice, Heks decided to punish her with keeping her onshore, making the water around them turbid and impenetrable, as well as abducting Sanger to rip her tongue out and sacrifice it at the full moon... twenty days from then.

With two days to the full moon, Lily had only one lead scraped from days of living off the street and building her underworld connections. A man named Loper, servant to Heks Vand. She and her hirelings caught him after a short roof chase where Candela masterfully knocked Loper out with a ground to air stone missile. Blackpaw helped bring the unconscious Loper, Tam, and himself down to the street, with only Tam's sprained finger to show any effort on their part. They extracted the information about Vand's safehouse, robbed him of 3 gold, and immediately went to confront the man and save Sanger while Lily stayed to turn Loper in, to the police.

After a few missteps that ended with them chilling in a community pocket garden (it's super cute with overwatered carrots, a big rock where the kids of the neighbourhood pressed their painted hands on it to like, mark it as THEIR garden, some nice shrubberies, a kid with an expensive watering can...) that the DM had to conjure up out of wholecloth to help Tam regain some hitpoints, the trio penetrated the lair of the witch.

Candela, with her innate knowledge of Abyssal, found evidence of demon summoning in what seemed to be Loper's quarters. They went further into the house avoiding further traps with Blackpaw's keen senses, discovering an alchemical laboratory with distressing amounts of dried organic matter on the table, a beautifully-appointed library where Tam had a whiskey while Blackpaw found and kept two cigars (worth a gold apiece), then finally... a large circular room filled with a summoning circle, strange candles, and manacles.

It was there that they found an empty cage. Lily caught up to them then, following the trail that they had taken through the house. Just as they were beginning to fully understand the true nature of the situation they were in, four skeletons came out to defend the home!

And that's where we stopped for the night.

DM-ing over Discord was easier than I thought it would be, but it might be because my friends are very patient and don't talk over each other. I did have some trouble managing all my files; usually, I have a laptop and some papers laid out, but since I was keeping Discord, the module, and some references all on one screen I kept clicking the wrong window!

I'm less scared of DM-ing online now. And since this is only the first week of the quarantine, I may have more chances to do it.

We ended a little later than I wanted to, but I dropped off fairly quickly. I peeped into Animal Crossing before I went to sleep and got this cute photo of my character looking out over the island.





---

This morning I woke up at 7:30, exactly on schedule. Mum and I didn't get to have dinner last night because she dropped out while I was playing D&D, and I was too sleepy to do anything about food. Thankfully I had a plan for today's breakfast. I'd been saving these two pieces of wholegrain bread since Monday, trying to get them dry. We'd finished the loaf already last Wednesday, but I wanted to make them into French toast. And today was the day.

Mum had hers with cheese, ham, and syrup, but I decided to make mine look a little cute. I spread a little brie on the bottom layer, put some syrup between a slice of ham, and topped it off with more French toast. It was really good. But I think that the bread should have been soaked longer than the fifteen minutes I did, so that it could be even more custardy. I don't think the photo is nice, but it tasted great.





After breakfast, I settled in to play a little Animal Crossing so that my food would go down.

Mum was watching CNN International and made me pay attention to a news segment about a family of seven, four of whom had ended up dying of COVID-19 after they all got infected after having dinner together. All the hair on my arms stood on end.

We turned off the TV and I played more Animal Crossing to settle my suddenly upset stomach.

---

The dogs and I had a good time chasing each other around, but I made the mistake of starting the fun at 11:30. I don't know if you guys have heard, but amihan's over and it's officially summer. The dogs sensibly quit after 20 minutes, and I, the human being, pushed onwards and marched around the yard for another ten minutes. According to my watch, I covered a whole kilometer with and without the dogs and even if it could be a misreading, I don't care I was a boiled lobster. At least the dogs had the sense to go into the shade and drink water when they were tired.

---

Links:

1. NPR Music released their Austin 100 playlist. It says 100 but it's really 150 songs at 6 hours and some change worth of content. I need new music so I'm excited to go through the whole thing and learn about some new artists. We have three more weeks and I am already tired of all the playlists I have.

2. N.K. Jemisin's new book The City We Became is coming out next week, on the 24th. I have no idea what it's about because I'm hoping to get into it pure, without any expectations. A friend of mine's already read an ARC and she says it's amazing though. And I have enjoyed all her previous books, with an especial love for The Broken Earth Trilogy, that won THREE CONSECUTIVE HUGO AWARDS.

3. You may have seen this amazing video on Twitter already, which shows how to get full coverage during handwashing. But I was AGOG.

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Mum went rogue and ordered a bunch of lasagnas from Va Bene Pasta Deli in BGC. They've already arrived, still warm and split into single portions, and I think that's probably enough pasta for the next few weeks. We'll probably eat some for dinner. I didn't even know they were still open, let alone delivering during an island-wide quarantine, but here we are. I like their veal cheek pasta usually, and I think I'll treat myself to that when the quarantine's over.

That's pretty much it! Nothing else on the docket for this lazy Saturday afternoon than more Animal Crossing and reading a book.

See you tomorrow.
books on my head

Day 6: on an island in the sun/ we'll be playing having fun

Finished the first week of the Data Analyst online course that I signed up for the other day. I got a 9/10 in the online quiz and that's kind of embarrassing. If you fail a quiz thrice you have to write a letter to the Scholarship Program head, and that makes sense, without any accountability, it'll be easy to just faff about and not do anything.

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Typing this bit out before mum and I head out. We're going to go do some essential errands. There've been a lot of anecdotes shared on tita GCs about unrest, but according to a 1:00 presser that was released this morning, all of these accounts are false. I'm hoping that that's the one true thing that they said in the presscon, because apparently the rest of it was just whining.

---

Got home, kept the things, and had brunch. We're watching this live COVID-19 briefing from Malacañang that's being shown on PTV, ANC, and DZMM. The people who're answering questions are the PNP Head, the Cabinet Secretary, and the Undersecretary of the Department of Health.

According to the PNP head, the anecdotal reports being spread around about the unrest are fake news. He says that they're going to be charging people who start and spread these using the Cyberlibel Crime Law.

Mum and I went around a bit of Makati. The border of Pasay and Manila are very close to our house, so we were able to see the intercity checkpoint set up there. It looks a bit slow, for obvious reasons, and there's a little build-up there. Makati itself is mostly empty, emptier than Holy Week, which is the point of comparison for silence in Metro Manila. The Ayala mall area has security cards spread out on every corner, especially near Landmark and Greenbelt 1 where there are open grocery stores and their matching long queues.

Most businesses were closed, as per the Enhanced Community Quarantine guidelines. We hit a drugstore, a bank, and a small delicatessen, all of which had less than 10 people inside. Each place had alcohol spray bottles at the ready and I was happy to partake of their free alcohol! Yay! But we still wore our masks to protect mum's lungs.

I was able to go through my RSS feeds on Feedly while in line at the bank. Going to share some of the links I thought people would like:

1. Bookish Ways to Keep Busy During the Quarantine

2. Gaming Gear for Dungeons and Dragons - I'm gunning for those character sheet notebooks.

3. Comix Chronicling the Time of COVID-19 - to-read while winding down to sleep

4. 12 Board Games and Tabletop RPGs You Can Play Alone While Social Distancing - I've ended up with a lot of tabs open because of the Tabletop RPG recs

5. 45 places you can download tens of thousands books, plays and other literary texts completely legally for free - mum sent this to me and it looks like it was posted in 2017 so I have no idea if everything here still works

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Okay, I've barely gotten any work done today. Animal Crossing: New Horizons launched at noon, and then I used up three whole hours playing it on the TV. It's amazing. I've named my island 'Nicodranas' after Jester Lavorre's hometown. I didn't get the fruits I wanted, peaches instead of cherries, and my two assigned island friends are Hazel, a squirrel, and Scoot, a frog. Their Amiibo cards are below.



I've been trying to get mum into playing AC since New Leaf, but she really didn't show much interest other than helpfully pointing out branches in my path. We then had a late lunch, I did a few odds and ends, and then I ended up playing Animal Crossing for another hour. I've had to forcibly remove myself from the Switch. It's charging in the dock right now, and mum's watching CNN International, so I've put a few steps between it and myself. We've managed to keep the laundry we did yesterday, and other than having been outside, we have not done much.

I was so swept up in ACNH that I almost rescheduled the D&D game I have with my friends tonight. I love playing D&D! We're playing a module from Uncaged Vol. 1 tonight, on Discord. I chose to run something low-stakes: things are too rough IRL for it to be complicated in-game. I've only played one other module from Uncaged, a neat little Persephone and Hades retelling that my friends and I enjoyed a whole lot. I have yet to get the other volumes, there are four in total, but it's really only a matter of time.

Eating a soft pretzel I bought this morning with a little packet of strawberry jam now, and I'm reviewing my session notes.

See you tomorrow.
books on my head

Day 5: Little and Large

Last night I did what I said I would. I listened to the last ten episodes of the first season of The Magnus Archive. It was wild, and I was sad that I had been spoiled for some of the story beats. My girlfriend told me some of them because I didn't think I'd get into the podcast, and I've seen quite a bit of fanart floating around on social. I've told her not to tell me any more spoilers.

The first season ended with a lovely little Q&A with the creators of TMA, and it really made me want to continue on to the next season. But I'll save that for Saturday.

It was my turn to wake up late today. I think that I must've drunk my meds too late, so I was dopey and drowsy until I woke up properly at nine in the morning. Consequently, I had to push back my entire day.

I was annoyed about it for a few minutes and then remembered that as long as I finished all water-related tasks before 1600, it really didn't matter. I am allowed to be flexible. I don't have a boss or an overseer. Unlike my friends and the millions of people who have to work from home, I don't have a job right now.

So I shouldn't really beat myself up about it. I assume that that's what my psych would say. Sometimes, I can still hear his voice, ala Brother Bear.

Jokes aside, cognitive behavioural therapy, the non-risque CBT, has really helped me these past few years. My psych's taught me to identify when the things in my head are irrational, not factual, or bad for me. Or all of the above. Upon identification, I have to reframe my thinking. If it's irrational, what is the rational complement of that thought? If it's false, why should I listen to it? If it's bad for me, why do I think I deserve to be treated badly?

Most days it's easy. The bullshit my brain produces smells, I laugh at it and send it on its way. The rest of the time, I need help. I cannot differentiate between good thoughts or bad thoughts. I cannot separate them. I do not value myself enough. My limitations are my identity, and I have no purpose in the world. The world has enough problems, how dare I continue to burden it with my petty bullshit and incompetence. How selfish I am, to want anything good for myself, anything soft, any kindness. Any love.

That's what the meds are for! And seeing my psych, and slowly building up my tolerance to my own thoughts. I have bipolar disorder as well, so there are moments that the highs make the lows worse? Like when I remember how well things went previously I get disgusted that I bothered to enjoy myself and interact with other people. How dare I?

Anyway, so I reframed, realised that in the greater scheme of things messing up my own invented schedule is extremely low-risk, and I allowed myself to move on.

So today is a good day!

Mum and I got to do the laundry we weren't able to do yesterday, and they're all drying outside in the sunshine. It's 1700 right now, so I think they should be mostly dry. I also got to do some indoor cycling while watching an Animal Crossing: New Horizons video about choosing which map would be the best for your playstyle and a little of Critical Role's 99th episode, High Seas and High Stakes.

Critical Role is an actual play Dungeons and Dragons series on Twitch that also airs on Youtube. It's been running for several years now, they celebrated their fifth anniversary in the episode I linked up there, and are on their second long-running campaign. New episodes usually come out every Thursday night, 2000 PST, which is 10 or 11AM our time depending on DST. I say usually because this week the cast and company of Critical Role are staying at home because of COVID-19, so there won't be a new episode tomorrow. I'm glad that they're keeping safe.

Got a few messages from my friends and family about COVID-19. One from a friend saying that a doctor from his province had just come from a meeting with the Department of Health regarding using dengue test kits to test for COVID-19. He told me this and also shared a link from Lancet, which can be seen here in case anyone wants to read it.

I shared it with a few other people I know, medical doctors and scientists, asking if they'd heard anything about it. One of my colleagues from university told me that the University of the Philippines National Institute of Molecular Biology is recruiting laboratories and scientists so that they can increase testing labs. Here's a Google form that'll help anyone qualified and interested in helping get in touch with them.

In less rarefied messages, my aunt and mum have gotten messages from their friends. These messages are anecdotes about the looting of grocery stores, as well as cars being held up by men on scooters, or children waylaying vehicles. The tita Facebook pony express is going strong during this quarantine. And making me anxious.

Time for merienda.