A few good things about the pandemic (yes, there have been some):
- I’ve been getting to know Toronto the way I should have done when I moved here 15+ years ago; it’s a way cooler city than I’ve been giving it credit for;
- I’m becoming a not bad shot at left-handed recycling-bin basketball;
- I’ve become even more fit as hell than I was before this started;
- B. and l have gotten even closer than we were before, which I wouldn’t have said on March 12 was either measurably or theoretically possible;
- the sense I’ve always had that I should stockpile books in advance of a long nuclear winter has been confirmed and while I’ve only recently become able to read novels again, I’m without guilt collecting new books like one seriously desperate and literary squirrel; and
- my work contract was extended until December.
All good news, but if you ask me about that last bit… No. Not so much. At least, not this week. I try to remind myself that one of the things about living through a global pandemic is that every day is an exciting surprise; sometimes the surprise is that I’m not only productive a.f., but also that I actively enjoy it. But not today; today, the surprise has been what’s been required to keep even a drop of unbroken-hearted sanity on my horizon.
The best part of today so far has been watching BTS videos obsessively, the highlight of which is I finally learned the name of the first song of theirs I ever heard. I heard this lovely and perfect pop song for the first time in Spring 2019 at a different job, back when we could go to offices and sit next to coworkers, when we could use shared washrooms, go out for lunch with people, not wear masks in public or wash our hands until they wear down to raw but very clean nubbins.
That was back when I didn’t spend weekday work mornings crying, watching a Korean boy band be adorable and dance-y, and not working; back when mornings weren’t wasted on remembering when boy bands reaffirmed that life made any kind of sense instead of amplifying how much it doesn’t anymore.
But today I found the song (“Waste it on Me,” Steve Aoki ft. BTS) and it’s still a perfect pop song. And while I cried non-stop watching the video several times in a row, I also laughed a lot because it’s an amazing, hilarious video. Indeed, it’s brought key parts of my life full circle: it features the beauty queen (Devon Aoki) after whom we named our once-upon-time slim and athletic kitten Aoki; Aoki-cat will be 15 years old soon and she’s not aging as well as the gorgeous and perfect Devon is.
(If either of the super-good-looking human Aoki sibs ever read this, they’ll finally know why I insist on sharing their hashtag on the Instagram and will no doubt be entirely disappointed; but they really shouldn’t be: Aoki-cat is one serious bad bitch who ran a fat raccoon off our deck yesterday morning from behind the safety (the raccoon’s safety) of a glass door and just by silently looking at it.)
Speaking of beautiful people, at the 2:40 mark of the fun-times “Waste it on Me” video, I’m pretty sure Leonardo Nam got me pregnant; this is much against his will (and physics) as he is not only happily married to someone else but I’m also just not his body type (fuck, I was about to type NSFW for this link but WE’RE ALL STILL WORKING FROM HOME).
Anyway, yes, I am very well aware, even extremely aware, that I’m at least 30 years older than BTS’s key fan demographic, that I’m old enough to be any one of their moms (or grand-moms, if shit were medieval or we decided to discuss certain members of my extended family). But neither have I grown out of good pop music, nor do I plan to. I listen to Vivaldi to work and top-40 to crush it at the gym and I’m not ashamed of either.
Back to BTS. Having conducted nearly a full morning’s worth of research, I’m going to say I think they’re much, much better than the boy bands I grew up and old with (and who only ever employed a maximum of 2 qualified singers). I think BTS is quite good overall and that’s not quarantine fatique talking; NSYNC and NKOTB have not improved in the last few months; indeed the latter has been forever expelled from my workout mix. I don’t like every BTS song I researched today but I like a lot of them; some, like “Black Swan,” also have good videos with really excellent dancing.
Thank goodness for pop music when you haven’t seen any friends or family in months and don’t know when you will again, that’s all. Being in Toronto, which is mostly still in lock-down, is a bad scene if you love anyone at all you don’t live with. And by you, I very definitely and sadly mean me. My bff N. is on the west coast; I could theoretically visit her but I have a mortal fear of bringing the COVID with me (because Toronto and airplanes) and killing her, her family, anyone else on the plane and/or anyone else in B.C.
The issue of travel from Toronto not feeling either safe or ethical is part of what’s keeping me from visiting the east coast, where my little family and lifelong goodfriend M. are. The Atlantic provinces are in a bubble of their own anyway, though, so I’d have to quarantine for 14 days; I don’t fancy the chances of my physical and mental health lasting two weeks alone in a Halifax hotel room.
Not being able to go down east has been particularly difficult these past 7 weeks as someone I love more than my own life almost died from this fucking plague and I couldn’t go see him; the rules were so strict down east when he was on the verge of death that his wife couldn’t either; we stayed in our respective homes and she waited to hear from the hospital that he’d died alone and I waited to hear the same from her. He didn’t die; he’s doing really well now; but I felt like it might break me when it was happening.
That experience changed some things day-to-day; at first, it made work easier because in the grand scheme of things, work was relatively unimportant, just another way to make time pass. Now, as Ontario, mostly Toronto, continues to be too infected for me to travel, as infections rise distressingly worldwide, it’s beginning to seem possible that I’ll never see him again, that I might never see anyone I love who doesn’t live in Toronto or parts nearby again. So, sometimes I have to spend the morning crying and watching pop videos to get through. We all find our own ways.
I’ve deployed the P. G. Wodehouse because these are difficult times. And not all days are like this; indeed, I’d actually been having my best times of the pandemic since my down-east beloved had recovered. I guess I’m losing that infusion of hope and good energy a bit, or getting worn down by not seeing him and my other beloveds. I’ll hang in there; I’m from the east coast, so I can take a punch (or many) and keep on singing and dancing badly. But sometimes, “Boy with Luv” has to be played on loop and that’s just that.