I overslept this morning, but it didn’t really matter. It hasn’t mattered in a year. Working from home, thanks to COVID, there isn’t really any reason to get up early. There’s no traffic to fight. As long as I stumble from my bed to my computer at a reasonable time, all is good.
It was St. Patrick’s Day 2020 — a Tuesday — that was Diamond’s last day in the office.
“See you in two weeks,” said Andy Mueller to me in the evening, when I was cleaning up my office and packing a box of things to take home.
“Two?” I said. “More like six.”
“Incubation times? Quarantines? Yeah, about six. May. I’ll see you in May.”
I think it was June — or maybe it was July — that I saw Andy again. It was his last day. I was in the office, to work on the UK order form, since I need access to the printers — it’s vastly easier to proof an order form on paper than it is via a PDF on a monitor — and Andy came in to drop off various items with senior management. He stopped by my office. We talked for maybe forty minutes. About the company. About his new job. About baseball. About Chase Hughes, the DC area sports journalist.
“We were both wrong,” I said. “You said we’d be back in two weeks. I said six. Here we are, a couple of months later, and who knows when we’ll be back. Well, not you, because you’re leaving. But you know what I mean.”
We were supposed to go back after Thanksgiving, for at least one day a week, and then COVID case counts started ticking up again. Vaccines are rolling out, shots are going into arms, and case counts were falling, but now they’ve plateaued and, in some starts, are ticking back up again. Who knows what the plan is. Maybe summer? I’m already going in to the office every so often — when I need groceries, when I have a task I can do better from there than I can from home (like the order forms), when I need a change of scenery — so I don’t really see a lot changing for me.
I look at my blog post from the first day of work from home — a year ago today — and it’s… hopeful. I was going to kick butt. I was going to take names. I was going to “triage” my job and cut out the stuff that didn’t matter.
How naïve I was.
I’m tired. I hit the “pandemic wall” months ago. Time has become meaningless. I used to listen to a regimen of podcasts daily, and now that’s too much work to sort through. I harbor nothing but disdain for the denialists, the anti-maskers, the hyper-individualists who led to half a million American dead and a year of national isolation.
Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, and I decided this year I was going to do the traditional dinner of corned beef and cabbage. I hadn’t done it last year.
I went to Weis Market last week and picked up a three pound brisket, and I had enough “points” on my frequent shopper card that I got it for half price. That’s the first time I’ve ever had points that were in any way useful. Then I went to the office on Tuesday because I wanted to go to the grocery store, and I went to Food Lion after and picked up carrots, potatoes, onions, and a head of cabbage. I was set!
How do I cook this?
I have four different Irish cookbooks. (The pandemic year has turned me into a cookbook collector. I have an honest to goodness library.) Four different cookbooks, four different recipes! Even Recipes of Quality, a 1912 cookbook published in conjunction with Washington’s Heurich Brewing, had a recipe for corned beef:
A piece of fancy brisket of corned or saltpetered beef, say five or six pounds, should be cooked in plenty of water until tender, with two carrots, two onions, one-half a head of cabbage, two turnips and two stalks of celery. Dish up the beef on a platter, cut the vegetables coarsely, and put around the beef. Serve horseradish with it.
These recipes all differed mainly on time — and Recipes of Quality didn’t even have a time — so I picked one and that was the one I went with.
It turned out well!
I cooked way too many vegetables, and ended up throwing most of them away. But the boiled onions and carrots were great, and the cabbage was nice, too. And I had a container of that NPR staple, “Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish,” in my freezer, so I got that out and let it defrost.
The end of last week was nice. This week has been not so nice. Today was dreary. There’s a chance of snow tomorrow.
Go home, March. You’re drunk.
Keep on keeping on, people.