Lockdown-not-lockdown, week eleven

22 May, Friday

I've been exploring and writing about the e-commerce boom for the past few years now, and yet, I have been mostly hesitant about buying stuff online. I only created a Lazada account last year, and only made one purchase on it - a bunch of adhesive curtain hooks for the flat, which fell apart after a couple of weeks or so.

The past few weeks, though, I've been embracing e-commerce a little bit more, out of necessity. Well, this really depends on how you define e-commerce. If you take the government's lead and include online cash transfers and the sharing economy, well, I've been maxing out GCash and paying a lot of bills from there, and I also finally bit the bullet and downloaded the Grab app, something which I've resisted for all this time. Shalla has that app, but without a phone, it had to be me.

Speaking of the phone, we had one delivered last weekend. She was up for recontracting anyway; it was a matter of getting through to Globe's customer service, which has been severely limited due to the quarantine. (Yes, we know you can do so online, and yes, we still did that through the phone, but only because we had specific questions the website would not answer. We still have a long way to go.) At the same time we bought a case for the phone, using my Lazada account, but her credit card.

Last night - meaning, while we were asleep - I got a text message saying it'll be delivered today. I should confirm when I'm available, as well as my address. I replied at two in the morning.

Nobody arrived all morning.

After lunch, I found out that my delivery failed. They said nobody picked it up.

Shalla thinks it's because I told them that I'm available from ten in the morning onwards. (I still have to go to the grocery.) Apparently, if you tell Lazada's couriers when you're available, they won't deliver to you, and will just fail the whole thing. I guess they felt freer to do that because I paid via credit card and not via cash on delivery, meaning they have nothing to lose. But I do. I have to contact the seller and the marketplace. I have to wait for a refund. Well, it's Shalla's card, but it's my account, and what I'm quietly fearing is that they now think I'm one of those people that order stuff online and doesn't show up when it's delivered. Yes, that's more of a Grab issue. I didn't know my order arrived. Or, more specifically, my order never arrived, and they just gave up, despite having the clearest of addresses and a request to be contacted once they do get to the lobby.

I think this is why I haven't embraced online shopping as much as the rest of you do. I think this is why I still won't.

23 May, Saturday

I do not have a hipster claim to Community. Sure, I watched it when it was still on air, but it wasn't one of those shows that I watched from the beginning. It was difficult to choose a show to put your bets on when you had to watch a lot of them for work. In any case, I only really began when it was added to my weekly rotation. This was when the second season began.

That show would, of course, go on to critical love (especially in its first three seasons) and a really, really dedicated fanbase. And why wouldn't it? Once you get past its tendency to filter everything through pop culture references, you get a show that's audacious in its ambition, sincere in its storytelling, and eminently quotable. So, when it dropped on Netflix a few weeks back - which would begin a rumbling online revival that culminated, for now, in a charity table read - I knew I had to rewatch it, even if I wasn't really a guy who rewatches things.

I also hoped Shalla would get on board.

She did, ultimately. I was watching on the TV while she was working; her curiosity was piqued. Turns out I didn't have to sell the show hard to her, because she likes dry humor. (Although Annie's song on the third season's "Regional Holiday Music" does not count as subtle, does it?) And, as she takes a break from Animal Crossing, she's decided to marathon the whole thing. As I write this, my own rewatch has brought me to the end of the second season in a few weeks. On the other hand, she's already four episodes into the second season, after burning through most of the first today. I bet she'll start the third season tomorrow. It's safe to say she likes it.

The Community fan's mantra is "six seasons and a movie", initially a reference to the second season's "Paradigms in Human Memory", a riff on the clip show composed entirely of newly-shot footage. Abed, the pop culture guy, was talking about how another NBC show, The Cape, would run that long. Eventually that became the mantra for a loved-but-beleaguered sitcom: that it will run for six seasons and a movie. Well, there are six seasons (although the sixth was on a streaming service) and it's safe to bet that at this point, the movie is almost going to happen, perhaps depending on Donald Glover's availability, of course. But he was on the table read! Yeah, hopes.

Now, The Cape - that was a show I watched from the beginning. It was also assigned to me, so I did previews and recaps. It was a decent attempt at an original superhero series, although it kind of botched the implementation and it saw its last three episodes burned off online. At least it lasted a season, not the three weeks Jeff claims it would last. I bet, however, that when you think of "six seasons and a movie", you do not think of The Cape. I must be the only one. That's my hipster claim, if it counts as one.

24 May, Sunday

Yep. Shalla's finished season two today, and is pretty much halfway through the third.

Her binge watch has become my rewatch, which has led to some interesting realizations, particularly about the episodes I have forgotten about. Say, I definitely remember "Remedial Chaos Theory", the multiple-timeline episodes that many consider to be Community's best. I definitely remember "Regional Holiday Music", particularly after I wrote about it on the old music blog. But I forgot about "Pillows and Blankets", the Ken Burns riff they did. At least now I've actually seen a couple of Ken Burns documentaries, so the references are no longer lost on me.

This all dovetails nicely. Two days ago I finally bought alcohol, now that the liquor ban's lifted. Vodka Cruisers for her, Asahi beer for me. We had a bottle last night - we're finally drinking together, again! - although I think we got tired from the rewatch that we ended up falling asleep soon after. It wasn't ten in the evening yet.

Today, Shalla decided to open this bottle of wine I got as a birthday gift earlier this year. It's Australian dessert wine, and it's been stuck in the fridge, chilling. At least we didn't need a corkscrew to pop it open. Alcohol and Community. Who would've thought we would do it ourselves?

25 May, Monday

I haven't been sleeping well these past few months. It's easy to say that it's general anxiety over the situation we're all in, but to be honest, I'm one of those people who's lucky enough to be able to continue shopping for basic provisions, and - for now - still able to earn a living. (But not lucky enough to be able to bake and callously show it off, like everybody has an oven.) And while that doesn't absolve me from more specific reasons to be anxious - and there have been a lot of them in recent weeks - I don't think that's it.

Is it the bed? Perhaps, but I have had uninterrupted sleep in the flat before. Is it the weather? It's been pretty hot lately, Despite having an electric fan to myself - we've been sleeping on the living room lately, and we have both fans on - I still wake up in the middle of the night, sweating, and sometimes it's so bad I have to take a bath.

But most times I wake up just because, and I have difficulty falling back asleep. It has happened to me before, but it's happening to me more frequently these past couple of months. Perhaps it's me being extra aware of things, or it's me unknowingly ruminating on death far too much. All I know is, I haven't really had a good night's sleep for a while now. As I write this I'm running on two hours less sleep than I usually do: I woke up at half past one and didn't fall asleep until, I guess, half past three, or perhaps at four. And I woke up at half past five, and an hour later I'm writing this, whatever else happened today be damned.

Maybe it's the heat. There were many logistical reasons why we haven't transferred an unused air conditioning unit to this place yet. I should regret that, yes?

26 May, Tuesday

Shalla's phone arrived today. It came in earlier than expected, because we did not receive a tracking number until this morning, when I tried calling Globe to follow up on the status of our shipment again. And even then that number didn't work. But the pestering must've worked, because when I talked to the Entrego guy, he said - or perhaps this is chit-chat made to make things more pleasant - that the delivery happened earlier than they planned. They did say the latest we can receive the phone is on Friday, which I didn't take to mean the phone will be delivered by Friday, and no earlier.

So, Shalla is now a proud owner of an iPhone 11 Pro Max. She finally got the screen size she always wanted when she got her first iPhone.

Shalla's phone case also arrived today. It's not the one I ordered from Lazada, no. She ordered another (relatively cheaper) case through Shopee and decided to pay for it by cash, so the courier had to make an effort to tell her that he's got her package ready. I guess that proved the thing she was saying a few days ago.

Oh, and my Animal Crossing pre-order arrived today, too. Yes, the one I was supposed to claim ten weeks ago, only to have this whole quarantine thing scuttle everything. Also, yes, I still insisted on getting a physical copy despite us already having a digital one. Yes, I paid for the game twice. Yes, it makes no difference.

In less important news, Shalla's Community binge has reached the fourth season, that period where series creator Dan Harmon left and the show felt like it was trying to live up to its reputation. It reminded me that Brie Larson was on one episode. I still have a crush on Brie Larson. I have, however, never seen Captain Marvel.

27 May, Wednesday

I know I've talked about Animal Crossing on Facebook, primarily through these entries, which I also post there. I guess that explains how, for the past 24 hours, I have seen eleven ads from eleven different pages selling, well, bells and Nook Miles Tickets.

Okay, a recap: bells are the in-game currency. You need it to buy stuff for your house, or for your island, or for your gifts to your fellow villagers. Nook Miles Tickets, on the other hand, allow you to fly to a mystery island which you can either pillage for resources, or where you can find a villager you can invite to move in, if you've got an empty lot where you come from.

These pages sell both bells and tickets for real money. Like, a million bells for a hundred and fifty bucks. The prices are cheap, actually, but I never bothered seeing the details, because in the name of whoever supposedly resides in the heavens, this is wrong. Sure, you can just spend real money for fake money so you can focus on making your island a five-star one or so you can find the perfect villager for your aesthetic, as one of those ads put it. But the beauty of Animal Crossing is that you really can play at your own pace. That's why game time is real time. But then, well, one, there's social media, which is why people had FOMO and why stocks of the Switch have run dry in the first weeks of the quarantine period, and two, who the fuck am I, a newbie to the franchise, to say these things?

Where was I? Right, I never bothered seeing the details, because I reported all eleven ads to Facebook.

28 May, Thursday

This is my eleventh week of writing diary-style entries during this lockdown-not-lockdown.

When I started I thought I'd limit myself to observations and anecdotes, but as I always tend to do when I write on this blog, I end up trying to make a grand statement about the world we live in, a statement that I've not always been equipped to make, and even if I do, it's not as if anybody is reading, so why bother? Anyway, all I'm saying is, that's made writing here a bit more difficult, because I tend to lose track of the story in an attempt to sound insightful.

Here's an example. Today I found myself scrolling through Netflix looking for something to watch. It's a problem many people must have had before, a sign of how overwhelming a lot of choice can be. It hasn't always happened to me because I tend to know what I want to watch before I do so, but not today. I wasn't in the mood to resume my Community rewatch, and I didn't have the attention for a documentary or a stand-up special. Also, I only had a bowl of rice and canned tuna, and that doesn't last long.

While I was scrolling, Shalla showed me a Mimiyuuuh video. Now, I know he's (what pronoun do I use?) popular and stuff, but I have never seen any of his videos, because I just was never curious. I kind of watched what she was watching, and I figured it'd never be my thing, because, for better or worse, he's exhausting and relentless. That, and I was still scrolling through Netflix for something I'm in the mood to watch considering the circumstances.

The grand point I was supposed to make: this morning we got a leaked document stating Metro Manila will transition to a "general community quarantine" from next week, something that's been telegraphed for the past few days, and yet they just wouldn't say so. It had to be the president who makes the announcement, in another late (but not so, for a change) night televised address. In a time when getting the right information as early as possible is important, this need to cultivate an image (while failing anyway) is making things more uncertain than they should be. So we all just browse on Netflix looking for something to watch.

See, I'm trying too hard to sound smart there. I'm not satisfied. It's disjointed. Is it the coffee? I know I'm not supposed to have coffee, but I just learned Tim Hortons delivers, so Shalla and I had iced coffees this afternoon. (And I had a bagel, not pronounced like Britta would.)

"The coffee is taking effect," I told her just now. "I'm wide awake."

"Do you feel smarter?" she asked me.

"I don't."

And your responses...

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