When I go on my afternoon walk with my dog, my new-normal mid-day break from work, I often call my mother. At this time, it’s late enough in the day when we can discuss how good or bad our day is going, but it’s still early enough that things could turn around. Lately, we’ve been using this 20-min window to vent about the election.

I was mid-rant one afternoon when I spotted a small mushroom peeking out among a pile of leaves. I paused to observe it. “What?” my mother asked, when my angry words stopped mid-sentence.

“There’s this mushroom,” I said, kneeling to get a closer look. “It’s perfect.”

The mushroom was a bright white and had nearly perfect symmetry. The stem, accented with what looked like rings, reminded me of a spaceship’s beam.

I snapped a couple of photos, but couldn’t get them right. I sent what I could to her and I sighed. “It looks better in person. This doesn’t do it justice,” I said. My silky terrier tugged at her leash. I continued my walk.

Looking back, it’s remarkable to me that something as simple as a small mushroom literally stopped me in my tracks. Fall is my favorite season. However, because of the current state of the world, it has been difficult for me to enjoy it. I haven’t been to my office in New York City since March and only ever see my neighborhood nowadays. Nothing changes much. But sometimes, bright mushrooms pop up in new places, poking out from beneath the leaves, and it makes me appreciate the little things.

Sometimes, when I go back and look at the picture of the mushroom on my phone, it doesn’t look so special at all. And then sometimes, it does.

In addition to catching up with my mother on these phone calls, I’ve also been video-chatting with friends. My brilliant friend Misha—who lives three hours behind me in Canada—and I chat a few times a month. For an hour or two, we discuss our writing, relationships, and work week—and we always end up gasping with laughter at some point. I look forward to our chats so much.

Ever since quarantine began, I’ve been video-chatting with other friends and family a lot more, too. Sometimes a few of my girlfriends will get together in groups; we’ll catch each other up on our projects, jobs, and daily lives. These often turn into the supportive sessions we used to have at cute restaurants over delicious food and drinks.

My usual Sunday night dinner at my mother’s place has turned into long phone calls where my brother and I gush about our respective video game adventures at length—an hour, easily. Sometimes the two of us just need to geek out like we used to when we were kids. Now, it feels like we need to more than ever.

Many things have changed over this year, but one thing remained: our need for connection. In a previous post, I wrote about how I have always craved and sought connection, especially online. So, since I’ve been catching up with others in my life recently, I’d love to catch up with you, too.

(1.) We are prepping for the busy Holiday season at work right now (I’m a Copywriter for Nautica) and my days are filled with thoughts of gifting. This holiday season is already feeling like a strange one due to Covid-19 (who’s thinking about presents when cases are spiking?). However, we’re all working on clever ways to work around this and remain cheerful.

(2.) When I’m not working, I’ve been playing many video games because I seriously need the escape. I have over 850+ hours in Animal Crossing: New Horizons and I’m currently revamping my entire island for the third time. (So fun! No sarcasm!) I’m also trying to get it ready for Halloween on Saturday, which means decorating sparse areas with pumpkins and candy stations. Additionally, I’m working through the new Crown Tundra DLC for Pokémon Sword/Shield (which I LOVE!) and Genshin Impact, at least until Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity comes out on November 20. Then I’m in trouble.

(3.) Not only have I kept up my promise this month to write every day (I have 8 new blog posts this month to show for it!), but I’ve also been reading a lot. This month, I’ve been working through Lili Reinhart’s book of poems, Swimming Lessons, and Haruki Murakami’s monster of a novel, Killing Commendatore (he had me at “ode to The Great Gatsby”). I often pull these out at night an hour or so before bed and fall asleep straight after.

What have you been up to lately? I’d love to know!