My Year Inside

(a.k.a. An unnecessary display of conspicous consumption, though when the guillotine falls maybe consider this a treasure map to the good shit)

By Alice Lee

March 13, 2020
The last time I have eaten inside a restaurant is at Gino's East in Sherman Oaks, CA. I have a day off of work but I know that it's wrong to be eating out because mandatory quarantine is going to be imposed any day now. When I walk in the hostess has her head in her hands out of sorrow.
March 18, 2020
The video game I have spend the last three months crunching on is being released to the public. In an attempt to project calm, I build a Junkfood Customs arcade controller while the release happens. It goes smoothly until it doesn't, I spend the entire week working around the clock to address issues.
March 19, 2020
Another night with my seven best friends playing the video game I work on, they're just out of frame laughing too.
March 26, 2020
Work from home desk photo.
April 20, 2020
I play through the entirety of Final Fantasy VII Remake in three days. The experience moves me so much that I record and release an episode of my defunct video game podcast, Girlfriend Mode.
April was pretty lost, May too.
May 3, 2020
I make a fancy sous vide steak dinner. I don't completely hate cooking yet.
May 28, 2020
I start ripping all of my old CDs and throwing them out. There are over 1000 before I'm done.
June 1, 2020
Portrait of a lady in a swimming pool.
June 4, 2020
More CDs being ripped.
June 19, 2020
I buy more monitors, upping the count on my desk to five. There is no real reason for this.
Also I install these shelves to display LPs on my wall.
June 22, 2020
After JK Rowling fully unmasks herself as a TERF I consider destroying my Harry Potter books. Not wanting to give her the satisfaction, I turn my copy of Goblet of Fire into a book safe where I can keep my HRT.
July 1, 2020
I try hooking up accelerometers to my washer and dryer to text me when they finish a cycle. It doesn't really work out.
July 8, 2020
I buy a Midi Fighter 64 to trigger audio samples while on video calls for work. It's fun but also people get sick of it fast.
July 18, 2020
I spend a weekend rearranging the books on the shelves in my library.
July 22, 2020
Portrait of a lady losing her sanity.
July 31, 2020
August 1, 2020
I email my friends that I've made a webcomic. It's called Liz and Alice and it's based on an idea I've had since 2014. I've made 30 comics but I find it hard to write more.
I finally put up a cork board that I bought in 2019.
I buy a cordless Dyson vacuum. It's lifechanging. Cannot recommend enough.
August 8, 2020
I find these weird stock photos of an office lady holding guns. I instantly decide she is my wife.
August 10, 2020
I hire people to install ethernet wiring in my house. I no longer need to have long cables running through my kitchen.
August 14, 2020
I put a bunch of spikes on these headphones, thinking if we're going to live through a post-apocalypse we should at least dress for the part.
August 22, 2020
I finally mount a pinboard full of lapel pins in my private bathroom. I purchased this in late 2017 and only finished it now.
August 25, 2020
After two weeks of record breaking heat, the evaporative cooler that came with my house dies. I buy a portable AC but cannot mount it in the window, so I cut the frame apart with a circular saw at 9pm to make it work.
August 26, 2020
I try to find someone to knife fight to death on the text-only queer dating app. It doesn't work out.
September 3, 2020
I have to go to urgent care for diverticulitis. This is the first time another human has touched me in months.
September 11, 2020
A glass container spontaneously shatters inside my kichen. Never forget.
September 12, 2020
I've ordered parts to try to complete an aftermarket Game Boy rebuild but I destroy the LCD screen while putting it together.
September 13, 2020
Portrait of a lady dying of thirst.
September 24, 2020
I try mouth taping while sleeping to see if it improves my quality of sleep. I worry that I'm going to suffocate in my sleep. It doesn't work out.
September 26, 2020
Finished the Game Boy aftermarket build.
Warning: tasteful nudity ahead
October 2, 2020
Installed a new gas cylinder on my front door.
October 5, 2020
I buy a Game Boy Camera off of ebay and it has these photos of a child who previously owned it. I delete them and take some of my own.
October 13, 2020
I drop off my ballot for the Presidential election.
October 22, 2020
I get really into Blaseball. Go Tacos.
October 27, 2020
I ordered sliding rails for the Dell Poweredge server in my rack. I feel like I have a serious rack setup now.
October 29, 2020
Portrait of a lady barely holding on.
October 31, 2020
I see this dinosaur walking down a random sidewalk in Van Nuys.
November 1, 2020
I complete this mixed media art installation inside my house. Please note how this is a work of art and not a deadly weapon that would be felonious to own in Los Angeles. It has a title placard. It's art.
I also finish an aftermarket Game Boy Advance build after breaking and reordering numerous parts. Do not recommend.
November 2, 2020
I finish cleaning and restoring an Astro City arcade cabinet with a real Super Puzzle Fighter II CPS-2 board. I bought this cabinet in 2017 and it sat in my garage waiting to be worked on for three years. I spend weekends cleaning it, rewiring the control panel, ordering custom SEGA locks from Australia, etc.
November 20, 2020
I hire people to replaster my pool lining as it's falling apart. As part of this they drain the pool. To quote Laura Jane Grace's Swimming Pool Song: I am a haunted swimming pool, I am emptied out and drained. My capacity remains the same.
November 21, 2020
As part of the pool remodel, the earthquake natural gas shutoff valve is triggered. I spend a Saturday frantically trying to fix my dryer before figuring out that this was the cause, but I save myself hundreds of dollars in appliance repair.
November 23, 2020
I hire people to install a new HVAC system in my house. I will no longer have to suffer 100 degree heat waves. Your problems can be solved for only $26,000.
November 25, 2020
Portrait of a lady trying to be normal as if that is something one can even be.
November 26, 2020
I make a Thanksgiving dinner of side dishes. I absolutely hate cooking at this point.
November 30, 2020
I hire a painter to fix large holes in my ceiling where old ducts are being removed. As he's leaving on the last day of work he asks me if I live alone, and when I say I do he very clearly says the following:

"You need companionship."

I warned you about the conspicous consumption. There's more ahead. If you're still reading this I think some of this is on you.
December 1, 2020
Spotify Wrapped tells me I was in the top 0.5% listeners for Lady Gaga and this sends me into an existential spiral for some reason.
December 7, 2020
As part of the HVAC installation I now have a free closet where a furnace was previous located. I turn it into a literal server closet.
December 9, 2020
Pool renovations are complete.
December 11, 2020
Portrait of a lady who decides to dress up for her work zoom holiday party, but then leaves her camera off the whole time anyway.
December 15, 2020
In July I ordered a life-size Psyduck plush that arrives. It is extremely good.
December 16, 2020
I decide everything is meaningless, so I order an Attack From Mars Remake pinball table. I've long believed Attack From Mars to be the best designed pinball machine. It's incredible.
December 17, 2020
I bought another arcade cabinet, a Vewlix clone, from an online arcade auction. I drive to Orange County to pick it up and bring it home.

I also finally install this polygonal light fixture in my library. I bought it in 2017 shortly after I bought the house but only installed it now.
December 18, 2020
Find this nice trans metaphor in Hades.
December 21, 2020
Completed this collage of pinback buttons I've collected over the course of my life and mount it in my hallway.
December 25, 2020
Every year since moving to Los Angeles I've spent Christmas at the beach. Initially it started as needing something to do to avoid lonliness on a day when not speaking to one's family is particularly hard. Since then it's become a tradition because, as I always say to myself, it's only a tradition if you do it every year.

This year is the strangest yet. The anxiety of being out in public after not regularly leaving the house for nine months is extremely intense. Only half of the other beach goers are wearing masks. In past years I've found this experience a good time to reflect on my life over the past year, but this time I find myself just wanting to leave as soon as I get there.
December 29, 2020
I install this light fixture designed for kindergarden classrooms in my master bedroom.
December 30, 2020
I see this couch on fire on a sidewalk in Hollywood.
Happy new year, I guess.
January 7, 2021
I put the finishing touches on the library in my house. It features three arcade cabinets with my favorite games: Marvel vs Capcom 2 in the Viewlix clone (left), Super Puzzle Fighter II X in the Astro City that I restored (middle), and Guilty Gear XX Accent Core+ in a New Net City that I bought in 2017 (right).
This is a tableau with every video game console I've ever owned connected through an Open Source Scan Coverter and Framemeister.
This is a display of all of the console games I've collected over my life along with assorted other gadgets including my iPod Mini and Zune 120.
January 17, 2021
An accurate representation of my state of being.
January 21, 2021
The new large content release for the game I work on is released to players, so we all order dumplings to celebrate.
January 22, 2021
I complete a large LED matrix screen that I use as a fake fireplace. I bought the parts for this project in late 2017 and they've sat unused for three years.
January 24, 2021
I find myself as I appear in a Japanese rock band tour documentary in footage from when they played an anime convention in Dallas during 2004.
January 30, 2021
I hire someone to install glass doors and a new gas log set in the fireplace in the Great Room. It's very nice.

The portrait was done by the incredible Catherine Graffam that I was fortunate enough to commission.

Also I have ordered too many books over the past year. As of this writing the stack in this photo is twice as large.
January 31, 2021
I start working on a video installation. It remains uncompleted.
February 6, 2021
I finally get around to watching Killing Eve season three. Despite being warned that it was increasingly diminishing returns, I love it unconditionally.
February 11, 2021
Having not visited a grocery store since December, I decide to try giving up soda (my favorite food) and get into tea. One of my coworkers sends me a box of her favorites and I order way too much from other recommended brands. I have a lot of tea.
February 13, 2021
I Marie Kondo half of my closet. I start listing dresses I no longer want on Depop. As of this writing I have made over 50 sales.
February 26, 2021
I receive notice that Lover Fest have been cancelled.
March 3, 2021
In a fit of mania I decide I should completely change the layout of my bedroom after ordering a new mattress.
March 5, 2021
After being delayed for a full year, I finally get a tattoo of a trans pride flag themed knife from Hemi at June Jung Art. The lockdown has not yet been lifted, I have not received a vaccine, but I feel closer to the person I was before this all started for the first time.
March 6, 2021
I bought a 2 meter tall Snorlax plush from Aliexpress, though it comes just as a pillow cover. To fill it I order 10 pounds of shredded memory foam which I have to let expand before stuffing. It only fills the Snorlax about 25% so I order more foam.
March 9, 2021
I attempt to make spaghetti carbonara for the first time. It's okay but could be better. I completely and utterly hate cooking.
March 13, 2021
The Snorlax is complete. It is extremely good.
March 17, 2021
In an attempt to find a new hobby I decide to try to get deeper into mechanical keyboards. Within a month I will disavow this hobby.
March 18, 2021
Made this meme to console a coworker.
March 19, 2021
I got a tattoo of Bowsette from Huka at Royal Heritage Tattoo. I wanted this basically immediately during the weekend when the entire internet was horny for her but I was worried I'd find it embarassing. Two years later I still wanted it so I think I'm safe.
March 20, 2021
Portrait of a lady who just got her first Pfizer vaccine shot.
March 24, 2021
Got another tattoo that will be very hard to explain but I also don't care. From Tiffany Garcia at Black Raven Tattoo whose shop has an incredible aesthetic.
March 27, 2021
I hate cooking but also haven't been to the grocery store since December (when things took a serious turn in Los Angeles) so I start buying bulk frozen food from the internet.
March 30, 2021
Another random idea I have is to have a CRT TV sitting behind me that has my webcam feed on a delay. I build it with a raspberry pi, OBS Studio and an RMTP server running on my server rack.
March 31, 2021
I've fallen deeply in love with The George Lucas Talk Show and all of the programming on Planet Scum Live including the titular show where I have participated in the game by buying this $99 shirt.
April 05, 2021
Back when I had a normal commute I liked taking photos of vanity plates assuming I would one day start an instagram called "dorkplates". This is the first notable one I've seen in over a year.
April 08, 2021
As part of my mechanical keyboard hobby I found these Sailor Moon custom keycaps on Aliexpress. They are pretty good!
April 10, 2021
I finally buy a new dishwasher after my old one died on Thanksgiving in 2020. Sears sells me delivery but not installation so it sits in my kitchen in the box for a week until I hire a plumber. Fuck Sears.
I wanted to wear something special on this day so that I would remember it. I decide on this polka dot dress that I bought in Glasgow in 2018 when I visted for my 34th birthday.

That trip was pivotal in helping me turn a corner with my mental health and become more of the person I want to be. After many years feeling crippled by depression, it was the thing to convince me to live my life again. I wore this dress on the flight home and I enjoyed it so much I decided that I would wear it every time I fly. It's my travel dress, and since then I've worn it on flights to Iceland, Spain, New York, Nashville and more.

So it seemed appropriate to wear it to get my second shot of the Pfizer vaccine. My life was ready to change again, after a year alone at home, I'm ready to go.

Also shout out to the nurse who had a great sense of humor.
The Unknown Future
Sometime after now
I decided to write this because I hoped it would feel like closing a chapter on the past year. There were no big life lessons learned from this year of quarantine. I did finish some projects but I'll also never get back the hours and days I spent without the will to live. I came much closer to death than I've ever been before and what I saw scared me in ways I'm still uncomfortable with. But I made it through those days and I'm alive. I have a vaccine and I'm alive.

I'm alive.