Lockdown: Kidneys and garbanzos

Okay Tuesday. I slept remarkably well Monday night. I slept from 3:30 to 9:00, waking up once for just a couple of minutes before dropping off again. Darth Vader somehow came unhooked, which is what woke me, but I fixed it and picked up where I left off. So it was about five and a half hours of very good sleep, the kind Darth Vader is supposed to give me. It’s not enough, but it felt almost like vacation since it’s been so long without rest like this.

It translated well. I had a good, productive, busy work day. Tied up a bunch of loose ends (which may need more tying Wednesday), made slight progress on the new stories, and did a little bit of housekeeping.

I goofed around online after work for a little while, then watched the first half of Digging for Fire (2015) with Anna Kendrick, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jake Johnson, Brie Larson, Sam Rockwell, Orlando Bloom, Judith Light, Sam Elliott, Mike Birbiglia, and Melanie Lynsky. Yeah, it’s quite a cast. This is directed by Joe Swanberg, who uses a lot of the same actors in his films. This is the third film I’ve seen in which he’s directed Johnson and Kendrick, for example, after Happy Christmas and Drinking Buddies. He’s a super interesting director, but more about that another time.

I was dragging, so I put myself to bed at 11:00 and slept pretty terribly because I never really put myself to bed the way I need to. So I was up and down several times. Bleah. Finally got up at 8:00 just because I was tired of trying to get real rest.

Breakfast was the leftover loco moco. Not good reheated after being in the fridge for a day, but edible. I fried two eggs to put down on top of it, and that helped. There was leftover rice, so I ate it with Monday night’s chili for lunch. Dinner was some of the chili with no rice. That’s an unimaginable way to eat chili for a lot of Hawaii people, but if you think of it more like soup, it works as a meal. Although almost every soup tastes far better with rice.

I’ve been making chili roughly the same way for a decade. Over time I’ve developed a chili powder I really like, with a blend of ground, dried red peppers, paprika, cocoa, and cumin. It’s very earthy. I’m confident enough in it that I entered a chili cookoff with it at work when I was with the engineers. I got two votes: one from me and one from Wendy. But I swear it’s good chili.

The thing is, I’ve gotten a little bored with it. So for the heck of it, I arbitrarily picked a chili recipe from an Instant Pot group on FB. This one called for a bunch of stuff I usually don’t use. Garlic, jarred marinara sauce, sliced hot dogs, packaged seasoning mix. I haven’t used packaged seasoning for chili in maybe twenty years. But I needed some shaking up, so I took the recipe and made a few changes for personal preferences.

I added two bell peppers because I like my chili peppery. I used a Portuguese sausage instead of hot dogs. I used canned diced tomatoes instead of stewed tomatoes (in my cooking, I almost always use canned whole tomatoes). I used a small amount of my custom chili powder instead of the bottled chili powder the recipe called for. But yes, I did use canned marinara and packaged seasoning. Oh, and since I shop at half an hour before closing, the supermarket was out of ground beef, ground chicken, and ground turkey. So I used ground pork. The recipe called for two cans of kidney beans, but I used two cans of kidneys, one can of garbanzos, and one can of black beans. I like my chili beany.

It’s delicious. There’s an interesting sweetness and tanginess, I think coming from the canned marinara. The sausage really gives the sauce some depth.

I love chili, and as I’ve learned over the years, it’s a forgiving dish, which makes it great for experimenting. I think for the next few months I’ll try a different recipe each time, just to get out of this rut I’ve been in. Maybe I’ll try the mock Zippy’s recipe floating around out there, with peanut butter and mayo.

I didn’t snack all day. Neither did I go for a walk.

I traded some texts with Crush Girl about our respective work situations. Ali sent me a BuzzFeed list of some interesting misspellings. I don’t think she knows I do the #notagoodsignproject thing, so I mentioned that I collect these kinds of things if they’re photographed by me or someone I know. Then sent her some great examples. Sylvia texted to let me know she went to Safeway and picked up two of the three Lay’s flavors. Pizza and Philly Cheesesteak. She couldn’t find the hot chicken.

Still haven’t written about my not tending to the Monster this week. I’ll do it Wednesday night, perhaps.

And if you’re needing some connectivity in these days of the ‘rona, hit me up in the comments. I’m down for texts, DMs, and IMs. Assuming I get enough sleep.

Lockdown: Icebox, icebox, baby

Monday was a bit rough. After the crappy sleep I documented yesterday, I wasn’t exactly dragging but I was generally unhappy with myself and the world.

However, I submitted work and made progress on a few other things, and productivity always helps with one’s mood. I got a few new assignments to figure out, too. A nice challenge, although the background on one of them is a bit extensive.

In the late afternoon, I had to run to the pharmacy at Kaiser. It was stressful as heck. I requested some prescription refills by mail, but there was a problem with my flex insurance card, and I didn’t figure it out until it was too late to wait for it. Argh.

On the way back, I stopped at L&L for absolutely no good reason. I was hungry, but I have a fridge full of food. I think I just wanted to be out for a little while longer or something. I picked up a couple of things to consume over the next day or so, since I wasn’t exactly thinking of a meal — just hunger.

I was also in desperate need of at least a short nap, so once I wrapped things up at work (I had to work a little later, thanks for the pharmacy errand) I went comatose for 90 minutes or so. Woke up to do the supermarket run I’d been putting off.

I didn’t buy much, but I bought more than I wanted. I had to replace a bunch of stuff I keep in my fridge, which is dying. It’s probably still okay, but I already roll the dice on too many questionable foods; I didn’t think I should do it on a whole fridge’s worth of staples. It hurt to toss it, but thank God (and I did) I have the means to do it. And the temporary dorm fridge in my laundry room to hold me over until I get rid of this ancient battleship in my kitchen.

Yes, the stupid appliance I tried to repair was my fridge. The dorm fridge is not a solution; however, it has really alleviated some stress. I’m in the slow process of removing everything from the old fridge so I can unplug it, clean it out, and get ready for trashing it. It’s going to take a while mostly because I’m just not emotionally prepared for dealing with it all at once.

So mostly I bought Diet Pepsi, stuff for chili, and a few fridge staples: condiments and stuff like that. Also some Ben & Jerry’s, some fresh veggies. I need to build up my hurricane supply too, so I picked up some instant ramen. My something different this time was a six-pack of hard seltzer, which doesn’t further my goal of staying out of cooking ruts, but the store was closing and I needed to grab something.

I have to talk a little about not attacking the Monster’s remnants but I’ll do that for Tuesday’s entry. I spent the time making chili, and then I went to bed early-ish for me, crashing at about 3:30 for a 9:30 alarm. Small steps: I’ll go to bed earlier Tuesday night even if I have to skip something else.

Breakfast was a slice of the POG pie. It was pretty dang good. I would suggest it’s not quite poggy enough, ‘though it’s a good, dense, fruity pie with a nice crust. Lunch was a BBQ cheeseburger from L&L and half a loco moco. Note to self: an L&L BBQ cheeseburger is plenty filling enough. I didn’t know. I’d never had one before. Taking a lesson, however, I had for dinner the other L&L BBQ cheeseburger I picked up, right before I made an enormous pot of chili which I’m saving for Tuesday.

I may have munched on a few Lay’s NY Pizza chips while I prepared the chili for the Instant Pot. Few enough to finish the bag, anyway.

My media consumption was just podcasts, the news, and music. I hit the “radio” button on White Zombie’s “More Human than Human” and left it there pretty much all day. Since I’m rested enough and sorta caught up on work, I’ll probably watch something Tuesday evening. Maybe Orange is the New Black or one of the movies I have waiting for me.

I traded some work-related texts with Laura, who was helping me with the story I finished Monday. Sylvia wanted to know more about the NY Pizza chips, so we texted about that a little. Crush Girl wasn’t having a good day after not a very good weekend, so I tried to be encouraging, but sometimes a weekend and its following Monday are just crap, and there’s nothing to be done about it except listen, if the person feels like talking.

I hope if you’re reading this and you need someone to (virtually) talk to about your crappy weekend, you’ll reach out here. I just received a meeting invitation for mid-December — a Zoom meeting at work. This means my employer doesn’t expect us all back in the office before year’s end, which means this long haul we’re in is going to be longer. I’m not daunted. Reach out because we’re all going to need each other. Dammit.

Lockdown: Wilde about Olivia and Anna

Sunday was a bit less of a black hole, although there’s a good chance I’ve forgotten much of it because I’m writing about it on Monday night past 11:00. Yikes.

I didn’t sleep much Saturday. Stayed up until past 5 in the morning and was out of bed a little past 8. I called my folks just to check up on them — they seemed to be okay. My mom has been pretty bored but she’s resigned to the reality, which is a lesson most of my fellow Hawaii residents could probably take from her.

There’s a Japanese phrase, possibly more attributed to my mother’s people by Western writers than by actual Japanese people: shikata ga nai. It cannot be helped. It’s undoubtedly part of the Japanese ethic, whether the phrase itself is truly spoken much in Japan or not. This sense of accepting one’s burdens, carrying them without complaining or dwelling on them, is a piece of the overal Japanese aesthetic. The impermanence of all things. The irretrievable beauty of each passing moment.

I could hear it in my mom’s voice. “Of course I don’t like this, but we just have to be patient,” she said. That’s right, mom. Hang in there.

I had a slice of custard pie for breakfast, did one of my three usual Sunday crosswords, read the news, and went back to bed until sometime past 1:00. Or maybe 2:00. I got up and ate the leftover steak with white rice for lunch while I watched Drinking Buddies (2013), a film with Olivia Wilde and Anna Kendrick. Quite a good indie flick, with better acting from Wilde than I think I’ve seen. This is my nineteenth Anna Kendrick movie, by the way. Ten more to go to complete the set.

I don’t know what happened to the rest of the day. I conked out without putting myself properly to bed, and was alternately uncomfortably awake and uncomfortably asleep most of the night. Around two in the morning, I kind of gave up trying to get back to sleep, and drove to the strip mall to hit Longs for some Diet Pepsi. I’d meant to make a supermarket run just before closing Sunday night but although I set my alarm for it I just didn’t have it in me to get out of bed and do it.

However, with fresh consciousness at two, I figured I could at least get the Diet Pepsi, which I was down to two bottles of. That’s usually what I drink but I didn’t want to be caught without one if I needed a third Monday, which I intended to be super productive.

I drove home and drove right back to the strip mall because I forgot to mail my Netlix DVDs back, and I wanted to get them in the mail in time to receive the next discs in queue before the weekend. It still might not happen.

The sun was coming up by the time I crashed again, a couple of hours before my 9:00 a.m. Monday morning alarm.

There wasn’t much texting or messaging Sunday. The group text with Julie, Suzanne, and Cindy (my engineering coworkers) continued our conversation about the gentlemen’s club and the virus. Early reports were wrong, and it turns out the club was probably not infected, at least not by this patient.

Sylvia texted me a photo of her breakfast from Pancakes and Waffles. She had the country fried steak with sausage gravy. I’ve had that there; it’s quite good.

That was it! It was enough. Add the phone call to the family and it was definitely enough interpersonal reaction for a lazy Sunday.

No. I didn’t go for a walk. Darn it.

Somewhere in the day, I ate the last slice of the Zippy’s custard pie, and that’s all I ate Sunday. Two slices of pie and some steak and rice.

It wasn’t much of a day, and I think the weird sleep kind of dominated. I have got to make more of an effort to get some regular sleep. The Darth Vader machine is trying to keep me alive and I’m not letting it.

I’m feeling slightly less need for connectivity lately, but I’m grateful for what I’ve got. I’ve got room, if you could use some of the same. Hit me up in the comments, or reach out some other way.

Lockdown: Goodpie to love

I’m a little late writing about Saturday even though I clicked “new post” hours ago. It’s that kind of whatever weekend.

I got up around 8:00. Someone’s Friday 5 answers this week mentioned mango pie, and it reminded me that Hawaiian Pie Company is in my hood and I’ve never been there. So Friday night I ordered a pie online with a 10:00 pickup time Saturday morning.

I already had half a Zippy’s custard pie in my fridge. I’m not sure what I was thinking except that I like pie. So before I took off, I ate a slice of custard pie. Then drove to the bakery to get my order: a POG pie (passion fruit, orange, and guava puree baked in a pear pie). Ummmm and a mini cherry crumble pie.

Then I went through the BK drive-through and got a double sausage Croissanwich and a single sausage Croissanwich with hashbrown bites. Yeah. It was intentional, premeditated gluttony. So breakfast part two was the BK stuff. The two pies went into the fridge, atop the existing custard pie. Sometime around what might have been lunchtime, I ate the mini pie.

All this while reading the news, doing the crosswords, and watching the first four episodes of Halt and Catch Fire, which I got on DVD from Netflix.

I stuck around for the first printout with the election counts. I was right — both my candidates in the major city elections (mayor and prosecutor) finished outside the running for the general election runoff. I’m kind of pissed, because my second choices didn’t even make it, which means I’m going to have to decide between candidates I don’t care for at all.

I have a feeling in both races, I’ll be voting against the one candidate rather than in favor of the other.

I went for a walk to drop some bottles and cans at the bus stop, to atone for my culinary sins, and to forget about the elections. It was about 9,000 steps and the second half of it was kind of a slog. I didn’t enjoy the walk back at all. I got home and saw that the next printout didn’t change anything, as it seldom does.

I kind of fell unconscious until about two, when I got up hungry. So I made another steak. It hadn’t eaten since lunchtime. This was not as good a cut as the ribeye, but better than the cheap cuts I usually get, and it came out great. Maybe I’m better at preparing steak than I thought. Ate it with leftover white rice I stirred into the pan after I took the steak out. There were a lot of leftovers.

Sometime Saturday, a news report said a dancer at a well-known gentleman’s club was diagnosed with COVID-19, which struck me as funny even though it’s not really funny. Just the idea that a bunch of the clientele would have to get tested, and possibly family members too, tickled me. I sent a screen shot of the announcement to a few people via text.

This led to a long conversation with Ali about these establishments, kind of a nice talk but a bit on the heavy side. I don’t mind heavy at all. Heaviness in a text conversation is a little unusual sometimes.

Crush Girl texted me from the line at the place she mentioned the other day. Boy, she does not mess around when she gets it in her head to try a new spot. I got a little bit of a play-by-play as she waited to order. She got what she came for and gave me a little review. Nice. It was a good conversation.

It wasn’t much of a day. Lots of food and lots of vegging in front of the TV, interspersed with one unenjoyable walk and some decent conversations.

Which you can be part of if you’re not finding enough connectivity in this worsening pandemic. Just reach out. My texting fingers are ready.

Lockdown: Answers from the great beyond

Friday I woke up at around 2:30 and got out of bed around 3:30. I worked on the story that had been causing me problems and submitted it shortly after dawn. Then worked on some finishing details of another story (some Photoshop work on a donor’s picture and some double-checks on edits).

I had a couple of hours before a 9:00 short-notice all-staff Zoom meeting for some “good news” from the CEO and was quite hungry since I’d skipped dinner. So I did an online order from Zippy’s. With all the choices in my neighborhood I’m not sure why I wanted Zippy’s, but there it was. They said it would be ready in fifteen minutes, and that’s about when they brought it to my car in the phone-ahead curbside delivery area. Well done.

So breakfast was a chili moco (it’s a Hawaii thing) and a slice of custard pie, enjoyed leisurely while I read the news.

Thursday night, a bunch of us were texting about what the good news was going to be. My favorite suggestion was that the foundation was buying us a pony, but I had a feeling I knew what it was based on something kind of casually tossed out during our training Thursday morning. I turned out to be right: after final accounting, we surpassed our fiscal year goal by about 26 percent. For a fundraising organization like ours, that’s a pretty big deal, a reason to celebrate.

Of course, after Bloody Wednesday, I wonder how many of us really feel like celebrating. We got to that number on their work, too. I certainly feel good about our work paying off, but I’m in no mood to celebrate.

I worked on a story I’m having to restructure some. The donors haven’t responded to my emails so I’m telling it a different way. I actually kind of anticipated this would happen, so I was ready. It still wasn’t gelling quite the way I like, so I didn’t get it done by the end of my workday. I’ll be finishing it up Saturday morning I guess.

I’m pushing an elephant up the stairs
I’m tossing out punchlines that were never there
Over my shoulder a piano falls
Crashing to the ground

It’s an R.E.M. song about Andy Kaufmann. My second-favorite R.E.M. song. Sometimes it pops into my head when I’m thinking about this writing thing I do. It’s a powerful, God-like thing, and it’s also a chaotic mystery that sometimes falls down around me while I try to hold things literarily, linguistically together. Sometimes I’m pushing an elephant. Sometimes I’m shooting punchlines out of my sleeve without even thinking about it. Sometimes the pianos rain while my fingers type desperately away. Gorgeous imagery.

I kept working well past my usual work hours, putting Noelle on again, and then Rocket Science while I fooled myself into thinking I might have enough in me to pull the story together. I didn’t.

So I made a ribeye for dinner and left the work on my screen to look at between bites of my food and glimpses of Anna Kendrick. Steak is one of my favorite meals, but I don’t make it too often because I don’t really do it very well. This one came out pretty good, though, probably because I spent the bucks on a good slab of meat. I wilted some kale and sliced some aliÊ»i oyster mushrooms (Wikipedia says they are also called king trumpet mushrooms, king oyster mushrooms, and French horn mushrooms), then sauteed them together. Ate the steak and veggies with white rice.

The mushrooms were my “something different” during an unplanned stop at Safeway early Tuesday morning. A good choice. I don’t love kale, and I’m not sure these were the best accompaniment for them, but the dish works for me.

Thie chili moco and ribeye were my two meals. I either skipped lunch or dinner, depending on how I want to think about these things. I snacked on a few Lay’s potato chips (kettle cooked New York Pizza flavor). They were pretty good. Actually tasted like pizza.

Deep Purple’s new album has a ridiculous name: Whoosh! It’s been delayed twice because of the pandemic, but it’s finally out and I gave it a couple of spins. The songs range from stupid to pretty good. There’s nothing great, but it’s a nice, fun album. Steve Walsh’s solos are fantastic, though, and I’m pleased with Don Airey’s keyboarding. Jon Lord was always my favorite guy in Deep Purple, the guy who I think defined their sound better than the other amazing musicians in the band, but Airey as his replacement is better than adequate. If I didn’t know it wasn’t Jon Lord (he died eight years ago, and retired from band ten years before that), I wouldn’t be able to tell.

The songs are very positive, a kind of happy-to-be-alive vibe a band like Deep Purple has certainly earned. I’m going to spin it a few more times over the weekend for sure, then add the pretty-good songs to my 2020 playlist.

I texted Crush Girl my happy weekend wishes, then sent the same texts to a few other friends. Jennifer asked me if I’m going to stay up for the election printouts and of course I am. I think majority wins in the major city elections (mayor and prosecutor) are unlikely, but my candidates have an outside shot at making it to a runoff. Which annoys me this year because I think the candidates with the best name recognition are not good choices this time around. Ugggggh.

I remain a libertarian (lower-case L), but I almost always vote progressive in city elections, and my choices in state elections tend to be pretty liberal. There’s a good reason for this: when local governments are liberal, federal governments can be conservative. The federal government doesn’t have to be as far-reaching into our daily lives when needs are taken care of locally, which is really how it should be.

As an extreme example, if every school district in the country had standards (I don’t mean educational standards, dammit — I mean standards for providing equal access to education and competent administration of this education) better than today’s national standards, we wouldn’t need the crappy federal department of education or its idiotic current secretery.

That government which governs best governs least, and all that. Can you imagine what we could do with money we weren’t spending on the federal DOE?

Apply this thinking to stuff like conservation, energy, housing, human services, and some parts of communications regulations, and not only do we lessen the impact of a bad president (purely hypothetically speaking, of course) making bad appointments, but we decrease layers of government, which saves money. Something taken care of locally is paid for much more efficiently than the same problem taken care of federally.

True conservatives would say we could take it a step further: don’t use local governments at all to address many of these issues. Let local organizations take care of it, removing yet another layer of government to the equation. If the states and counties don’t involve themselves as much in feeding the hungry or housing the homeless, real people on the ground in the midst of the crises, like churches and other nonprofits, can do it, and people can support them better when they aren’t paying so much in taxes.

It’s a fair point, and ideally it would work, but I’ve worked in human services here, in private nonprofits, and too many people fall through the cracks. Some involvement by local governments seems important if we really care about every resident, which I think we should. Someone needs to tell the badly run private rehab center that it can’t do what it’s doing (as an example). Because we are all better off when we are all better off.

I didn’t go for a walk Friday but I’m almost sure to Saturday, since I refuse to wait around between printouts for election results. I hate the way the local stations fill time between printouts. I’ll hang around for the early returns, then get some fresh air.

Not sure what I’m doing for the rest of my weekend: either vegging in front of the TV or vegging with some good books. I also picked up some decadent food things with which to destroy my body while I try to mend my spirit. I predict they will work for exactly half this equation.

Hit me up in comments if you would like some more connectivity. Texts, IMs, DMs, that kind of thing.

Lockdown: Saltwater therapy

Thursday was another short day even though it was kind of a long day.

I went to the beach after the laundry, and all the good parking was gone. I had to park on the other side of the drive-through, but at least it was close to the good spots. Though I planned to take a leisurely swim and just enjoy being in the water, I found myself doing an easy sprint for kind of a long time. It felt good. I went a little further than usual, then lingered in a nice wide-open space for a little while before coming in.

It was an especially nice morning, visually and physically. I could feel myself breathing out of every part of me, just getting bad air out and soaking good air in. I’m glad I took the time, because a few hours later, the mayor closed the beaches until at least September 5.

I had no way of knowing, of course. I stopped at one of the breakfast spots in my hood, picking up a pork belly omelette (pretty good) and a strawberry shortcake pancake (excellent). I kinda thought they might be breakfast and lunch, but my body burned right through the whole thing.

I had the 9:00 training on Zoom. It was okay. It was meant for development officers, and I don’t really know what they do, so a lot of it was way over my head. I stopped trying to follow everything and just grasped onto the things within my comprehension. It was difficult, but I was glad to be included.

For lunch I had the leftover pasta with the not-quite-enough gorgonzola. Didn’t even heat it up — just ate it cold right from the container.

I struggled with the stories I was trying to finish. It was a very warm afternoon, and I had a lot of trouble focusing, though I really tried. Around five I packed it in and went to bed. I was in bed by six or so, waking up a few times in the night, with the alarm set for 2:00 so I could get up and finish my task in the cool, quiet night.

I skipped dinner and I didn’t go for a walk. My body was still a little tired from the swim, tired but not achey. And it appreciated the early sleep.

Ali and I did quite a bit of texting, starting with a couple of funny photos we saw elsewhere and shared in text. We talked a little about the mayor’s edict, and I asked her if there was anything in Hawaii she missed that I could mail her. It was nice.

Crush Girl texted me just as I got into bed, so I stayed up a little longer just to have the conversation. I sent her a photo of the three new varieties of Lay’s chips I scored at Safeway. She sent me a link to a review of a spot in Manoa that apparently has a killer lobster roll.

I think that was about it. A day that started very early and ended very early without a whole lot to make it remarkable besides a good swim and a new lockdown. The beaches and parks have reverted to the restrictions we had in March. Great. I can still go to the beach, but I’ll have to park at Kewalo and walk over. It’s not really that big a deal, but I’ll have to beat the surfers to the parking, which means I’ll have to get there very early.

Don’t forget to hit me up if you’re looking for a little bit of pandemic connectivity. This thing isn’t going anywhere any time soon, despite what certain elected officials would like us to believe. Reach out if you need to or want to.

Lockdown: A break in the logjam

The feel-good from defeating the Monster early Tuesday bled into my most productive day Wednesday at work in more than a week. I think it didn’t carry over into the rest of Tuesday because I was still recovering, so the momentum skipped a day, if such a thing is possible.

I sigh a sigh of relief. It’s not that I thought my mojo was gone for good — it was too plain that I was feeling crappy all twenty-four hours of my days, not merely the nine or ten each day I spend supposedly being a writer for a nonprofit.

But I had things to complete. People whose tasks were on pause while they waited for me. People including my supervisor who just signed a lovely annual review of my performance. People who are trying to deal with some of their best, most reliable reports being cut loose on Bloody Wednesday. It weighed.

I struggled to complete this donor story I was more than a week late with. Had to do a little deep-Google to find a twenty-year-old Star-Bulletin article that helped me reframe my story. It broke everything loose for me. Turned it in mid-day.

I have another story I’m behind on, but also had in queue a proposal that someone wanted “sooner rather than later,” which of course is only a hair clearer than “ASAP,” but this one came to me already written (!) by someone in the department. Which is how this whole proposal structure was originally put forth. The researchers do the work with some organizational guidance from me. Then I put it in a nice template and edit the language so it’s readable and pretty.

This one was organized so well I didn’t move a thing. Just dropped it in the template and edited a bit for readability, then brought in a few photos I got from some coworkers. Utterly painless. A first! And it looks good.

Thursday morning I have a three-hour development training via Zoom. I was terrified about this until I found out the entire development staff (and then some) plus a few others (like me) are in this, more than two-thirds of the company. So I’ll most likely be able to Zoom in with out my being in video, making it easier to squirm in my uncomfortable desk chair and scratch my forehead without looking like a doofus in front of everyone. We’ll all be muted, of course, so that makes it even easier.

I can’t say I’m looking forward to it, but I know I have a lot to learn and I’m here to learn it. Even in pedagogically questionable ways on less-than-ideal platforms. I shouldn’t rip anyone’s pedagogy before I’ve seen it. It’s the concept of teaching something useful in this format that gets me, but what choices have any of us got?

Also, it starts at nine, when I usually don’t get to my desk until half an hour later.

Thankfully, my afternoon Zoom for brainstorming an annual report thing is called off.


I signed out at about 6:15 after sending off that proposal, then got right to work getting ready for bed. Loaded up the empty water jugs, brushed my teeth, packed my laundry stuff, and went to bed at around eight. Got up at 2:30 to come to the laundry, which is where I am now.

Breakfast was a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats (not the store brand for a change). Lunch was a bowl of pasta. I used a jarred sauce and added red pepper flakes, dried garlic flakes, and brown sugar. This has been my preferred preparation lately for some reason. No wine since I didn’t have an already opened bottle this time. Stirred in some gorgonzola but could have used more. Dang it. It was yummy anyway.

Dinner, which I am consuming now, is a Big Mac combo from McD’s.

Ryan and I traded a mess of texts about Hawaii Stories, then took it to FB messenger to include one of our Hilo friends. JB and I texted briefly about War and Peace and Moby-Dick. Crush Girl texted to ask how I’m doing, and I told her honestly that it’s been a rough week. I asked about her weekend, and she told me a few nice things about it that really made me feel good. It was nice to hear about her having a good weekend, since mine was so lousy. I admit it was also nice because there was a little bit of personal disclosure from someone who’s not always eager to give it out.

Sent the loanable Kindle books list to a few more people via text. Texted Sharon to ask if she’s spending less money since the lockdown began (I’m spending more lately than I was several weeks ago, but I’m still coming out ahead every two weeks, which is why I wondered). Julie texted to talk more about the Taylor Swift album.

Didn’t go for a walk because laundry. May hit the beach on my way home.

Two loads of laundry tumble in their duplex of dryers. The nation stumbles deeper into death and disease. The elected leader bumbles his way through interviews and press briefings. We the People fumble toward the possible ecstacy of November relief. Let it please not be too late, O God.

Reach out. I’ve got bandwidth if you’ve got connectivity issues.

Lockdown: Bed and too much food

Tuesday wasn’t as bad, but I still wasn’t very productive. It’s beginning to alarm me. I struggled through the day, at the very least responding to emails, and did my best during a ninety-minute Zoom meeting.

When I was done with work I just went to bed and stayed there until around 2:00 when I woke up hungry.

That was pretty much my whole day.

I texted a bunch of people to share my list of lendable Kindle books, which I revised this week. I created the list a year and a half ago for people who might find something they’d like to read. Nobody every does, but it’s okay. I like making it available.

Sylvia and I texted about one of her sister who lives in Virginia — I asked if she was safe from the storm. JB asked if I’ve read War and Peace, which I have not. Sharon and I texted some stuff about how almost everyone looks great in a face mask. That was about it.

For breakfast I hit the McD’s drive-though and wolfed down an obscene amount of food. Obscene. For lunch, I made some instant mashed potatoes, and stirred in a can of corn and a can of green beans, plus some gorgonzola. Delicious. I wasn’t hungry for dinner and went to bed super early, but then woke up and ate the leftover potatoes and had a bag of chips. Not a very exciting culinary day but satisfying and overindulgent.

Didn’t go for a walk. Too tired.

If you want to connect, leave a comment. I’ll text or DM you. Same, if you want to borrow a book from my list. I put a lot of time into creating and editing it, as you can probably see.

Lockdown: Frabjous day

After roughly ten hours in bed Sunday night, perhaps seven or eight of them sleeping, I was up around 7:30 and raring to go. I’m kind of working on two stories at the same time. Made decent progress on them both and got hung up on them both right around the same time. This is not an ideal way to work but for some reason I couldn’t focus on one at a time.

Slowed way down around the lunch hour, just felt my energy drain out of me again, like it did late Friday and all day Saturday. I don’t know what this is. I’m not ruling out something emotional, but it feels different from the usual emotional muckiness. I wonder if I’m recovering from eating something bad.

I struggled to get to the end of my work day, but really what was the point? I was nearly useless except for responding to emails. When I took my usual hour for lunch and tried to take a nap, I realized all that sleep Sunday night left me not at all sleepy. So I just lingered in bed, sapped of strength and not sleeping. It was a bit disheartening.

When I was off the clock I just went to bed. Went into and came out of uneasy sleep for several hours, replaying the podcast I was listening to every time I woke up and realized I’d missed it. At around 11:00, I got up to take my weekly bite out of the Monster, after spending half an hour convincing myself it would be okay to let it slide for one week.

I did the strenuous, somewhat time-consuming second task in what’s still a three-task Monster routine. The strenuousness had me taking a lot of breaks, including one two-hour one in bed. Ugh. But at about 2:00 I got up and finished it, then did the other stupid tasks and finally wrapped it all up at about quarter to six in the morning.

I’m a little too tired to really reflect on this, but the Monster as a singular, daunting task is pretty much slain. There are a few severed limbs here and there that I will have to tend to here and there, but we’re talking an inconvenient 10 minutes at a time, a few times over the next month or so, not ninety minutes to three (or six, as it was today) hours every week. I really got started in the last week of April. Looking at my calendar, I count fifteen weeks without skipping a week, doing roughly the same amount of unpleasant, disgusting, strenuous work on this ridiculous thing.

And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

I can recite “Jabberwocky” by memory, in case you need someone to bring some poetry to your wedding ceremony. It just happened. I never set out to memorize it; I just know it.

So what next? The Monster was a cumulative problem that I’ll have to be vigilant against its rising up again. This means regularly tending to a chore unlike any chore you have to do wherever you live, I assure you. Like, I could give you a hundred — nay, five hundred — guesses and you’d never even get close. As long as I do that every few days, it’s not a big deal. And by my calculations I would have to neglect it for a whole month to accumulate what’s been one week’s worth of Monster-slaying activity during this lockdown.

Let’s not let it get to that again.

Here’s also what’s next. I have an even larger task, another cumulative thing I’m not nearly as embarrassed about, that I couldn’t really take care of until the Monster was out of the way. I just have a ton of decluttering I have to get done. It’s something I attack here and there, periodically, but not with the focused regularity it requires. Not with the devotion I’ve paid the Monster these past fifteen weeks.

So I guess I’m going to apply this kind of dedication to decluttering, reserving the same time every week with an early Monday morning deadline. I’m calling this stupid, annoying beast of a task the Beast, which I will begin next week. I think this week I’m going to pick up the loose ends of the Monster, as best I can, just to get as many remnants of it out of my way as possible.

Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!

I haven’t actually been to bed, like really put myself to bed, since I got up at 7:30 Monday morning. This is going to play hell with my brain, my work, and my overall Tuesday. I’m considering taking a vacation day for mental health, except I’m against deadlines on three things. Ugh.

Breakfast was a couple of tuna sandwiches. Lunch was instant ramen with a small mountain of soy sprouts and bok choi — grown-up bok choi, not baby bok choi. Each meal was slightly too much food, so I didn’t have dinner, and neither did I have any snacks. That no-energy thing I’ve been going through lately has come with a loss of appetite, too, which is probably as much in play here.

My coworker Stacia texted me a link to a New Yorker article about this copy-editing game. We have to play this, I responded. She said she knows. We talked a little about how we could use it as part of a group interview the next time we fill a spot in our department.

Jennifer sent me some info about this Nutella packaging I wondered aloud about on IG. Pretty interesting but also kind of dumb. I dislike Nutella now anyway.

Traded a few FB messenger thoughts with Jen, one of my NaNoWriMo buddies. Another friend on messenger sent me a link to a forum discussion we had about The Good Earth exactly fourteen years ago.

That was about it, but that was perhaps all I had capacity for. Here’s to better feeling Tuesday.

I didn’t go for a walk! Gr.

Reach out if you need some connection. I’ll send contact info.

Lockdown: Remembering the Ala Mo

Sunday was slightly better. I got up far too early, so I read the news for a bit and went back to bed for a few hours. Got up before noon (progress!), and rather than settle in with the crossword as usual, I just got stuff ready to take to the office. Got a few quick chores done first and then got to work at about 3:00.

Did some housekeeping stuff at my desk, including updating software on my work laptop and packing up some more stuff to bring home. On Ali’s last day at the office in February, she left me a dozen packs of Shin Ramyun, the most popular (at least in America) of the Korean instant ramen brands. I’d been keeping some in my desk for a few years specifically for Ali when she didn’t have anything for lunch, and she was paying me back even though I told her that was ridiculous. I have five left and brought them all home, along with a few other things from the snack/lunch drawer.

Then I walked to Ala Moana Center to get some hand sanitizer from Bath and Body Works. Man, that was stressful. It was stressful walking down Keeaumoku the six blocks or so. That’s a high-pedestrian-traffic bit of city, so I wore my mask and so did most of the others, but people were not careful to stay away from me. I stepped out into the road a few times just to leave enough space. And yeah, I was miffed.

It was more of the same at the mall. At least there were zero maskless people, but there were just so many people. Bath and Body Works did a nice job keeping us spaced out while waiting in line to get into the store, and there were few enough people inside that staying away from others wasn’t difficult, thank goodness. Props to Bath and Body Works.

I considered grabbing lunch at the Lanai, the lesser (in size) of the food courts at this enormous mall, and could have found a table spaced far enough away from others to do it, but all those people eating, with no masks? I couldn’t do it.

I hit Target on my way out, to grab a new fan and a box of cereal. Target was far more croweded than Bath and Body Works and it was pretty darn stressful in there too. That’s it; I’m done with trying to buy things in daylight hours, especially on weekends.

Walked to Zippy’s instead to grab lunch. Took it back to the office to eat while I read the Washington Post and Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Settled in at my desk to do some real work, and got out of there at about 8:00. I’d aimed for 7:00, but I kept thinking of things to do, stuff that’s just easier to take care of in the office.

The walking was good, although my knee was unhappy with me by the time I was done. It came out to about 7,000 steps, and if I’d been keeping an eye on the step count I think I’d have gone another 2,000, but oh well. Maybe I’ll find a way to build this into my Sundays: errand-running on foot while my computer updates in the cube. Just, dang. Maybe not Ala Moana or Keeaumoku Street.

I was enormously tired when I got home. Didn’t even fire up the computer and do any of my usual Sunday night things. Just brushed my teeth and was in bed by nine. Slept soundly (but without Darth Vader) for a couple of hours, then another couple of hours with Darth Vader. Woke up at about 2:00 really hungry, then took an hour of lying there thinking about eating. Got up and had (I guess) a very late dinner and dove back into bed at about 4:30. Slept a few more hours and got up at about 7:30.

There was some texting with Sharon about work stuff. Ali and I chatted extensively about a situation involving a social problem, and we talked quite a bit about books. Man, we never talked about reading when she was here, so this is a nice new facet to our friendship. I gave her books for Christmas each of the past two years, both of which she read (novels by Linda Sue Park), but we never talked about books other than that. Weird. Oh, she was very supportive of my starting Silent Book Club, but we had our first meeting the week after she moved. Sigh.

Breakfast was a bowl of instant ramen, with tatsoi and soy bean sprouts. Soy sprouts are fine, but they’ve got these enormous, nutty heads that I find distracting in most dishes. They’re fine as a side, but as an ingredient I find them bothersome. I know I’ve cooked with tatsoi before, although I can’t remember anything about it. I like the thinner, lighter-tasting stems, compared to tatsoi’s cousins bok choy and choy sum. I think they might be good in a raw salad. I’m thinking tatsoi with cold tofu cubes, halved grape tomatoes, and very thin slices of red onion, maybe with chopped parsley and that’s it. Or maybe parsley is too strong for the tatsoi. Anyway, I have half a bunch left and look forward to having fun with it.

Lunch from Zippy’s was chicken katsu. One of their more reliable dishes. The very late dinner in the middle of the night was a bowl of cereal. There was a slice of custard pie in there somewhere, too, I think right before I brushed my teeth to go to bed.

Neither a notable nor memorable day, but I’m chronicling them all. And here is one.

You’re likely tired of my offering, but I’m also doing this every day (that I can think of it) because I know that without a certain amount of connecting with friends in ways I’m comfortable, I’d be teetering on the edge if not tilted over it by now. If you need someone to connect with in this bizarre, maddening, frustrating season, hit me up in comments. I got you.