Phase doubt

I think I can say I’m over Crush Girl, which is not to claim I’ve no feelings anymore. I would still like to get to be friends with her outside the one context in which we’re acquainted, and I still ache once or twice a day, but the hollowness doesn’t linger. Although I’m still not sleeping at night (except for last night which was wonderful), it’s for specific reasons that have nothing to do with her.

The bruises, which I still carry, had a lot to do with the self-examination I had to give myself. I came up wanting, big time, and there’s stuff I need to work on for sure. I lived. I still loathe myself, but that’s pretty much a constant state lately so whatever.


second-best album of the year so far

The new Opeth album is a thing of beauty. While it’s definitely not for everyone (some metalheads have tired of this phase of Opeth’s artistic arc), a lot of people who love music and think they know what metal sounds like would hear something they didn’t think existed. I don’t know if I can rate it fairly just yet, because the band released a regular version (with lyrics sung in Swedish) and an English version because if you want to be seriously profitable in metal you need to sing in English, a fact that annoys me but works in my favor, so I’m not complaining. I’ve only listened to the English version so far. Once I get a nice sense of the lyrical intentions, I’ll switch to Swedish and see if I hear something different.

I’ve tried my best to keep track of everything new I listen to this year, so my best-of list doesn’t have to wait until April or someday as it always does. I don’t have the list with me here, so I’ll wing this. My ten best metal albums of the year so far are probably

  1. Dream Theater, Distance over Time
  2. Opeth, In Cauda Venenum
  3. Soen, Lotus
  4. Fallujah, Undying Light
  5. Tool, Fear Inoculum
  6. Soilwork, Verkligheten
  7. Devin Townsend, Empath
  8. Evergrey, The Atlantic
  9. Children of Bodom, Hexed
  10. Avantasia, Moonglow

I kind of had to reach for the last three, not that they aren’t good. They’re just clearly not as good as the top four. One of my favorites, Vanden Plas, is releasing a new album the first of November, and I’m maybe keeping that number 5 spot warm for it.


Okie dokie. Friday 5 while I have this lovely Oreo McFlurry before heading to bed.

  1. What were you recently sure of, but are now having doubts about?
    I need to preface this (just in case) by saying I love where I work and I love my job, and I think anyone in the office who pays attention wouldn’t question either assertion. Still, I am having a heck of a trying couple of weeks at work, where two coworkers I’m very fond of had their positions terminated and several others have moved on. Six since September 13; sixteen since early July. It’s depressing the heck out of me, so I think it’s understandable that I’m beginning to doubt I’ll feel very much joy at work in the near future, if ever again. It’s fine. Loving the work and loving the people is enough without the joy. Still, that’s pretty dang sad.
  2. What’s something you’d like to see this weekend but probably won’t?
    Clear skies, pleasant tradewinds, a calm sea, and cool evening temperatures. My work-related depression has given me serious sleep problems, which means I’ve been unable to get up early enough to hit the beach in the mornings, and if you read this space with any regularity, you know how miserable that is. I just need two mornings in the next three to be swimmer-friendly and I think it’ll be a good weekend, however many or few points the Raiders beat the Packers by.
  3. When were your doubts pleasantly verified?
    This is going way back, but it popped into my head today while thinking about a friend who recently got engaged. I kinda doubt it’s going to work out that way, but of course I can’t say that to anyone, because what a jerk I am for even thinking of it. When R was engaged to Gregg, she packed up her stuff and moved to San Francisco to be with him while they figured out how it was going to happen. I was as sad as I’ve ever been in my life but I was pretty doubtful they would actually get married. They didn’t. Similarly, my friend Traci quit her teaching position and was all set to go to seminary, but I quietly told a couple of friends I just didn’t see it happening. I may have told Traci herself. Then she met Artoo and got engaged and seminary was off. I think in both cases, my not believing in my very close friends was some kind of failing, even though I was proven to be right. I’m telling you, you don’t want to tell me you’re about to make big plans for your future because I’m very likely not to believe it’s going down. What a jerk.
  4. When were your doubts pleasantly disproven?
    Almost every time I have to do something social with my closer friends. I’m super doubtful I’m going to have a good time, and I usually try up to the last minute to think of some excuse not to participate, but then I do and it turns out fun. Most recently I went to a Japanese whisky tasting with Jennifer, and darn it if it wasn’t really fun and super educational. I didn’t buy anything, but I got some good gift ideas for my dad and sister.
  5. What’s something you have absolutely no doubts about?
    I have lamented this aloud to my closest friends (and nearby strangers) for more than ten years: one of the things I miss most about being young is being totally sure I’m right about stuff. I was wrong most of the time, in retrospect, but I was sure I was right, and I miss that certainty. Now I’m fifty, and I am certain about nothing. I have doubts about everything. I’m probably right more often than I was in my youth, but the feeling of being that sure? I don’t think I’ll ever feel that again.

And down the road, I see the fog roll in.

I saw a creature, naked, bestial

My favorite boba spot is closing in the middle of this week. I haven’t been coming here as much since we moved offices, even though the new office is actually closer. The spot is along the bus line home from the old office, and four blocks (or so) out of my way driving home from the new office.

However, they claim they’re reopening in the Liliha area, which is pretty much the neighborhood just over from mine — I drive through it every day on my to and from work. One thing that’s kept me from this spot most nights is that I’d rather have boba close to home after work, so this could be a nice development, assuming there’s parking. Get out of the office, drive home for dinner, then hop back a little way to get boba.

I asked the cutie working the register if she knows where the new spot is going to be, explaining that I live in the area. She said she wasn’t sure, and that if I keep an eye on their social media that’s where they’d announce it. I asked her if they didn’t know, or if they knew but just weren’t telling people. She laughed and said they weren’t telling people. Of course.

If they’re being honest and actually mean Liliha (and not, say, Nuuanu), I can think of a few places it could go, and one of them is right across the street from Grace’s house, which would also be kind of cool. I hope it’s open as late as this location (until 11 on weeknights and 12 on weekends) but knowing the area, it almost surely won’t be.

I’ve found that the best thing about the massive proliferation of boba spots in this town is that when you identify the best unique thing each spot offers, you think of each differently for different moods or occasions, and they don’t blur into each other. The spot I favor makes this ginger black milk tea that’s amazing. A couple of other spots in town make it but those places don’t even come close to this one.

For a time a couple of years ago, they were always out of it when I asked. We’re talking six or eight months. Disappointed, I once accused them of not intending to bring it back.

The cutie behind the counter (a different cutie) explained to me that they get their ginger from China and it takes a long time to get here!

The boba girls all knew it was my drink. One day when I came in and ordered something else, the boba girl said, “You know we have the ginger again?”

It was worth waiting for, I tell you. Here’s hoping the new spot will also be worth waiting for. I’m trying not to hold my breath, but I will be keeping an eye on the social media.


The concert scene really slowed down after the early spring. Suddenly, though, a whole bunch of bands I’d like to see have been announced. Black Flag is coming up in a few days, Hanson was last weekend, the Raconteurs (!) are playing the Republik next month, and Jason Isbell is playing the concert hall in January. I’m not as liquid nowadays as I was, so I’m actually having to be choosy, and right now I can’t make up my mind.

I already have tickets (plural) to see Patton Oswalt the weekend of my birthday. I bought the tickets when I still thought Crush Girl and I could be a thing, before the friendzoning, figuring if that never worked out it wouldn’t be difficult to find someone to come along. It’s a standup comedian — I could easily just bring a guy friend if I ran out of girl friends to ask.

One of my friends has been texting me to ask if I’m going to Black Flag — she only wants to go if someone she knows is going too. While I was trying to decide, they announced the Raconteurs so of course she’s going to that, probably with her husband, so now my participation isn’t needed.

I’m almost certainly not going to the Raconteurs because tickets are a little steeper than I’m willing to pay for that show. I saw Jack White when he did a show here a few years ago (the same friend was also at that show, on the other side of the arena) and it was pretty good. I just have to be pickier, and I’m leaning toward Jason Isbell.


Wednesday night I saw the Metallica movie, an edited film of the band’s performance with the San Francisco Symphony in September. It was really good, although a little self-indulgent, a vibe I didn’t pick up from the CD recording of the original show with the symphony twenty years ago. I’m happy to look the other way on the self-indulgence. The band is still, all these years later, the biggest-selling live band in America, so they deserve some indulgence.

I enjoyed it so much I came off the fence on the Slayer movie next month. Slayer’s supposedly calling it a day after the current tour, so what the heck; I might as well.


This past summer, something at work really, really got me angry and I didn’t tell anyone about it, but a friend in the office says everyone knew I was pissed, even if they didn’t know what I was pissed about. They couldn’t have, because it was all happening in email between me and a few people in my department.

I don’t know why, but I always thought I was good about keeping my feelings to myself when I was determined to. But this coworker said no, when I’m mad it “oozes out” of me, a description I really liked. I’m picturing what I must have looked like during my four-hour CPR training that day if everyone else in the room (including the instructor, according to my friend) could see anger oozing out of me. I’d like to have seen it.

I mention this because I’ve been really down about something at work this week, something everyone knows about. Although I’ve heard from a few people that they didn’t think it was handled well, nobody seems to be as personally upset as I am, which puzzles me a little. I swear I must be oozing out of every pore.

So I stayed in bed all morning and didn’t drag myself to the office until somewhere around 2. We’ve had terrible rain this week, which means I can’t go swimming unless I want to soak up all that runoff. Yick.

That threw off my Saturday morning game, but sleeping in was really what I needed. I didn’t get anything on my list done at the office today. I did spend a few hours thinking about this thing I’m upset about, and about possible ways of (a) dealing with it now and (b) defending myself against this kind of being upset the next time it happens.

Yeah. I actually had a little cry about it, because it seemed the solution is just to stick to my job, and stop directing my energies at trying to encourage camaraderie and goodwill. I don’t want to be specific about what I do toward trying to help others feel as good about working here as I feel about it, because honestly it’s embarrassing and if I spelled it out, you’d think what I really need is a girlfriend or a dog or something, on whom I could direct all this energy and time.

Or a classroom full of teenagers, if I’m being honest.

But as I made a specific action plan for reining in my energies so I could just do my freaking job, I realized that although I could do it, I would be even unhappier than I am now. I’d rather try and fail, and have my ideals smooshed down, than not try. The trying makes me happy. The failure is just an accepted part of the mission.

I am going to cut back on a few things, though, because one must, every so often. I’ve been doing some fill-in work at the reception desk, and I’ve already asked that they call me only when they’ve gone through the list first, at least until sometime next month. And we’re doing our annual Halloween thing at the end of the month. I’m going to sit this one out.

My bitter heart needs some downtime.


In the Desert
by Stephen Crane

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, “Is it good, friend?”
“It is bitter—bitter,” he answered;

“But I like it
“Because it is bitter,
“And because it is my heart.”


You and me, naked, bestial creature.


Okay here’s the Friday 5.

  1. What’s something (besides an electronic device) for which you spent extra money on a protective case?
    When I wrote this question I was thinking about this cool case I bought for my wireless mechanical keyboard. Someone online recommended this hard case meant to carry around a small Akai electronic keyboard, but it’s the perfect (perfect!) size for this computer keyboard too, and it only cost thirteen bucks. I can’t tell you how pleased I am with it. Alas, it doesn’t answer the question because it houses something electronic, which means I have to go way back to maybe last fall, when I bought a plastic pencil case for all the pens I use for my bullet journal. I’ve put the BuJo on hold for now, but I still carry that pencil box around with me, and I still take it out of my bag and put it on my desk when I come in to work every morning.
  2. What product’s packaging do you find excessive or inadequate?
    In general, I think Amazon’s packaging gets out of hand quite often. Specifically, I’m thinking of these individual snack packs of roasted peanuts I have delivered to the office every two weeks. The packs of peanuts come 24 to a box, and on Amazon you buy them in sets of two boxes. The two boxes come in one box, and that box is packed into an Amazon box, along with those inflatable plastic packing bubbles (not bubble-wrap, but that other stuff). It’s incredibly wasteful.
  3. What are your preferences for food storage containers?
    Okay, I really like those Corningware microwavable things with the rubber lids, but those are expensive(ish) and far too often they sit somewhere unwashed for so long they get gross. I’ve lost some good food containers this way. So for the past few years (since I got out of the classroom, come to think of it), I pack food in disposable Gladware and Ziploc containers. At work, I spoon stuff into a microwaveable bowl (I don’t like microwaving stuff in plastic) and while it’s heating up, I wash the containers in the sink. I can’t tell you how much happier this has made me. On the rare occasion where I don’t get to wash stuff before I bring it home, I usually take care of it at home, but if I forget to and it gets gross, it’s not as heartbreaking to toss it.
  4. This coming week, what would you like to be shielded from?
    It’s been warm and muggy as heck. I’d like to be shielded from humidity, please.
  5. What’s something interesting you’re keeping in a plastic storage box in your home?
    I have a million plastic storage boxes in my house, since the day I committed to never storing things in cardboard boxes. Maybe the most unexpected thing is a small plastic box with my cross-stitching stuff in it. 🙂

Enough with the Coughs (and a Friday 5)

I’ve been sick in bed for the past three days. I’m rather sure it’s just a cold, but “just a cold” hardly exists anymore in my old age. Day one was just an overall tiredness and lack of energy, followed by sniffling and coughing. Day two was deep coughing and chest congestion plus a ragged-sounding voice. Day three (today) was less congestion and less coughing. My stomach aches from the coughing.

I’ve just been keeping up with the work lately, so the three days away from my desk are going to hurt. I didn’t have any hard deadlines, but where I wasn’t in a hurry on most things before, I’m in a hurry now. Being ill sucks.

bates and anna

I could probably have gone in today, but I think the coughing would have disturbed people, not just for the noise but for the suspicion I might be contagious, which I think I probably was. I feel pretty sure I’m not contagious now, since I’m not feeling yucky anymore. I’m even at a boba cafe typing this now, something I wouldn’t have done (out of consideration for others) yesterday.

I think two others in my department were out sick today, so something might be biting us all right in the productivity. I hope the others didn’t get it from me, and I’m wondering where I picked it up.

Æon

I finished season one of Downton Abbey. What a finish. And yeah, Mary is no longer in my list of favorites. Now it’s just Anna, Bates, and maybe Sybil.

Years of observing R and her little sister taught me not to judge women based on the way they interact with their sisters. I swear R was a different person when her sister was around. Sometimes their interactions were downright infantile, something neither of them would ever be called by people who didn’t know them in the context of family.

Mary’s silly contests with her younger sister Edith go beyond mere communication, though. They were just suuuuuper mean, and I don’t like it. Meanwhile, Anna and Bates are good and noble, far nobler than the nobles they wait upon.

I’m concurrently going through Aeon Flux (the animated series, not the Charlize Theron film, although I’ve got that queued up next). I have nothing to say about it now, but I think I will when I’m done, if for no other reason than to remind myself of what I saw, so that years from now I’m not tempted to see it again because I’ve forgotten everything.

a better read than you might think

I’m reading this great book called A History of Heavy Metal by Andrew O’Neil. The author is apparently a stand-up comic, and the history is apparently part of a popular stage routine. I’ve decided not to look up any of the performances of it so they don’t influence my reading.

It’s very funny. And quite literate, and while not exactly scholarly, it’s well researched. I know a lot about the history of this form of music, but he’s filling in a lot of holes in my knowledge, and I’m taking some really good notes for listening later. The casual fan might find it interesting, but anyone less interested in the music than that probably won’t. Which is too bad, because it’s a fascinating history full of great music.

I expect he’ll go into it more later (I’m about a third of the way through), but in the intro, he touches on the long hair and the denim-and-leather attire favored by heavy metal performers and fans. It has a lot to do with identity, not with the music but with others who like the music. O’Neil explains that there’s something about the outsider status of the music and the people who love it that draws them to the hair and clothing.

Someone at work asked me about the long hair recently, and the best I could come up with was, “I just like the way I feel when my hair is long.” I can’t explain it. I know I look ridiculous, especially at my advanced age. I look a lot better with short hair. I might even look better shiny bald (I’ve been there a few times in my life and have photos to prove it). But nothing I’ve done with my hair (and I’ve done a lot of things) makes me feel better than the way I feel when it’s long.

That outsider identity thing? I think that nails it. I need to think about this, very deliberately, since my hair is thinning and my hairline is receding at an alarming rate.

It’s just hair, and I’ll be completely fine with or without it, but dang it. There are few things in life that make me feel good about myself, and this stupid hair is one, as ridiculous as it sounds, and as ridiculous as it makes me look.

Frick.


I wasn’t planning on doing the Friday 5 this evening, but I have 15 minutes before this boba spot closes so maybe I’ll attempt to get it done in this small window.

  1. When did you last make an adjustment to your daily getting-ready routine?
    Okay, this is going to sound psycho, but a few weeks ago, every day of the working week, I left the house and about a block from home, turned around to check my front door. Every day! I don’t know what’s happened to my sense of getting things done with details taken care of, but it’s driving me insane. So now, unintentionally, almost every morning, I load up the car, turn the ignition, then turn it off and hop out to check the door. I can’t seem to get over it most days, although once in a while, I do walk back to the door before getting into my car. That second check has become compulsive, though. Ugh!
  2. When did you last try a new personal hygiene product?
    I switched to some variety of Herbal Essences shampoo and conditioner recently, and I really like what they do to my hair. I should probably take a photo so I know what to look for next time. For ten years or so, I’ve almost always gone with a two-in-one of various brands, but lately they’ve left my scalp feeling weird.
  3. What food or drink item have you most recently added to your regular consumption?
    I recently went back to oatmeal as my regular breakfast, only now I’m doing overnight oats in the fridge. They taste best with some kind of milk, or some kind of milk alternative, so I’ve brought back almond milk as a pantry staple. I’d rather have oat milk, and I may switch to that soon. Costco has almond milk at a really good price, though, and that may be the determining factor.
  4. What’s a brand-named product you recently abandoned your loyalty to?
    I don’t know if this counts, but because of budget constraints, I recently switched from bottles of Diet Pepsi, picked up at the 7-Eleven near the office on my way to work, to the fountain Diet Pepsi, which is cheaper. Although it doesn’t taste as good, it’s good enough, and I can suck on ice cubes throughout the morning when I’ve consumed the Double Gulp (that’s half a gallon of soda, with no ice, but I put a LOT of ice in it).
  5. What item in your wardrobe have you recently moved out of the regular rotation?
    When Ryan died, I bought a pair of Jams beach shorts to wear to a memorial gathering for some of his friends — it was separate from the services and ceremonies his family organized. Ryan was known for wearing loud shorts whenever he wasn’t at work. A whole bunch of us bought Jams for the occasion (when I went to the Jams store to buy mine, the store clerk asked if it was for Ryan’s memorial). Since the memorial, I’ve only worn them around the house, but now they’re worn out beyond even that. I’m toying with the idea of buying a new pair.

I will spend my life happily as the butt of others’ jokes

The open letter to Crush Girl thing is idiotic, and I knew it as soon as I re-read my work after posting it. It changes the entire tone of this journal, so of course I’m not doing it. Besides, is there anything to say in this space I haven’t said already, besides stuff I would never put here? No. And I just asked myself a rhetorical question, something I kind of despise.

anna

Suzanne and Julie, two friends I made when I worked for the engineering firm, invited me to see the Downton Abbey movie the weekend before last. I’d never seen the TV series but I needed to write a film review for our newsletter at the office. It seemed like a fun idea to review the film this way.

mary

Honestly, how could I ever have thought I might not like it? I’m already a sucker for a good costume drama, and Downtown Abbey is a very good costume drama. The entire series streams free via Amazon Prime. I had the first season downloaded to my phone before day’s end.

I’m five episodes in and it’s great. Hooked. Big-time.

sybil

Turns out Crush Girl is a big Downton fan (I guess I should have known), which would be super super cool if we could be real-life friends. We’re not there yet. I’m happy it’s given us something new to talk about, though. She even guessed who my favorite characters are after a couple of episodes.

The favorite characters thing is very fluid. I only have the movie and the first few episodes to go on, but it’s Bates among the men and either Anna or Mary among the women, so far. Mary is really nice in the movie but not so nice in season one. If she doesn’t start to be more like Mary in the movie, I’m going to be all-in on Anna.

Crush Girl thinks I’ll like Sybil. Sybil definitely caught my attention. Five episodes into season one, I can see why anyone would guess I’d favor Sybil. She’s a bit of a rebel, isn’t she?

Anna is so pretty, though. This isn’t everything in my favoring a character (I mean, Sister Ingalls is my favorite in Orange is the New Black), but it’s not nothing either.

More about Downton when I get through season one, which I imagine will be around midweek. It’s only seven episodes.

Friday 5: For Ric and Ben

From here.

  1. Where did you go the first time you drove by yourself?
    My mom managed a Japanese restaurant a mile or so from the house. I’m pretty sure the first time I drove anywhere by myself was bringing the car back from dropping her off at work. It was meant to be practice. Drive mom there, then drive home alone. A slightly less (but still) boring alternate answer: the first time I drove my own vehicle alone the first time, my dad woke me up one Saturday morning and tossed me the keys to the truck and said, “Learn to drive it!” It was a stick, and I’d been having slight difficulty learning to really drive it while he was riding shotgun. He knew it, too. So he told me to take it out and learn to drive it on my own. It was actually kind of brilliant because I knew what I needed to work on. I drove into Waimalu Valley where I found a small rise, then worked the clutch and gas back and forth, pulling up the rise, coasting backward back down it, and holding steady midway up. Then I took it into town and drove it up Nuuanu Avenue a few times. I was going to have to take my sister to school, and that was the main hill between home and her school. I pretty much had it down pretty quickly, so then I just drove around for the fun of it.
  2. Who was the first non-family non-instructor you drove anywhere, and where did you go?
    In that first drive in the truck, I picked my friend Colleen up, and we cruised around Makiki for an hour or so. It was fun. It’s still fun. I love driving.
  3. What’s the dumbest thing you’ve done behind the wheel?
    I’ve done some pretty stupid things behind the wheel, but the dumbest has to be driving without my glasses. I had a pair of novelty glasses and I thought it would be funny to pick up a friend while wearing them. Two blocks from his family’s house in military housing, I pulled over and put the novelty glasses on, putting my prescription glasses in the glove compartment. Stupid stupid stupid! If I’d done it to impress a girl, that would have been one thing, but this was just some guy I offered a ride to. We were on our way to meet a some other computer nerds at some computer nerd gathering somewhere.
  4. What’s the nicest drive you’ve ever taken?
    Near the end of my second-to-last semester in Hilo, Captain Daveman, Tasha, Rosanne, and I drove to Kona for a picnic. I’d never been! We took Tasha’s cute little Mazda two-door hatch. Dave drove out, we had a great time, and I drove back. It was dark coming back, and we were all aglow from the nice day. Some of us slept. Rosanne rode shotgun, and we sang along to whatever was playing on Tasha’s stereo. I would have confessed my love for Rosanne that night if she’d pressed me, whether or not I was actually in love with her (I wasn’t). We were all feeling so good I probably would have confessed my love for everyone in the world, but it would have been most true of — well, R of course, but Rosanne would have been second. Visually, it was a far better drive going out there. But sometimes the nicest drives don’t involve scenery at all. I’ve taken lovely drives in California, Virginia, and Tennessee. I can’t think of one that compares to that long, starry, dark drive from Kona back to Hilo.
  5. Who’s the worst driver you know?
    Speaking of driving in Virginia, I was visiting JB and his soon-to-be wife in Richmond. We went to DC to pick up a rental van for some people flying in for the wedding, taking the day also to see the Orioles host the Mariners in Camden Yards. It was the summer Cal Ripken would break Lou Gehrig’s ironman record for consecutive games played. We’d taken the fiance’s car up (of course I know her name but since I’m about to talk smack about her I’m keeping it off Google; we’re friends now after all these years but still), but JB drove the van back, and asked me to ride shotgun with the fiance to help her stay up. Turns out the fiance doesn’t have depth perception and drives RIGHT UP ON THE CAR IN FRONT OF HER. At freeway speeds in the dark of night down through major construction. I have never been so scared with someone else behind the wheel. That ride from DC back to Richmond was incredibly long, and when we finally (miraculously) pulled into the driveway, I got out of the car and kissed the ground. Yes I did. Then JB came over and whispered, “Forgot to warn you she’s the worse driver ever.”

I’ve been thinking about how Crush Girl might be reading this, and I’m sliiiightly self-conscious now. Trying not to think about it, but I think sometimes this week I’ll write an open letter to her in this space, just in case she is. Although really, after what I’ve already written, I’m not sure I have much more to say.

Mochi Girl used to read this space, in the time leading up to our near-miss and for some time after. Rosanne has also read it, leaving comments here and there (I haven’t written about it here but Rosanne was an exchange student at UH Hilo and we had a little bit of a fling for two days before she went back). I don’t think K ever read it, but S was at least aware of it. R was aware of it from day one but I think she chose never to read it as a matter of principal. And of course Mr. HBA (that’s Mr. R) has read it. I’ve been told he was pretty pissed about some of the things I’ve written. I don’t apologize for expressing myself and I take nothing back, but I do understand if the man thinks I unfairly wrote bad things about him in a public space.


I can’t point to a specific day when it was over, but I realized this week that I’ve been out of the Crush-Girl-initiated depression. I also didn’t realize until this week how deeply I was in it.

I don’t use this word depression lightly. I know what it means. And while I don’t have a diagnosis, a college professor pretty much convinced me I probably have a low-grade version of it, and conversations with friends who have been diagnosed reinforce my belief. It’s why I write so much about the darkness. Whatever it is, it takes me into these really dark spaces; thankfully never truly incapacitating, but nearly.

I’m not struggling to get out of bed and look at the world anymore, and it was a pretty solid month and a half of it. I’m still sad, of course. The Crush Girl stuff is rough ground, and I half wish I’d never even gone there, because now all the normal things in my life feel quite a bit lamer.

Someone I know works in an office with a terrificly beautiful view, and she feels lonely there. Her coworkers work across town, and she hasn’t bonded yet with the people in her office space.

“I have this amazing view and nobody to share it with,” she said to me one day recently.

I almost said, “Welcome to my whole life!” but I resisted. I don’t have to make every conversation about me, despite popular belief.

At least the friend has a family and kids. She’s only lonely at work! Haha.

Ha. Ha.

Anyway yeah. Still sad. But not stay-in-bed-for-sixteen-hours miserable. Someone at work commented on it. She said I seem to have returned to my former self. I wouldn’t go that far, but I appreciate the observation, the sentiment, and the concern.

Bye Bye Love

I’m not going to pretend I was the biggest fan of the Cars, or that I was into them from the beginning. Like anyone else who grew up when I did, they were a steady presence in my life, not a band I sought but neither a band I’d change the station on. I couldn’t really change the station anyway, because we had one real rock station in town, and through most of middle and high school that’s all I wanted to listen to.

By the time Heartbeat City came out at the end of my ninth-grade year (I’m tellling you, 1984 is the greatest music year ever), I was well-versed in the FM radio Cars canon. I didn’t care for “You Might Think,” the lead single from Heartbeat City, but I dug the next song, “Magic” (“Uh-oh it’s magic when I’m with you…”), and then I reeeeeeally disliked “Drive.” I still think it’s the worst song they ever recorded.

But then DC, my best female friend in school most of those years, bought Heartbeat City for me on cassette for my birthday, more than six months after its release, and I still have that thing. Listened to the heck out of it, almost always fast-forwarding over “Drive” but loving the album, in no small part because it was a gift from DC, whose life I was out of for a very long time while she raised two daughters, but who is an empty-nester and therefore more available for hanging out. As recently as last year, she called me her best guy friend.

She doesn’t even remember giving me the album, which is fine with me (she also gave me my first Rush album without even knowing anything about Rush; she just knew I liked them and didn’t have any of their albums, so she got me Moving Pictures).

When Captain Daveman, my roomie in Hilo, got married to Tasha (whom I knew before I knew Dave) and I was in the wedding party, he asked me what song they should use as the recessional. This was the day of the rehearsal, so we were short on time and were limited to something in his collection or something we could get at a record store in Hilo. Apparently Tasha was letting him choose the escape song, as long as she was okay with his choice.

My first response was the very obscure “Your Love is Like a Tire Iron” by Ted Nugent, but I was pretty sure we wouldn’t be able to chase that one down (yeah, that’s why we didn’t go with it), but then I said, “You know, if it were my wedding and I were given this choice, I would really, really want some rock and roll in the ceremony somewhere.”

Dave agreed with the sentiment, and my next suggestion, the Cars’ “Good Times Roll,” was met with strong consideration.

I wasn’t just suggesting it because of its theme. The song’s intro is just so good, so full of anticipation for a great, great song. If you know the song, that intro really gets you up. And it’s so celebratory.

It was ultimately rejected in favor of another of my suggestions, “Linus and Lucy” as played by the Vince Guaraldi trio. Dave and I were big Peanuts fans, and that worked okay too, but I filed “Good Times Roll” away as an idea for my own wedding someday. Little did I know I’d be 50 and still keeping that idea alive.

Then about ten years ago, I bought that first Cars album (digitally). What a great album. I couldn’t believe it. Six of nine tracks were part of that rock-radio canon. How cool is it to buy an album and already really really know two thirds of it? The remaining three tracks are pretty great too.

And so I’ll say what everyone has already said in their eulogies. Nobody sounded like Ric Ocasek or the Cars. They had a flair for melody without sounding like a pop group. They shimmered, squeaked, wailed, warbled, and created their own thing. I think it’s impossible to categorize them, though you’d have to mention new wave as part of the mix, but they were such a rock band.

Ric Ocasek’s death, for people of a certain age, is the death of a steady part of our childhoods, a piece of the soundtrack of our first dates, first breakups, and most lasting friendships. I’m so grateful that my memories of the Cars are anchored mostly by my friendships with DC and Captain Daveman, and not some crush or girlfriend. Although that would have been pretty cool too.

My top 10 Cars songs in order.

  1. You’re All I’ve Got Tonight
  2. My Best Friend’s Girl
  3. Good Times Roll
  4. Candy-O
  5. Dangerous Type
  6. Bye Bye Love
  7. Hello Again
  8. Magic
  9. Sad Song
  10. Blue Tip

I did a stupid thing the other day. Crush Girl and I were talking about this friend of mine, and I sent her to a link of this friend’s blog. Then (honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking), I messaged her: “Oh look. He mentions me halfway down the page.”

Dude hasn’t updated his blog since 2011, and halfway down the page, he mentions me as the keeper of the Friday 5, linking it with the old URL. The occasion was Ryan’s death earlier in the week, something I still haven’t written about here.

It was a stupid thing to do because although that’s a dead link, if she wanted to she could easily track down the existing Friday 5, which of course links here, where I’ve done all this writing about her. I’m a little nervous about it, honestly.

Although really, just Googling me would bring her right here as well, in which case this is all moot.

I don’t think I’ve written anything here I’m ashamed of, although perhaps the intensity of my disappointment and depression is not the best message for someone I’m trying to get to know in the friendzone.

I decided while I typed this that I’m not going to worry about it. There are lines within which I write this stuff anyway, and I’d be an idiot to write anything I really didn’t want people to look at. I just hope it doesn’t negatively affect our growing friendship.

We’re sliding into a casual comfort, a wee bit of that real-world friendship I’ve wanted. Maybe Jocelyn is right, and friendzoning makes actual friendship easier.

I admit it still aches, especially on days when she looks especially nice. Yet in exchange for that aching, I get to interact with her about some good stuff. Nothing especially intimate or personal, but more than smalltalk for sure, and I’m grateful for that too. I’m just focusing on trying to be a good friend, something I can certainly improve on. But more about that later.


Speaking of the Friday 5, here we go. This week, it’s Telltale Tales

  1. What’s a story you really like from your country’s (or ethnicity’s) folklore?
    For the United States half of me, I’ve always been especially fond of the stories of Paul Bunyan, influenced mostly by the Disney cartoon(s) about him. I became aware some time later in my childhood of Joe Magarac, the mythical steelworker, and I’ll put him just a notch below Paul Bunyan.

    For the Japanese half of me, it’s pretty tough to beat Urashima Taro. CliffsNotes version: The young Taro, something of a loner in his fishing village, rescues a sea turtle from abuse by other boys. The turtle asks him to climb on his back; he’d like to reward Taro for saving him. He takes Taro beneath the sea to the Dragon Palace, where he meets the princess. They spend a few days laughing, playing, and exploring. She asks him to stay. He’s worried about his mother and grandmother who depend on him. Sadly, he says he’s got to go back. The princess gives him a box in whose lid is carved the kanji for the four seasons. She tells him not to open it; it’s just to remind him of her. When he gets back home, nothing looks the same, and he can’t find his mother or grandmother, and nobody knows him. He figures out he’s been gone for more than a hundred years. In an act of — actually I don’t know why he does it — he opens the box, which I guess contains all those seasons he missed, because he instantly turns into a very very old man. The stories of my people are very sad.
  2. What movie version of a fairy tale do you especially like?
    What’s a better fairy-tale inspired movie than Tangled? That film is beautiful. Beauty and the Beast is a far better film but I don’t think that’s a fairy tale, is it?
  3. Some fables tell the story of how something came to be (for example, Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears). What’s a fable you especially like in this vein?
    A story every child in Hawaii is familiar with: the story of the Naupaka, which grows near the ocean and up in the mountains, and bears a strange-looking half flower. If you put halves of the ocean flowers together, they don’t look right, and neither do two halves of the mountain flowers. To get the right look, you have to take an ocean flower and match it with a mountain flower. Separated lovers. There are a few versions of the story out there.
  4. Some fables have a moral attached to the end (for example, The Boy Who Cried Wolf). What fable in this vein is especially applicable to your life?
    I was going to share the story of the rabbit in the moon (in Japan, they see a rabbit, not a man), but someone beat me to it. So instead, I offer the Fox and the Grapes, from which we get our “sour grapes” expression. I think it’s a terrible moral, but have I considered it in my trying to recover from Crush Girl’s friendzoning me? I certainly have. It won’t stick, though! She’s too nice. I’ve sorta done the reverse lately: convinced myself that I’m pretty horrible boyfriend material in my current state. It didn’t take much convincing, and it mostly works. Better not to get her involved with the likes of me.
  5. If you got together with your high-school friends, what’s a story they might retell about you?
    At our twenty-year reunion (a million years ago), several female classmates told stories about how I was the first guy who spoke to them when they were new. Because of course I was. You can believe there were no guys telling that story. One classmate, Elise, says that on her first day, I walked up to her with my Walkman headphones on, but the phones weren’t plugged into my Walkman. They were plugged into an apple. Apple the fruit, not the (still to be invented) iPod. I remember doing that. I don’t remember the next part she told, that I approached the new girl, took off my headphones, and asked her if she wanted to listen. Haha. What a terrible, incurable flirt. If she had said yes, I’m sure we’d have been married and divorced by now.

    Elise was super cute though. I regret nothing.

Friday 5: dd/mm/yyyy

I’m a week late with this one but of course I couldn’t let it go without giving it a shot. Even knowing the likelihood someone will click to watch any of these videos is extremely slim. If this online journal were audience-driven and not communicator-driven, pretty much none of the content over 15 years would exist.

What’s a good song with a time of day in its title?

I’m going with “2 Minutes to Midnight,” one of my top 5 Iron Maiden songs.

What’s a good song with a day of the week in its title?

Let’s list a few great ones first:

  • “Monday Morning” by Fleetwood Mac
  • “I Don’t Like Mondays” by the Boomtown Rats
  • “Blue Monday” by New Order
  • “Tuesday” by Five for Fighting
  • “Tuesday’s Child” by Steven Curtis Chapman
  • “Friday I’m in Love” by the Cure
  • “Friday” by Rebecca Black
  • “Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting” by Elton John
  • “Lookin’ for the Heart of Saturday Night” by Tom Waits (but covered better by Shawn Colvin)
  • “I Scream Sunday” by One Bad Pig

But the best is probably “Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2. This video is from the incredible Live Aid performance.

What’s a good song with a month in its title?

“September Morn” by Neil Diamond is a good one (I mean that with no irony), but how about “December” by Collective Soul? And no, you’ll not get a “November Rain” by Guns n’ Roses out of me, although I don’t dislike the song as I once did. They played it when I saw them last January and it was pretty dang good.

What’s a good song with a year in its title?

Tempted to go with “Summer of ’69” by Bryan Adams since that’s the year I was born, but “1974” by Amy Grant is one of her three best songs.

What’s a good song with the word “time” in its title?

Like everyone else, I have a million songs in my iTunes library whose titles contain this word. My favorite group all through intermediate and high school was Styx, and of course I still have a super-soft spot for them in my heart. My favorite album of theirs, Paradise Theater, has two hit songs with the word in their titles: “The Best of Times” and “Too Much Time on My Hands.” “The Best of Times” is the song that got me hooked on them, that turned me eventually away from top 40 to rock, where I pretty much stayed (exclusively!) until I got to college and opened my mind up a little more. If you’re old enough and lived in Hawaii, it didn’t get me from KIKI to 98 Rock, but it opened the door.

You’re All I’ve Got Tonight

Can’t expound on the death of Ric Ocasek yet, but I may have to soon.

I meant to do a ton of writing this weekend. I’m behind on a few personal projects, including film reviews and book reviews, but I didn’t get to them, so hopefully that’ll be next weekend.

I did get to the thing I’ve most wanted to work on. My writing partner and I met the week before last for the first time in ages, during which she had a baby. She’d been saying for months before having the child that she was absolutely not giving up on her writing, that our partnership was not going to evaporate. I listened and nodded, but I never believed.

I’m still not sure, but we did meet, six months after her son’s birth (she gave him a literary first name, so perhaps there’s some hope), and it wasn’t long enough. We didn’t have time to catch up and really get into each other’s work, which we’d shared the week before.

I sent her five unfinished Halloween short stories and asked her to look at two of them. She gave me some good, quick advice, so my goal before our next meeting later this week is to edit what was a first draft and complete the story. It needed serious editing — I was kind of appalled at the draft’s wordiness and questionable readability, two areas I consider strengths in my style.

Still don’t know how to finish the story, but I think I have a great premise, and the editing this weekend really amped me to get it done. I have a couple of decent ideas for direction, but I don’t know how to wrap this stuff up. Typical of my attempts at fiction.

I don’t understand it. I’ve been known to tell a good story. My fellow teachers have told me it’s something I do well for young people — that I keep students “rapt” with my storytelling. Yet when I’m at the keyboard trying to do the same thing, I’m lost. It’s maddening.

It was a mellow weekend, not at all social but I’ve had social things the past two weekends so just chilling by myself is pretty much what I needed. I feel ready to go back to the office and kick some butt, which I’m going to have to do because I’m a little nervous about being behind on a few things.

I mentioned some time ago, in the depths of my mooning over Crush Girl, that I put a dating app on my phone, which I still have not opened. Since then, FB added a dating feature, and you know, someone has to take that thing for a test drive, right? I should be that guy. I have some air conditioning issues to work out with my car this week (I was going to do it this weekend but just wasn’t motivated), and I need to get that thing operational before I even consider asking someone out, but I might as well set up my profile this week. I’m putting it on the list.

I’m led to believe that the protocol with these apps is to meet at some mutually agreed-upon place, not to pick up someone for the date, and I guess that makes sense. I haven’t been in the game for so long I don’t know what expected behavior is anymore. If it’s true, this AC issue is moot, at least for now.

Good thing a likely date is also super old like I am.

This is going to sound really, really stupid, and perhaps I shouldn’t even put this here since I expect a likely date to Google me and find this space, but I’m a little worried that I’ll compare everyone to Crush Girl. Which would actually be progress for me, since any time before this year I’d compare everyone to R, whose picture I’ve been out of for maybe twenty years. I stopped trying to figure out when it was, but it’s more than ten for sure.

I don’t even know Crush Girl that well, which is why this comparison thing would be so stupid. I was friendzoned before I got the chance to spend time with her away from the one context where we interact. This misery I’ve been feeling has mostly to do with not getting that chance. But now I’m repeating myself so I’ll shut up about it. For now.

I was going to do the Friday 5, but that’ll wait ’til later too. It’s late Sunday night and I have other late-Sunday-night ruminations to get funked up about.

Let the good times roll.

Friday 5: From the Top

  1. What’s a food or drink whose bottom is better than its top?
    Nestle Quik, something I have a total weakness for but haven’t had in ages because of this blood sugar issue I have. But I have an unopened Costco-sized jar of the stuff and I believe the time may be nearing when I give up something else to allow the occasional glass of Quik.
  2. What’s at the top of your weekend agenda?
    I’m writing this late Sunday night (for posting late Monday, I think), so this is in the past tense. The main thing for me was getting enough necessary stuff done so I could watch football all day Sunday. It’s not what happened. I got the important stuff done Saturday, sure, but Sunday I turned on the TV for the games and spent most of the day in bed in the other room. Just wasn’t up for being up.
  3. When did you last wear a non-hat covering for your head?
    During my trip to Boston, I unzipped the hood in my green jacket, mostly to keep dry. It was very cold while I was there, but the cold didn’t bother me much.
  4. What tunes did you spin this week?
    Oh, hah. I kinda answered this question in yesterday’s post. Taylor Swift’s Lover, Tool’s Fear Inoculum, Sonata Arctica’s Talviyö, Elvenking’s Reader of the Runes — Divination, and apparently (according to Last.fm), a little bit of Rush’s Signals, and Dio’s The Last in Line, which counter to expectations, was good cruising-to-the-beach music.
  5. When were you last on the roof of a building?
    If the top floor of a parking structure counts, sometime last month. The view from our parking structure at work is pretty great, since it’s the tallest building within half a mile or so. I tried to get up on the actual roof of the actual office building, but the door looks rigged to set off all kinds of alarms, so I backed away. The most recent actual roof of a building might have been a year or so ago. One of the classroom buildings at UH Manoa, where I used to work, has a lanai that goes to the roof. It’s blocked off by a gate but I hopped it just to look around.

Help, I’m Stepping into the Friendship Zone

I’ll get to obligatory Crush Girl talk in a bit. In an effort not to keep writing the same stuff all the time, I’m switching it up a little.

It was an interesting week and a half in new music. Taylor Swift’s new album was followed immediately by new music from Tool, Elvenking, Tarja Turunen, and Visions of Atlantis; then just two days ago a new album from Sonata Arctica, which I was totally not expecting.

I still haven’t given Tarja or VoA a spin. I was kind of stuck on Taylor during drives to (and at) work, which left Elvenking for drives home. I listened to Tool and Elvenking during walks until Friday, when I bumped Sonata Arctica to the top of the list.

I don’t think many readers of this space are fans of power metal, so I’ll (for now) spare everyone the details, but the Elvenking is better than the Sonata Arctica, but the best songs on Sonata Arctica are better than the best songs on Elvenking. There are a couple of slow songs on the Sonata Arctica that I suffer through but will probably be skips after I’ve given the whole album ten spins or so.

Also, I like Elvenking’s folk-flavored brand of the genre. Plus the album cover is better. I think I’m going to buy this one on CD.

Sometime in the next week or so (ha!) I’m going to post a song-by-song breakdown of the Taylor album. It would be a great ten-song album, but it’s mostly just an okay eighteen-song album, and boy is it overproduced. This is the most disappointing thing about it, the layers of production unnecessarily covering up the Taylorness.

The new Tool is so much better than indicated by commentors’ responses on metal blogs. I’m disappointed in these fans but happy that critical response seems pretty good. I’m not ready to discuss it yet — it’s going to need several more listens. Also this is the band’s album cover ever.

I’m not as miserable over Crush Girl as I’ve been. There’s an aching hollowness in a weird, annoying place that might have been there all along without my being aware of it, but now I feel it and think about it all the time, and it’s making life kind of disappointing.

Someone I know has guessed Crush Girl’s identity. Like, with no problem. This concerns me a little, as I’ve tried to be pretty opaque about this all. I’m definitely not nicer to Crush Girl than I am to others around me, at least as far as I can tell. Except for the dark clouds floating over my head all the time, I’m pretty much the same person I’ve been. Ugh. I don’t really need the world knowing about this.

In the absence of possible romance, I want to be Crush Girl’s friend. That’s going to be a little achey at first, and possibly forever, but I’m willing to bear it. This brings up all kinds of issues I’ve debated with the friend who figured it out. The friend seems to think Crush Girl’s accepting of normal acts of friendship are leading me on, giving me a feeling that there’s hope for something more.

My feeling is that it doesn’t matter. Hoping for something more is not the same thing as expecting something more. Feeling crappy but having a normal friendship is far, far preferable to me than feeling less crappy but not getting to do normal friend things.

My being shot down in flames is better for our friendship, right? Jocelyn (who endures pretty much all the anguished conversation of Crush Girl since this started six months ago) thinks Crush Girl’s friendzoning me makes it easier for Crush Girl to be friendly. I’m already in the friendzone; she can be extra friendly if she wants and have the F word to shield her from my masculine romantic aggression, such as it exists (and I am beginning to think it doesn’t). I’m okay with it. Friend who figured it out doesn’t think I should be.

These past two weeks haven’t been as lean as I intended, so of course I’m worse off for the next couple of weeks. I’m talking a lean couple of weeks coming up now. I’m thinking of going full-on poverty for the first week so I can try to have a normal week the next, but that never seems to work for some reason. It’s too bad, too, because I have a few car things I want to have taken care of soon, and they’re going to have to wait.

I’ve also had my eyes on a new guitar. Crush Girl feelings demand some kind of outlet, and is there a better musical muse than a new instrument? I’m thinking of cruising the pawn shops next weekend just to see if there’s a decent bargain out there, to tide me over until I can afford something new.

I was going to do Friday 5s from the past two weeks but this is too long already. I’ll do them later.