2019 Consumption recap: written word

This year, the number of books I read is greater than the number of movies I saw, I’m pretty sure. It’s possibly the first time this has happened since the year I wrote my master’s thesis, although it’s possible the year before getting hired where I work now at least came close. That was a lean year.

Prioritizing sleep and exercise will do this to you, I guess. Especially sleep. Because I dislike crowds, I favor late movies, or matinees on weekdays. The late movies were tougher to attend while being conscious of my sleep hours, and honestly I’ve missed my cinema time.

The other big reason for my film decline is just what it is for most of us: too much media competing for my attention. Shortly after the 2016 election, I resubscribed to the Washington Post, largely out of a sense of responsibility. Most of my daily reading is a balance of the WaPo and Google News, with the Post usually as my breakfast reading.

Of non-fiction, the best thing I read is A History of Heavy Metal by Andrew O’Neil. I still need to go through my notes, which include bands I need to check out and some history I’d like more info on.

For novels, I may remember 2019 as the year of the re-read. I went back to favorites I haven’t read since high school, such as Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy, and books I read for my thesis but didn’t have time to soak up as I’d have liked, such as Patricia MacLachlan’s Sarah, Plain and Tall, Lynne Rae Perkins’s Criss Cross, and Linda Sue Park’s A Single Shard.

Also in the old favorites revisted category: Danny Dunn and the Anti-Gravity Paint and Danny Dunn and the Swamp Monster by Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin. The fifteen books in this series were among my favorites in fifth and sixth grade, and when I saw that some had been converted to ebook format, I had to see if they are as good as I remember. They’re not, but they’re still quite good. I expect to buy a few more in the series this year.

Of course, what took up most of my time (mid-January to mid-spring, I think) was my first re-read of the Harry Potter books, and my first read of its final installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I don’t understand people who dismiss the series as mere children’s literature, although I don’t understand the dismissal of anything as mere children’s literature. It’s a beautiful story, and while J.K. Rowling is not especially skilled with the language, she’s a heck of a storyteller. I think I’m going to re-read the last book this year.

I’d like to make 2020 the year I finish a bunch of books I started but never completed. I’d like also to read something from the English major canon I never got to, perhaps something Russian or Victorian English.

2019: Non-consumption recap

morning swim before work, new year’s eve 2019

Here’s to the new year.
May she be a damn sight better than the last,
and may we all be home before she’s through.
(Col. Sherman T. Potter in M*A*S*H)

Crush Girl’s Christmas gift to me was a gift card from my second-favorite boba spot, plus a small boba charm/keyring. And a Ghirardelli peppermint bark square, which may not have been part of the actual gift but Crush Girl knows I have a weakness for them despite my not being much of a chocolate guy.

Pretty good friendzone gift, right? Thoughtful but not too personal. Well done. Mine to her was a set of color pencils, with the colors named after references to her favorite TV show. Also thoughtful but not too personal, and sliiiightly less friendzoney than a gift card. I think I did pretty well too.

I think I’ll remember 2019 as the year of Crush Girl, and while that’s not the cheeriest possible milemarker for 365.25 days, there are certainly less cheery options, as there have been in years past. Except for Crush Girl the only thing really distinguishing this year from others was my company’s physical move from the university campus to an office building near Ala Moana, kind of a boring thing to mark a year by, but certainly influential in a lot of ways. Where a person physically goes to work is as big a deal as for whom one goes to work. We just usually tie the two together, so they seem like the same thing but here’s one case where they’re not.

I’m encouraged by my adding some healthy things to my daily life. I got the wheels in September 2018, but we had such a wet winter that I didn’t habitualize the morning beach stops until around March. I can’t say there’s been a noticeable, visual difference in my health, but I’m doing things in the water (and for longer) I haven’t done since I was in my twenties.

The benefits of morning swims and long evening walks to my mental health cannot be measured (nor even really confirmed, especially given my Crush Girl depression around the middle of summer, and lingering effects deep into the fall), but when I go without for a week or so at a time, I feel the difference. And the difference isn’t mere self-loathing brought about by malaise. I wouldn’t call it an endorphin addiction (if only!). I might call it something related to the multi-sensory stimuli I get from both activities.

After two years of adjustments to my medication and sleep routines, I seem finally to have gotten my BP into acceptable ranges, and fiiiiiiiinally I’m regularly getting good sleep with the stupid Darth Vader mask clinging to my face. The two major factors were 10 mg of melatonin before bed and a black sleeping mask. I must be a sight but since I’m still single, I’m not going to worry about the sexiness and feel good about the REM sleep.

My living space continues to be a disaster. I suppose that will have to be my 2020 focus, somehow adding that enormous project while maintaining personal health gains. I have to be honest and say I don’t know if it’s doable.

Personal writing slowed way down but didn’t come to a screeching halt, thanks largely to NaNoWriMo and its step-sibling forms in April and July. I wrote some interesting short-shorts and the beginnings of what may be a fleshable novel. My writing partner’s new freelance gig certainly helps there too.

I’ve had a few service-related projects in mind for some years, and now that I have wheels and a steady job again, I’ve felt the need to put at least one of them in motion. That’s going to be a January initiative for sure, although I’m wary (again) of losing the gains my positive lifestyle adjustments have brung about. I never was Superman, but I’m less so today than I ever was. And now I’ve learned to accept it. I’m beginning to think this is one of those step-out-in-faith things.

I’m writing this in a boba cafe, not any of my usual haunts but one at Ala Moana. After a swim, I had breakfast at Subway (of course), then took a short walk and sat down here to write. I’m off from work until 1 p.m. and at first I had no plan for the extra time, but taking a moment to write this was a good move.

Tonight it’s all about chilling at home, and hopefully doing part two of this recap.

Friday 5: Accidents will happen

From here.

  1. What was the last thing you spilled?
    A Super Big Gulp I walked from the 7-Eleven to my desk (it’s a block away). My budget was extremely tight and I didn’t have a lot of room for the $2 drink but I’d worked hard that day and really wanted it. I missed the desktop, slamming the cup into the edge of my desk, which broke a hole in the plastic cup (!) and spilled Diet Pepsi mostly on the carpet. I was heartbroken.
  2. What was the last thing you broke?
    I break things all the time but I think it’s miraculously been a while. Ohhhhh. You know what? I don’t know how I did this because I’m careful about these things, but I snapped the snap-cap on my liquid dishwashing detergent shortly after I opened a new bottle. I hate that. Now I have to set the cap down somewhere while I do dishes. Thank goodness that bottle’s almost empty and I can start fresh with a new one.
  3. What was the last thing you dented?
    My phone case. But of course that’s what a phone case is for.
  4. What was the last thing you tore?
    I was gift-wrapping a weird-shaped item and when I tried to manipulate the paper around a tough spot, I ripped the paper. At first I was annoyed because it was really nice paper and I didn’t have a lot of it, but I made it work. You totally couldn’t tell while the gift was wrapped that there was a tear in it.
  5. What was the last thing you stumbled over?
    A case of water in the middle of my laundry room. I’ve been stepping over it (it’s part of my hurricane readiness kit) for a year, with varying degrees of success.

Friday 5: It’s around here somewhere

From here.

  1. What was your most recent unexpected expense?
    Legally changing my name so that my birth certificate matches all the other documention I’ve assembled over the span of my life. Ugh. Stupid gold star ID thing. By the time this is over, I’ll have spent $300 dollars or so.
  2. What was your most recent pleasant surprise?
    Crush Girl gave me a Christmas gift. No, I don’t know what it is yet because I’m one of those wait-until-Christmas guys. I seriously didn’t expect this to happen. It gives me hope for our friendship.
  3. What can’t you find?
    I can’t find my Santa hat, even though I pretty much know where it is. It’s put a little bit of a dent in my Christmas spirit.
  4. What are you hiding from?
    i’ve been fleeing the reality of my thinning hair for several years. 2020 is the year I decide at least to attempt some kind of proactive maneuvering.
  5. Who is a mystery?
    We have tandem parking at the office — one person parked in front of another in one very long space. Most of the time it works fine. I requested a parking buddy I knew I’d never mind getting up for. And I don’t. But we’ve been having some problems communicating, and I’ve been discouraged by my inability to be a good partner. I wouldn’t say my partner is a mystery, but figuring out how to click has been a serious puzzle.

Write drunk; edit sober

My writing partner got a freelance gig writing listicles for a momblog. I think she’ll be great before too long. That she’s writing at all is a bit of a surprise to me, but I’m happy to see that mommyhood hasn’t driven it entirely out of her.

This helps me out because it means the resumption of our meetings. We used to meet weekly but I think this year, the year of her becoming a mom, we met twice or maybe three times. If you’ve ever been in a workshop-style writing class, you know there’s pressure to produce, and having a good writing partner with whom you meet regularly works similarly.

The thing I’ve been working on for a million years is back in hibernation. I will get back to it but I need to learn a few things first, such as plot development. This was the focus of my NaNoWriMo project last month, and it turns out I might have a decent idea, one that could be a real novel.

So it’s what I’m working on right now. I’m sparing my writing partner the entire manuscript as it came out of my fingers in November, and sending her instead selected edits of the work in its presumed order. Once we get through the skeleton together, from crown to tarsals, if I still feel this way, I’ll go in and put some flesh on the bones.

I have to say I’m encouraged by the work so far. It doesn’t suck. My main character needs better definition — I made decisions about him on the fly, and of course they weren’t always consistent. He’s a lousy student in the first semester of his senior year but pretty diligent in the second. That’s pretty much how I was in my senior year but I didn’t take time to develop it well — had to keep my story moving!

What surprised me is how a certain theme emerged as I wrote, a theme about how people make up after major fallings-out. I didn’t plan it, but the main character falls out with three important sub-characters: his best platonic girl friend, his father, and a girl he sorta dates.

It’s the kind of thing I’ve been striving for in my other long projects, a book not about the major story arc but about some truth. The first Harry Potter book, for instance, is a book about a boy who discovers he’s a wizard with a mortal enemy. But one could say it’s really a book about alienation and redemption, or about the power of friendship.

That “what it’s really about” has been evasive in my other work, and I can’t figure out why. I’ve been trying to get there with every stalled novel (and there have been many). This one kind of happened organically — I didn’t even realize it was emerging until I got to the point in November where I knew I had to tie up loose ends. That end needed tying, and so did that one, and hey look, they kind of go with this other thing that happened early in the story.

Because here’s the thing. I don’t hug books, but I know book-lovers who do. They don’t hug them all; they hug the special ones. When eventually someone I don’t know reads my book, I want it to be a book the book-huggers hug. Those Wayside School books by Louis Sachar are excellent, and super super popular. But dammit, I want to write Holes.

I’ve been audacious enough to say I want to write a Newbery winner. I do. And it’s a stupid thing to say, of course. But I say it to remind myself that publication isn’t the goal. That book-hug is the goal.

I asked my writing partner to be straight after she read the first few chapters. Is this the beginning of a book someone might read? Does it read like someone who knows how to write? A stupid question — I know I can write. I just, I just know my own voice so well now that I can’t tell if it sounds like a writer or if it just sounds like me. Maybe that’s actually what a writer should feel like, utterly unimpressed with his own voice.

Anyway she said yes. If I wasn’t so vulnerable in the moment I would have said, “Yeah, but what do you know? You’re just a momblogger.” Instead I just took it, and I’m hanging on to it for 2020.

This week I’m going to prepare the next set of chapters for her to look at. We meet in the second week of the new year. I did a fast skim, and yikes. It’s not nearly as good as the stuff she’s already seen. The middle two weeks of the month were a struggle as I tried to figure out what the heck I was telling, and if I decide to flesh this story out they are going to be the biggest challenge, I think.

Following my arrow

Just had a really long day. Scribbling for a few minutes just to decompress. I won’t get into it here but if we’re FB friends you can read it there. If we aren’t, you should add me.

If you’ve never worked where payday is every other week, as opposed to twice a month, I suggest quitting your job and finding someone who’ll pay you this way. My first school paid this way, as did the engineering firm. The non-profit used to pay me twice a month but a couple of years ago switched to every other week, at the urging of employees. And yes, I’ve worked for a Japanese-owned company so I know what it’s like to be paid weekly! That could be sweet too but I don’t see it happening.

It means 26 paychecks per year instead of 24. People who work in places like this call those extra two the extra paychecks, and they can be glorious. See, most monthly deductions for stuff like insurance or parking are split in two, since you usually have two paychecks a month. Twice a year, you get a third paycheck in a month, and these paychecks don’t have the deductions. So not only is it a third paycheck in a month, but it’s often a larger paycheck.

I don’t have that many deductions, but I have more now than I ever did. I’m paying for parking (we get free parking after our fifth year; I’m just completing my third) and I loaded up on supplemental health insurance last year, in anticipation of turning fifty. I was sure I was going to get a colon cancer diagnosis, which I did not.

My check was not quite two hundred bucks larger, but holy moly what a difference it felt like. I’ve been super bummed about my pay lately. I knew when I switched careers I’d be starting over, but I kinda thought that in three years I’d have proven more value than they were expecting. My employer doesn’t see it this way.

The not-quite-$200 take-home pay bump this pay period isn’t quite half the increase I want, need, and deserve, and it felt soooooo good. I almost forgot how unappreciated I feel. Until this long (pricey) day, I almost felt like a grown-up making a grown-up living.

On the other hand, it’s Christmas. Getting most of my shopping taken care of during the weekend felt great, but now it’s going to be a pretty lean couple of weeks! Still feels good, though. Better to be scraping bottom because I spent money on gifts than scraping bottom because of the usual reasons.

Is it weird that I left teaching and became poorer?


I put Crush Girl on my Christmas list. I hope it’s not weird. I didn’t even get her something practical; I wanted to get her a book but I know her stack is pretty high right now. Plus I gave her a book for her birthday and I have a feeling she didn’t care for it.

So I got her something that’s probably just going to take up space but is a cute gift. I saw it while flipping through IG. Those ads are pretty useful. I’ve now purchased two things IG targeted at me, both of them gifts. And there’s one more thing I bookmarked to get myself for my birthday next month.

I didn’t see the Kacey Musgraves Christmas TV special, but I picked up the CD and it’s pretty cute. Yes, I still get CDs. Not nearly as many as I used to (thanks, employer!) but I don’t want the medium to die.

I feel fine about the long day I had, but it’s created me more work, which means at least two more long days in addition. Not really looking forward to that but not complaining either. I don’t know about jolly, but ’tis the season to be positive, and I remain so.

Oh, I finished NaNoWriMo just past 50K words. Yay. I’m drained! So I’ll save discussion about that for later.

Even at My Worst, I’m Best with You

I can’t tell you why the title of this entry is relevant, but the song is playing on the speakers in this establishment, and the song is an especially good soundtrack to part of what I’m writing here.

I don’t know if I have it in me to do the Friday 5 this late Sunday evening. I’ll type a few thoughts and see.

My part in the stressful project at work isn’t as finished as I thought. I’m not sure when my part will be done — it seems when I think they’re happy with my draft, they come at me with “can we do this?” And it doesn’t bother me much but the communication this past week was weird. Like people are saying, “Why did you do this?” And I’m saying “You know why I did this. If you wanted to reverse it you totally could have, or just told me you wanted it reversed and I’d have been happy to do it.”

I understand my role, and I embrace it. I’ve embraced it for going on three years, and usually it’s not a problem. Tell me what you want, and I’ll write it. If I disagree, I may say something about why, but I’ll almost always defer unless the point of contention is about grammar or some other mechanical aspect of the language, which I consider myself better informed about than almost everyone I work with.

People I work with appreciate and respect my expertise. I don’t know much about most things, but I know what good writing is, and I know how to produce it. On this project, though, I think people aren’t being clear about what they want and don’t want. So I assume the drafts are fine until I’m told that I need to change certain things and I need to change them now.

Geez. I wouldn’t really mind that either, but be a little nicer about it, you know? And don’t make it sound like the draft is where it is now because of me. If I’m waiting for you to tell me what you want, and you don’t tell me what you want until seconds before you need it, don’t act like I’m the reason nothing’s been done yet.

Arrrrrrrgh.

This project has been making me lose sleep, and it’s not the work itself. I haven’t been nervous or stressed a single moment about the work, which involves some very high stakes. This team I’m part of always produces excellent work. High stakes don’t change any of that. I want our project to succeed, but I’m not afraid of its failure. That’s how you do good work.

It’s the communication that’s been driving me insane.

I’m working myself up just typing this, so I’m going to back off a bit.

This is going to sound a little weird, but I’d kind of like to piss Crush Girl off. Not about anything important, but maybe some minor way that sets her off. I haven’t seen her mad (although I’ve certainly made her mad; I just wasn’t around to see it!), and I suspect she’s beautiful when she’s angry.

I can think of two friends who got really beautiful when they were mad. One is Janice, with whom I spent a lot of time before she married my former college roomie Sterling. I was on the receiving end of at least four very angry scoldings and I have to tell you, that fury made a beautiful woman beautiful. A few times I saw her unleash it at others, and how great it was when I wasn’t the target. I could get a closer look, for one thing.

The other is R, whom I’ve seen angry more than anyone I’m not related to, and only a very few times was I the person she was angry with. Hers was a little different — she went right up to the line between anger and psycho. Once, when she was mad at her mom, I am quite sure I saw her go a step or two over the line, and that was pretty scary. I didn’t have anyone to compare it to until Helena Bonham Carter’s performance as Bellatrix LeStrange. Yeah, it was that kind of psycho-beautiful.

I’ve only noticed in the past couple of months (that is, in the time since she friendzoned me) that Crush Girl has a really musical way of speaking, especially when she’s either going a little gaga over a doggie or a baby, or when she’s listening sympathetically to someone else’s sad story.

I’m actually trying to learn a thing or two from her on that last thing. She makes all these really sympathetic sounds that I’m not sure would work coming from me, but the vocalizations are so sympathetic that I think they help all by themselves. When I hear someone telling her about their bad day or whatever, and she makes these (I’m not even going to try and spell them) sounds of caring, I feel like little daggers are going right into my heart.

I still don’t know her very well, especially not outside the one context in which we interact, but when I see the way she listens to people, I think she’s someone I could love. That’s never enough, I know, so don’t remind me. It’s a good sign, though. There’s a really good person in there.

R had a very musical way of speaking, which over many years of being her friend I picked up a little of, which I’m sure doesn’t help my already semi-effeminate speaking mannerisms, which have led many people to ask if I’m gay, which I’m not. Or from California, which I also am not.

Crush Girl’s musical inflections are different. Like she’s singing along with a completely different orchestra. Like she’s got a story to tell, and if you just wait a moment, she’s going to sing it to you. I’m picturing Amy Adams in Enchanted, although it’s not quite like that. I need time to think about it, because I’m pretty sure I can think of an actor she reminds me of.

this is a crappy picture of the movie on my tablet, but there are NO good still images on the web for this film! but dang: isn’t she pretty?

Speaking of Enchanted, I saw the new Anna Kendrick movie, Noelle, which is streaming on the new Disney +. It’s not great, but Anna is great in it, so I’ll probably see it a few times a week between now and the new year. It reminded me of a cross between Elf and Arthur Christmas. It’s going to remind everybody of Elf.

A coworker also saw it, and she said it reminded her of Elf and Enchanted, and I can see that too.

It has moments of cleverness and genuine, sincere kindness. It has moments of stupid, too, like when Noelle is required to address the North Pole denizens about what Christmas means to her. Ugh. Ugh. Bleah. Vomit.

But you know, I teared up twice and actually shed tears once. Anna really sells the kindness.

Now that things aren’t going to happen with Crush Girl, I should probably give Anna another chance. Although really, if she goes another ten years without calling me, I might stop waiting around.

Friday 5: Body of Evidence

The stress at work continues, but while my part of the project is mostly done, the other people on it are really just getting going. They’re going to be shooting all week, away from the office, so I think I’ll be able to get back into a quiet routine. Here’s hoping.

It was getting rough enough to make me write an email, mostly saying “I’ll work with you whenever I need to, but if you want me to hate it, keep talking to me the way you’re talking to me.” Cooler heads (mine) prevailed and I emailed it to my boss instead. I felt better just expressing my issues with someone; it didn’t have to be the person I have issues with.

She welcomed my venting.

NaNoWriMo continues. I took a few days off last week because of work stress, but there was a write-in at Kaimuki Library this morning and I knocked out more than 3K words, catching me back up. It was a nice morning.

Friday 5. From here.

  1. Among people you know, who’s got the softest shoulder?
    Man, that’s a good question. I haven’t had need of a soft shoulder for quite some time, and when I needed it most, I didn’t really want to talk to anyone except R, and I couldn’t because she was the reason I needed it. The truth is that I’ve been something of an emotinal lone ranger since the R thing. I open up in these journals, and that might be about it. Oh, I just remembered that Jocelyn has been my only person to talk about Crush Girl with, and that’s been a good help. Maybe not such a Lone Ranger after all.
  2. Among people you know, who’s got the stoutest heart?
    My mom is super tough, and while that may not be as true today as it once was, she’s still the person I look to for toughness. Japanese moms — they raise us to be koi, and my mom has set a pretty good example even though the metaphor’s not supposed to extend to women.
  3. Among people you know, who’s got the most soul?
    There’s a way to answer this that kind of goes against the usual meaning, and since I’ve grown up in church culture I’m more likely to go that way. Actually, I think my pick answers it both ways. My eighth grade social studies teacher and my former landlord, Mrs. Wong.
  4. Among people you know, who’s got the biggest mouth?
    Although he’s not nearly as big a mouth as he used to be, I still have to go with Reid here. High school classmate and former roomie. It was never one of his more endearing traits, although combined with his more endearing traits it can really liven up a party. We planned our most recent high school reunion for a year but his emceeing is what really made it a success. It was actually nice to watch him come to life with the mic in his hand. A good reminder of what he’s like at his best.
  5. Among people you know, who’s got the toughest liver?
    Growing up, I watched my dad put down impressive amounts of beer, and I never saw him behave in a drunken manner. He was always aware of how much he’d had to drink, and sometimes I would ask him why he didn’t say ______ or do ______ when it was clear to me his expertise would have settled whatever debate or task could have used his input, and he would say quietly, “I’ve had a few beers. It’s not the best time to get involved in something like that.” So while this doesn’t exactly answer the question, it keeps with the question’s spirit. I saw some of my friends’ dads drunk or hungover, and I could see how embarrassing it was to my friends. I never had to go through that.

If that salt has lost its savor, it ain’t got much in its favor

It’s Veterans Day here in the United States, a federal holiday and a state holiday, which when I was a teacher usually meant a one-day weekend. Saturday and Sunday for work, Monday for relaxing. Normal two-day weekends were seldom real weekends — I usually worked both days.

Thank God we have more state holidays than any state in the union. We also have the longest life expectancy, and I don’t think the two are unrelated.

Now that I’m out of the classroom these eight (wow) years, I no longer really work all weekend, but I still put a good amount of time in, either on Saturday or Sunday, so a three-day weekend usually means a normal two-day weekend.

I went to the office Saturday, but only for a literal couple of hours. In the morning, I met two of the NaNo regulars for a small write-in, where I banged out about 4,000 words. Then got a few things moving in the office, then we had Penny’s birthday dinner at Chicken Factory. I was going to try to wring another thousand words or so out of my brain at the boba spot, but I did the Friday 5 instead. It was good for me.

Sunday I did a little bit of tidying up at home and worked on specs for steaming broccoli in the microwave oven. Broccoli is one of my favorite foods and I prefer it blanched above any other method, but I’m trying to take healthier lunches to work during the week, and while blanching isn’t exactly a hassle, if I can work out a good system for microwave steaming, the time and energy I save will be worth the slight decrease in epicuniary pleasure.

I think I’ve almost got it. Also, I ate a ton of broccoli Sunday.

In between attempts, I just napped. It was such a stressful, tiring week. Then I went to the folks’ place to hang out, watch football, do laundry, and have dinner. I did a couple of crossword puzzles, too, which may have been the most therapeutic activity all weekend.

I’d already blocked today off for work and NaNo, and it was pretty productive both ways. I went over the 20K words mark for NaNo (yay) and am ahead of the pace by about a full day, I think. In the very late afternoon I wasn’t feeling physically well, so I took myself for a long walk. Okay, no. I think that was the most therapeutic activity all weekend. During lunch (microwave-steamed broccoli and rice) I got halfway through Linda Sue Park’s 2001 Newbery-winning A Single Shard, which I’m rereading for the first time. I read it the first time when I was working on my thesis and haven’t been back to read it for pleasure. I thought it was time.

My next read was going to be Erin Entrada Kelly’s Hello Universe, the 2018 Newbery winner. I bought it right after the award was announced but never got to it — in fact, didn’t know anything about it — and was really looking forward to getting to it this weekend.

But, you know. NaNoWriMo. November is the worst time to start a new book. I was trying to work out a reward system, where I’d allow myself to read X pages for every 1000 words I wrote this month, when Crush Girl mentioned to me that she thought it looked interesting. So I lent it to her, alleviating myself of my problem while also doing something nice for her, so double win.

I did not know that Kelly is a writer of Filipino descent, which makes it three Asian American writers who’ve won the Newbery. Linda Sue Park’s A Single Shard, Cynthia Kadohata’s Kira Kira, and now this book by Kelly. At a time when people seem to question my American-ness, I have to say this really resonates.

I practically begged Crush Girl to take her time with the book. I really shouldn’t get started on it until December 1.

And speaking of her, I got to hang out with her outside of our usual context for a very brief moment this weekend, with a small group. It was nice. I managed not to spill anything, offend anyone, or break down crying over the sorry state of the world and my sorry place in it, which I’m always in danger of doing when I have a drink or two.

You gotta love alcohol. It really lets you be yourself!

I’ve been moody as heck all day for no discernable reason, unless it has something to do with the work stress, which has been formidable. I feel like I’m on the verge of plunging into the darkness. I was already kind of teetering on the edge because of some of the other work stuff that’s been bumming me out.

Which is why I’m doing this instead of working on NaNo. Just needed to open up the laptop and write whatever. I think it’s helping, at least a little.

The plan, once I finish this, is to put myself to bed at a very early hour (it’s only 8:30 now) and face the new week determined to reflect light, no matter how many attempts others make at putting it under a bushel. If you hide it under a bushel, it’s lost something quite crucial. Don’t quote me — that’s from Godspell.

My calming mantra all of last week was “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” It helped. So this week I’m going to repeat the light of the world stuff to myself and see what happens.

I like it because it is bitter, and because it is my heart. That was my mantra for weeks before last week. I liked it (I liked it because it is bitter and because it is my heart) but I think maybe now I need to focus on more forward-thinking thoughts. This week’s episode of Heavyweight has convicted me about not being who I was, but being who I am and who I hope to be.

The Heavyweight podcast usually inspires while also making me want to stab myself in the heart (my bitter heart) with my own pen because the writing is so good it’s maddening, but this week it just inspired me. It was either not written quite as amazingly as usual, or I’m pretty pleased with the quality of my own output this week.

I just deleted a funny, self-deprecating line here because it wasn’t in keeping with the positive note I hoped to end on. So you’ll just have to imagine it. You’d have laughed!

Friday 5: Bad Mood Food

I’ve had a long, busy day, and I’m unwinding in the boba cafe, which closes in thirty minutes, so I’m going to try to write this in 20, leaving me time to pack up and visit the lavatory.

From here.

  1. What are you most likely to reach for when you stress-eat?
    Ice cream is my depression food. Chips are my stress food, at least lately. And I’ve downed a ton of them at work this past week and a half. It’s not good. It’s helping me cope, but I can’t keep relying on it — I’m trying to drop weight, not add chips. But grrrrrrrrrrrr this group project at work is taking a toll on me. By the end of Friday I felt wrung, like a chamois. It’s affecting the rest of my life, too. I lost sleep Monday night because I was so annoyed about a scheduled 90-minute meeting I thought could be an email. The meeting turned out not to suck, and we got good work done, but I still don’t think it was necessary. Now WHERE THE HECK DID I PUT THOSE DORITOS?
  2. When were you last disappointed by a meal?
    The frickin’ Popeye’s chicken sandwich was supposed to be available last week. The stupid Popeye’s app even TOLD me to go get it. Turns out the app for some reason doesn’t even work in my region (beyond sending me notifications) and the Popeye’s in my ‘hood had signs up all over the restaurant saying the chicken sandwich was coming soon. So I ordered chicken fingers and they were on the downside of okay. So annoying; I should have ordered chicken but I was trying to write while I ate, and I didn’t want to grease up my fingers, so I could type. Blasted chicken sandwich and crappy chicken fingers. Two disappointments in one meal!
  3. What food are you sad you can’t get anymore?
    They added a thin layer of caramel to the Whatchamacalllit bar in the summer after my junior year. It was a perfect candy bar before that. It’s still good but it’s not nearly as good as it used to be. KC Drive-In shut down 20 years or so ago, so the legendary chocolate ono-ono shake is but a memory. I wrote it about it in my NaNo project, so I’m feeling the nostagia now.
  4. For what food will you make an exception to a personal rule?
    I don’t like to get food on my hands, so eat a lot of finger foods with a knife and fork, but I make an exception for wings. Wings are among my favorite foods, and you can’t eat them with a knife and fork.
  5. What’s something you really like but would never order while dining out because you have it at home all the time?
    There are fewer items on this list than there used to be, because I’m so busy and I typically dine alone. I’m a sucker for corned beef hash when it’s made in-house, and I used to have the canned version all the time at home, but I’m trying not to have processed meats at home. So I’ll order corned beef hash even in joints where I know it’s out of a can, once in a while when I want to indulge. With a sunny-side-up egg and some rice, it’s one of my favorite breakfasts.

Yay. Got it done in 15 minutes.