Friday 5: Timing is Everything

Today was a state holiday: Admission Day or Statehood Day, according to Wikipedia. I grew up with it as Admission Day but I heard someone smart a few years ago say the state changed it to Statehood Day and I accepted it without questioning it. Finally looked it up (just now!) and the Hawaii Department of Human Resources calls it Statehood Day. Good enough for me.

I was so tired last night I just collapsed in bed without putting myself properly away, something that’s been happening far too frequently lately. It’s disturbing, because I have the Darth Vader machine to put on or I don’t sleep well, which affects my blood pressure, which I’m trying to keep under control. I also have eyedrops for my high eye pressures. Those are fine if I put them in when I wake up in the morning but my doctor recommends I put them in before bed, and I try to listen to my ophthalmologist even though she’s a Broncos fan.

So of course I woke up really early. There was a rat in my live trap. I stopped at Starbucks before taking the cage up to the place where I let the rats go. I’m not saying where because I don’t want to get anyone mad who might live in the area, although if I told you where it is you would agree with me that it’s a reasonable place to let rats go. Let the wealthy deal with my vermin.

I had a latte, letting the rat sit in my car for half an hour while I did the NYT crossword puzzle and sipped my coffee. There’s a Starbucks in a spot that would have been enormously convenient when I was still teaching at HBA. I’m kinda-sorta glad it wasn’t there when I taught, although it seems like a total no-brainer. How Kalihi got a Starbucks ten years before Nuuanu is a bafflement.

I watched the rat run out of the cage, then do this weird bounding thing the rats do when they get to the tall grass. Then I hit the beach. It was nice. My shoulders were still a bit tired from pushing myself Thursday morning, so I took it easy. The physical benefits are one reason I get in the water but the mental health benefits are the bigger reason. Just cruised my usual distance and enjoyed the salt, sand, and sunshine.

At work I had this deadline for Monday at 9, so yesterday was focused mainly on that, and speaking of focus, I couldn’t find any. I was going a little crazy not being able to lock in and get the assignment done. Around 1:00 I went for a walk around the block (my boss is very understanding of a writer’s need for a change of scenery when the ideas aren’t flowing) and it occurred to me that if I were to put myself in a deep state of depression (maybe not that deep), the part of my brain I need to keep occupied so it doesn’t get distracted could wallow around in that while the part of my brain that does the writing could snap into its groove.

Luckily for me, depression is never very far away. Especially lately with Crush Girl friendzoning me. By the time I got back to my desk I was good and miserable, almost to the point of tears.

I banged that story out like I had it memorized. My keyboard was almost like a player piano, independent of the hands pretending to control it. It wasn’t really like that, and there were a couple of transitions I had some difficulty with, but I was utterly in control the whole way.

So. Add darkness and depression to my writer’s toolbox. I might try to turn that into an article for a writers magazine or something.

Jocelyn thinks I should give it one more shot with Crush Girl (she’s aware of the complications I’ve mentioned but not named) because she thinks I may not have been clear about what I want, which is to spend time with her in alternate contexts so as to get to know her better because I really like her so far. Jocelyn thinks I have to hurry because if I’m in the friendzone for too long (and it doesn’t take too long to get to too long) I’ll never get out of it, which could be unfair to us both.

I’m considering it. Goodness knows my own wisdom has yielded little more than warm memories and cold misery so far in my love life, such as it exists, so why not take the advice of someone who’s made it work? Yeah, why not?

I wish this were only physical attraction; it would be so much easier to deal with. While it’s definitely that, there’s so much more going on here. She makes me smile in strange, small moments I haven’t seen before.

R made me laugh all the time, and the ways she made me smile were always tinged with a little bit of sadness. She’s had a rough life, and her defense, at least in all the years before she had kids, was to cling tenaciously to a childlike way of experiencing the world, and expressing what she saw through this lens. It was disarming and tragic at the same time. It’s where her beauty came from, not to mention her art.

Crush Girl makes me smile in a completely different way I haven’t been able to define, mostly because it’s new. It took me ages (as in decades, plural) to define how R made me smile, so if it takes me a while to figure out what it is with Crush Girl I guess that makes sense although I’m thinking about it more directly than I ever did with R.

One theory I’ve floated to myself (and now to whoever is reading this) is that when you’ve been around the same people for a very long time, which I have with most of my friends, you become so familiar with each other’s timing and tendencies that while you continue to make each other laugh and smile, there’s nothing unexpected about any of it.

Crush Girl’s timing is so different, and her wording, and her sentiment. I don’t think she even knows most of the time that she’s making me smile, or how she’s making me smile.

A really, really smart guy I once knew (who played in this band) explained to some students we had in common how love at first sight is possible. I’ve never believed in it; love is too big a word. But this guy talked about how something about the way someone carries him- or herself can define a room, can alter a room, and it’s not difficult to fall in love with that.

I didn’t buy it then, and I don’t buy it fully now, but the guy had a good argument.

You can’t really notice upon first sight someone’s rhythm or timing or diction in how she makes you smile, but if you could I might be convinced that love at first sight is possible.


Here’s this week’s Friday 5, whose questions are related to the stress of my work deadline this week.

  1. What’s your hurry?
    While I don’t know if I agree with Jocelyn about how long in the friendzone someone can be before any chance at romance is lost, I’m willing to entertain the notion that it’s very very very short. I think I need to make another move Monday. And if I get shot down again, that is it, at least until circumstances change.
  2. Where’s the fire?
    Geez. There have been an unusual number of deaths in house fires on this island this summer. I live in a very old house and I have to admit I get worried about fire sometimes. This isn’t helping.
  3. You need it when?
    This is going to be a lean week ahead, and the two weeks following may be just as lean. So if someone could sprinkle some fairy dust on my pay schedule and get me the next two paydays really quickly, can we shoot for this coming Wednesday? Thank you!
  4. What’s your ETA?
    We had to complete self-evals for performance reviews, and one of the questions was, “What new challenges, objectives, or career goals would you like to pursue in the upcoming rating period?”

    I wrote that I have no career objectives beyond doing good work, and it’s true. It comes from being a teacher all those years. If you teach and if you don’t hope to be an administrator, there’s no real upward mobility. You just teach, and you just hope to do better each year than the last. There are all kinds of objectives related to that, but I don’t think this is the same thing.

    I mention this because since I don’t have a spouse or kids, the way I might define my arrival has to be different. I’ve been in a weird state of arrested development ever since I settled into the identify of my profession, something that hasn’t really changed even as my professions have. I think (I hope) my arrival will be tied somehow to my writing. This may be a lame answer but it’s the one I’ve been pondering these last couple of weeks. Thanks to my job, I can now actually call myself a writer, but I’m not the writer I want to be. I’m going to set my ETA at five years from today.
  5. What’s the holdup?
    Immaturity, mostly, in the form of avoidance of things I don’t want to do in favor of silly dreams, infatutuation, imagining, and just getting myself out of bed every morning and (more difficult) putting myself to bed every night.

Friday 5: Scattergories Part 9

I made my move. I can’t say why, in this public space, but I pretty much only got one chance at this — there would be no wooing, none of my customary long game. It’s the main reason I waited so long. I had to pick a time when I thought the moment was good. I wasn’t getting a second shot.

I asked her (via text, of course) if she wanted to see a movie with me next week, one evening during the week. She said she’d already told other friends she’d see the movie with them. I said let me know if you change your mind. Then I said it wasn’t really about the movie, so if she wants to hang out, let’s hang out. If not, I’ll back off. And then something about really enjoying getting to know her.

She replied the next morning with thanks — you’re a good friend.

Oh yeah. Friend-zoned right out of the gate.

At first I felt lousy, of course, but I also felt pretty good. “I’m back in the game,” I wrote in some public social media space somewhere. I even texted two friends saying the same thing. “I asked her out. She shot me down in flames. But I’m back in the game so I’m okay.”

That lasted almost a day, and now it pretty much just feels crappy, and here’s why. For most of my life, I haven’t pursued female companionship for dating’s sake. I casually dated rather a lot, especially in high school and early in college, because I love female companionship, but it was never really about long-term relationships. I didn’t pursue relationships after my first high-school girlfriend as the object themselves.

With R, it wasn’t about wanting to be in a relationship. It was her. I just liked being with her more than I liked being with anyone else, including alone by myself. When I asked Mochi Girl out, it was her, not a relationship, I was interested in, and we’re talking about a lot of years between R and Mochi Girl. Except for K (a very long story I should probably tell, now that all interested parties are married except me), someone I pined a very long time for without ever making a move, it’s pretty much just been R and Mochi Girl since I graduated college 24 years ago.

Mochi Girl didn’t work out mostly because I liked being alone more than I liked being with her, and I rather liked being with her. So it takes someone rather terrific for me to start thinking moves.

Don’t get me wrong: there have been crushes galore. Pretty much non-stop ever since things ended with R. But, you know. Just crushes.

This one was (is) different. I really like her, or at least the her I know so far. Circumstances (those blasted circumstances again!) sort of make it difficult to get to know her outside one or two contexts. I don’t know what she’s like when she’s angry, or how she treats people who are uncool to her, or whether she’s pre- or post-millennial about the rapture, or what she thinks of predestination (possible deal-breaker, I tell myself even though I know it’s a lie).

What I do know, though, was enough to get me out of my crush stasis and into move-making mode.

That’ll teach me.

Because you know, I have this dating app (I’m not saying which but some of the stuff three paragraphs up would give you a clue) on my phone and I considered opening it up.

I installed it months ago but haven’t opened it yet. At first it was because I had to ask myself what my approach was going to be, but then it was because I was into Crush Girl, and the stupid dating app seemed meaningless. I wanted Crush Girl, or at least I wanted to see if Crush Girl and I could be a thing.

But hey. I’m back in the game, right? Let’s take that dating app for a spin.

Not as easy as I kind of thought it would be. Crush Girl is pretty outstanding. I’d post a few bullets here but circumstances make that impossible for now; I’d have to find some kind of code to write it in.

If you know me well, you’d just say, “Well of course.” Certain things about where she went to school and what she studied, and what she does on Sundays, just shallow LinkedIn profile kind of stuff, might have you shaking your head too. Like, don’t I ever learn?

I’m not saying someone on the dating app would have to have those bullets (which R and Mochi Girl both did). But at least in the immediate aftermath of being shot down, I have to say it’s difficult to imagine anyone not having them catching my interest.

‘Cause it’s not about the dating. I’m fine without dating. It was about her, and now I’m not sure I’m fine without her.

It kind of hurts to type that.

It’s been ten(ish) years since Mochi Girl. It took someone like Crush Girl for me to make a move. Someone find me someone like that!


Friday 5, from here. The annual Scattergories theme. The random-letter generator rolled me an R. I am not making this up.

  1. What beverage do you enjoy but seldom have?
    Root beer for sure. I love it, but there’s just too much sugar in regular soda, and I have some blood sugar issues. I still have a root beer wall in my house, though, where 20+ glass bottles of root beer from different bottlers tells the story of my love.
  2. What’s better now than when you were a kid?
    I want to say rock concerts. When I was a kid, the local concert scene semed so not-happening, although I remember missing a good number of great shows just because I wasn’t old enough to go anywhere. In fact, one reason I got my first paying job right after turning 14 was so I could buy my own concert tickets and not have to ask for money. The first one came along in 9th grade, a few months after I got the job. .38 Special with Golden Earring. I presented my case to my dad, even though I already knew the answer. It was a school night. My parents were religious about school nights. My dad said he appreciated that I’d worked hard for the money and if it hadn’t been a school night, he’d have let me go. Dang! The concert scene is pretty lively now. I’ve been to more concerts in the past three years than in the previous 20.
  3. Who makes you happy?
    Speaking of concerts, Rush was my first, and something inspired me to listen to lots of Rush this week (not that I ever need a reason), and there was a moment, sitting in front of my computer at work, when I wanted to say aloud that Rush really makes me happy. I can’t say that of many people, so thanks to Geddy, Alex, and Neil. I’m flicking my Bic in Canada’s general direction.
  4. Where do you go when you want to indulge?
    There’s an Italian restaurant in my parents’ neighborhood called Ricado’s, and I’m a big fan. Some friends and I used to go a lot, but it’s been rather a long time since I’ve been there. I think I’ll try to organize a weeknight dinner with those friends this week. Take my mind off what’s-her-name. IT WORKED! Just kidding. That’s an old Peanuts joke.
  5. Where’s a comfy place to sit?
    I have great difficulty finding comfy places to sit. I don’t do chairs very well, although I’ve known a few pleasant rockers and recliners in my day. Denise, who rolled an H, says hammock, which is a great answer. Hammocks are ridiculously comfortable. I’m afraid my answer is Regal Dole Cannery IMAX and RPX, the movie theater in my hood. It’s a quiet, air-conditioned, dark, comfy place to catch a nap, something I’ve done many times over the years. I have better naps in that theater than anywhere, other than the theater close to the office!