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.