Lockdown: Close to the edit

I forgot to say last night’s walk totaled nearly 15,000 steps, all of them after midnight. My total for Sunday is 17,487. I skipped the Sunday evening walk to get some work done. Thank goodness I have the work to show for it, or I’d feel pretty deflated.

I just got done with first edits on the last of the Hawaii Stories pieces. Half are ready to publish; for the other half, I’m waiting on responses from the writers. Now it’s past five in the morning and I’m an idiot for taking so long, but I’m happy to have the hardest work done.

I got a little mopey Sunday. Nothing major; it might just be my normal Sunday thing, which I’d probably do every Sunday if I didn’t go to see my folks most Sundays when we’re not in lockdown. I got a little more active on FB than usual, trying to connect momentarily with a wide swath of people. It pretty much worked. FB is good for that when you don’t let it take over your day.

Aside from the editing, the major accomplishment was grocery shopping. I actually didn’t need much, but I knew if I didn’t put some veggies in my fridge soon I was going to hate myself. I still spent more than I’ve spent on groceries in a year, like nearly a hundred and thirty bucks. What the heck?

Some of it was replenishing stuff I don’t buy often, like chia seeds (for the overnight oats) and cornstarch. I prefer tapioca starch, but it hasn’t been playing nicely with the things I’ve made lately, so I’m going back to cornstarch to see if it’s me or the ingredient.

I went a little crazy on veggies. Baby bok choi, broccolini (two large bunches — it was on sale), carrots, and a huge bunch of watercress. Oh, I also bought a bunch of frozen berries and granola to mix up the breakfasts once in a while. That’s where a lot of the money went.

My fellow grocery shoppers were not as mindful of social distancing as I was, and uuuuurgggggggh.

Oh I bought pepperoni too. Something I don’t often splurge on. But I’ve awoken the toaster-oven pizza beast in me and want to play around.

For breakfast, I had the other half of a can of corned beef hash I opened sometime last week, with brown rice. Lunch was a couple of hot dogs with sauerkraut, ketchup, and mustard. So yummy. Dinner was steamed potatoes with a lot of broccolini. I’m probably going to have that for lunch Monday too. They came out great.

I want to try the yoghurt-making function on the Instant Pot sometime next week. To eat with the frozen berries and granola.

Crush Girl responded (very briefly) to something I asked early Saturday. I said something funny in return and she replied with haha, and that was it.

While I was working on Hawaii Stories, Ali in Boston responded to something I said Saturday, and it turned into another thing. But she let me talk through where I was sure the miscommunication was, and I think I cleared things up. Then we got into a thing (she started it, I promise) about the kinds of questions I ask her, and it led to my frustration with this topic, which has been a thing with us since we first got to know each other.

We communicate so well when we’re clicking. We communicate horribly when we’re not.

I’m toying with the idea of doing the laundry early Wednesday morning instead of my usual Tuesday morning. With the holiday Monday, will people who normally do their laundry right before the work week save it for after the weekend? In other words, is Wednesday the new Tuesday this week, and is Tuesday the new Monday, laundry-wise?

I’ll decide Monday based on how much stuff I get done. I think my boss will let me take Wednesday morning off even though I’m taking Tuesday morning off. We’re being encouraged to burn our use-them-or-lose-them vacation days now-ish, even though we have until the end of September. They don’t want us all taking them in September. Makes sense.

I don’t have as many to burn as most years. We get to carry fourteen days from year to year, but we earn twenty-one days or something like that. I usually carry the max, because those days are more valuable to me in their existence than in their use, if that makes sense. I love knowing I have them and can use them. Actually using them, especially since I seldom travel, is almost never as good.

I need to talk more about this later. My trip to Boston a year and a half ago awakened some of my old wanderlust. I need to figure out a way to do more traveling even though I make peanuts.

I finished my re-watch of Orange is the New Black season three. That last uplifting scene did it to me again. It’s beautiful. I’m not sure the downer of the rest of the season leading up to it was worth it, though. On to season four.

Need to call my folks Monday. And do some work on the Monster. Not a lot, but enough to feel good. Since I did a little bit of major housecleaning this past week, I feel okay doing the minimum on the Monster. It’s just that doing something Monday makes it possible for me to do more during the rest of the week, which I would really like.

The sun’s coming up. Time for this vampire to head for the cave. Listen, however you’re going through this lockdown, if you’re not connecting and you really want to, please reach out. I’m here for it. Even if we have weird miscommunication problems that make me insane sometimes.

Lockdown: Glutton for gluttony

I’ve taken a break from metal these last couple of days to focus on other music I like. It kinda started because I needed to kick my work speed up a little, and as I mentioned, ABBA usually does the job. I try not to abuse it because I don’t want its power to run out, but I am telling you, there’s something about the sweet infectious pop — its familiarity is part of it, its kind of sameness from song to song, its energy, its feel-good vibe with unchallenging lyrics or instrumentation. They don’t fertilize the creative part of my brain like a good Yes album, but a good Yes album can be a distraction, too. When I need just to put some pieces together in a nice, meaningful whole with decent narrative, ABBA Gold is the real deal.

Other kinds of music work from time to time. Thing is, I can’t predict what will work and what won’t. ABBA is the only reliable.

Rap doesn’t work. It’s great for driving. It’s terrible for writing. All those words bouncing around get in the way of the words in my head.

Tonight during the walk, I finally got to spin the new Indigo Girls album, Look Long. It’s a terrible title. It’s a fantastic album. I’ve only giving it two rides, so I’ll save most of my thoughts for a good review after three more attentive listens. I’ll say that as usual, I favor the Emily Saliers songs. However, the Amy Ray songs are what make it a better album. This is exactly the Indigo Girls album I needed this year. A good contender for my favorite album of the year.

Then I listened three times to a new album (released January) from a band I never heard of before late Saturday night. Passing in the Night from Thunder and Rain is almost everything I love about good bluegrassy-folky music. It doesn’t blow you away with technical awesomeness in the acoustic shredding, but that’s the only thing it’s missing. The solos, rather than making you say whoa (which is not to say they aren’t impressive) just make you say aaaaaaahh. It’s sweet, it’s comfy, and it’s pretty as heck. I’m listening to it right now, in fact.

I slept unusually well Friday night (or extremely early Saturday morning, whatever). Got up around noon. Did some crosswords and watched The Sound of Music while I read the news.

Breakfast was the leftover pasta from Friday night. There was rather a lot left over, and I ate it all. Insane. I actually paused midway through and said, “I could stop now and be totally sated.” Did I stop? I did not.

Then I outdid myself. I got it stuck in my head that I had to get takeout for lunch. I don’t know why. I went to Taco Bell although I did try to get real food first. I guess I got going a little late, like after eight. The Korean place was closed, the nearby sashimi and salad place was closed, and the next-door ramen place was even closed. That place always seems open. Wingstop in the same mall was open, but I wasn’t in the mood for wings (although I do love me some lemon pepper wings). I hit the Taco Bell drive-through and discovered upon arriving home that they threw in a few extra soft tacos I don’t think I paid for. It was more food than I wanted, but did I leave anything for later? I did not.

I goofed around on my phone and continued my re-watch of season three of Orange is the New Black and did a bit of online reading. Pretty much just took it easy. I had a bit of a nap around six in the evening, then did some online shopping.

So I didn’t get out of the house for a walk until just past midnight. No idea why.

It was a nice walk. I stopped at the 7-Eleven for an ice cream sandwich, a salmon musubi, and a bottle of water. Then stopped at Walgreens because a friend of mine asked me to check the Walgreens in my hood for these exclusive Pringles. Wherever the Pringles are, they aren’t in Kalihi. Sweet Corn Pringles, according to someone on Twitter.

I’m going to call the ice cream sandwich and salmon musubi my dinner, because I don’t want to call the Krisipie Kreme mini doughnuts I just put away my dinner.

I kinda feel like my day was a vacation for my brain. And I wonder if the gluttony was either my brain saying, “All regulators are off; the body is free to do as it will” or my body just grabbing at whatever stimuli it could in the absence of mental stimulus. The NYT Sunday crossword (it’s available early Saturday for subscribers) was very challenging, but not the kind of strenuous writing usually is. The crossword is play, not work.

I thought of my parents several times Saturday. I think I’ll give them a call Sunday afternoon. Make sure we’re all okay.

I traded a few texts with Sharon, who was on a little excursion to a popular botanical garden on the windward side of the island. She’d asked me Friday if I’d been there, and I said yeah and told her how to get there. She sent me a nice photo.

Ali in Boston reached out with a funny photo, very late Saturday night (it was already Sunday day where she is) and we exchanged a couple of messages.

Ryan and I emailed each other about the Hawaii Stories project. I think we’re on target for a June 1 unveiling.

Nobody’s Darlin’
by Thunder and Rain

I’ve sailed the seven seas
I’ve severed all my ties
I ain’t nobody’s darlin’
Says the blue within my eyes.

I was born a western storm
On waves I was raised
Collected shells for wishing wells
Down where my pennies lay.

Mother, carry me
I give my words to you
And brother won’t you bury me
And tell my story true
The greatest one that I’ve ever known
Is the one of my body, my heart, and my home.

Carving all the mountains tall
In verses and rhyme
I’ve sung about my secrets
To every single pine.

And dawn to dusk, I’ve said I must
Keep the tales as high
As treason in the roses
And rebels in the rye.

Mother, carry me
I give my words to you
And brother won’t you bury me
And tell my story true
The greatest one that I’ve ever known
Is the one of my body, my heart, and my home.

When my time is over
And the earth will come to drain (?)
The grace within my hillside
And the starlight in my veins

I’ve sailed the seven seas
I’ve severed all my ties
I ain’t nobody’s darlin’
Says the blue within my eyes.

Mother, carry me
I give my words to you
And brother won’t you bury me
And tell my story true
The greatest one that I’ve ever known
Is the one of my body, my heart, and my home.

Such a pretty song.

Okie dokie. It’s five-thirty and I need to lay me down. Reach out if you could use some connectivity. And happy weekend.

Lockdown: A table near the street in our old familiar place

I’ll meet you any time you want
At our Italian restaurant

This Billy Joel song is playing now (I’m listening to Joel’s 12 Gardens Live album). Like a lot of my favorite songs by him, it’s both immensely pleasurable and tinged with some melancholy. I don’t really want to get into why, else I descend into melancholia, but here’s a quick story that’s part of it.

In May 1992, the One Who Got Away was about to graduate from a university in northern California. I’d miraculously saved up a little bit of money, mostly by working two jobs while I secretly (I mean absolutely in secret) took a semester off to figure out what the heck I was going to do with myself. So I planned a trip to finally visit her.

I first flew to Seattle and hung out with Marc and Reid for a week. It was a great trip, and Seattle is still my favorite city outside Hawaii. I spent the days roaming the U district, mostly haunting used bookstores and used record stores, of which there were many. It was kind of a dream of a trip. Evenings, I hung out with Reid, Marc, and some of their friends, many of whom I knew from HBA.

The University of Washington is super, super popular for Hawaii people, and it was especially popular with HBA grads. We don’t send very many to the Ivy League schools, so UW was kind of the top of the next tier for most of us. I don’t know if it’s still true.

After Seattle, I went to NorCal for a few days. It was a little rough, because I’d sorta been planning the trip since she first went up there, thinking I would ask her right before she graduated to marry me. The trip part of the idea I held onto, but the marriage thing was ridiculous. I was still stuck at junior status after five years of undergraduate school, and in a horrible state of arrested development I cling to even as I type this.

A year later, I was packing my stuff for a move to Hilo, where I would finally finish my studies. But this idea had not yet wriggled into my brain in May 1992. I was still in the can-I-make-this-work-at-Manoa frame of mind.

How does any of us survive our early 20s? It was the moodiest time of my life, and I’m a moody guy. The roller coaster was crazier when I was an adolescent, but the lows were much, much lower, and the plummets were a bit steeper when I was a young man.

It still echoes darkly and hollowly, this period between 1987 and 1993, when I remember those plunges, and when I think about that incredible feeling of angst and despair. I am not making any of this Gen X woe-is-me stuff up, even though if I were to describe it, it would read like a textbook analysis of the generational vibe back then. I was really, truly, genuinely stuck in Gen X woe.

Since most of my classmates had graduated college by 1992, they experienced it a slightly different way. I was still floundering as a fifth-year junior, and boy was it tough.

Some of this is material for the Kurt Cobain article I’m going to write someday.

Proposing was out of the question, but I did confess to the girl, my last night there, that I’d been planning to do it for four years. We wouldn’t even be a couple until a few years later, but we communicated somewhere much deeper than just two friends from high school. It was a safe space for saying such insane things.

My second night there, we roamed the Little Italy section of San Francisco, getting dinner at this little spot I know I’d never find again if it were still around. It was good food and good conversation, the kind of conversation we were always good at, ever since early in high school. People who don’t really know how we were might never understand why I’ll never really be over her, but when you’ve experienced that level of communication with someone, it’s pretty dang tough to get over. Even when it’s gone and you’re still sort of in the relationship.

I don’t think back on this night very often, mostly because I have so many memories by now and this is just one night early in the adult part of the friendship. When it pops into my head, I think of it rather fondly. We were so young and stupid and strangely cool.

The next evening, we came back into San Francisco and dined at the same spot. Looking at the menu, we each admitted we’d be happy ordering the same meals as before. Instead (and I wish I could remember whose idea it was), I ordered the second night what she had the first, and she ordered the dish I had the night before.

A bottle of red, a bottle of white
It all depends upon your appetite

I really shouldn’t say never, and I know it. I’m old and know a lot of stuff, but I’m also old enough to know I don’t know anything. For all I know, there’s a deeper level of connection, and I just haven’t gotten there with anyone yet. I believe it’s possible. I’ve experienced something deeper spiritually, so there might be something in between.

I got off to a slightly later start Friday than I was hoping, but my mojo was still there. I was pretty darn productive, if not quite as productive as I wanted to be. I did some editing on a proposal one of the DOs put together without me. It made me really happy. That’s sort of the goal, to get them working with the faculty on their own content, while I assemble it and make it look and sound good. I didn’t even do the assembly on this one — just edits.

I also put together a couple of pieces for the staff newsletter, and worked a little on a couple of feature stories I’ve been dragging my feet with. The mojo from Thursday night helped a lot, as did ABBA Gold, an album that does pretty great things for my writing.

Yeah, I don’t get it either.

Breakfast was overnight oats. Lunch was a couple of hot dogs with sauerkraut, ketchup, and mustard. I still have Thai leftovers but really wanted hot dogs. They were great. I had a feeling I was going to skip the walk, and around my usual late dinner time I was reeeeally hungry. I needed to eat, and I needed to eat soon. So I threw pasta stuff in the Instant Pot. Delicious. I dined happily happily happily while I gave The Sound of Music a second ride.

I did a bit of major housecleaning between the end of my workday and dinner time, which is probably one reason I was so hungry. While I decided what to make for dinner, I snacked on some Krispy Kreme mini cinnamon-sugar doughnuts, picked up at Long’s when I grabbed those Fat Boys. I am no real fan of shelf-stable drugstore doughnuts (these had a pull-date in mid-June), but boy were they tasty. And satisfying.

Sharon and I were on work Skype most of the day talking about lots of stuff, some of it work-related. Crush Girl and I traded some texts about the upcoming weekend.

I have no plans for the weekend, but when I get up around noon, I’m going to set a small agenda. It’s three days. I need brain rest, but I need physical activity, and I have a few projects to make some headway on.

I would like to do some reading, too. And since I got Orange is the New Black seasons four and five in the mail Friday, I’d like to finish my re-watch of season three. And of course I still have three more viewings of The Sound of Music.

In the middle of my writing about the San Francisco Italian restaurant, the Billy Joel album ended, and I switched to Styx’s Caught in the Act: Live. Such a different set of memories.

It’s a long weekend. Long weekends can be great or they can be miserable. If you’re looking for someone to connect with, hit me up either way. I guarantee I can’t give you “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” communication, but I think I can still be of some use.

Lockdown: Fat Boys and a Slim Jim

I’ve said this before, but writing is such a bizarre thing sometimes. It’s a discipline, sure, and I can make myself put the words together when I have to. Since it’s my job, I have to almost every day.

Sometimes it flows, like the chocolate river through Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, just pouring right out of my brain and through my fingertips. Sometimes it’s more like blowing your nose when you’re completely stuffed up. You get stuff out, but it’s slow, and it’s painful, and it’s neither very rewarding nor very pretty.

Today I kind of procrastinated on a thing I had to get done. I did the easy part, then dillied like crazy on the actual composition part. Then I had a late lunch right around the end of some people’s workday, like at 4:30 in the afternoon (my boss usually works seven to four), and just started putting the ideas together, and it kind of loosened up my mojo and I got it all out.

It’s not great. But it’s not bad, and it felt normal. Like maybe instead of opening a major artery, I only need a little paper cut and I let it just ooze gently but quickly right out.

I hope it’s a portent of Friday’s productivity. I have similar work to put together Friday and would love to head into the long weekend without having to worry about Tuesday.

Breakfast was overnight oats. They were meh. As I’ve mentioned, I often sprinkle some brown sugar over the top when I get the oats out of the fridge, even though there’s already brown sugar in there. Thursday morning I just ate them without the extra-extra sugar. Mostly to remind myself that I can.

Lunch — the mojo-loosening lunch — was leftover Thai food. Panang curry with sticky rice. Not exactly leftover, since I didn’t eat any of it Wednesday night but bought it specifically to have Thursday. Freaking delicious.

I don’t think I had a dinner, exactly. When I submitted my work it was about seven in the evening, and I thought I might have dinner after my walk, since I’ve been so hungry after them lately. So I had a snack, these Lay’s Limon flavored chips. Just a couple of handsful, which is probably like eight servings according to the bag.

After submitting something written from scratch, I usually need a brain rest. So I went to bed for a short nap and got up around half past nine. It took me a while to take care of a few housekeeping things and I finally got out the door for my walk after eleven.

It was going to be a short walk. I needed to get a money order for the rent. There’s a 7-Eleven (where money orders are only a buck) soooorta near the house, but pretty much across the street from the post office, and I hate carrying money around late late at night. I usually avoid this 7-Eleven at night because it’s in a rather sketchy area, but its proximity to the post office drew me. I wanted to keep the walk short.

You should always ask the clerk if the money order printer is working. 7-Eleven’s printers are suuuuuuuuuuuuper unreliable, and too many times have I made the mistake of walking in there with cash for the rent, only to learn I can’t get a money order. Not that big a deal when you’re driving, but I’m walking.

So I asked. And the clerk said no, the printer’s not working. So I walked through an even sketchier area in the ‘hood to the next 7-Eleven. It’s just a few blocks down pretty much the same street, but it’s dark, and it was once a popular spot for very shady dealings.

The next 7-Eleven, which I stop at rather frequently because it’s almost never very busy late at night, was able to help me out. So I got my money order and stuck it into an addressed envelope I brought with me, and walked up to the strip mall, and now it was quite a bit of a longer walk than I planned, but now I was kind of enjoying it so it was okay.

It was in the plan to mail the rent, then get something from Long’s. I needed an HDMI cable. And by the time I dropped my mail in the box, I was really hungry. Like, I-can’t-make-it-home-without-a-bite hungry.

Some drugstores are pretty good for convenience-store-type food. You might get a premade sandwich or some string cheese or something. This Long’s isn’t quite like that, although it does sell a few novelty ice creams individually. It was going to have to do. I got a couple of Fat Boys and a can of iced tea. And a Slim Jim. And wolfed them down sitting on a wall outside the store. Another snack, or dinner? I guess dinner, which even I am appalled at.

However, it is 3:00 in the morning Friday. I’m sated. I feel good about work and about the walk (I added only 3300 steps before midnight but hit 9000 steps after midnight, leaving me just over a thousand steps shy of the daily goal). I should be done with this in enough time to get to bed by 4 at the latest, which would be delightful.

Sharon and I traded a few Skype IMs about work stuff, mostly. She’s a good friend. I miss the days when her desk was just down the hall from mine. She’s back on campus now (I mean in non-lockdown situations) and I’m still in the main office, so I don’t chat with her as much. I’m super grateful for her camaraderie and friendship, especially now that Ali’s moved to Boston.

Jennifer emailed me a photo of a really inexpensive lunch she picked up near her place. After we went to a whisky tasting together, we had a dinner in this spot, a casual Japanese joint that’s quite good. It was from there.

Crush Girl responded to my questions from late Wednesday night, which led into longer conversations about the UC schools no longer requiring ACT or SAT scores for admissions. I and my fellow educators who’ve worked with non-traditional learners are quite happy about this development, despite the fact that without standardized test scores, the one thing I had going for me in the eyes of colleges is gone.

Standardized assessment is horribly flawed in one very important way: there’s really no such thing as a standard learner, so standardizing learning is a losing proposition, and standardizing assessment is unfair.

We chatted about a few other things, and it would probably have been the highlight of my day if not for finding my writing mojo. Oh, and the Fat Boys and Slim Jim.

I also got an IM on FB from a former boss of a boss, which was really nice. Can’t mention what we discussed yet, since the conversation is ongoing, but it made me feel good that she reached out to me.

As you should also do if you’re having difficulty connecting in these [fill in the blank with anything but “uncertain”] days. It’s technically Friday as I get ready to dive into bed, and Friday is going to be terrific. I’m happy to share some of the terrificness with you, if you could use some.

Lockdown: Lonely goatherd

I’m still watching The Sound of Music. This is a long movie. Some of it is kind of unwatchable, but overall so far the story is compelling, and there are moments of greatness for sure. I have to say the conversation in the abbey about the walls not being an escape are pretty great, though. More overtly spiritual than I expected from a film like this.

The early Zoom meeting wasn’t bad. The project’s ambitious. Tens of millions of dollars for a really good cause. I don’t know yet what my role is, and I probably won’t for a while, but I’m looking forward to it. And yes, my role was just to listen quietly, which I did fairly well.

My work was again really, really slow. I have to focus Thursday, really concentrate and get stuff done. I’ll skip walking Thursday night if I need to finish stuff up.

Breafast, which I did not have until after the first meeting at about 11:30, was a couple of hot dogs with sauerkraut, mustard, and ketchup. For lunch I was going to drive down the hill and get some Chinese takeout, to satisfy my vegetable craving, but as I considered what to order and what would keep best in the fridge (since I would order a few meals’ worth), I was reminded that no leftovers are as great as Thai food leftovers.

So I drove to Nuuanu and ordered Thai food. It’s not a lot of leafy greens, but it’s a lot of veggies for sure. I got like three entrees and three sides. So dinner, which I am having now, is some of the leftovers. I had spring rolls, chicken pad thai, and a dish they call the house special, which is really a vegetable-laden chicken stir-fry.

I didn’t get rolling this evening until nearly eleven. I was kind of annoyed about it. I got the stepcount to 11,000 before midnight and up to 8,000 after midnight. There were already 3500 steps or so before I got out the door, so let’s call it 15,000 tonight.

For most of the first half of my walk, I didn’t listen to anything. Just kind of enjoyed the sound of the sleeping neighborhood. It was nice. On the way back I listened to Conundrum, a new album by this Swedish band called Hällas. Not a metal band. More of a late-70s-style progressive space-rock band. It’s good. I listened through twice and like it. I think it’ll make great going-to-sleep music, especially for mid-day naps.

Jennifer sent me a photo of a misspelled sign in her neighboorhood. I sent her a horribly egregious spelling error in huge letters on the front page of Wednesday’s Hawaii Tribune-Herald. Which was texted to me earlier Wednesday by Jenny, who got it from a former coworker we have in common.

That’s pretty much it for connections. I sent Crush Girl a few texts very late, probably after she was already in bed.

Here’s to connecting, however briefly in whatever form. And if you’re having difficulty finding someone to connect with, you know you don’t have to go through this disconnected. I hope you’ll reach out.

Lockdown: No veggie tales

Speaking of unhealthy: today’s meals.

For breakfast I had a Big Mac combo while I did my laundry. This was at like three in the morning, and I stretched it all the way out to five. I came home, did a couple of tasks, then went to bed, since I had the morning off and wasn’t expected at work until noon.

Around then, I had a bowl of Monday’s pasta, this time with the blue cheese melted in. I think it was supposed to be lunch. Okay yeah, let’s call it lunch. Delicious.

It was the odd time (I guess once a week) when, except for the very late and unconventional breakfast, I have meals at normal times. So around 4:30, after a fair amount of productivity with my work, I drove down the hill to Rainbows in response to a weird craving. Boneless chicken with gravy. It was sixteen minutes between closing the door behind me and getting back through the door with dinner. Good to know!

I did more work, then took a nap. Went for a walk — almost getting out the door before ten, but i was slowed down by some rain. It wasn’t enough rain to keep me indoors, but it caused me to consider. I finally got going just past 10, which is still a heck of a lot earlier than I’ve gone out, possibly in weeks.

I dropped some mail in the drop-box at the strip mall, then went around through Kalihi, staying out of my usual Liliha, Puunui, and Nuuanu just because. It came out to 12,000 steps before midnight and another 3,000 steps after midnight. Got home at about 12:30.

I watched a little more of The Sound of Music, then made what can only be called a second dinner: another bowl of the pasta with blue cheese. I’m just not in the mood to put more leftovers into the fridge.

I just did a tiny bit of work and sent it off. I have a 10:30 Zoom meeting for a large project our cancer center’s about to launch. I believe I’m only there to take notes and then stand by for assignments, of which there could be several. I’m trying to get to bed at what for me would be a decent hour: before four or four-thirty.

Sylvia sent me some photos of her latest batch of homemade crackers, served with sardines and homemade mayo. Super impressive.

Sharon and I did some IMing in the work Skype. Mostly work-related.

I texted Crush Girl to tell her how it felt like my brain’s been in slow motion for a week and a half or more. She said she feels similarly. That was it. One message from me; one message from her. It was fine.

I had to throw out some fresh veggies, which really annoys me. I need to get some veggies in me and all I have now are canned things. I’m thinking I might go to the Korean market and pick up some stuff. Or maybe just have some of the canned stuff. Green beans is what I have. I could make a bean salad — I have a lot of black beans and kidney beans, since I make chili so often. Or maybe a vegetarian chili. that’s really not much in the way of real vegetables though.

Ohhhh maybe I can get Chinese takeout. The Chinese restaurant at the bottom of my hill reopened for takeout this week. It’s been closed for a couple of months. I love me some Chinese veggies. I’ve also been craving watercress but didn’t see it at the supermarket the last time I was there.

I am rewatching season three of Orange is the New Black, by the way. In case I didn’t clarify after saying it ended on such an uplifting note. It’s been as tough to rewatch as it was to watch the first time. I’m trying to look at how they set up the end and I’m seeing little things but nothing really major. One new thing for me is how the main character and a certain other character emerge as foils. Both self-destructive, one more than the other. Both from wealthy families. One aware of her faults, so wrapped up in them that she takes a major consequence for just skirting her demons, while the other seemingly unaware that she’s turned into a truly detestable person.

Gotta hit it. Insert daily invitation to reach out. I’m here for connection if connection you need.

Lockdown: My living room’s alive with the sound

“The pandemic is not over just because you’re bored.”

Saw this on Twitter early Tuesday morning. I think it puts a finger right on general sentiment. I didn’t think it was so widespread until I saw photos of the parks and beaches on Oahu this past weekend. People are so very eager to get out and get together.

I don’t really blame them. Surprisingly, I actually sympathize. I thought it would take longer, but it’s only been two months, and I miss my colleages at the office. I mean, I miss being around them. I miss incidental conversations in passing, in the halls or the lobby or elevator or parking structure or breakroom. I miss asking people where they went for lunch, or what they’re reading, or what they thought of Friday night’s basketball game.

I will never go so far as to say I miss smalltalk, but I miss the smalltalk-adjacent chitchat with people I admire and care about.

I don’t exactly miss conversations with my parents every weekend, but I miss being around them every weekend. I’ve taken unexpected comfort in just being in their presence every so often. It needn’t be every weekend — but it’s been two months, and I’m feeling it.

I’ve already said I miss seeing Crush Girl, which is no surprise. Yet I also miss the friends I see maybe once or twice a year, at birthday get-togethers or whatever. I’m writing this down now as a reminder for the next time I’m still home and dreading getting together with these friends, thirty minutes before I’m supposed to be at some restaurant.

“I can’t people today” is my go-to sentiment most of the time I’m expected to be somewhere for something social, even with people I always enjoy seeing. It takes supreme effort to get dressed, get into the car, and get going, even when I know by the time I get home I’ll be glad I did.

Socializing is a lot like going to the beach or going for a late-night walk.

As Adam Grant reminds us in a recent newspaper column, introverts need social interaction as much as extroverts need it. We just get our fill very very very quickly.

We can call it bored if we want, and I’m not denying boredom is a big part of it, but it’s more than that. It’s being part of something bigger than the something in our own homes. It’s why movie theaters didn’t die with the boom in home video, as predicted by doomsayers in the late 80s.

Ironic that this could be the end of movie theaters, though. Digression.

I’ve said for a month or so that one of the things I miss most is drinking coffee in coffee shops, or tea in boba cafes. Still true.

However, I still have a job. My friends and family are safe. My coworkers are hanging in there. Not everyone is lucky enough to complain about the stuff I and others complain about. Even if I’m bored beyond tears and stir-crazy like crazy, I’m still in a good place. I can take more.

Monday work was okie dokie. Not as productive nor as efficient as I wanted to be, but I got a few low-stress, no-brainpower requests in the morning. Taking care of them with little strain was satisfying, even if doing so was kind of esapist behavior. I still have stuff I really need to get done while new major things continue to roll in.

My daily Zoom meeting was nice, as was the smaller Zoom meeting I had right after. Good work conversations. Good camaraderie. Good reminders that while I may be redundant within my department and the first to go if we have layoffs, while I’m here I’m doing something important and valued.

I mean valued in a philosophical and practical sense. Not in a compensatory sense. ‘Though it’s clear this is no time to complain about this.

My diet has been atrocious lately. It’s one reason I set out two months ago determined to log what I eat: so I can remind myself of unhealthy ruts I often slide into. Korean veggies this past weekend was a good idea, but once a week won’t do it, and while I make no apologies for these typically pickled or cooked veggie preparations, they’re a little lacking in the dark leafy greens area. My high-average HDLs were a comfort to me the last time I had bloodwork and I’d hate to see that go.

On that note! Breakfast was three hot dogs with sauerkraut, ketchup, and mustard. So yummy. Lunch was pasta (campanelle) in canned sauce, pepared in the Instant Pot. I still have that nice blue cheese (it doesn’t look like it’s turned yet) and meant to stir that in but I was too lazy. I wanted to get to bed early (because laundry), another reason I prepared this for lunch. Didn’t want to take too much time messing around, especially after the all-evening waffles Sunday.

Lunch, by the way, is typically around 4, but I’ve been known to push it to 6, which is what I did Monday.

I don’t think I had dinner, because I pretty much went to bed when I was finished with lunch. I think I may have thrown things off — it’s possible I had breakfast before bed early Monday morning. I’ll have to check what I wrote yesterday. Either way, I’m pretty sure there were no two-meal days.

I didn’t snack Monday either.

I skipped the walk because laundry.

I did, while having my lunch, watch the first forty minutes or so of The Sound of Music. People have given me grief for decades about my not having seen it. So this is the week. I’m planning to review it for the staff newsletter, since people at work are relentless in their shock/dismay/disappointment at my not having seen it.

Last weekend I finished season three of Orange is the New Black. It was a weird season. The main character grows increasingly terrible, while some of the detestable characters are really turning out nice. The show’s always been good about developing sympathy for its characters, but I wasn’t expecting some of this.

No real spoilers coming up, but skip this section if you’re really sensitive about spoilers.

Some have moved toward the middle: admirable characters spiraling (or nosediving) into understandable self-destructive behavior. Unlikeable characters doing a good turn so they’re not as unlikeable. The real villain after three seasons appears to be the prison system.

But Piper Chapman, the central character, is in danger of being a secondary villain. Geez.

I considered not doing a re-watch before moving to season four, but the writers do something at the end that redeems the bad general feeling of the twelve episodes before. There’s a wonderful, hopeful, uplifting moment you can’t help but smile at. Joy is lacking in this show about a women’s minimum security prison, yet we’re treated to utter, unabashed joy, colored with a strange dash of peace.

That the inept, corrupt system allows for this moment is damning of the system. That the inmates take advantage and seize a moment of baptism (I’m a literature major; I know what a body of water is) for themselves makes my spirit soar for these horribly flawed characters and for myself.

Which is one thing good art does.

Worst season so far, but what a moment the end of episode 13 is.

Crush Girl texted me to ask about my weekend. We traded weekend stories. She sent me a photo of a place on the North Shore where she got some nice-looking takeout. It really made me happy to know she had a great weekend. I guess because my weekend was kind of blah.

Sharon and I traded some texts about potato chips, waffles, kaki mochi in movie theaters, the beach, my hair falling out, and some alumni-relations stuff.

Jennifer M sent me a photo of her latest Japanese whisky purchase. I have to say I’m intrigued — it’s her second purchase of this bottle. She lives walking distance from the Sake Shop in Kakaako, where we’ve both been getting whisky lately. My purchases have mostly been gifts.

Someone out there somewhere is reading this and feeling disconnected from others at a weird time in our lives. With every head bowed and every eye closed, I request this person reach out to me for texting, DMing, or IMing.

That turned out lamer than it sounded in my head. But you get the drift. I’m here.

Lockdown: Sleeping beauty

I was about to say I don’t know where Sunday went, but honestly, it went to Saturday night. I got up before noon and did a few normal Sunday things, but then I went back to bed and didn’t really get up until past two. And there was a nap later for like two hours. I know. Ridiculous.

I felt kind of yucky all day, still managing to get a little more of the Hawaii Stories project done. I have three more narratives to read and edit, and I think I’ll be able to get to them Monday after work.

That’s about it, really. It wasn’t much of a day, despite best intentions.

Breakfast was the last of the turkey chili with hapa rice I made Saturday night.

Lunch was insane. I broke out the waffle iron Penny gave me and actually read the instructions. There’s not much to a waffle iron, really. I made the batter using a different recipe from the one I used last week. This one was loaded — I mean freaking loaded — with eggs and butter. So many eggs. So much butter.

The sourdough waffles kind of took forever. I don’t know what I’m doing. A waffle iron might not much to it, but waffles kind of do if you don’t know what you’re doing, and I clearly don’t. I turned out the first waffle quickly; the first on a new appliance is usually grody anyway, so I didn’t see the need to do a good job on it, ‘though I did eat it.

The next seemed to take forever to cook, and when I bit into it, I realized why: I way, way overcooked it. Weird, I know the concept of a waffle: crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside. Yet as I tried to recollect what a good waffle is like — that is, how crispy, how light, how airy, how fluffy, how flavorfull — I really couldn’t remember. It’s because I almost never, ever, ever order waffles when I go out.

I had the chicken and waffles from Pancakes and Waffles last Saturday, on my way back from the beach, but before that I honestly couldn’t tell you when or where I’d ever had a waffle before it. I know I have; I simply don’t remember it, because it was so long ago.

So honestly. I don’t know how the rest of the waffles came out, besides pretty. Oh, they’re pretty. But are they too crisp? Are they cooked too far? Do they taste okay? Ugh. I have no idea. And by the time I used up the batter, I just wasn’t interested in eating them. I’d had one and a half already, just standing there waiting for them all to cook.

I let them cool on a rack and put them in a Ziploc for tomorrow. I’ll freeze whatever I don’t eat. I’m sure I can think of good uses for them if I don’t actually eat them the way a waffle is meant to be eaten. Fruit and yoghurt, maybe. Or maybe a waffle pizza.

The entire waffle adventure took most of the evening, which cut into my work time.

I skipped the walk. I really, really wanted to go, but I knew if I did, I wouldn’t touch the Hawaii Stories work, and that stuff has been the neglected victim of too many late walks. It was time for HS to be the immovable object.

I was elbows-deep in this work when I got hungry for dinner. Ugh. I still had leftover rice but wasn’t interesting in throwing anything together, so once again I had canned corned beef hash with hapa rice and it was freaking lovely. Yes, I feel terrible. But yes, I feel terrible in such a good way.

I don’t think I snacked on anything Sunday. Weird.

I’m listening to Hiroshima’s Third Generation album (1983), an album I bought on cassette in 1987. I was kind of a big fan for a few years. I played the heck out of this album my first year of college, when the purpose of owning a red pickup truck was to drive everywhere all the time and listen to music the whole way. Go and Another Place might be better albums, and I loved them both in my twenties, but this one’s special.

I’m still a little grouchy about the disagreement with Ali Saturday night. When we’re clicking, we communicate so well. But when we aren’t, nothing I say or do is right. It’s so weird. I can’t think of another friendship I’ve ever had like this.

We traded a few texts Sunday about a different subject, and I think there was a cautious warming of relations, but geez. I’m still reeling from the pummeling I took Saturday.

That was it. There were emails, all of them related to Hawaii Stories. No DMs or IMs. I think it’s just as well.

Should really have taken that walk.

It’s ten to four. I’m going to try and be comatose by 4:30, looking forward to a nice, productive Monday. Fresh start. New dawn. Promise of a new day. Now I’m going to have Paula Abdul stuck in my ear all night.

Let’s connect if you’re feeling disconnected.

Lockdown: Up too late. Again.

I did sorta work all day on the Hawaii Stories project, if you count six in the evening as the beginning of my day and five in the morning as the end. I worked slowly at first, mostly because I tried to do it with Season Three of Orange is the New Black on the TV. When I finally forced myself to shut it off, I was super productive, sending edit suggestions back to more than half the writers.

It was all super, super inefficient, even for me, but whatever. I sorta enjoyed the mellow, relaxed pace of the day, although I could honestly have done without the ultra vampire hours here.

I still have some to do. I guess I’ll aspire to good, productive focus Sunday, and be okay if it’s a repeat of today.

I skipped the walk so I could focus on the work. I feel okay — I went beyond the daily goal three days in a row, and I was a little sore this morning. I’ll get back to it Sunday evening.

Could have used a little more connectivity today, ‘though I admit I also kind of reveled in the day’s solitude. That’s actually preeeetty close to my usual Saturday disposition, so maybe things are getting close to normal for me. After a week of work at the office, I typically need Saturday to decompress alone, and I often get resentful of anything taking it away. I think I’ll need to make an extra effort to connect Sunday.

After Friday’s long text conversation with Ali, we were pretty quiet today. She just reacted to the last message I sent Friday night, which was my advice she get the Amazon Kindle Oasis. She’s caving.

Ryan and I traded a few texts related to the Hawaii Stories thing. I also traded texts with Jennifer and Susannah, related to the same project.

I forwarded a Yahoo! news article about “pancake cereal,” a new quarantine cooking fad. Sent it via text to Crush Girl and Sylvia. Crush Girl, who follows a few IG cooking accounts, said she’d already seen the trend on IG.

Breakfast was a couple of hot dogs. I know it’s a lousy breakfast, but it makes me so happy I have to make excuses to do it once in a while. At least there’s sauerkraut on it, so that’s sorta healthy. Right?

Lunch was leftover turkey chili and (fresh) hapa rice. I have one more serving of the chili and look forward to finishing it up Sunday. Dinner was a combination of the leftover sourdough waffles and some tortilla chips and fresh salsa. I also snacked on some lemon creme sandwich cookies from 7-Eleven. A friend shared a photo of them a couple of weeks ago, and although I’m not a cookie guy and I’m not really a lemon cookie guy, I was intrigued. She said the 7-Eleven-branded cookies were surprisingly very good, perhaps the best of their supermarket kind. I have to say they were pretty good.

Geez. It’s nearly six in the morning and I’m in the middle of a ridiculous exchange with Ali about the stupid Oasis. I’m going to bed.

Not all connections can be positive, but I still appreciate the connection. If you need someone to reach out to, reach out to me. It’ll probably be a lot better for my heart than the conversation I’m dealing with now. Time for bed!

Lockdown: Seoul food for lunch and dinner

I forgot yesterday to talk about walking. I got rolling Thursday after 11:30 in the evening (I think), and it felt like a small triumph just that I got out of the house. I didn’t go for a very long walk, but between the end of Thursday and the wee hours Friday, I got about 13,000 steps. Stopped at Long’s on the way back for baking soda and laundry things.

Friday I didn’t get out the door until after midnight. This is getting ridiculous; I swear. I did the usual walk, but switched it up a little. Instead up Liliha, east on Wylie, down Nuuanu, and back home via School Street, I went east on Kuakini, up Nuuanu, west on Wylie, down Liliha, east again on Kuakini, down the rest of the way on Nuuanu, and back home via School Street. Came back on Kuakini to hit the 7-Eleven for some water and a convenience store musubi. It came out to 14,000 steps, and it felt pretty good. I think Nuuanu may be steeper than Liliha, and I walked it briskly, so it may have been slightly better for the heart.

Thursday night I listened to Loathe’s new album, I Let It in and It Took Everything, which was something of a trip. It was my first time hearing them, and they play like ten different genres, sometimes within the same song. The dominant styles are metalcore and shoegaze, and I guess it’s pretty interesting, but I got a little weary of it.

I also checked out Course of Fate’s Mindweaver, which is more my speed. Progressive metal with a little bit of 80s arena rock thrown in. Super melodic and not especially challenging. I listened to it twice.

Friday evening I listened to Path to Immortality by Voices of Ruin — someone mentioned in the comments section of a metal blog I read that it was good. American melodic death metal. Very nice. The solos are pretty as heck. The same commentor compared the album to Kalmah, a band I’d never heard of, so I listened to their most recent, Palo, from 2018. Nice — reminds me of Children of Bodom but less show-offy and slightly less aggressive. I like CoB better, but this will be nice to put on once in a while when I need some soothing. I think it’ll be good writing music, too.

Work wasn’t bad. I wasn’t as productive as I wanted to be, but I made decent progress, if a bit slow. Sigh. I’ll probably have to finish up sometime this weekend, although my major priority for the two days off from work is the Hawaii Stories project.

Breakfast was the rest of that canned corned beef has from the other night. With leftover hapa rice. For lunch, I drove to the Korean takeout place I like (it’s not the closest to home, but I like the veggie selection better) and had Korean barbecue chicken, with kimchi, potato salad, broccoli, and seaweed. I picked up a veggie plate while I was there, and ate that for dinner. Cabbage, tofu, bean sprouts, cucumber kimchi, and pickled daikon. During the walk I had that salmon musubi for a snack, and just now I put down a bowl of cereal.

Jennifer texted me a photo of a vintage Harry Potter toothbrush she bought a long time ago. We traded comments on that. I said if she broke the toothbrush open, she’d probably find a phoenix feather in the handle. She said maybe a dragon heartstring.

AJ in San Diego, who sent me the cool jigsaw puzzle, asked if I’d started it yet. I said no, I’m making space for a new table and would get started sometime next week. That’s the goal, anyway.

I sent Ali in Boston a link to something we did at work. She hasn’t responded yet.

So, this weekend I’m dedicating to house chores and Hawaii Stories project, but the HS thing is getting my first effort. I’m behind on it — way behind — and really want to make serious progress so Ryan’s not sorry he started the whole thing in the first place.

If I have time and energy after all that, I’m going to try to do a few reviews. Joker, and a few books I read this year and haven’t written about yet. Oh, I re-watched Once Upon a Time in Hollywood sometime last week, so I’d like to review that too.

Hoping anyone reading this whose weekend prospects are less than encouraging will reach out. I’m happy to connect via text or DM or IM. Let’s help each other through this.