Lockdown: Feed me, Seymour (and Lagasse)

Weeeeeellll I wasn’t very productive at work today. I’m going to attribute part of it to my only working half the day, but my brain was just kind of nomadic all day. It’s like it was compensating for all that focus Monday by giving itself a day off.

I’m definitely going to have to make up for it Wednesday and Thursday. I only work half the day Wednesday, too.

Now I’m satisfied
And she is looking fine
But you pay for your satisfaction
Somewhere along the line

Same Billy Joel song I quoted a few weeks ago. It goes through my mind a lot when I’m journaling for some reason.

Sweet Virginia cigarette
Burning in my hand
You used to be a friend of mine
But now I understand

The article I submitted, the one that unstuck my mojo? It came back with some good revision suggestions. I kinda knew it would; in fact, when I submitted it, I proactively suggested what I could do with it if my boss thought it needed a different angle. Which it does. I was playing politically safe, but it turns out this piece doesn’t need it as much as my usual corporate giving articles.

I know exactly what to do with it — decided what to do with it days ago — but couldn’t get my brain out of low gear. Wednesday for sure.

Breakfast was a couple of hot dogs with sauerkraut, ketchup, and mustard. Lunch was steamed potatoes and broccolini, the last of the broccolini. Still have a couple of potatoes left. I’m planning to do a stir-fry Wednesday; the potatoes might go in there since I have not quite one serving of leftover brown rice.

I went to bed early Tuesday night so I could get up early for laundry Wednesday. I skipped dinner, and I wan’t hungry partly because lunch was so late. Unless you count what I’m eating at the laundromat right now my dinner. I’m reserving the right to do so retroactively. My usual laundry night Big Mac combo.

My first semester in Hilo, I didn’t have a washer and dryer in the place I rented. There was a laundry quite near the house, though, across the three bridges right in downtown Hilo. It was close enough that I could leave laundry in the machines and come home for a little while before walking back. Or walk half a block to Bear’s Coffee, a nice little cafe with excellent coffee but usually expired Diet Pepsi. That first semester was lean, though, so I didn’t do it very often. Bear’s is still there, by the way. Makes me happy since so many of my haunts are just memories now.

It was a tiny laundry, with maybe ten washers and ten dryers; maybe it had fewer of each. There was a small, ancient wooden bench outside, on the sidewalk. I don’t remember any folding tables, but there must have been at least one — who builds a laundry without folding tables?

There was a more upscale laundry about two miles down the road, a couple of blocks from campus. It was huge, and well-lighted, and air-conditioned. There were TVs all over the place, and those carts with baskets, so you could unload your machine and wheel your clothes to a table.

On a Sunday morning when I went there, the place was hopping, not at all like the dark, very quiet laundry near the house, where I often didn’t see anyone. They had a golf tourney on the TV, and many of the laundry patrons were into it, cheering for their favorite guys. If it had been football, I’d have been in my element.

It was nice, but it was a bit pricier, and it was a two-mile walk, so I never went back. The next semester I was in an apartment building right across the campus, and it had laundry rooms on every floor.

The laundry I go to now has one TV, and it always has infomercials on when I get here. I expected after my first late-night wash here that I’d bring my earbuds and listen to music while the clothes washed and dried. I do bring the earbuds, but I don’t use them. There’s something familiar and cozy about the sound of the informercials. I set up shop on the folding table nearest the TV, but with my back to the screen.

I wonder if the comfy sameness of the format, whether kitchen countertop appliances or anti-aging creams are being hawked, is part of the design. One of the informercials on frequent rotation features Emeril Lagasse, whose show I used to have on every night, whether I watched it attentively or let it serenade me as I graded papers or made dinner.

Another features Jane Seymour, who still looks amazing.

Infomercials are kind of the soundtrack of being up late. When I had cable, it was often ESPN all night, which was almost always the same 30-minute episode of SportsCenter over and over for hours. Comfort TV.

There’s a poem in there somewhere.

My second graveyard shift job, the semester I was on suspension from UH Manoa, I worked at a gas station in the cashier booth. It was later knocked down and replaced by a Blockbuster, which gave way later to a credit union. It’s across Waialae Avenue from the the Kahala Zippy’s. You’ve driven past it a million times.

There was a tiny portable black-and-white TV in the booth. I wasn’t supposed to have it on when the mechanics and pump jockeys (it was a full-serve station) showed up in the morning before the end of my shift, but I could use it all I wanted once everyone went home at night. I watched Letterman every night, of course, and then Later with Bob Costas. The last thing on the air before signoff (there were seldom infomercials) was The Love Boat, a show I always hated when it was on during its initial run.

It was a much better show at two in the morning, lemme tell you. I loved it, and dreaded the credit scroll at the end of every episode.

After the first few weeks, I brought my computer with me. My Commodore 64, with modem. Home computers could be plugged into TVs back then — at least Commodores could be. They weren’t sold with monitors, as the Apple // was. The keyboard and CPU were in the same unit. So I plugged it into the tiny TV, attached the modem to one of the phone lines (we had four), and dialed into my favorite chat system, where I’d chat with friends until the sun came up.

That was fall 1988. I’m still friends with many of the people I met on that chat system, including the guy who ran it.

I traded texts with three friends Tuesday. AJ in San Diego sent me her book review draft, which I will take a look at as soon as I post this. Sylvia sent me a link for some local gourmet popcorn she’s really into. I’m not a huge popcorn fan, but her photos make it look great, so I’m considering an order. Crush Girl told me a little about her weekend, then shared how she’s having trouble with her car. I gave her a little bit of (solicited!) advice about selling a car, and offered to help her problem-solve. I think she was feeling a bit overwhelmed, or depressed. I feel that. Car problems are the worst. I hope she got something useful out of our conversation.

I also offered to drive behind her if she takes it to the shop. I didn’t say, “I’d ask you to ride in the back seat on our way back from the garage,” but I thought it.

Still super nervous about social distancing. Forced to be on the receiving end of someone’s germs, I could do a lot worse than Crush Girl’s, but I don’t want hers either. And I’m sure she doesn’t want mine.

I skipped the walk again, because laundry.

There’s a chance I’ll hit the beach when I’m done with laundry. Didn’t work out last time, but I have a good feeling about this morning.

Please reach out if you’re having trouble connecting in this lockdown. I’m blessed to have friends who reach out to me. You’re blessed too, and if it doesn’t seem like it, I’m here.

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