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.

Lockdown: Can’t get up; I feel waffle

no, i did not eat them all; i have leftovers for the weekend!

Two food adventures in my kitchen in two days.

Last week’s episode of the Judge John Hodgman podcast included a bunch of talk about zapiekanka, a Polish open-faced sandwich the podcast participants compared to a pizza. It’s a split baguette with (in order of closeness to the bread) sautéd sliced mushrooms, cheese, and ketchup. You put that stuff on and toast it.

Part of the conversation led J. Kenji Lopez-Alt (a guest on the podcast) to share that the French bread pizza was invented by students at Cornell. Because of course, it’s going to be a college student or someone else making the most of limited resources to make something approximating a favorite food.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call either a zapiekanka or French bread pizza poverty food, but it’s sort of in that area, with mac & cheese or instant ramen. Is it a pizza? Not really. It comes close, though, and it could be delicious! I was obsessed with the concept of the zapiekanka and other explorations of pizza approximation with whatever you have in the house.

So Wednesday I finally gave it a try. Split a hoagie roll. Put some sautéd mushrooms down, some good sliced cheddar (my cheese stores are running low; I only have good stuff left right now), and a generous amount of ketchup. Into the toaster oven.

It was goooood. The hot ketchup actually works as a sauce. I made a second one, and in the spirit of using whatever I had, instead of ketchup, I used some McD’s barbecue sauce I had in the fridge. You know, from Chicken McNuggets. Not quite as good, but still good.

English muffin pizzas were a major staple in my early teaching career. Easy to make, inexpensive, and great for late-night grading sessions. I did it in college too, sometimes, and it’s where I came up with one of my favorite inventions: kimchi pizza.

I’ve got a few more hoagie rolls. Looking forward to trying a few other things.

Thursday I finally made the sourdough waffles. When you have a sourdough starter, you have to feed it to keep all the lovely bacteria happy. You can keep your starter dormant in the fridge, but even then it needs to be taken out and fed once a week or so.

Feeding it when you’re not baking with it involves throwing half of it out, then adding flour and water. Some people feel the discard portion is wasteful, and I have to admit I feel similarly. For people who prefer to use the discard, there are a bunch of recipes on the web, including these sourdough waffles I tried.

Quite good. I look forward to tweaking the recipe. For a first batch of waffles (I have a waffle iron Penny gave me a couple of Christmases ago, but it’s still in the box; Thursday I used an inexpensive mini-waffle maker I picked up for ten bucks at Target six months ago), they were amazing. I’m rather pleased. And I told Penny I’m breaking in her waffle iron this weekend. I have a lot of discard in food storage containers in my fridge.

I actually had breakfast really early Thursday, while I was journaling about Wednesday in the predawn hours. I picked up a loco moco from a local okazuya on my way back home during the walk. For a late lunch, I had the sourdough waffles. Dinner, which I am eating right now, is leftover rice with some canned corned beef hash. I wasn’t in the mood to make anything. A good time to pop open something in the pantry.

Work was mellow, once the all-staff meeting was done. I’ll go into that later. I didn’t get anything crossed off my list, but I made slow progress. Felt kinda like a Friday, which maybe doesn’t bode well for my productivity Friday, but I am going to give it my best shot.

I traded texts with a few coworkers after the meeting. Sharon and I actually kinda played the “who’s going to get laid off first” game, the details of which I shan’t make public. Neither of us thinks either of us is safe; I’ll say that. I’ve been with the company for three and a half years, and I’m still the newest hire in my department. You know how it goes: last in, first out.

Ali in Boston and I talked more books. Crush Girl and I texted about her shoes and my waffles. Jennifer responded to a text I sent, asking her feelings about the phrase RBF.

I feel like I’ve done a ton more shopping these past couple of months, spending way more on groceries than usual. I’m paying more, for one thing, because I’ve stayed away from Costco ever since it modified its hours (last week it went back to normal hours, so I might give it a go fifteen minutes before closing on a weeknight; my friend Crissy says she went in and it was nice and sparsely occupied). I’m also purchasing more, since I’m not eating out nearly as much as I used to.

Still, my spending has been surprisingly mellow. I’ve been stunned to see how much I still have in my checking account the day before payday. There’s a lesson in here somewhere, only I’m too stubborn to learn it right now. Food for thought for sure, though. Because with the money I’m saving by not dining out and by not driving anywhere, I’ve aggressively paid down some credit card debt. I owe my landlord some money too, and I’ve worked to pay that down too.

I (figuratively) sleep a lot better at night.

It’s what I need, too. I have some major car repairs coming up within the year.

Hey, I’m just about done here, and it’s only 4:02 in the morning. If I hurry, I can be asleep by 4:30.

Whatever you’re dealing with in these lockdown days, if you’re not connecting with anyone (or not satisfactorily), I encourage you to reach out. Let’s talk it out.

Note to self: forgot to talk about walking and music. Save for Friday.

Lockdown: Happy bedtime reading

I’m always glad I went for a walk, after the walk is through. I never look forward to it.

Most of the time, I enjoy it while it’s happening. I like being outside. I like fresh air. I like wandering, in the daylight or at night. I especially like it at night. Once in a while, my body feels good too, like it was meant to walk 15,000 steps up a steep hill and through a couple of neighborhoods. That’s when it’s the best, when my body feels good and my mind feels good.

Wednesday night was mostly the opposite. I finally got my carcass out the door at 1:40 in the morning, the latest I’ve done it since this lockdown began. It didn’t suck. I just kinda wished I’d stayed home most of the time I was out, which was close to two and a half hours. But I’m home now, and I’m glad I did it. Mostly.

I listened to some podcasts in the second half, but in the first half I didn’t want my brain engaged with words, so I listened to the new album by Sylosis, Cycle of Suffering. I’d only heard of the band but had never heard their stuff until this album came out in January. Something someone wrote somewhere inspired me to add it to my running list of music to check out, and I didn’t get to it until Wednesday evening.

Such a nice surprise. Musically, I think it’s a cross between Children of Bodom and Metallica. Equal doses of melodic death metal and thrash, minus the killer CoB keyboards, with a bent toward super-melodic soloing with some amount of shredding. It’s a great combination, and this album shoots into my top five of the year so far.

I also checked out the first half of Giobia’s Plasmatic Idol. Not really metal, but metal in spirit. It’s a nice melding of 70s psychedelic, acid, and space rock styles. Enjoyable in small doses. Kind of mind-numbing in larger doses.

Anyway. 13,600 steps.

Work was almost as rough Wednesday as Tuesday, only instead of dragging my work out until 5 in the morning, I only dragged it out to 11 in the evening. Improvement.

I actually took a two-hour nap break in the middle of the day, with encouragement from my boss. And I was excused from my daily Zoom meeting. I still had a mid-day Zoom meeting for the proposal I’m working on and a phone meeting right before.

Breakfast was the leftover kajiki from yesterday, with hapa rice. Not nearly as good the second day as the first. Lunch was a bowl of cereal — I opened a new box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I don’t know how people call breakfast cereal a meal. It’s really dessert. I’ll write more about dinner tomorrow, but I finally explored the Polish open-faced sandwich I heard about last week. Split a hoagie roll and put the stuff together, sticking it in the toaster oven. In the middle of my walk, I stopped at a 7-Eleven for a bottle of water and a salmon musubi.

We have 46 active cases of COVID-19 in the state, all of them on two islands. Three new cases yesterday, all from one family.

Crush Girl and I had a few text conversations Wednesday, beginning with her suggesting I might be interested in Robin Sloan’s Sourdough, which I have on my Kindle but have not yet read. She thought of me because I’ve been messing around with sourdough bread lately. Then we talked about shoes for a while — she just got a new pair and I’ve been planning to order a new pair Friday. My walking shoes are pretty close to shot.

Ali in Boston and I continued our conversation about e-readers. She’s not ready to commit, but she spent time doing research and passing along her thoughts and questions. It was a great text conversation, spread out across the later part of the day. She passed along quotes from Paperwhite and Oasis reviews she found amusing, like this one for the Oasis:

The real reason I like the buttons is this: I live in Alaska and we have very long, cold nights. But even in the winter, we turn down the heat at night. I read in bed every single night, tucked all cozy and warm under my down comforter…except for having to have my hand out in order to touch the screen on my Paperwhite to turn the page. My hand starts to get very cold. It’s uncomfortable. My half frozen hand takes away from my happy bedtime reading experience. With the Oasis, I can keep my hand under the blankets and just push the button. You don’t know what a big deal this is until you spend night after night with a frozen hand.

I said she sounded cute and I’d be happy to turn her pages for her.

We have a 9:30 Zoom meeting Thursday. All staff. Our leadership is going to reveal a plan for getting everyone back into the office, in stages. I think I heard that each of us will have two days a week in the office, which to me sounds like it’s still way too many people in our space. I don’t feel safe enough yet, especially since we’re in a 14-story office building with elevators, narrow stairwells, lobbies, and parking structure. I might trust my coworkers but I don’t trust everyone else’s coworkers, not to mention their visitors, clients, and customers.

Buuuut you know what? The other day, Uber had a three-minute conference call during which it informed 3500 employees (employees, not drivers) their positions were being cut. So maybe I’ll just shut up and be grateful I still have work.

I am not looking forward to this meeting, and I almost always look forward to our all-staffers.

Okay I have to get to bed. It’s nearly 5:30. Reach out. If you’re having difficulty connecting. I’m here for your texting, DMing, and IMing needs. Wanna get an e-reader? Let’s talk about it!

No time to proofread. I’ll do it Thursday.

Lockdown: Marlin, yooooou send me (honest you do; honest you do; honest you do)

I think I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but I need to make this one quick, for reasons soon enough to be clear.

I had a suuuuuper difficult time focusing on work, which is suuuuuuuper disheartening, because I had one get-it-done-today task and I didn’t get it done until just now — at 5 in the morning. I did all sorts of other non-work-related things as the day went on, but even though I actually wanted to write this thing and looked forward to it, I just couldn’t get it done.

Writing is such a strange, strange thing sometimes.

But it’s submitted, and it’s a little rough, but that’s why I promised I’d have it in people’s boxes by the time I was done with work Tuesday. So we’d have time to make the adjustments. There’s a lot at stake on this one and I don’t want my work to be the reason we don’t get what we’re after.

Tuesday morning, as I mentioned, was my laundry day. It went well. I’d gotten enough sleep Monday night that I thought I had it in me to hit the beach for a sunrise swim before heading home. It started off great: I parked in my favorite stall, then walked around the park waiting for the dawn. But then I reeeeeally had to get to a bathroom. Normally in this situation, I’d head for the office and use the restroom there — it’s one advantage to working right in town and having an after-hours access key.

However, with our work-at-home directive, we’re supposed to get permission to go to the office, and there was neither time to secure it nor good-enough a reason to ask at 5:30 in the morning. So I got back into my car and sped home. All’s well and everything, but it would have been nice to get a swim.

Breakfast was a Big Mac combo, enjoyed very very early in the morning at the laundry. For lunch, I grilled that kajiki I picked up Saturday night, on my countertop appliance grill (it’s not a George; it’s a similar thing from another manufacturer, a gift from my Japanese cousin several years ago).

Kajiki is the Japanese name for blue marlin, a gorgeous sport fish whose Hawaiian name is aʻu. It’s good for sashimi, although this is the rare sashimi fish I prefer cooked. It was a huge, thick fillet, selected for its thickness so I could prepare it medium-rare. Olive oil, salt, and pepper are all you need for a nice fish like this, although I would have liked some citrus to spray over it. Kajiki’s not nearly as pleasurable as a good ahi fillet, but ahi’s price is so volatile, and it was a little steep this week. Not too steep to afford, but when I saw what I could get with less money by settling for kajiki, it wasn’t even a debate. It’s a good fish, especially for its price.

I ate half of it with hapa rice, leaving the other half for tomorrow. Dinner was more of the turkey chili with hapa rice. I had a few bites of potato salad for a snack. I brushed my teeth a few hours ago but I’m tempted to have a little bite before bed, which hopefully will be very soon. Kind of have the munchies after that writing.

During my non-focused writing time, I worked on the Monster a bit, which really made me feel good. I didn’t go for my walk because I kept telling myself I’d do it when I was done with the writing. So much for that plan.

Not much texting Tuesday. I sent Sylvia a link to an interesting local sardines recipe — she and I had just spoken a few nights ago about the variety of canned, boneless, skinless sardines available on Amazon. We are both huge sardine fans. I sent Crush Girl a link to an article in the Atlantic about the flour shortage in the nation’s markets. It’s super well-written, the kind of writing that makes me hate myself. We chatted a little about my kajiki too.

The birds are chirping loudly and in great multitudes, which means I’m up past my bedtime. I have a 10:30 phone meeting and I need to prep for it, so ugh. Still going to report for work half an hour later than usual and hope that’s enough time.

A productive day but hooooorribly inefficient. It’s okay. They’ll be this way sometimes. And if you would like someone to talk about your day with, and if you’re having difficulty connecting with someone, please reach out. We can trade photos of our lunches or something. Hang in there!

Lockdown: All along the washtower

It was the rare Monday where my work wasn’t great but the day was still pretty good.

I was working on something that should have been easy but was sloggy as heck to put together. I honestly don’t know why. It took the better part of the day and it should have taken an hour. When I finally submitted it, I think it was pretty good, but there’s no way the pretty-goodness justifies the amount of time it took.

I had a Zoom meeting to talk about another big project. It was kind of daunting on first glance, but the conversation actually helped me put it together in my brain so that I should (should!) have something useful by the end of Tuesday, which is when I sort of promised it.

Okay breakfast was a bowl of turkey chili and rice. I know. It’s crazy. Normally if I have dinner for breakfast, I have a healthy breakfast for lunch. That’s not what I’ve been doing lately. It was a large breakfast so I kind of skipped lunch, opting for a few bites of potato salad as a snack. Dinner was a bowl of cereal, the last of the faux Honey Bunches of Oats.

I keep spelling that Oates. My brain is telling me to listen to “Private Eyes” or to read “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”

I attacked the Monster for a bit (without explaining, Monday night is the best night for the first, easy task — the one that makes the biggest difference in getting the other tasks done). Didn’t get to my car, which I have a few things more to do with before I take it in.

Neither did I get to bed by eight as planned. I got to bed around nine and fell asleep around 9:30. That should have been okay, except I woke up twice before my alarm. The second time it was just past one, so I just stayed up. Four hours is better than three, which is what I’ve been getting on laundry nights.

No walking because laundry.

Tiger got back to me, responding to my text the other night. Crush Girl and I got into a text conversation about her favorite show. We also talked about how we feel about the state’s relaxing of guidelines, which neither of us feels very good about. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels the way I do.

JB and I traded some messages about how his family is handling the lockdown. He has four teenaged kids, so I was really interested in their experience.

And early Tuesday morning, as I was getting ready to head to the laundry, Ali in Boston and I traded a bunch of texts about several topics. My Silent Book Club (on hold for the foreseeable future) and this other project I’m working on. She also had some questions about owning an e-reader. I gave my usual advice about how nothing will ever be better than a physical book, but an e-reader offers a lot of great things too good to reject categorically. A book lover should have both.

Monday was perhaps the most mundane day I’ve had in a while, and I think it’s what I needed. I have Tuesday morning off, but I’m looking forward to a productive half-day at work. And putting some heat on that fish fillet I bought the other night. It’s been a while since I cooked fish, and I feel my body craving it.

Connection is critical. If you’re not getting enough and if you’d like to trade texts, IMs, or DMs, just reach out. I’ve got room for you in my silly existence.