Lockdown: Still, like air, I’ll rice

In case you were losing sleep over my stuck-open sunroof: when I got into the car this afternoon, started the engine, and hit the button, the roof closed right up. Whew.

My mom’s gift was six five-pound bags of Japanese rice from Rice Factory, a rice mill in Honolulu. Sooo I’m no expert, but I know from testimony by my elders that Japanese rice is a different animal from American rice, which is almost all grown in California. Some Japanese people have difficulty adjusting to American rice, and when there have been rice shortages in Japan and importers have brought in American rice, it’s almost always a failure.

Japanese rice has its own terroir, supposedly, and Rice Factory brings in stuff it considers the best. So I bought my mom six varieties from different regions, asking her to let me know what she likes best. For future reference.

I drove it over and left it at the front door. My dad came down and carried it upstairs, and I chatted with my mom from below. It was nice. My parents both look good. The dog seemed happy to see me but disappointed we couldn’t hang out. I was happy to see them all.

Breakfast was a bowl of turkey chili with hapa rice. Have I mentioned how pleased I am with how this pot came out? Lunch was a Wendy’s hamburger and baked potato, grabbed on the way home from seeing the folks. I’ve got (American) rice cooking right now for a late dinner: more chili and rice. Mostly because it’s made, and I’m not up to preparing anything despite this morning’s intentions.

Somewhere in there I snacked on some potato salad.

I tackled the Monster for a bit. Set a modest goal and went past it. It felt good, as unpleasant as it was. I’ve sorta broken the whole nasty project into three separate tasks. One is pretty clean and doesn’t take long, but it makes a huge difference in my ability to do the other tasks, so I try to save it for evenings when I’m especially unmotivated. Low effort with big rewards? Yeah, bring that on.

The second task is slightly unpleasant and somewhat laborious, but when I do it, the third (disgusting) task is easier to get into, since’s it’s merely unpleasant and not much work. Sunday evening I did the third task for about an hour. I got a lot done in an hour.

And then, right at 11 in the evening, I went out for a long walk. I logged 6000 steps before midnight (I’d already had 2000 just from normal walking around the house beforehand). Then 9600 steps after midnight, so somewhere between 13K and 14K for the evening. It felt good. I listened to the new Nightwish album, this time determined to listen attentively to the whole thing. More on that later, but I have to say I like it quite a bit more than I thought I would. I also listened to the debut album from Konvent, Puritan Masochism. They’re an all-female death-doom band from Denmark and I was pretty impressed, even if a little of that music goes a long way for me. Then got through most of Under Acid Hoof by Acid Mammoth, a stoner-doom band. I’m liking it so far. It’ll take a few listens before I get a good handle on it, which in the case of stoner metal usually means figuring what (if anything) distinguishes it from other bands in the same genre.

The thing about depression is that sometimes it has a reason, and sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes when you’ve embraced that, you don’t try to find a reason. I’m not willing to put money on it, but I suspect it’s easier to slide into the numbness when I’m not getting those steps in the evenings. The fresh air, the aching knee, the blister on my right sole — I think they’re all related to keeping the hounds at bay.

I sent texts to Tiger (I’ve called her something else in this space, the high-school classmate whose identity I can’t share because of her work) but it makes more sense to call her by her high-school nickname even though I haven’t called her that in 30 years. Also to JB. Haven’t heard back from either yet.

Charles and I traded texts about his work situation. He had a part-time job as a resource aide at a local middle school, but with no students on campus, there’s no need for him, and he was laid off. He’s still got a part-time job at a pizza place, but that’s not going to keep him going. I’m keeping an eye out for work for him.

Crush Girl and I traded texts about a friend we have in common who has a new position. A short but nice conversation.

The rice is done, but I think I’m better off saving it for Monday. Maybe I’ll just have a few bites of something small, instead of the full-on dinner I was looking forward to. I think sleep is a higher priority right now, as it’s 3:18 a.m. Monday.

I’m looking forward to a super-productive week, one in which I may finally get that nagging car stuff taken care of. I have one more task for it, hopefully for Monday evening, before I send it off to the shop. I’m also determined to get everything ready for the laundry before eight in the evening so I can get to bed suuuuuper early and have enough sleep before I drive to Manoa.

Whatever you’re looking forward to, if anything, if you haven’t got someone to share it with, I encourage you to reach out. Let’s get through this together.

Lockdown: Let the sun shine in

My sunroof is stuck open.

I washed my car. For the first time in more than a year. There’s a leak in the roof, so I can’t drive it through the drive-through car wash. The leak doesn’t come all the way into the car unless there’s a very hard rain, and then it’s only an annoying drip right over the driver’s seat.

But I’m taking it in for some small work, and I suspect repair shops do a better job when it looks like the car is kept clean.

The sunroof was closed. I’m not such an idiot that I’d accidentally wash it with the stupid sunroof open. I mean I’m not such an idiot that I’d do it twice.

As I was giving it a last rinse, I saw that the sunroof was almost all the way open! I know it was closed because the roof is the first thing I washed. I started up the car and the stupid thing wouldn’t close. Ugggggh.

I did the best toweling off the car even though it began to drizzle. Of course. As I was cleaning up and returning a couple of text messages, I looked again and it was nearly all the way closed! I mean, it’s not shut enough to make me feel okay — it’s leaving like a three-inch opening.

I suspect water got into the wiring where the sunroof controls are. In fact, I know water got into it. I didn’t think such a thing could open and shut the stupid sunroof on its own and not otherwise, but that seems to be what happened. Ugh. I’m going to try to air the whole thing out Sunday and hope simply drying will take care of things. Otherwise I guess I add another thing to the small list of things I’m asking for when I take it in.


I woke up at 4:30 and got to the beach at 5. There was still a lot of good parking. Walked around the park, and there were more walkers there than I was comfy with, but we all managed to avoid each other. It was mostly a nice walk.

The swim was nice. By the time I got out and back to my car, the park was a teeming mass of moving people. I was happy to get out of there. I was super happy to have been there at all.

I stopped at Pancakes and Waffles for breakfast and lunch takeout. Breakfast was chicken and waffles, something I’ve always wanted to try there. It was reeeally good. The waffles wasn’t at all crispy when I got home, but dang it was tasty. And the fried chicken thighs were far better than I expected. Crispy and juicy. I usually get one or the other around here. These were both. Yum.

Lunch was a vinha d’alhos omelet with fried rice. Also quite good but if I thought a Denver omelet would keep better, I’d have preferred something with a few veggies.

I drove down to the strip mall to get takeout from somewhere, then had second thoughts. So instead what did I do? I had a scoop of jamocha and a scoop of Snickers ice cream in a cup. Sinful and terrible but so, so good.

What I did next isn’t to surprising, but I was still surprised. I went to the supermarket. I mean, it’s right there next to the ice cream shop. I didn’t need a thing. Yet I spent a hundred bucks. On stuff I don’t even really have room for in the pantry. A six-pack of some vanilla porter. Half a pound of fresh strawberries. Some brown sugar (which I use a lot of in my cooking, so that one’s okay), a package of hoagie rolls, two trays of mushrooms, a jar of chili sauce, a gallon of milk, a couple of six-packs of Diet Pepsi, a two-pound fish filet, and a pound of uncured hot dogs. The hot dogs are part of the regular rotation, but I’d rotated them out lately, and the store was out of hot dog buns anyway so I can’t even really enjoy them properly.

If I don’t waste any of it (which I can’t guarantee), nothing in there is frivolous, at least. Some of it is experimental — I made the mistake of going into a little deep-dive on a Polish sandwich dish I’d never heard of until this past week and I can’t wait to mess around with it — but kitchen experiments are part of my life anyway.

It’s just that I seriously didn’t need either the trip to the market or the stuff I bought. I think I’m getting a little more stir-crazy than I’ll admit.

I did mostly stay out of bed once I was up from my nap. A wonderful, heavenly little nap after breakfast and before lunch. It wasn’t the feel-nothing sleep I’ve been sorta trapped in. Just a nice, warm sleep. I didn’t wake up smiling but I was close.

I’m having my real dinner now: a bottle of the vanilla porter and most of the strawberries. They’re both rather nice.

If not for the stupid sunroof situation, which I’m still hoping will work itself out, I’d feel so good about the two hours cleaning my car, inside and out. It’s one of those things I always feel like I don’t have enough time for, and I did a pretty good job. And it was nice to labor over something physical. So much of my personal tasks involve banging on this keyboard. It’s a different kind of strenuous and honestly it takes its toll.

Okay contacts. There was a text from Julie to the rest of the engineering firm friends about Downton Abbey, the movie. We saw it together. Sylvia sent me a photo of some Cheetos popcorn and another of a bread recipe she’s about to try.

Crush Girl responded to my happy weekend text from Friday night. She tried a third dish from that spot we’ve been talking about and said it was also meh. It happened to be while I was dealing with the sunroof, so I vented a little. Then we talked a little about the book she just finished.

I sent Ali in Boston one of the photos I’m sharing here, and a couple of short videos I shot for her. Just 30-second clips of the water breaking against the jetty in the moonlight. It’s pretty.

It’s Sunday morning as I wrap this up. Mothers Day. Happy Mothers Day to any moms reading this. Mother or not, if you’re in need of someone to connect with, please reach out. I got itchy texting fingers and all the time in the world, for real.

I’m going to polish off the rest of the strawberries and try to get to bed before dawn.

Lockdown: Doses of melancholy

Interesting how once I identified it, it wasn’t as bad. I mean, it’s still kind of there; I just didn’t indulge it, except for a 20-minute nap break after lunch, which I’ve taken most days anyway.

Today’s nap didn’t feel like the everyday naps — it felt like what it’s been these past few days, that kind of gradual sinking into the quicksand of non-feeling. It’s so tempting to stay there, but I resisted.

I’m turning in early in hopes of a quick swim Saturday morning. I know, I know. I hate the thought of all those people out there, but I can’t keep putting this off. I need some ocean time and if I keep not going, I’m only going to keep feeling crappy.

In my ears: the new album from Axel Rudi Pell, Sign of the Times. It’s big, dumb, arena rock, albeit with better than fair guitar chops. I’ve never been much of a fan, but I’m in the mood for new music that doesn’t distract me from my writing. It seriously sounds like it came right off MTV circa 1985. Unchallenging and fun.

Work was okay. I chose a tedious, time-consuming task so I could do it with the TV on (Orange is the New Black season one disc 4). Also because I procrastinated on it until the day it was due. It took longer this time than usual. It’s my monthly report, a kind of summary of the work I completed and the work in progress, divided into categories.

Took longer because it’s also my monthly occasion for going through the previous month’s emails to make sure I didn’t let anything slip through the cracks. I did! Darn it. Two things, now re-added to my list. There are no one-on-one conversations in the office now, and everything is an email, and my emails for April were impressively numerous.

It also took longer because for some reason the list itself was long, as if I were busier in April than usual. I’m not buying it, but it’s tough to argue with the list. I never pad that thing — in fact, I’ve often left things off that I thought made me look more productive than I was. I’m telling you, and I’m not being modest, that I do not think I worked that hard last month. Being productive was the hard work, but I don’t think that translates to a longer list of stuff.

Anyway. I have stuff I’d like to get done this weekend again. Maybe this weekend I’ll actually do it.

Breakfast was a bowl of cereal. Yesterday I wrote that I had Honey Bunches of Oats, forgetting that at the grocery store a week ago, I opted for the store-brand, discount equivalent. I noticed it too, before I remembered what I’d done. Still tasty, but not quite as tasty.

Lunch was turkey chili and hapa rice. Dinner was unintentionally tortilla chips and salsa. Meant it to be a snack but I just kinda kept going until I didn’t care to have dinner anymore. I also finally got through the tiramisu Oreos, polishing off the last three sometime after lunch.

I’m skipping the walk this evening so I can get up early for the beach. If I get there as early as I expect, I’ll walk before the swim, since I’ll have to wait an hour for the dawn.

Around mid-morning, I called my mom and dad. They seem to be doing well. Still. I think they’re encouraged by the low numbers of COVID-19 cases — we had zero new cases for the first time since they started testing, and planned to hit the Navy Exchange Saturday. I also made arrangements to visit Sunday for Mothers Day. I’m not going to hang out, just dropping off a gift at the front door for my dad to carry upstairs to the house. Then calling my mom on the phone from the driveway while she looks down from the lanai.

That’s the plan anyway. Both parents said I was welcome to stay for a while, but I nixed that. I’m still not feeling safe, and I can’t take the thought of contaminating them.

I also texted Ali in Boston, around my lunchtime, which is shortly after the end of her workday. For once, she responded right away and we actually had a meaningful conversation, although she (as usual) wasn’t very expressive about whatever is going on in her life. She insists she’s an open book but getting anything out of her most of the time is impossible.

Unless she’s pissed. It’s getting so I like it better when she’s pissed, just because it means she opens up a little more. As long as I’m not the one she’s pissed at.

Very late in the evening I texted Crush Girl to wish her a happy weekend. I didn’t think I’d hear back from her but still wanted her to know I was thinking of her.

I think Saturday I’m going to get takeout for all three meals. Just feel a little like having someone else’s cooking, even though I love this pot of chili I made.

My new Katatonia CD came in the mail this week. I imported into my iTunes. I was amused by the sticker on the shrink-wrap, which read, “Katatonia’s new studio opus of absorbing, soaring progressive rock and meticulously crafted doses of melancholy.”

Meticulously crafted doses of melancholy. That should either be my epitaph or the bio on my book jacket when I publish the Great American Novel someday. Also, it’s a perfect description of the album, which like most of their stuff in recent years has been gorgeously moody.

Time to turn in. Reach out if you’re needing someone to connect with. I’m right –> there.

Lockdown: Come as you are

April 5, 1994. Kurt Cobain killed himself. There’s an essay in me about that day, but I’m not writing it now. I’m just remembering how it led to almost two weeks of staying in bed, miserable, partially for Kurt but also for me.

I was nearly finished with my first academic year at UH Hilo, a difficult, challenging, almost desperate year headed for a glorious finish. I’d be awarded a creative writing award in a week or two. I had a cool summer job lined up. I was on the newspaper staff, and I’d made real friends — fellow English majors, the newspaper crew, and the campus ministry friends. Most importantly, I’d made enough progress that I was finally finally finally finally finally about to have senior status.

Two more semesters. All I had to do was get through two more semesters and eight years after graduating high school, I would finally have my bachelor’s degree.

In those ten or so days a month before finals week, I almost blew it. I went to bed and crawled out to eat, use the bathroom and somehow (somehow!) make it to my weekend job.

Side note: it’s not that surprising, really. In my history with this thing, I’ve always managed to get to work and do my job. I hadn’t had it long enough in 1994 to understand it yet, but this thing was low-grade, something I managed without counseling or medication. Not powerful enough to devastate me, but tough enough to mess up more than its fair share of semesters.

By this point in my college career, I at least knew enough about myself to know it was coming. So at the beginnings of all my semesters in Hilo, I made sure to get off to a really, really good start. To meet with professors during office hours, to make friends in class, and to establish enough goodwill to get me some mercy when I missed a week or two of classes. I turned long-term assignments in early.

I think often about this time, because it was one of those cases when this near-crippling burden had a reason, and when it felt miserable. Also, it’s one of the few I remember specifically because it’s tied to Kurt’s death.

I forget that most of them don’t feel miserable. They feel numb. I don’t stay in bed because I feel terrible; I stay in bed for no discernable reason. I get up and do things — go to work, make a meal, use the bathroom — and then go right back to bed, and it’s a relief. It’s nothingness, and it’s a relief.

I realized this evening that I’m in it. I was looking one way for dark clouds on the horizon and this other thing snuck up on me from the other direction. It’s been so long that I didn’t even realize it. I thought I was ill, and maybe I am, but it’s not just physical illness. Perhaps the emotional stuff was brought on by illness, or perhaps the two illnesses merely coincide, but dang it. It’s weird that I forgot what it was like.

Anyway it helps that I know what it is now. It doesn’t feel like it’ll last very long. Although who knows?

Work was difficult. In fact, I’m writing this now and then getting back to it. I didn’t return a few emails because I just didn’t want to deal with stuff. This is bad. I’ve got to clean this up before it gets really bad.

Food was good today. For breakfast I had the leftover mashed potatoes with green beans and corn. I made some turkey chili for lunch in the Instant Pot. It came out pretty great. I had it for dinner too. With hapa rice. I had five or six tiramisu Oreos for a snack, a few after lunch and a couple after dinner.

Lying in bed numb, I realized I’d just stay there if I didn’t get up and do something. So I went for a short walk — we’re talking fewer than 4000 steps. Just walked down the hill, put my Netflix DVD in the dropbox, walked around the neighborhood a little, then went to Long’s. I didn’t even need anything, but I spent $40 on some canned goods, some frozen food, and a bottle of local honey. Just to shop. Just to do something normal.

It was a small triumph. I’m glad I did it.

My first text message this morning was from AJ in San Diego. She sent me a tracking link for the puzzle she mailed me. She’s so funny. And adorable.

JB messaged me to tell me he and his son have a favorite Korean baseball team. In case you don’t know, the Korean Baseball Organization (don’t ask me why it has an English name with an English acronym) opened play this week, and ESPN is contracted to air their games, with American broadcasters doing play-by-play and color commentary. American sports fans are so starved for sports I expect it to be a big hit. I don’t have ESPN so I can’t watch, but I think it’s just as well.

Crush Girl texted me and I can’t say what we conversed about without giving away identifying info about her, but it was nice, and I was able to do her a long-distance small favor. It made me feel good. And it was nice to hear from her.

Okay. Insert my usual message here about reaching out if you’re having difficulty connecting. I may not respond right away, but I’ll get to you! I’m going to answer a few emails and get to bed.

Friday will be a better day!

Lockdown: License to ill

I felt slightly unwell today. It started off okay but all my energy drained out of me sometime after the daily Zoom meeting. I dozed off and didn’t get up until well after the end of my workday. It was a little weird.

Mostly worked on emails and a couple of stories I didn’t get far enough on. Had a phone meeting and the Zoom meeting. And then nothing. Ugh.

Breakfast was the last of my pulled pork leftovers, with rice leftover from that McD’s breakfast platter Tuesday night. It wasn’t really enough for a full meal so I chased it with a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats.

Lunch was a couple of slices of sourdough with some good cheddar. Dinner, which I just finished, was instant mashed potatoes with canned corn and canned green beans. Simple but filling, salty, and yummy.

I had four tiramisu Oreos as a snack, also just now.

I got a text message from Jenny, asking for some advice with a letter she was writing. That let to a little more conversation. It’s always great to hear from her. I think she’s doing some consulting work for HBA now, based on the little bit of copy I helped her with.

Jennifer M sent me a photo of a misspelling in a local news graphic. I think Hawaii people have problems with plurals ending in -ISTS, often leaving the second (nearly silent) S off the end of words like FLORISTS and SCIENTISTS.

I sent my sister a text about Mothers Day.

Ryan responded to a text I sent him late Tuesday night. About the Hawaii Stories project.

AJ in San Diego asked me for my address — she wants to send me a jigsaw puzzle she says was too intense for her to finish. I think that’s incredibly sweet and kind of cute. There are worse things than to be the person who comes to mind when other people think of puzzles. It’s gotten me a couple of fun, paying gigs.

Yes, I skipped my walk again this evening. Hopefully I’ll feel better Thursday so I can get back out there. Kalihi needs haunting, and its feral cats need to be photographed.

I watched the first disc of Orange is the New Black season 1. Again. I own the first three seasons on DVD but haven’t watched past Season 2 for some reason. So I’m starting over from the beginning.

I’m flagging. Back to bed. Please reach out if you’re having difficulty connecting. People are speaking as if the end is in sight, but I’m not buying it. There could be a long way to go. Don’t go it alone if you don’t want to.

Lockdown: Water you doing?

Aaaand tonight I’ll start with: work. I got home from the laundry and went to bed, getting up an hour before I was scheduled to begin work. I took the morning off, so I didn’t have to be on the clock until noon.

Emails took a little longer than usual, and I had to do some reading for a Zoom meeting about potential future proposals. Then the usual daily Zoom meeting, and work on some copy introducing one of our publications.

That didn’t leave a lot of time for working on the two stories I have lined up. It’s okay. I’ve been thinking about each for more than a week, and I’ve already done the interviews. Unless something comes up, I think I can get both done in a day.

I skipped the walk Tuesday evening. I’m trying to reset my clock, and although I can’t get it all back in one night, if I can get to bed very soon I’ll be okay Wednesday at work and then hopefully set the clock back another hour or two for Wednesday night. That’s the plan, anyway. I can’t simply let myself continue to slide later and later into vampire hours. It’s ridiculous. The sun’s been out and shining almost every night by the time I put myself to bed lately, Monday night the lone exception for the laundry.

I did a few chores, then tried to get water refills at the supermarket. No luck. It was still out of order. So I looked up alternate locations in my area. There was one in an area suuuuuper sketchy at night. I chanced it. Actually, I almost chanced it. On my way there, I saw some machines outside a convenience store in a slightly less sketchy area. The machines looked a little sketchy, but what the heck. At the worst, they’re just selling me regular tap water. And regular tap water is fine as long as it doesn’t taste like the water at my house.

Hopefully I won’t have to go through this again. I’m set for just under a week.

Okay I gotta hurry.

Breakfast: leftover penne. Lunch: sourdough bread with good cheddar. A simple but delicious meal. Dinner: I didn’t want to do this but it was getting late, so on the way home from refilling my water jugs, I went to McD’s and had a local deluxe breakfast platter. It’s a cholesterol bomb. I probably erased weeks worth of overnight oats.

For snacks, I had three tiramisu Oreos.

Then I watched Joker, about which I’ll reflect later. I kinda wanted to hate it, but I don’t. It’s a very, very, very well-made movie and I doubt I’ll ever watch it again.

Not too much interaction today but it was good. I texted Crush Girl to ask if she was having a better day, which led to some conversation about our governor’s overly hasty re-opening of some businesses in the state. Neither of us is very comfortable with it.

I texted Sylvia to tell her to let me know if she needed more yeast or flour. That led to some conversation about Taco Bell, including a selfie from her in the drive-through. Then Susannah texted me to ask if I’d gotten her submission for the Hawaii Stories project. All good interactions with people who make my life better.

Joker was a downer. I’m trying to fight off some yuckiness before turning in. Writing this stuff down helped some; I’ll probably drift off while listening to a podcast, my comfort listening when I lay me down to sleep.

I’m going to try to make waffles sometime tomorrow.

Non-sequitur memory that just popped into my head: when I lived in an off-campus Christian dorm while still studying at UH Manoa (before my transfer to UH Hilo), I took up pie-baking as a hobby. My close friends know apple pie is probably my favorite dessert (Dutch apple from Anna Millers when I can get it; ala mode of course), and dorm living gave me a chance to really explore cooking, something I’d done a lot at home but not very adventurously. So yeah, apple pie. Our campus ministry director took an interest in my efforts and even gave me a pastry cutter as a gift when I couldn’t attend an appreciation lunch of some sort.

I was determined that the crust was the most critical element. You can luck into a good filling just by tossing the requisite ingredents into a pie tin. So it took a lot of practice, and I got to where my pies were pretty decent. Certainly not up to Anna Miller standards, but good enough to share un-selfconsciously.

That’s what I did. I’d eat a few slices myself, share a few with whoever was around when I was done baking, and leave one or two for the girls in the dorm. Slick, huh? The dining area had a row of refrigerators, and each of us was assigned one shelf in one fridge. We all knew whose shelves were whose because our names were on the fridge doors. I’d decide whom to leave some pie for, put it on a small dish with plastic wrap over it, then just leave it on someone’s shelf to be discovered later.

I was then and I still am a shameless flirt.

I’m down to exchange non-sequitur memories with you if you’ve got ’em. Reach out and connect, especially if you’re having difficulty connecting. I won’t do Zoom meetings or voice calls, but we can trade texts or DMs or IMs if you’re down for that.

Lockdown: Slog time no see

Some questions I’m asking myself about this lockdown journaling.

  • Is it lame that I almost always begin with work? When I sit down to write about my day, it’s the first thing on my mind, almost without fail, and I suspect it has the most influence on my feelings about a day, at least on weekdays.
  • Three specific things I’m logging for my own record of the era are exercise, food, and work. On one hand it’s convenient because they’re the constants; on another it seems mundane and basic, as if the depth and feelings about my existence swivel on what I do to earn my money, what I put into my body, and where I take my body.
  • The fourth, I think, is not something someone would predict but which definitely makes a difference: the record of my interactions with others. The days are something of a blur, but one thing that marks any kind of movement through time is the conversations I have with people who are important to me. I kind of want to be more detailed about these things for this reason — I mean, in fifteen years, if I look back on these scribblings, will I remember or care who these people are if I can’t recall specifically what we talked about?

No further rumination today on these silly self-referential questions. It’s a journal. The only real task is to write whatever I’m thinking about, and unless I’m worried that what I’m thinking about reveals a rut in my thinking (a very real possibility, but one I’m willing to endure for now), I think maybe I shouldn’t waste energy considering it. Just shut up and write.

Work was something of a slog, but I powered my way through this proposal that’s been nagging at me since before we moved out of the office. I finally, finally got a (first!) draft to the development officer and I think it look pretty okay for a first draft. It took far too long and it was far too much work although I don’t think it was especially difficult.

This is one aspect of the actual mechanics of work that suffers when I’m working from home. My internet connection at home isn’t one millionth as good as the connection at the office (for reasons I don’t want to get into). At the office, I’m working on dual monitors on elevated stands, so I’m looking slightly upward at the screens the way you’re supposed to. At home, I’m working on the tiny screen of the work-assigned laptop, something that works fine for writing but horribly for layout work in InDesign or photo editing in Photoshop.

I suspect I’m going to be working from home a lot more, even once they open the offices back up, so I’m going to order some new monitors when I next get paid. Even if I have to get something cheap (and I probably will) and even if I have to order one at a time. I just really need to see my work better if I’m going to do it as well as I expect. My eyes are exhausted to the point of tears by the end of most workdays, especially days when I’m running on insufficient sleep.

Some people at work asked to take their monitors home. I might have as well if my setup at work wasn’t such a pain to break down. I really, really wish I’d thought to ask if I could bring my office chair home, because my chair at home makes things pretty difficult too. I’m not exactly complaining, because the chair I have at home is fine, and it’s better than I’ve lived with in other times in my life (I’m thinking of my apartment in Hilo when I did all that reading in a resin lanai chair in my bedroom), but compared to a decent office chair, it’s pretty unforgiving.

So the proposal took up most of my day, which means I had to push a few things to Tuesday. I’m not super happy about this. I am, however, suuuuuuper relieved to have these two nagging proposals off my desk and in the hands of my partners for edit suggestions. I’m got some things on hold that I can focus on now without stressing out.

Breakfast was a bowl of Churros cereal again. I’ve finally finished that box and can think about other things. More overnight oats and one of those three (!) boxes of cereal I picked up at the supermarket last Thursday night.

A very late lunch was some penne and jarred sauce I made in the Instant Pot. It came out great. I didn’t even feel the need to add some of that blue cheese I’m worried about finishing before it turns. Just red pepper flakes and brown sugar, right in the pressure cooker. Wonderful.

I made my second attempt at sourdough, which was sort of my late dinner. I think it came out great, but I’m learning that almost everything out of the bread machine tastes great when it’s super fresh like that. The test will be how the bread tastes later Tuesday. Already better than my first loaf, I’m pretty sure.

I don’t remember snacking during the day, so focused was I on my freaking proposal, but I may have had one or two tiramisu Oreos. They’re sitting there on my desk when I usually keep them in the cabinet. I either moved them there and forgot about them or I had a few and just don’t remember.

Skipped the walk because it’s laundry day. I was suuuuuper inconvenienced on the way in when the water machine outside the supermarket was out of order. Dang, this puts a little speedbump in my day. I’ll probably have to stop at a convenience store on my way home from the laundry just to pick up a few bottles of drinking water.

Sylvia and I had a text conversation about the sourdough crackers she’s been making — she’s not using the starter for bread even while she’s baking bread. She’s using them for crackers. I might have to give that a try.

Crush Girl reached out to ask how my day was going, which led to a conversation about streaming services. She’s thinking of jumping from one to another. She also tried a second dish at that place we’ve both been wanting to try, and said the furikake mahi was just okay. I talked a little about planning to make sourdough waffles this week. Also agreed to pass along some yeast and flour if she wants it. We’re thinking Wednesday as a possibility. It’ll be nice to see her, even if only in passing.

Laura from work and I texted a little about the #givingtuesdaynow effort. She shared with me a tweet from a donor relations expert we both follow. It was an interesting conversation, and she was in a lousy mood for totally understandable reasons. I don’t think I was any help at all.

Jennifer O texted me to talk about her story in the Hawaii Stories project.

F5 Girl and I IMed a little about cars and fast food.

I skipped the walk because laundry. Which has been folded and packed up for fifteen minutes but I’m still here so I can finish writing this.

Whatever you’re dealing with and wherever you are, if you’re having difficulty finding someone to connect with in this pande-monium, I’m inviting you to reach out. Let’s trade a few texts or DMs. Maybe you can tell me what you’re eating, what’s going on at work, and what you’re doing for fresh air and sunshine.

Lockdown: Hello darkness, my old friend

I’m beginning to realize that it takes a little more effort than I anticipated not to slide into hermit mode. Sometimes I envy people who crave the company of others. I’m fine without it, but left to my own solitude, I go so into myself that the whole apparatus seems to turn inside out, kind of black-hole-like. I don’t exactly want to lock myself in a dark room and stay in bed all day, but I also kind of want to.

The darkness is a temptress, promising anonymity and freedom to be whatever I want without judgment. In the dark, nobody sees what I look like, and nobody remembers the stupid hurtful things I’ve let slip out of my mouth. I can’t fail to meet any goals because I don’t bother setting them. Oh, and the self-loathing! It feels so great to feel so terrible about myself.

I did (finally, at midnight) force myself out for a walk, telling myself (as I did Wednesday night, I think it was) it would just be a short walk to the stripmall. I want to make waffles and I don’t have any eggs, so I invented the errand of getting eggs from the open-all-night Long’s store in my hood. The walk is what I needed. Of course once I got moving, breathing the fresh cool air and feeling the pulse of Kalihi as it slept, I felt great, still anonymous but among the living, which at that hour consists mostly of fellow nameless ghosts like me, spooking the mostly empty streets.

I wonder if it’s why I like hanging out in cafes. In the world but not of the world, as someone says in the gospel of John. Or why I feel so good at the all-night laundry every week, writing under the harsh fluorescent lighting while cramming too much McDonald’s food into my hole.

Whatever the reasons, I’m presented again with anecdotal evidence that getting outdoors and moving around for ninety to a hundred and fifty minutes is one of the tiny handful of things keeping me Velcroed to the — to whatever real life is in this week’s incarnation by this week’s definition. I walked down to the fourth-nearest 7-Eleven (I think; it could be the third-nearest or fifth-nearest) to get a money order for the rent, then wandered around in the area for a little. Then back to the stripmall to drop a Netflix DVD into a mailbox and get those eggs.

The walk back from the drugstore was a little weird. I was suddenly really, really hungry, shaking a little from the hunger by the time I got back to the crib. Mostly I’m glad I did it. It added up to 10,408 steps, about a mile shorter than my usual walk, but it felt like it was longer.

Breakfast. A bowl of cereal. I’ve avoided naming it because it’s embarrassing, but it’s that Churros cereal by the Cinnamon Toast Crunch people. Basically the same cereal in a different shape and not as good.

I kind of skipped lunch, then for dinner I had an enormous bowl of mashed potatoes and two heads of broccoli, steamed in the Instant Pot. The broccoli came out great. I normally do something to the potatoes, like stir in some wasabi oil, or add sauerkraut, or at least chop up some decent cheddar, but it’s been a while since I had mashed potatoes so I had them plain. It was all quite filling and delicious.

I guess I can call that lunch because when I got back from the walk, I had a couple of quesadillas. I had four tiramisu Oreos for a snack and I’m about to get two to four more. Still kind of hungry from the walk.

I did all three of my usual Sunday crosswords — New York Times, L.A. Times, and Washington Post. I usually spread those out over the week, but I really needed them Sunday. Somewhere in there I worked on two of ten stories for the Hawaii Stories project. Not quite as much progress as I had in mind, but pretty good work.

Most of my interaction was intermittent IMs with F5 girl. I probably needed more.

Nothing else to say and it’s nearly 5:30 in the morning, and of course I have to be at my desk for work at 9:30.

Not my best day, but a better day than I’ve been having. I invite you to reach out if you’re having similar. Or even if you’re not. I’m good with texting, or IMs, or DMs. Whatever works!

Lockdown: Shut in and drives

Another strange day. I got up around 9 after only three hours of sleep. Had a few bites of potato salad so I could take my meds. Then read the news and did the NYT crossword. Then back to bed of course.

I did a few more crosswords and had pulled pork and kale on hapa rice for lunch, although I guess it was more of a late breakfast. So good.

The rest of the day was a combination of doing nothing and doing little tasks. I did take apart that PC, breaking it into its components and tossing its pieces in the trash. We’re allowed to throw electronic trash in the bin here. Our trash gets separated and then burned for electricity. I took it all out, even the motherboard, except the DVD and CDR drives. The best thing about PCs is how easy they are to open up and add stuff to or subtract stuff from.

That top drive is pulled back as far as I could slide it.

I saved the ZIP drive for use later. I have some old teacher stuff on ZIP discs somewhere, and I wouldn’t mind rescuing it. The hard drive I’ll destroy and throw away separarately later. Wish I could get the DVD and CDR drives out. They’re held in by some weird connector I haven’t seen, like rivets or something. I could slide them back in the rack but couldn’t get the rack itself out.

I’m thinking of holding on to the case too, although I can’t really imagine why.

Late lunch was overnight oats. Very late dinner was more pork and kale. Somewhere in there I also had four tiramisu Oreos.

The rack looks like it’s held in by that weird connector at the top of the photo. What is that? Some kind of rivet?

I did not go for a walk. Again. Will do it Sunday evening for sure.

I got some of those masks I ordered on Etsy. The ants tried to move into one of the envelopes, big time. I had to tear the package open and let them take their larvae somewhere else. They left a mess, too; I’m going to have to rinse one of the masks out before I wear it, although I think I’ll probably launder it too.

Also in the mail: Silicon Valley season 5. Aaaand that’s where the rest of my day went. I have been saying for years that don’t have the attention span for a TV binge anymore, but I had it in me for this. Pretty good season. And oh my goodness, Amanda Crew.

I got texts from Sharon who sent a photo of a jigsaw puzzle she’s working on. Forgot to respond until just now. She sent it while I was still in bed this morning. Also from San Diego AJ, responding to a question I asked a couple of days ago. JB sent me a photo of his bottle of Suntori Toki, saying how good it is. I agree; it’s insipid but tasty and very drinkable. I’ve got a bottle of my own. Sylvia sent me photos of her latest loaf of bread. Beer bread. It looks pretty dang good. My uncle sent me an IG photo of some positive advice, which was nice. F5 girl sent me a video of her favorite band. It was all very nice and not very challenging, perfect for a day like today.

Not the most productive day. I’ll make up for it Sunday. For sure! Taking care of the PC that’s been taking up space on my desk for centuries was good for me; it felt good and it did good for my living space. I need more of that for Sunday.

I’m going to make my second attempt at sourdough Sunday too. I don’t have a lot of experience with blue cheese and I’m a little nervous about the lovely wedge I have in the fridge. A decent loaf of bread and that ginger-peach jelly I brought back from Boston will take care of most of it; I’ll use whatever’s left for some pasta Monday or Tuesday.

Wherever you are and whatever you’re up to, if you need a little bit of connection, I hope you’ll reach out. I’m easy to reach if not always quick to respond. 🙂

Lockdown: A Friday 5 and Tiramisu Oreos

Friday 5: The most convenient definitions. From here.

This week’s questions come verbatim from a certain favorite movie.

  1. So — so on Monday, what happens?
    I was scheduled to be in a group Zoom interview with some big donors. As we scheduled and rescheduled the thing, I had a weird feeling about how this was coming together, but I kept my mouth shut except to suggest that group interviews (in this case, two interviewers and two interviewees) required a bit of strategy ahead of time, a comment that was responded to by crickets. However, my boss emailed me Friday morning to say I didn’t have to be in the Zoom call — she’d felt similarly that something was off, so she’s going to handle the interview on her own. Whew. So now it’ll just be a normal Monday, at least normal according to new definitions of normal.
  2. What was that ruckus?
    Neighborhood kids bouncing a ball around, then almost setting off my car alarm. It was mildly annoying but kids being kids almost never bother me, and I let it roll.
  3. What do you know about trigonometry?
    Math didn’t become poetry for me until high-school calculus, but once I had my moment of calculus awakening early in 12th grade, I could look back and see that the prologue was trig. Less poetry and more elaborate puzzle, trig is like those pencil-and-paper mazes you trace your way through, and when you color in the path, you’re left with a drawing of a flower. Or it’s like those Transformers toys. It’s a robot! Until you start moving this thing here and that thing there and then it’s a big, complicated mess — still one structure made up of the same pieces, but completely unrecognizable until you play around with it some more and then: it’s a sleek racecar. That it’s effectively all based on one simple, beautiful theorem is the stuff that makes you realize there had to be an intelligent creator. The secrets of the universe are in the right triangle. Actually, I don’t think that’s true; I think the secrets of the universe are in pi, but Pythagoras was clearly on the path.
  4. Vodka? When do you drink vodka?
    Not very often. I haven’t figured out what my spirit spirit is. It’s not vodka. ‘though I gave vodka a pretty good chance to connect. I have two half-consumed bottles of it in my kitchen right now, in fact. A bottle of Absolut, which I dislike. It has a weird waxy flavor when you drink it neat, although I have to say it’s a good mixer. And a bottle of Ketel One, a much better option that I rather enjoy. While most of my liquor is in a cabinet, I have the Ketel One at the ready in my freezer, a Captain Morgan spiced rum on my dining table, and Buchanan’s blended Scotch on my kitchen counter. None of which I imbibe very often. I just like having them ready. That Buchanan’s, by the way, is horrible right out of the bottle; I get why so many YouTube whisky raters don’t score it highly. However, if you pour it and let it sit for a few minutes before sipping (neat), it’s quite good. I don’t know what the explanation is.
  5. How’d you like to go fishing this weekend?
    Man, I would love to. I wouldn’t mind grabbing a bamboo pole and getting ankle-deep at Waimanalo and hooking oama for a few hours. I haven’t been oama fishing since elementary school days with the McGuires. Any nice beach time at all right now would be great, really.

Friday was mildly productive in a super-slo-mo kind of way. I was rolling on this proposal I backburnered near the end of March. I got up to take a break and saw that I had a Zoom meeting in forty minutes, and I didn’t think it would be worth it to get re-absorbed in the proposal only to have my workflow interrupted by the meeting. Then the meeting got called off, and then I had half an hour until the regular daily Zoom call, so I kind of waited around for that. It was not the best use of my time.

I don’t think I’m going to be pleased with myself if I don’t spend some time this weekend just wrapping up the first draft to send to the fundraiser. Urrrrrggggghhh.

I didn’t go walking Friday either. Urgh again. Just felt super lazy and even though I knew I’d feel great once I got moving, it just didn’t happen this time. My weekly stepcount is going to be its lowest in months, I think.

I did, however, get Taco Bell for lunch, something I’ve yearned to do for six weeks. I wasn’t even hungry. I just saw a window of opportunity and once the idea popped into my mind, I could not shake it. So a burrito supreme, a taco supreme, and a 7-layer burrito with a large Diet Pepsi. The Taco Bell drive-through didn’t have a pay-with-phone option, much to my annoyance. It’s a brand-new building, not two months old yet! They didn’t outfit the drive-through payment system with a phone payment capability? I’m appalled.

Breakfast was a bowl of Churros breakfast cereal. Soooo bad. Dinner, which I just had a moment ago, was some of that pulled pork and kale, with hapa rice. Delicious. The hapa rice for certain dishes is going to work out if I don’t cook it in the Instant Pot and then let it sit in the keep-warm phase for 90 minutes as I did this evening because I fell asleep. I will try to stick to brown rice for most dishes, but there are certain things brown rice just doesn’t work for.

Don’t tell my doctor.

I did a lot more snacking than usual. A couple of times I had a few bites of potato salad just to drive the twitches away. And right before I decided not to go walking, I had four Oreos. While I am not much of a cookie guy, I’ll enjoy the occasional three or four Oreos, and the supermarket had these tiramisu flavored Oreos. They’re quite good.

It looked like there would be no interpersonal connection via texting Friday, but then Ali in Boston finally reponded to my messages going back two weeks. We chatted about a few things. I miss her.

Then Sharon asked me about the Hawaii Stories project I’m working on with Ryan, and we talked a little about Ellen DeGeneres, Demi Lovato, and Christina Aguilera. No contact with Crush Girl but it feels okay.

IMed with F5 girl for a little while too.

It was not my best day, work-wise or life-wise, but I am grateful for the interaction with these friends.

Oh, I did one semi-productive thing today. I continue to set up my workspace at home, a task I could have finished six weeks ago but which I continue to drag out. I finally took an old HP tower off my desk and cleaned up the stuff that accumulated beneath it: mostly hair ties and a few coins. I’ll take the hard drive out of the machine Saturday and destroy it with my drill. My goal is to have the entire table cleared of everything except the (working) computer stuff and things directly related to my daily work. This desk doesn’t have drawers, so I’m keeping stuff I need but not all the time in a plastic bin on a TV tray next to my desk. It’s mostly working. I just have to get all this other garbage, the accumulation of years and years and years, off this table so it’s a nice, clean workspace.

It was a long week and I’m looking forward to this weekend. Gotta do some stuff for the Hawaii Stories project. Some personal writing. A little bit of work (making that my first priority for Saturday when I eventually get out of bed). A ton of walking. Reading. I’d like to squeeze a movie in, too. I won’t have to do any cooking, since I have so many leftovers in my fridge, but I fed the sourdough starter this evening. I’ll have another go at sourdough bread in the afternoon.

“In these uncertain days…” it can be easy to feel disconnected from the world, which if you want it can be a glorious thing. Believe me, I’ve been there. But if you don’t want it, it can be horribly discouraging. Don’t be discouraged. Reach out and I’ll be happy to spend some connection time with you, in texts or DMs or IMs. “Because we’re all in this together…”