Lockdown: Sweet dreams my someone if dreams there be

Hello sunrise, my old friend.

I am once again greeting the dawn, in passing. I’m heading one way as the day is headed the other.

My big Saturday thing was launching the first issue of Hawaii Stories with Ryan. Ryan asked me to be the guest editor for the first issue and I said sure. It’s much later in the calendar than either of us expected and it’s entirely my fault, but here it is. I’m proud of it. I’m proud of what it is, too: an inclusive, visible space where local writers can have their work seen. Maybe it’s just a collaborative blog. I think it’s something more.

I know five of the thirteen writers personally, but this was my first time working with any of them as writers. This was the most valuable part for me: hearing these voices, seeing where they differ, and noting where they are similar. One commonality I’m concerned about is wordiness. In casual writing, wordiness is fine, but in formal writing I believe quite firmly in keeping it sleek.

Sentences can be long, sure, but creating stories whose music is economical should be the goal — only once you get the sense of your own music should you add your signature flourishes, and you should know your own voice well enough to add them artistically. Are you an “Indeed” transitioner? Fine. But use it with purpose, placing it right where you want it. If you’ve got it twice in any one piece shorter than a novella, you aren’t using it purposely.

On one hand, I’m disappointed that more writers I encounter don’t pay attention to this — if they were piano players they wouldn’t throw unneeded notes wherever they wanted in Moonlight Sonata. On the other, because I do pay close attention and because I edit a lot of other people’s writing, I get to do it for a living, as long as a living involves neither a house of my own nor a new car. So I’m grateful there’s a need for what I can do.

One of the writers in this issue is very cognizant of the flow of his language. I made several suggestions for him, but they had little to do with style and more to do with mechanics. Check out his “Bubonic Beer Run” story and you’ll see what I mean. Good sense of detail and a very musical flow. Of course, he’s a performing musician so he gets it, but I know a lot of performing musicians who don’t apply their musical sense to their writing.


I got out of bed around 1:30. Did the Saturday NYT crossword — it killed me, ending my latest streak at something like 28 days. It was just one bad square, but it was one idiotic square for me. Soon as I saw the bad square, I knew where I messed up.

I read the news as I ate breakfast (two hot dogs with mustard, ketchup, and sauerkraut. I wasn’t very hungry.

I took a nap at around 6. Did a few household tasks and made lunch: steamed Brussels sprouts with a balsamic vinegar glaze. It was incredibly easy, this first time doing the vinegar thing with the sprouts. I’ll add a lot more vinegar next time. And I have to say that substituting dried garlic flakes for fresh chopped garlic was kind of a genius move. Genius born of laziness, but still genius. It had an entirely different flavor but the aroma was terrific and I really liked the toasted garlic taste.

Over lunch I watched the 2003 made-for-TV The Music Man with Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth. I’ll review it later — wanna give it one more screening first. Chenoweth, though, is amazing. She sings a song and she makes you want to be the man who deserves to have the song sung for him. I just want her to look at me while she sings.

I emailed all the Hawaii Stories writers to thank them again, then took a short walk. I didn’t get out the door until past 2 in the morning. Insane. I wanted to mail a Netflix DVD back, so I walked it down to the dropbox at the mall and I was feeling a little snacky. Instead of going south or east to my usual 7-Elevens, I went west, into one of those parts of Kalihi most people don’t walk around at night. I actually feel pretty safe. There’s a police station on the same block as the store, and cops drive by all the time. Lots of them. In fact as I stood in front eating a tuna sandwich, six police cars came right out of the public housing area nearby on their way back to the station. I’m not exaggerating: in 20 minutes or so while I stood there, I easily saw 20 police vehicles.

So the tuna sandwich was dinner. I chased it with a Twix ice cream bar and a bottle of water. It totaled only 7000 steps, but that was more than I really set out to do, so I’m cool with it.

Came home, unwound, opened a can of pineapple chunks (the pricier stuff packed in pineapple juice instead of syrup) and sprinked some li hing powder on it (if you’re not from Hawaii, you don’t want to know). I drained off the juice so I can add some alcohol to it sometime Sunday.

My friend Tiger texted me to check up on me, and to invite me to a Zoom session for either her latest MLM project or someone else’s. JB answered my counter question about believing in God. I texted Sylvia and Ali in Boston late — they haven’t gotten back to me yet.

And aww. Crush Girl sent me a text to ask if I’d gotten one from her Friday afternoon. I hadn’t! I’m so glad she followed up because she might have thought I was ignoring her or something. Heaven forbid. We had one of our longer recent chats and it was really nice. She shared what she’s reading (something from one of those reading lists that’s going around lately) and watching (the movie we saw together early this year, this time with roomies). This was while I was watching The Music Man so I asked if she’d seen any versions of it.

I’ll not share her response.

Oh, seriously, if you love The Music Man and you haven’t seen this Chenoweth one, you really should if only to hear her sing “Goodnight, My Someone” and “‘Til There Was You.” Holy moly.

I didn’t touch the work I wanted to get done this weekend, so hopefully this will be part of Sunday’s project. We just passed 6:00 now and I must must must get to bed bed bed.

Go read Hawaii Stories. And reach out if you’re having some difficulty connecting. Connection’s important; it’s why I’ve been logging my interactions in this journal ever since the lockdown began. My own tendency is to crawl into my cave and stay there, but I know how unhealthy it would be, especially with the news as it’s been for three months. Reach out and connect if you’re feeling that.

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