Lockdown: There is no pain; you are receding

I have to think of a better word for that weird emotional space where I take to bed seeking non-feeling. Or something — I’m still trying to figure out what it is. I’ve been calling it the numbness, but that’s not quite it. Maybe I should just keep calling it what I always have. Just the darkness, even though it’s different from that other emotional yuckiness, the one that feels terrible.

Anyway. I went there for pretty much all of Tuesday evening. Around 10:00 I said aloud, I should really make myself go for a walk. At 12:30 I was still in bed, still just lying there staring at my phone.

I forced myself up, and finally out the door at almost 1:30. After about half an hour I was feeling normal again. I went 14,000 steps in mostly a very quiet night.

I did make it to the beach after the laundry Tuesday morning. It was nice, but there were quite a few more swimmers out there than usual.

I considered stopping for breakfast somewhere, but it was only a couple of hours after the Big Mac dinner, and I really wasn’t hungry. Got home, cleaned up a little, and unwound before going to bed.

Breakfast was a couple of hot dogs with mustard, ketchup, and sauerkraut. I didn’t exactly have lunch, but I snacked on a little bit of potato salad before retreating again to bed, as I’ve said. I picked up dinner near the end of my walk: a loco moco.

Crush Girl texted me to see how it was going. We both shared that we weren’t having the best day, and talked about how nearly half the U.S states are seeing their highest rates of new cases. This is not good. But it was nice to be reached out to. Encouraging.

Sylvia texted to say she’s joined a book club, and the first selection is Where the Crawdads Sing. Pretty great. And a popular book club choice.

AJ thanked me for the feedback on her book review, which was of a travel-cookbook.

Didn’t get to my gyoza Tuesday. I’ll do it Wednesday.

Wednesday could be tough at work, but I’m determined to get something turned in, so I’m looking forward to it. Thursday’s a holiday in Hawaii, and I’d like to go into it feeling good about my work this week.

I’m hanging in. Hope you are too. And I hope you’ll reach out if you’re not connecting enough.

Lockdown: This ketchup had better pass muster

Arizona had 1500 new cases yesterday. Florida’s still hovering around 1000 a day — it’s averaged this over the past five days or something like that. The latest projection I saw Monday was for 150,000 deaths in the United States by the end of August.

This last is a staggering number. Michigan Stadium, “The Big House” where the University of Michigan Wolverines play football, holds 107,601 people officially. It’s ridiculous. Largest stadium in the United States, 34th largest in the world.

If Ohio State is playing Michigan on some Saturday and some horrific thing happens and everyone in the venue dies, that’s roughly only 67% the number of COVID-19 deaths we’re expected to see by August. What would we as a nation sacrifice to keep these people alive if we could? I’m worried that people might be dying because everyone’s tired of doing jigsaw puzzles.

Who gets tired of doing jigsaw puzzles anyway?

Some days, when I recap the day’s eating, I wonder if the gluttony is related to thoughts like these. I wonder if this is how I’m coping. This can’t be healthy, and while I suspect a lot of understanding people would be willing to write me a pass on this one, I think it points to a possible inability to deal with stuff in some non-carnal way.

“Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace which the world cannot give.” John 14 something. 27. John 14:27.

I’m willing to speculate that God can give this peace in a multitude of ways, and food could be one of them. Somehow I doubt a huge carton of hot, salty fries (which I am scarfing as I type this) is what he had in mind. Plus it doesn’t really help once I’ve digested the food, or I wouldn’t have to keep chasing them with something else.

Samuel Johnson said patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, but Lisa Simpson (in one of the best Simpsons episodes ever) said prayer is the last refuge of the scoundrel. I may hold with Lisa Simpson on this one. At least for starters. ‘Cause you know. Patriotism’s likely to cause me to order everything on the menu including Thank you for dining with us.

From what I’ve tasted of desire, I hold with those who favor fire.

Irrelevant quote but what a great line of verse.

I still haven’t finished that cancer center proposal outline. Gotta get it looked at sometime Tuesday or I’m going to be really stressed out. Someone requested a proposal for West Oahu that looks like a lot of fun to work on, but someone else in my department is going to work on it with the fundraiser. I did sketch an outline for them both, to give them an idea of where they might go with it. I hope it’s helpful.

I actually didn’t email that outline until just before midnight. Long story. It wasn’t difficult; I just thought I might be able to finish the cancer center thing first and I did not.

I spent a couple of hours tackling the Monster again. All three tasks. I set a hopeful goal to match last week’s goal, which I went slightly past. It wasn’t fun, but I hit the goal and it felt good.

Before I got to the West Oahu outline, I threw a bunch of yesterday’s groceries together in my first attempt at gyoza. I knew I didn’t have time to do the cooking because of laundry, so I just focused on the filling. It was therapeutic. Sometimes cooking is as refreshing as a nap, as this was. By the time I was cleaned up and the filling resting happily in the fridge, I was energized enough to get the outline done.

Normally when I make something the first time, I stick to the book so I can make sure I know what I’m doing. However, I used to work in a ramen restaurant and I’ve seen my mom make thousands of gyozas. So although I didn’t pay close attention, my guess is that it’s a pretty forgiving process, at least preparing the filling.

The supermarket in my ‘hood didn’t have any ground pork — one of the drawbacks of shopping thirty minutes before closing — and the ground turkey looked a little tired. Ground chicken it is. The main not-in-the-book thing I did was slice up some shiitakes and mix them in without rehydrating them. I figure the chopped veggies are going to throw off a bit of moisture, and I also mixed in some shoyu, sesame oil, and sake, so the mushrooms can suck that stuff up and keep all that umami goodness in the dish, rather than leaving far too much in the soaking water. Guess we’ll find out!

Did not go for a walk, as predicted. I miiiiight try to hit the beach, though.

Breakfast was (again) a couple of hot dogs with ketchup, mustard, and sauerkraut. I’m running low on ketchup and when I went to get more Sunday night at the supermarket in my ‘hood, they were no longer selling this brand I’ve grown fond of. Best Foods. Yeah, Best Foods ketchup. There’s a Best Foods mustard too. I like them both, but the ketchup especially.

Several years ago, Hunt’s ketchup bragged that it got rid of its high fructose corn syrup, an ingredient I try to avoid. So I moved my allegiance from Heinz — a decades-long allegiance, by the way — and switched. Then some time later, Heinz got rid of HFCS as well. Yay!

Have you looked at the ingredients lately? They both have it again, and for some time. Why the heck don’t brands proclaim loudly when they’ve switched back? I wonder how many people are still using these brands because they haven’t looked at the ingredients lately, assuming the product they’re consuming is the product they’ve consumed for years.

I had a teaching partner (no, not that teaching partner; another one) who was allergic to anything with corn or corn products in it. Including corn syrup. So I’m not just complaining for the sake of complaining here. It’s a very real issue.

The Best Foods ketchup doesn’t have HFCS, and it tastes really good. Possibly as good as Heinz. Now my supermarket, which got me hooked on it a few months ago, doesn’t stock it. Grrrr. There was this organic brand on sale and it doesn’t have HFCS so we’ll see what happens. I’m not optimistic.

Lunch was a bowl of raisin bran. I almost didn’t have lunch because I snacked on those Krispie Kreme drugstore shelf doughnuts again, while I was working on the gyoza filling. I needed something while I did the West Oahu outline, though.

Dinner, which I am nearly done with here in this laundry, is again a Big Mac combo. The carnal pleasure cannot be overstated here.

I listened to Yes’s YesSongs on repeat almost all day. Took a break to catch the news. Definitely one of the ten best live albums ever, right? Okay maybe twenty best. But an amazing album.

This would be a fun list to make.

I listened to the first part of the new Michael Franti & Spearhead album on the drive to the laundry. It’s pretty much exactly what you think it is, only slightly better. So far. Good vibes of course, but good beats too, and a little bit of cute humor.

I’m feeling a little restless. I don’t mean right now, but generally. Maybe I’ll go for a drive sometimes this week.

The writing partner texted me to share a couple of short stories she’s working on. She’s an English teacher and hates short stories for some reason. Of course I’m going to call her on it when I look at her work.

Sharon texted me to follow up on something she asked me to do for work. Then we chatted about a few other things.

Jennifer sent me a photo of her latest Scotch acquisition, an Aberlour 18. Heck yeah. She said someone gave it as a gift. That’s a good friend. This is the kind of bottle I give my dad as a gift, not something I get for myself. Too pricey for me.

Crush Girl texted to tell me she’s booked a short trip, so of course we talked about that a little while. I had to admit I’ve considered a weekend hop to the Big Island before summer’s up, but I’m still too much of a wuss. Maybe I’ll go camping once the parks open for camping instead.

Laundry’s about done. And so is the Big Mac.

We’re all coming out of our caves too soon. I’m convinced. So if you, like me, are keeping cooped up for as long as you can and if you need someone to connect with, please reach out here. I’m getting restless too but I’m staying in place!

Lockdown: Bye bye, mug of American pie

I listened to a lot of podcasts and a lot of music. That’s most of my Sunday. Didn’t even nap much, as is my predilection for Sundays. Woke up to the sound of text alerts, which is unusual. I get texts in my sleep every night, but they almost never wake me. It was still a few hours before my alarm, so I ignored the phone, but then realized I was pretty much awake.

So I got up. Ate a couple of hot dogs with sauerkraut, mustard, and ketchup for breakfast. Did the Sunday NTY crossword in nineteen minutes. It was challenging but I worked it out, including the wicked clue “entrance” for the answer “BEWITCH.” Of course it doesn’t make any sense until you read “entrance” with a different prounciation. Yeah, that was the last hurdle to my finishing the puzzle.

Read the news. On weekdays, I try to read mostly the news and just a couple of pieces of commentary or analysis. It’s my way of sticking to facts and trying to make judgments on my own. Spend too much time immersed in commentary and you start to mix it up with the news, as viewers of that one cable news channel seem to do every day.

Sundays I read a little more commentary and analysis. It’s because Sunday’s the slowest news day. Since I listen pretty faithfully to the podcast release of Meet the Press, the day usually starts with a bit of commentary anyway.

I couldn’t really get to the end of any one piece, neither news nor commentary nor analysis. Tried to listen to the Obamas’ graduation speeches on YouTube, but I couldn’t sit through those either. Just wasn’t in the mood, really. It’s been a rough couple of weeks.

I goofed off a little on the web, then took a short nap. Actually set an alarm so I wouldn’t be up too late Sunday night.

For lunch I made another dish of spaghetti, so as not to let my marinara sit in the fridge forever. Also because I really like it. But yeah, that stuff doesn’t keep as well as you might think. I did a few housekeeping tasks, played around with my phone, and ate the rest of the spaghetti for dinner. I know. Terrible.

I hit the grocery store even though I just went last weekend. I needed more Diet Pepsi and took the moment to get a few other things. Mostly stuff to mess around with in the kitchen.

Like this mug pie I made. Well, mug apple crisp, really. I messed it up, mismeasuring ingredients two or three times, and there aren’t but six ingredients or so. It was a comedy of errors. But you know, I’ve enough experience with pie-baking to know I didn’t ruin the dish. You can pretty much make up how much butter, sugar, and cinnamon you want in your apple filling and it’ll come out tasty. It might be a little wet or too sweet, but it won’t be inedible.

So I proceeded despite my errors. The result was edible but not great. Good thing I bought two apples: I get to try again later, probably Tuesday night.

I saw the footage of the protest march in Honolulu Saturday. I’m not calling anyone an exaggerator, but it doesn’t look like 10,000 people to me. It looks like 5000 or so, which also might be pushing it, although I know even experts will tell you it’s super super difficult to estimate crowd size.

Not that it matters. It was a lot of people; the video makes this clear.

I didn’t go for a walk, which was kind of a lame decision. I won’t get to go Monday night either, probably, unless I’m really on top of my work and get enough done early enough to go. I very nearly went in the late afternoon, while the sun was still illuminating a lovely Honolulu day. I felt it calling; I should have answered.

Feeling a little moody, but I think it’s the usual Sunday night, end-of-weekend moodiness, which is almost reassuring in its melancholy. It’s only quarter to three, too, so if I hustle, I can shave, brush my teeth, and make overnight oats, and slide into bed by 3:30. That would be nice.

So the daily text/dm/im rundown. AJ and I traded a few short texts about, um, something I can’t discuss here. But also about her book review, and about why she changes her IG bio so often. She says, “I’m not sure. I’m a different person every day?” I laughed.

JB answered my questions about God but I thought he played coy, or evasive, or something. And called him on it. He hasn’t responded yet.

Ryan is already thinking about the next issue of Hawaii Stories, which I love. I said we should debrief later this week — I’m still enjoying some of the buzz from yesterday, and hope to spread it around a little. Get these writers some eyeballs on their work.

Crush Girl and I traded a very few texts about the second wave of this disease. It’s coming. Florida has five straight days of 1000 new cases. Hello.

That’s about it. Hope your week is great and filled with meaningful interaction. If it isn’t, please reach out. We may all be emerging from our caves, but I’ve a feeling many of us will be scurrying right back into them before long. So you may as well reach out and connect with someone.

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.

Lockdown: The order is rapidly fadin’

I forgot to say Thursday I unintentionally missed the national news and only caught the second airing of the local news. I am not ruling out not catching the TV news as a reason for my having a pretty good day.

It took a while Friday morning for my brain to get into gear, but I finally got warmed up and got some good work done. The cancer center proposal is a big mess, but it’s a complicated document, and each time I go through it to fill in holes, it becomes less messy. I’m going to finish it Saturday I think.

Hawaii had nine new COVID-19 diagnoses yesterday. Nine. I think that’s more than the previous week’s new cases in total. Maybe the previous two weeks’. This is not good. And we opened up restaurants and bars Friday.

I spent most of my evening on final edits for the Hawaii Stories thing. It looks good. I’m proud of the work the writers put in. I’m embarrassed that it took me so long to get their work ready to share. I took more than twice as long as I should have. It’s a bad precedent.

I haven’t heard anyone actually say it, because maybe it doesn’t need to be said, but the NFL’s actually uttering the words, “we were wrong” is enormous. Its admission that the tension, stress, and strife begun four years ago by Colin Kaepernick means the players were right. And it means everyone who sided with the league was wrong. That’s a huge chunk of the customers the NFL is saying was wrong. Is wong.

Drew Brees admitting the same thing, even tweeting directly at you-know-who, says the same thing: you who celebrated my stance were wrong. I was wrong. If you still feel the way you felt, you’re wrong.

Frankly, I’m shocked. When you-know-who called kneeling players sons of bitches who should be yanked from the field, he effectively said the league doesn’t need a player like that. Friday the NFL said, “Without black players, there is no NFL.”

League owners have presented forever as if they make the league happen. And for some reason, working-class Americans who love football and normally side with labor consistently side with management when it comes to sports. I have never understood this.

Now the league is saying it needs these players and it knows its players are right. It’s all just words for now, but they are gigantic words.

One can’t help wondering if the NFL has taken a closer look at the relationship between the NBA and its players. Basketball players are treated much more like the partners they are, one reason coaches like Steve Kerr, Stan van Gundy, and Gregg Popovich have been free to speak out against the White House and its occupant.

I don’t know what’s going to happen, but for the first time in a million years, it feels like something might.

For breakfast Friday, I had a couple of hot dogs with mustard, ketchup, and sauerkraut. I didn’t want to but I just needed something hot and didn’t have time to prepare anything. I had a late snack of tortilla chips and fresh salsa. For lunch, I wilted and crisped a bunch of kale, as I did Thursday, but this time I opened a can of corned beef hash and fried it with the kale. I ate it with brown rice.

It wasn’t my finest kitchen moment. It was edible, sure, but neither ingredient really did much for the other. For dinner, which I just had a little while ago, I ate the other half of the lunch dish. I knew if I put it in the fridge as leftovers, it was eventually going into the trash. I love leftovers, but if the leftovers aren’t great, I procrastinate on them, often until it’s too late.

Okay, so meals were a general fail. I’ll do better Saturday. Maybe get some Korean veggies.

I also didn’t go for a walk so I could get a few things done.

Sylvia texted me first to talk a little about the protests this weekend. Sylvia cannot stay still, so I won’t be surprised if she’s at them all.

Jennifer sent me a photo of this sake she’s into. The packaging is beautiful, I said, and she agreed. I’ve never really gotten into sake although I sometimes think I should.

Crush Girl and I traded a lot of texts about the new phone and some of the options she might consider. Then we talked a little about the nine new cases. Uggggghhhh.

I’ve been staring at the screen for half an hour without typing anything because I feel like I have something else to say, but I can’t think of what it is. I think I’m also dragging my feet before heading to bed because I haven’t slept well in over a week. But here we go. It’s 5:30 and I don’t want to sleep my whole Saturday away, if there is sleep to be had.

If you’re reading this, stay safe and stay healthy, and stay away from people! And reach out if you need someone to connect with. I’m not going anywhere this weekend!

Lockdown: What in the world on the ground

Thursday was a lot better, ‘though not because I got to bed early. I got to bed at a nice promising hour, and remained awake until nearly 6:30. Yikes. So I unintentionally got off to a late start at my desk — 10:30, which is quite late for me. I thought I would need to make some coffee just to slog through my work.

I consume caffeine daily in small doses, a little at a time, because of my BP issues. I’ll still treat myself to a good cup of coffee once in a while because I love it so much, but gone are the days when it was a daily indulgence. Same thing for tea. I’ve even cut far, far down on boba, going from three or four cups a week to one every other week or so.

I was about to get something stirring (since I don’t drink it at home anymore, I keep a few single-cup things of instant) and then realized I wasn’t feeling the need. I got to work on a Maui proposal and got it done a little more slowly than I should have, but I called on Old Faithful (ABBA Gold) and it did the trick. I got that done, then worked on the cancer center outline, then left that unfinished to finalize one of my college of engineering proposals.

I’m still behind. Confident I can get near caught up Friday, though. I’m feeling strangely good.

It might be the boba (roasted oolong tea with milk and tapioca pearls) I had this evening sitting in my car. It might be the new phone I set up while I sipped boba in my car. It was time. My old one was giving me all kinds of problems of the sort I can’t live with. And I’d lived with them almost a year.

I skipped the walk again, to manage a few things in the house and also to veg while my phone was updating. Both did me some good as well.

Breakfast was leftover spaghetti. I needed something like that to get me into my proposal groove. Lunch was overnight oats, which were meant to be my breakfast. Boring but satisfying. I sometimes take pleasure in the knowledge that I’m eating simply. Overnight oats can do it to me.

For dinner, I wilted a bunch of chopped kale, then crisped it up a little in some olive oil and stirred it into some blue cheese mashed potatoes. Some seasoning in the kale would have made it really tasty, but it was still decent just bland. There was enough flavor in the potatoes to keep it interesting. That’s the last of the blue cheese until I open the next wedge.

The boba was my only snack.

It looked like it was going to be a slow texting day, but it turned out nice. JB sent me photos of his bagels — they look great. He was pleased but lamented that they were so labor intensive. I sent him a link to that Bon Appetit YouTube video where the test kitchen chef tries to make gourmet Bagel Bites. I am a sucker for Bagel Bites, and a coworker I confessed this to sent me the video when she saw it, saying it reminded her of me.

The writing partner messaged me to say she’s finished reading The Glass Castle. I haven’t read it, but I saw the film (and reviewed it two years ago), so we chatted a little about that. I’m unlikely to read it unless she sees the film and tells me it doesn’t do the memoir justice.

I got a few texts from a coworker on Maui about the proposal we worked on together.

Then a friend texted me asking how he can admit to his parents something he secretly did a few years ago. That’s a rough one — I can’t say what it is, but it’s not dangerous or unhealthy or stupid. Just something that will really upset his family, although not in a permanently mad way.

I texted briefly with Crush Girl, mostly to test non-iMessage texting. Yeah, she’s not an Apple person. Still a nice person though.

My first text message from the new phone was to Suzanne. Just a test to see if it was working. She wanted to know when Silent Book Club was coming back. I don’t know. The venue is opening back up soon, but I’m not ready.

Sent Ali in Boston a small text to admit something about the phone. She had no idea what I was referring to, which is fine.

There are at least two new non-metal albums I’m really looking forward to Friday. Michael McDermott’s What in the World and Sarah Jarosz’s World on the Ground. Interesting they have such similar titles. I ordered the McDermott album on actual CD, so I may resist spinning it until I have the disc in my hands. Oh, I just checked the tracking, and I’m supposed to get it in the mail Friday morning. Nice.

I’m not seeing anything exciting in metal releases Friday, although I just discovered that The Sword put out a new live album, which I’m spinning now. The production’s a bit mucky, but since it’s stoner metal it kinda fits. I’m not seeing my favorite songs on the tracklist; however, it looks like there are covers of ZZ Top’s “Cheap Sunglasses” and Blind Willie Johnson’s “John the Revelator.” I love all covers of Blind Willie Johnson songs. Just took another look at the tracks and it’s not a live album. Looks like rarities album, since only the first third of the songs are live recordings, and it turns out “John the Revelator” was a non-album single a few years ago that slipped my notice.

Spotify just informed me there’s a new Michael Franti & Spearhead album. I listened to some of the early tracks last week, and they’re about what you’d expect. I’ll definitely spin this sometime over the weekend. Also new singles from the Waterboys, Kansas, and Elvis Costello. Should be an aurally interesting weekend.

Almost done with the Hawaii Stories thing. Finally. I’m working on a secret web project too — I got a little antsy with Silent Book Club and my new secret podcast on hold. So whatever. I’ll post links next week probably.

I don’t know what I’m doing with my Friday beyond working super industriously and spinning new tunes. Should probably decide what new thing I’m making in the kitchen.

Whatever you’re doing with yours, hope you have someone to talk to about it. And if you don’t please reach out. It’s is freaking total utter madness out there, and if it’s taking the kind of toll on you it’s been taking on me, just reach out. I’ll send you cute puppy photos and dumb stories.

Also, hang in there. This, uh, can’t get any worse, can it? I just jinxed it; I know.

Lockdown: The infertile soil of my brain

Wednesday was not my best day, and I’m going to keep this short in order to make Thursday better.

My brain was an oozy mess almost all day, not just for work but in regular living. I’d walk across the room to grab something and forget what I was doing, then walk back to grab it and forget what I was there for.

I got work done, but didn’t complete anything and I should have completed at least one thing. It was frustrating.

Breakfast was a couple of hot dogs with mustard, ketchup, and sauerkraut. For lunch, I needed to get out of the house, so I had some Chicken McNuggets from McD’s, which I ate in the parking lot in my car. That may have been the best moment of my day, just some quiet time with hot, salty food and diet soda. Dinner, just eaten, was a bowl of spaghetti with my marinara sauce. I didn’t put kimchi in it as I thought I might, because I have some blue cheese I want to use up, although I can’t think of a reason kimchi and blue cheese in the sauce wouldn’t be great.

The meal was nice, but I didn’t have angel hair and that’s what I really wanted. I had two pounds of “thin spaghetti,” which is like three times as thick as angel hair.

Somewhere in there I snacked on tortilla chips and fresh salsa.

I skipped the walk because my body needed sleep, as it needs now.

I got a text from Sharon about some work stuff. It turned into some talk about her family. I wish that conversation had continued, but I was trying to get work done. Turns out the effort would probably have been better focused on the conversation.

Penny texted me and Grace a link to someone’s eight haikus — one to summarize each of the Harry Potter movies. I texted back (very late, as in just now) that it was an interesting idea but the writer doesn’t seem to understand the form beyond the 5-7-5 structure. Didn’t want to be unenthusiastic, but you know. Don’t send an Enlish major who took a course in Japanese literature (a 200-level course, but still a course) to just embrace a bunch of haiku.

Grace didn’t respond at all, so at least I gave Penny something, albeit seventeen hours later.

I’m not ruling out the day’s news as a factor in my lousy day, but I certainly didn’t make my mind a good space for absorbing current events and still doing my stuff. I’m going to bed now and will be better about taking care of myself, body and spirit, Thursday.

Reach out if you’re not connecting. It may take me seventeen hours to respond, but catch me at a good moment and I may be right on it.

Locktown: Leftoverture

At the beginning of each month at work, usually the first or second, I go through all my emails from the month before. The immediate reason is to compile my monthly report, a list of the writing and editing stuff I worked on, the campuses it was relevant to, and its status at the end of the month.

The other reason is to make sure I haven’t let anything fall through the cracks. I’ve always let something fall through the cracks. It’s embarrassing.

It takes time in a normal month. In a recent month it takes a lot of time, since almost all my communication is in email now. Tuesday it took even more time because holy cow: there was a gap in my inbox between August 2019 and May 13, 2020. I would usually assume there was a problem with the indexing, especially since my wifi is super unreliable, likely to break connection when the computer’s in the middle of something. There could have been a signal drop while Outlook was fetching my inbox.

Except that late Monday, I deleted my deleted mail folder. Had I been careless, accidentally selecting a wide swath of my inbox to move to the trash, and then deleted the trash? Ugggggh.

I’ll save the problem-solving routine for someone who wants to read about it, but it turned out my usual suspicion was correct, and the stupid trash-deletion was just concidental timing.

Still, it added quite a bit of time to an already time-consuming task.

I submitted it and worked a bit on the cancer center outline, which I still didn’t finish. It’s going to be my main thing Wednesday.

I reeeeally wanted to make another pot of angel hair and just eat it all day, but those leftovers scolded me everytime I thought of it. So breakfast was a couple of hot dogs with sauerkraut, mustard, and ketchup. That Costco sauerkraut is really very good. I haven’t done a cost analysis, but now it doesn’t matter. Whatever it cost me is worth it.

I didn’t have enough of the leftover stir-fry to make a meal, but I had some leftover watercress from when I made the stir-fry. So I threw that in some oil with some kimchi, fried it up, added the leftover stir-fry, and put that over warmed-up leftover brown rice. It was delicious. I was so happy munching on it while watching an episode of Orange is the New Black season four.

I’ve done very little cooking with kimchi. I invented kimchi pizza when I was in college, and it’s still one of my favorite things. I played around with a kimchi spaghetti dish and even got advice about it from a Korean chef-owner at a local trendy restaurant downtown (it’s a one-word French name, to give you a clue). She said I was onto something but was making things far too complicated. She suggested I just make my usual pasta-and-sauce dish, but chop up some kimchi and throw it in the sauce while it’s cooking. That was a couple of years ago and I haven’t tried it but I think I will, now that I have this very good kimchi in my fridge.

So yeah: kimchi in my stir-fry was great.

Dinner, which I just had after coming home from my walk, was the last of the off-brand Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

I did well cleaning out the fridge. At least enough room to feel okay about a nice pot of angel hair sometime Wednesday. Maybe I’ll add some kimchi to the sauce.

I had such difficulty getting out the door Tuesday evening. It wasn’t until midnight that I was finally out on the street. I kept thinking it was too late — that I was going to get back so late that I’d be miserable at work Wednesday, but I just really thought I needed the fresh air and circulation.

I think it was a good call. Man, I moved pretty dang slowly. I didn’t even go all the way up Liliha to Wylie. I only went up to Judd, then across to Nuuanu and down to School. And there were a lot of people out — I crossed streets many times to avoid them, especially coming back home on School.

I walked 15,000 steps, though, and while my feet and legs are really achey, I’m mostly glad I went. I’m breaking in new shoes and they are not making my feet happy right now.

There was even less connection Tuesday than Monday. AJ in San Diego let me know her book review is ready for me to take a look at. Sylvia sent me a random message about walking past some young asian people who smelled like artificial strawberry smell. JB let me know he was making bagels for the first time.

None of it turned into much of a conversation, but it’s cool.

Wasn’t in the mood for music Tuesday for some reason. I tried, spinning a few different things, sticking longest on some Talking Heads stuff, but even that didn’t last long. Just wasn’t feeling it. During the walk I listened to podcasts only.

I’m tired and it’s past five in the morning. Going to bed.

Yesterday I forgot to end with my usual invitation to connect. Here it is now. If you’re having difficulty finding connection, please reach out. I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but I’m still working from home until the end of June at least, and although things are opening up around the island, I’m not planning to make any changes just yet. One more month of locking myself down. So I’m here if you need a little two-way interaction.

Lockdown: Eve of destruction

I’m at the laundry. The infomercial of the moment is for some kind of pain cream, and one of the celebrity endorsers is Mike Alstott, former monster fullback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. My favorite player on those Tampa teams.

For some reason I woke up at about 8:30 Monday morning, and I wasn’t super tired, so I got up early and was actually at my desk by 9, where I actually got to work. Completed an outline for a proposal in the college of engineering, then got to work on the outline for the cancer center thing. Focus was unexpectedly decent.

Which is not to say I didn’t need my lunch hour nap, which I may have stretched slightly past an hour. I put the outline aside to work on a monthly report, which of course means I finished neither.

I was tired but not sleepy, and my mood was unexpectedly positive. No idea what came over me. The weird thing about this moodiness I’m known for is that I never know what to expect from it. Every day feels getting into a car but not knowing where it goes.

I again kept the TV off all day except to catch the news. I watched the early local news on mute and it didn’t bring me down at all. I watched the national news the normal way, and yeeeeesh. What the heck?

The actual tweet: “Liberal Governors and Mayors must get MUCH tougher or the Federal Government will step in and do what has to be done, and that includes using the unlimited power of our Military and many arrests.”

Forget for a moment the debate about whether or not he can do this, and forget whether or not the rioters and looters are the same people as the protestors, or whether radical and reactionary groups are intentionally using the chaos to undermine protestors’ messages.

The solution, according to this person, when cities and states have trouble dealing with masses of their citizenries, is to turn a nation’s military against its own people. Think for a moment about where we’ve seen this kind of threat in world history, and ask yourself (no, really: ask yourself) if America fits in with those other governments. That’s not the nation I think we live in.

Twitter is a complete downer lately.

Shoot; I don’t feel like writing about that. Let’s talk about food instead.

Breakfast was leftover angel hair with my lovely marinara. Shoot, so was lunch. I don’t care. Comfort food on a day when I needed comfort. I also had two beers late in the evening, something I almost never do. When I clocked out at work I had tortilla chips and fresh salsa for a snack. I’m having dinner now: a Big Mac combo. And an apple pie. In the laundry.

I skipped the walk because of laundry, but also because I was kind of focused on the Monster after work. I actually worked on all three tasks in order to clear out a nice, visible chunk of the problem. It was unpleasant as heck, and a casual observer (heaven forbid!) would never guess I have taken a huge bite out of this task over the past month. I know, and it gives me a small amount of peace.

I was in college when the Rodney King verdict came down, the spring of ’92, living in the off-campus Christian dorm. I was shocked. I was also 23, and sure I was right, in those days when I was still capable of being so sure. I haven’t been sure of anything for decades now, and I miss that feeling more than almost anything of my youth.

I felt like running through the streets yelling, breaking things. I’m totally serious. Word didn’t spread then the way it spreads now of gatherings, marches, and protests. I wondered what I’d see if I wandered over to either the campus across the street or the state capital a few miles off. I almost went, but I was also slightly worried about my safety. I turned off the cable news and walked it off for the moment, but the feeling of rage stayed with me a couple of weeks.

So I get it. I’m not justifying anything anyone has done — I’m only saying I get it. I even get the executive’s leap to military threats against the nation’s people. I don’t know what the answers are, but I know that blessed are the peacemakers. I can’t and wouldn’t tell anyone else what to do, but I remember Rodney King, and I remember what went through me, and what my process was. I can tell myself what to do, thank God, and that’s going to have to work for now. And I can pray for peace even when peace doesn’t seem the way to go on either side some evenings.

“Is that your Bible?” asked a reporter.

“It’s a Bible,” answered a man whose favorite verse is from “Two Corinthians.”

Has anyone ever asked him, all these years later, to repeat for us the scripture reference of his favorite verse? Because I’d be utterly amazed if he could cite it. Forget quoting the verse itself; just tell us what the reference is. Who forget the reference of his or her favorite verse? Who?

I don’t even care. As I have said a million times, I separate faith from politics, except from my own politics. But I don’t understand how people who do care can keep swallowing this stuff.

Didn’t do a lot of connecting. The daily Zoom meeting was more than enough interaction for me, and it went past the reserved hour. However, I texted Crush Girl to ask if her car situation was taken care of — it was, with minimal hassle except to her wallet. I feel that pain, for real. I’m going to need transmission work before too long. We chatted for a little while about a certain card game she played with her roomies. I played it with the writing group a couple of times, with Mary, Rae, and Kristen.

I miss Kristen.

JB also texted me early to ask if I still believe in God. I didn’t get back to him until late (like, when I was done working on the Monster), but I said, “I do. I’ve tried not to, but I cannot deny I believe it. With all kinds of doubts, of course.”

Okay Tuesday. I’m off until noon, and I’m certain I’ll be using the time to sleep. Then the cancer center outline and the monthly report. I have to take care of some leftovers in the fridge, so I think foodventures will be on hold, although I can’t promise I won’t make another mug cake in the evening. I have a couple of easy housekeeping things I want to do, too.

I’m expecting a quiet, uneventful Tuesday. God and the two Corinthians willing.

Lockdown: Moderately satisfying moderate productivity

The big accomplishment of Sunday was mostly wrapping up the Hawaii Stories project. I have a few loose ends to tie up, but it’s looking sharp.

I can’t point to much else, yet somehow I feel it was a good weekend.

I woke up before my alarm again. Got up, ate breakfast (more leftover stir-fry and brown rice), did the crossword, read the news. Took a nap. Did a few small chores. Paid some bills. Ordered a cute face mask for a coworker. Stared at Twitter for far too long.

I got ready to take a walk, but I kept finding other things to do — things of such import that I can’t remember any them several hours later.

Oh, I made some marinara sauce in the Instant Pot. It came out a lot better than the sauce I made last month. That time I sorta followed a recipe; this time I did it the way I always make it, by feel, and it’s *mwah*.

So I made a pot of angel hair to go with it. My favorite pasta. That was lunch-dinner. I’m calling it both meals because it feels like I ate a lot of it, and because I’m going to be in bed soon, around the time I’ve had dinner lately.

I did keep the TV off all day except to catch the local and national news. While I wasn’t nearly as productive as I hoped, I got more done than Saturday, so maybe it worked.

Around the middle of the day I had a few bites of potato salad for a snack.

Crush Girl and I traded a few texts about her car. My writing partner and I talked a little more about summer goals. She’s got me thinking about mine now. I sent JB a photo of my mug cake and we talked about that a teeny bit.

It’s five past three and I’m tired, something I’m not used to at this hours. I’m going to embrace it and try to get to sleep now. Six hours if I can sleep until the alarm; that’s not bad for Monday morning.

I have big plans for Monday. Hoping you do too. Reach out for some connection if you’re not getting enough. I am here for it.