Friday 5: State change

From here.

  1. What recently caused you to boil?
    I’m going to stay away from national current events because that’s too easy, and focus on my personal life. Bloody Wednesday at work, a few weeks ago when our leadership laid off ten percent of my awesome coworkers, was devastating and infuriating at the same time. It’s been a month, and we’re still dealing with it. The devastating part is obvious, but the infuriating part is that even though nobody can really predict a pandemic or what it’s going to do to a nonprofit organization, getting to a point where you have to cut loose ten people, ten awesome people, some of whom have been with the organization for decades, is a failure by leadership. I know these things often cannot be helped, but someone is responsible, and it’s never, ever the responsible people who lay themselves off. Perhaps it’s a built-in unfair reality of doing business, especially in a profit-driven world where a nonprofit works on the thinnest of margins, but that doesn’t change the unfairness of it, and I’ve a right to be angry. Which I am.
  2. What often causes you to freeze?
    I don’t know what things are like in other places, but in some cultures here it’s socially normal to give everyone a kiss when you greet them in social settings. Say, at a picnic. Someone shows up and walks around greeting everyone with a kiss. If it’s a guy, he shakes hands or fist-bumps the guys, but he kisses the women. If it’s a woman, she kisses everyone. I like kissing women as much as the next guy, unless the next guy is Joe Biden, but I freeze up every time this happens. Thankfully, it seems to be happening less and less, but man. Sometimes it happens in a group of people you don’t know very well. Super stressful. Aaaaaand sometimes (albeit rarely these days) it happens in the conference room at work. Yikes. And no thank you. Honestly, it’s more often a hug, but I’m almost nearly as terrified of the hugs as the kisses.
  3. When did something evaporate into thin air?
    For Christmas, my sister gave me this cast-iron griddle I love but haven’t used yet. She threw in a couple of amazing oven mitts, and I adore them. I never knew I needed oven mits that only go up to your wrists, made of some heavy-duty fabric but with silicone on the part of the hands and fingers where you grip stuff. The silicone has grippy bumps too. I have these enormous cloth-lined silicone oven mitts that go up to my elbows. They’re great for getting a broiling pan out of the oven, but practically useless for getting a small bowl out of the microwave oven. These little hands-only oven mitts are great for that kind of thing, and I’m dexterous enough in them that I can twist off stubborn jar lids or bottle caps with them. Anyway, I have difficulty keeping track of them for some reason. They’re there, and then they’re not there. Maddening!
  4. What recently caused you to melt?
    I’ve been watching Anna Kendrick in Noelle lately, just for the feel-good. Anna plays Noelle, Santa Claus’s daughter. She tries to convince her brother, the heir to the red suit, to return to the North Pole to claim his title, but he’d rather teach yoga in Arizona. It’s a silly movie completely absent any cynicism or darkness, but I love it. And Noelle has these moments where she extends grace and compassion to people who need it (and who doesn’t need it?). There are a few scenes that have teared me up ever since the first time I watched it, but now I get teary in almost all these instances. Noelle’s gift for listening to people so they know they’re being heard and sympathized with is amazing, the kind of thing we are all charged to do, and she demonstrates how easy it really is. And there’s this silly that’s-what-Christmas-means-to-me speech that’s written specifically to make you cry, and of course I resist that entirely, but the last five times I’ve watched the movie I just let it go, melting right into the living room carpet.
  5. Among United States you haven’t visited, which would you most like to check out next?
    It’s obviously going to be a long time before I can do it, but I’ve got my eyes on Ohio, with Illinois and Missouri second and third, mostly for reasons related to professional sports. Each of these states has two Major League baseball teams loaded with history and lore. Ohio is in first because it also has the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, which I really need to visit. The music festival I most want to attend someday is in Atlanta every fall (except this fall), so Georgia’s on the radar too.

Lockdown: Anxiety has got me on the run; anxiety spoils all the fun

I think the stay-in-bed-as-long-as-possible plan worked. I did take a mid-day nap, as I usually do these days, but I wasn’t dying for one, and I was pretty dang functional before and after. I was still tired. I suspect tiredness is part of my existence in this lockdown for now. I did not feel the constant state of sleep deprivation that’s been with me for half a week.

I got some good work done on a proposal revision and spent a little bit of time thinking about another story I’m working on. Not super productive. Not idle or wasteful, though.

In the evening, I had to go either to Costco or Target to pick something up. Something’s been causing me stress, and a certain purchase would be a temporary fix, but it could be a fairly long-term temporary fix, something to make me feel better about my daily life. I’d stressed about it long enough; I wanted to push it off until Thursday night but didn’t. Forced myself out to Target.

Costco’s in my hood. Three people at this Costco tested positive for the virus. Freaked me out a little. Also, I could not verify online that Costco had what I needed. It usually does. That doesn’t mean it did this evening.

Target confirmed online it had what I need. It was a bit more populated than Costco is when I go, half an hour before closing. So that was stressful. In fact, on the drive there, I did some deep breathing exercises and said a couple of prayers for peace and safety. It wasn’t just being out among all those people — I was feeling really uneasy about something, possibly anxious. I (thank goodness) don’t suffer from anxiety the way a lot of people who suffer from depression do. That’s a killer comorbidity I’m lucky not to deal with. Still, I was physically feeling dis-ease and tension.

I got the thing home and set it up and it was more difficult in some ways than I expect, and it was easier in some ways than I expected. Easier in the more concerning ways, so yay.

One reason I was stressed was my plan to do laundry Wednesday night (early Thursday morning). If stuff took too long to take care of, I’d get to bed after 10 and have to be up at 2, putting me right back where I was with sleep. The very thought stressed me out until I wrote off the laundry. I’ll do it Thursday night (early Friday morning) or I just won’t worry about it and do it next week.

Taking care of business, being elastic with my schedule, fending off my proclivity for procrastination, and deep breathing with prayer all seemed to settle me down. I’m writing this at 11:30 with the intention of getting to bed by 12:30 so I can get a good sleep and attack Thursday with ferocity.

Texting was also helpful, and for a change, it wasn’t Crush Girl who anchored me. I traded some texts with Julie about the new Taylor Swift album. Is the persona in “Betty” a guy or a girl? We debated. Crush Girl and I traded a few texts about Hawaii’s record number of new COVID-19 cases (109!). Then Ali messaged me to talk about books. It was a good conversation. She told me some stuff she evaded when I asked a few years ago. I feel like my mysterious friend is becoming less secretive. It’s nice.

Okay meals. After I took care of a few emails this morning, I drove to the Subway in my hood (open at 10, officially, but it was open when I got there a little earlier) and picked up two sandwiches. Footlong meatball for breakfast (I was feeling indulgent). Footlong turkey for lunch. I’m having dinner now, another can of pork and beans right from the tin. I didn’t snack at all today, ‘though I can’t rule it out for later if I should wake up in the middle of the night with the munchies. I feel like tonight would be a likely night for it.

I didn’t take a walk this evening and feel mildly disappointed about it, yet I’m including it with the other things I did today in order to not be stressed out and boost the likelihood of getting decent sleep, so I’m calling it a sacrifice for my greater good.

Listened to a few podcasts and spun the new Haken album, Virus, three times. I’ve always been aware of Haken and appreciated them, but I never really gave them an attentive listen. They’re on InsideOut America, probably the most reliable record label in the country for my tastes, which means I should have known I’d respond well. It’s a good, interesting album. Reminds me a little of Jason-Newsted-era Voivod with a teeny bit of Katatonia thrown in. I need to find out who Haken’s drummer is, because he thrashes on this album.

Okay. To bed. Here’s my daily reminder that you needn’t go through this pandemic madness alone. If you need someone to connect with, connect with me. Hit me up in the comments and I’ll send you my contact info. Twitter/ IG / FB / phone. As one of my favorite podcast hosts says, “Don’t not do it. Do do do it.”

Lockdown: Bed head

Sleep continues to be a problem. Probably because of the weird sleep I got on hurricane Monday, when I put myself to bed at close to four in the morning Tuesday I couldn’t get to sleep. At five I just gave up and went to the stupid hardware store to get those sockets. Picked up a Maglite too, since I’m not very happy with my hurricane lighting options. Hurricane season lasts into fall. Might as well be pleased with my gear.

On the way home, even though I wasn’t really hungry, I picked up a boatload of food in the McD’s drive-through and ate it all while I read the stupid news. We’re talking enough food for two breakfasts. I’m not even going to spell it out because it’s disgusting. I really went to town.

I also sat down to work much earlier than usual, like around 6:30.

I have to say it wasn’t my most productive day at the home office. I answered all my emails fairly promptly, did edits for the staff newsletter (that takes time, and I’m pretty careful with it), and took a look at a proposal draft that came back to me with edits. I didn’t do any actual writing, and not for lack of assignments. It was one of those days after which I think I owe my employer some extra time and work.

Pretty much as soon as I was done with work, I got ready for bed. The plan was to spend as long as I needed in bed to get a full night’s sleep, even if it were split up a few times. Which it was. I had no trouble dropping off; I was so exhausted. But it wasn’t the putting-myself-to-bed sleep, the intentional stuff with Darth Vader that my body and brain need. It was fall-asleep-with-the-phone-in-my-hand-halfway-through-a-text-message sleep.

Still it was pretty restful, since my body slept me hard. It was intense sleep. Between around 6:30 in the evening and 2:00 in the morning, I think I slept pretty well. I was really hungry by then, so I got up and ate a can of pork and beans, right from the can. When you’re eating canned pork and beans because the budget demands it, it can be a disheartening meal, even if you love it, which I do. When you don’t have to, it’s a nice meal. Eating out of the can reminds of camping with my Boy Scout troop, which always brings good memories. I like camp eating.

I went back to bed for a little more sleep.

So my meals were the McD’s overload and the can of beans. I snacked on two snack bags of kettle chips. Actually one was a snack around lunch time; the other was part of that late dinner of canned beans.

Traded a few texts with Penny to see how she was doing with that new phone. Sharon sent me a link to a Q&A with a certain local candidate. She wanted to know my thoughts, but I fell asleep in the middle of the article, so I haven’t gotten back to her on it yet. Crush Girl asked me for some food recommendations in a certain neighborhood. I sent her some good ones but she ate elsewhere with her friends.

Did not go for a walk, as sleep was the priority. If I listened to music, I don’t remember what it was. I did listen to several podcasts, some of them twice, just to have the sound of conversation in the background after already listening to them actively the first time. I like going to sleep with podcasts playing, but I don’t want to miss anything, so I usually play stuff I’ve already heard.

When I’m not falling asleep in the middle of text conversations, I’m not a bad SMS conversationalist. So if you need someone to connect with, hit me up. These are bizarre times, and they call reassurance or encouragement wherever you can get it.

Lockdown: A few cross words

I had two major tasks to get done today. I won’t name either, but one involved replacing a part on a home appliance. The other was the Monster.

I got started on the appliance during the evening news. Advice on replacing the part was scarce online. There are apparently a lot of ways to do it, varying by manufacturer and model, and no help for my specific situation.

I had the part, mail-ordered for almost sixty bucks. I had a general idea of what to do, based on videos for other models. However, until I tore the thing open, I wouldn’t know exactly what I was dealing with or how to fix it.

Motivation and willingness came from almost a nothing-to-lose position. If I blew it, the worst case meant not being able to use the appliance for some time, but it’s on its last legs anyway, so breaking it was only hastening the (probably) inevitable. Almost as distasteful but equally inconvenient was the possibility I ended up in pretty much the same position: replacing a broken part with an ill-installed new part. This would leave me in the same spot but sixty bucks lighter.

I’ll spare my gentle reader the blow-by-blow, but let’s just say I’m slightly worse off than when I started but the appliance still does what it was doing, only somewhat not as well. It’s not hopeless; I just don’t have standard sockets for my socket wrench in this house. I have metric, since the last few cars I’ve had were all foreign-made. I was horrified to discover that it seems I need a socket wrench to loosen a large number of smallish bolts to install the replacement part correctly. I’ve MacGuyvered a temporary solution, and if I get it in me to run to the hardware store tomorrow, I’ll give it another shot Tuesday.

I was pretty dang disheartened. I took to the bed, discouraged and mildly depressed at my failure and its implications for life in this house. I can actually afford to replace the appliance entirely, and that’s in my plan, but certain realities prevent this from being a feasible action just yet — it’s further in the plan than I’ve yet come.

It was nine-ish and I was just going to turn in, go to bed and forget the rest of the stuff I wanted to do, and try again some other day. But some time before midnight, I got up and thought I should at least fight the Monster. I can see the end of this ridiculous journey and I didn’t want to let the week go by without at least some progress.

So I did it. Took about the usual-sized bite out of the arduous task; took too long but whatever. I did it. And from the looks of it from here, I might be two weeks away from done. Which is pretty mind-blowing. I listened to podcasts while I toiled and the time seemed well spent.

All this means my spirits are much higher than they were a few hours ago, although I’m still bummed about the appliance thing.

The communication from the office Sunday was unclear enough that a lot of people wondered if we were expected to work today. It was clear to me that we weren’t, and when three coworkers texted me to ask me if I was working, I explained why I was certain we weren’t supposed to. However, it was also clear from email traffic that a lot of people were working! Including people in my department who got the same message I got. So although I didn’t any real work, I did reply to a few emails, and I shared this with the three people who reached out. Two said they were doing the same thing — not really working but answering a few emails. The other never got back to me.

For breakfast, I had a bowl of raisin bran after waking far too early. I thought maybe a quick, short meal and the morning news would be all I needed to get me back to bed. Which is sorta true. I had a very late lunch, right around when the early local news came on. I stir-fried won bok, choy sum, and bean sprouts — actually, I didn’t stir-fry them at all. I really just wilted them. Threw them in a sauce pan with no oil, just salt and pepper. Let the heat wilt the veggies and steam off most of the moisture they throw off. It’s what I’ve been doing lately when I’ve said “stir-fry.” It’s a cleaner, tastier preparation.

The third plate lunch from L&L from Sunday was barbecue chicken. They serve three thighs, and I ordered it “all rice,” which is three scoops of rice instead of two scoops of rice and one scoop of macaroni salad.

I chopped up one of the thighs, threw that in with the veggies and some dried garlic flakes, then heated up some of the rice (about half?) and poured it all on top. Um, then I fried two eggs and laid that over everything. It was delicious.

It’s approaching 3:30 in the morning and I haven’t had dinner. I might just go without. I did snack on two snack-sized bag of Route 11 kettle chips, one with lunch and one right after the Monster. So maybe I don’t need dinner. Good chips, by the way.

Didn’t go for a walk Monday, but I have a good feeling about Tuesday.

I didn’t do all the Sunday croswords on Sunday, so I finished them up Monday. NYT: 32:58. A clever theme but kind of unsatisfying. LAT: 23:03. Also a clever theme and also unsatisfying. Washington Post: 18:33. Not as clever but an admirable feat, and super fun. I love Evan’s music-themed puzzles.

AJ got the internal job she interviewed for and let me know early Monday. Yay. Writing partner let me know she was done with her new revision; I apologized for not taking a look yet. Penny had some questions about her new phone, which I did my best to answer. Then the texts from the three coworkers.

Monday felt like a typical Sunday, minus the late-evening angst I always feel about the coming week. Which is nice, since Sunday was completely outside normal in every way and didn’t feel like anything familiar. Looking forward to a productive Tuesday-starting week.

Reach out here if you’d like someone to connect with. I’ll do my best. I’m a texting fiend lately.

I’m not going to proofread until I get up Tuesday. So pardon typos. I’ll fix later.

Lockdown: Dougless

I’ve lived through two hurricanes I can remember. Iwa in eighth grade. Iniki in 1992. There have been a lot of very, very near-misses since, but the islands have been incredibly lucky since the year I was 23 and that category 4 storm devasted Kauai in ways it’s still feeling.

In this space I’ve told the story of the hurricane headed right for East Hawaii in my first weekend on the Big Island after moving there to finish school. It made a 90-degree turn straight north moments before it was supposed to hit. I watched the TV udates on my small TV in my unfurnished living room, sitting on the hard carpeted floor with a can of Spam and a candle next to me, certain God was telling me I’d made the wrong choice.

The headline on the front page of the Hawaii Tribune-Herald the next morning was WHEW!.

Douglass was a closer call, in some ways more dramatic for us all if not for me personally. It came right at us then jumped northwest sliiiiightly ahead of its projections, then flew past on a path parallel to the island chain, leaving each island (except Hawaii Island, which avoided it altogether) just out of the storm’s reach. Incredible.

I had a feeling I wouldn’t get much sleep Saturday night and I was wrong. I got no sleep at all. I wasn’t worried or nervous or anything. It was just this weird feeling of expectation that wouldn’t let me rest. It was frustrating but I didn’t fight it. I got in my car at about 5:15 and filled four gallon-jugs with water at the water-filling place. I was pretty sure I had enough but I was up, the supermarket in front of which the fountain is wouldn’t open for another half hour, and I craved the fresh, misty air on my face.

Got home, did a few preparation things in the carport. At about 8 I thought I’d see if Rainbow’s was open, to grab breakfast and lunch. It wasn’t, so I hit L&L and grabbed three plate lunches. Insane, but I didn’t know what the next 24 to 48 hours were going to look like. It was rainy and overcast, and pretty windy but not especially so.

So for breakfast I had two thirds of a laulau/kalua plate. Lunch several hours later was that and some of a chicken katsu plate. Dinner was the rest of the chicken katsu. I still have an entire plate lunch for Monday.

In the early afternoon, I figured I should grab what sleep I could before the storm hit. I got up in time for the local news, although the TV was on all day and so was the local news, really. Coverage was pretty good, but there was so much unberable filler I was begging for them to throw it to the national news at 5:30, even though the national news on Sunday evenings is usually terrible too. The local affiliate did not. We just kept going with ridiculous person-on-the-street interviews and some UH professor who looked like middle-aged Geraldo Rivera and didn’t make any sense.

I took about as much of that as I could, then went back to bed. I was pretty dang tired. Got up a few times to see if we were officially in the clear. In the late evening Sunday, we were.

It was a relief. I went back to bed and didn’t get up until just past midnight. So there’s a good chance I’ll be up all night again, dang it. Going to try not to let that happen. It’s 2:46 now, though, so yeah.

I didn’t go for a walk, ‘though I certainly was tempted. We’ll see what things look like Monday night.

Texting was pretty continuous all day, as you might imagine. My uncle hit me up in IG early. Some coworkers and I traded updates. Sylvia and I talked about our food plans. Ali in Boston asked for an update. Writing partner just wanted to see what I was up to, and she sent me some photos of her kid reading books. Crush Girl seemed not to be following the news, so she asked me periodically what I knew. I also texted a few female friends to ask if the Kauai mayor is a hunk. The consensus: kinda.

During his late-morning press conference, the governor shut down state offices on Oahu, plus the university, which sent a few of my coworkers and me into speculation mode. As a rule, if the university is closed for safety reasons, so are we. Within an hour we got the word: no work Monday.

Since Monday is a no-work day I’m not too worried about the sleep thing, ‘though I’d rather not be up all night again. I’m on my second kalimotxo and will have one more. That should help.

Because of the TV, I didn’t listen to much music, but I gave Taylor another spin, and now I’m on my second spin of Fear, a new album by Valkyrie. Stoner-doom metal, ‘though not very metally. A nice, enjoyable listen, though. I’d go see these guys play. The solos are deft and melodic, somewhat reminiscent of Thin Lizzy for some reason.

I have some big projects Monday, since it’s not a work day. Kind of looking forward to them, just to get them out of the way. Also wouldn’t mind getting some reading in. Today should have been a good day for that but I was just so tired.

A memorable if uneventful day. Just what I and my homestate needed. Thanks, God.

Lockdown: Folklore

The last time a hurricane was headed right for us, some time in 2018, my dad predicted the wind shear near the Big Island would slice the top right off the storm and reduce it to just a little storm. That’s exactly what happened.

When I called my parents Saturday morning, I was hoping for some similar prediction, but “The navy ships are leaving Pearl Harbor right now,” he said. “When the ships take off, you know we’re in for a wind event. The ships don’t care about rain.”

My dad used to live on those ships. And he has an excellent view of Pearl Harbor from his lanai. When he says the ships are leaving it’s because he’s seen them leave.

“We’re going to get hit. Not hard, but hit for sure,” he said.


This thing looks like it’s heading right for us, like it’s going to plow right through the island chain beginning at the Big Island in the southeast and curving up to the northwest, moving back in time through the history of the islands from youngest to oldest.

I woke up after only about three hours of sleep and decided to stay up, looking forward to a nice afternoon nap. The idea was to tie things down around the exterior of the house, but it really looks like I have most of Sunday to do it, so I’m just going to wait. Instead I did a few normal chores and a little bit of reading. And lots of podcast-listening.

I took a very short nap so I could wake up for the news, then went back to bed and got up at around 8. Clearly it was time to take a walk, I think my earliest walk since this lockdown began. It didn’t quite work out that way, but I did get out the door by 9 and took a couple of bags of bottles and cans to the bus stop nearest my house — not my usual bus stop a bit further up the road. I thought I might keep the walk short, so I relieved myself of the recyclables as quickly as I could.

And then it called to me. McD’s. It was right there, across the street and up a block. So I had lunch in the dark, in a grassy area near the bus stop. A McChicken sandwich, a McDouble, a small chocolate shake, and a Diet Coke. I never smoked when I was in high school, but it felt the way I imagine I’d have felt the first time I snuck a cigarette on the roof of the classroom building at school.

I never did cut a class to smoke a cigarette (I didn’t have my first cigarette until I was twenty-five) but I did cut chapel once, up on the roof. We weren’t allowed up there, but there was nothing to stop us except a sign telling us not to go there. There’s a locked gate now.

Breakfast, several hours earlier, was the leftover penne, this time with some blue cheese melted in. It was delicious. Dinner, which I’m finishing up now, is a bowl of instant ramen with a large handful of choy sum and half a bag of bean sprouts. It’s aight. I picked up a different brand because I had “something different” on my shopping list and this was the best I could do. Some Taiwanese instant soba actually (not ramen). It’s not good. Unfortunately I have four more packages of this stuff. Guess it’ll go into the hurricane kit.

I felt the weight of my sins, deep in my gut, so I walked around the block and meandered through the neighborhood to try and exorcise the demon of gluttony, but as I warmed up I knew I didn’t want to go home. I ended up going through some weird (but not unfamiliar) streets and finished with 12,000 steps, or just about half a mile shy of what was once my daily expectation. Not bad.

“Exile,” “The Last Great American Dyanasty,” and “Betty” are the standout tracks for me on this new Taylor Swift album. If you’re only casually curious, check those three songs out first. She has Bon Iver on “Exile.” It’s kind of an amazing track. “Betty” is the real heart-breaker, though, and perhaps closest (thematically) to the work she’s better known for.

I love that she did a song with Bon Iver, but if she’s thinking of making this genre her new home, I’d love if she did a few songs with Kina Grannis, Marié Digby, or the Mountain Goats. That’s who this new album makes me think most of. Or she could revisit her country roots and maybe do something with the Secret Sisters. Heck yeah.

I was riding with Susan one night, somewhere in town on our way to dinner. This was after I thought we both knew it wasn’t going to happen between us (I was apparently wrong about the “both” part, but I didn’t find out until quite a bit later at a concert), and she was playing a mix CD. It had a Bruce Cockburn song on it — she said I was the one who turned her on to him, of course — and then something else I really dug, and then a Mountain Goats song.

It wasn’t just any Mountain Goats song. It was the Mountain Goats song, the one that makes me weep every time I hear it. “1 John 4:16” from The Life of the World to Come (2009). Susan and I had never discussed the Mountain Goats; I was surprised to learn she was aware of them. I said, because I wasn’t immediately sure, “Is this the Mountain Goats?”

She said, “Um, I think so.”

In the holding tank I built for myself
it's feeding time
And I start to feel afraid 
'cause I'm the last one left in line
The endless string of summer storms 
that led me to today
Began one afternoon with you, long ago and far away

And someone leads the beast in on its chain
But I know you're thinking of me 
'cause it's just about to rain
So I won't be afraid of anything ever again

In the cell that holds my body back, 
the door swings wide
And I feel like someone's lost child 
as the guards lead me outside
And if the clouds are gathering, 
it's just to point the way
To an afternoon I spent with you when it rained all day

And someone leads the beast in on its chain
But I know you're thinking of me 
'cause it's just about to rain
So I won't be afraid of anything ever again

Ugh. I can’t even read those lyrics without tearing up. They just uncover the vast emptiness I camouflage with work, writing, podcasts, music, food, movies, and God. I’ve learned to live with it — I think we’ve all got it in some flavor, only most of us deal with it better, some of us filling in enough of it with marriage and kids, calling it good enough.

Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe R’s got it figured out and the emptiness was me, and now that I’m not there, it’s not there either. I know that can’t be entirely right; she’s got some family things that are mind-blowing and I can’t talk about them because they’re not mine to talk about, but maybe she figured enough of it out that she doesn’t have a “1 John 4:16.”


So I told Susan, with about as much pleading in my voice as I could manage while still being somewhat mature, that if we didn’t skip the song, I was going to cry. She skipped the song, and God bless her, she didn’t ask about it. Which in retrospect wasn’t fair of me because I made her cry at the Kina Grannis concert we went to some time later. Weird how these things are all linked.

My high school classmate Tiger texted me to ask about a song she remembered from our days at HBA. We had a biology teacher who was a musician, had grown up playing in local bands in clubs since his teen years, and who always had his Ovation guitar in the classroom, and when it was your birthday he would ask you what kind of music you liked, and he’d make up a birthday song for you right there. He sang in a lot of our chapels, and there was this one song HBA students really responded well to. She couldn’t remember the name of the song or the teacher, exactly, so I sent her the link on YouTube. Nice way to start the day.

Crush Girl and I talked about her adventures Saturday morning. I had been a little nervous for her, with the hurricane coming, but it turns out she could have spent the whole day because Saturday’s over and it was lovely from beginning to end. She sent me a photo of where she’d been. Gorgeous.

My boss texted the whole department to tell us to be careful, and that she’d stocked up on duct tape, so if we needed any we should just call. Someone else chimed in with what he had plenty of. My reply was that I must be doing it wrong — all I’d brought home was red wine and Maui Brewing cola so I could have kalimotxos.

Ali and I texted back and forth a few times early and late. She’d gone berry picking. I was getting the house ready for a hurricane I hoped wasn’t coming. She asked about some work things. I updated her. We talked a little about my salary. I said the topic was making me uncomfortable. Sent her the link to the song Tiger asked about, thinking she might find it interesting.

I know you’re thinking of me, ’cause it’s just about to rain.

One reason (and there are many) this song makes me cry is that I know this line isn’t true. It’s one of the most interesting parts of this whole R saga, the way I lifted so easily and so quickly out of her life while she never lifted out of mine at all. This is that baggage everyone’s always talking about. I’m carrying a ton of it, all with her monogram, and if she’s carrying any at all, it’s not mine. I say “interesting” because there’s a novel in here somewhere, there’s some incredible truth about human relationships I’m still chipping away at. “Down here, it’s just winners and losers, and don’t get caught on the wrong side of that line,” says a Bruce Springsting song I love. What if that’s true? You’re a winner or you’re a loser, and there’s that line.

If you’re in the islands, be careful. If not, enjoy a lovely rest of your weekend, and reach out if you need someone to connect with. Assuming I don’t lose cellular service, I may have lots of time for texting.

Lockdown: They didn’t even say her name

Thursday night I got myself to bed at around 2:00. A small triumph. I had considered staying up until 4:30, when the Costco gasoline station opens, to fill my tank first ahead of the hurricane, but decided that was silly, even though staying up until 4:30 is practically a way of life for me nowadays. It’s practically a tenet. The prospect of 7ish hours of sleep before work was too sweet.

There is a gas station right at the bottom of my hill, without Costco prices but without Costco lines. And it’s not even a five-minute drive.

But I woke up at around 4:45 anyway, against my better wishes, and thought what the heck. I put on some clothes and jumped into Jessica.

The Costco line was a bit longer than usual at five in the morning, but not by much, so there was almost no wait. I stopped at the nearby gas station on my way up the hill and filled my tires, something I’ve neglected to take care of since before Mother’s Day.

I managed to get a little bit of sleep before work, but I was groggy as heck, and my vision was blurry most of the day. Not my best day. I worked on my contributions to the staff newsletter and played around with a story I’m working on, but didn’t make a lot of progress.

Breakfast was a bowl of instant ramen with a mountain of bean sprouts. Warm salty, fatty, and soothing. Lunch was cold pizza. I had cold pizza for a snack, too. Then made a pot of penne with jarred sauce (I added red wine and red pepper flakes) for dinner. Not quite plague of locusts consumption, but I was still something of an eating machine.

Just before bed, I watched the last episode of the fourth season of Orange is the New Black. Heavy, heavy stuff with a few moments of comic relief. I think I read that while season three was in production, the show was extended a few more seasons, so while the writers worked on season four, they knew they already had at least season five ahead of them. This may have contributed to season four ending on a foreboding note, rather than the uplifting, tears-of-joy ending the first three seasons gave us.

“They didn’t even say her name!” screams one inmate when the warden does his news conference following the death of a favorite character. It feels like I’m watching a show about today.

I’m eager to get to season five. I usually re-watch a season at least once (usually more than once) before I move to the next, but I may not have the patience. The last two episodes have commentaries, so I’m definitely going to watch them with the commentaries first. Then I’ll decide.

Didn’t go for a walk. Ugh.

Ali and I texted a lot about her Kindle situation. It was a highlight. I like talking about books and book-related stuff with friends. Crush Girl and I texted a bit about the hurricane and our plans for the weekend. I think that was it.

Not a memorable day but thankfully a Friday. I need this weekend, with or without a hurricane. Preferably without.

If you’re in need of connection, hit me up in the comments. We can text through this together. Tell me what you’re reading or something. 🙂

Lockdown: Plague of locusts

It’s technically Saturday but I didn’t write about Thursday, so I’ll write about Friday in a few hours and focus now on Thursday. The two-days-in-one thing I’ve done here once or twice isn’t good for looking easily back sometime in the future, something I do on ocassion to mark the passing of days.

I went from the laundry to the beach and jumped in a lot earlier than usual, while the water could still be called dark. I just didn’t want to be in the water as more and more people got in, plus I wanted an early start on the work day.

I had a pretty good swim. Lately, I’ve begun with a pretty hard sprint, something I usually warm up to, and it’s good. Gets the blood going a lot faster and I’ve been able to go slightly longer at a sprint’s pace each time. I swear, when I become filthy stinking rich from being a writer in a non-profit organization, I’m going to buy one of those condos right at Ala Moana Center so I can just walk across the street and jump in the water each morning or perhaps each evening. What a cool life that would be.

People who live in those condos have access to a golf cart expressly for driving to the supermarket on the ground floor of the parking structure, where I think there is a reserved stall. So convenient and so cool.

(interjection from early Saturday morning: I’m giving the new Taylor Swift album a first spin and it’s freaking dang amazing)

I stopped at one of the breakfast spots in the hood for breakfast takeout. Had a veggie omelette (a different one from the ones I had recently) and cinnamon French toast. It was supposed to be breakfast and lunch, but it was barely enough for breakfast. I’m always hungry when I get out of the water, but Thursday I was a plague of locusts. I’m not kidding — I ate like I had a date with the electric chair in the wee hours of Friday.

I had my annual performance review Thursday, this year by phone. My supervisor is great, and I already had a copy of her assessment, so there was nothing to fear. Yet I still dread these things. It’s the formality, something generally set aside in daily interactions at work. If I have a problem with my job, or if I’m confused about something I’ve done or something someone else has done, I’ll just walk ten feet to my supervisor’s desk and ask her about it.

In these performance reviews, though, there’s is always the question, “Do you have any questions about your work or about this assessment I can answer?” If I had questions I’d already have asked them. But no, no questions. “Then please sign this document and return it to me so I can submit it to HR.” What the heck. It’s all so icky.

I stopped complaining about it last year, though, because it doesn’t make anyone’s job easier, and this year, dang it, I’m just happy to be employed. Let’s have these meetings every week. I’ll even wear a jacket and tie.

I had a phone interview with the subject of one of my stories. She wanted to make a few corrections, all of which are pretty easy. We followed up with a few emails. I had a Zoom call at 2:00, during which we talked a bit about how we’re filling in for the person from our department who was excised on Bloody Wednesday. Depressing but at least productive.

Lunch was cold pizza. More of it than I should have had.

There’s a hurricane on its way. The cone of uncertainty has it headed right for the entire island chain, ‘though forecasts have it weaking to a category 1 storm by the time it hits the Big Island and further weakening to a tropical storm by the time it hits Oahu. Here’s hoping it swerves north or something before it even gets here.

Although I’m well stocked for a hurricane and its aftermath, I needed the regular two-week pantry restocking and could use a few batteries and flashlights, so I headed for the supermarket half an hour before closing.

It wasn’t as stressful as it was last time. Only a few other customers, and just about everything I wanted was in stock. Picked up a lot of veggies and even some fruit, and putting everything away when I got home wasn’t as horrible as usual.

On the way home I hit the McD’s drive-through again! I don’t know why, except plague of locusts, really. I’d finished a Big Mac combo for dinner at about 4:30 that morning; now it was 11:15 in the evening the same day and I was back for another Big Mac combo for dinner again, not twenty hours later.

It was so good.

I went to bed at 2:00 in the morning, thinking I could get seven good hours of sleep before work, so I could have a super productive Friday. Didn’t work out that way, but I’ll hit that the next time I sit down to write about Friday.

I considered a walk before my visit to the supermarket but that didn’t happen, I guess because I was still pretty tired from the swim.

Thursday messaging: sent AJ a good-luck text about her job interview. She’s trying for an internal management position. Sylvia and I traded just a couple of texts: she said she woke up thinking it was Friday, and I said, “Bummer!” Sharon and I talked a little about work stuff — we’re still processing Bloody Wednesday together. We also talked a little about Korean fried chicken and some stuff about AOC.

Crush Girl sent me a text about a few things on Netflix, and a movie I recommended which she actually saw.

That was it. Somehow a good, busy day but not exhausting or especially memorable. And here’s your daily reminder to reach out if you’re in need of contact. I’m a spotty texter but I’ll do my best.

Lockdown: Pizza, wings, kalimotxos

I really wasn’t feeling it Wednesday so I asked the boss if I could burn a vacation day for mental health and she said sure. I spent most of it lazying about, napping, eating, and listening to podcasts. Spent a little bit of time on work emails — I finally heard back from a donor whose story I’ve been writing, and she had issues with the last few paragraphs, so I’ll be calling her for a follow-up interview Thursday afternoon.

I also sent out for pizza. And wings. And I drank kalimotxos. I’ve had funner mental health days, but this was exactly what I needed.

I watched an episode of Orange is the New Black, season four, and it has suddenly become very, very relevant to today’s events. Which goes to show how these things many of us are finally waking up to have been going on for a long time, and people have been trying to tell us for a long time. A favorite character dies while an authority figure has her on the floor with his knee in her neck. It’s devastating and heartbreaking.

I actually knew it was coming, unfortunately, although how it happened was still a shocker. I was following the actress on IG several years ago, and she posted a still from this episode, and the comments gave away that she died. Everyone was heartbroken. I stopped following all the actresses after that. I don’t need the spoilers.

Because of its setting, the show has always had quite a bit of darkness, but this is freaking dark. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

I had a couple of thin lazy burritos for breakfast, then some wings and pizza for lunch with a ton of leftovers. I had dinner at the laundry: a Big Mac combo.

Didn’t go for a walk because of the laundry, and I knew I’d be hitting the beach Thursday morning.

I listened to the new Pretenders album, Hate for Sale. The song are excellent but the mix is awful. I’ve listened on my small Bluetooth speaker and in my car and it sounds bad both ways. I’ll give it a listen with my good Bluetooth headphones this evening but I’m not expecting much. So disappointing.

Ali and I traded some texts. More Kindle talk. Crush Girl and I talked a little bit about a movie she recently saw, a DVD I had something to do with. That was nice.

There’s a hurricane on its way. The center of the cone of prediction is headed right at us. What a year.

I still have some time before I’m suposed to be at work, so I’m going back to bed. Stay safe, and hit me up if you could use some connectivity. I got words for you.

Lockdown: It’s a big day for nice

Fairly productive Tuesday. Got up early after three hours of sleep for no good reason and was at my desk nearly an hour earlier than usual. Hit the emails, worked on my cool scholarship story. Had a Zoom meeting with the department during which I confessed I’ve been trying to solve too many problems on my own, of the sort that others in my department could easily take care of in minutes, stuff that I’ve wasted days on.

My department includes a video guy, a photographer, a graphic designer, a web designer, and a communications specialist, and we can all sorta do each other’s jobs, just not as well as the person whose main job is to do each. It’s a group of creative people with really high, exacting standards, and we’re almost always busy working on our projects.

So I’m not hopelessly incompetent when it comes to finding, say, a photograph for the cover of a proposal with two million dollars on the line. But if I don’t find what I’m looking for in a reasonable amount of time, I can ask a few people for help, and they can take care of me really, really quickly. Only I don’t like asking for help, and I like solving my own problems.

It’s pride, is what it is. I know that if any of them asks me to write some copy, I can dash something off in fifteen minutes that would take them an hour, and I’ll be happy to do it. I mean happy. It’s what I’m here for, and I love being helpful.

So my reluctance to ask any of them for help, my hesitance about inconvenienceing them? It’s pride. It’s my saying I don’t count on them to be as eager to help or as giving of their time as I would be if the roles were reversed exactly the same way. It comes down to my not thinking as highly of them as of myself, and I have to get over it. I have to trust my coworkers as much as they trust me.

Kind of a major deal, and I weaken the team by not relying on it. Yeah, I suck.

After work I crashed for like four hours, unintentionally. So I did it without Darth Vader stuck to my face, but it was still pretty restful. I was nearly comatose.

I got up and actually took a short walk. Down to the bus stop near DeSa Field to leave two bags of cans and bottles, then resisting the temptation to go further, as I did last time. I walked back to the strip mall and picked up a few things. It was stressful. The cashier didn’t have her mask over her nose. The customer ahead of me in line didn’t have her mask over her nose. The security guard standing a few feet away didn’t have his mask over his nose. The customer behind me in line didn’t have her mask over her nose. What the heck?

Anyway it was about 8,000 steps in all, not ideal but better than nothing, and my knee feels okay, so maybe I can just do that every night for a while and see how it goes.

Jennifer sent me a text about extending canned chili which led to a brief exchange about Jollibee spaghetti. I think it’s okay, but the noodles themselves are too sweet.

Sylvia sent me a text about some coworkers showing up in her FB recommended friends. We talked a little about that — I’ve invited all ten victims of Bloody Wednesday to connect there and on LinkedIn, with not a very good acceptance rate, but it’s cool.

Crush Girl and I texted pretty much all day. It was great — kinda got me through the day, which would have been a struggle otherwise, on so little sleep.

For breakfast I had raisin bran with macadamia milk. It was not good. I got kind of used to it mid-bowl, but I never really enjoyed it. A shame. Lunch was a a few lazy burritos (I’ll explain tomorrow). Dinner, which I just finished, was Korean instant ramen with a huge pile of won bok and watercress. I had a little snack of tortilla chips with fresh salsa, sometime before lunch. I kinda want to avoid the supermarket but I think I need to go before the weekend, and I think I’m going to buy some powdered milk. One reason I’ve gone every other week (or so) is for fresh milk, but maybe I can get around that.

The occupant of the White House is trying to institute a police state in Portland. News came out today that he asked the US ambassador to the UK to steer the British Open to the golf course he owns in Scotland. People keep dying from this dang virus, and state governments refuse to mandate mask-wearing.

Me? I’ve watched Anna Kendrick in Noelle three times since Sunday and cried so many times I’ve lost count. I’m hanging on by my fingernails to comfort cinema, house cleaning, texting with friends, and work. And if you could use some of that texting part (or IMing or DMing), just reach out. Let’s get through it.