Lockdown: Story of a story

I’m going to try to make this a quick one, so please interrupt me if I take off on a weird tangent about some silly thing I saw on TV or some music I streamed.

It’s 3:20 and if I can get to bed by 4, I’ll be super happy.

I pretty much just worked all day. Not in the grinding-for-eighteen-hours way, as I often do on proposals, but in the work-a-little-take-a-break way I sometimes do more narrative stories.

I try not to let myself fall into formulaic writing, despite the way so much of what I write is similar in nature and theme. I’m kind of desperate not to keep writing the same story with different values for variables, and I’m not just talking about structure like the five-paragraph essay form. I’m talking about deeper level thinking as it translates into storytelling, something I don’t have any formal education in but which I am certain separates good writing from very good writing.

If I’m going to write the five-paragraph essay, for example, I don’t want the five paragraphs always to be intro-body-body-body-conclusion. There are ways of expositing the same material without a thesis statement followed by three points and a why-should-you-care statement to wrap it up.

Because I don’t have the formal schooling, I don’t have the language for dissecting my thinking, and without the language it’s difficult to think about or analyze. I’m keenly aware of this, but I’m determined to force myself through it over time — I’ve been forcing myself through it since I took this job — so I have a better understanding of story and my role in telling it.

I had this amazing professor in an advanced expository, 400-level composition course at UH Hilo. She focused all semester on metaphor, in a way that blew my too-immature mind. I just wasn’t ready for most of it, but I’m so glad I did the reading and took notes and tried to contribute to the discussion. I’ve called on these things as I’ve considered the x-ray type stuff in my analysis. Although I know there’s more to it, I’m grateful to have it as a handhold.

Anyway, these are things I’m sure my supervisor doesn’t want to hear. Because they slow my writing down like one gigantic speedbump, as they did today. My storytelling machinery is a little rusty too, which didn’t help.

I got one story drafted and another aaaaaaaalmost drafted. I need one more transition and then a couple of good paragraphs to close, but my eyes and brain hurt, so I submitted them for a quick review.

Half an hour ago.

I’m grateful also to have a job allowing me to take a whole day sometimes to do this kind of writing and thinking, and a supervisor who lets me do it once in a while.

So the whole day was kind of a work day for me, and it’s okay. I didn’t take a walk or watch any TV besides the news. I went from bed to the desk to the bathroom to the kitchen to the desk to the bed in an endless cycle that got me through the nearly two drafts.

I’m tired.

For breakfast I had instant ramen with half a bag of bean sprouts, half a block of firm tofu, and one head of baby bok choi. It was really more veggies than noodles, but that’s how I like it lately. I needed something simple but not instant, you know? Not something to throw in the microwave. Something to actually put together. Just not anything fancy.

I’m likely to have the same thing either for breakfast or lunch tomorrow. Gotta use the rest of the ingredients.

It reminds me of one of my favorite meals in the year-and-a-quarter when I was underemployed, before I took the job at the foundation. Good topic for tomorrow.

Lunch was a bowl of raisin bran. I didn’t want to mess up my writing flow, so I needed something quick and yummy.

Dinner was just laziness. Three hot dogs with ketchup, mustard, and sauerkraut. Didn’t need that third one, dang it.

I had three peanut butter Oreos for a snack. I don’t remember when but I know I had them.

Loudwire published a list of its 25 best power metal albums of all time. It’s a good list, some of which I’d have predicted and some of which I agree with. That’s going to be a fun list to make, when I have some time to think about it.

I’m going to spend the rest of the week listening to stuff on the list I’m not familiar with. Tonight I spun an album called A Flame to the Ground Beneath by Lost Horizon (2003). It was one of the few bands on the list I’ve never heard or heard of, but its position at number seven seems well considered. Good album.

The 2002-2003 school year is a key year for me in my music fanaticism. It’s when I discovered power metal and symphonic metal, the year I made my first purchases in this area, including the number five album on the list, Symphony X’s The Odyssey (2002), which I might put at number one or two on my own list.

It was my first year teaching at Assets, too, so the music and the beginning of this second leg of my teaching career are kind of woven.

I got an early text from Jenny about an HBA alumni online event, an interview with my classmate Karen, who’s a state judge. I didn’t get to watch the stream since I was working, but if it’s still viewable I’ll watch it later this week for sure.

Crush Girl and I talked a little about the new COVID-19 cases — a nearly unbelievable 41! Seriously, I can’t believe it. I thought it was a typo. Oh, she also looked at the first two episodes of Casual, which made me feel good. I’m evangelizing Jason Reitman.

Sharon and I texted about a local TV reporter we’ve been talking about and a little about this all-staff Zoom meeting we have tomorrow. Ugh. I don’t want to think about it. It’s not until 4:00, too, so I have all day to dread it. It’s not going to be a fun day.

Suzanne sent the engineering group text a request for a photo of Eddie. I had no idea who Eddie was so I sent a photo of Edward Van Halen, the best Eddie I can think of. Turns out Cindy’s cat is named Eddie and that’s who Suzanne was talking about. Then Julie sent a photo of herself breastfeeding one of her kids. Great.

That was it. Uneventful but productive Tuesday, even if the productivity was extremely inefficient. I’m feeling normal for some reason, and I may celebrate Wednesday with takeout lunch from somewhere.

As you can see, I’ve got bandwidth for more texting, IMing, or DMing. Hit me up in this space and I’ll send you my contact info, if you need someone to connect with. I promise not to send you breastfeeding photos, but you may get 80s guitar slinger photos.

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