Lockdown: Christmas errands and grilled steak

I’m still not sleeping well. I actually put myself to bed at a decent hour Sunday night, too.

Monday I got up and reworked my rejected email copy. It was approved immediately and sent around for others to okay. Took care of some emails, worked on my contribution to the staff newsletter, and took a few hours off to finish Christmas shopping stuff.

Things took a lost longer than I expected. The line at the credit union to use the ATM was crazy. I gave up, jumped back in my car, and headed for a no-fee ATM near my parents’ house. No line there, but the line to get my car into a spot was a bit annoying.

I got a lot done, but it was only half my to-do list.

It was nice zooming around the island in my newly-tuned car. I listened to Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run on my way out and The Night Flight Orchestra’s Aeromantic on my way back.

Got back to work, editing a thing for the med school.

I don’t remember what I did between the end of work and the dedicated writing time, but it was probably unproductive. I did a track-by-track evaulation of the debut album by ARO (that’s Aimee Osbourne, Ozzy’s eldest daughter, the one who refused to be part of the reality show because she wanted a normal life), the first time I’ve tried to review an album like this while I’m spinning it for the first time.

The result was really more pre-writing than writing. Lots of fragments and ideas but no real prose. Good lesson, though. I think a second listen while I’m writing more stuff beneath what I started with could make a good review.

Spent some time sketching a plan for the next few days. Asked for a few more hours off in the middle of the workday Tuesday. Drove to Penny’s so she could throw something through my rear window. Did some cleaning and went to bed late.

Breakfast was the uneaten Subway sandwich from Sunday. It was kind of gross but also pretty good. Lunch, grabbed on the way home from Christmas errands, was a few tacos from the Taco Bell drive-through. I planned to skip dinner but got pretty hungry late. Drove to Bob’s on Dillingham and got a grilled steak. The place is super inconsistent: sometimes it’s excellent and sometimes it’s not good. I’m talking for the same order, on different visits. Anyway this time it was excellent.

Texted Ali a few times and didn’t hear back. Crush Girl and I texted a few times about Christmas shopping and the book I loaned her, which she’s midway through.

Here’s your daily reminder that you needn’t go through this pandemic disconnected. Leave a comment if connectivity you lack. I got your back.

Lockdown: Gee, mail.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

My sleep Saturday night was a joke, even for me. Dragged myself up arond 9:30 to use the bathroom and decided I was up. Read the news, watched some football, goofed around on my phone, ate a small slice of pie.

The auto shop called at 10:31 to say my car was ready, a minute after the start of my fantasy basketball draft. The draft took an hour — I think I did pretty well — and I took another hour getting stuff squared away at home and ready for a trip to the office. Walked down to the shop, paid my ton of money, and drove it home for my stuff.

It was noticeably better. The thing I was most stressed about, this mechanical pop I heard a few times on every drive, coming from my right front axle, was gone. The ball joint. I thought the engine had been running well, but now it ran even better. The tuneup. The car already growls while waiting at red lights and roars as the light turns green, but this time it was practically snarling in idle. The wheel alignment made me realize I’d been wrestling for control of the vehicle for months without really thinking about it. I knew the alignment was bad, probably related to the bad ball joint (as were the bad front tires), but I had no idea how bad it was until I drove it right after the repair.

Picked up two footlong sandwiches from Subway. I figured one for breakfast-slash-lunch and one for a late dinner.

Went to the office and dug in while I updated software. Sharon needed to get in (she doesn’t work in our main office anymore so she doesn’t have a key) so she dropped by when I told her I was in. We stayed far apart, even riding down to our floor in separate elevators, but dang it was nice to see her. It had been nine months.

Her stuff didn’t take long. I tried to work on this article I’m on. It’s not especially difficult but I couldn’t focus, and boy was I tired. I took care of a few housekeeping tasks instead, put an ornament on one of our lobby trees, placed a bunch of healthy(ish) snacks on the reception desk, and took care of a few Christmas things.

I’d loaded four large grocery bags with empty bottle and a small rat in a live trap into my car before leaving the house, so I walked the bottles toward the park where the homeless people are. On the way, I met a woman with two shopping carts, doing something interesting with either a tube of paint or a tube of something edible. I honestly couldn’t tell if she was preparing a meal or working on some kind of art.

“Excuse me. Are you collecting bottles?” I asked.

“Yes, thank you,” she said.

“Can I just put them in here?”

“Yes, thank you.”

“Thank you for taking them off my hands,” I said.

“You’re welcome.”

Cleaned up in the office. Drove up to my preferred rat-releasing spot, and let the little guy go. He seemed happy to be out of the cage. The car handled great coming home a windy-twisty route.

I wasn’t feeling that second Subway sandwich, so I stopped at Liliha Bakery and picked up a meat loaf plate. It was exactly what I needed while also being just what I didn’t need, but ah well. Comfort food.

I was so tired. Took a little bit of a nap that ran too long, so now it’s nearly two in the morning as I write this, and I’m still too tired to be up.

The shop said I’d get my invoice in email but it wasn’t there, hours later. I was using a custom email with my name in the domain (the domain at which this space resides), which Gmail imports into my Gmail account. I did a webmail check directly into that email address and dang it: Gmail hadn’t fetched mail from that box all weekend. Among the not-yet-retrieved mails was an email from Keith, my old boss at the community college, asking if I’d help a friend of his start a podcast (of course I will) and to text him because his new phone didn’t have his old contacts.

But also: an email from the shop SATURDAY MORNING AT NINE telling me my car was ready for pickup! I got it twenty-seven hours later. I am furious. I feel like I lost a weekend day. Gosh fricking darn it. It took me a while to figure out the problem with Gmail and fix it (it was kind of an easy fix and soooooorta nobody’s fault). I’ll spare readers the tech details. I made the adjustment of other email accounts I have Gmail set to import, but didn’t get it all done. Just the important accunts. I’ll do the rest sometime this week.

It’s okay. Saturday was restful if not productive. The car drives well, and I had the money to cover it. I still have a few big deals and then a couple of lower-priority things to take care of, but I no longer feel like I’m driving myself into a prophesied doom. As long as I don’t get pulled over for my long-expired safety inspection sticker, I feel pretty safe taking care of some late-minute Christmas things Monday and Tuesday. So I can stop being furious.

Right. Now.

When I wrote about Saturday’s breakfast-slash-lunch (penne with jarred sauce) I forgot that I also threw in a bunch of that steamed kale I loaded my fridge with. Although I’ve many times had fresh greens with pasta in red sauce, for some reason I never think it’s going to work when I do it at home, but this worked great. If I have to eat all this kale, combining it with perhaps the unhealthiest thing I love most, a huge bowl of pasta, seems like a good way to mitigate the damage I’m doing with all these empty carbs.

I still have a boatload of quinoa in the fridge too, and that already has kale in it. I guess that’s a more sensible option. Especially since I love quinoa and it goes great with fresh greens.

There was quite a bit more texting Sunday than usual for this day. Kerri asked me something about East of Eden for some reason, while I was walking to the shop to pick up my car. I traded texts wtih Penny about a stupid Christmas gift situation I caused with some carelessness. Then there was all the texting with Sharon about getting her into the office. I also texted her later, saying how nice it was to see her and sorry for being unfriendly. I’m stressed out being around people, especially people I care about. Don’t want to get anyone sick. Texted Ali some updates on life in the office. Crush Girl and I texted a few times about stuff she’s been watching. I told her I was watching Noelle Sunday evening, which I did.

I wanna get a lot of work stuff done before the holiday weekend, and some Christmas errands early in the week. Here’s to a good, festive, Christmasy week.

Don’t go through it alone. If you need some connection, leave a comment and I’ll send you some contact info. The holidays suck if you’re floating adrift. Don’t float adrift.

Lockdown: The wheel deal

I tried to keep it mellow, unplanned, and flexible for Saturday. Went to sleep far too late Friday night, but set an alarm so I wouldn’t sleep the whole day away. Woke up at nine, got out of bed about forty-five minutes later. When I realized I didn’t actually have to be anywhere or do anything, I went back to bed for another hour and a half. Heavenly.

Why do I sleep so much better when I go back to bed?

The call never came, so none of the things I thought I might do once I got the wheels back materialized. Just kind of floated about the house. Read the news. Did the crossword (my third failed Saturday in a row — I am not happy), listened to music (Fates Warning and Taylor Swift). Caught up a few times on all my phone games. Took a little nap. Texted friends.

I had a late breakfast because I got out of bed so late. Made a lovely bowl of penne with jarred sauce, vodka, blue cheese, brown sugar, and dried garlic flakes. For lunch I made a huge pot of quinoa. Stirred in a bunch of steamed kale and a little bit of extra sharp cheddar. Topped it with a couple of fried eggs. Unintentionally meatless day.

My coworker Kapio texted in response to a message I sent Friday. Sharon and I texted a few times — I told her I still didn’t have my car back, so our plans for me to let her into the office would have to be in flux. I might have to lend her my keys so she can do what she needs to do.

Ali and I texted all day. What we’re reading. How we’re doing. Stuff like that. It was good, mostly. Crush Girl texted to talk about some of her work stuff, and later to tell me what she was watching Saturday evening. It was nice too.

It’s only 10:30 in the evening and I still have time to write. Think I’ll work on a few things before bed.

Don’t pandemic alone. Please reach out if you need some connection. Leave a comment; I’ll send contact details.

Friday 5: Year in review, part 1

From here.

  1. Who made you laugh most this year?
    The hosts and producers of The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz. The podcast was once about three hours a day, five days a week. It’s a bit shorter now, but because these guys got more of my attention more often, they had an easy lock on this answer. The refusal to take sports or anything else too seriously (except very serious trivialities, like whether or not the original Running Man was a good film) is exactly what I need in my sports talk. They’ve ruined me for most other sports programs because the others are so dang sportsy.
  2. In what ways was 2020 better than 2019?
    I was seriously depressed from July to September last year. It creeps back in once in a while, when I’m reminded of the stuff that had me depressed (there isn’t usually a reason, but this time there was), yet overall my mental health has been so, so much better this year. I’ve also been much less stressed about money this year, a thing that will make a big difference all around.
  3. What was the best movie or TV series you saw in 2020?
    The best TV series was easily Ted Lasso, which I have now seen five times all the way through, some episodes more times than that. I haven’t watched as many films as usual, since my attention span makes it difficult lately, but the best is probably Borg vs. McEnroe (2017), which I watched three times.
  4. What was your favorite food discovery of 2020?
    It may be the Instant Pot the Tamashiros gave me as a late Christmas gift in February. I don’t use it every night as I did when I got it, but it’s super useful, especially for things like curries and stews. Tatsoi was a nice discovery, a veggie I’ve been familiar witih but which I hadn’t brought into my own kitchen until this year. Works great cooked or raw.
  5. What’s something nice you purchased for yourself or received as a gift in 2020?
    I splurged on some pricey wireless headphones on Prime Day. They’ve made a difference in how I hear music, even though I don’t use them every day for that. They’ve really made a difference in my Zoom calls, a now-regular part of my work life. I also bought a green screen, which takes away some of the Zoom stress.

Lockdown: My day as a Pixar pitch

Once upon a time

I stayed up too late Thursday night and only got five-ish hours of sleep, although I have to say the last three were pretty good. Kinda sucks. I only get lots of terrible sleep or a little bit of good sleep.

Because of that

I was tired and out of bed a little later than planned. I gave my car a quick scrubbing to get the bird poop and dirt off. I didn’t give it a great washing, just scrubbed it with soap and water and a sponge, then rinsed it off. Mostly a courtesy for the people working on my car, but also I suspect they do a better job on clean(ish) cars. Dropped the car off and walked a few blocks to take care of a couple errands. The next bus up the hill wasn’t for forty-five minutes.

Because of that

I thought I’d look for somewhere to grab breakfast-slash-lunch and maybe consume it at a park or something. I passed Diner’s, which is passable late at night but not known for being a great option when other things are open. However, a few years ago, the owner of a popular food truck bought the joint and brought his menu with him, adding it to the regular menu. Upscale plate lunches, and pretty dang good. Diner’s has eight outdoor picnic tables. They’re disgusting. But they’re in the open air and nobody else was dining.

Because of that

I dined out for the first time since March 19, if you don’t count Big Macs in the laundry at three in the morning. I ordered a garlic ahi plate, which had grill marks but looked like it was panfried in garlic and butter. It was topped with several whole cloves of roasted garlic, and servied with furikake rice, asparagus, and a pretty good tossed salad with a good non-oily lemony dressing.

It felt pretty good, and the meal was quite good. I walked to the bus stop and was pleased to see only two other passengers. Rode way in the back. Got home a about ninety minutes before I was expected back at work.

Because of that

I took a short nap of the drooling sort. Forced myself into some clothes and called a student for a twenty-minute interview. She’s one of those students who calls alumni and asks them to donate money, and she’s raised over a hundred grand in two years. Worthy of a short profile on our website.

The interview went really well. I caught up on emails and sent a few of my own, then looked for my santa hat because we had a holiday pau hana via Zoom at three. Yeah, early for a pau hana, but a lot of us end our working day at four (I don’t finish until sixish) so three makes sense. I’m so annoyed. I’ve been seeing my santa hat all through the pandemic but couldn’t remember where I put it.

Because of that

I had to show up without looking festive. I tried to wear this huge sombrero I own instead, but it wouldn’t stay put while I wore my headphones.

We played a few games, recommended our favorite Christmas movies, enjoyed each other’s company, and ended about twenty minutes early. We were invited to take the rest of the day off, which normally would have been great except I had a few things to do.

Because of that

I wrote some email copy that was rejected for being too dark. Haha. I knew it would be, but I had to try. Jotted down a few ideas for my second attempt but I’m going to let it roll around in my brainspace for a day or so before I try again. My first draft was actually pretty good; it just wasn’t appropriate. Filing away for another time.

I kind of rolled from that right into my dedicated writing time. One other person (the person from South Korea) was in the Skype chat, so we talked writing a bit and we wrote, with no timed writings this time. I did some journaling, then attacked something I’d been wanting to work on since last weekend: a track-by-track evaluation of Taylor Swift’s new album. Posted on FB but I’ll post it here too, sometime this weekend.

No, I don’t expect anyone to read it. It’s long! And it’s boring. I did it for the writing exercise and this it accomplished. Got me thinking about writing about music.

Because of that

I spent a solid two or three hours listening and taking notes, and now I’m very tired. My vision’s blurry and I can’t keep my eyes open. And it’s only 12:47 Friday evening.

When the car place called me to tell me their assessment, I ordered work on all the recommendations except fixing my AC, which I asked them to take a look at. It can wait, and it’s $350. The other stuff was safety-related and maintenance-related, so I’ll be happy to get it done, and made plans to keep my Saturday plans open so I can get down there as soon as the car’s ready and possibly finish my Christmas shopping for good.

Until finally

I’ll be in the Christmas spirit, with gifts procured and car running okie dokie. I may take myself for a longish drive, depending on how much of my day is left when I’ve finished the planned stuff.

Mid-credits scene

That’s not part of the Pixar pitch. Just had to add a component something to finish up. Crush Girl and I texted most of the afternoon and early evening and it was great. We talked movies, santa hats, food, and eggnog.

I sent Ali a few friendly texts and didn’t hear back. Texted my sister to ask if she wants to coordinate sharing family dinner with me and my folks. No reply yet. Sharon texted to ask if I’m going to be in the office Sunday, and I said yes and I could let her in but she needs to stay away from me. I texted Stacia a copy of my rejected email copy and we got some laughs out of it. She totally understands why I have to submit stuff once in a while I’m pretty sure will be rejected. Testing the electric fences keeps us from staying too far away from them, too centered in the safe area.

Breakfast-slash-lunch was the very good garlic ahi plate. Dinner was a bowl of penne with jarred sauce and blue cheese. So yummy. I’ve had the munchies all night but have resisted. Now my teeth are brushed and I’m ready for bed.

Post-credits scene

Daily reminder: leave a comment if you want someone to connect with in the hopefully last days of the pandemic. No, let’s not kid ourselves. We’ve got a long way to go. There’s a light but it’s a ways off. Don’t get stuck in the darkness alone.

Lockdown: ‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky

I took two hours of vacation Thursday morning to do some car stuff, but I slept so miserably Wednesday night that I got up to do a couple of things and just went back to bed and slept in. Terrible.

The car stuff will have to wait.

I worked on some staff newsletter stuff, reread some emails I hadn’t paid much attention to the day before, and had a phone call and a Zoom meeting. They were all okay.

Mostly vegged after work. Did one very quick chore and thought about doing the car stuff I didn’t do in the morning, but opted instead to finish watching the Raiders-Chargers game. Pretty good game even if the outcome wasn’t nice.

I was the only person who showed up for the NaNo Skype, which is fine. I wasn’t really up to writing anything formal. I kind of goofed off with some record review ideas, then spent the time journaling while my new Jimi Hendrix Blu-Ray played.

Unfortunately, the steamed kale in my fridge is still quite unspoiled, so breakfast was an omelette with kale, radish sprouts, extra sharp cheddar, and kimchi. It was good. I wasn’t sure without some kind of meat it would work, but I didn’t even notice the absence of animal flesh.

Omelettes are one of my favorite breakfasts. I started making them in high school, and made them a lot in college and early in my teaching career. It had been quite a while, though, so it was fun. A good breakfast and satisfying to prepare.

Lunch was a bowl of pasta, the other half of the bag I opened a couple of weeks ago (I think — what is time anyway?). Threw in some jarred sauce and stirred in some blue cheese and vodka. Delicious and satisfying. I skipped dinner but I’m getting a little hungry as I write this so I may have a small quesadilla if I’m up to it.

Sharon texted me to say thanks for the Christmas gift and card I sent to her desk in one of our on-campus offices. We still have a few people on campus, so a courier picks stuff up once a day and delivers it.

Crush Girl texted me to talk about a few different things. We chatted a little in the morning and then more in the evening. It was nice. I’m still trying to convince her to see Ted Lasso. She saw the first episode on my recommendation and liked it, but you know. It doesn’t get awesome until one or two more episodes in.

This week went by kind of quickly. Difficult to believe it’s Friday already, and only a week before Christmas. I still have a few things to take care of. Might take a day off from work next week. Depends on how things go with my car.

Holidays, shmolidays; am I right? Actually I’m looking forward to them. And if you need some connection in the dying days of 2020, leave a comment. Don’t be alone and miserable.

Lockdown: Midnight blue and crimson will do nicely

Wednesday’s Spelling Bee puzzle. Heatedly came immediately. Deathly, a second pangram, took a lot longer.

I made a few mistakes on my entry for Tuesday, so I went back and made some edits. Also added a photo. Info for the obsessed completionist reader.

So breakfast was a Big Mac combo at the laundry. Tried to do a McRib but the all-night McD’s doesn’t have the full menu at four in the morning.

At the laundry, I wrote a few Christmas cards and did a little bit of planning for the coming week and a half. Still have a few Christmas things to take care of.

On my way home, I stopped at the post office, one with a self-service kiosk, and dropped a few gifts in the mail. You used to be able to mail small packages at a first-class rate, but nowadays everything over some trifling weight (13 ounces, I think) seems automatically to be Priority Mail in the flat-rate packaging, which for my stuff is more than seven bucks. It’s pricey, and for a while I thought of other options, but you know, my reluctance to come face-to-face with people combined with my severe introversion kind of makes seven bucks a bargain. Just seven bucks to spread a little Christmas joy and let some friends know I’m thinking of them? That’s a steal.

Got home, unwound, and went back to bed.

I tried to play a little catch-up on organizational stuff, then I had my weekly one-on-one with my boss. It was pretty routine, but I did tell her how positive are my feelings about the strategic planning, and that I was on board for anything they needed from me.

Worked a little on staff newsletter stuff. I wasn’t especially productive, but I worked. I mean, I sat here and did work things.

I watched the news even though I would rather have lounged in bed. I did some crosswords. Turned the TV off before The Bachelorette came on. Stared at my phone for far too long.

The NaNo Skype energy was a bit down. I think several of us are feeling the stress of the holidays. We all shared a little and chatted most of the evening, without actually writing. I wrote some, listened to music some, and wrote some more. It wasn’t fun. One of the other participants painted. The others never planned to write to begin with, but I’m glad they joined in. Wednesday is sort of our designated night to check in and say hi.

I’m having second thoughts about writing album reviews, and I’ve felt this way before. After a while, they all start to look the same, which is useless to me as a writer. As a reader, I don’t mind so much because I read the stuff I’m interested in, never reading every review a website offers. When I’m the creator of all the reviews, I think I get bored. And boring, which is worse.

It’s weird I don’t feel this way about book reviews. I’m wondering if it’s because I have more to say about any book I’ve completed. It’s my area of study, after all, and I’m pretty much a know-nothing about music. I mean, my book reviews can really go on. My music reviews draw from a much smaller toolbox, so I run out of stuff to say. Is this an argument to keep writing them or to give it up? If I keep practicing, will I add more colors to my crayon collection or will I just keep coloring the sky blue and the grass green?

I hate myself.

After I post this, I’m going to force myself to write a music review in a very different way, speed-writing again just to get it out and see what it looks like.

Somebody give me some new crayons.

One of my coworkers emailed me to say she and her husband were on the last episode of Ted Lasso and thanked me for the recommendation. I was pleased. They both loved it, and she was happy when I shared with her that the show’s been renewed already for two more seasons.

I sent an FB message to one of my former coworkers in Manila. She’s taken my position’s equivalent at another international engineering firm, and she posted a screenshot of a company-wide congratulations, shouting her out for landing the company some good work in Ohio. This is a big deal. I’m super excited for her.

JB texted me to answer a question I had about his family. Ali texted me to respond to one of my texts from teh day before. That was it for texts! I may be crawling into my cave. I can feel myself wanting to even though it would be bad for me. May have to make a little extra effort to reach out to people Thursday. Although I have one phone meeting and one Zoom meeting and they may suck it all out of me.

I made an online appointment to take the car in Friday morning for a few things. If I can get that stuff taken care of and repair anything that needs repairing before next week, I may go for a long drive over the weekend. I think it would have been good for me these past nine months, but I’ve had this sense of impending doom with the wheels. Getting caught up on maintenance will help a great deal.

Lunch and dinner were the same thing: leftover curry with leftover hapa rice. I added a few shakes of cinnamon on the lunch meal and it was amazing. Not cinammony at all, but something completely different. Good discovery, and exciting enough that I ate it again for dinner. Trying to use up leftoves, so tomorrow’s going to be a lot of kale, I think, if the kale in my fridge is still good.

Daily invitation to leave a comment if you need someone to connect with. I’m a little unstable these days, but I can definitely help you steady yourself if you need it.

Lockdown: Chloro-fill me with useful knowledge

The problem with dedicating a couple of hours each night to writing is that even if your nightly schedule allows for it, unless you give up something else, there’s really no time to waste. Say you’re a little tired of sitting at your desk when the workday is done. If you want to lie in your comfy bed (not that my bed is comfy, but it’s comfier than the desk chair) for a bit, you’re pushing back stuff like dinner, chores, TV vegging, and other important pieces of daily existence.

Add the occasional disruption to nightly life, such as a bi-weekly trip to the laundry, and you really can’t mess around.

Of course, I’ve been mostly in messing around mode since March 19. You can see how much of a pain I am to myself just from that.

I got more of that half-terrible, half-restful sleep Monday night, the sort where I fall asleep before putting myself properly to bed, then wake up to hit the bathroom (or something), then put Darth Vader on my face and get four(ish) hours of uninterrupted sleep. It was stupid.

EDIT: I actually got up and hopped into my car for a drive to the beach. It was a Honolulu winter morning, with no real cloud cover but muted early-morning sunlight. The water was very cool but not quite cold, and there was almost nobody in the water when I jumped in, but there were a lot of swimmers when I got out.

As I might have mentioned, I had four hours of vacation scheduled Tuesday, but there was a nine o’clock staff meeting via Zoom, and I hate to miss those, especially since we’re going through the early stages of strategic planning, and I know this is strange, but this kind of thing wakes up in me all kinds of good feelings. It’s like the every-six-year accreditation process, which I have to say I also rather enjoy.

I think they’re both a bit like making resolutions at the start of every year. Evaluate oneself (not the year) and make plans for improvement. Then set those things in motion, maybe. Reason for optimism, not matter how many of these things resulted in nothing all the years past. Maybe nothing good ever came of strategic planning before, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen this time. This time for sure.

I’m being sincere, because even if nothing tangible or meaningful happens, there’s value in the process. I know many of my former teacher colleagues would disagree, and they’re entitled, but to consider self-reflection only valuable if there are results is to miss the value of the reflection itself. As someone who writes for an audience of himself just to sift daily revelations from the profundity of mundania, I’m not here for this thinking.

Too lazy to look up whether mundania is a word. It might be mundanity. Mundania is most likely a bit of wordplay from Piers Anthony, who uses it in one of his titles.

It’s also possible I just groove on the strategic planning because I miss teaching, and accreditation (and other long-term planning) is one of the most collegial professional aspects of the job. I always say writing is a lonely business, but in some ways teaching is just as lonely. I taught for sixteen years and my bosses saw my actually doing my work maybe twenty times, and only for a few minutes at a time. You miss so much of my best stuff if you don’t see me for an entire class period.

Real classroom management happens in little spontaneous moments, and as the sum of these moments. You can’t see the sum if you stick around for only fifteen minutes. Well you can, but you won’t see what I do to make it happen.


So yeah. I may have been the only person leaving non-question comments in the Zoom chat. I left two, but the first was a joke about the CEO.

I needed some rest after the meeting (these things take a lot out of me, even if I’m not a vocal participant). First, I took care of some emails, then I took a short nap. A glorious, peaceful, restful nap.

As my vacation time approached the halfway mark, I forced myself up to take care of that stupid wheel lock key issue. I looked up wheel lock keys on Amazon, saw the kind of info I needed in order to get the part I wanted, measured the lug nuts on my car (it was a challenge because all I had was yardsticks, and the nuts are recessed in the hub cap, and I thought I probably needed metric measurements as well as standard, and none of my yardsticks had metric units.

I drove to the auto parts store in my hood and stared at the stuff in the aisle. I was lost. I asked for help. I told the woman what I needed, including measurements and the fact that my lug nuts were aftermarket, six-spline nuts. She said she had a few wheel lock keys and would go out to the lot with me to make sure the one she had in mind would fit.

Yeah, the Amazon listings were super helpful in guiding me toward the right purchase, but bless those merchants: they don’t come with you to make sure the thing you’re buying actually fits your car.

All that trouble for an eight dollar purchase, but I have what I need now, so I can finally go ahead with the rest of the car stuff.

And that’s the story of how it takes me four hours to run a thirty-minute errand. When you know yourself, you know an unpleasant task needs built-in procrastination time, plus time to psyche yourself up to get into a store and talk to people.

When I sat down to work, I had a few loose ends to chase down, then helped a colleague with editing stuff. It needed help for sure, and I had to get up and look at other stuff a couple of times. There were a few instances of complicated wording.

I think I did okay, although sometimes I wonder if these directors of research centers know how difficult it can be to write something meaningful on their behalfs. Behalves. Hm.

Dang it. That one I did look up, and m-w.com doesn’t offer a plural form. I’m declaring this my poetic license to use either one.

I was seriously dragging, so I took another short nap and it really did the trick. Got up and did all the laundry-prep stuff and the chores I neglected in my lazy time and finally got to bed at about half past midnight. Ugh. Set the alarm but overslept anyway and I was an hour later than I wanted for the laundry. But I’m here.

EDIT: Actually, breakfast was a two-burrito breakfast combo from McD’s, consumed in my car before the sun came up at Ala Moana. The pie was a late-morning snack because breakfast was so early and burned through pretty quickly. Breakfast was a small slice of pie, eaten during the Zoom meeting. I turned video off when I ate but turned it back on when I wasn’t shoving food into my face. Lunch, picked up from Pancakes and Waffles on my way home from the auto parts store, was a Monte Cristo (it was good but not great; I’ve had better). Dinner was a cheeseburger deluxe from the same spot, hours later and cold, but after my short nap, it was what I needed. It was a lot of bread, so I ate it open-faced, with a knife and fork.

Ali and I texted a bit in the evening. She sent me a funny meme about how what teachers teach in the classroom has no real-world application. It misses the mark, but it’s still funny. I didn’t even get the joke at first, because of course the stuff we teach in the classroom has all kinds of real-world value. You may not be asked about chlorophyll in your job interview, but understanding how plants make their own food and how humans are dependent on them for oxygen is far more important for the human species than whether or not First Local Bank wants you to be their quality assurance gal.

Anto and I traded a few texts. Casual catch-up. Penny texted to say she’s on episode seven of Ted Lasso (which you should defnitely watch, whether or not you have an Apple TV+ subscription).

And the world keep on turning
And the sun keep on burning
And the children keep learning
How to grow up big and strong

Daily reminder: leave a comment if you want someone to connect with in the daunting, doldrummy days of pandemic. Light at the tunnel’s end, sure, but it’s still a long way off.

Lockdown: Murderous airbags sent packing

Sunday night was another night where I slept poorly then finally got it together in the early morning, in time for about four and a half hours uninterrupted. I was about to drift off when Ali responded to a few texts I’d sent her, the day we communicated poorly. It led to a semi-contentious texting exchange. I’m over it, but I was already feeling super moody at nearly 1:30 in the morning so it took me a little while to settle back down. She had to go to work and I had to get some sleep.

I watched a few of my favorite moments in Ted Lasso to put me in a better mind. When the alarm went off Monday morning at 7:00, I just wasn’t ready for it.

However. I had an appointment to finally take care of that defective airbag. Pulled up at the dealer, about eight minutes from my house, checked in, and walked around Kalihi for a while. They were done in half an hour. Nice. I asked the service guy about my wheel lock key. He took a quick look and told me what I need and how I should be able to get it. I jotted the keywords down, came home, and looked it up on Amazon. I have to take a few measurements, but it looks like if what I have isn’t weird, I should be able to find what I need, either at a local auto parts store or as a second result, Amazon. And not too expensive. Like considerably less than twenty bucks.

I have some time off Tuesday to do that, and to figure out other car things, but I forgot we have an all-staff meeting Tuesday morning at nine. I hate to miss a meeting, especially an all-staff meeting, even if the stupid thing’s on Zoom. So I emailed my boss and said I’m going to see what things look like after the meeting and then ask either to push my hours to later Tuesday or to take them Wednesday instead.

I used the rest of my vacation time to veg and nap, the stuff I felt kind of ripped off for not getting Sunday. It was good for my brain.

I got some feedback on the story I finished Sunday. It’s doable, but it makes my story a little less interesting. It’s okay. I sent the DO some questions, and this is why I may just postpone my vacation hours to Wednesday. If it looks like I have a couple more hours to work on the story, I’d rather do it Tuesday, just to get it done. I want that thing done.

I worked on some new copy for the website, and that was mostly my work day.

Watched the news. Played games on my phone at the same time, so as not to get mad at the news. It worked, but I also didn’t really soak most of it in. The news is mostly good, you know? The vaccine is the turning of the tide. Yet the incumbent continues to infuriate me in these last days of his term. It’s maddening.

The Bachelorette was so stupid this evening that I came microseconds away from turning it off. I realized that, as compelling as the story was, if I just turned the TV off and did something more meaningful with my time (like stare at my phone and veg) I wouldn’t care in the least what happened. It finally hit that too-stupid-to-watch line, until the bachelorette came out wearing something so hot I had to leave it on. I mean geez. I guess it wasn’t quite at the too-stupid-to-watch-even-with-a-super-gorgeous-woman line.

It’s on again Tuesday night and I don’t think I’ll watch it.

I’m writing this during the NaNo Skype time, after doing a couple of speed-written record reviews. I’m finding the reviews very unsatisfying. I enjoy writing them, but the product is boring. I’ve got to find a more interesting approach.

Breakfast was Taco Bell. I’d been looking forward to it for days, but while it was still good, it wasn’t exciting good. I think it’s time to give it a break. Lunch was leftover curry and fresh hapa rice. I’m skipping dinner. I had a two-clementine snack during the news. If I’m hungry later, I may have a small slice of pie. I’m not feeling it, though.

Besides the texts with Ali, I also texted a few friends to tell them about this new boba spot in Ala Moana called The Alley. It’s the local branch of a mainland chain. Takes its name from Diagon Alley, and the logo on the cup is a stag. Crush Girl gave me a Cho Chang wand for my birthday this year; I’m thinking of going to this place with it (when the world is safe again), pointing the wand at the cashier, and saying, “Accio oolong!”

Anyway. Penny said, “Cool!” Sharon already knew about it. Grace didn’t say anything. Crush Girl said, “Ooooh that sounds amazing!” I keep telling: you I know how to pick ’em. Jennifer responed with “Deerioca?” I thought she was punning, but it appears she looked up the place and that’s what they call the tapioca pearls there. Not very creative. Anyway, not to be outpunned, I replied, “Ooprongs tea.”

Not my best work.

Man, I need to shake this moodiness. I suspect most of it will be taken away when I get that stupid wheel lock key, because it will allow me to do the next thing on my car list, and I really really really really really want to get car stuff squared away before Christmas! Argh.

What’s frustrating you? If you want someone to talk about it with and aren’t getting enough connection, just leave a comment. I’ll send you contact details and we can text it out. Don’t go through holiday moodiness alone!

Lockdown: It’s put a spell on me

the spelling bee puzzle from december 2

I slept without Darth Vader Saturday night then managed to get it on for about an hour and a half, then took it off because I thought I was getting up, but I fell asleep again for another couple of hours without it. Somehow woke up Sunday feeling mostly refreshed at about 10:30.

I knew I had a long day ahead of me; I just didn’t know if I wanted to get it started early or late. The football games didn’t excite me much, so I packed up and headed to the office, stopping for a turkey sandwich at Subway on my way in.

The one thing I absolutely had to do, despite nobody being on my case about it, was get that late story about the Maui chocolatier done. Done as in submitted in first-draft form to my boss. I don’t know why I’ve been having trouble completing it except that most of my organizational strategies just weren’t working for me.

So I did a blind revision, started all over with a blank page, and at first everything flowed and I thought I had it, but then I bogged down. I was boring myself, and that’s not easy to do. So I yanked out the stuff I thought was interesting but distracting to the story and muscled my way to a finish. It’s not my best work but it’s a good start. I hope my boss has some good critique to help me polish it up a little.

That took a few hours. I’m mad at myself for being so late with it and for taking so long just to draft it today. Took a little break, walking a whole bunch of empty plastic Diet Pepsi bottles (four grocery bags’ full) to the little park near the office where there are always homeless people hanging out. Found a woman with a cart and asked if she was collecting bottles, and could I give her mine. She didn’t seem happy to see me, but she said thank you when I left the bottles on the ground near her cart.

There were more restaurants open in the neighborhood than I expected, and although you get tired of them quickly when you work in the area, I don’t exactly work in the area anymore, so they were a welcome site. I picked up a pastrami sandwich from La Pizza Rina, ate it at my desk, then wrapped gifts while my software updated.

I got Christmas gifts for more people in the office than usual. I miss my coworkers and want them to know I’m thinking of them, so I wrapped, signed cards, and left things on people’s desks. Hoping they bring a little bit of encouragement and cheer.

Finally rolled out at about 10:15 in the evening, dang it. I feel good about the productivity, but I wish I didn’t put myself in a position where I had to do it Sunday.

Now I’m having a Corona as I think about this coming week. I have a few hours off here and there to take care of car stuff, Christmas stuff, beach stuff, and decluttering stuff, and I should decide now what’s the must-do stuff and what’s just aspirational.

My uncle sent me an IG message, shared from someone else’s account, with a super positive message, so we chatted a little about that. Ali responded to some stuff I sent her; I think there may have been a miscommunication but I’m trying not to let it bug me.

Crush Girl texted me to say she’s been reading this book I lent her a year ago. I’ve kind of been wanting to re-read it, so I’m glad to hear it, but mostly I’m glad that she wanted to read it and I had a copy of it and she’s (most likely) enjoying it now.

The Suzanne-Julie-Cindy group text is definitely not the place for a Taylor discussion, I realized, so Julie and I will probably break it down on our own. She sent me a thought about one of the song titles. I sent her a screen shot from a book I’m reading. It’s a start.

You know what I’m really annoyed about? There’s this puzzle on the NYT puzzles page called Spelling Bee. You have to make as many four-letter (or longer) words as you can with the letters in the grid, but the letter in the middle must be included in every word. There’s this scoring ladder you climb with ranking based on your score. More points for longer words, and a bonus for finding the daily pangram, the word or words using all letters in the grid.

I played it when it first hit the website, but it wasn’t doing anything for me so I focused on the crosswords, which are still my main purpose for existence. But for the past month or so I’ve been doing the Spelling Bee puzzles daily, enjoying the challenge of hitting the highest ranking, “genius.” I always hit “amazing,” the second-highest ranking, sometimes with difficulty but usually with ease. Hitting genius is always a challenge but I’d say I get it five or six days a week. And for some reason the pangram almost always pops into my head as soon as I see the puzzle.

Anyway I was so preoccupied Sunday that I missed the puzzle entirely, and as I write this the Monday puzzle is already up. I’m so bummed. There’s no way to play the puzzle once it’s the next day.

I’ll get over it. I guess I’ll attempt Monday’s puzzle now, or at least work on it until midnight, by which time I’m supposed to get ready for bed.

Don’t pandemic disconnectedly. Leave a comment and I’ll send you my contact info if connection is what you need. It’s what we all need.

PS: ANTICLIMACTIC. You saw it right away, right?