Lockdown: Not the greatest but still pretty good

It’s three hours after I began my write-up of Thursday. Three in the morning Sunday. And I’m still wide awake. This happens sometimes when one spends a great portion of Saturday in bed.

I probably won’t finish this before I do crash, though, but I figure I may as well get it rolling.

I slept, but not well Thursday night. Got up a little late Friday and hit the drive-through at McD’s for breakfast. Actually, I returned emails first while I quizzed myself on how I might feel if I went to Taco Bell for breakfast on a second consecutive morning. I ran through my mental Rolodex of places to get breakfast on a work day and nothing got me excited, but neither did anything in the pantry, so I waited until it was time for breakfast to be over at McD’s, then dashed down for a Big Mac combo (which I haven’t had in a couple of weeks).

Oh it was so good.

I posted a story to our website then submitted an invoice and worked on some student profiles I’ve been on for a month or so. Ate lunch at my desk (spicy Chicken McNuggets) and grabbed a short nap, then in the last couple of hours one of the development officers asked me for some (supposedly) final edits on a proposal we’ve been working on together for more than a month.

We worked through that and had a phone call, and then it was done and so was the longest workweek of the lockdown.

I spent most of Friday evening staring dumbly at my phone and playing dumb phone games. Read the news, did Saturday’s crossword in fifteen minutes, worked on some ideas for a writing project, and took a nap. Woke up and had kimchi stew for dinner. I made it with Portuguese sausage instead of fresh meat because it’s late in the every-other-week grocery cycle.

Yeah, I know I went to the grocery store last Friday morning, specifically for meat, but now it was (of course) consumed — and just in time for the pork I cooked Thursday. It’s actually not crazy to use a processed or even canned meat for this. There’s a Korean dish called army stew (or army base stew), developed after the Korean war when food was scarce in South Korea and people got by on surplus U.S. army food. We’re talking canned beans, Vienna sausage, and Spam.

So it wasn’t the greatest but it was still good, and culturally pretty faithful.

Sent Crush Girl a quick text to say happy weekend and to ask what she’s looking forward to. She sent me a photo of the book she picked up at the library. More YA stuff from an author she really likes now. Jennifer and I traded some texts about what we’re drinking this weekend. Haha. I can’t ask what she’s reading because she claims not to read anymore. I texted Sharon kind of late when it occurred to me she might not know that in Zoom calls, when you send direct private messages, the meeting hosts can see the messages. She didn’t know. I’m glad I informed her. I found out my friend (and former colleague) Dawn is having shoulder surgery — we talked about it in IG DMs for a while, then moved it to texts so I could have her number in my phone. Her surgery’s Tuesday and I told her I’d send her a little encouragement and say a little prayer.

I already wrote this, but Friday I spun the new Soen album five or six times. It’s really good. I also spun the new Accept album (which I think I also wrote). Friday’s other potentially interesting drops are new albums by MSG and this group called Pounder.

If you’re feeling untethered, there’s no need to. Leave a comment and I’ll send you come contact means. Don’t go through the pandemic disconnected if you don’t want to.

Lockdown: Forgettable Thursday

It’s just struck midnight Saturday night as I write about Thursday. Was hoping to get caught up Saturday but I didn’t feel well most of the evening and just didn’t have the energy. So we’ll see about getting caught up Sunday.

Thursday was difficult! In bed at six in the morning and up for work at nine will do it. Now that my work was in, there was very quick movement on the stories. Different stakeholders chimed in with edit suggestions and I paid attention, but mostly this story’s been taken out of my hands and it’s between the donors and the office working with the donors. It was nice mostly to just watch the activity shoot by on my email screen.

There were some late edits to the staff newsletter. I didn’t get to them until Thursday around lunchtime because I was so tired, but that went fairly smoothly too.

I slept during my lunch break, and I may have taken an extra half an hour. I was so tired.

Got up in time for the 2:00 department Zoom meeting, which was interesting but it went a full hour. Then there was an advancement meeting, which I’m not really part of but invited to attend, and I really want to be aware of what our fundraisers are talking about, so I sat in on that Zoom meeting too, and that went a full hour.

I am not built for consecutive one-hour meetings. Not even virtual. Not even when I’m not on video or audio for the second. So it was a struggle.

Guess what I did when I was done with work? Yep. Right to bed. I didn’t crash quite as easily as I do most evenings lately. Took me a while to wind down and accept in my brain that I didn’t have anything urgent to deal with.

I think I got up around 9:30, kind of hungry. I made a kimchi stew and caught up on some online reading. I don’t remember what time I went to bed, but it was later than I wanted, yet early compared to the rest of this week. I guessing it was around one or two.

Oh yeah. Breakfast was Taco Bell. I have to say it kept me going through a tough day, and was filling enough that I didn’t eat again until the kimchi stew at ten in the evening. I’m thinking I should really look up the nutrition info on these things but maybe I don’t want to know.

Penny texted to ask when she could drop of my birthday gift. It was a group text with Grace. I think they worked it out privately. I told her I was going to the office sometime Sunday so I’d come by her place at some mutually convenient time. Sharon texted me briefly to see if I was in the second Zoom meeting, which I was. Crush Girl texted me to talk a little about some of her work stress. Then we talked a little about books. She’s been on a little YA kick lately, which of course I’m always interested in.

Honestly it was a forgettable day and that’s utterly fine with me after what has been a stressful, miserable week.

Daily reminder: if you want someone to connect with in these lockdown days, just leave a comment. I’ll send you some contact deets. And yes, I’m going to keep saying this until most of us have needles in our arms.

Lockdown: Late-night bondage; early-morning submission

A couple of weekends ago, I requested a couple of hours off Wednesday morning, hoping for a trip to the beach. I couldn’t have known then that it would rain like crazy all day Monday, and it was still kind of rainy Tuesday night, so no way was I going swimming Wednesday.

Which is fine, since I was up until 2:00 Tuesday night and still super exhausted from only three and a half hours of sleep Monday night. I slept in. Woke up not wanting to waste my vacation hours on sleep (which, why not, right? I should totally waste vacation hours on sleep if I’m mega-uber-maxi-super-sleep-deprived).

There’s this tonkatsu spot in the Ohana Hale Marketplace I’ve been meaning to try, but that place is really scary in pandemic days. I braved it for a few terrifying minutes for Christmas shopping; I didn’t think I’d go back until I had a couple of needles in my arm.

However, I thought if I got there soon enough after opening, maybe it wouldn’t be too scary, and it wasn’t. But the tonkatsu spot couldn’t give me my order until 11:40 (it was approaching 11 when I ordered) and I just couldn’t wait. It’s very popular, and people phone in their orders for pickup, which of course I didn’t do.

So I grabbed a KC Waffle Dog, a pork taco, and a carne asada burrito from different spots in the marketplace. Ate the taco and dog on the trunk of my car, then took the burrito home to munch on while I worked on that UH Hilo story.

The taco was great. Highly recommended if you’re in there. It’s the taco stand on the far makai end, by the side entrance. The burrito was fine, but it was super ricey. Granted it was Mexican rice, but still. If I get it again I’m going to ask for just a little bit of rice. Or maybe rice on the side. Now I’m wondering what the difference is between the shredded pork in a pork taco and the different shredded pork dishes I’ve prepared. Might have to look it up, because if it’s as easy to make as, say, shredded Carolina-style barbecue, tacos could be super fun.

I really strugged to get work done when I finally checked in. Sat in front of the computer all day and all evening before I finally got that darned UH Hilo story submitted at about 1:45 in the morning. Then I had to do edits to the employee handbook, which I promised I’d submit before our handbook re-writer got to her desk Thursday morning. I submitted it at 6:00 Thursday morning, taking about three and a half hours to get through the last twenty pages. It was difficult, and I wasn’t slacking either. Really worked my brain off on the handbook stuff, unlike the UH Hilo story, which I mostly just stared at until I finally wrote it.

Seriously: words simply cannot describe how much I hate myself when I go through this.

Went to bed pretty much right after submission. I skipped all my usual getting-ready-for-bed stuff (including brushing my teeth) and just crashed.

Breakfast-slash-lunch was the stuff from Ohana Marketplace. Dinner was kimchi stew again. Delightful.

Texting Wednesday. Some texts with Reid about online, shared whiteboard services. A late happy birthday to Grace and some chitchat about BTS and tea. JB and I shared thoughts on the stupid Baseball Hall of Fame election announcement. I texted Sylvia to thank her for some cool snacks she gave me for Christmas. I just opened them Wednesday because I like to space out my gift-opening. This led to some conversation about Trader Joe’s snacks. I texted Faye with a screenshot of my conversation with Grace, because they’re both learning Hangul for the same reason. I also sent Crush Girl some photos of Tuesday’s burger, because I’d mentioned to her that I’d wanted to try that spot for some time.

I’ve mostly had the new Soen album on repeat all day, but now I’m spinning the new Accept album, which is pretty good. Also, exactly what you expect from Accept. Catchy, aggressive, melodic, riff-driven traditional metal with somewhat silly lyrics.

That’s it. The long, drawn-out self-scripted drama of the UH Hilo story is (likely) done, and I have a weekend with nothing pressing, so I plan to get some rest, do some reading, and try a new recipe or two. Maybe the beach if the weather’s nice. It’s approaching midnight Friday night, and I’m going to get ready for bed and try to do a little reading.

Reach out if you need some contact. Don’t go pandemic-solo if you don’t want to.

Lockdown: Playing with myself evaluation

It’s just past 1:00 in the morning Friday (so, late Thursday night) as I write about Tuesday. It’s been that kind of a few days and I’ve probably lost quite a bit of them but I’m going to do what I can. The Lockdown Chronicles must be as complete as possible for the archaeologists who dig up our bones and journals in civilizations of future millenia.

My mid-year self-evaluation wasn’t due until Friday (that is, the day I’m writing this), but my phone meeting to discuss it with my supervisor was Tuesday afternoon, and I didn’t know what stage of completion she wanted to see it in, so I stayed up late trying to finish the UH Hilo scholarship story and the self-eval. I made almost zero progress on the story, but I did draft the self-eval. I take these things seriously, so it took a solid hour to ninety minutes. I think I sent it off at 3:47 in the morning Tuesday.

I already wrote some of this. Anyway yeah. Got to bed at 6:00 Tuesday morning and was up by 9:30.

I had the morning off so I could get some blood drawn. It’d been about a year and a half since my last bloodwork, and my new primary care physician, whom I have not yet met, said she wasn’t going to let me refill my prescriptions this next time if I didn’t get it done. I hadn’t been avoiding it; I think I just got caught between physicians and it wasn’t flagged until I refilled my meds last fall.

I’ve vocally (and typographically, in this space) expressed my discomfort with visiting the HMO’s main clinic, a block from my office in town, because the number of people in there is just terrifying. Since my first refill sometime late spring, I’ve been getting my meds from the pharmacy at the Mapunapuna clinic. It’s smaller and just a lot less hassle these days.

Anyway, I was in and out. It was incredibly quick and easy, and I came into direct contact with three people the entire ten minutes I was in the building. A nurse to check my temperature before letting me in. A clerk (or something) to check my ID and look up whatever my physician ordered. A nurse or tech or something to draw my blood. No waiting in line. In and out.

Part of my morning plan was to get a burger at King’s Burger in the 99 Ranch food court. It’s the place I tried to go on MLK Day when the food truck in Aiea was a no-go, but it was closed that day.

Aaaaand it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great. Not worth going out of my way for, yet inexpensive and decent enough that I’ll try it again the next time I’m in Mapunapuna. And I expect to be soon. There’s a water-vending machine in front, from the same company whose machine I’ve been using almost every week since the lockdown began. Only this machine is way cleaner. Looks almost like a new machine. It just exudes cleanliness and purity, so I am considering going all the way out there next time I refill my bottles, instead of just over to Liliha Street.

I’d seen the machine on MLK and brought all my bottles Tuesday. Took care of business and was quite pleased. The food court opens at 10 and people don’t really come in worrying numbers until 11 or so. I’m thinking if I get there at 9:45 I can get my water, then breakfast-slash-lunch right when they open the building.

Ate the burger on the trunk of my car, out in the parking lot away from humans.

Got home, took a short nap, and got back to work. The meeting went well — I think my supervisor was pleased with the effort I put into the self-eval. Then I tried to finish the UH Hilo scholarship story and really got nowhere. I suck.

After work I took a nap, of course, then got up to try and finish the story. What I really did was stare at the screen, read the news several times, listen to music, and hate myself for not getting the writing done.

Dinner was kimchi stew. It was yummy.

I stayed up too late and don’t remember why, except I know I was still hopeful I’d write that story. I didn’t.

Got to bed around 2:00.

Texted with Sylvia a bit. Her birthday was Monday but we had crazy rain that night so she celebrated Tuesday and sent me a photo of her dinner. Crush Girl and I texted through the day about a range of stuff, including my breakfast-slash-lunch.

I hate how this UH Hilo story has jammed up my week. Because I don’t get it done during my workday, I try to get it done in my free time, and when I don’t get it done then either, I stay up way too late trying, and then go to bed exhausted and miserable and loaded with self-loathing. It’s like being in college again, except at least there were pretty girls everywhere. Now it’s just me and my loathesome self.

Spoiler alert: Wednesday, which I’ll write about Friday, I guess, was pretty much just like Thursday but with more self-hate.

Anyway. You want a piece of this? Come get it: leave a comment and I’ll send you some contact info and we can text the night away as I pretend to be a writer. Ha.

I’m exaggerating my feelings a bit for the purpose of keeping myself interested in my own words as I type them, but I really am frustrated with myself. However: spoiler alert. As I type this late Thursday night, the stuff has been submitted, and I’m already feeling a bit better. But geez, what a crappy week it’s been until just now.

Friday’s going to be great, and so is the weekend. The new Soen album dropped a few hours ago and it’s killer. My ears are happy, at least.

Lockdown: Tiger tiger burning bright and early

So yeah. The alarm went off at 3:45 for the 4:00 presentation Monday, but I was up at 3:15. Just couldn’t get back to sleep.

The nice thing about the awards announcements taking place virtually: it went a lot faster. The entire thing was over in forty-five minutes, or about half the time it usually takes. A convention hall full of amped librarians can really drag things out with their hooting and cheers.

I very quickly posted on IG and FB the winners of the Caldecott Medal and Newbery Medal. Turns out Tae Keller, whose When You Trap a Tiger is the Newbery recipient, is a local girl from Hawaii. Went to the School That Must Not Be Named, which I decided still counts. I can’t believe the local news hasn’t covered this yet, two days later as I write this. Because of where she went to school, you’d think the whole state would know by now and a certain former president of the United States would have given her a phone call.

I went back to bed for another three hours of sleep before work.

Work was a little frustrating. I couldn’t focus, and my work was slow and not very good. I did submit my contributions to the staff newsletter, with edits on other people’s content, so it wasn’t like I got nothing done. Still, not my best day.

My plan was to go to bed early, then get up around one or two and work all night to finish some stuff. I didn’t exactly get to bed early. Instead I crashed in bed without putting myself properly to bed, waking up past one in the morning, then did some chores, then did some work. The thing I most needed to get done I submitted at about 3:45. I got to bed at about six in the morning. At least I did that. It was a first draft of my mid-year self-assessment.

Breakfast-slash-lunch was instant ramen with a mountain of bean sprouts and five or six small heads of baby bok choy. Dinner was kimchi stew, still my favorite dinner these days. I don’t think I did any snacking.

There was some Netflix chat in the Suzanne-Julie-Cindy group text. Also some talk of parents growing weed. Sharon and I texted a little about work. There’s been some turnover and people are talking. I have absolutely no grounds on which to disbelieve or believe the talk, so I’m not believing. Crush Girl and I traded some texts about the weather, which was insane Monday. So much rain. I also texted her very early in the morning about the Newbery.

I traded some IG DMs with a friend who’s a librarian (I think) at the School That Must Not Be Named. Wife of one of my best friends teaching at HBA. Because the teacher friend’s not on social media and the spouse is, I actually interact with her way more than with him. It helps that we share a love of children’s literature.

Somewhere on this island is a single, mid-forties to mid-fifties woman who also got up early to catch the Newbery announcement as it happened. She should reach out to me; we could be made for each other. Also anyone who needs someone to connect with in these days of insanity. Don’t go through this crap alone. Leave a comment and I’ll send you some contact info.

Lockdown: Sail on down the line ’bout a half a mile or so

It took eight hours in bed to get just over six and a half hours of sleep Saturday night, but I got it. I considered missing the first half of the first football game to try and make it eight hours, but I knew it was useless. My brain and body were up, and my body was kind of tired of being in bed.

During the first, pretty good game, I did the usual Sunday morning stuff. Breakfast was a day-old cinammon roll, then the last of the broccoli-Brussels-sprouts soup with leftover hapa rice. Thank goodness. Worked on the Spelling Bee, did some writing, read the news, thought about work. I even did a few easy chores.

The second game wasn’t very good, and I got a little restless. Did a lot of snacking, mostly on Chinese roast pork, which I picked up when I had that Hawaiian plate Saturday. Also tortilla chips and kimchi dip, which was good but really, really sinful. I wasn’t sure I was heading to the office, but the restlessness did it, so as the game wound down, I got everything ready to go. I also packed up some bottles for recycling — $6.50 worth in a huge garbage bag. I also changed into board shorts. Worth a try.

I was out the door pretty much as soon as they awarded the Lamar Hunt trophy to the Chiefs. Got to the beach nearing six o’clock, and it was still pretty packed. No parking on the Kewalo end, which suited me fine — there were a lot of people there. The volleball courts were insanity. Do people not know about this pandemic thing?

I didn’t find parking until I got to the Magic Island lot, and had to drive up and down a few aisles before I got something. I knew it woudn’t be long before spaces opened up — it was getting close to sundown.

I slinked my way through openings in the crowd and got into the water. It was quite cold for the end of a day. It felt good. Swam from what I call the last lifeguard tower to the last buoy (my mind is oriented from the Kewalo end) and back. I went pretty hard for a little while then just kind of cruised. First time in the water in 15 days, dang it.

Dropped the bottles off at that Korean immigrant tribute park on Beretania, between Keeaumoku and Kaheka. Usually I look for someone to hand the bottles to, so there’s no fighting or whatever. Also to give someone a moment of human contact. But after dark it’s best to leave people alone, so I just left the trash bag near the trash cans, knowing someone would find them.

Someone did. A woman claimed the bottles and was carrying them to her spot in the park before I was back in my car. I said a quick, sincere prayer for her.

Got to the office to do some software updates and hopefully get some work done. I got the updates but really just thought about the work. Which could have been useful or not; it’s kind of impossible to tell. Ate dinner at my desk — a can of mackerel and some of that heat-and-eat brown rice I keep in my desk. A simple meal but satisfying and really enjoyable.

Stopped at 7-Eleven on my way home to purchase another money order for the second half of the rent, and got home at about ten-thirty.

The plan was to get to bed early because the Youth Media Awards at the annual Mid-Winter Retreat of the American Library Association was Monday morning at 4:00 our time. The presentation of the Caldecott and Newbery Medals, which I have never missed since they began streaming.

But dang it. I couldn’t put my brain to rest. I finally managed to quiet things down at about 12:30 for a 3:30 alarm. Great.

No texting again Sunday, making it the second day in a row. It felt like a relief, actually. I would have welcomed any messages from the usual people, but it didn’t bug me to be out of touch for another day.

I’m more bummed, bothered, and baffled by the miscommunication with Ali than I’m letting myself believe, but it creeps in every so often, like when I’m in the ocean all by myself minutes before the green flash I never see. I’m bad at letting things and people go, as I have probably written about in this space a zillion times. We could have a really good friendship, but it’s plain she doesn’t need that from me, and that’s fine, obviously. For a while I wished we could have come to that mutual understanding in some less contentious way, but then without the contention, why would we?

I’m backing off, which I think I wrote yesterday or the day before. If we keep it to smalltext, we can stay friends without these recurring miscommunications. Anyway, as I also wrote the other day, my last words to her a week ago were “I’m sorry,” and if that’s the fading note in the outro, it’s a good note.

My review of Class Act has caused the Commodores to be on my mind pretty much non-stop, so I finally caved. As I write this, I’m listening to All the Great Hits, their first compliation album, on Spotify. I talked my sister into splitting for the cassette when I was in sixth grade, making it one of the first albums we bought with our own money. I’m not sure, I but I think I still have it.

That’s why I’m easy
I’m easy like Sunday morning…

We bought it either at Gem in Waipahu or DJ’s Sound City in Pearlridge. How’s that for dating myself? I’m old. Too old to be messed up by the possible end of a friendship with an early-thirties grad student I’m unlikely to see again.

Connection. You might need it. If you do, leave a comment and I’ll send you some contact info. Don’t be put off my my apparent neediness in this texting relationship that’s gone bad. I promise it’s atypical! Maybe!

Lockdown: Worshipping idles

Another six hours of decent sleep Friday night, this time cut short by my need to run a few early-ish errands Saturday morning. It didn’t hurt since I knew I had the day wide open and could take a nap if I wanted.

I had to choose between efficient use of my time and efficient use of my milage. I opted for time. Got to Young’s shortly after it opened and didn’t wait behind anyone in line. Hawaiian combo, even though I just had Hawaiian food Monday. I was just craving it.

Then to H-Mart for a bunch of kimchi, bean sprouts, and baby bok choi. Then to Hawaiian Pie Company for a pumpkin-custard pie. Then to a nearby credit union to get cash for the rent, but the stupid ATM there has recently refused to dole out the money. It’s my second visit in a few days and both time it wouldn’t cough it up. I hate it when ATMs only tell you they can’t give you the money but don’t tell you what the problem is.

So I went to 7-Eleven, where I was going anyway for a money order, but had to use the ATM there with a $3.75 fee, plus the $1 my credit union charges me. Annoying, but whatever.

It all took maybe half an hour and it was a lot of stuff ticked off my list before 10:00. I had a feeling all that efficient productivity would make me more likely to enjoy idleness the rest of the day. Not to mention gluttony.

The combo was good for breakfast and lunch with a cinammon roll for dinner. Yeah, yeah. I know.

Spent most of the day writing. And napping. Listened to a lot of Rush music just because it’s good to have in the background while I’m writing and napping. Right before bed I made some kimchi dip and kind of had that for dinner, too, with some slightly stale tortilla chips.

I went to bed at one, hoping for eight hours of sleep before Sunday’s first football game.

I had a deliberately text-free day. I would have been fine responding to others’ messages but I wanted a day completely to myself. It was nice. A good, quiet, mellow day with some decent writing and good food.

Sunday there are only two football games. Big ones. But they’ll be over before dinner, leaving me a lot of time to do hurry-up-before-the-weekend-ends stuff. It’s an annual tension for me: loving football all season but also looking forward to getting those hours back Sundays.

I’m considering slowing down on social media and texting, not to withdraw (as is my want) but just to focus on a few things before the end of the month. Still, I’m always here for the texts, even if I may not initiate them much. So if you need someone to connect with, leave a comment. I’m finding I need it a leeeeeettle less than usual, lately, but hey. That’s likely to change at any moment! Don’t be disconnected unwillingly.

Review: Class Act by Jerry Craft

Class Act (New Kid, #2)Class Act by Jerry Craft (2020)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jordan Banks and his classmates at Riverdale Academy Day School are in eighth grade now, no longer the babies of the school, but they’ve got a whole new set of problems to go with some continuing stressors from the year before.

Jordan’s feeling overlooked by Black schoolmates because his skin’s a lot lighter than theirs. He’s self-conscious about his fondness for comic books and drawing, worried they are signs he’s still a child. And the physical aspects of his adolescence don’t seem to have kicked in yet.

His best friends have issues too. Drew still won’t play basketball, his favorite sport, because he doesn’t want to be a stereotype. He’s become increasingly aware of the differences between his experience catching two buses to and from school every day, and some of his friends’ experiences, dropped off and picked up by drivers.

Jordan’s other best friend Liam’s parents never come to his soccer games, and their arguing at night makes it difficult for Liam to get sleep.

In Class Act, Jerry Craft tells the story of a school year, weaving young people’s social weirdness with their school’s awkward, sincere effort to improve multicultural understanding. The themes are heavy, but the storytelling is silly and fun, and Craft’s tone-setting illustration moves between dramatic, melodramatic, whimsical, and poignant as his story dictates.

There are smiles everywhere in this graphic novel, some of them right in your face as the artist parodies popular literature for young readers (including his own book!) or draws emojis next to characters’ faces to show their moods.

Some chuckles are subtler, and likely intended only for the grownups in his audience. In one panel, Jordan and his friends meet in front of an ice cream truck called EZ Like Sundae Mornin’, a visual gag unlikely to be appreciated by even forty-year-old readers, never mind middle-schoolers.

Teachers at RAD attend a conference held by the National Organization of Cultural Liaisons Understanding Equality with never a reference to an acronym. These little, silly touches are everywhere, and they make Class Act a joy to read.

Yet Craft doesn’t try to laugh everything away. When Jordan’s father is pulled over in his car by a white cop, it doesn’t matter if the officer is friendly and helpful. It’s a routine traffic stop for the officer, but there’s no such thing as a routine stop for someone like Jordan’s dad.

Craft’s New Kid won the Newbery Medal in 2020, and as I write this, the announcement for 2021’s recipient is two days away. It would be a first for a writer to win the award in consecutive years, but because Class Act is at least as good as its predecessor, a touching, thoughtful story right for its audience and time, it would be well deserved, and it wouldn’t be a shocker.

Lockdown: Liquidy goodness

Five hours of good sleep Thursday night did not feel like nearly enough. Of course it’s not, but quite often I can make it feel like it since it’s something of an improvement over most nights.

I finished the short piece about the dental programs and submitted a first draft. Worked a bit more on the UH Hilo story. Outlined a few responses for my midyear self-assessment. Wasn’t super productive and only kind of industrious.

Friday felt like Monday all day long. I even texted Crush Girl to ask how her weekend was. She didn’t call me on it; just replied nicely.

I listened to several new albums, all metal, and none of them really did it for me. The new Therion album is my kind of metal, but it was mostly unmemorable. I spun it twice and it just doesn’t stick. Might listen again with headphones to see what the deal is. I might as well since nothing outstanding has come out yet this year.

The new Liquid Tension Experiment single is the monster’s balls, though. If it’s an indication of what the new album next month (tried to pre-order but the package I want isn’t available yet) is going to sound like, it’s going to be tough to beat for album of the year.

After work I (sing it with me!) crashed and took a long nap. Then lazed in bed for far too long. I kept looking at the clock to see what was still open for dinner takeout. I was actually out of bed, dressed, and headed to the door with my key in my hand to get Italian takeout when I realized if I made pasta myself I’d enjoy it almost as much.

So angelhair pasta and jarred sauce (with gin, brown sugar, and blue cheese) it was, and it was lovely, and while I would have loved a thin, pan-fried chicken fillet in lemony butter sauce with capers to go with it, what I had was more than pleasurable enough. And I didn’t overdo it, as I certainly would have done with takeout.

I worked on Saturday’s NYT crossword while I ate, and then read the news for like the fifth time of the day. Cleaned up, got ready for bed, and read Jerry Craft’s Class Act in its entirety (it’s a graphic novel) in a couple of hours. Excellent book.

There have only been a small number of writers to win the Newbery twice, a couple of them for works I question the value and impact of (however, Lois Lowry and Katherine Paterson definitely deserved both theirs). No writer has won it in consecutive years. No writer has won it the second time for a sequel to the first Newbery-winner. I would be surprised for this reason if Jerry Craft won it in 2021 this Monday, after winning it in 2020.

But it would not be shocking, and it would probably be deserved. It’s not as good as its predecessor by just a couple of whiskers, and it’s more ambitious, more nuanced, and more immediately relevant to its time. Truly a super-impressive follow-up.

The author calls it a companion, not a sequel, and I can see why, but it does have the same characters a few months after the end of the first book. Discovering why it’s not exactly a sequel is possibly better left to the reader, so go read it.

Went to bed at around three.

Not much texting Friday. Crush Girl a few times. Texted Jennifer to respond to a couple of texts she sent Wednesday. Got some weird messages in the Suzanne-Cindy-Julie group text. Asked JB how his family’s doing.

Breakfast was from the Taco Bell drive-through. Skipped lunch and had the pasta for dinner. In between were a small bag of chips and a slice of Dutch apple pie.

Sucky pandemic sucking sucks and continues to suck for several more months. Don’t go through it disconnected. Leave a comment if you want my contact deets. No promises I’ll reply promptly, but I’ll reply.

Lockdown: The short, factual things

It’s the wee hours of Saturday morning as I type this about Thursday, and Thursday seems like forever ago. I just read what I wrote about Wednesday and that doesn’t even feel like this week to me. The inauguration was only the day before yesterday?

Wednesday night I got something like six hours of good sleep, wakened only once in the middle of the night and not for long.

Breakfast at my desk was leftover broccoli and Brussels sprouts soup with some freshly made hapa rice. Ah, rice. I missed you. The rice improved the soup, but not by much, and I regret to say I still have about half a serving of soup left. It was a little too much to throw out, somewhat to my chagrin.

Work was slow, again. Worked on copy edits for the employee handbook, then put together most of a short story on some dental outreach programs the school is doing, with help from a local dental insurance agency. Sometimes the short, factual things are more difficult to write.

We had our weekly department Zoom call, and right after it my one-on-one with my supervisor. Apparently one of the development officers made some good progress with a prospective donor, with the help of something I wrote a couple of months ago. It’s nice to hear.

My late lunch was more hapa rice with a couple of fried eggs and a can of Vienna sausage. I would have preferred some other unhealthy breakfast meat, of which I have plenty, but after this I only have one can left, except for the hurricane-slash-emergency case, which I’ll leave alone until next hurricane season. Anyway, it was a decent lunch.

If you don’t know what I did after work, you’re not paying attention. Pretty much went right to bed for a long, hard nap, then got up to make a pot of kimchi stew for dinner, except I’m out of kimchi, so it was (I guess) tofu stew. It was freaking delicious. Filling and flavorful, and the only unhealthy thing in it is a small portion of meat, and really not that much. They say a healthy serving of protein on your plate is about the size of your fist, and in these stews I use less protein than that. I’m going to try it with a small piece of fish one of these days. When I was at the supermarket Wednesday morning, there wasn’t anything decent-looking in the seafood case except a few ahi filets, but darn if I’m going to use a nice hunk of ahi for that.

Spent some time writing things in social media, then did a few chores and went to bed. And then I got right back up because dang it. I couldn’t sleep. I spent the next few hours reading a bunch of news things, listening to some new music, playing stupid games on my phone, and thinking about taking a summer course at a community college in something. I did a lot of window shopping on Amazon, but didn’t pull the trigger on anything except an ebook that was on sale.

I finally collapsed just before four in the morning. I know. It’s stupid. It’s bad habits creeping back into my life, but this time it was legitimate insomnia. I suppose the long nap is partly to blame, but this time it doesn’t seem like the primary culprit.

Katie Nolan interviewed Mina Kimes on her podcast Thursday, and they spent a lot of time on their respective problems with sleep, and darn if that didn’t cause me to think about my own insomnia, which I’m nearly certain is why I couldn’t sleep. Mina even said lately when she can’t sleep, what she’s thinking about is not being able to sleep.

Not much texting lately since my disagreement with Ali, but it’s okay. Sylvia texted to tell me she spotted an apartment available right across the street from the office. The price is kind of crazy for such a crappy neighborhood. Young Street, between Piikoi and Keeaumoku. Yeah. If you’re familiar with the area, you’re thinking that’s not a pleasant neighborhood at night. I said we should find two other people at work to split the rent, then use it as a crash pad and break room.

I need a reset. I’m going to use this weekend to get stuff done and try to reset my brain and my sleep pattern. Ha. Ha. That never goes well, but whatever. Now that I’m not doomscrolling as I have for the past four years, the demons in my brain are going to have to actually put in the work if they want to torment me, and I’m not just going to allow them their way.

If you’re not feeling tethered to someone who cares about you, leave a comment and I’ll send you some contact info. Don’t go through this madness alone.

Resolutions: next post!