Lockdown: Lift every invoice and sing

Tuesday was a bit of a repeat of Monday, with yet less sleep. Insanity.

I got out of bed and immediately ran down to Rainbow for a loco moco even though what I really wanted was some eggs, rice, and sausage, which Rainbow has. I just ordered something different at the last minute. No complaints; it’s a decent loco despite its utterly pedestrian (on a good day) hamburger patties. It’s a popular dish on the strength of Rainbow’s excellent gravy, but objectively it’s only a so-so dish. You’re better off getting the make-your-own breakfast special with the boneless chicken and two eggs. Basically a chicken loco.

Worked on the UH Hilo scholarship story, calling the donors around a normal person’s lunch time. They were such incredibly nice people and we had a great conversation. This story will be my focus for the next couple of days. Spent an hour near the end of the day submitting invoices. I’ve sorta become the guy who submits invoices for our department, which is funny because (a) I’m horrible with administrative paperwork — it takes me much longer than it takes anyone else I know, which I tell every employer these days before they even hire me, and (2) I’m terrible with money.

However, I also want to be as useful as I can, and while filling out the online paperwork takes an enormous amount of mental energy it wouldn’t take most people (I know my strengths and challenges), I find a strange satisfaction in trying to conquer this. The computer interface definitely helps. Give me a hard copy and a pen for a task like this and I swear it’s like doing an exorcism on myself. The power of Christ compels me!

Spent a bit of time at the very end of my day doing emails and working on my mid-year self-assessment.

I had in mind that I’d spend the evening reading OR getting ready to go to the laundry, although I already kinda knew I wouldn’t go. I looked at the clean clothes and realized I could go another week without doing a wash, and I was sooooooooo tired.

Instead I took a good, hard nap, then did a little writing and some chores. Picked up a sashimi combo from Ahi & Vegetables for dinner. It’s basically three kinds of sashimi (hamachi, ahi, and salmon) on a bed of greens. It’s delicious, and I’m trying to eat more fish and veggies these days. I had a slice of Dutch apple pie for a late dessert. I picked that thing up Sunday afternoon and only dropped a knife into it Tuesday night.

Went to bed at a decent hour because I needed to.

Sylvia texted me to chat about what’s on sale at Costco, which kind of amused me. Cindy sent the Cindy-Julie-Suzanne group text a portrait she ordered of her three-legged cat. Pretty funny. I mean, not the three-legged part. I guess there are places you can send your pet’s photo and they put it in different scenarios. This one had the cat wearing a tuxedo, which is hilarious. You can’t tell from the portrait the cat has three legs.

Crush Girl and I chatted about this new burger truck in Aiea which I have to check out. It’s in a used car lot, a very unusual spot for it, but this is the immediate neighborhood where, until two weeks ago, there was an acclaimed plate lunch spot in a garage. Aiea is a lot more interesting than people would think, just driving through.

I’m hoping once I get my sleep back to normal (ha!) I can settle into a better routine on work days. I hate to admit it, but getting meaningful tasks checked off a to-do list has given me enormous satisfaction lately, professional and personal. The pleasure I get from looking at the stupid carport light I changed Sunday cannot be denied. A couple of times Monday and Tuesday, I turned it on just to see it.

Let’s see: work, food, texting, sleep. That covers it all. Except this: we’re on the eve of destruction, but whatever. Don’t go through it alone. Leave a comment if you want someone to text or DM with. I’ve got you.

Lockdown: We’re in 2020’s stoppage time

I don’t remember how well I slept Sunday night into Monday morning, but I felt okay. I think it was in the area of six and a half hours of good sleep.

I spent most of the workday working on one story, emailing donors and UH people and doing the background. Everyone emailed me back quickly (because yay UH Hilo people!).

Lately, even on my most industrious days, I’m not being productive enough. My work is horribly inefficient. 2021 was supposed to be different, but these first 11 days have been worse, except for that gloriously long New Year’s weekend. I saw this on Twitter this evening and it’s hitting me right where I’m living (sleeplessly):

I am pissed about the beginning of the year. Someone on FB said 2021 doesn’t officially begin until January 20; until then we’re just kind of in extra 2020 time. I laughed and said this is exactly the news I needed to hear, but then last Wednesday happened and now it’s not funny. I don’t even know how we’re possibly going to make it to the 20th.

I’m doomscrolling like crazy and it is not good for my mental well-being. I mentioned on some other platform that I’m doomscrolling more than I have since the false missile alarm a few years ago, and it’s sort of the same thing: can this be happening? How is this happening? What the heck is this reality we’re living in now?

I do this thing on FB, begun right when the lockdown began in March, called Social Distancing Top Five, in which I list my five favorite songs by some musician or group, and one least favorite song, and invite others to participate. It’s kind of fun, but in the darkest, most sleepless day leading up to the election (and during a few periods when the campaigns were still going on) I had to take long breaks, not so much from the fun music lists but from FB itself.

Monday I took a little break from my work and posted a new Social Distancing Top Five: Styx. My favorite group from the summer after sixth grade through the summer after twelfth grade. I’d kind of been putting Styx off because the band’s too special to me, and I wasn’t really down for any bad lists, but I also thought I had to do something that made me think of happier things, like the favorite music of my youth.

And the response has been great! The lists are great, and the conversation stirred up by the lists has been great. I had no idea I had so many friends who remember Styx with the fondness I do.

So there have been moments of real happiness in the muddy midst of this muck. Distractions, all of them. Escapism. Denial.

Anyway. I’ll be fine. I’m finding some satisfaction in getting work done. I’m enjoying some texting with people I care about.

In that spirit, here’s what some of my friends are reading. I asked a bunch of bookish friends, because one thing I always want to know is what my friends are reading.

Grace and JB are the only friends who didn’t respond this time. I expect it from Grace, but was surprised by JB. He usually responds but he’s going through something difficult so we chatted about that instead. There were others (Faye, Melody, Suzanne, AJ) who said they’re not reading anything, and I feel them: I didn’t do any reading for most of the lockdown.

  • Penny: In a Dark House by Deborah Combie and a book by Toni Anderson about FBI agents pursuing a killer targeting FBI agents.
  • Desi: Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry.
  • Patty: Writers and Lovers by Lily King.
  • The writing partner: Barack Obama’s A Promised Land.
  • Anto: The Homilies on the Gospel of John (I’m assuming that’s the actual title) by Augustine, and Tales from the Folly by Ben Aaronovitch.
  • Susannah: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski.
  • Dynah: Spring Moon by Bette Bao Lord, and Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express.
  • Nikki: Hacking Leadership and White Fragility.
  • Jennifer O: My Year of Rest and Relaxation, a book about Timothy Leary, and another book about Reagan and Nixon.
  • Cathy: Dolly Parton’s Songteller and some boring-sounding educator stuff.
  • Julie: The Whisper Man by Alex North.
  • Ali: The Guest List by Lucy Foley. A past selection of Reese’s Book Club.

After work I crashed and had a wonderfully drooly, comatose nap. Got up and did some housecleaning and then against my better judgment, I wrote that Utopia Avenue review because I wanted to get it down while it was still fresh. Stayed up too late, though, but I’m going to live with my choice because what the heck is going on in Washington? Staying up late to write a book review nobody’s going to read makes as much sense as that, at least.

Breakfast was instant ramen with a mountain of bean sprouts and an egg and some rice vinegar. Lunch was a pan-fried kajiki fillet on quinoa. I wish I used the George Foreman for it. It was good but what a muscly piece of fish. Dinner was the rest of the kajiki and my leftover Chinese food (mixed veggies with tofu) with quinoa. It was all right. I need to remember this dish isn’t as good as leftovers as other dishes on the menu.

Not a lot of texting but it was good. I gave Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License” a few spins and texted Sharon to ask if she’d heard it yet. She was actually listening to it the moment I texted. We talked about some work stuff. Crush Girl and I texted about our weekends and I told her a little about Utopia Avenue.

I haven’t started it yet, but next up is The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead, a physical book I just got in the mail. I freaking love, love, love Rebecca Stead.

Resolutions, next post.

If you want someone to connect with, I’m not saying I’m going to be very good company, but what the heck. Reach out. I’ll send you contact info if you leave a comment.

Review: Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell

Utopia AvenueUtopia Avenue by David Mitchell (2020)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

David Mitchell wrote the singular Cloud Atlas, a novel so ambitious and creative it deserves first mention even in a review of any other David Mitchell novel. Although I’ve now only read two of his books, I feel okay saying if you read only one, it should be Cloud Atlas. It’s not for everyone, though, so maybe his latest is as good a starting point.

Utopia Avenue is a different creature entirely, and it reminds me not one iota of Cloud Atlas, yet some things are consistent. Mitchell’s fondness for the English language’s music and flow:

On the table is a pot of tea Jasper doesn’t recall making, the core of an apple he doesn’t recall eating, and a page of staves, notes, and lyrics he knows he wrote.

His clever descriptions of people, places, and moments:

It’s a classy Victorian pub with brass fittings, upholstered chair backs, and NO SPITTING signs.

His combining the physical with the cosmic, sometimes without explanation and always without apology:

If a song plants an idea or a feeling in a mind, it has already changed the world.

And always an understated, wry humor:

The cellar of the 2i’s Coffee Bar at 59 Old Compton Street is as hot, dank, and dark as armpits.

It’s set in the second half of 1967 and the first half of 1968, mostly in London, the days following the Summer of Love. Levon Frankland, a band manager, invites four local musicians he admires to form a band. It’s almost Monkees-like, one character observes, but these are players with serious chops, selected not for their looks but their talent and disparate playing styles.

Elf is the folksy singer-songwriter-keyboardist. Jasper is the long-haired psychedelic guitar god. Dean is the bluesy rock bassist. Griff is the jazzy drummer. Each has something to say apart from the others, but the band clicks because each has something to say to the others and with the others.

Utopia Avenue is most enjoyable when the writer captures the musicians’ responses to one another, as they’re performing and as they’re creating. The energy generated and absorbed by each player, and the musical conversation they have with one another, spoken in riffs, fills, and solos, makes the reader want to pick up whatever instrument he or she once studied and get the band back together. Mitchell’s capturing this feeling of creativity in motion is my favorite aspect of this novel.

It’s a great story with compelling characters. When you change your mind about who’s your favorite character from chapter to chapter, a writer has come up with some good ones. Real-world figures play supporting roles: Hendrix, Joplin, and Bowie make appearances, among many others, but where their presence could easily be nostalgia-pandering gimmickry, it is instead the color and flavor of life for this nearly-famous band with talent recognized by successful musicians first, and not yet by the consuming public.

For readers averse to certain cosmologies, the story will bog down a bit near the two-thirds mark. I admit I found myself skipping lines, then forcing myself back to read more attentively. I was happy I slogged through this bit because the payoff is worth it, although I wonder if it would have been a stronger story without it.

Still a highly recommended read, and I may be turning into a David Mitchell fan.

View all my reviews

Lockdown: Latest sedition

Sunday. Part two of the great NFL playoffs weekend. Also my dad’s birthday. I didn’t sleep well, but at least there was a decent amount of it. Like a little more than six hours I think. It’s more difficult to tell when I’m not strapped in.

I ate leftover pizza while watching the first game. Then wrapped the gift and drove it out to the folks. I stopped at Anna Millers to pick up a couple of strawberry tarts for Mom and Dad, and a Dutch apple pie for myself. Hawaiian Pie Company is on a New Year’s vacation.

We chatted a while. It was nice. Tried to keep my distance, but my parents aren’t worried about my being contagious, while I’m totally worried about my being contagious. So it was a little stressful.

I also picked up my Christmas gift from my sister, which she left there. A Food Saver. Yay. Need to think about how this will work itself into my kitchen life.

Got home and watched the second half of the second game, then the third game. Leftover pizza for lunch, too. During the third game I took care of more of that to-do list. Changed the lightbulb in the carport light. The WD-40 did the job, and now there’s an LED bulb in there to replace the compact fluorescent. It should be a few years. I also reset the rat traps, which is a little more involved than you might think because of what I bait the traps with.

It was late to head for the office, but I didn’t go last weekend and I wanted to make sure my software was up to date (it was) and take care of some housekeeping. There were a few gifts from coworkers, for Christmas and my birthday, on my desk. Some cool jigsaw puzzles and a book I’d been saving in my Amazon to-read list.

I stopped to fill some of my drinking water on the way home, finally getting back at around 10:30. Goofed off a little and did a few more chores.

I also took some time to set the presets on my car stereo. It has an HD radio receiver, which I haven’t messed around with in the two years I’ve been driving it. There’s a classic rock station not available on over-the-air FM. It was pretty good. Played some Styx, Autograph, AC/DC, and something else I don’t remember but definitely sang along with. My list of HD stations on Oahu was incomplete, so I only messed around with a few stations. Going to see what else is out there because it sounded good and I enjoyed the selections.

I went to bed far too late, mostly because I crashed while trying to start a new book and didn’t wake up until about four. So stupid. This doesn’t bode well for the resolutions, which I’ll share in my next post.

Cathy sent me a response text to my what-are-you-reading question, which led to a long chat about certain recent events. Jennifer texted to tell me this bakery we both like is making cutely shaped milk breads.

It’s madness out there. If you’re going through it without sufficient human connection, leave a comment. I’ll send you some contact details.

Unless you think the election results are bogus and the incumbent is is being robbed of a second term. In which case I can’t make any promises, ‘though I’m not ruling anything out. But damn it: screw your head on correctly and look at the evidence.

Lockdown: All we are saying is give pizza chance

As I wrote yesterday, I started Saturday with an ambitious-but-not-too-ambitious to-do list for the weekend. When I slept terribly Friday night and woke up at 3:30 Saturday morning not having put myself properly to bed, I thought maybe I derailed the whole endeavor.

I’d hoped to hit the beach early, but with my cruddy sleep I just didn’t think it would be a good experience. I got up to put my leftover Chinese food in the fridge (I’d put it in storage containers but hadn’t put it away), brush my teeth and shut everything down. First I polished off the beef choy sum cake noodle.

I read an article somewhere saying many people find brushing their teeth in the middle of the day is as good as a cup of coffee. This has been my experience, which is why I keep a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss at the office, and brush my teeth after lunch every day.

I wouldn’t say it was like a cup of coffee at 4:00 Saturday morning, but it did get me going. So heck. I put on some board shorts and drove to the beach with a stop at the McD’s drive-through. I wasn’t hungry at all, having just eaten leftover Chinese food, but I was going to be at the beach well before sunrise and I just wanted to keep eating. Terrible, I know.

I got a two-burrito combo with a large Diet Coke (extra ice), and realized as I ordered it: all I really wanted was the Diet Coke. I don’t know what McD’s does to its Diet Coke but it’s delicious coming out of that fountain. I’m not kidding. Especially first thing in the morning.

Read Utopia Avenue in my car as I ate, enjoying the darkness and the sound of the ocean. About twenty minutes before sunrise I jumped in and ugh. I was bloated like crazy and felt terrible. So. Much. Food. In my gut.

Still, I had a decent swim, and by the turnaround I was feeling a bit closer to normal. There were quite a few stand-up paddleboarders, but I only saw one swimmer. Unusual. I still didn’t push myself much; on that little sleep it’s difficult. But it was a nice time and it felt great.

Didn’t realize until late Saturday night that it was a jellyfish day. Oops.

Got home, put the first football game on and watched the first half, then took a nap, then watched the first half of the second game. That second game (Rams and Seahawks) was the one I really wanted to watch. At halftime I jumped in my car and headed for Tamura’s in Restaurant Row. Google said it opened at 10:30 Saturdays, and it’s the closest of their stores to my home. I thought for sure the store would be uncrowded on a Saturday. That spot just doesn’t hop on weekends.

Aaaaaaaand it was closed. What was meant to be a thirty-minute errand was now going to take a lot longer. My dad’s birthday was Sunday and I needed to get him a gift. So I drove to the Kaimuki store, got him a nice single-malt Scotch and myself a pretty bottle of Cava. Since I was in the area, I thought I’d grab dinner from Boston’s Pizza. It was my first visit there since late February, pre-lockdown. They’re not selling slices, just whole pies. So I ordered a whole pie and had to wait 25 minutes for it. I walked up to Pipeline Bakery and got an order of bread pudding (which I am eating as I write this). By the time I got it all home, of course the game was over.

Errands by their very nature take longer than you expect. Even when you know they’re going to take longer than you expect, they take still longer. I wasn’t angry or annoyed, because that’s what I signed up for. Just a little amused at myself and what R used to call “the E word.” Ah, she hated running errands. One of the nicest things I routinely did for her was just accompany her on the E word. I’d usually offer to drive, too. She appreciated the company but she was seldom good company herself on the E-words.

There was enough time before the third game to take a short nap. Then I watched the game as I read, played stupid phone games, and ate pizza. I took another nap after the game then finally finished Utopia Avenue. I put myself properly to bed for a change and set my alarm for 8:30 (half an hour after kickoff of Sunday’s first game), which would give me six hours of sleep.

I got a what-are-you-reading response text Saturday, from Nikki, a former coworker who’s now the principal where I taught, and one from Jennifer, who I learned has already read Utopia Avenue and whose favorite writer is David Mitchell. We talk about books all the time and I never knew this.

Vicky texted to ask if I had thought of anyone who might want to get in on her MLM. I went through my contacts some time ago and actually thought I knew a few but now I can’t remember who they were.

Suzanne asked me and Cindy if we’d heard of this boba spot in Ala Moana. I told her what I knew, that its name is inspired by Diagon Alley and that its logo was a stag for this reason. She invited me to check it out with her Sunday but I said no way. Ali texted me a book recommendation, but it was for a psycho thriller, which I’m reaaally not into.

It was a fairly nice Saturday, and I’m so glad I started it at the beach. Also glad I didn’t meet any jellyfish. Not as glad I got only one thing done on my to-do list — picking up Dad’s birthday gift. It was the most important item, though, and the only must-do.

Whatever’s keeping you going, if you’re going through it without enough connectivity, leave a comment. I’ll help you out as long as it doesn’t involve voice calling or video calling. Not my thing. But helping you get through this lousy-so-far January? That’s my thing. I can do that.

Lockdown: A choice sum for a few Chinese dishes

The title makes me think of one of the funniest things I ever said, according to me. We were hanging out at Armand’s for dinner and games one night, talking about food or something, when Armand asked, “What’s your favorite British dish?”

I didn’t even have to think about it. “I dunno,” I said. “Elizabeth Hurley?”

Thank you. Thank you. This guy in the corner gets it. I’ll be here all week.

Wow. Thursday night I slept six and a half good hours with Darth Vader, interrupted at about 6:30 for no reason I could figure. Best sleep in weeks, I think. It still wasn’t enough, but darn did it feel great.

Friday I got up almost as late as I’m self-allowing, returned a few quick emails, hit the Taco Bell drive-through for breakfast, and worked on a few different projects, including my monthly report. The day went fairly quickly as I managed to be pretty industrious, if not especially productive, most of the day. My mid-day nap in place of lunch helped a lot too.

Drove down to the Chinese restaurant nearest my house for a very late working lunch. I picked up enough food for a few meals: beef choy sum with cake noodle (it’s a Hawaii thing), lemon chicken (which I almost never get but was jonesing for), and mixed veggies with tofu. It was good. According to Swarm my last Chinese food was in September, which sounds about right. That’s a bit unusual, and not what I would have predicted when lockdown began, since it’s so near my house. Pretty sure this is only my third visit in ten months.

After work I just crashed. I did a couple of quick chores, but my heart was really not into it. I was pretty toasted. When I got up, I read the news and did more doomscrolling (Twitter has been fascinating and depressing) and crashed again. I again didn’t put myself properly to bed and thus slept terribly.

I’m just glad the week’s over. What a crazy-long week, and not a good one either. I feel like someone owes me a do-over of the first week of the year and the first few days of my being 52.

I texted a bunch of friends to ask what they’re reading, which led to short chats with Anto, AJ, Penny, Faye, Dynah, and JB. Crush Girl and I texted each other briefly through the day. Ali and I chatted a little about what she’s reading, and she sent me a photo of a cute dedication page from a novel she just started. Katherine FB messaged me to say she finished Okay for Now on my recommendation. She really enjoyed it, and thanked me for the heads-up. The Kindle edition was on sale for three bucks in December and I put on FB that people should read it.

Some time between zonked-out sessions, I made a to-do list for the weekend. As I type this at 1:01 Sunday morning, only one thing of nine is completed. This indicates either a very productive Sunday or a very restful Sunday with a week’s time to think about what I’m doing next weekend. I predict the latter.

Resolutions, next post.

Don’t be disconnected. Now these hot days is the mad blood stirring. I need a new quote. While I think of one, leave a comment if you’re feeling the need for some one-on-one interaction. Life’s too crazy to go through this garbage alone.

Lockdown: More texts about buildings and food

The day after the day wasn’t a whole lot better. I didn’t have the TV on all day, but I had it on for a good chunk of the day, on mute almost all the time.

I can’t believe this is our country.

I don’t remember how I slept but I’m sure it was terribly. Around 3:30 I woke up and did some doomscrolling. Around 4:30 I decided I was up for the day, since I planned to run to Longs early and grab a few things. My carport light is out and I can’t get the stupid cover off, which annoys me because I remember the last time I changed the bulb I intentionally didn’t screw the screws in very tightly to make it easier. I needed WD-40 or some other penetrating oil, which also annoys me because I know I have an enormous can of it somewhere.

Times is supposed to have kupuna hours from five to seven every morning, but when I asked the shopping cart attendant if they were still in effect, she had no idea what I was talking about. So I went in, but as I entered I saw the sign taped to the sliding door expressing that kupuna hours were from five to seven. Oops.

I didn’t pick up a lot. Diet Pepsi was the main objective, plus some veggies I’d be most likely to consume before they go bad.

Hit the McD’s drive-though for breakfast, which I ate at my desk while getting a very early start.

I still had to finish that proposal. It’s for a pretty big ask (millions). After a couple of hours, I couldn’t keep going, so I took a short nap break (like an hour) and got back to it, finally getting it submitted just past one, when I’d sorta promised I’d have it done in the morning.

We sent it back and forth through the day, making little adjustments through five or six drafts. It’s part of the work.

I had a training on Zoom, then more work on the proposal.

It was hard work. It was strenuous while not especially difficult. I can’t explain it.

I skipped lunch for some reason, then had a slice of caramel apple pie for dinner. Much later, I had a quesadilla for a late snack.

I spent most of the evening crashed in bed, then got up to defrost the fridge. It’s been needing it for a week at least. Took about an hour for the actual defrosting, then another half hour cleaning up and putting stuff back. It felt good to get it done.

I’ve been listening to Lita Ford lately, but Thursday night it was all about the Ocean’s 2020 album Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic / Cenozoic. That and podcasts kept me going Thursday.

Crush Girl and I texted a few times, talking about food, family, and work. There was some chatting in the Suzanne-Cindy-Julie group text but I sat it out because I was trying to work.

I’ve actually written my resolutions. I’ll post them sometime this weekend. Too tired to keep writing now.

Leave a comment. If you want. To connect. With someone. During these outrageous pandemic-insurrection days. The world is going insane but you don’t have to.

Lockdown: Ministers of manipulation

Now the President, he’s in the backyard playing croquet
But where I live is a different time and place
He’s gonna tell you with his hands and his words
That things are okay
Tell it to you all day long until you’re blue in the face

Did I say it’s a million years ’til January 20? Make that a billion.

After not nearly enough sleep Tuesday night, I woke up super tired Wednesday morning, the sixth of January, about as late as I can get away with and still present as interested in continuing my employment at the foundation.

Checked Twitter before I got up, as I always do, to see if the so-and-so-in-chief has blown up the world yet. I’m not joking. I’ve privately responded to people who’ve texted me over the past four years to say I was still in bed, checking to see if the incumbent has blown up the world.

With two weeks to go before inauguration day, it looked like he came pretty darn close. I couldn’t quite get my brain around what was happening based on my Twitter stream, so I stumbled to the desk, fired up the laptop, flicked on the TV, and holy freaking cow.

I won’t go into it all. My experience was pretty close to everyone else’s. My first thought, on seeing all those people climbing up the Capitol walls and banging on the doors, was it looked like a Central American despotic showdown between the people and their government.

The nation’s capitol.

I had work to do and a 10:30 phone meeting with the boss, but I kept the TV on and got through emails, then updated my running to-do list. My boss and I chatted about a few things after my update, and I mentioned I was moving a little slowly because I had the TV on. She totally understood.

I wasn’t my most productive, but I did get some social media stuff done, had a phone call with one of my favorite development officers, and got to work laying out a proposal we’ve been working on together for about a month. I didn’t actually write most of this one, but I was involved in the editing process from the beginning, so it felt good finally to lay it down on the template and think about photos, alignment, headers, and other things they pay me to be good at.

I didn’t get nearly enough done in order to make my Thursday morning target. I think the world will forgive me.

I left the TV on most of the day and evening, most of the time on mute. Between actual news, the talking heads still have to fill time, and most of the fill isn’t that interesting to me. Give me news with minimal commentary, please. It helps that I had it on ABC and they had Martha Raddatz on the Capitol grounds, and she’s among the very best.

After work I did a bit of writing. Wednesday is the designated day for the NaNoWriMo group Skype to check in. I knew when we established it that it would die pretty quickly, and it has, with only three of us who already knew each other from past NaNos checking in. I’m fine with it. They’ve become friends over the years.

We talked about writing-related New Year’s resolutions. I’ve got mine, but I’ll write about them later.

Read my novel a little and fell asleep before putting myself properly to bed. Miserable.

Breakfast-slash-lunch was the other entree I picked up from Ricado’s. Chicken piccata. It was amazing. I only messed around with ravioli the night before because I once tried a ravioli special there, a very long time ago, and really liked it. This, the regular ravioli, was still very good, but it can’t compare to my favorites. Ricado’s packed my order with two mini loaves of fresh bread. I ate a whole one with the ravioli. I ate most of the other with the piccata. So good.

Events of the day called for more pasta, so for a very late dinner, I made some penne with jarred red sauce. I added red pepper flakes, dried garlic flakes, brown sugar, gin, blue cheese, and one other thing I can’t remember. It was good. Gin was a great idea, much better than tequila.

I definitely had a slice of caramel apple pie for a snack but I don’t remember when. Not ruling out before breakfast.

Crush Girl texted me about a certain mispronunciation she heard that cracks us both up. We texted later about our stimulus checks (I got mine directly deposited New Year’s Eve). Later, I told her my writing hasn’t been as good these past few days because I broke my favorite shot glass. She was appropriately sympathetic.

JB texted me, but I don’t know if I can say what it was about. I texted Crissy to say I’d read about Jon Sciambi getting the Cubs play-by-play job, so I would probably be listening to a ton of Cubs games this season, if there is a this season. Then I followed up when I realized it was for the TV gig, not the radio gig, which bums me out because the service I subscribe to is for all the MLB radio feeds. Too bad. Sciambi is one of the best.

Penny texted to thank me for the Christmas gift. She was welcome, of course.

That’s it, and that’s enough. Leave a comment if you want to connect. Don’t go through pandemic-insurrection days alone. I’m here for you if you need someone to text with.

Lockdown: Let’s taco ’bout xxxxxii

new year; new movie quotes calendar.

Staying up late Monday night was more because I knew I was off Tuesday than the product of getting stuff done, which I certainly did, but not like 2:30’s worth.

I was so tired, falling asleep was no problem, and I made the effort to put myself to bed properly, so Darth Vader was happy. I think I got nearly five hours uninterrupted before I got up to use the bathroom. Then it was back to bed for much interrupted sleep finishing. I was determined not to get up until at least 10:30.

I started with a slice of pie for breakfast, then the crossword and Spelling Bee, the news, some music, some podcasts, and responding to happy birthday texts. I got to the beach around 12:30 and swam for nearly an hour, reflecting on the new year and thinking about resolutions.

I thought I might get tacos at this taco truck in Kakaako I’ve seen a couple of times in the past couple of weeks (while Christmas shopping), which Jennifer said she tried and liked. Then I thought a long drive, maybe out to Makapuu, would be nice, and maybe another dive into the ocean.

it was a nice day for a swim.

The taco truck was still open (open ’til four every day except Tuesday, when it’s open ’til seven) and only one of the outdoor tables was occupied, so yay. I ordered a taco sampler with a side of beans and rice and two Diet Cokes. The tacos were good. This is the lunch I really wanted on my birthday, something different and grammable.

good tacos if i’m bean honest.

Among many downers about the pandemic has been establishments’ closing their restrooms. I have an office to go to in town, if necessary, ‘though I try to stay away during business hours because I don’t want to run into anyone. Not being able to count on a McD’s or Starbucks means planning ahead. In this case planning ahead meant just going home for the home porcelain advantage, and then a nap because boy did I need one.

So I also watched the news, returned some texts, did a couple of quick chores, and finally got back out the door well after dark. It was okay; I wasn’t jonesing for a long drive anymore anyway. Still wanted to drive.

Headed vaguely for Aiea, thinking I might pick up Italian takeout at one of three good spots in my parents’ hood (Ricado’s, Palazzo, Paesano), then drive around a bit before bringing dinner home.

Got to Ricado’s half an hour before closing, ordering two entrees (one for dinner, one for the next day’s breakfast-slash-lunch), threw them in the car, and got ice cream from BR, which I forgot was in that strip mall. You gotta have ice cream on your birthday, pandemic or no. So I got a scoop of jamoca and a scoop of cookies and cream in a cup and ate it on the trunk of my car while I read Utopia Avenue. I’m reading more slowly because I’ve very strong feelings something terrible is going to happen to one of the characters.

little bit of baskin-robbins and a little bit of david mitchell.

I ate the ravioli while I continued to read, then went to bed and kept reading. Fell asleep reading, which wasn’t good for my sleep.

I got birthday texts from Jenny (who also emailed me an Amazon gift card), Donald, Reid, Kerri, Sharon, Grace, Sylvia, Jennifer, Penny, Kristie (returning the favor the day after her birthday), Ali, and Crush Girl. My parents called me when I got home from lunch. Randy C, my grad school friend and former colleague, messaged me on FB. My uncle DMed me on IG. It was nice to hear from them all.

In all, a good day.

It’s a million years before January 20. Don’t go through the dark days alone. Leave a comment if you want someone to connect with.

Resolutions next post.

Lockdown: 52 pickup

Hello. These are the first words I’m writing as a fifty-two-year-old. I’m an hour in, and it feels okay so far.

I didn’t get back to bed until about seven Monday morning and had the alarm set for nine. Darth Vader told me when I awoke that I had about two hours of sleep but it felt like zero hours.

I forgot to mention when I got up at 3:30 that I finished off what remained of the meatloaf plate, and chased it with an azuki-bean-filled malasada from Liliha Bakery. So that was a ridiculously early (and carby) breakfast.

Pretty much got right to work, returning emails first, then looking at my meeting schedule for the week. I wrote some social media content for a couple of stories I posted last week, then posted another story and wrote social media copy for that too. It doesn’t sound like much, but there are a lot of ways to mess up, especially with the social media stuff, so I work slowly and deliberately, and I triple-check everything. It’s not the funnest part of my work, I have to say, yet I find it satisfying.

And no matter how tedious or agonizing it gets, it’s certainly easier than actually writing.

On my lunch break, which was earlier than usual because of the super-early breakfast, I threw a steak in the grill pan and ate it with some leftover quinoa and some blanched green beans. It was quite delicious. No photo.

Watched the news after work, read a few blogs, played stupid phone games, and took a one-hour nap that took another half an hour to wake up from. After a few chores and several podcasts, I did some decluttering, which I’ve neglected these past two months. Bagged up a bunch of cans and bottles for recycling, then flattened some Amazon boxes and got most of it out of the house. Made a big difference, at least spiritually. It felt good to get stuff done. Oh, I also found a few stray limbs of the Monster, which I took immediate care of. I told you they would pop up here and there as I continued to clean up my living space.

I’m having a late dinner as I write this. Instant ramen with bean sprouts, bok choy, an egg, and rice vinegar. Yum.

Monday was Kristie’s birthday, so I texted her my birthday wishes. We haven’t texted since her birthday last year, which makes me a little sad. Marriage and kids ruin guy-girl friendships. We spent quite a while talking about life during COVID time, and I was pleased to see that despite her hazardous job (she teaches public elementary school), she’s being super super cautious, as I’ve been.

I still have a little thing for her. I kind of hoped I wouldn’t by now, but it’s there. I can’t let go of anyone or anything, apparently. Although I guess it’s been in hibernation these past 366 days, so there’s the solution. Or a solution.

Yeah, her birthday is the day before mine, four years later. R’s birthday is the day after mine, one year later. My work friend Ali’s is the same day, but nearly twenty years later.

Crush Girl texted to ask if I have any plans for Tuesday. I said I’m taking it off from work but beyond that I haven’t firmed anything up yet. It will begin with sleeping in, though. We chatted a little about her car and about stuff she’s reading.

I texted Jennifer to thank her for the birthday card. Texted Ali to wish her a happy birthday.

I need to write about Dan Le Batard but I’ll save it for another night. Monday was his last day at ESPN, after two decades of affiliation and employment, and the sentiment from a lot of ESPN people I admire was heartfelt and kind of lovely. His podcast will continue independently for now, and he’s bringing all his production crew with him, paying them himself. I don’t know how this is going to work.

Leave a comment if you need someone to connect with. The world’s not getting safer, at least not for a while. We’ve got a long way to go, so don’t go it alone.