Lockdown: Are you ready for some crappy football?

I actually got nearly five good hours of sleep Saturday night. I wish I weren’t a slave to football, but you know. This is week 17, the last week of the regular season and although I knew the TV games were going to be crap (they were), they were going to be crap with playoff consequences.

More sleep would have been a better idea.

Around the beginning of the late-Sunday-morning games, I did a few chores and made breakfast-slash-lunch. My first home-cooked meal of the year: ahi in the grill pan, with blanched broccoli and bean sprouts. And a fresh pot of quinoa. It was quite good. I used the Mitchell Street seasoning and a lot of fresh lemon juice.

I did get a nap during the late game. Just an hour, but I needed it, and I think it did me some good. I spent the rest of the evening staring at the computer and thinking about resolutions, and thinking about a couple of easy tidying tasks that would really make my week a little less stressful.

I accomplished neither the setting of resolutions nor the easy tidying of certain high-traffic areas. I’m most annoyed with myself. I also had visions of grabbing takeout somewhere new, or (as with the bánh mì the other night), something new at a familiar place. It was getting close to eight and I had a lot of options, but I settled on Liliha Bakery again. Super close to the house and I heard the meatloaf calling my name.

I also added one hot cake, thinking I’d have leftover meatloaf for breakfast the next morning, perhaps with a fried egg or two. However, I kind of went to town on the hot cake first and then the meatloaf and although I didn’t finish the whole thing, I didn’t leave enough for breakfast.

I did a ridiculously time-consuming few chores, clean-up stuff that led to more clean-up stuff. You know how it is sometimes: you do A, thinking that’ll be it, but while you’re doing A you realize you could do B too, and that leads to C. Around F and G, I thought I’d relax a little, then get to F and G before bed.

A few hours later, I woke up and it was like 3:30 in the morning and I was sprawled uncomfortably on my bed with my face pressed into the pillow and my phone battery nearly on E. I flipped it on to see if I’d missed anything (as if anything happens late Sunday night).

Scrolling through IG, I saw Sonata Arctica’s mention of the death of Alexi Laiho, guitarist for Children of Bodom.

Ugh. No.

It was true. Reported on CNN and USA Today, although the obituary I shared was from Guitar World, where Alexi was an instructional columnist for a while. It was still fresh news, so no tributes from most of the bands I’d expect, except Floor Jansen (a fellow Finn), Stratovarius, and Annihilator. There will be more. He was an amazing talent, a great performer, and unique among metal musicians. And only 41. Frick.

I dragged myself up to attend to F and G and then to put myself properly to bed, but it’s now 5:42 Monday morning and I’m wondering if I should just stay up. I’m spinning all the Children of Bodom albums in reverse order today, and am on their second-most recent, I Worship Chaos (2015), one of my favorites from them and probably their least-favorably reviewed.

I still haven’t done F. I did G before I sat down to write this.

I was mostly successful in my goal not to think about work this whole four-day weekend. I’m kind of pleased with myself. Only checked my email once (nothing) and kiiiiinda thought about what I need to do this week, but once I realized what I was doing, I banished these thoughts, setting them aside for the first part of my day Monday.

It’s so interesting, this world I work in now. When you’re teaching, you can’t show up Monday and spend the first part of the day thinking about what you have to do this week. Even if you have first-period prep (the second-worst and second-best prep period), you can’t spend just one class period thinking about your week. It’s not enough time. You have to show up knowing what you’re doing.

I put my Kindle in the car Saturday afternoon when I drove to the beach, thinking I might hang around after my late swim and just read. I didn’t, and it’s still in the car, which means I didn’t read at all Sunday, when I hoped to have my book finished this weekend. Ah well. I made all my Tsum Tsum goals for the weekend and you can’t have everything.

My only texting was with Ali, who responded very early to some stuff I sent late Saturday. Time zone effect. We traded a few more later, when I claimed this month’s Amazon First Reads books (you get to claim two this month), to ask if she’d seen the offerings. They look pretty good.

DMed my uncle to say happy birthday.

It’s coming up on 6:30 and I’ve decided I can’t just stay up. I need to get at least a couple of hours of actual, formal sleep. So here we go.

Get in my comments if you need someone to connect with in these crappy pandemic days. I’m here for it.

Lockdown: Salt, sand, and sea — impromptu

What it looked like when I found my parking.

I’m already not sleeping well, so although I went to bed at 3:30 late Friday night, I set the alarm for 5:45 so I could get to the post office early enough not to run into people. I still had to buy the postage for my second attempt at mailing Penny’s gift, and I needed a fresh book of stamps so I could mail the rent. I know I have stamps somewhere, but they weren’t in any of the usual places.

When the Saturday morning alarm went off, I realized I’d dropped right to sleep as soon as I put my head back and slept really well for the 110 minutes (according to the machine Darth Vader connects to), and conceivably could have kept going for a few hours more. It would have been my first decent sleep in more than a week.

I considered putting the post office errand off until Sunday, then nixed the idea because I’m all about getting the to-do list taken care of, right? Accomplishment and all that, although a good night’s sleep would certainly be a better accomplishment.

The errand went smoothly (whew). I was in the neighborhood, so I stopped at the Safeway, which is a pretty safe way to get groceries at 6:30 on a Saturday morning. Then picked up breakfast (a chicken katsu loco moco) at Grace’s.

Should just have gone to bed but I was hungry. Ate breakfast while watching some of the Indiana-Ole Miss football game and reading the news. After a bit of semi-contentious texting with Ali, I finally went back to bed at about 9:30 and woke up a few times but mostly stayed there until two or three. I did a few chores, finished breakfast leftovers, read the news, texted Ali some more (fresh topics, much less contentious), and realized I could hit the beach, possibly get a parking stall as others were leaving, and spent some time in the ocean.

Why not?

Saturdays at Ala Moana, I was immediately reminded, are different from weekday afternoons. The two volleyball courts at the far Kewalo end were packed — it looked like an enormous party. Ugh. There was no open parking on that end of the beach at all, all the way to the pavilions, pretty much, which is terrible for swimming. I got a fair spot at the Magic Island end, which would have been great in safer times, but I was a longer walk from the showers and the shore than I’m comfortable with.

The beach was not exactly packed on that end, but it was a pretty solid wall of occupancy near the shore. I threaded my way carefully through some space around where the showers are, and once I was in the water I was safe.

First sunset swim in my adult memory. As the sun neared the horizon behind me, a huge, high rainbow stretched from the Waikiki hotels to the Piikoi condos in front of me. I stopped swimming a while just to watch it. Some nearby stand-up paddleboarders did the same.

I took my time getting out, just enjoying dusk (for a change; it’s my least favorite time of day). I had resolutions on my mind and hadn’t settled on anything yet. The line for cars getting out of the park was long, but it moved well, and I had my 90s rap playlist going, so I wasn’t in any hurry. Note to self: the L&L on the Kewalo end has reopened but I’ve never noticed because apparently it opens later. It was still open as I passed sometime past seven.

What it looked like as I got ready to leave.

Stopped for wings at Wingstop on the way home.

I spent most of my evening reading some websites. I’m interested in doing some work on my car stereo and I didn’t know jack about car stereos. Now I know slightly more. It’ll be a long-term project because of costs, not to mention other repairs I’m giving higher priority, so I have time to absorb some knowledge. The guy who had the car before me had a sweet setup, removing most of the good components he had when he gave me the keys, but he left the power amp to retrieve later. When my fan belt snapped the second day I drove it to work and asked the guy if he had ever seen what I was looking at (the belt was actually shredded), he said he felt terrible and although I said it wasn’t his fault and he had nothing to apologize for, he insisted I keep the poweramp and he wouldn’t hear any discussion about it.

So I’m not starting with nothing, and the head unit (see how quickly I’ve picked up the jargon?) is definitely good enough for my purposes for now.

Anyway. That’s what I did Saturday evening instead of making resolutions or reading my novel. Went to bed around 2:00. Progress.

Crush Girl wasn’t very chatty again, despite my few decent efforts to engage. It was fine. Ali and I ended on good notes, texting late into the evening.

I didn’t realize until I turned in that I didn’t do any snacking. I also didn’t drink enough water, which is super unusual for me. I also haven’t had a decent serving of veggies in a few days. I also have had takeout for every meal (except the instant ramen Friday night), which I am not apologetic about.

I did pick up some nice veggies from Safeway, not to mention an ahi steak and a ribeye, so the kitchen will be open once again before long.

People keep dying. Vaccinations aren’t being administered quickly enough. 45 isn’t going gentle into that good night. As I write this, the Washington Post is breaking a story (with accompanying recording) about his one-hour conversation with the secretary of the state of Georgia in which he tries to influence him to commit fraud. When is the last time he spent an hour on solving problems related to the pandemic? I think it’s been a while. Meanwhile, we each slog through the best we can. Don’t slog alone. If you need some connection, leave a comment. You can connect with me.

Lockdown: They are new every morning

I continue to sleep terribly. I’m not worried just yet. I would like it to just stop, though.

If you know anyone who lives in Hawaii, you’ve probably already heard about how ridiculous and crazy the illegal aerial fireworks were New Year’s Eve. If you haven’t, do a YouTube search and you’ll certainly find several videos documenting the insanity.

Someone in my neighborhood — I’ve decided I don’t want to know who — likes setting off these enormous BOOMs from time to time in the middle of the night. They sound like they’re going off right over my house. No sparkles or candles or anything. Just BOOM. So I knew what I was in for.

The neighbors in general enjoy their fireworks, and this year was especially festive, people getting their good-riddances out, blowing 2020 out the door with red paper and black powder. I can’t say I blame them, and to each his or her own as long as nobody’s property is damaged (which happens somewhere on this island every year), but I would have preferred a much quieter night.

I’d considered all week the idea of starting 2021 with a sunrise swim, but after Thursday’s two visits and my overexertion, I knew it was best if I just let my body soak up as much rest as possible. I was out of bed around 9:00 on January 1 with definite plans for naps later.

I was thinking Taco Bell for breakfast with a bottle of Cava I picked up during Christmas shopping. I like Spanish wines but had never tried a bubbly. I quickly scribbled a list of to-dos for the day and took care of one item right away: called Mom and Dad to say Happy New Year.

Taco Bell serves breakfast until 11, and it was getting close. I got there with about thirty minutes to spare, only to discover it wasn’t opening January 1 until 11. So much for that plan.

Fine. I had other things scawled upon the napkin on my desk. Picked up a money order at 7-Eleven for the rent, then got back to Taco Bell to get some stuff for breakfast, only they were the lunch-dinner items. I figured I’d live, even if these days I far prefer the breakfast menu, while the regular menu has dimmed a bit.

I ate breakfast-slash-lunch and drank my Cava while reading the news and then my novel. Took a very long, glorious nap. I kind of lazed most of the day away until it got dark, and I realized I hadn’t done the stuff on the napkin. I still had time to redeem the first day of the year.

The big item was wrapping and packing the last of my Christmas gifts for the mail. Penny’s late gift, the one that I stupidly mailed to Kapio on Kauai. JB’s family in Virginia. My uncle in San Diego. I’d already paid for shipping labels and postage on it all, so all I had to do, once it was boxed up with the labels affixed, was drive it to the post office and slide it in the parcel drop.

It was a little late, so I saved the drive for Saturday morning. Then I kind of vegged for a few hours until forcing myself into bed at 3:30 in the morning. No, I don’t know why I didn’t just go to bed at half past midnight when I was finished with my tasks, except I hadn’t yet decided to do the mail drop Saturday — I thought I might combine a late trip with takeout from somewhere, only the more I thought about it the fewer my appealing options, and by then I was hungry, the Taco Bell feast only going so far with my metabolism.

So I made a bowl of instant ramen, a boring one with no additions except one egg and some rice vinegar. It was still delicious — if you’re paying attention, you’ll note it’s been months since I last had instant ramen.

There were a bunch of Happy New Year texts through the day, from my classmate Tiger, from Reid and Penny,. from Charles the Rock, from Jennifer, and from my uncle. I sent Crush Girl photos from both my beach visits, trying to nudge her into conversation but I knew she was busy and I never really got what I sought. It’s okay. She did mention she’d begun reading a book I think very highly of — one of those Newberys — and I asked her to let me know her thoughts when she’s done.

In addition to the two meals, I also had a slice of caramel apple pie sometime in the early evening. OH. I remember something else about the evening I mostly lazed away: my stomach was pretty upset about something. At first I thought it was hunger, but whatever my tum-tum wanted, it wasn’t caramel apple pie, because that just made it more upset. I tried to do the gift-wrapping feeling this way but it was really unpleasant so I went back to bed. THIS is another reason I was up so late. By the time I was feeling closer to normal it was already late, and the gift-wrapping took a while.

A nice combination of productive, lazy, gluttonous, ill, and wine-drunk to begin what must certainly be a better year, right?

Resolutions, next post.

Don’t wander the desert in solitude. If you need some connectivity, leave a comment and I’ll be happy to work something out so you have someone to send remedies for upset stomachs.

Friday 5: A-M-Z

From here.

  1. What’s better in its middle than in its edges, beginnings, or ends?
    Pizza and pie for sure. My first meal of 2021 was a slice of apple caramel pie, and I don’t often do this, but I kind of ate the whole slice except the edge crust. Threw that away. The filling-crust ratio on the edge of a pie is just not satisfactory. I’ll add an airplane ride to this list too.
  2. Why is a sunrise better than a sunset?
    All the usual answers: hope, potential, new beginnings. I love that my birthday is in early January, too, for the same reasons. Where I live, you can see the sun rise from the water and then set on the water in the same day, and while the colors are often much nicer for the sunset, the shoreline in the east and north of Oahu is a lot nicer for sitting on the beach.
  3. What’s better in retrospect than when you experienced it?
    I remember romantic relationships and near-misses much more fondly than they probably warrant, even near the ends. The long relationship with R is the exception. Also almost every decent hike I’ve ever been on. Misery while you’re doing it, but amazing when you look back on it.
  4. What songs have wonderful endings?
    I’m disappointed that nobody has said “A Day in the Life” by the Beatles, which I thought would be the number one response. I’m mentioning it here because it should be, but it’s not even my favorite ending of a Beatles song. That goes to the wistful “yeah-yeah-yeah, yeah” at the end of “The Long and Winding Road.” I’ll also nominate Bruce Cockburn’s “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” and Led Zep’s “Stairway to Heaven.”
  5. What was the first thing you unwrapped in 2021?
    Taco Bell and a bottle of cava, my January 1 breakfast.

Lockdown: Double beach day because I can

The eastern world, it is explodin’
Violence flarin’, bullets loadin’
You’re old enough to kill but not for votin’
You don’t believe in war, but what’s that gun you’re totin’?
And even the Jordan river has bodies floatin’
But you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
You don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

So yeah. I turned in at around 9:30 Wednesday night, which should have given me five hours of sleep before heading to the laundry. Of course it never works out that way. I was awake at 12:30 and never really went back to sleep. I gave up at 2:00, fifteen minutes ahead of my alar, and just packed up to go.

Since lockdown began, I have always lugged my laptop, my wireless keyboard, and my mifi device to the laundry, but this time I just packed my Kindle, looking forward to a couple of hours of early-early morning silence and Utopia Avenue.

There were more people than usual when I got there, but everyone stayed far away from me, and they were done before I was, so I had the place to myself through most of the drying, and I made good progress in the novel.

I’d brought my board shorts with me, thinking I might try a sunrise swim at Ala Moana to end the year, and was still undecided when I stopped at the office to use the restroom. The office is midway between the laundry and the beach. When I reminded myself that I wasn’t on a schedule, I had the day off, and I had a reliable set of wheels and all day to do whatever I wanted (including sleep and read), circumstances nearly dictated a trip to the beach.

Not a lot of people had the same idea. I had my end of the ocean to myself, and although I’m discouraged by how quickly one falls out of shape (not that I ever was in shape, but I lost even that). I stayed in the water well past the point where I was spent, and just enjoyed being wet and salty. The sun came up over the Waikiki hotels about midway through my time, and it was lovely.

Despite the Quarter Pounder (with cheese) combo I ate at the laundry merely a few hours earlier, I was hungry by the time I was ready to go, so I did something I haven’t done since well before the lockdown. Picked up breakfast at the L&L in Ala Moana Park. There are two, one of them on my end of the beach, but that one hasn’t reopened since it closed in March. I don’t know when the Magic Island concession reopened, but I noticed it some time ago.

Ordered a grilled garlic ahi plate and scarfed it at a picnic table near the pond where they race radio-controlled sailboats. The place is getting a facelift, with one of those orange meshy plastic fences around the water and its shore, but a couple of older guys found an opening and had their fishing poles. I enjoyed watching them as I inhaled my second breakfast.

I stopped at Hawaiian Pie Company to pick up an apple caramel pie. I don’t remember the order of what I did next, but it involved a nap, some novel-reading, reading the news, the crossword and Spelling Bee, and a couple of little chores.

Then I whipped out the guitar.

Not my guitar, the one I bought in college and still own, which needs a little repair but the piece needing replacement is lost somewhere in my living room. That Takamine (whose name is Joanne), which has served me well and will again, is temporarily on the injured list until I find that piece.

My coworker Kapio moved to Kauai a couple of years ago. She still works with us but they’re letting her work remotely, which is great for her and great for us. She’d bought an old used classical some time before, and didn’t want to take it with her, so she gave it to me in an old, broken gig bag. It’s sat in my laundry room these past two years.

But I’d listened to Barry McGuire’s “Eve of Destruction” on endless repeat all morning and some new lyrics to update it (I just found out McGuire himself updated the lyrics a few times, the first time when he was on Christian record labels), and I was itching to play it. I had visions of recording it with some of the (still unused) podcast toys I picked up in 2020 and maybe posting it here.

Yikes. I thought I was out of swimming shape. I’m reeeeeeally out of guitar shape. My chording fingers yowled at me after twenty minutes. I have very little experience with nylon or the wider neck of the classical guitar, but this doesn’t explain all of my issues. I understood quickly I would have to work myself back into playing shape, maybe get some callouses back on my fingertips and get used to playing the classical.

So I paid online for a new set of strings from the music store sharing the building with the nonprofit I work for and drove to the office building for the second time in twelve hours. Also bought a new harmonica in case I actually decide to record myself. Might be a fun way to learn to use these toys, since I don’t know when I’m going to be able to do the podcast of my vision.

A guy from the store walked my purchase right out to my car and thanked me.

And then I hit the beach again. Why not? was all the reason I needed. Got a decent parking space and jumped in and it was even better than earlier. Pushed myself a little harder, then just goofed around past the buoys for half an hour or so. Reflected. Considered the rest of my weekend.

A nice way to spend the last day of a crappy year.

I wanted to pick up a pizza from Dolan’s downtown, but there were so many people in there I couldn’t bring myself to venture in, and when I tried calling for a curbside order, the phone was busy. Plan B (it was a day of plan Bs): dim sum from Mei Sum one block over. Char siu bao, turnip cakes, pot stickers, taro gok with scallops.

That was my year-end meal, enjoyed with copious amounts of ice water. I hadn’t hydrated well most of the day and could feel it.

I must have overdone it at the beach because I had a headache and was super tired. Maybe some heat exhaustion, or maybe dehydration? I don’t know but I had to go to bed after dinner and didn’t get up until around nine. Spent the last hours of the year listening to music and reading my novel. Not at the same time. Also did the Friday crossword (it was cute and fairly challenging — I finished it in seventeen minutes) and the Friday Spelling Bee. Shortly after midnight, I had a slice of pie.

For the record, my first meal of 2021 was a delicious slice of apple caramel pie. Keep your ozoni, which I love but which is not worth fighting for mizuna over. This is a better tradition.

I read until I dropped, sometime around 3:00. Good riddance 2020.

Reid texted to ask for some parental guidance info on Ted Lasso, which I was happy to give. Sylvia texted me from the office late in the day to say Happy New Year’s Eve. We chatted about a few things in the Cindy-Suzanne-Julie group text, including our plans for food and drink. Crush Girl and I texted a little about what we’re reading.

Hope anyone reading this got through okay. Leave a comment if you want someone to connect with. The days are brightening, eventually and slowly, but we’re not out of this yet. Don’t go through it disconnectedly.