Lockdown: Lift every invoice and sing

I keep thinking I’m going to get caught up on these but then before I know it, it’s past twelve Saturday night and I’m trying to write about a Thursday I barely remember.

I should have slept well and maybe I did, but I honestly don’t remember. I got up earlier than I wanted and hit Tamashiro Market shortly after it opened. The supermarket at the stripmall didn’t have a couple of things I wanted Wednesday night and one of the island’s most popular fish markets is in my hood. Don’t ask me why I go there like once every two or three years. I need to make it part of my regular routine, especially since I’m trying to up my fish intake.

So, you know. I hit the Taco Bell drive-though for breakfast on the way back.

Since work is usually the first thing I do, I have to check the work emails to jolt the memory. Looks like I started with some edits to that proposal I worked on during my days off. I followed that with a tricky check request in our online invoicing system. That was actually kind of fun.

We had training via Zoom early in the lockdown on our new system, and I sat in on it even though I didn’t understand what it was about. I’m a writer, not a manager, so I don’t have to deal with budgeting and check requests. However, since I did go to the training and nobody else in my department did, the next time we had an invoice to pay (my department is communications and marketing, so we do have some major expenses), my supervisor asked if I would handle it.

The first one was super difficult. The terminology was all new, so I didn’t even know what a lot of the vocab meant. Happily, whoever put the tutorial together did a pretty good job, so although it took a while, I got it right (with some help from our really good fiscal team), and now I’m the guy who does this for our department. I rather enjoy it.

Then it was our weekly department Zoom meeting, and then I sat in on our monthly meeting for development officers. I was recently invited to join these, and while my job is nothing like their jobs, I work closely enough with them that it helps me with my work when I understand them a little better. This one was kind of fun.

My late lunch was leftover supergreens and a few bites of leftover entrees from Panda takeout, eaten cold right out of the Ziploc cannisters. Because of that late snack, there wasn’t a lot left, so I added some clementines and dried apricots. Not a bad way to start work.

After work, of course I took a nap. Dragged myself up and cubed a two-pound ahi filet for poke. I have made ahi poke before (a very long time ago) and don’t honestly know what I’m doing with the selection of fish. The market has it price by grade: good grade, high grade, and something like premium grade. There might have been a fourth grade.

The price differences are huge. I reasoned that since I’m eating it raw, but not as sashimi, I should get the high grade, which is sixteen bucks a pound! I hacked off a thin slice and slid it onto my tongue and knew immediately I’d bought too good a fish. It was so delicate and so delicious I could have eaten the whole filet like that, without shoyu or wasabi. Oh. My. Goodness. If I’d had some ponzu ingredients I’d have just done that.

I got the whole thing cubed (it took a while; I’m decent with a chef’s knife but fish is a new thing for me), popping cubes into my mouth as I went along. I scraped the skin and had what amounted to an ahi tartare, which I sprinkled some shoyu on and that was great too.

Added shoyu, wasabi oil, sliced onions, and sesame oil. Ate half of it with some fresh quinoa and put the other half in the fridge.

I think I overprepared it. Just the fish and onions and a little bit of wasabi oil would probably have been fine. Or just the fish, onions, and shoyu. Good lesson for next time.

Crush Girl and I texted pretty much all day. That was great. She actually reached out first to ask how it’s going. That was great. While I’m still interested in getting to know her away from the one context in which we’re acquainted, I’m no longer mooning over her as I was a year ago. Still, it’s nice to get some of her attention.

Gwen texted me to talk about her dad getting his shot.

I think that was it. It’s late and I’m going to bed. Hopefully.

Leave a comment if you want someone to connect with. I’ll send you some contact info.

Lockdown: Jamoca me crazy

It’s late Friday evening as I write this about Wednesday. I’m tired and I’m dragging, and I’m relieved to welcome the weekend even after such a short work week. Just let me soak up the weekendness and maybe a few sunbeams and I think I’ll be okay. Feeling pretty drained right now, though.

I went to bed at something resembling a decent hour (two in the morning resembles a decent hour, right?). The dog was lying on the couch as I locked everything up. When I put myself down on the mattress, he trotted over and dove in. He’d been waiting.

I could have had a good six solid hours of sleep but woke up a few times, and for the last couple of hours I slept soundly but without Darth Vader. I think a couple more nights and I’d have settled into a good routine, but really, I can’t think of why I would believe this. I can’t get into a good sleep routine in my own bed.

Drove to Kapiolani Coffee Shop for a loco moco. It was pretty good but my stomach wasn’t ready for it. I didn’t even come close to finishing it.

The dog wouldn’t eat his breakfast again. Ah well, the folks would be home in the early afternoon so he’d be okay. And like me, he could stand to miss a few meals. Unlike me, he actually missed them.

I got some good work done. A little bit of proposal work, my weekly one-on-one with the supervisor, some correspondence on some other stories. All at the dining table where at age sixteen I labored over reading and note-taking for AP Bio, one of the rare courses for which I actually spent time studying and doing homework. It didn’t last long, maybe only the first semester, but I think often of those nights at that table. I wasn’t out to prove anything to myself, yet I proved to myself I could do well in school if I spent the energy.

It was one of the rare courses where I felt the need. It was challenging. Difficult, even. Then probably the worst thing that could happen happened. I got the highest score in the class on the first unit exam, and did really well on the second. So, you know. I felt the challenge had been met and it was time to spend my nights thinking about other stuff. Like girls. It wasn’t a conscious decision. Just happened, as these things always do.

I spent some time between my work tasks cleaning up and moving my stuff to the car. The folks came home at about 1:30 and reported they’d had a lovely time. It was nice to hear. And they were grateful for my watching over things.

I took care of a couple of errands on my way home, then took a short nap before getting back to work.

I thought I might want a Subway sandwich for dinner, but the joint was closed when I got to the stripmall. Thanks, COVID. So I ate ice cream instead (thanks, COVID!) at Baskin-Robbins. Scoop of Jamoca; scoop of cookies and cream in a cup. Glorious. Heavenly. Delightful.

Picked dinner up instead at Panda’s. I thought I could use a good dose of those supergreens they offer as a side now, a replacement for the steamed veggies they used to serve.

After work it was more napping, then back to the stripmall for a quick run through the supermarket. I didn’t have time to mess around, so I didn’t get a something-different this time. I also only got one six-pack of Diet Pepsi because it was all they had on the shelves, which means I’ll have to go back Saturday morning. They also didn’t have a couple of fresh things I had on my list, so it was a letdown of a trip.

Went to bed around two, in great need of a good night’s sleep.

Jennifer texted me a link to something related to Friends of the Library. I haven’t looked at it yet. I think that was it for texts. It was a busy day so I hardly noticed the quietude of my texting stream.

I had a little bit of a late-night snack, munching on most of the leftovers from Panda. Somewhere in the middle of the day were some clementines and some dried apricots. My stomach’s getting back to normal. I think the broccoli, kale, and cabbage in the supergreens mix did me some good.

Smash the comments if you need someone to connect with. I’m also offering invitations to Clubhouse, if you’d like to give it a try and have an iPhone. I’m not offering to connect there, since it’s not really my thing, but we can trade follows and who knows? I might come out to chat one night. Mostly I just eavesdrop, though. Comment if you want a Clubhouse invite. Just don’t pandemic untethered.

Briiiiiiiiing the weeeeeeeekeeeeeeeeennnnnnnnnd!

Lockdown: Bark at a crow

The thing I couldn’t write about is finished. I was house- and dog-sitting for my folks, who exactly two weeks after receiving their second shots, took a little staycation at the military-owned resort in Waikiki. It wasn’t because of the shots; it was because Tuesday was their 53rd anniversary. The shots made them feel safe enough to do it, though.

And thank goodness. They’ve been good about keeping away from humanity, except for trips to the navy commissary for groceries every other week or so. My dad does it willingly; my mom wasn’t built for isolation. She’s been a bit down.

Of course I said I’d be happy to watch the house and dog. I’m always happy to do it, since their house is far nicer than mine. Also I love them and I love the dog.

I looked forward to the change of scenery as much as they looked forward to theirs.

So now it’s Thursday night, just past midnight as I write about Tuesday, if I can remember it. I’ve got the new Evergrey album, Escape of the Phoenix, playing in the background. It’s good! I knew it would be. I preordered the CD and it hasn’t gotten here yet.

I took vacation Tuesday, so Monday night I was up much too late. Maybe not a great idea since I got so little sleep Sunday night, but whatever.

The dog, who adores me, was clearly stressed about my folks not being there. My parents say whenever I drive up the hill to the house, the dog recognizes the sound of the engine and knows it’s me (I drive a rather loud car, I’m embarrassed to admit) and runs to the top of the steps to wait for me.

He did not want to hang out with me Monday evening, though. Wouldn’t eat his dinner. Stayed outside on the lanai most of the night. When I closed the back door (his sign that someone’s leaving the house or it’s time for bed) and turned out the light, he ran to the parents’ bedroom and jumped on my mom’s bed, where he sleeps. It was really cute.

I left him alone. Set up a mattress in the living room, arranged my Darth Vader machine, and went uneasily to sleep. It takes me a couple of nights to get used to sleeping there when nobody’s home. I stress a little about making sure the house is secure.

When I woke up a couple of hours later, I saw him watching me from the couch. I said, “Hey, come over here,” and he ran over, jumped into the mattress, and cozied up alongside me.

He was still there when I got out of bed Tuesday around eight or nine, which impressed me since my folks are up much, much earlier than that. I put his breakfast out but he wouldn’t touch it.

I really looked forward to several takeout meals during my stay, since I’ve mostly been away from Aiea going on a year. Breakfast was takeout from Button Up Cafe in Pearl City. I got the short rib loco moco (it’s a Hawaii thing) and ugh. I should have gotten something else. I had the short rib loco the last time I visited two and a half years ago, and didn’t love it.

It was okay, but my stomach was upset and I didn’t finish it.

I spent some of the morning doing work emails even though I was on vacation. Just wanted to keep up with a few things. Took a little nap, then came back to my house for a few hours. Mostly to catch up on sleep, I’m afraid, but also to do some house things.

On the way back to the dog, I kept thinking of places to get dinner, but the thought of food made me ill. I made the very mature, grown-up decision to worry about dinner if I got hungry; not to get dinner someplace interesting just because I was in the neighborhood. This made me feel tinges of missing out, but mostly it relieved me.

I put the dog’s dinner out and he wouldn’t even look at it, but he did hang around near me most of the time. Alternated between the lanai and the dining room, where I’d set up my work stuff. I don’t blame him; I should have set up a table on the lanai too, as I usually do when I stay over. It’s so much nicer and cooler out there.

My parents live in a neighborhood known for its impressive views of the south side of Oahu. Although they live in the lowermost house in the ‘hood and don’t have quite as stunning a view as houses higher up, since there are no houses in front of theirs, they at least have an unobstructed, sweeping view of Pearl Harbor. You can see as far east as Waikiki and as far west as Waipahu and Ewa. It’s quite nice, and I normally love working on the lanai. I don’t know why I didn’t do it this time.

In one of his hangouts under my chair, I got up and grabbed his dish. I put one piece of his kibble in my palm and he ate right out of it. I did it a few more times before offering him small handfuls, which he seemed pretty happy to consume. He still didn’t finish the entire serving, but at least he ate.

I also found my appetite, quite late in the evening, but it wasn’t much of one, so I just opened a can of chicken and ate it with hot (white!) rice. Drizzled a little bit of shoyu on it and that was it. Simple and tasty, and it didn’t upset my stomach.

I spent a few hours on work stuff. Proofreading the staff newsletter, editing the proposal I’d begun Monday. It actually felt good to do work during vacation time, since I was doing it on my time on my terms. With a cute dog lying at my feet.

Jennifer texted me to ask my thoughts on Shakespeare adaptation movies. We traded some opinions, which led after my work and shower to my watching, for the first time, the Kenneth Branagh Much Ado About Nothing, which I also have never seen performed on stage. Nor have I read it.

I watched the first half and really liked it. It’s hilarious. I’m not sure I like Branagh in it, ‘though even I can see the acting talent. I just disagree with his interpretation. Of a character I didn’t know anything about in a play I’ve never read. Take that, Sir Kenneth!

I had rather my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.

You know, I’ve read the criticism of Keanu Reeves in this play, and it’s kind of unwarranted. He’s fine. The character just isn’t very meaty (at least so far), and yeah: Keanu doesn’t have quite the range of Branagh or Denzel Washington or Emma Thompson or any of the other obviously veteran Shakesperean actors. He’s only bad in comparison to a great cast. He’s not actually bad.

Looking forward to finishing it.

The only snacking I did was on clementines and dried apricots around what would normally have been my late lunch hour.

Sharon texted me to say she wished she’d taken a vacation day. This led to some talk about takeout in the Aiea-Pearl-City area. JB and I texted some thoughts about his favorite baseball and football players. Crush Girl and I texted through the day about a bunch of different stuff, including what we’re reading and what she’s been watching.

As I write this late Thursday night, the rain is coming down in barrels. Hope this doesn’t wipe out my chances of hitting the beach sometime this weekend. It’s been two weeks.

There are also new albums Friday by Einherjer, Epica, Alice Cooper, and the Melvins. Could be a good listening weekend.

Leave a comment if you need someone to connect with in these ongoing pandemic days. I got you.

Lockdown: Going the distance; going for speed

It’s past 1:00 in the morning, Tuesday night as I write this about Monday. I’m very sleepy, quite sleep-deprived, and definitely ready for bed. I’m just feeling the compulsion to get the fingers moving before turning in. I don’t know if it’s to hear the tapping of the keys or just needing a little bit of downtime with some music (Cake’s Fashion Nugget) in the quiet of the night as my hair dries or if it’s the need to get some thoughts down in pixels and electrons, but when the muse says work, you work.

I stayed up until 6:30 in the morning because I had all that work I wanted to submit, somewhat assuaged by anticipation for the half a day’s vacation I scheduled for Monday, thinking I could get a couple of hours’ sleep before doing the stuff I had to do Monday afternoon.

I had clementines and dried apricots for breakfast before work.

I might have wasted the half day of work I had, since I was close to exhausted, but I actually did work, sending emails and replying to them right away, and getting a few other things moving. I was pleased. And I got some good early feedback on the work I stayed up all night to submit, which was nice.

When I wrote yesterday about needing to be vague, I was talking about what would go in this space right here. I’ll fill in the blanks later in the week, as I’ve already said.

I did get a very, very short nap, but then I had to get up and do a few tasks. It was vacation time well spent, mostly, and except for a little bit of anxiety (used in the non-clinical sense; however, remind me to explore this topic again later) I got a little bit of the tension out of my body and brain.

Fast-forwarding over the stuff I can’t write about yet, I had canned chili and some fresh hot rice (all white!) for lunch, at about four. Man, I was hungry, and the canned chili really did the job. Such a simple pleasure.

I had a very late dinner from Palazzo. Chicken piccata, resisting the urge to get something a tad more sinful. I also resisted the desire to get a second dinner just to save for later.

The chicken piccata at Palazzo isn’t quite as good as the same dish at Ricado’s, where I went on my birthday, but they put a bit more care into wrapping it up for takeout. They plastic cling-wrapped the entire takeout container, to prevent that yummy buttery lemony goodness from leaking through the clamshell. They wrapped a generous pat of butter in some aluminum foil, wrapped the foil in cling wrap, and tied the cling wrap to the handles of the takeout bag, so as not to let the butter melt from the heat of the entree or the yummy mini-loaf of bread. Geez, that was impressive.

And when I say it’s not quite as good as at Ricado’s, it’s no shade on Palazzo. A very good meal.

I should have watched a movie or something as I ate, but instead I proofed a proposal from one of the DOs. I told her I’d be available despite my vacation, if she understood I’d be a little slow and possibly late. She didn’t complain, and I think we did some really good work together.

One of the unexpected pleasures of this job is developing good relationships with each development officer. They are all serious Type A personalities, but each has his or her own working style, and I find it really rewarding to find a groove that works with each. Still finding it with some, but the groove has given me a nice satisfaction, and I think it’s been profitable for the university too.

Sylvia was working late too, from home, so we Skype-chatted until she was done. It was a good talk, about a bunch of good stuff. Work, food, skating, vaccinations. Stuff like that. Also traded some work texts with the DO whose proposal I worked on. Sharon and I also traded a bunch of work-related texts.

Jennifer texted me a photo of a funhouse mirror she saw in a local hardware store. That was creepy but she still should have stepped up to it to see what she could see.

Bianca shared something in her FB stories with a song by the Ocean Blue as the background tune, which surprised the heck out of me. I messaged her to say I didn’t know she knew this band, and that I really loved them. She enthusiastically responded that she loved them too, and that she’d been turned on to them when she worked at Tower a million years ago. That’s right. Totally forgot she worked at Tower.

It was busy enough a day that I didn’t hear the sirens singing from the dark side, which was a relief. Spent almost no time phone-vegging.

I have a feeling I’ve written about this before, but this album by Cake always reminds me of my first year teaching. I purchased it at the Sears in Pearlridge. Spotify says it was released September 1996, which makes it a few weeks into my first year teaching, although I’m sure I didn’t buy it until later in the semester. I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on CDs that year.

In my first year of teaching, living in a tiny apartment in Kalihi, I found it to be especially good for late-night grading sessions. I put it on repeat and it was the soundtrack to a lot of good lessons about teaching, not to mention a lot of bad lessons sketched out with bleary eyes for use in the classroom later.

I still turn to it once in a while when I need to do some good writing late at night, as I’ve turned to it now, but it always, always reminds me, whenever I hear any song from it, of that first year teaching.

Aw dammit. The version I’m listening to on Spotify is the censored version. Friiiiiiiiick. Just looked, and it doesn’t even have the non-censored version. What a *&^&^%. The track I’m on now even has the E for explicit on the track listing, but there’s nothing explicit here except censorship.

I wonder why I didn’t notice it on “I Will Survive,” where they change Gloria Gaynor’s lyric to “I should have changed the f***ing lock; I should have made you leave the key.” Maybe because the censored radio edit is the first version I ever heard of this cover, so it wouldn’t have seemed strange.

Okay. Nope. I just played it again and “I Will Survive” survives with its naughty words intact.

I’m taking this as the note I should end on.

Ohhhh now go. Walk out the door. Just turn around now, ’cause you’re not welcome here anymore.

It’s not even the fourth-best song on the album. So much goodness here.

Hey. Leave a comment if you need someone to connect with. Don’t be untethered in these (hopefully) waning pandemic days. You will survive; you will survive. Just don’t try to do it alone.

Lockdown: Praying for a quick trip to no-dreamland

Wow. My sleep Saturday night was utter crap. I’m an idiot.

Got out of bed Sunday morning around eleven. Actually a couple of hours earlier but realized there was absolutely nothing keeping me from going back to bed and trying to get two or three hours with Darth Vader, which I did. That part was good but it wasn’t nearly enough.

I needed something to cram into my maw while I considered breakfast-slash-lunch options, so clementines and dried apricots kept me going through the early afternoon before I fried some leftover quinoa with Portuguese sausage, eggs, and some extra sharp cheddar. It was a good meal.

Spent most of the day in front of the computer, trying to get some writing done. I did mostly okay on personal stuff, but I also had this list of work stuff I wanted to get done sometime during the weekend. Guess when I got to to it? Yeah, after twelve Sunday night.

Before that, though, I was having a decent day, as I guess any day when you’re supposed to get some work done but totally ignore it would be.

I did more phone-vegging, kind of loathing myself as I did it, and now I am pretty sure it’s not merely avoidance behavior but the gentle tug of the dark side attempting to suck me in. I’m nowhere near the abyss, but I can hear it. So I pried myself out of the mattress and made dinner.

Cold somen noodles with Pietro’s miso dressing. Man it was delicious. Just the somen noodles by themselves (I usually don’t boil them in salted water but I did this time) were good enough to eat, and for a moment I considered it. The miso dressing is too good to leave on the counter, though. Good, simple, totally unhealthy meal.

After more avoidance behavior — but I don’t consider the daily crossword and Spelling Bee avoidance because they keep my brain sharp — at about half past midnight, I cracked my knuckles and bore down.

Wrote my one-minute writing tip and a short review of Palm Springs for the staff newsletter. Critiqued a video for one of our development officers. Wrote a first draft of one of those student profiles I’m writing. Posted a news release on the website and wrote the social media copy. Submitted it all at 5:30. It was a lot of work and I was pleased to watch the productivity unwind from my brain onto the screen in front of me.

It was satisfying, and it was a sabre held aloft, threatening, at the impinging darkness. Not today, dark side.

I could probably have gone to bed right at 5:30, but instead I had two quesadillas and just vegged. I thought some unwinding was in order. There was a Heineken Light too. I actually popped it open and took a long sip as my somen was cooking, but then I left it in the kitchen and didn’t get back to it until I made those quesadillas. It was warm but I slammed it back and it was the best warm beer I’ve ever had.

At six thirty I collapsed, praying for a mercifully quick trip to no-dreamland.

I think the only other thing I ate Sunday was half of one of those packages of Blue Diamond almonds. The smokehouse ones in like a five-inch tall, narrow package someone threw into a gift bag with my Christmas gift. Writer fuel.

I got one text from Crush Girl Sunday, a quick answer to something I asked Saturday. That was pretty much it, but as you can see it was kind of a busy day so I didn’t notice. Ohhhh I forgot to mention that Saturday I sent Ali a “hey” text just to see if we were still cool. I do not expect to hear back from her. Alas and alack.

Wasn’t in the mood for music, so most of the day and night and early early morning I played podcasts, the kind that can just play in the background without my attention and be nice and comforting, like chatter in a cafe.

Taking a little bit of vacation from work this week in order to get some mental clarity. I can’t give details until late this week, but I’ll get you caught up. Until then these recaps may be slightly vague.

Leave a comment if you need someone to connect with. Half a million people in this country have died from this fricking virus. Our nation is hurting, and even we who have remained mostly untouched by the actual disease are still fighting our own battles. Don’t fight them alone.

Lockdown: Unplanned phone-vegging

I slept okay Friday night but made myself get up earlier than I wanted. I don’t know why. I knew I wasn’t going for Hawaiian food, or more accurately I decided if I was going for Hawaiian food I didn’t have to be there right when it opened.

I had a lot of stuff on the to-do list and I think that’s what it was. Got off to a good start, too. Wrote the lockdown journal, left comments on some Friday 5 participants’ blogs, did the Saturday NYT crossword, read the news.

Made a fresh pot of quinoa and had it with canned sardines. It was good. I gave The Apple a second viewing and decided some of its badness is intentional but definitely not all of it, and part of the fun for me is deciding which stuff is intentionally bad and which is just bad-judgment bad.

I did a couple of very quick chores, then drove to Waiakamilo Drive-In for dinner. I bought two burgers and some chili cheese fries, thinking I’d save the second burger for some time later. So far I’d only had the sardines and quinoa, plus clementines and dried apricots.

It was a pretty good dinner (or late lunch) but then I had to lie down for a nap, and once I went to bed I really didn’t want to get up. I phone-vegged for hours and didn’t even enjoy most of it. Dang it. I still had writing projects to work on.

So this is how most of the evening passed. I forced myself up at just past midnight, journaled about Friday, ate the second burger, did the minimum cleanup, went back to bed with some podcasts, and basically didn’t fall asleep until after three. Ugh.

I texted Penny to give her some advice on purchasing MS Office, which led to some talk about using iTunes to back up our phones. Let Gwen know I might not be able to meet her Monday. Jennfer sent me some cool links, which I actually opened right away (except the last one), plus some photos of her apartment decor. Crush Girl texted me from doing a long errand, which led to a brief conversation. Then she texted me later to ask me a question about something I mentioned Friday. That was nice — she hasn’t recently expressed any curiosity about (or interest in) my life, and conversations have felt a little one-sided lately.

Don’t get mad. I don’t know why you would, since you don’t know the details, but I’m imagining if you did you would get mad. I texted Ali a little tentative attempt at seeing if we’re cool. I just texted, “Hey.” I do not expect to hear back, and it’s okay. I just think I’ll be more at peace with things ending if I made the last gesture of conciliation.

Because the new year tends to be a very slow time for good new music releases, I’ve spent the last few weeks replaying all the 2020 stuff so I can finalize my best-of lists. It’s been pretty fun, and it’s led to some side trips too. I adjusted some of my ratings — the Katatonia album isn’t as good as I originally rated it, which makes me sad because it was my most-anticipated album of the year; meanwhile the Kvelertak album is even better than I remembered it — and hope to have my final list by the end of February. Well, not final. But sort of final before sharing.

Got more stuff to write before the weekend’s up. Some of it will show up here.

Leave a comment if you need someone to connect with. Don’t pandemic untethered!

Lockdown: Tofu info

Sleep was not good Thursday night and I struggled Friday morning. Taco Bell breakfast helped, not to mention the Diet Pepsi with extra ice I should really stop purchasing in the drive-through since I have it in the fridge at home. It’s sooooo good from the fountain at Taco Bell for some reason.

I had a phone call with a development officer who has a couple of things for me to look at early next week. I’m on vacation for a piece of the early week but I told her to text me when she send me stuff. I’m not going anywhere; I just prefer not to be in front of my computer all day, so I’ll give her stuff my attention with no problem.

I worked on another news story for the website, this one going live right away. With news releases, you sometimes have to wait until a certain date before you go public with info. I’m glad it’s not my job to keep track of this stuff. Someone just tells me to get this ready on the web but not to publish until next Friday or whenever.

During my break I had to make a few phone calls. A couple of Thursdays ago, a member of the KS grounds crew backed his van into my car, damaging my bumper and breaking my tail light. I called my insurance company right away, who called KS’s insurance. They got back to me the next day but honestly, I wasn’t ready to deal with the situation of having to take my car to a body shop and getting an estimate, then later driving it to drop it off and walk back home because I don’t feel safe on public transportation.

So I’ve been dodging the representative’s calls and finally called back Friday. I apologized for my lack of response and asked her not to be insulted. She handled it fine and gave me some instructions and options. I’ll deal with it next week. This is one of the things I’ve been neglecting in my avoidance behavior lately and I’m glad I finally at least got the thing rolling.

I also had to call the supplier of my Darth Vader accessories. When I made my order by phone a few weeks ago, I didn’t have my flex card handy, so I asked them to use whatever card they had on file. They had an old card on file, the one I lost. My payment didn’t go through. Anyway I called back, had them delete old cards, and save my new card, and it was all taken care of quickly and mostly painlessly. Still hate making phone calls, but in this case I hated to put them in the position of having to call me back when I’m the one who screwed up.

Oh yeah I called my mom and dad too, for a little while. They’re doing well after their second shots.

After work I did a few quick chores and ordered takeout from Zippy’s. They have this new boneless fried chicken with gravy that looks good on everyone else’s IGs, so I had to check it out. While I waited, I went to Tea Time Taiwan for what I think is only my fourth or fifth boba since the lockdown began. That used to be a week’s worth of boba for me, once upon a time. Anyway that spot has this roasted oolong tea that’s really good.

I watched The Apple to its conclusion while I ate. Did some writing, listened to music, spun a few podcasts, and basically just goofed off until I finally collapsed into bed around four in the morning.

Sharon and I texted about work stuff during my work day, then it led to other conversations about other stuff through the day. She thought the photo I shared on IG of the cioppino looked really good (I’m getting a lot of offline feedback on that photo) so we talked about some places we’ve gotten takeout recently.

Crush Girl and I traded a few texts about the coming weekend.

Okay, this is what I learned about tofu when I picked up tofu from the tofu factory last week Saturday. One question I’ve had for some time: the weight difference between the firm tofu and soft tofu is one ounce. But the firm tofu comes in much larger packaging and the tofu itself seems much bigger what’s up with that?

The guy pointed out that firm tofu is processed a little more, then cut into individual portions, then packaged in the plastic carton we’re all super familiar with, with water. Soft tofu is basically soy milk when it’s poured into the plastic carton. It sets in the carton, and it’s not packaged with water, and it’s not cut from large blocks the way firm tofu is. Dang! Of course I knew this but I never paid attention to it. Soft tofu has to be handled delicately, and yeah: you basically have to invert the carton over a bowl in order to get the tofu out. So it doesn’t need as much packaging as the firm tofu.

My other question: how long after the shelf date is it really good for? I said I had two cartons in my fridge that were a week past the date. The guy said if it’s the firm tofu, you pretty much have until the date on the package. It was funny: he asked me if the tofu was “theirs.” I said of course! He said yeah, theirs does not last longer than the date. He said soft tofu, you can probably go up to a week longer, but you’d be pushing it.

Good stuff to know! And I think Aloha Tofu has a customer for life in me. It’s usually pricier than the mainland brands in the same refrigerated display case, but shoot. It’s made right in Kalihi and look at how nice they are, answering my stupid questions in the middle of their busy Saturday. Plus it’s less expensive than those mainland brands if you pick it up at the factory.

The only notable new metal release this weekend is Mӕre by Harakiri for the Sky, a post-black-metal band I got into a few years ago. It’s pretty! This is one aspect of black metal I think people don’t write enough about. Yes, it’s dark and desolate and despairing, but there’s this anguished beauty about it, like the wintry landscapes of the lands from which most of these bands come. Harakiri for the Sky comes from Austria, but I’m talking more about those Scandinavian countries where black metal really thrives.

You look at photos of these places and the scenery is scary in how empty and cold it looks, but who doesn’t think it’s also beautiful? This is what a lot of black metal is like. Goth metal gets more credit for it because it usually has very pretty female lead vocals, while black metal has these anguished, raspy shrieks and screams, but they come from a lot of the same places. I’m reminded of a lot of portions of Lamentations and Job.

Anyway I think it’s interesting I was drawn in by these post-black-metal bands years before black metal itself started to appeal.

EDIT: I just looked at three reviews and there seems to be agreement on a few things. First, the album is too long! All three mention the length and expound on the issues with long albums. Second, it’s pretty! They also mention two bands I’ve never gotten into: Alcest and Deafheaven. Ugh. I might have to give Deafheaven another chance based just on the comparisons. Their Sunbather album was huge — super popular with people who don’t otherwise care for metal, which might be why I didn’t care for it.

I know it’s a long shot, but if you’re curious just listen to this. It gets really pretty around the 3:25 mark, but it’s pretty all the way through, really.

If you need someone to connect with, smash the comments and I’ll send you some contact info. Don’t pandemic untethered!

Lockdown: Uno momento, por favor!

It’s just past noon Saturday as I get ready to write about Thursday. I just put some quinoa in the rice cooker after wasting a couple of hours thinking about getting takeout. Honestly, a bowl of hot quinoa with a tin of mackerel or sardines (I haven’t decided yet) in olive oil has much more appeal.

I’ve a ton of writing things I want to get done today, but you know how it is. You can never tell how long one of them will take, and these things are always such a mental drain, sometimes I only have the capacity for one. I remain hopeful, however.

Wednesday night I got something like six-plus hours of good sleep. What a nice surprise. Got up Thursday morning ready to work. Worked on some web stories, posted but not published as I’m standing by for photos. Had the department Zoom meeting and a phone call about my next donor profile. Shoot — add that to my list of things to do today. Gotta send that donor the email I composed.

Mid-morning, I drove to the stripmall and picked up a bag of clementines, then got some Korean takeout for breakfast-slash-lunch. I think all those Korean veggies did me some good. The battered, eggy, fried slices of beef probably didn’t, but man what a good meal.

I’ve been doing too much phone-vegging lately. I’m already too married to the thing, and this is heavy duty even for me. I don’t know what explains it except maybe it’s escapist behavior, something I set out to protect myself against when this lockdown journaling began nearly a year ago.

I confess I’m starting to feel antsy, and the unresolved antsiness is turning into blueness. Additionally, I think I’m a little bummed that Ali and I aren’t texting anymore. As stressful as that friendship often was, when it was good I really got something meaningful out of it. I won’t pretend I’m not poorer for not having her in my life this past month and a half. Or however long it’s been.

Lent began without my marking it in any way. I don’t feel like dealing with it this year, but whenever I don’t observe it, I feel like I’m missing out, which is part of the antsiness too, I think.

Worse, the escapist behavior, as it always does, comes with neglected tasks, some of which are important and which I really need to deal with.

So Thursday evening mostly passed in a haze of phone-vegging (do you like it? I wonder if I coined it) until I forced myself up and made a pot of carrot-beet soup in the Instant Pot. The rote engagement of scrubbing veggies then chopping them for the soup helped. Something about the immediacy of a knife in my right hand, a root vegetable in my left, and the percussion of the knife on the cutting board as I assemble stuff for heat-provoked transformation fixes me in the moment much better than whatever I’m doomscrolling through on Twitter.

Driving, swimming, cooking. Total in-the-moment things by necessity. Is this what I need more of in my life? I’m wondering if this is why I’ve been playing around with the idea of meditation, another in-the-moment activity by necessity.

The soup came out decent but not great. It’s missing something. I’m hoping a couple of days in the fridge and some kind of interesting garnish will wake it up, although maybe it just needs more salt and more lime juice. I haven’t prepared the beet greens yet. Maybe that’ll do it. A little blanching, some slicing, and then just stirring into the nearly neon-red soup?

Tried to put myself to bed at a decent hour but was up until three or so.

I texted Gwen to see if we could arrange a socially distanced meeting (although she got her vaccine because she works in healthcare) so she could give me the cool gift she got me. Plus, she’s had my car’s second keyfob since right after I bought Jessica (from her friend) and I should probably get that from her.

Jennifer texted me a video. Ten minutes of Japanese bullet trains rocketing through an empty train station in the snow. It’s strangely calming.

I’m listening to my 80s playlist on Spotify, and it’s Paula Abul’s “The Way That You Love Me,” a song I hated when it was a hit but which I kind of like now.

This only took me forty-five minutes to write, and I don’t feel mentally spent. A good sign. I’m going to make breakfast and get started on the next task. Somewhere on the list is writing about Friday, so there will be two lockdown journal entries today, assuming I don’t get sucked into a social media hole.

La laaaaaaa la la la laaaaaaa lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala leave a comment if you need someone to connect with in these tired tired tired tired tired pandemic days!

Friday 5: Brr!

From here.

  1. What will you remembrr about this past week?
    If last weekend counts as part of the week (and why wouldn’t it?), I’ll remember that for the first time in quite a while, I had pretty close to an ideal weekend, all things considered. There was zero socializing, of course, and no cafe time or anything, but it was such a good balance of getting stuff done, having fun, and resting that I’m hoping to do it again this weekend, taking a vacation day to make it my second three-day weekend in a row.
  2. What’s trying its best to clobbrr you these days?
    Two respondents have already said what I’m feeling. Lots of COVID fatigue. I’m not a very social person, but even I need some human interaction once in a long while. What I really miss is the anonymous social existence I thrive on: going to the movies by myself among people I don’t know (not too many, please). Reading a book with a latte in a semi-crowded cafe. Writing on my laptop in a boba joint. Even trying to focus on my work while some of my coworkers chatter in nearby cubes. But yeah, friends and family too. It’s an enormous relief that my parents are nearly two weeks past their second shots and they’re already taking advantage by getting out a little more.
  3. What’s going on in the neighbrrhood?
    Lots of infrastructure work at the main intersection near my house. It won’t get close enough to my house to bug me, but it effects nearly every excursion, including the trip I just took for Taco Bell breakfast. I actually don’t mind it much because everyone’s driving super carefully, and my trips are short enough. I also suspect the neighbors are talking about my front yard, which has become a forest of weeds taller than me. It’s a horrible eyesore, but I’m just a tenant and my landlord takes care of the yard. I hope people realize this, but I don’t think they do. I have new neighbors across the street and across the other street (I live on a corner).
  4. When were you recently required to summon some brravery?
    My job requires some brravery nearly every day. I write stuff needing other people’s approval, and I put enough of myself into it that nearly every time I seek it, I’m putting myself on the line. Within my department it’s not so bad, since we’re all doing it. I think it’s one reason our department gets along well. We have to trust each other to be honest and critical in order for our work to be its best. Passing the work along to development officers, donors, recipients, and academics is a bit daunting sometimes, especially when I assert my own writing judgment, overriding the suggestions of others. Also: getting groceries every couple of weeks. Yow.
  5. Over what will you happily labrr this weekend?
    I have a book review and two film reviews to write. Also, I’m working on this huge Spotify playlist for playing in the background while I work. I want it to be days long, to minimize repeats. It’s all songs I’m familiar with but don’t hear often so I won’t be bored. Familiarity helps so I’m not distracted by it. Not hearing the songs often helps in those lulls between tasks where I can spare a few moments to think about what I’m hearing. Anyway, I think it’s near 18 hours in duration and I’m only up to artists whose names begin with D. It’s pretty fun work.

Lockdown: Siri, how do I make better use of my time?

Decent sleep Tuesday night did not bode similar rest for Wednesday night, as I couldn’t seem to stay asleep. It was something of a struggle just to stay in bed, so eventually I got up, not well rested but hopeful for a decent nap at lunch.

Predictably, I got off to a slow start at work. I had some new info to put into an online story we already published, and it took me a while to decide how best to slip it in. I think I did okay with it, but maybe spent longer on it than I should have. I took care of some business, setting up a (hopefully short!) phone meeting. Someone emailed asking for help brainstorming titles for a new event (old event, actually, in need of a new name), an exercise I love. Takes some time, though. Had my weekly one-on-one with the supervisor (via phone), then helped a development officer with a new proposal.

The day went long, but I didn’t mind since I worked so inefficiently. I wonder sometimes if I’d be a lot better at my job if it were punctuated throughout the workday with school bells. Even when I was teaching, I had my Macbook set to announce the time every half hour. “It’s eleven thirty,” the voice would say, and it would help me stay on track.

When I had my SmartBoard, with my Macbook plugged into it, some of my classes would keep an eye on the clock and try to say it in unison with (and with the same inflections as) the computer: it’s eleven thirty. Pretty funny stuff. They never quite matched it, but I was always amused.

I have Siri set to her Indian English accent. I recommend it.

After work I resisted a nap and listened to music while I did a little bit of writing. Read some news while I ate a late dinner, tidied up a little, and went to bed shortly after midnight. I was actually ready for bed at eleven but kind of dragged my feet getting there. Fell asleep, as nearly always, with podcasts playing.

Breakfast-slash-lunch was a ridiculously generous serving of angel hair pasta with canned red sauce (with gin, garlic powder, brown sugar, olive oil), followed by yet another ridiculously generous serving of the same. Dinner was kimchi stew.

If you’ve been on needles and pins about my soft tofu, left Saturday in my automobile’s hot trunk for five hours, you can breathe now. The soft tofu (with a much later shelf date) was delicious and still fresh-tasting. You wouldn’t have guessed it had been so horribly neglected.

I had a few texts with Crush Girl about our weekends and what we’re reading. Cathy texted me to talk about writing critique. I had some work texts from Julie (about that proposal I worked on).

That’s it. I’m out. Bye. Leave a comment if you want someone to connect with. You know the drill; and if you don’t, just read the ends of the last few entries!