Lockdown: Rabbit don’t come easy

If a show doesn’t do it for you, it just doesn’t. I get it. But man, I wish I could make people click with some shows just so they can get to the really, really good episodes.

A couple episodes in Forever with Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen are great examples. If you were to just watch the episodes as stand-alones, it wouldn’t work. You really wouldn’t be seeing the show, and this is one thing TV (or TV-like stuff) has that movies don’t. The payoff after the long build-up, when you didn’t know there was a build-up. It’s like getting punched in the gut while you’re protecting your face.

An episode in season one of Mythic Quest did it to me too, although this great episode didn’t make me wish I could make everyone watch the series. But then *pow* two episodes in season two hit you even lower than the gut. Amazing.

So yeah I can’t make you watch it, but if you have Apple TV+ you really should at least check it out. Season two ends with the next episode, much to my heartbreak, but at least the new Ted Lasso season is coming up at the end of July. Yeah, I already renewed my subscription for another year. My free year ends July 5.

Sometime this week (I can’t remember when; time is meaningless to me anymore) I watched the first episode of The Leftovers. Have you heard of it? It’s dark as frick. In the twinkle of an eye, two percent of the world’s population disappears. Just vanishes. The series seems to be about what happens in the aftermath. And let me tell you: so far, there’s not a lot of light on this planet. People are broken, lost, hurting, and not their best selves. Yikes. And of course a religious cult pops up, adding weirdness and more darkness.

I have to say the first episode does not make me want to watch the second. If not for its being adored by critics I admire, I wouldn’t stick with it, but I might as well see a few episodes more.

In other news I’m sure you don’t care about, Helloween released a new album, its sixteenth studio album and its first self-titled. Which is kind of cool because all three of the lead vocalists in the band’s history sing on this album, together. Not just a song or two, but like most of the album. So the only album probably better suited for a self-title would be one where everyone who’s ever played in the band plays on the whole album, which would be crazy and amazing.

I’m not recommending it. If you think power metal is silly and laughable, which it is, you’ll find this album doubly so. If you think power metal is majestic, grand, soothing, and fun, which it also is, you probably already know whether or not you want to check it out. I’m spinning it now for like the fifth time and enjoying the heck out of it.

I actually did a bit of decluttering, returning to this enormous task after too many weeks off. It made me feel great, and I tossed a bunch of stuff. I wish I could make myself do it on the weekend instead of Monday evening, when it causes me to push several other things back, leaving me to turn in far too late. I need to keep trying. Failing that (again and again), doing it Monday evening at least gets it done and makes me feel good, if also sleep-deprived and miserable.

Weighing myself after weeks 2 and 3 showed me how these things fluctuate. I’m still down from week 0 but I’m up from week 1, and slightly down from week from 2. So yeah, a more concerted effort is definitely called for. I hit the beach Saturday and Tuesday, and I’m going again Thursday. I’ve done slightly less walking this week because I’ve been a little down, not to mention more sleep-deprived than usual, thanks to a couple of deadlines I recently took all night to meet.

Now that lockdown is nearly done, I’m seeing Crush Girl more often in our familiar context. While I still wish we were spending time together in other contexts, like the favor I did for her a few weeks ago, I’ll take this. We seem to be communicating more easily, with more familiar comfort. It makes just being friends a bit easier on my cold, battered, icy heart, but it also makes it a little more melty. I’ll take it.

I’m seventy percent of the way through Jakob Guanzon’s Abundance. I’ve slowed down because I haven’t been walking as many evenings as I was. Still pretty dang compelling.

It’s 9:30. I’m getting ready for bed. It’s been that kind of week.

* The title of this entry is the title of a Helloween album. It has nothing to do with anything I’ve written except that. What a ridiculous name for an album.

Friday 5: Heights

From here.

  1. What’s the best non-animated movie musical you’ve seen in the past several years?
    I realized several years ago that I was unlikely to be fond of any non-animated movie musical I didn’t already like. All the stuff I find bizarre and uninteresting about a movie musical is true of my faves (The Music Man, Little Shop of Horrors) but the old favorites are too much a part of my movie-lover identity. The same stuff in new (and new-to-me) films is just kind of unwatchable. But then there were La-La Land, which I liked, and The Greatest Showman, which I loved and which I purchased on Blu-Ray, and maybe there’s hope. I saw In the Heights Thursday night in a theater and enjoyed the heck out of it. So yeah. The Greatest Showman is my answer.
  2. How are you most likely to pass the time during a lengthy blackout?
    I’m realizing we did this question some time not too long ago. Dang it. The answer used to be playing my guitar and singing songs, but these days it’s pen-and-paper crossword puzzles. I don’t like going to sleep at night with no power, but if the blackout is during daylight hours, I’ll most likely grab sleep in anticipation of being up all night. I have enough backup juice for my phone, Kindle, and other toys, but if I’m feeling restless I might drive around my neighborhood and charge things there, staying away from traffic lights and important streets to keep them clear for emergency vehicles.
  3. When were you last in a swimming pool?
    It’s been a looooong time, like more than half my life ago. When I was a kid, I practically lived in pools during the summer. Our summer rec program took us to Waipahu pool every Tuesday and Thursday, all day. In intermediate and high school, my scoutmaster took the whole troop to Pearl City pool on meeting nights instead of having our regular meetings. He believed fervently that if you live on an island, you should be a good swimmer, so we spent a ton of time in the water, most of it unstructured. The guys in my patrol destroyed a summer camp record in the relay race, ‘though we finished with the second-best time: the other patrol in our troop destroyed the record by a few seconds more than we did. But in my post-college years, pools have been less available and less attractive. I’m mobile enough that a beach is as accessible as a pool, and I’d much rather swim in the ocean. So I think the last time I was in a pool was 29 years ago during a weeklong summer mission trip to Molokai. I wasn’t sure I wanted to get in the water, but the girls on our trip got in, and I wasn’t going to miss that.
  4. What do you remember fondly about the neighborhood where you grew up?
    I grew up in Waipahu, a historic town playing a huge part in my state’s cultural history. It was the heart of the island’s sugar industry, which means it was the heart of immigration from Japan, Korea, China, the Philippines, and Portugal. By the time my family moved there (my second grade year), we were on third generations of most of these cultures, and my neighborhood was going through ethnic changes. By the time my family moved away (end of my tenth-grade year), it was more known for its first-gen Filipino population, and sections were booming in Vietnamese immigrants. This was all critical in developing my extremely liberal ideas about immigration in this state and in this country. Throw the doors wide open, I say.
  5. What language did you study in school, and what’s something you remember how to say?
    I studied Japanese after school in fourth and fifth grades, then for three years in high school, and then for another few semesters in college. My mom is from Japan, so there’s a lot I still remember. たべましょう! Let’s eat! おてあらいに いっても いいですか? May I go to the bathroom?

Friday 5: Mental health again

From here.

  1. What’s the best thing you’ve done for yourself in recent days?
    Three times in the ocean in the past ten days. It was especially good Thursday morning before work. It’s light enough by 5:30 in the morning to jump in, but I’ve been doing it closer to 6:30, but even after nearly an hour in the water, there’s enough time to grab breakfast before heading to the office. It’s wonderful. Now if my favorite breakfast spots in town would just open for dining in!
  2. What have you to overcome in the coming days?
    A small mountain of of personal writing I’ve piled up. It’s been on my list each weekend for the past few months but THIS weekend for sure! I’m going to set an easy goal. Structure for success, I always say.
  3. What’s growing inside you?
    A weird uneasy feeling about returning to the office full-time by August, as is the plan. I can’t identify the source. Being in the office once or twice a week lately has been fine except for the extreme difficulty getting to sleep the nights before. Maybe I’ve just gotten too used to working at home, where I am extremely comfortable. Maybe I’m a little worried about leaving the house unattended for such long periods every day. I’ve had some problems with break-ins, and several times in the past year or so, people have come into my carport to mess around. I don’t know. I’ve taken to saying a short prayer every time I leave the house and then whispering thanks to God when I get home for protecting my space. I’m not saying my house is protected by prayer; and I can’t say I’m not doing it more for inner peace than as entreaty to the deity. But I can’t say the opposites either.
  4. What has lately been your escape?
    I’m not proud of it, but I’ve been retreating to bed a little too much lately. When I don’t want to deal with the unpleasant realities of things, I’ve just gone to bed. Being super sleep-deprived these past few weeks is a contributing factor to stress and escape, so I think I can be excused, but this isn’t the healthiest way to deal with stuff. I’ve also taken more comfort from very cold bottles of Diet Pepsi than usual. That’s also not healthy but it’s a healthier escape than other options!
  5. What amazing thing have you recently crammed into your maw?
    A popular Korean spot right across the street from the office has moved to Kapahulu Ave, probably a better location for it. A new Indian restaurant has moved in, and people in the office have been raving. One coworker has been there four or five times. Thursday I was invited to come along, and it was heavenly. We had chicken momos, samosas, rice, butter chicken, chicken tikka masala, lamb korma, cheese naan, and regular naan (there were five of us). I added a sweet lassi, and we all loved the meal. I don’t think I understand $2.99 for raita, which I encouraged us to get, but I’m looking the other way because I didn’t pick up the check and because I’m totally here for good Indian food in a casual setting. Can’t wait to go back!

Lockdown: Measuring out my life in coffee spoons

(I’m almost certain I’ve used this title fairly recently but whatever)

I’ll make this a fast one since it’s rather late at night. Just needed to get the fingers working a little before I turn in.

I bought that bathroom scale primarily because I needed to know my weight for a very specific purpose and I couldn’t for the life of me think of somewhere I could just get on a scale.

Secondarily, I really do need to drop some weight. Pandemic pounds and then some. I thought a couple of weeks ago that quantifying my steps these past many years has really helped. I try not to be a slave to the numbers, and often remind myself on days when I’m really not feeling it that it’s okay to cut short one of my walks. Yet the constant awareness of these numbers gives me something against which to measure myself. Like, if I find myself on consecutive days not feeling it, what’s going on in my body and mind?

Ideally, I think it’s best just to make the lifestyle change so that I’m not worried about numbers. I’m mostly there with swimming: I do it more for mental health than physical health and would keep doing it with no quantification. However, I do check my time in the water every time, just to see what I did. I can tell you how many buoys I swam on any given morning. And I still count strokes.

Not like I used to, when I was first getting back into swimming condition a long time ago. Now I count strokes when I’m swimming the Australian crawl (“freestyle”) because it helps me keep track of how tired I am against my own norms. And on mornings when I want to push myself, I can check my weariness against the number of strokes and set new goals. These things help if I want to get better and stronger, which I do.

I weighed myself last Tuesday, then didn’t step on the scale again all week. I wanted to have a normal week without thinking about my weight beyond however much I already do.

And yesterday morning I stepped on it again, seven days later, and I was down four pounds.

Progress, or just a standard ebb and flow based on my varying diet and exercise? Impossible to say with such a small sample size. So I’m going another week with the same approach.

I’m tired as heck lately. Sleep has been a huge problem these past several weeks, especially the nights before my days in the office. I’m dragging aaaaaalll the time these days, but especially office days. I’m getting slightly concerned.

And this week’s been especially rough. Seems I’ve got ten times my usual number of meetings. One of them was at 8:00 and was followed by another at 9:00. It was my beach morning, too, so I had to nix my morning swim, which of course gets the day off to a bad start.

It’s all bringing me down. I’m not having a good emotional health week, which is my main reason for typing these words this morning instead of trying to get some sleep. It helps. I’m feeling clearer-minded already, so I’m off to bed. Perchance to sleep.

Won’t be for long, anyway. I have a meeting at 9.

Friday 5: I’m so unusual!

It’s easy to think of Cyndi Lauper only in context. The wild hair, crazy wardrobe, unique vocal inflections, and strange association with professional wrestling all combined with the explosion in popularity of music videos to set her up as a true creation of MTV, although it could as easily be said Cyndi made MTV as much as MTV made Cyndi.

This is all true, but it doesn’t change that she was supremely talented, a songwriter and vocalist truly unlike anyone else of her time, or anyone since. She may have lost her knack for writing sticky songs, as her later material was competent but unmemorable, not to mention sometimes cheesy.

But she can still sing.

From here.

  1. When did you most recently have a change of heart?
    I don’t want to get into too much detail, but I had one of those periodic, professional identity crises. My employer created a new position in our department, and I never thought for a second about applying for it until a handful of coworkers suggested I really should. There are undoubtedly aspects of the work I’d have to learn as I went, but there are parts of it I could do well, and a couple of the coworkers said I would do them well enough to make their jobs easier, which is one of the nicest things your colleagues can say, especially when they’re in other departments. It didn’t help that I was really struggling with this one story I was working on, and the best time to get a writer thinking about changing paths is when he’s struggling with a writing assignment. I went pretty dark for a few days. Then at the end of one work day I just remembered I like what I do, and while I won’t rule out trying for positions like this some other time, for now I’m doing what’s right for me. And while I’ve not had my best year doing it because, you know, this pandemic, I think I’m pretty good at it and I’m still finding ways I can be better.
  2. In the coming months, what’s most likely to keep you up all through the night?
    I’m having so much trouble with sleep lately it can be literally anything that keeps me up through the night. One night last week I stayed up all night watching season one of Mythic Quest, which I’ve already watched three times through. Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?
  3. When you gonna live your life right?
    Sunday night I bought a bathroom scale for the first time in my life. Tuesday morning I stepped on it. Let’s get this thing started, shall we?
  4. Do you wanna go out with a lion’s roar?
    You know I always heard this lyric as a question about going out with friends or something. But isolated like this it seems it’s about going out like dying. If it’s the latter, my answer is no. I want to go out meekly and quietly, trying my darndest to hang onto life. If it’s the former, then still no, but maybe with a lion’s confidence. I went to freaking Zippy’s the other night, dined in the restaurant by myself while reading a book, and enjoyed the heck out of simply dining out at a long-time hangout. Thursday I went to my ophthalmologist after skipping my appointment with her last year. I’m not roaring, but I’m getting close to strutting. Lions strut, right?
  5. When did you recently decide something wasn’t perfect but was good enough?
    Well. I wrote these five questions and didn’t love them, but I thought they’d be good enough at least for me, which of course dictated that I then answer them, which I don’t always do.

They say I better get a chaperone
Because I can’t stop messin’ with the danger zone

I won’t worry and I won’t fret
Ain’t no law against it yet!

Okay yeah, it’s a crude subject, but it’s a woman singing about it, which makes it kind of awesome, and these lyrics are just great. Although I think Cyndi was wrong — there were a lot of places where it was illegal. I think there are fewer now.

Lockdown: Catching up

Back in a Honolulu groove

A couple of Thursdays ago, I met some coworkers after work at a brewery a block from the office. It opened May 1 and it’s too convenient to ignore. I envision a lot of pau hana get-togethers. For me alone, if not for me and my officemates.

There were seven of us, including our new assistant controller whom I just met that day and invited to join us. I was the oldest person at the table by 12 years but whatever. Everyone my age has people waiting at home. Sylvia and Sharon were there, probably my two best friends at work, and they were my coplanners.

My first social gathering. My first time in a restaurant with anyone other than just me. It’s not a restaurant but it equates. It was fine. We’re all vaccinated. We wore masks when we weren’t consuming. I found myself not at all stressed.

It was a good warmup for the following Tuesday: my first day back in the office during regular hours. This was less fine. I had an upset stomach most of the day, and I’m not ruling out stress. Still, it was super nice to see people, and we caught up, and I could tell my coworkers were as happy to see me as I was to see them.

I wasn’t nearly as productive as I’d have liked, because I got only two and a half hours of sleep the night before. I used my lunch break for napping in my car.

Steppin’ out

The weekend walks around Keehi Lagoon, at about 6,000 steps, weren’t killing my knee. I still felt it but I wasn’t waking up crying as I did that night last summer. So now I’m going 7,000 steps about five nights a week and my knee feels about the same.

It’s better than nothing. It’s far, far better than nothing: the fresh air, diminishing sunshine, and quiet reading time are good for my heart and brain, and while the benefits to my body are probably questionable, 7,000 steps is better than zero steps, so for now I’ll take it.

It’s gotten to be such a part of my day that a couple of times when circumstances wouldn’t get me out the door early enough ahead of sunset, I went anyway and perambulated the park at night.

They’re closing Keehi Lagoon at seven in the evening, which is cruel in these early summer days, as there’s still a good chunk of daylight left. So more frequently, I’m doing Makiki Park. It’s a much shorter circumference and there are a lot more people, but it works. The park’s lawn is easy on my footsteps, my car is pretty safe, and “one more lap” is easier to make happen. Also easier to turn into another “one more lap.”

My books and my poetry to protect me

Stuff I’ve read while moving my body (including titles I’ve already mentioned): The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. A Pho Love Story by Loan Le. NBA Jam by Reyan Ali. The Time Machine Did It by John Swartzwelder. From Little Tokyo, With Love by Sarah Kuhn.

Oh, I also volunteered to beta-read my friend Stella’s novel-in-progress. It’s a good first draft and took about a week’s worth of evening walks for completion.

I started The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner last night. It’s super compelling and very interesting. Probably, strictly looking at the quality of narrative prose, better than anything else I’ve listed. I’m enjoying the heck out of it.

I’ve got my orange crush

In fifteen months, I saw Crush Girl exactly twice. Once to give her something (at her request) and once to do her a quick favor. A few weeks ago, I meant to write something about how I’m over her, pleased no longer to be swooning and instead to be enjoying what’s becoming (ever so slowly) a nice friendship.

But in the past two weeks, I’ve spent some quality time with her, and it’s coming back. Definitely not with the heart-stabbing sadness that once kept me awake at night, but with gentle aortic squeezes when she says my name. I can live with this kind of unrequited affection. And probably will for some time until I get over her. Again.