Friday 5: Everything but Yul Brynner

From here.

  1. How have you recently kept yourself in check?
    Uggggh. I’ve been seeing my doctor for a few issues lately. It began with a routine checkup, which led to some blood work, some encouraging numbers and some discouraging numbers, some more blood work, some mostly encouraging numbers (ruling out some bad stuff, whew), and some calm advice for adjusting the bad numbers, most of which involves my intake of two things I’m rather fond of: caffeine and carbs. So for the past two and a half weeks (excluding yesterday) I’ve really been good about checking my craving for caffeine. I’ve mentioned in this space a few times that I’ve never had a problem going cold turkey on caffeine — no withdrawal or DTs or anything — but it does make me quite happy when I consume it. Alas. I’ve also replaced most carby sides with greens. I love me some broccoli, arugula, and kale, but they do not please me quite the way noodles, rolls, or RICE do. I’m half Japanese. We are practically religious about rice. But you know. My doctor says for the most part we are fine-tuning, and that’s the kind of encouragement I need. Life’s a pain but I’d like to stick around for as long as I possibly can. There are too many things on the Cheesecake Factory* menu I haven’t tried yet.
  2. What’s the closest thing to a castle you’ve been in?
    Structure-wise, there probably isn’t anything remotely like a castle in my experience, having spent my whole life either in the middle of the Pacific Ocean or on the West Coast of the United States. But this lovely island state used to be an island nation, and it had an elected, constitutional monarchy, and the monarchy resided in a palace, which I have visited more times than I honestly cared to, most times chaperoning ninth-graders on field trips. Iolani Palace is a huge part of our history here and while it’s no castle, I imagine castles as the abodes of royalty, as are palaces. It’s a lovely building with a lovely history, and if you visit Hawaii you really should check it out.

    Oh wait a minute. Castle Park. A water park (believe it or not) in Honolulu in the 80s and 90s. You entered through a large castle-like building, which was the very cool arcade where my friends and I wasted a lot of money before high school football games (the stadium was across the street). Game tokens there were called Coins of the Realm. It’s since long gone, filled in, and replaced by a K-Mart. Which has been since replaced by who knows what?
  3. What were the circumstances the last time you were hoarse?
    Wow. It’s been a very long time, I think. I was sick with a very bad cold about fifteen years ago, during which I went hoarse for a few days. I missed two weeks of teaching, and it was the time when I kind of ghosted Mochi Girl, something I’m not proud of. We were headed that way anyway; the long illness just hastened things. She wanted to offer me some comfort and care. I wanted to be left alone. At least we agreed on one thing: I was not worth her concern!
  4. What’s your favorite song by Queen?
    I hate to admit this these days because the song’s a bit problematic, but it’s probably still “Fat Bottomed Girls,” ‘though in recent years I feel “Somebody to Love” and “I Want to Break Free” inching their way past it.
  5. For what will you likely pay a king’s ransom in the near future?
    Well I’ve already gone a bit overboard on some Christmas gifts (I’m trying to get my shopping done before the first of December), and when I’m Christmas shopping, I make a supreme effort not to buy things for myself. Once I get the gifts paid for, I need a new refrigerator and I need some work on my car. I’m also ordering new glasses by the end of the year, and the last two pairs I bought were more than $400 each. I can’t imagine I’ll spend less this time around. That really does seem a bit much.

* I use this establishment’s menu as a metaphor. I’ve only dined there twice, and while I liked it quite a bit, it’s in a part of town I just don’t care to drive through. Plus the line is crazy.

The curse of the second hand

NaNoWriMo is kicking my butt, but I’m still plugging away. I’ve actually been more productive in week two than I was in week one, which is a little strange. The real test, as it always is, will be week three.

I made the Instant Pot yogurt I’ve been planning to try since very early in the lockdown. I don’t remember why I didn’t do it when I mean to, but I’ve done it now. Came out great. I can’t believe how easy it was. I used to eat yogurt every day, and now I can see myself doing it again since it’ll cost so much less if I make it myself. Yee-ha.

Too tired to write. I’ll pick this up Sunday morning.

So we nod over coffee and say goodbye
Bolt the door it’s time to go
Into the car with the radio on
Roll down the window and blow the horn

Ain’t that the curse of the second hand
Ain’t that the way of the hour and the day

Transitioning back to the office has been a challenge. Once I’m there, it’s pretty good. I focus better in my dark cubicle. I like seeing my coworkers. I do better in in-person meetings, which I still dislike, but at least I can engage, read the energy in the room, and pay better attention.

The biggest snag is the time issue. I joked all the time about waking up at 9:00 to be at my desk working at 9:15, but there’s a lot to that. I got used to working a certain way in my living room, and I can’t just switch back to how it was two years ago. I have to pack up my personal laptop and all the things that make my setup my setup: my mechanical keyboard and wireless mouse (which I was already toting to and from the office before the lockdown), my four-port USB hub with my USB-C, lightning cable, micro USB, and wireless mouse dongle. The mouse is Bluetooth capable, but it just works better this way. I’ve found it’s easier to just bring the entire hub with me back and without unplugging anything, so I don’t leave anything out.

Then there are my wireless headphones, my Bluetooth external speaker, my iPad, and my Kindle. Oh, and my company laptop. Most days I don’t need all this, but I’m so used to having it according to my moods and tasks that I’m not ready to deviate. It all packs in my eBags laptop backpack, everything in its assigned space, so as long as I don’t deviate from routine, I don’t forget anything.

For a while I was also lugging an iPad stand (I prefer to Zoom on my iPad as a first choice and my phone as a second choice), but that got ridiculous since it didn’t fit in the backpack, so I just bought one to keep at the office. Which I suppose is what I will do for most of the other stuff, piece by piece. Some of that stuff is pricey.

I picked up the iPad partially so I could leave my personal laptop at home most days. Still working on a system I like for making sure whatever I work on at home is available at the office. Yes, we have cloud storage but for some reason I’m finding it easier to email myself any in-progress work. Which is also cloud storage.

I picture myself most days, perhaps by next summer, just hauling my iPad and Kindle, perhaps in a messenger bag. Oh, and probably a gigantic water flask, as I’m also trying to figure out a system for having plenty of ice-cold water. We had an ice machine (a nice machine) in the breakroom that made good ice, but it’s broken and they’re not planning to repair it. The freezer in the breakroom that used to make things cold very quickly no longer does it for some reason! So frustrating.

This long, uninteresting breakdown of my process illustrates my point well, because it’s just one aspect of returning to the office. There are other things, like being able during the workday at home to prep dinner. Or to wash dishes or tidy the kitchen. All these domestic things I could incorporate into my workday that now wait until I get home from the office, at which time I’m too spent to do it.

I don’t have the mental bandwidth to prepare a lunch either, which I knew would be the case as soon as they called us back to King Street. Resigned myself immediately to dining out for lunch every day until I get back into some kind of groove. I actually don’t mind it, most of the time, since the lunch options are good around the office, but geez it adds up.

The commute’s not really a problem, since it’s a short, unstressful drive both ways most of the time. It’s actually making it easier for me to get to the beach regularly. It’s just the time. Forty minutes or so (totaling both trips) I could be doing something else, like sleeping.

I’m mildly surprised I haven’t gotten takeout for dinner more than a couple of times. I’m just so tired I want to get home. Plus, since it’s NaNo, I have to be ready for the nightly Skype sessions at 9, which means getting certain things done ahead of time, if I want to get to bed at a decent hour.

Meanwhile, I have a few health things to work on. I’ll save that for a separate post.

Friday 5: November rain

So much to write about but no energy. It’s been a crazy first week of November, which is the first week of NaNoWriMo and the first week of working in the office with everyone at the nonprofit. We’re all a bit stressed in the transition.

Friday 5 instead.

When you buy tickets to a Guns N’ Roses show, you never know what you’re getting. So much depends on Axl’s mood. When he wants to do a good show, he does a great show, and when GNR played Honolulu three years ago he and the band clearly wanted to. They played nearly three and a half hours and it was just a really good performance from beginning to end. They looked like they were having a great time, too, for the last performance on this leg of their long tour.

They were very careful on stage about their future together. It sounded like Slash and Axl weren’t making promises, but they were feeling good about things, and they would see what happens. Yeah, they said all this after the last encore, which is a little weird for stage banter. They were clearly adrenalized from a great show in front of a most appreciative audience.

It was a pricy ticket, but I seriously doubt anyone thought he or she didn’t get his or her money’s worth. Even though the band didn’t play two songs I wanted to hear. Yeah, it’s possible for a band with only six studio albums, playing from only four of them, to leave some really good songs out of the set list!

  1. What unique behavior, attire, or ceremony element have you seen at a wedding?
    I’ve seen some appalling behavior, but I’m going to stay positive here and say I thought it was poetic and pretty cool when Tash and Dave took communion together, privately with their backs turned to the congregation, for their first act as a married couple. I also liked when Arjay taped Tara’s garter to a basketball (they met in a gym playing basketball) before tossing it over his shoulder like it was a no-look pass.
  2. Who’s your favorite piano player?
    So many to choose from, and although I have favorite players of just about every other rock band instrument, I don’t know if I have one for piano. Rick Wakeman (of Yes) is the first I think of, but I think I only like him in the context of Yes. Bruce Hornsby. Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater. There have been days when R was the easy answer. Sorry; I might have to come back to this one.
  3. When did rain notably ruin your plans?
    It does this all the time when I have plans to swim at the beach. I don’t mind swimming in the rain; I mind swimming after the rain. When the island is saturated or when the rain comes down too quickly for the ground to absorb it, it runs right into the sea, and you do not want to swim in that yuckiness. Very often I will go to bed early so I can have a sunrise swim, only to discover it has poured like demons all night long. It’s most disappointing.
  4. What is your going-to-bed ritual like?
    I actually have one, now that I’m of a certain age with certain conditions needing attention. Assuming I’ve locked up the house, done the dishes, and brushed my teeth by the time I’m ready to turn in, I put some ice and drinking water into a small water flask Grace gave me for Christmas, so if I wake up thirsty I have water right by my bed. It’s the only food or drink allowed in my bedroom, ever. Then I set timers for two prescription eyedrops, which I have to lie still for, for four minutes each with six minutes in between. Those times are actually longer than necessary, but I like to play it safe. Then I pour distilled water into my Darth Vader machine, strap it to my face, drop my sleeping mask over my eyes, and lie flat on my back, where on a good night I will stay for six to seven hours, but usually only for four or five.
  5. When did you last give roses to someone or receive them from someone?
    I used to give roses to people all the time but I’m only realizing now that it’s been a very long time. I gave sunflowers to all the office support staff on the first day of school when I was teaching, once. Anonymously. That was fun. Okay, this is a lame answer, but I often pick up leis for people at Cindy’s Lei Shop, the best lei shop in Honolulu, volunteering to grab something on the way to work on behalf of coworkers who will Venmo me part of the price. I did this yesterday morning, in fact, for a coworker who’s leaving. While I can’t remember specifically buying anyone a lei with rosebuds on it, I’m sure I have some time in the past five years, so that’s going to have to do. I’m a single guy who’s romantically not seeing or courting anyone. Roses are too risky. Don’t want to be misread. When I was younger and didn’t mind being misread and when my intentions were blatant anyway, I bought lots of roses for lots of lovely young women. I thought I was being charming or something. Now I think I was being a doofus.