New year’s eve eve

Just a quick one this evening since there wasn’t much to this day and because I’d like to get to bed before 2:00. It’s two minutes to 1:00 now.

The foundation gave us a day off for the holidays. It’s our annual Christmas gift. We could take either the full day before Christmas Eve off or the full day before New Year’s Eve. Alternately, we could take half the day before Christmas Eve and half the day before New Year’s Eve. I took the third option.

So I didn’t set my alarm Thursday morning and still got up at a decent hour — it was like 10:30. I lazed for an hour before getting up and doing normal morning things, just a lot more slowly.

I put myself on task a little early, which was fine, and submitted a first draft of that proposal. Then mostly did organizing stuff because who was I kidding? I was most unlikely to get any real writing done on my other projects.

Shortly before sundown, I cleaned out my car. I actually didn’t have much to do since I’ve been trying to keep the passenger areas tidy these days. The car seems to run better when it’s not full of junk. Also, I had occasion to drive Excrush Girl a couple of places some time ago, and of course I cleaned it up beforehand. Keeping it tidy nowadays usually just takes a few minutes once a week.

Then I bleached out my water jugs, hit the Times Supermarket for a few groceries, and refilled my drinking water at the School Street Foodland.

That was pretty much my day.

Breakfast was overnight oats. Lunch was a couple of lazy quesadillas. Dinner was two stir-fried crowns of broccoli drizzled with Maui Chili Chili Oil. I snacked on pistachios, some fried pork rinds, and a few olives.

I didn’t get out for a walk. It rained like crazy this afternoon and into the late evening. There were flash flood warnings and brownwater alerts.

The writing partner texted me to ask if I’ve yet thought about resolutions. I hadn’t, and neither had she. We both usually give ourselves until the end of January, but this year I don’t think I’ll wait that long. It’s a long weekend and I won’t have my wheels since I’m taking them for repairs Friday. Plenty of good reflection time.

Texted Grace to see if I could drop something off for her on my way to refilling my water (she lives across the street from the Foodland) but she didn’t get back to me. Texted Excrush Girl to say one of her friends knows one of my friends. I didn’t really expect a reply to that one — there’s not much to say, I guess. Just an interesting fact I thought I would share.

Tried to listen to music today but the proposal required a bit more concentration than these usually take, so I didn’t listen to anything until I was done with work, when I put on some of the podcasts I’m behind on.

We had 3400 new COVID cases today. Are you kidding me?

Knee-deep in the hoopla

In that small window between COVID spikes, I saw my doctor a few times for a few issues. I finally spoke to her about my bad knees.

She gave them a quick examination and ordered some x-rays, which didn’t seem to reveal any damage. Strangely, and I can’t remember the details, the x-rays showed that my right knee was in worse shape than my left, but my left is the one that really bothers me.

The last time we spoke, she ordered me some knee braces and suggested I might have arthritis. This actually came as something of a relief to me, although I suppose arthritis is chronic. At least this is a manageable condition, something I can deal with. If she’d told me my ligaments were shredded or I was walking around with no cartilage, I guess we’d be talking about surgery. I think (but am not sure) that the pain is just pain, and it’s not indicative that my knees will give out on me one day while taking stairs. With arthritis, it’s about managing pain, rather than repairing damage. I think.

I got neoprene braces for both knees and a topical painkiller in case the aches get as bad as they were a year ago, waking me up in tears. So far they haven’t, but I haven’t done a lot of walking in the month and a half since my visit.

Since I haven’t been to the beach in a couple of weeks — we’ve had rain almost every night, and this week is the monthly jellyfish influx — and since I’m in sort-of lockdown again, tonight was the night to get back out there.

I went without the knee braces because I wanted to test the knees out. Weirdly, although they were especially achy this morning, they seemed fine this evening. I only went 10K steps in a couple of hours. Ten thousand has sorta been my ceiling lately since I’ve been trying to avoid pain.

It was kind of scary at first, not because of the knees but because Kalihi and Nuuanu at night can be scary. I slowly got past the spooky feeling, but maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe I’ve been a little foolhardy in my late-night roamings.

It was good podcasting catch-up time. I got back to the house at 1:30 in the morning and felt pretty good, and my knees aren’t even twitching, which pleases me enormously.

Work was mellow and kind of engrossing. Working on a proposal for a named chair, without most of the kinds of details I’m used to getting. I like the challenge. Also had my weekly check-in with my supervisor, via phone.

Breakfast was overnight oats. You know, I used to get whatever rolled oats were cheapest, which usually meant the store brand wherever I was. Since I jumped back on the overnight oats train, I’ve had the major name-brand (you know which one) and right after, the store brand, and there is definitely a difference. The store brand is mushier, like the oats are thinner somehow. They’re fine, but they aren’t quite as good. This may change my approach in the supermarket aisle.

Lunch was a couple of quesadillas. Dinner was a teri chicken egg salad sandwich at 7-Eleven at the midpoint of my walk. During the day I snacked on fried pork rinds, pistachios, and a few bites of the cold pot roast. Definitely not my healthiest day, despite the 10K steps.

I got a text from Alison, a former coworker, about Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, a novel I’ve heard about all over the place this past year. Guess I need to add it to my list. I did some MS Teams chatting with a couple of coworkers about Klara and the Sun — one of the participants has finished the book.

I spun that James McMurtry album a few more times Wednesday, ‘though most of my listening was podcasts again. Still trying to catch up on a few.

If I can get myself to bed in the next nine minutes, I’ll be asleep before four in the morning. This would be progress. Here I go.

Washed down to gravel and stones

The shift back to working from home hasn’t been easy. I can’t decide if this surprises me or if it doesn’t.

Some of it’s predictable, including the unintended shift to vampire hours. I had to drive to the office early Monday morning to get my work laptop. Combined with my weekly difficulty putting myself to bed Sunday night, I got about two hours of sleep before the alarm went off at 5:30. On my way back I picked up a few groceries (okay, it was mostly caffeine-free Diet Pepsi but also fresh veggies and a chuck roast), so I didn’t get to back to bed until around 7:00, leaving me another two hours before I had to get up for work.

It was the first domino in what might be a week’s worth of sleep-deprivation dominoes. We’ll see, I guess, but since it’s quarter to five now Wednesday morning, I think we can see where this goes. I’m off for half the day Thursday and off all day Friday, so I kind of think I’ve already resigned myself to being miserably sleep-deprived for another day. Not a conscious decision; I swear.

Monday I was in such bad shape I asked for a half day’s vacation. I’d have preferred to take the whole day, but I had mailouts for two community colleges to edit and schedule. Tuesday I was just kind of wasted all day. Managed to work on a few tasks, but you can imagine I wasn’t very efficient. Bleah.

Monday night I felt kind of terrible, so after a longish nap I cooked that roast in the Instant Pot and watched the Seth Meyers standup special on Netflix. It did the job better than I predicted. It’s quite funny, and one of the few comedy specials on the service where every joke landed. The pot roast was good, but since I’m mostly off rice and potatoes, it wasn’t as good as it should have been.

Tuesday evening I watched the first half of Don’t Look Up, on the recommendation first of my boss. What a cast, and what sharp writing. I’ve been following Adam McKay since The Big Short, and he’s a consultant for Meadowlark Media now, the production company that cranks out at least half my podcast listening. I think he’s brilliant.

I actually got on the phone and made an appointment to take Jessica in for a few repairs. It felt good to get just that much done. Car stuff stresses me out, so it’ll be nice to take care of this one thing. I have a few more car issues to attend to once these repairs are made, but I feel like I’ve got things in motion, finally.

Breakfast Monday was overnight oats. Lunch was granola and yogurt with raw honey. Dinner was the pot roast. I snacked on potato chips — too many for sure — and olives. I never cared much for olives until recently, when I decided they’d be a decent low-carb snack. I have four varieties in my fridge right now.

I forgot to put overnight oats in the fridge Monday night, so Tuesday breakfast was granola and yogurt with raw honey. Lunch was overnight oats. Dinner was takeout from Panda Express: mushroom chicken and black pepper Angus steak with supergreens. I snacked on pistachios.

Texted a little with Allison, a newish coworker. Also with Excrush Girl (I’m still not feeling the EX part of that but I’m going to keep trying for a while at least).

Monday and Tuesday I mostly listened to podcasts. I fell three or four weeks behind on the Dan Le Batard Show and spent most of the weekend and the early part of this week trying to catch up. Still working on it.

Right now I’m spinning the 2021 James McMurtry album, The Horses and the Hounds. It’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect, but probably a little better.

My fields are empty now
My ground won’t take the plow
It’s washed down to gravel and stones
It’s only good for burying bones

He’s the son of Larry McMurtry, and this album makes me think of the elder. I wrote about this last spring, but Larry McMurtry and Beverly Cleary both died March 25. Two writers who most influenced my writing. Cleary turned me from an avid reader into a real bookworm; she’s the inspiration for my declaring in fourth grade I wanted to be a writer. McMurtry is the writer whose skill I envy more than any other. His clarity and readability are my daily aspiration.

Note to self: Stephen King’s mention of Larry McMurtry in On Writing would be a good topic for this space.

My weight is creeping back up. Need to address this beginning Wednesday. I’m not kidding.

The rubble, or our sins?

but if you close your eyes
does it almost feel like nothing changed at all?
and if you close your eyes
does it almost feel like you’ve been here before?
how am i going to be an optimist about this?

2200 new cases. 1500 the day before. 1800 the day before that. This is getting insane.

I finally got the text message from my boss urging everyone in our department to work at home at least through Wednesday. An hour later, an email from our COO said we’re going to have a reduced in-office presence through the holidays. It only makes sense. I’m mildly surprised it took until Sunday evening to let us know.

I suppose I’ve said this already, but I’m dealing with some depression about this. A lot of anger, too, although I’ve decided mostly to process the antivax stuff later, perhaps when this is all over, if it is ever over. It infuriates me to think about it now, and it keeps me from thinking kind thoughts about people, a major failing of my spiritual gift of mercy.

Yeah, I’m doing an okay job of not getting too messed up about people prolonging this thing far, far beyond its reasonable life because of — oops. Let’s just say “for whatever reason.” And mostly, on a day-to-day level, I can handle this. Yet when I zoom out a little and realize my life is passing chronologically and biologically while I’m in a kind of personal stasis, I feel the spiraling again, as I’m feeling it this moment while I write about it.

Christmas was pretty mellow, and only slightly less mellow than Christmas last year, which of course I spent alone. This year I spent the morning alone, then went to my parents’ for dinner, picking it up on the way from Big City Diner in Pearlridge. It was the same meal as last year, a lovely prime rib with mashed potatoes, a Caesar salad, a green bean salad, some crab cakes, and macarons. I left the macarons for my mom (I don’t care for them) and most of the potatoes for my dad, but did bring leftovers home of half the remaining prime rib and all the remaining salad.

Came home and watched Remember the Night (1940) with Barbara Stanwyck and Fred Macmurray. It was lovely. Fantastic. It had most of the stuff that made me fall in love with old movies when I was a teen, and was just a really nice surprise. It doesn’t measure up to Casablanca (I mean, nothing does, right?), and it’s a different genre — romantic comedy vs. romantic drama — but it’s thoughtful, sweet, and witty. It’s immediately a new favorite.

Then I watched Desk Set (1957) on the recommendation of a coworker, whose cube is right behind mine and who also loves old films. She’s the only person I know who also subscribes to the Criterion Channel. This is the seventh or eighth of nine films Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy starred in together, and I have never gotten into Tracy (except in Boystown and Men of Boystown), but I think in this one I started to see him better as an actor. Might have to look into some of his other stuff. Hepburn, of course, is great. This film’s quite a bit sillier, but it’s also witty if also fluffy and insubstantial.

They are both Christmas movies, and I’m happy to add them to my list of good films for the holiday.

Breakfast Saturday was overnight oats, as it has been every morning for a couple of weeks. Lunch was the Big City Diner meal at my parents’. I should have had a dinner after that, but I had a couple of quesadillas and the leftover Caesar salad very late before bed.

Breakfast Sunday was overnight oats. Lunch was nigiri sushi from Kuru Kuru, picked up on my way to my parents’ again. Dinner, which I just finished, was a dish of yogurt (yes, my homemade yogurt) with some granola and raw honey.

Texting Saturday was the usual Christmas greetings from all over, including from coworkers, from Excrush Girl, and from Reid-Grace-Penny. Sunday it was a little more of the same, but also with the others in my department after my boss told us not to come in. Oh, and the writing partner texted me to thank me for the gift I mailed her — a hardback copy of The Lost Apothecary, which I’m pretty sure she’ll really like.

Sunday NYT xword in 32 minutes, slower than my Sunday average. Monday xword in 4:15. That’s around where I usually finish a Monday lately.

It’s coming up on 2:30 and I still have a couple of quick tasks to hit before bed. Then up early to get my work laptop from the office, before anyone else gets in because I’m trying to avoid everyone. I have kind of a slow week ahead of me, if nothing pops up on short notice, so it’ll be a good few days to catch up on a few things. Kind of looking forward to it.

and the walls kept tumbling down
in the city that we love
great clouds rolled over the hills
bringing darkness from above

Friday 5: Brainstorming

From here.

  1. If you owned a new professional sports team (pick any sport!), what would you name it, and what would be its team colors?
    I’d name my new NFL team the Honolulu Vampires. The colors would be black, black, and black with highlights of blood red.
  2. If you owned a new restaurant, what would you name it, and what kind of cuisine would it serve?
    I’d name it Flapjacks and it would be a breakfast spot similar to Cold Stone. You pick your batter, you pick your fillings, and the cutie behind the counter-length griddle makes your pancakes right in front of you. Build-your-own crepes and omelets also available and prepared in front of you.
  3. If you owned a little independent retail shop, what would you name it, and what would it sell?
    It would be fun to run a little book shop specializing in mysteries. I’d call it something like Clues or a Cozy Bookstore.
  4. If you launched a charity, what would be its cause?
    A nonprofit dedicated entirely to helping people pass their U.S. citizenship tests and gain citizenship. A lot of teaching, some counseling and advocacy, and some legal help.
  5. What kind of recreation is sorely lacking in your town?
    I wouldn’t mind seeing the return of the drive-in theater, perhaps somehow amped up a level, maybe with food trucks or neighboring restaurants delivering to your vehicle. Also, racquetball is super difficult to play in this town unless you have access to a military base or membership in a club. It kind of sucks because racquetball is so much fun.


Crush Girl seems to be over the annoying thing I did, much to my gentle relief. I’m sure her ire was exacerbated by my uncontrollable giggling while apologizing and insisting I was contrite. I was contrite, but I was also super amused because the thing she was annoyed about was something I messaged her. And I knew I was pushing a button when I hit send. I looked at it first, and said, “That’s a real button. What if I just push it lightly?”

Fireworks, of the stony face and silent treatment variety. So yeah. I was laughing at her for being so transparently sensitive about it, but I was mostly laughing at myself for this lifelong need to test every sign that says DO NOT PUSH THIS BUTTON.

She’s been a little more communicative these past couple of days, which is super nice, but I also think I need to get myself over her. Maybe start calling her Excrush Girl in order to facilitate it. I’m kidding myself if I think I’ll ever somehow wriggle my way out of the friendzone and into the little bit of her heart I think I could fill.

I should say I haven’t been trying to nudge her out of the friendzone. I accepted my assignment the day I got it, and I am long past the stupid youthful idea that you can win someone over, even if most of my love history is evidence to the contrary. Put yourself out there, and if you get a no, take the no and move on. It’s the only mature, respectful thing to do.

I like being in the friendzone, at least as a second option. I think we could be really close friends if certain circumstances weren’t such obstacles. Stupid pandemic isn’t helping.

Something caught me off guard the other night and I didn’t roll with it the way I usually do. Got knocked for something of a loop, teetered momentarily before plunging into an eddy determined to suck me into the deep.

I allowed it for a couple of hours, glorying in self-pity and hollowness, but I yanked myself out, mostly for survival’s sake. Also because it was such a stupid thing to get depressed about. There are things I can’t control, and if they aren’t unjust, harmful to anyone I care about, or a serious threat to my well-being, I shouldn’t allow them to control me like this.

So I wrapped gifts, and when I was done with that, I opened the gifts my coworkers left for me, keeping notes in my iPad so I’d remember what to write thank-you cards for. That wonderful Christmas album, Carcass’s Torn Arteries, kept me company throughout, and I was feeling pretty goodwill-toward-humans by the time I was done.

My Christmas Eve was nice. I slept in, sorta, then ran a couple of errands. Took everything at a snail’s pace, not hurrying through anything because I didn’t have a schedule to worry about. Took a short nap, did a few chores, listened to some podcasts. I read a little bit of Klara and the Sun, which is taking a bit of a dark turn about a third of the way through.

Breakfast was overnight oats. Lunch was a Panda Express plate (mushroom chicken, string bean chicken, super greens). Dinner was a couple of chicken thighs steamed in the Instant Pot, with choy sum, bean sprouts, and more string beans. I drizzled some Maui Chili Chili Oil on the chicken and it was amazing.

Texted Excrush Girl a little about a book she’s reading. Also two coworkers about Tsum Tsum — they’ve recently jumped back in, a year after my return to the game, and wanted to know how my scores have gotten so good.

I’ll do the Friday 5 tomorrow. Too tired!

The viral spiral

Much to my annoyance, I woke up a few hours ahead of my alarm Sunday and didn’t get back to sleep. Put the Packers-Ravens game on and did a few chores, then drove out to the folks’ to hang out and have dinner.

I had a few things I wanted to get done and mostly only got to one of them.

For the first time in a couple of years, I couldn’t bring myself to listen to Meet the Press or This Week with George Stephanopolous. I just couldn’t handle the depressing news. New COVID cases in this state were nearly a thousand for Sunday and I just can’t. I did listen to World News Tonight, but I did not listen to PBS Newshour. I still might, but it’s unlikely.

I’ve caught myself a few times each day this weekend peering into the abyss, gazing into the blackness. It’s hit me deeply and I’ve pulled back, but yikes. I feel myself spiraling slowly. Why does the darkness call me, and why do I kind of want to go in there?

I’m almost certain it’s COVID-related. Even the stuff that’s not (like stress about my car and small concerns about cashflow) sort of is.

I think for the next couple of days, I’m going to spend my downtime taking care of Christmas stuff. That seems to make me feel okay most of the time, but it’s also making me wistful because I think Christmas weekend is going to be when things get really terrible.

Breakfast was overnight oats and the rest of that salad from Jolene’s. Yum and yum. Lunch (actually dinner) was a sushi platter from Genki Sushi, shared with my parents. Good stuff. Dinner was a couple of quesadillas I probably shouldn’t have and definitely didn’t need. I snacked on some beef jerky and a handful of fried pork rinds.

Didn’t listen to much music because of football. I have the Dan Le Batard Show podcast on the speakers right now but I’m only kind of listening.

I’m kind of looking forward to work this week. I have a few interesting things to work on, plus it’s a short week. Oh, and Monday afternoon I have an appointment to have my vision tested for new glasses. My benefits give me a certain amount each calendar year for glasses, and I missed last year because of the stupid lockdown. This year, it’s been super difficult to get an appointment, but here we go. With ten days to spare before the year ends. I want new specs, whether I need them or not.

I annoyed Crush Girl and she’s not really speaking to me. Sigh.


I woke up a little early for me on a Saturday, and not to get to the beach, although I certainly wanted to. I went over to mom’s to help her with Christmas cards. We spent some nice time together. Both parents thanked me repeatedly, but I was honestly grateful for something to do with my mom.

Came home for a short nap, then went to the office. I didn’t have to go in, but I knew I’d have a better Sunday if I took care of a few things Saturday. While I was there, I wrapped gifts for my office mates. Wrapping gifts always puts me in the Christmas spirit, and I liked getting the injection a full week before the actual day. I think this bodes well for the days leading up to the holiday.

I still have a couple of gifts to pick up.

Recent spins: I’m revisiting 2021 releases I enjoyed, toward my year-end best-of list. Most of Thursday and Friday I had Evergrey’s Escape of the Phoenix on repeat. Wednesday it was Soen’s Imperial, which may be my favorite album of the year. Right now I’m spinning Einherjer’s North Star, not because I expect it to make the final list (I don’t) but because I couldn’t remember it very well.

I haven’t been as mood-swingy today as I have been the past week. I think part of it is the slow news day. These days, I listen to news broadcasts via their podcast releases, since I’m not home all the time as I was the year and a half I mostly worked from home. PBS Newshour with Judy Woodruff and World News Tonight with David Muir. They were both very, very light Saturday. I know there’s an important lesson here but I’m not ready to deal with it. Despite seeming evidence to the contrary, I think it’s better to be informed these days. Even at the cost of my emotional health.

Breakfast was overnight oats. For a late lunch, I stopped at Jolene’s Market, the airport location. Jolene’s has a prominent spot in the Chinatown Cultural Plaza, where Regal Bakery used to be (Jolene is the daughter of the Regal founders), and opened big some time ago with its lobster roll. Lobster rolls are super trendy in this town, and I think Jolene’s was the instigator.

The airport location is super casual — it’s a walk-up window with a couple of picnic tables — and it’s open early, I guess partially because it’s still a bakery too. The walk-in bakery with its display cases is still there, next to the walk-up window. So yeah, you can get a lobster roll at 5:00 in the morning if you want. I haven’t done it yet, but one of these mornings before I go to the beach I’m totally going to do it because I can.

So for lunch I had the lobster roll, and I ordered a fried chicken salad to go. That was my dinner. The lobster roll was quite good. I tried it once, the day before my birthday two years ago, the night Reid and I went to Patton Oswalt at the Hawaii Theatre. I remember liking but not loving it then, but I really liked it today, my second try. It’s quite a sandwich.

The fried chicken salad is a large spring mix salad topped with pieces of boneless fried chicken, and it was outstanding. I saved some for breakfast or lunch Sunday.

I snacked on pistachios at the office, then some beef jerky at home.

When I was still at UH Manoa, living in the BSU dorm, JB and I thought it would be cool to bring home a live lobster from Safeway and keep it as a pet in the aquarium we had in the dorm lounge. We had a dorm-mate named Robert whom we sometimes called Robster, and thought Robster the Lobster would be a great name for our new pet.

I went so far as to visit a tropical fish store I liked (stories for another time; when I was a kid my father had as many as twenty aquaria in the house, and I’ve kept two at once a couple of times) to ask about keeping water temperatures cold enough for lobsters. The chillers you’d need were far too expensive for a stupid novelty idea like keeping a lobster as a pet in a dorm lounge, so we quickly abandoned the plan, but one of these days I might do it.

Everyone needs a panda hold onto

End of a week. It’s nearly quarter to five Friday night and of course I shouldn’t still be up, but I did the thing again.

I just stood on the scale after avoiding it for a few days. Pleasant surprise. If my scale is to be believed (and I’m seldom convinced it is), I’m down seven pounds in three weeks and I’m down seventeen pounds since June 1. It’s been something of a roller coaster in between, so I’m really not looking back to June 1, the day I brought the scale home from Target.

However, the three weeks thing is a big deal to me because I’ve been actively trying to drop some pounds. More on that later.

We had our holiday party at work this afternoon via Zoom, as we did last year. It was pretty fun for a Zoom gathering. We had a couple of games and a fun gift drawing based on our performances during the games. It was also blessedly short, but of course its being (comparatively) brief means it was quite lacking in interpersonal goodwill, the vibe I most like about our holiday gatherings.

This stupid virus.

I’m feeling super down about the news these days, and the news is not especially bad. It’s just the normal bad. I think I’m feeling super sensitive to it lately.

Thursday I finished the book I’ve been reading during my lunch breaks. Every Day the River Changes: Four Weeks Down the Magdalena (2021) by Jordan Salama. I don’t read very much travel writing, yet I always enjoy it when I do. Saw mention of it on Twitter one day and bought it on impulse. And yeah, the title.

Today I got into Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun (2021). So far so good. I’m leading a book discussion group in the office and this is our new selection. I didn’t select the novel, but I’m glad we’re reading it. I’ve meant to get into Ishiguro for a super long time.

Breakfast was overnight oats. Yes, I’m back on the overnight oats train. Lunch was at Panda Express: orange chicken and string bean chicken with super greens. That super greens side is the draw for me. Broccoli, cabbage, and kale. It’s a short walk from the office and by the time I have lunch, there are very few fellow diners. Good space for reading.

Dinner was a small bowl of granola with yoghurt (the yoghurt I made in my Instant Pot last weekend) and raw honey. Second dinner several hours later was a couple of quesadillas with whole-wheat tortillas. Those whole-wheat tortillas, I tell you, are not terrific. At the office, I snacked on pistachios. At home in the evening, I had two palmsful of popcorn: the Smartfood popcorn with Cap’n Crunch crunchberries mixed into it.

Five minutes after five. To bed.

Friday 5: Are you prepositioning me?

Work has been a bit frenzied lately. It usually calms down for me in December — when I was first hired in December five years ago, they told me not to come in until the second week of January because there just wasn’t much for me to do yet.

If the last few Decembers have been less than frantic, I’ll just say I kind of earned them because in order to get year-end stuff out, my busy time is September into November. Those stories take time to write, and getting them approved by all stakeholders often takes even more time.

But I’ve picked up a new responsibility: sending out bulk emails on behalf of some of UH’s units. We are tenacious protectors of our data, as we must be. We collect money from a lot of people, and our records are freaking sensitive as heck. We also keep alumni data. So when the department of ______ wants to send out a bulk email to its donors or alumni, it does it through our foundation.

I’m not in charge of any of it, but we lost one of our people who used to do it, summer 2020 on the day I still think of as Black Tuesday. So responsibilities have shifted, and they continue to shift as people move into and out of positions.

I’d been bugging my boss for years to let me learn Mailchimp so I could help out with that stuff once in a while. Also because learning new stuff is critical to keeping me interested in my work. I finally got the okay when someone needed to pick up the mailouts for a few units.

The end of the calendar year is pretty busy for a task like this. I’m handling the smallest number of these and they still take up an enormous chunk of my time and energy. They’re not supposed to, but I’m still new to this task, so I’m still in the steeper part of the learning curve.

I’ve complained to my boss that I haven’t lately had any time for goofing off during my workday. I have to do my NYT crosswords at home before bed, rather than during breaks at my desk. I was being playful when I said it, but I was also being serious.

Not complaining about the work or the workload, actually. Just trying to keep it going without letting myself get fully immersed beyond a reasonable week’s hours. ‘Though I could certainly let myself without worrying too much. It would never be as self-destructive as when I was teaching.

It’s 2:33 in the morning and I’m still up because this last two weeks I crash as soon as I get home, for two to three hours, and then I’m up too late getting non-work things done. It’s a very unhealthy thing I do every so often and I find the cycle super difficult to break. I was going to reset last weekend, but I got a request to put together a proposal on Saturday afternoon and spent Sunday evening — late Sunday evening — doing it. Because end-of-year stuff. We’re a charity, and people want to get their donations in by the end of December.

Soooooooooooooooo I might as well do a Friday 5.

From here.

  1. When did you recently do something on the sly?
    I stayed late in the office to get a few things done Tuesday night. Was about to lock up (everyone else had gone home) when I remembered Wednesday is when I hoped to put my office Christmas gift out: eight tins of assorted teas from Harney and Sons. I wasn’t exactly sneaking around to do it, but I like to leave that stuff when nobody’s seeing me. Santa-like. I printed an obnoxiously punny message on some Christmas-printed cardstock and set it up nicely in the break room where we keep the tea stuff.
  2. Which of your plans for the coming week is still up in the air?
    I have to mail Christmas gifts to people I won’t see in person, and I still have two unchecked items on my list. Gotta pick something up then pack stuff to mail. I’m hoping to get the shopping done Saturday evening and mail it all out early Monday morning.
  3. What’s happening across the street?
    I live across the street from the faculty housing of a certain Hawaii private K-12 school, and since they’re about to begin Christmas break, it’s been super quiet over there. I think some of my neighbors are from off-island, so during breaks they go away. Just a suspicion; I don’t actually know any of them. Between semesters, there’s often some turnover there too, although less in December than in July.
  4. What have you heard recently through the grapevine?
    As I have said many times, I try to run away from gossip. If I consume any gossip at all, it’s usually about football or baseball, but that’s not gossip. In baseball’s winter months, it’s hot stove. A different creature entirely. Which player is thinking of signing with which team, that kind of stuff. And the hot stove league is quiet these days because the stupid Major Leagues are in lockout pending some kind of new collective bargaining agreement.
  5. What kinds of videos on YouTube are likeliest to send you down the rabbit hole?
    I don’t like looking at video on my phone, and I’ve never really liked it on my computer. I’m kind of old that way. I like computers and phones for reading and interacting. I don’t like them for sucking in video content. However, when I do get drawn in (or when I let myself willingly be pulled under), there are three common culprits. I like compilations of Jimmy Kimmel’s Celebrities Read Mean Tweets segments. I find them hilarious and have watched some of them several times. I also like concert videos of bands I like. Most of the musicians I really want to see in concert never make it out here, so if there’s good live video of them, I’ll occasionally lose a few hours. Related: the third culprit is a series by Loudwire, a metal blog, called Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction? in which the host interviews metal musicians, reading them stuff Wikipedia says about them. The musicians then confirm or correct the info. It’s just this chill vibe with musicians I admire the heck out of, and there are few things I find more interesting than artists talking about their art.