What random letter was generated by the online random-letter generator (this doesn’t really count as one of your five questions)?
I rolled an E.
- What brand or model of car, whose name begins with the letter, would you like to get?
I’ll take a Hyundai Elantra for its being the most reasonable for my life right now. A Ford Escape or Ford Explorer would also be a good choice. And if it were just for a little while, I could live with a Cadillac Escalade.
- What summer activity, whose name begins with the letter, are you looking forward to?
Summers are when I do a lot of walking about; it’s been true since my early days as a teacher. You see more when you’re walking, and since I’ve been walking 40+ miles a week all year, I look forward to continuing my on-foot explorations of urban Oahu.
- What’s an item in your desk whose name begins with the letter?
My e-reader has been a best friend lately. It’s small enough to fit in the front pocket of my shorts, so when I take breaks during my walks, I can find somewhere comfy to sit and do some personal reading.
- What’s something, whose name begins with the letter, that you find frightening?
I’m half-kidding here, but I’m frightned by the thought of eviction. I’m behind on the rent, and my landlord is extremely patient, but I get the sense he’s getting mad. I finally (today!) sent a check for a couple months’ worth of rent, and that’ll cool things off for a while, but man. I really need to get better at making this writing thing pay.
- If you had to get a tattoo on your upper arm, what’s something whose name begins with the letter that you could live with?
I wouldn’t mind a cartoon drawing of Emily Dickinson; I had a great t-shirt from Barnes and Noble when I was in college, a pen-and-ink caricature of her, squeezed into a box. It was really cool, but thinking of that shirt makes me sad for reasons I won’t share. So, although something wordy seems too easy, it is the kind of thing a person like me would get, so I’m going with a tattoo of an e. e. cummings line of poetry:
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
They are the last two lines of my favorite cummings poem. By the way, if you do a Google image search for “i thank you god for most this amazing,” you’ll see an alarming and offensive number of graphics misquoting the poem. In an effort to make the language less cummings-like, of course these poetry murderers are turning the poetry into something else. I find it most irritating.
- What’s your favorite dancing scene in a movie?
John Travolta and Uma Thurman dancing to Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell” just edges out Gene Kelly’s “Singin’ in the Rain.”
- What’s your favorite chase scene in a movie?
I’m not a fan of chase scenes, but maybe that one in Star Wars with the Millennium Falcon. Don’t ask me which one, ’cause I don’t know it well enough to say. You know the one where they turn sideways to pass through that narrow opening? Or does that describe them all?
- What’s your favorite courtroom scene in a movie?
Joe Pesci’s “grit-eating world” scene in My Cousin Vinny.” That movie is nothing but great courtroom scenes and beautiful Marisa Tomei (who won an Oscar).
- What’s your favorite kissing scene in a movie?
I’m also not much of a fan of kissing in movies. I mean, that should be me kissing that beautiful woman on the screen, not that loser of an actor, right? However, one I find most memorable is the smoking hot scene in To Have and Have Not.
Bogart: Whadja do that for?
Bacall: I was wondering whether I’d like it.
Bogart: What’s the decision?
Bacall: I don’t know yet.
- What’s your favorite scene in a non-musical movie where the characters spontaneously break into song?
It’s not singing, but the whistling scene in The Breakfast Club has to be near the top of the list. Second place: the “Tiny Dancer” scene in Almost Famous. Bonus: has a camera ever loved any actress as much as it loves Kate Hudson in Almost Famous?
- What’s an issue you wish more people knew about?
Most educated people have some understanding about the Japanese American relocation camps in World War II, but history is about people, and I wish more of my educated friends would take time to hear the stories of the people who were put there. At the very least, I’d appreciate a cursory reading of Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston’s Farewell to Manzanar or Cynthia Kadohata’s Weedflower.
- When were you last outraged about something?
I’m old now, and one of the symptoms of my old age is that I’m a lot more even-keeled than I once was. Outrage is almost incomprehensible to me now. I think the closest I’ve gotten was the gridlock in Congress a few years ago.
- When you were a kid, what was the first news story to make an impression on you?
I was in fifth grade when the hostages were taken in the American embassy in Tehran. That was the first story I followed on a day-to-day basis. I learned a lot about the way the world works that year, most of it unpleasant.
- What’s getting far too much media attention lately?
Probably the presidential election. It’s too early.
- What’s a consumer product you’d recommend to others?
I picked up a cold last weekend and have been locked up in my cave all week. This tea, which I picked up at the Korean market in my neighborhood a few months ago, has been heavenly. It’s honey-ginger tea, which is made easily enough from its scratch ingredients, but I like this jarred variety quite a bit. A few teaspoons of the stuff in the jar and a large mug of very hot water, and I’m kind of comfy for at least twenty minutes.
I am no fan of melons, honeydew or any other. However, I was at a hotpot restaurant with friends last year and watermelon juice was on the menu, and it was one of the tastiest, most refreshing drinks I’ve ever had. I’ve since made it at home. So I am rethinking my feelings about watermelon, which I still don’t really like. Yeah, I know that doesn’t make any since since watermelon juice is basically pureed watermelon with a little bit of sugar and maybe some lime juice.
Very clean since I just washed my feet, but slightly sore because I went for a very long (like, four hours in duration) walk this evening. Now that I’m mostly working in a cafe close to home, I don’t get a lot of walking done in the normal course of the day, as I used to when I worked in a Chinatown office. Now I have to take myself on actual walks.
When my friend Arjay took a semester off while we were in college, I borrowed his moped. If you’ve never ridden a moped, you should give it a try. It’s unbelievable fun. And you’d think that it would stop being so after you got used to it, but it never did. Later, when I first got out of college and couldn’t afford a car, I bought a used moped and drove that for about a year. I would often just go for rides, especially late at night and early-early in the morning, because it was a fun way to get fresh air and get some thinking done. I know why motorcyclists love their wheels so much, and I have wanted to own a motorcycle ever since my moped experience in college.
I do a lot of swimming in the ocean, and of course there are sharks out there and down there, but I never think about them, so they don’t really frighten me. What really frightens me are box jellyfish, which invade Oahu’s south shores every month, ten days after the full moon. I keep an eye on the calendar so I know when jellyfish days are, but sometimes I forget, and once you get it into your head that you don’t know whether the day you’re in the water is a jellyfish day or not, all the fun is taken from the experience, and you’re kind of in a hurry to get out. The lifeguards put out warning signs, but I’m usually in the water hours before the lifeguards are on duty. *shudder*
If it’s on the menu, I get pretty excited about a good Cobb salad. Those hard-boiled eggs! Yum. However, few dining experiences rival a good Caesar Salad, prepared at your table, by someone who knows what he or she is doing. Oh my goodness. I have a good Caesear Salad story to tell about when I was at UH-Hilo, but I’m saving that for another time, so I’ll just say now that R is the pickiest eater I know, and she doesn’t like dressed salads. Since you normally have to have two orders for a table-made Caesar, in all the years we dined out together, I never got to order it, and it’s one of the very few complaints I ever had about her particular eating preferences. I still don’t think I’ve ever had one while on a date. That might be a good goal for next year.
Friday 5: La La La La La La La
What’s your favorite song about a specific city?
I live in one of those places it’s almost impossible not to write about, whether you are a novelist, a journalist, a musician, or a poet. Mark Twain did it. Robert Louis Stevenson did it. Heck, Cameron Crowe recently did it. And if you want to know why my favorite of them all is Olomana’s “Ku‘u Home o Kahalu‘u,” just click to see this on YouTube and read the comments section. Just about every comment is something along the lines of, “I’m sitting here in [name of some place outside Hawaii], tears in my eyes as I remember home.” Runner up: “Waialua Sky” by the Fabulous Krush.
What’s your favorite song about a real, historical figure?
Without settling on one, it’s almost surely a song about Jesus, but I feel that may be cheating a little. So how about “James Dean” by the Eagles? You know what would be funny? If I said Ringo Starr’s “Liverpool 8,” which is of course a song about himself.
What are your favorite song and favorite group (or solo artist) from the classic Motown era?
Oh look. Another chance for me to say how much I just don’t like Diana Ross and/or the Supremes. Something about Ross’s voice just rubs me completely the wrong way. My favorite voice in all of the classic Motown era is Smokey Robinson’s, but my favorite musician of them all is Marvin Gaye. And my favorite song is “The Way You Do the Things You Do” by the Temptations.
What’s your favorite song by a musician (or band) you really dislike?
It’s got to be “Faith” by George Michael. That’s just a great song.
What’s your favorite song with the word “song” in its title?
The latest iTunes update wiped out about 80% of my library. The songs are still there in the media directory, but they’re not listed in the library, so I’m using that as an excuse to do something I’ve needed to do for a long time: go through the whole digital library, artist by artist and album by album and make sure things are indexed correctly, titled correctly, categorized correctly, and dated correctly. It’s long, slow, fantastically fun work (most of the time–I could do without taking the track numbers out of song titles one at a time; remember the early days of iTunes when we sometimes had to do that?), and I’m still on The Bird and the Bee, so with 24 letters of the alphabet left to re-add, I’m going to pick something from memory, and the winner is Extreme’s “Song for Love,” from the Extreme II: Pornograffiti album, one of my twenty favorite albums of all time. Nuno Bettencourt’s guitar solo beginning at around 3:13 is a thing of beauty, just a beautiful combination of tone, dexterity, melody, and feel. Oh, and Cherone’s vocal line in that section beginning at 4:20 is one of the highlights of the album. It’s something of a concept album, and this song is second-to-last, kind of bringing everything to a closing, positive, uplifting note, so in context the vocals that end this song are just about perfect. I know I’ve said this before, but Gary Cherone should have been the high point of Van Halen’s history. The band just forgot how to write good songs for that one album; if they’d worked it out, that would maybe have been the greatest American band ever, instead of the greatest American band ever being Van Halen with Sammy Hagar.
I’m listening to Katy Perry as I write this. I’ve never actively listened to her, ‘though I’ve enjoyed what I’ve heard from her incidentally, like when she was on SNL and at this year’s Super Bowl. She’s no Taylor, but she’s still pretty good.
So I have a lot of stuff to write about. I’m going to start with a few recent things and hopefully work my way backward.First, work. For the past fourteen months, I’ve been writing web content for an executive search firm (I’ve been told we don’t like the term “headhunter”). It started with one or two articles per month, but by last January, we were up to one article a week, and since July, it’s been two articles per week on topics like team-building, management, business travel, and work-life balance. These topics are well outside my realm, and at first writing the articles was a real challenge, but I am getting more comfortable with the topics, even writing the occasional piece with no research, just using my own experience and observations and applying them to a business setting. My relationship with the search firm has been great, and we’ve been talking about my eventually working for them full time. In the meantime, they’ve asked me to manage their social media presence and to edit some existing content for a website revamp. I’m excited about the possibilities, even though I never really envisioned this kind of work for myself. It can be time-consuming, but I get to set my own hours and work from home. Now that I’ve experienced this kind of work (and that was a huge adjustment), I don’t know if I can go back to having a job where I have to be somewhere specific at specific times. My dream, of course, is to make my living on my writing (preferably as a novelist), and while this isn’t quite that, it’s a step in that direction.
Then another job fell into my lap. I was about to leave my job at the community college (more about that later) and got a call from the COO of a local civil engineering firm. He’d been told about me by a mutual acquaintance, and he said he’d been looking for someone with my skillset. I said I wasn’t looking for a new gig, but he encouraged me to come in for an informal meeting with him and the marketing head, just so I could see what they’re about. This is the middle of the second week of January.I went in, and I sort of fell in love with the place as soon as I got off the elevator. The entire fifth floor of a bank building in Honolulu’s Chinatown is the company’s headquarters, and the entire space is painted bright yellow and blue with swirls, dots, and cool words. Even the carpet is painted. There are potted plants, tiki torches, and feng shui water fountains all over, and while the other edges of the space are lined with glass-walled offices, the rest of the space is wide open, with not a single cubicle.
Most importantly, the people were super super super nice. The work was appealing (if also outside my realm), but it was the people (and their desire to work with me) that had me back two days later for a formal interview. This was Friday the 16th.On Monday the 19th, I was on the job. They said they really wanted me full time, but they were willing to meet me where I could meet them, with part-time hours plus health insurance. My official title is “publications coordinator” and my supervisor is the marketing head, who’s been really, really good to work with.
The biggest drawback is that now I have somewhere I have to be at a certain time five days per week, which is not what I was looking for. But I need money for wheels, and this will help me get there. Plus, until I’m a full-time employee for the search firm, I don’t have a steady income from them, and I don’t have any security. If that ends up not working out, I have this to turn to, which I have to say wouldn’t be too bad.One option, which occurred to me early, was to take the full-time (pretty generous) salary from the engineers and do the search firm part time. I didn’t go this way for two reasons. First, I feel committed to the search firm, at least for the next six months. I said I’d be available for them and they’ve been nothing but nice to me. The second reason is something I couldn’t put my finger on until a conversation with the person who has the other part-time hours in my position. She’s also a writer (but much, much, much younger than me!), and she recently quit at the engineering firm to pursue other work plus her writing. While we shared with each other our hope for writing careers, I realized the other reason I’m not embracing the engineers full time is that it leads me further away from the dream. The search firm leads me closer. At this stage of my life, I’m kind of lucky (if you look at it this way) not to have a mortgage or family. I can handle a few years of poverty, if it comes to it, in pursuit of the dream. And while working for the search firm probably won’t mean poverty, in the long run I don’t think it will pay me what the engineers will pay me.
I’ll take the slightly lower pay if it means working at cafes, setting my hours, and having the flexibility to work on my own writing.
So that’s what I’m up to now, with a full time gig, a part time gig, and almost no time for other things in my life. Things should settle down once I finish training. I’ve been told I’d have a little more flexibility once I know the job, including working remotely once or maybe twice a week. That would be swell.
I still haven’t told the story of how I got from teaching to here, so I’ll do that sometime in the next whenever.
- What’s something in your life that’s on the fritz?
Ah man. My washer just went on the fritz last night. This is going to make things very difficult for me until I get some wheels. Ugh!
- What have you recently handled with kid gloves?
Almost any time I have to critique someone’s writing, if it’s not someone I know well, I have to be very gentle. Since that’s part of the new part-time gig, I do it every day. The people whose work I have to edit have been great, though, telling me they appreciate the way I suggest edits.
- On what task do you continue to plug away?
I recently reconvened the cleaning of the house, spending an hour or two every night, and the results have been dramatic and pleasing. I have a stairway that goes nowhere (my landlord lives upstairs, but we keep the door at the top of the stairs locked), which I’ve used as storage since I first moved here. I have cinderblock bookshelves going all the way up, an arrangement that works well and even looks good, but I’ve lately used the rest of the space just to throw things I want to deal with later. Going through that stuff and (mostly) throwing it all out has been like therapy. My idea is to get that whole area straightened out so I can open up the walk-in closet and go through the stuff I threw in there when I first moved here. Yeah. Then I can use that space for real storage, instead of just the holding area for the crap that I was eventually going to throw out anyway. Plugging away.
- This past week, what’s something you’ve sailed through?
The business articles have been remarkably smooth sailing. I did the prepping and outlining the nights before they were due, then spent just an hour or so the morning of the deadline, and it’s been smooth, quick, and pretty easy. Thank goodness. It doesn’t always work out that way.
- What have you had to hold your horses on, and what’s the reason?
My parents gave me enough money this Christmas to get myself a small TV. The one I’ve been watching, which I bought in 1994 when I was in college, is on its last legs. So I got a nice 32-inch LED at Costco a week after my birthday (three weeks ago) and it’s still in the box. Part of it has been that I’ve been so busy with the two jobs. The other part is that I don’t feel right setting it up until I get a certain portion of my house clean, which is another reason I’ve been plugging away at that task. I hoped to have it set up before the weekend, but that’s not going to happen, seeing as how the weekend is now upon us. Perhaps by Monday.
Ugh. Nearly three in the morning now. I need sleep. Next time: my latest obsessions, and some movie catchup.