My silence in this space was only intentional the first several months. I’ve meant to get back to it for nearly half a year now but certain logistics have made it less convenient than it used to be, believe it or not. I didn’t think anything could be less convenient than my old setup, but while the technical aspects of getting this space updated are much much better, some practical aspects need figuring out.
A brief rundown on the rest of the year before I hit the Friday 5.
- I moved. Got the word from the landlord he needed the space to take care of a sister in hospice care. So after 24 years in that space, I knew this was a sign it was time to come back to the parents’ home in Waimalu, which I finally did at the very end of March. I didn’t write about it then because I was a bit stressed-out and I didn’t want to share details with people before it was done. It’s how I am with the big things in life.
- I still write for the non-profit and had a good year — good enough to get probably the best evaluation I’ve had in my five years. Yay, five years. It’s the magic number in the foundation because it’s when the free parking kicks in. Free parking in this town is like getting a raise. I still love my work and I think I’m getting better at it.
- I lost nearly 20 pounds between Thanksgiving last year and July this year, and then I put almost. all of it back. Very annoying, but when I finally stepped on a scale again last week for the first time since July, I was semi-relieved to see I was exactly where I was a year ago. I mean exactly. And if I dropped all that weight last year, I can do it again this year, and hopefully keep going. Stick around for my resolutions, which I’ll write in this space probably tomorrow.
- I was Municipal co-Liaison again for NaNoWriMo, for the second year. This year we returned to in-person events, which is a big deal. I met some new people and got to see some long-timers for the first time in ages. It wasn’t nearly the fantastic blowout I would like to see, but it was a very good transition, I think. I have big plans for next year. Oh yeah, and I hit 50,000 words for the month on a new project I’m pretty excited about.
- The writing partner and I haven’t met as often as we planned, but we’re still meeting and still writing. This is an important relationship for me for many reasons, not the last of which. is it keeps me thinking about my writing and my dreams of writing, which I am not quite ready to give up on.
- I saw two movies in theaters. Dio: Dreamers Never Die, a documentary about Ronnie James Dio, and Clerks III, the Kevin Smith movie. I think I’m ready to make movies in the cinema a regular thing again, as long as I go on like weeknights for the late show or matinees when everyone else is at work.
- I didn’t do as much reading this year as last because of the move, which took forever! Moving sucks, I tell you. It’s one of the worst things. But I did read parts of several books I’ll get back to in 2023 I swear, and did read a few things in their entirety. The second, third, and fourth book in Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quartet, the sequels to A Wrinkle in Time, which were of course rereads. I really enjoyed Tae Keller’s Jennifer Chan is Not Alone . Keller is that Punahou grad who won the Newbery a couple of years ago. Ginger Park’s The Hundred Choices Department Store was a nice discovery. And I finally — finally! — finished John Updike’s Rabbit, Run, one of those English major books I’ve tried to read many times since my undergrad days. I’m quite sure there’s more but that’s what I remember right now.
- Jessica died three weeks ago as I was getting off the freeway at Kinau Street. I don’t have to tell you if you’re from Honolulu that’s a terrible place for a car to break down, but things worked out about as well as they could have, and I laid her to rest after four years of super super super fun driving. The night before last I drove my new car home, a red Kia Soul named Bellatrix. My first new car. You need a ride anywhere or want to borrow some wheels for something? I’m your guy. So far I love this little thing, which is actually not that little. I can’t believe how roomy it is inside.
- I am strongly considering doing FAWM in February. It will be my first time since 2007 or so.
- Beginning in early August and lasting through the beginning of November, I went through some really, really rough depression. Somehow I stayed out of the abyss through the worst of the pandemic, but wow. These three months or so were rough as heck. Worse even than what I went through when Crush Girl first friendzoned me three years ago, and that was pretty bad. I will definitely write more about this later, but a couple of things I did on my own made me think I can, with some professional help, confront this thing finally and do something about it. One of my new year’s resolutions, already shared with some close friends and my supervisor at work, is to speak to my doctor about what I believe are undiagnosed depression and ADHD. I’m ready to figure a few things out.
- I have a secret I’m practically exploding with that’s actually helped me out of most of the depression. I’m not in the clear yet, but I can see the sun again most days and when the chasm has opened up I haven’t let myself dive in. The secret is helping. I promise I’ll share it when the time is right, but if you’re reading this I know you care enough about me that you’ll be pretty happy for me when I do share it!
- I caught COVID in July and again the week of Thanksgiving. After these years of being super careful I came down with the things twice. And somehow my parents, my new cohabitants, managed to escape it. Whew.
- I think my favorite thing I watched this year, besides the Harry Potter films which I am rewatching this week (I’m on Order of the Phoenix, which I will watch part of tonight)), was this series called Sprung on Amazon’s free, commercial-supported platform Freevee. Or Freevie. I’m too lazy to look it up. Anyway go see it. Each 30-minute episode is 26 minutes of stupid and 4 minutes of incredible sweetness. I’m fervently wishing for a second season. Other rewatches this year were Silicon Valley in its entirety and The Queen’s Gambit for like the sixth time. I am still slowly working my way through Downton Abbey and a few other things.
So it was a rather good, terrible, remarkable, year, which I have just done. I didn’t take you with me for most of it, but let’s see what 2023 brings. I have a feeling I’m about to have a lot of adventures these next 365 days.
Let’s do the last Friday 5 of the year.
1. Among people with whom you are not personally acquainted, who most made you laugh in 2022?
I ask this almost every year (in some place or another) and the answer is usually Tony Kornheiser, via his Tony Kornheiser Show podcast. The fricking pandemic, combined with his being a senior citizen and therefore very careful, has meant major changes to the program, mostly hosting from a home studio and cohosting with his son, rather than the rotating team of cohost friends, who are D.C. A-listers like a former Pentagon spokeswoman, two award-winning sportswriters, and an on-air CNN personality. The show is still pleasant and amusing but no longer can’t-miss listening for me. I still listen religiously, only not religiously like when I went to church in college. More like religiously like when I go to church now. So the answer is (as it has been these last couple of years) the producers and hosts of the Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz. It’s not just Le Batard and Stu; it’s the whole team, but especially Mike Schur, who you might know from The Office and Parks and Recreation. Man, the guy just cracks me up almost every time I hear him. He’s the best on Le Batard, but he’s alllllmost as good on the Pozcast with Joe Posnanski.
2. Among people with whom you are not personally acquainted, who most inspired you in 2022?
The people of Ukraine and the people of neighboring countries who opened their doors and said come in, my brothers and sisters. Man, I can’t sleep at night sometimes thinking about what’s going on in that part of the world. I actually had to stop consuming broadcast news and commentary for a while; it was all just too much. I still read the news in my usual places, but I didn’t watch any of it on TV or listen to any of it via podcast. I’m slowly bringing some of that back — mostly just the PBS NewsHour — but I’ll seldom listen to a whole broadcast and I do not go back and catch up on days I’ve missed as I used to. I have to say it’s made a big difference for my mental health.
3. What were your food discoveries in 2022?
Most recently, as in just this month, the Malaysian dish called laksa, a curry-brothed noodle dish I just adore. It’s also found in Singapore and Indonesia, and I think the place where I get it, in the Ala Moana food court, is Singaporean. I also had my first Cubano sandwich, which was freaking delicious and now that I have new wheels I am going to be scarfing a lot more during my lunch break on work days. I also documented on IG my discovery and experimentation with gai lan, a staple in Chinese restaurants apparently everywhere but in Hawaii. It’s Chinese broccoli: dark green and leafy with stems slightly woodier than asparagus. I thought it was delicious but I have only seen it on two menus in local restaurants. I had to find a shop in Chinatown for fresh gai lan so I could prepare it at home. I’m a big fan. I tried a few new hot sauces, too. Penny gave me a bottle of Truff red sauce for Christmas last year and I opened it in the early spring, and it is my new favorite. I didn’t think anything would unseat Tabasco from its throne, but this has. It’s unbelievable and delicious in everything I’ve tried it in or on. Melinda’s Original Habanero Xxxtra Hot was a clear runner-up, and you can just ignore all those Xes because it’s not that hot, but it has excellent flavor. So my new top 4 are Truff Red, Tabasco, Huy Fong Foods Sriracha, and Melinda’s Habanero Xxxtra Hot. A good year for hot sauce!
4. What were your music discoveries in 2022?
As usual, I listened to a lot of new (to me) bands. Last.fm says I have listened to 810 unique artists in 2022 so far (there are still 3 hours left in 2022, and you never know). I’ve been aware of Sepultura since the days when they ruled the metal world in the early 90s, but never actively listened until this year when I finally gave their Roots album an attentive listen. Good stuff. You can see, now that we have 30 years of history to look back upon, how influential they were in the genre that became Nü Metal. Wet Leg, who is a darling of the critics (and all your friends who like cooler music than you), was also a nice discovery. Oh, and Pattern-Seeking Animals! It’s basically some of the guys in Spock’s Beard with some guys who used to contribute to Spock’s Beard or something, and it’s just lovely, wonderful, nerdy, proggy goodness. Most of my prog listening has been metal these days, but it’s very, very nice to get a good dose of creative prog rock to remind you of where your nerdy passions came from. Just excellent. Speaking of prog, I was using the radio function on Spotify one day for a progressive metal band I love, Soen, and this band Jadis came up and it was fantastic. I ordered the band’s live DVD album on Amazon and plan to watch it sometime this week.
5. Where will you be when the clock strikes midnight on January 1?
As I write this, it’s a quarter past 9 in the evening, December 31, and I’m on our lanai with my wireless headphones set to maximum noise cancellation (listening to Amanda Shires for now) as the illegal fireworks explode all around me. I don’t know if I’ll be here all the way through to midnight, but I’ll almost certainly be out here at midnight, which is where we usually situate ourselves when the new year’s fireworks — official and illegal — hit their peak. I hate fireworks but someone has to keep an eye on things in case something terrible happens. This is the first New Year’s Eve in ages and ages where I have not been intentionally alone. I usually, wherever I am, call my parents shortly after midnight to say happy new year, but in 2022 when I did it, they were both in bed asleep. Huh. So I’m expecting them to be asleep this year and I’ll be out here alone. Which as you know is just fine.
Come get me, 2023.