Lockdown: Seoul food for lunch and dinner

I forgot yesterday to talk about walking. I got rolling Thursday after 11:30 in the evening (I think), and it felt like a small triumph just that I got out of the house. I didn’t go for a very long walk, but between the end of Thursday and the wee hours Friday, I got about 13,000 steps. Stopped at Long’s on the way back for baking soda and laundry things.

Friday I didn’t get out the door until after midnight. This is getting ridiculous; I swear. I did the usual walk, but switched it up a little. Instead up Liliha, east on Wylie, down Nuuanu, and back home via School Street, I went east on Kuakini, up Nuuanu, west on Wylie, down Liliha, east again on Kuakini, down the rest of the way on Nuuanu, and back home via School Street. Came back on Kuakini to hit the 7-Eleven for some water and a convenience store musubi. It came out to 14,000 steps, and it felt pretty good. I think Nuuanu may be steeper than Liliha, and I walked it briskly, so it may have been slightly better for the heart.

Thursday night I listened to Loathe’s new album, I Let It in and It Took Everything, which was something of a trip. It was my first time hearing them, and they play like ten different genres, sometimes within the same song. The dominant styles are metalcore and shoegaze, and I guess it’s pretty interesting, but I got a little weary of it.

I also checked out Course of Fate’s Mindweaver, which is more my speed. Progressive metal with a little bit of 80s arena rock thrown in. Super melodic and not especially challenging. I listened to it twice.

Friday evening I listened to Path to Immortality by Voices of Ruin — someone mentioned in the comments section of a metal blog I read that it was good. American melodic death metal. Very nice. The solos are pretty as heck. The same commentor compared the album to Kalmah, a band I’d never heard of, so I listened to their most recent, Palo, from 2018. Nice — reminds me of Children of Bodom but less show-offy and slightly less aggressive. I like CoB better, but this will be nice to put on once in a while when I need some soothing. I think it’ll be good writing music, too.

Work wasn’t bad. I wasn’t as productive as I wanted to be, but I made decent progress, if a bit slow. Sigh. I’ll probably have to finish up sometime this weekend, although my major priority for the two days off from work is the Hawaii Stories project.

Breakfast was the rest of that canned corned beef has from the other night. With leftover hapa rice. For lunch, I drove to the Korean takeout place I like (it’s not the closest to home, but I like the veggie selection better) and had Korean barbecue chicken, with kimchi, potato salad, broccoli, and seaweed. I picked up a veggie plate while I was there, and ate that for dinner. Cabbage, tofu, bean sprouts, cucumber kimchi, and pickled daikon. During the walk I had that salmon musubi for a snack, and just now I put down a bowl of cereal.

Jennifer texted me a photo of a vintage Harry Potter toothbrush she bought a long time ago. We traded comments on that. I said if she broke the toothbrush open, she’d probably find a phoenix feather in the handle. She said maybe a dragon heartstring.

AJ in San Diego, who sent me the cool jigsaw puzzle, asked if I’d started it yet. I said no, I’m making space for a new table and would get started sometime next week. That’s the goal, anyway.

I sent Ali in Boston a link to something we did at work. She hasn’t responded yet.

So, this weekend I’m dedicating to house chores and Hawaii Stories project, but the HS thing is getting my first effort. I’m behind on it — way behind — and really want to make serious progress so Ryan’s not sorry he started the whole thing in the first place.

If I have time and energy after all that, I’m going to try to do a few reviews. Joker, and a few books I read this year and haven’t written about yet. Oh, I re-watched Once Upon a Time in Hollywood sometime last week, so I’d like to review that too.

Hoping anyone reading this whose weekend prospects are less than encouraging will reach out. I’m happy to connect via text or DM or IM. Let’s help each other through this.

Lockdown: Can’t get up; I feel waffle

no, i did not eat them all; i have leftovers for the weekend!

Two food adventures in my kitchen in two days.

Last week’s episode of the Judge John Hodgman podcast included a bunch of talk about zapiekanka, a Polish open-faced sandwich the podcast participants compared to a pizza. It’s a split baguette with (in order of closeness to the bread) sautéd sliced mushrooms, cheese, and ketchup. You put that stuff on and toast it.

Part of the conversation led J. Kenji Lopez-Alt (a guest on the podcast) to share that the French bread pizza was invented by students at Cornell. Because of course, it’s going to be a college student or someone else making the most of limited resources to make something approximating a favorite food.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call either a zapiekanka or French bread pizza poverty food, but it’s sort of in that area, with mac & cheese or instant ramen. Is it a pizza? Not really. It comes close, though, and it could be delicious! I was obsessed with the concept of the zapiekanka and other explorations of pizza approximation with whatever you have in the house.

So Wednesday I finally gave it a try. Split a hoagie roll. Put some sautéd mushrooms down, some good sliced cheddar (my cheese stores are running low; I only have good stuff left right now), and a generous amount of ketchup. Into the toaster oven.

It was goooood. The hot ketchup actually works as a sauce. I made a second one, and in the spirit of using whatever I had, instead of ketchup, I used some McD’s barbecue sauce I had in the fridge. You know, from Chicken McNuggets. Not quite as good, but still good.

English muffin pizzas were a major staple in my early teaching career. Easy to make, inexpensive, and great for late-night grading sessions. I did it in college too, sometimes, and it’s where I came up with one of my favorite inventions: kimchi pizza.

I’ve got a few more hoagie rolls. Looking forward to trying a few other things.


Thursday I finally made the sourdough waffles. When you have a sourdough starter, you have to feed it to keep all the lovely bacteria happy. You can keep your starter dormant in the fridge, but even then it needs to be taken out and fed once a week or so.

Feeding it when you’re not baking with it involves throwing half of it out, then adding flour and water. Some people feel the discard portion is wasteful, and I have to admit I feel similarly. For people who prefer to use the discard, there are a bunch of recipes on the web, including these sourdough waffles I tried.

Quite good. I look forward to tweaking the recipe. For a first batch of waffles (I have a waffle iron Penny gave me a couple of Christmases ago, but it’s still in the box; Thursday I used an inexpensive mini-waffle maker I picked up for ten bucks at Target six months ago), they were amazing. I’m rather pleased. And I told Penny I’m breaking in her waffle iron this weekend. I have a lot of discard in food storage containers in my fridge.

I actually had breakfast really early Thursday, while I was journaling about Wednesday in the predawn hours. I picked up a loco moco from a local okazuya on my way back home during the walk. For a late lunch, I had the sourdough waffles. Dinner, which I am eating right now, is leftover rice with some canned corned beef hash. I wasn’t in the mood to make anything. A good time to pop open something in the pantry.

Work was mellow, once the all-staff meeting was done. I’ll go into that later. I didn’t get anything crossed off my list, but I made slow progress. Felt kinda like a Friday, which maybe doesn’t bode well for my productivity Friday, but I am going to give it my best shot.

I traded texts with a few coworkers after the meeting. Sharon and I actually kinda played the “who’s going to get laid off first” game, the details of which I shan’t make public. Neither of us thinks either of us is safe; I’ll say that. I’ve been with the company for three and a half years, and I’m still the newest hire in my department. You know how it goes: last in, first out.

Ali in Boston and I talked more books. Crush Girl and I texted about her shoes and my waffles. Jennifer responded to a text I sent, asking her feelings about the phrase RBF.

I feel like I’ve done a ton more shopping these past couple of months, spending way more on groceries than usual. I’m paying more, for one thing, because I’ve stayed away from Costco ever since it modified its hours (last week it went back to normal hours, so I might give it a go fifteen minutes before closing on a weeknight; my friend Crissy says she went in and it was nice and sparsely occupied). I’m also purchasing more, since I’m not eating out nearly as much as I used to.

Still, my spending has been surprisingly mellow. I’ve been stunned to see how much I still have in my checking account the day before payday. There’s a lesson in here somewhere, only I’m too stubborn to learn it right now. Food for thought for sure, though. Because with the money I’m saving by not dining out and by not driving anywhere, I’ve aggressively paid down some credit card debt. I owe my landlord some money too, and I’ve worked to pay that down too.

I (figuratively) sleep a lot better at night.

It’s what I need, too. I have some major car repairs coming up within the year.

Hey, I’m just about done here, and it’s only 4:02 in the morning. If I hurry, I can be asleep by 4:30.

Whatever you’re dealing with in these lockdown days, if you’re not connecting with anyone (or not satisfactorily), I encourage you to reach out. Let’s talk it out.

Note to self: forgot to talk about walking and music. Save for Friday.

Lockdown: Happy bedtime reading

I’m always glad I went for a walk, after the walk is through. I never look forward to it.

Most of the time, I enjoy it while it’s happening. I like being outside. I like fresh air. I like wandering, in the daylight or at night. I especially like it at night. Once in a while, my body feels good too, like it was meant to walk 15,000 steps up a steep hill and through a couple of neighborhoods. That’s when it’s the best, when my body feels good and my mind feels good.

Wednesday night was mostly the opposite. I finally got my carcass out the door at 1:40 in the morning, the latest I’ve done it since this lockdown began. It didn’t suck. I just kinda wished I’d stayed home most of the time I was out, which was close to two and a half hours. But I’m home now, and I’m glad I did it. Mostly.

I listened to some podcasts in the second half, but in the first half I didn’t want my brain engaged with words, so I listened to the new album by Sylosis, Cycle of Suffering. I’d only heard of the band but had never heard their stuff until this album came out in January. Something someone wrote somewhere inspired me to add it to my running list of music to check out, and I didn’t get to it until Wednesday evening.

Such a nice surprise. Musically, I think it’s a cross between Children of Bodom and Metallica. Equal doses of melodic death metal and thrash, minus the killer CoB keyboards, with a bent toward super-melodic soloing with some amount of shredding. It’s a great combination, and this album shoots into my top five of the year so far.

I also checked out the first half of Giobia’s Plasmatic Idol. Not really metal, but metal in spirit. It’s a nice melding of 70s psychedelic, acid, and space rock styles. Enjoyable in small doses. Kind of mind-numbing in larger doses.

Anyway. 13,600 steps.

Work was almost as rough Wednesday as Tuesday, only instead of dragging my work out until 5 in the morning, I only dragged it out to 11 in the evening. Improvement.

I actually took a two-hour nap break in the middle of the day, with encouragement from my boss. And I was excused from my daily Zoom meeting. I still had a mid-day Zoom meeting for the proposal I’m working on and a phone meeting right before.

Breakfast was the leftover kajiki from yesterday, with hapa rice. Not nearly as good the second day as the first. Lunch was a bowl of cereal — I opened a new box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I don’t know how people call breakfast cereal a meal. It’s really dessert. I’ll write more about dinner tomorrow, but I finally explored the Polish open-faced sandwich I heard about last week. Split a hoagie roll and put the stuff together, sticking it in the toaster oven. In the middle of my walk, I stopped at a 7-Eleven for a bottle of water and a salmon musubi.

We have 46 active cases of COVID-19 in the state, all of them on two islands. Three new cases yesterday, all from one family.

Crush Girl and I had a few text conversations Wednesday, beginning with her suggesting I might be interested in Robin Sloan’s Sourdough, which I have on my Kindle but have not yet read. She thought of me because I’ve been messing around with sourdough bread lately. Then we talked about shoes for a while — she just got a new pair and I’ve been planning to order a new pair Friday. My walking shoes are pretty close to shot.

Ali in Boston and I continued our conversation about e-readers. She’s not ready to commit, but she spent time doing research and passing along her thoughts and questions. It was a great text conversation, spread out across the later part of the day. She passed along quotes from Paperwhite and Oasis reviews she found amusing, like this one for the Oasis:

The real reason I like the buttons is this: I live in Alaska and we have very long, cold nights. But even in the winter, we turn down the heat at night. I read in bed every single night, tucked all cozy and warm under my down comforter…except for having to have my hand out in order to touch the screen on my Paperwhite to turn the page. My hand starts to get very cold. It’s uncomfortable. My half frozen hand takes away from my happy bedtime reading experience. With the Oasis, I can keep my hand under the blankets and just push the button. You don’t know what a big deal this is until you spend night after night with a frozen hand.

I said she sounded cute and I’d be happy to turn her pages for her.

We have a 9:30 Zoom meeting Thursday. All staff. Our leadership is going to reveal a plan for getting everyone back into the office, in stages. I think I heard that each of us will have two days a week in the office, which to me sounds like it’s still way too many people in our space. I don’t feel safe enough yet, especially since we’re in a 14-story office building with elevators, narrow stairwells, lobbies, and parking structure. I might trust my coworkers but I don’t trust everyone else’s coworkers, not to mention their visitors, clients, and customers.

Buuuut you know what? The other day, Uber had a three-minute conference call during which it informed 3500 employees (employees, not drivers) their positions were being cut. So maybe I’ll just shut up and be grateful I still have work.

I am not looking forward to this meeting, and I almost always look forward to our all-staffers.

Okay I have to get to bed. It’s nearly 5:30. Reach out. If you’re having difficulty connecting. I’m here for your texting, DMing, and IMing needs. Wanna get an e-reader? Let’s talk about it!

No time to proofread. I’ll do it Thursday.

Lockdown: Marlin, yooooou send me (honest you do; honest you do; honest you do)

I think I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but I need to make this one quick, for reasons soon enough to be clear.

I had a suuuuuper difficult time focusing on work, which is suuuuuuuper disheartening, because I had one get-it-done-today task and I didn’t get it done until just now — at 5 in the morning. I did all sorts of other non-work-related things as the day went on, but even though I actually wanted to write this thing and looked forward to it, I just couldn’t get it done.

Writing is such a strange, strange thing sometimes.

But it’s submitted, and it’s a little rough, but that’s why I promised I’d have it in people’s boxes by the time I was done with work Tuesday. So we’d have time to make the adjustments. There’s a lot at stake on this one and I don’t want my work to be the reason we don’t get what we’re after.

Tuesday morning, as I mentioned, was my laundry day. It went well. I’d gotten enough sleep Monday night that I thought I had it in me to hit the beach for a sunrise swim before heading home. It started off great: I parked in my favorite stall, then walked around the park waiting for the dawn. But then I reeeeeally had to get to a bathroom. Normally in this situation, I’d head for the office and use the restroom there — it’s one advantage to working right in town and having an after-hours access key.

However, with our work-at-home directive, we’re supposed to get permission to go to the office, and there was neither time to secure it nor good-enough a reason to ask at 5:30 in the morning. So I got back into my car and sped home. All’s well and everything, but it would have been nice to get a swim.

Breakfast was a Big Mac combo, enjoyed very very early in the morning at the laundry. For lunch, I grilled that kajiki I picked up Saturday night, on my countertop appliance grill (it’s not a George; it’s a similar thing from another manufacturer, a gift from my Japanese cousin several years ago).

Kajiki is the Japanese name for blue marlin, a gorgeous sport fish whose Hawaiian name is aʻu. It’s good for sashimi, although this is the rare sashimi fish I prefer cooked. It was a huge, thick fillet, selected for its thickness so I could prepare it medium-rare. Olive oil, salt, and pepper are all you need for a nice fish like this, although I would have liked some citrus to spray over it. Kajiki’s not nearly as pleasurable as a good ahi fillet, but ahi’s price is so volatile, and it was a little steep this week. Not too steep to afford, but when I saw what I could get with less money by settling for kajiki, it wasn’t even a debate. It’s a good fish, especially for its price.

I ate half of it with hapa rice, leaving the other half for tomorrow. Dinner was more of the turkey chili with hapa rice. I had a few bites of potato salad for a snack. I brushed my teeth a few hours ago but I’m tempted to have a little bite before bed, which hopefully will be very soon. Kind of have the munchies after that writing.

During my non-focused writing time, I worked on the Monster a bit, which really made me feel good. I didn’t go for my walk because I kept telling myself I’d do it when I was done with the writing. So much for that plan.

Not much texting Tuesday. I sent Sylvia a link to an interesting local sardines recipe — she and I had just spoken a few nights ago about the variety of canned, boneless, skinless sardines available on Amazon. We are both huge sardine fans. I sent Crush Girl a link to an article in the Atlantic about the flour shortage in the nation’s markets. It’s super well-written, the kind of writing that makes me hate myself. We chatted a little about my kajiki too.

The birds are chirping loudly and in great multitudes, which means I’m up past my bedtime. I have a 10:30 phone meeting and I need to prep for it, so ugh. Still going to report for work half an hour later than usual and hope that’s enough time.

A productive day but hooooorribly inefficient. It’s okay. They’ll be this way sometimes. And if you would like someone to talk about your day with, and if you’re having difficulty connecting with someone, please reach out. We can trade photos of our lunches or something. Hang in there!

Lockdown: All along the washtower

It was the rare Monday where my work wasn’t great but the day was still pretty good.

I was working on something that should have been easy but was sloggy as heck to put together. I honestly don’t know why. It took the better part of the day and it should have taken an hour. When I finally submitted it, I think it was pretty good, but there’s no way the pretty-goodness justifies the amount of time it took.

I had a Zoom meeting to talk about another big project. It was kind of daunting on first glance, but the conversation actually helped me put it together in my brain so that I should (should!) have something useful by the end of Tuesday, which is when I sort of promised it.

Okay breakfast was a bowl of turkey chili and rice. I know. It’s crazy. Normally if I have dinner for breakfast, I have a healthy breakfast for lunch. That’s not what I’ve been doing lately. It was a large breakfast so I kind of skipped lunch, opting for a few bites of potato salad as a snack. Dinner was a bowl of cereal, the last of the faux Honey Bunches of Oats.

I keep spelling that Oates. My brain is telling me to listen to “Private Eyes” or to read “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”

I attacked the Monster for a bit (without explaining, Monday night is the best night for the first, easy task — the one that makes the biggest difference in getting the other tasks done). Didn’t get to my car, which I have a few things more to do with before I take it in.

Neither did I get to bed by eight as planned. I got to bed around nine and fell asleep around 9:30. That should have been okay, except I woke up twice before my alarm. The second time it was just past one, so I just stayed up. Four hours is better than three, which is what I’ve been getting on laundry nights.

No walking because laundry.

Tiger got back to me, responding to my text the other night. Crush Girl and I got into a text conversation about her favorite show. We also talked about how we feel about the state’s relaxing of guidelines, which neither of us feels very good about. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels the way I do.

JB and I traded some messages about how his family is handling the lockdown. He has four teenaged kids, so I was really interested in their experience.

And early Tuesday morning, as I was getting ready to head to the laundry, Ali in Boston and I traded a bunch of texts about several topics. My Silent Book Club (on hold for the foreseeable future) and this other project I’m working on. She also had some questions about owning an e-reader. I gave my usual advice about how nothing will ever be better than a physical book, but an e-reader offers a lot of great things too good to reject categorically. A book lover should have both.

Monday was perhaps the most mundane day I’ve had in a while, and I think it’s what I needed. I have Tuesday morning off, but I’m looking forward to a productive half-day at work. And putting some heat on that fish fillet I bought the other night. It’s been a while since I cooked fish, and I feel my body craving it.

Connection is critical. If you’re not getting enough and if you’d like to trade texts, IMs, or DMs, just reach out. I’ve got room for you in my silly existence.

Lockdown: Still, like air, I’ll rice

In case you were losing sleep over my stuck-open sunroof: when I got into the car this afternoon, started the engine, and hit the button, the roof closed right up. Whew.

My mom’s gift was six five-pound bags of Japanese rice from Rice Factory, a rice mill in Honolulu. Sooo I’m no expert, but I know from testimony by my elders that Japanese rice is a different animal from American rice, which is almost all grown in California. Some Japanese people have difficulty adjusting to American rice, and when there have been rice shortages in Japan and importers have brought in American rice, it’s almost always a failure.

Japanese rice has its own terroir, supposedly, and Rice Factory brings in stuff it considers the best. So I bought my mom six varieties from different regions, asking her to let me know what she likes best. For future reference.

I drove it over and left it at the front door. My dad came down and carried it upstairs, and I chatted with my mom from below. It was nice. My parents both look good. The dog seemed happy to see me but disappointed we couldn’t hang out. I was happy to see them all.

Breakfast was a bowl of turkey chili with hapa rice. Have I mentioned how pleased I am with how this pot came out? Lunch was a Wendy’s hamburger and baked potato, grabbed on the way home from seeing the folks. I’ve got (American) rice cooking right now for a late dinner: more chili and rice. Mostly because it’s made, and I’m not up to preparing anything despite this morning’s intentions.

Somewhere in there I snacked on some potato salad.

I tackled the Monster for a bit. Set a modest goal and went past it. It felt good, as unpleasant as it was. I’ve sorta broken the whole nasty project into three separate tasks. One is pretty clean and doesn’t take long, but it makes a huge difference in my ability to do the other tasks, so I try to save it for evenings when I’m especially unmotivated. Low effort with big rewards? Yeah, bring that on.

The second task is slightly unpleasant and somewhat laborious, but when I do it, the third (disgusting) task is easier to get into, since’s it’s merely unpleasant and not much work. Sunday evening I did the third task for about an hour. I got a lot done in an hour.

And then, right at 11 in the evening, I went out for a long walk. I logged 6000 steps before midnight (I’d already had 2000 just from normal walking around the house beforehand). Then 9600 steps after midnight, so somewhere between 13K and 14K for the evening. It felt good. I listened to the new Nightwish album, this time determined to listen attentively to the whole thing. More on that later, but I have to say I like it quite a bit more than I thought I would. I also listened to the debut album from Konvent, Puritan Masochism. They’re an all-female death-doom band from Denmark and I was pretty impressed, even if a little of that music goes a long way for me. Then got through most of Under Acid Hoof by Acid Mammoth, a stoner-doom band. I’m liking it so far. It’ll take a few listens before I get a good handle on it, which in the case of stoner metal usually means figuring what (if anything) distinguishes it from other bands in the same genre.

The thing about depression is that sometimes it has a reason, and sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes when you’ve embraced that, you don’t try to find a reason. I’m not willing to put money on it, but I suspect it’s easier to slide into the numbness when I’m not getting those steps in the evenings. The fresh air, the aching knee, the blister on my right sole — I think they’re all related to keeping the hounds at bay.

I sent texts to Tiger (I’ve called her something else in this space, the high-school classmate whose identity I can’t share because of her work) but it makes more sense to call her by her high-school nickname even though I haven’t called her that in 30 years. Also to JB. Haven’t heard back from either yet.

Charles and I traded texts about his work situation. He had a part-time job as a resource aide at a local middle school, but with no students on campus, there’s no need for him, and he was laid off. He’s still got a part-time job at a pizza place, but that’s not going to keep him going. I’m keeping an eye out for work for him.

Crush Girl and I traded texts about a friend we have in common who has a new position. A short but nice conversation.

The rice is done, but I think I’m better off saving it for Monday. Maybe I’ll just have a few bites of something small, instead of the full-on dinner I was looking forward to. I think sleep is a higher priority right now, as it’s 3:18 a.m. Monday.

I’m looking forward to a super-productive week, one in which I may finally get that nagging car stuff taken care of. I have one more task for it, hopefully for Monday evening, before I send it off to the shop. I’m also determined to get everything ready for the laundry before eight in the evening so I can get to bed suuuuuper early and have enough sleep before I drive to Manoa.

Whatever you’re looking forward to, if anything, if you haven’t got someone to share it with, I encourage you to reach out. Let’s get through this together.

Lockdown: Let the sun shine in

My sunroof is stuck open.

I washed my car. For the first time in more than a year. There’s a leak in the roof, so I can’t drive it through the drive-through car wash. The leak doesn’t come all the way into the car unless there’s a very hard rain, and then it’s only an annoying drip right over the driver’s seat.

But I’m taking it in for some small work, and I suspect repair shops do a better job when it looks like the car is kept clean.

The sunroof was closed. I’m not such an idiot that I’d accidentally wash it with the stupid sunroof open. I mean I’m not such an idiot that I’d do it twice.

As I was giving it a last rinse, I saw that the sunroof was almost all the way open! I know it was closed because the roof is the first thing I washed. I started up the car and the stupid thing wouldn’t close. Ugggggh.

I did the best toweling off the car even though it began to drizzle. Of course. As I was cleaning up and returning a couple of text messages, I looked again and it was nearly all the way closed! I mean, it’s not shut enough to make me feel okay — it’s leaving like a three-inch opening.

I suspect water got into the wiring where the sunroof controls are. In fact, I know water got into it. I didn’t think such a thing could open and shut the stupid sunroof on its own and not otherwise, but that seems to be what happened. Ugh. I’m going to try to air the whole thing out Sunday and hope simply drying will take care of things. Otherwise I guess I add another thing to the small list of things I’m asking for when I take it in.

Geez.

I woke up at 4:30 and got to the beach at 5. There was still a lot of good parking. Walked around the park, and there were more walkers there than I was comfy with, but we all managed to avoid each other. It was mostly a nice walk.

The swim was nice. By the time I got out and back to my car, the park was a teeming mass of moving people. I was happy to get out of there. I was super happy to have been there at all.

I stopped at Pancakes and Waffles for breakfast and lunch takeout. Breakfast was chicken and waffles, something I’ve always wanted to try there. It was reeeally good. The waffles wasn’t at all crispy when I got home, but dang it was tasty. And the fried chicken thighs were far better than I expected. Crispy and juicy. I usually get one or the other around here. These were both. Yum.

Lunch was a vinha d’alhos omelet with fried rice. Also quite good but if I thought a Denver omelet would keep better, I’d have preferred something with a few veggies.

I drove down to the strip mall to get takeout from somewhere, then had second thoughts. So instead what did I do? I had a scoop of jamocha and a scoop of Snickers ice cream in a cup. Sinful and terrible but so, so good.

What I did next isn’t to surprising, but I was still surprised. I went to the supermarket. I mean, it’s right there next to the ice cream shop. I didn’t need a thing. Yet I spent a hundred bucks. On stuff I don’t even really have room for in the pantry. A six-pack of some vanilla porter. Half a pound of fresh strawberries. Some brown sugar (which I use a lot of in my cooking, so that one’s okay), a package of hoagie rolls, two trays of mushrooms, a jar of chili sauce, a gallon of milk, a couple of six-packs of Diet Pepsi, a two-pound fish filet, and a pound of uncured hot dogs. The hot dogs are part of the regular rotation, but I’d rotated them out lately, and the store was out of hot dog buns anyway so I can’t even really enjoy them properly.

If I don’t waste any of it (which I can’t guarantee), nothing in there is frivolous, at least. Some of it is experimental — I made the mistake of going into a little deep-dive on a Polish sandwich dish I’d never heard of until this past week and I can’t wait to mess around with it — but kitchen experiments are part of my life anyway.

It’s just that I seriously didn’t need either the trip to the market or the stuff I bought. I think I’m getting a little more stir-crazy than I’ll admit.

I did mostly stay out of bed once I was up from my nap. A wonderful, heavenly little nap after breakfast and before lunch. It wasn’t the feel-nothing sleep I’ve been sorta trapped in. Just a nice, warm sleep. I didn’t wake up smiling but I was close.

I’m having my real dinner now: a bottle of the vanilla porter and most of the strawberries. They’re both rather nice.

If not for the stupid sunroof situation, which I’m still hoping will work itself out, I’d feel so good about the two hours cleaning my car, inside and out. It’s one of those things I always feel like I don’t have enough time for, and I did a pretty good job. And it was nice to labor over something physical. So much of my personal tasks involve banging on this keyboard. It’s a different kind of strenuous and honestly it takes its toll.

Okay contacts. There was a text from Julie to the rest of the engineering firm friends about Downton Abbey, the movie. We saw it together. Sylvia sent me a photo of some Cheetos popcorn and another of a bread recipe she’s about to try.

Crush Girl responded to my happy weekend text from Friday night. She tried a third dish from that spot we’ve been talking about and said it was also meh. It happened to be while I was dealing with the sunroof, so I vented a little. Then we talked a little about the book she just finished.

I sent Ali in Boston one of the photos I’m sharing here, and a couple of short videos I shot for her. Just 30-second clips of the water breaking against the jetty in the moonlight. It’s pretty.

It’s Sunday morning as I wrap this up. Mothers Day. Happy Mothers Day to any moms reading this. Mother or not, if you’re in need of someone to connect with, please reach out. I got itchy texting fingers and all the time in the world, for real.

I’m going to polish off the rest of the strawberries and try to get to bed before dawn.

Lockdown: Doses of melancholy

Interesting how once I identified it, it wasn’t as bad. I mean, it’s still kind of there; I just didn’t indulge it, except for a 20-minute nap break after lunch, which I’ve taken most days anyway.

Today’s nap didn’t feel like the everyday naps — it felt like what it’s been these past few days, that kind of gradual sinking into the quicksand of non-feeling. It’s so tempting to stay there, but I resisted.

I’m turning in early in hopes of a quick swim Saturday morning. I know, I know. I hate the thought of all those people out there, but I can’t keep putting this off. I need some ocean time and if I keep not going, I’m only going to keep feeling crappy.

In my ears: the new album from Axel Rudi Pell, Sign of the Times. It’s big, dumb, arena rock, albeit with better than fair guitar chops. I’ve never been much of a fan, but I’m in the mood for new music that doesn’t distract me from my writing. It seriously sounds like it came right off MTV circa 1985. Unchallenging and fun.

Work was okay. I chose a tedious, time-consuming task so I could do it with the TV on (Orange is the New Black season one disc 4). Also because I procrastinated on it until the day it was due. It took longer this time than usual. It’s my monthly report, a kind of summary of the work I completed and the work in progress, divided into categories.

Took longer because it’s also my monthly occasion for going through the previous month’s emails to make sure I didn’t let anything slip through the cracks. I did! Darn it. Two things, now re-added to my list. There are no one-on-one conversations in the office now, and everything is an email, and my emails for April were impressively numerous.

It also took longer because for some reason the list itself was long, as if I were busier in April than usual. I’m not buying it, but it’s tough to argue with the list. I never pad that thing — in fact, I’ve often left things off that I thought made me look more productive than I was. I’m telling you, and I’m not being modest, that I do not think I worked that hard last month. Being productive was the hard work, but I don’t think that translates to a longer list of stuff.

Anyway. I have stuff I’d like to get done this weekend again. Maybe this weekend I’ll actually do it.

Breakfast was a bowl of cereal. Yesterday I wrote that I had Honey Bunches of Oats, forgetting that at the grocery store a week ago, I opted for the store-brand, discount equivalent. I noticed it too, before I remembered what I’d done. Still tasty, but not quite as tasty.

Lunch was turkey chili and hapa rice. Dinner was unintentionally tortilla chips and salsa. Meant it to be a snack but I just kinda kept going until I didn’t care to have dinner anymore. I also finally got through the tiramisu Oreos, polishing off the last three sometime after lunch.

I’m skipping the walk this evening so I can get up early for the beach. If I get there as early as I expect, I’ll walk before the swim, since I’ll have to wait an hour for the dawn.

Around mid-morning, I called my mom and dad. They seem to be doing well. Still. I think they’re encouraged by the low numbers of COVID-19 cases — we had zero new cases for the first time since they started testing, and planned to hit the Navy Exchange Saturday. I also made arrangements to visit Sunday for Mothers Day. I’m not going to hang out, just dropping off a gift at the front door for my dad to carry upstairs to the house. Then calling my mom on the phone from the driveway while she looks down from the lanai.

That’s the plan anyway. Both parents said I was welcome to stay for a while, but I nixed that. I’m still not feeling safe, and I can’t take the thought of contaminating them.

I also texted Ali in Boston, around my lunchtime, which is shortly after the end of her workday. For once, she responded right away and we actually had a meaningful conversation, although she (as usual) wasn’t very expressive about whatever is going on in her life. She insists she’s an open book but getting anything out of her most of the time is impossible.

Unless she’s pissed. It’s getting so I like it better when she’s pissed, just because it means she opens up a little more. As long as I’m not the one she’s pissed at.

Very late in the evening I texted Crush Girl to wish her a happy weekend. I didn’t think I’d hear back from her but still wanted her to know I was thinking of her.

I think Saturday I’m going to get takeout for all three meals. Just feel a little like having someone else’s cooking, even though I love this pot of chili I made.

My new Katatonia CD came in the mail this week. I imported into my iTunes. I was amused by the sticker on the shrink-wrap, which read, “Katatonia’s new studio opus of absorbing, soaring progressive rock and meticulously crafted doses of melancholy.”

Meticulously crafted doses of melancholy. That should either be my epitaph or the bio on my book jacket when I publish the Great American Novel someday. Also, it’s a perfect description of the album, which like most of their stuff in recent years has been gorgeously moody.

Time to turn in. Reach out if you’re needing someone to connect with. I’m right –> there.

Lockdown: Come as you are

April 5, 1994. Kurt Cobain killed himself. There’s an essay in me about that day, but I’m not writing it now. I’m just remembering how it led to almost two weeks of staying in bed, miserable, partially for Kurt but also for me.

I was nearly finished with my first academic year at UH Hilo, a difficult, challenging, almost desperate year headed for a glorious finish. I’d be awarded a creative writing award in a week or two. I had a cool summer job lined up. I was on the newspaper staff, and I’d made real friends — fellow English majors, the newspaper crew, and the campus ministry friends. Most importantly, I’d made enough progress that I was finally finally finally finally finally about to have senior status.

Two more semesters. All I had to do was get through two more semesters and eight years after graduating high school, I would finally have my bachelor’s degree.

In those ten or so days a month before finals week, I almost blew it. I went to bed and crawled out to eat, use the bathroom and somehow (somehow!) make it to my weekend job.

Side note: it’s not that surprising, really. In my history with this thing, I’ve always managed to get to work and do my job. I hadn’t had it long enough in 1994 to understand it yet, but this thing was low-grade, something I managed without counseling or medication. Not powerful enough to devastate me, but tough enough to mess up more than its fair share of semesters.

By this point in my college career, I at least knew enough about myself to know it was coming. So at the beginnings of all my semesters in Hilo, I made sure to get off to a really, really good start. To meet with professors during office hours, to make friends in class, and to establish enough goodwill to get me some mercy when I missed a week or two of classes. I turned long-term assignments in early.

I think often about this time, because it was one of those cases when this near-crippling burden had a reason, and when it felt miserable. Also, it’s one of the few I remember specifically because it’s tied to Kurt’s death.

I forget that most of them don’t feel miserable. They feel numb. I don’t stay in bed because I feel terrible; I stay in bed for no discernable reason. I get up and do things — go to work, make a meal, use the bathroom — and then go right back to bed, and it’s a relief. It’s nothingness, and it’s a relief.

I realized this evening that I’m in it. I was looking one way for dark clouds on the horizon and this other thing snuck up on me from the other direction. It’s been so long that I didn’t even realize it. I thought I was ill, and maybe I am, but it’s not just physical illness. Perhaps the emotional stuff was brought on by illness, or perhaps the two illnesses merely coincide, but dang it. It’s weird that I forgot what it was like.

Anyway it helps that I know what it is now. It doesn’t feel like it’ll last very long. Although who knows?


Work was difficult. In fact, I’m writing this now and then getting back to it. I didn’t return a few emails because I just didn’t want to deal with stuff. This is bad. I’ve got to clean this up before it gets really bad.

Food was good today. For breakfast I had the leftover mashed potatoes with green beans and corn. I made some turkey chili for lunch in the Instant Pot. It came out pretty great. I had it for dinner too. With hapa rice. I had five or six tiramisu Oreos for a snack, a few after lunch and a couple after dinner.

Lying in bed numb, I realized I’d just stay there if I didn’t get up and do something. So I went for a short walk — we’re talking fewer than 4000 steps. Just walked down the hill, put my Netflix DVD in the dropbox, walked around the neighborhood a little, then went to Long’s. I didn’t even need anything, but I spent $40 on some canned goods, some frozen food, and a bottle of local honey. Just to shop. Just to do something normal.

It was a small triumph. I’m glad I did it.

My first text message this morning was from AJ in San Diego. She sent me a tracking link for the puzzle she mailed me. She’s so funny. And adorable.

JB messaged me to tell me he and his son have a favorite Korean baseball team. In case you don’t know, the Korean Baseball Organization (don’t ask me why it has an English name with an English acronym) opened play this week, and ESPN is contracted to air their games, with American broadcasters doing play-by-play and color commentary. American sports fans are so starved for sports I expect it to be a big hit. I don’t have ESPN so I can’t watch, but I think it’s just as well.

Crush Girl texted me and I can’t say what we conversed about without giving away identifying info about her, but it was nice, and I was able to do her a long-distance small favor. It made me feel good. And it was nice to hear from her.

Okay. Insert my usual message here about reaching out if you’re having difficulty connecting. I may not respond right away, but I’ll get to you! I’m going to answer a few emails and get to bed.

Friday will be a better day!

Lockdown: License to ill

I felt slightly unwell today. It started off okay but all my energy drained out of me sometime after the daily Zoom meeting. I dozed off and didn’t get up until well after the end of my workday. It was a little weird.

Mostly worked on emails and a couple of stories I didn’t get far enough on. Had a phone meeting and the Zoom meeting. And then nothing. Ugh.

Breakfast was the last of my pulled pork leftovers, with rice leftover from that McD’s breakfast platter Tuesday night. It wasn’t really enough for a full meal so I chased it with a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats.

Lunch was a couple of slices of sourdough with some good cheddar. Dinner, which I just finished, was instant mashed potatoes with canned corn and canned green beans. Simple but filling, salty, and yummy.

I had four tiramisu Oreos as a snack, also just now.

I got a text message from Jenny, asking for some advice with a letter she was writing. That let to a little more conversation. It’s always great to hear from her. I think she’s doing some consulting work for HBA now, based on the little bit of copy I helped her with.

Jennifer M sent me a photo of a misspelling in a local news graphic. I think Hawaii people have problems with plurals ending in -ISTS, often leaving the second (nearly silent) S off the end of words like FLORISTS and SCIENTISTS.

I sent my sister a text about Mothers Day.

Ryan responded to a text I sent him late Tuesday night. About the Hawaii Stories project.

AJ in San Diego asked me for my address — she wants to send me a jigsaw puzzle she says was too intense for her to finish. I think that’s incredibly sweet and kind of cute. There are worse things than to be the person who comes to mind when other people think of puzzles. It’s gotten me a couple of fun, paying gigs.

Yes, I skipped my walk again this evening. Hopefully I’ll feel better Thursday so I can get back out there. Kalihi needs haunting, and its feral cats need to be photographed.

I watched the first disc of Orange is the New Black season 1. Again. I own the first three seasons on DVD but haven’t watched past Season 2 for some reason. So I’m starting over from the beginning.

I’m flagging. Back to bed. Please reach out if you’re having difficulty connecting. People are speaking as if the end is in sight, but I’m not buying it. There could be a long way to go. Don’t go it alone if you don’t want to.