Lockdown: Water you doing?

Aaaand tonight I’ll start with: work. I got home from the laundry and went to bed, getting up an hour before I was scheduled to begin work. I took the morning off, so I didn’t have to be on the clock until noon.

Emails took a little longer than usual, and I had to do some reading for a Zoom meeting about potential future proposals. Then the usual daily Zoom meeting, and work on some copy introducing one of our publications.

That didn’t leave a lot of time for working on the two stories I have lined up. It’s okay. I’ve been thinking about each for more than a week, and I’ve already done the interviews. Unless something comes up, I think I can get both done in a day.

I skipped the walk Tuesday evening. I’m trying to reset my clock, and although I can’t get it all back in one night, if I can get to bed very soon I’ll be okay Wednesday at work and then hopefully set the clock back another hour or two for Wednesday night. That’s the plan, anyway. I can’t simply let myself continue to slide later and later into vampire hours. It’s ridiculous. The sun’s been out and shining almost every night by the time I put myself to bed lately, Monday night the lone exception for the laundry.

I did a few chores, then tried to get water refills at the supermarket. No luck. It was still out of order. So I looked up alternate locations in my area. There was one in an area suuuuuper sketchy at night. I chanced it. Actually, I almost chanced it. On my way there, I saw some machines outside a convenience store in a slightly less sketchy area. The machines looked a little sketchy, but what the heck. At the worst, they’re just selling me regular tap water. And regular tap water is fine as long as it doesn’t taste like the water at my house.

Hopefully I won’t have to go through this again. I’m set for just under a week.

Okay I gotta hurry.

Breakfast: leftover penne. Lunch: sourdough bread with good cheddar. A simple but delicious meal. Dinner: I didn’t want to do this but it was getting late, so on the way home from refilling my water jugs, I went to McD’s and had a local deluxe breakfast platter. It’s a cholesterol bomb. I probably erased weeks worth of overnight oats.

For snacks, I had three tiramisu Oreos.

Then I watched Joker, about which I’ll reflect later. I kinda wanted to hate it, but I don’t. It’s a very, very, very well-made movie and I doubt I’ll ever watch it again.

Not too much interaction today but it was good. I texted Crush Girl to ask if she was having a better day, which led to some conversation about our governor’s overly hasty re-opening of some businesses in the state. Neither of us is very comfortable with it.

I texted Sylvia to tell her to let me know if she needed more yeast or flour. That led to some conversation about Taco Bell, including a selfie from her in the drive-through. Then Susannah texted me to ask if I’d gotten her submission for the Hawaii Stories project. All good interactions with people who make my life better.

Joker was a downer. I’m trying to fight off some yuckiness before turning in. Writing this stuff down helped some; I’ll probably drift off while listening to a podcast, my comfort listening when I lay me down to sleep.

I’m going to try to make waffles sometime tomorrow.

Non-sequitur memory that just popped into my head: when I lived in an off-campus Christian dorm while still studying at UH Manoa (before my transfer to UH Hilo), I took up pie-baking as a hobby. My close friends know apple pie is probably my favorite dessert (Dutch apple from Anna Millers when I can get it; ala mode of course), and dorm living gave me a chance to really explore cooking, something I’d done a lot at home but not very adventurously. So yeah, apple pie. Our campus ministry director took an interest in my efforts and even gave me a pastry cutter as a gift when I couldn’t attend an appreciation lunch of some sort.

I was determined that the crust was the most critical element. You can luck into a good filling just by tossing the requisite ingredents into a pie tin. So it took a lot of practice, and I got to where my pies were pretty decent. Certainly not up to Anna Miller standards, but good enough to share un-selfconsciously.

That’s what I did. I’d eat a few slices myself, share a few with whoever was around when I was done baking, and leave one or two for the girls in the dorm. Slick, huh? The dining area had a row of refrigerators, and each of us was assigned one shelf in one fridge. We all knew whose shelves were whose because our names were on the fridge doors. I’d decide whom to leave some pie for, put it on a small dish with plastic wrap over it, then just leave it on someone’s shelf to be discovered later.

I was then and I still am a shameless flirt.

I’m down to exchange non-sequitur memories with you if you’ve got ’em. Reach out and connect, especially if you’re having difficulty connecting. I won’t do Zoom meetings or voice calls, but we can trade texts or DMs or IMs if you’re down for that.

Lockdown: Slog time no see

Some questions I’m asking myself about this lockdown journaling.

  • Is it lame that I almost always begin with work? When I sit down to write about my day, it’s the first thing on my mind, almost without fail, and I suspect it has the most influence on my feelings about a day, at least on weekdays.
  • Three specific things I’m logging for my own record of the era are exercise, food, and work. On one hand it’s convenient because they’re the constants; on another it seems mundane and basic, as if the depth and feelings about my existence swivel on what I do to earn my money, what I put into my body, and where I take my body.
  • The fourth, I think, is not something someone would predict but which definitely makes a difference: the record of my interactions with others. The days are something of a blur, but one thing that marks any kind of movement through time is the conversations I have with people who are important to me. I kind of want to be more detailed about these things for this reason — I mean, in fifteen years, if I look back on these scribblings, will I remember or care who these people are if I can’t recall specifically what we talked about?

No further rumination today on these silly self-referential questions. It’s a journal. The only real task is to write whatever I’m thinking about, and unless I’m worried that what I’m thinking about reveals a rut in my thinking (a very real possibility, but one I’m willing to endure for now), I think maybe I shouldn’t waste energy considering it. Just shut up and write.

Work was something of a slog, but I powered my way through this proposal that’s been nagging at me since before we moved out of the office. I finally, finally got a (first!) draft to the development officer and I think it look pretty okay for a first draft. It took far too long and it was far too much work although I don’t think it was especially difficult.

This is one aspect of the actual mechanics of work that suffers when I’m working from home. My internet connection at home isn’t one millionth as good as the connection at the office (for reasons I don’t want to get into). At the office, I’m working on dual monitors on elevated stands, so I’m looking slightly upward at the screens the way you’re supposed to. At home, I’m working on the tiny screen of the work-assigned laptop, something that works fine for writing but horribly for layout work in InDesign or photo editing in Photoshop.

I suspect I’m going to be working from home a lot more, even once they open the offices back up, so I’m going to order some new monitors when I next get paid. Even if I have to get something cheap (and I probably will) and even if I have to order one at a time. I just really need to see my work better if I’m going to do it as well as I expect. My eyes are exhausted to the point of tears by the end of most workdays, especially days when I’m running on insufficient sleep.

Some people at work asked to take their monitors home. I might have as well if my setup at work wasn’t such a pain to break down. I really, really wish I’d thought to ask if I could bring my office chair home, because my chair at home makes things pretty difficult too. I’m not exactly complaining, because the chair I have at home is fine, and it’s better than I’ve lived with in other times in my life (I’m thinking of my apartment in Hilo when I did all that reading in a resin lanai chair in my bedroom), but compared to a decent office chair, it’s pretty unforgiving.

So the proposal took up most of my day, which means I had to push a few things to Tuesday. I’m not super happy about this. I am, however, suuuuuuper relieved to have these two nagging proposals off my desk and in the hands of my partners for edit suggestions. I’m got some things on hold that I can focus on now without stressing out.

Breakfast was a bowl of Churros cereal again. I’ve finally finished that box and can think about other things. More overnight oats and one of those three (!) boxes of cereal I picked up at the supermarket last Thursday night.

A very late lunch was some penne and jarred sauce I made in the Instant Pot. It came out great. I didn’t even feel the need to add some of that blue cheese I’m worried about finishing before it turns. Just red pepper flakes and brown sugar, right in the pressure cooker. Wonderful.

I made my second attempt at sourdough, which was sort of my late dinner. I think it came out great, but I’m learning that almost everything out of the bread machine tastes great when it’s super fresh like that. The test will be how the bread tastes later Tuesday. Already better than my first loaf, I’m pretty sure.

I don’t remember snacking during the day, so focused was I on my freaking proposal, but I may have had one or two tiramisu Oreos. They’re sitting there on my desk when I usually keep them in the cabinet. I either moved them there and forgot about them or I had a few and just don’t remember.

Skipped the walk because it’s laundry day. I was suuuuuper inconvenienced on the way in when the water machine outside the supermarket was out of order. Dang, this puts a little speedbump in my day. I’ll probably have to stop at a convenience store on my way home from the laundry just to pick up a few bottles of drinking water.

Sylvia and I had a text conversation about the sourdough crackers she’s been making — she’s not using the starter for bread even while she’s baking bread. She’s using them for crackers. I might have to give that a try.

Crush Girl reached out to ask how my day was going, which led to a conversation about streaming services. She’s thinking of jumping from one to another. She also tried a second dish at that place we’ve both been wanting to try, and said the furikake mahi was just okay. I talked a little about planning to make sourdough waffles this week. Also agreed to pass along some yeast and flour if she wants it. We’re thinking Wednesday as a possibility. It’ll be nice to see her, even if only in passing.

Laura from work and I texted a little about the #givingtuesdaynow effort. She shared with me a tweet from a donor relations expert we both follow. It was an interesting conversation, and she was in a lousy mood for totally understandable reasons. I don’t think I was any help at all.

Jennifer O texted me to talk about her story in the Hawaii Stories project.

F5 Girl and I IMed a little about cars and fast food.

I skipped the walk because laundry. Which has been folded and packed up for fifteen minutes but I’m still here so I can finish writing this.

Whatever you’re dealing with and wherever you are, if you’re having difficulty finding someone to connect with in this pande-monium, I’m inviting you to reach out. Let’s trade a few texts or DMs. Maybe you can tell me what you’re eating, what’s going on at work, and what you’re doing for fresh air and sunshine.

Lockdown: Hello darkness, my old friend

I’m beginning to realize that it takes a little more effort than I anticipated not to slide into hermit mode. Sometimes I envy people who crave the company of others. I’m fine without it, but left to my own solitude, I go so into myself that the whole apparatus seems to turn inside out, kind of black-hole-like. I don’t exactly want to lock myself in a dark room and stay in bed all day, but I also kind of want to.

The darkness is a temptress, promising anonymity and freedom to be whatever I want without judgment. In the dark, nobody sees what I look like, and nobody remembers the stupid hurtful things I’ve let slip out of my mouth. I can’t fail to meet any goals because I don’t bother setting them. Oh, and the self-loathing! It feels so great to feel so terrible about myself.

I did (finally, at midnight) force myself out for a walk, telling myself (as I did Wednesday night, I think it was) it would just be a short walk to the stripmall. I want to make waffles and I don’t have any eggs, so I invented the errand of getting eggs from the open-all-night Long’s store in my hood. The walk is what I needed. Of course once I got moving, breathing the fresh cool air and feeling the pulse of Kalihi as it slept, I felt great, still anonymous but among the living, which at that hour consists mostly of fellow nameless ghosts like me, spooking the mostly empty streets.

I wonder if it’s why I like hanging out in cafes. In the world but not of the world, as someone says in the gospel of John. Or why I feel so good at the all-night laundry every week, writing under the harsh fluorescent lighting while cramming too much McDonald’s food into my hole.

Whatever the reasons, I’m presented again with anecdotal evidence that getting outdoors and moving around for ninety to a hundred and fifty minutes is one of the tiny handful of things keeping me Velcroed to the — to whatever real life is in this week’s incarnation by this week’s definition. I walked down to the fourth-nearest 7-Eleven (I think; it could be the third-nearest or fifth-nearest) to get a money order for the rent, then wandered around in the area for a little. Then back to the stripmall to drop a Netflix DVD into a mailbox and get those eggs.

The walk back from the drugstore was a little weird. I was suddenly really, really hungry, shaking a little from the hunger by the time I got back to the crib. Mostly I’m glad I did it. It added up to 10,408 steps, about a mile shorter than my usual walk, but it felt like it was longer.

Breakfast. A bowl of cereal. I’ve avoided naming it because it’s embarrassing, but it’s that Churros cereal by the Cinnamon Toast Crunch people. Basically the same cereal in a different shape and not as good.

I kind of skipped lunch, then for dinner I had an enormous bowl of mashed potatoes and two heads of broccoli, steamed in the Instant Pot. The broccoli came out great. I normally do something to the potatoes, like stir in some wasabi oil, or add sauerkraut, or at least chop up some decent cheddar, but it’s been a while since I had mashed potatoes so I had them plain. It was all quite filling and delicious.

I guess I can call that lunch because when I got back from the walk, I had a couple of quesadillas. I had four tiramisu Oreos for a snack and I’m about to get two to four more. Still kind of hungry from the walk.

I did all three of my usual Sunday crosswords — New York Times, L.A. Times, and Washington Post. I usually spread those out over the week, but I really needed them Sunday. Somewhere in there I worked on two of ten stories for the Hawaii Stories project. Not quite as much progress as I had in mind, but pretty good work.

Most of my interaction was intermittent IMs with F5 girl. I probably needed more.

Nothing else to say and it’s nearly 5:30 in the morning, and of course I have to be at my desk for work at 9:30.

Not my best day, but a better day than I’ve been having. I invite you to reach out if you’re having similar. Or even if you’re not. I’m good with texting, or IMs, or DMs. Whatever works!

Lockdown: Shut in and drives

Another strange day. I got up around 9 after only three hours of sleep. Had a few bites of potato salad so I could take my meds. Then read the news and did the NYT crossword. Then back to bed of course.

I did a few more crosswords and had pulled pork and kale on hapa rice for lunch, although I guess it was more of a late breakfast. So good.

The rest of the day was a combination of doing nothing and doing little tasks. I did take apart that PC, breaking it into its components and tossing its pieces in the trash. We’re allowed to throw electronic trash in the bin here. Our trash gets separated and then burned for electricity. I took it all out, even the motherboard, except the DVD and CDR drives. The best thing about PCs is how easy they are to open up and add stuff to or subtract stuff from.

That top drive is pulled back as far as I could slide it.

I saved the ZIP drive for use later. I have some old teacher stuff on ZIP discs somewhere, and I wouldn’t mind rescuing it. The hard drive I’ll destroy and throw away separarately later. Wish I could get the DVD and CDR drives out. They’re held in by some weird connector I haven’t seen, like rivets or something. I could slide them back in the rack but couldn’t get the rack itself out.

I’m thinking of holding on to the case too, although I can’t really imagine why.

Late lunch was overnight oats. Very late dinner was more pork and kale. Somewhere in there I also had four tiramisu Oreos.

The rack looks like it’s held in by that weird connector at the top of the photo. What is that? Some kind of rivet?

I did not go for a walk. Again. Will do it Sunday evening for sure.

I got some of those masks I ordered on Etsy. The ants tried to move into one of the envelopes, big time. I had to tear the package open and let them take their larvae somewhere else. They left a mess, too; I’m going to have to rinse one of the masks out before I wear it, although I think I’ll probably launder it too.

Also in the mail: Silicon Valley season 5. Aaaand that’s where the rest of my day went. I have been saying for years that don’t have the attention span for a TV binge anymore, but I had it in me for this. Pretty good season. And oh my goodness, Amanda Crew.

I got texts from Sharon who sent a photo of a jigsaw puzzle she’s working on. Forgot to respond until just now. She sent it while I was still in bed this morning. Also from San Diego AJ, responding to a question I asked a couple of days ago. JB sent me a photo of his bottle of Suntori Toki, saying how good it is. I agree; it’s insipid but tasty and very drinkable. I’ve got a bottle of my own. Sylvia sent me photos of her latest loaf of bread. Beer bread. It looks pretty dang good. My uncle sent me an IG photo of some positive advice, which was nice. F5 girl sent me a video of her favorite band. It was all very nice and not very challenging, perfect for a day like today.

Not the most productive day. I’ll make up for it Sunday. For sure! Taking care of the PC that’s been taking up space on my desk for centuries was good for me; it felt good and it did good for my living space. I need more of that for Sunday.

I’m going to make my second attempt at sourdough Sunday too. I don’t have a lot of experience with blue cheese and I’m a little nervous about the lovely wedge I have in the fridge. A decent loaf of bread and that ginger-peach jelly I brought back from Boston will take care of most of it; I’ll use whatever’s left for some pasta Monday or Tuesday.

Wherever you are and whatever you’re up to, if you need a little bit of connection, I hope you’ll reach out. I’m easy to reach if not always quick to respond. 🙂

Lockdown: A Friday 5 and Tiramisu Oreos

Friday 5: The most convenient definitions. From here.

This week’s questions come verbatim from a certain favorite movie.

  1. So — so on Monday, what happens?
    I was scheduled to be in a group Zoom interview with some big donors. As we scheduled and rescheduled the thing, I had a weird feeling about how this was coming together, but I kept my mouth shut except to suggest that group interviews (in this case, two interviewers and two interviewees) required a bit of strategy ahead of time, a comment that was responded to by crickets. However, my boss emailed me Friday morning to say I didn’t have to be in the Zoom call — she’d felt similarly that something was off, so she’s going to handle the interview on her own. Whew. So now it’ll just be a normal Monday, at least normal according to new definitions of normal.
  2. What was that ruckus?
    Neighborhood kids bouncing a ball around, then almost setting off my car alarm. It was mildly annoying but kids being kids almost never bother me, and I let it roll.
  3. What do you know about trigonometry?
    Math didn’t become poetry for me until high-school calculus, but once I had my moment of calculus awakening early in 12th grade, I could look back and see that the prologue was trig. Less poetry and more elaborate puzzle, trig is like those pencil-and-paper mazes you trace your way through, and when you color in the path, you’re left with a drawing of a flower. Or it’s like those Transformers toys. It’s a robot! Until you start moving this thing here and that thing there and then it’s a big, complicated mess — still one structure made up of the same pieces, but completely unrecognizable until you play around with it some more and then: it’s a sleek racecar. That it’s effectively all based on one simple, beautiful theorem is the stuff that makes you realize there had to be an intelligent creator. The secrets of the universe are in the right triangle. Actually, I don’t think that’s true; I think the secrets of the universe are in pi, but Pythagoras was clearly on the path.
  4. Vodka? When do you drink vodka?
    Not very often. I haven’t figured out what my spirit spirit is. It’s not vodka. ‘though I gave vodka a pretty good chance to connect. I have two half-consumed bottles of it in my kitchen right now, in fact. A bottle of Absolut, which I dislike. It has a weird waxy flavor when you drink it neat, although I have to say it’s a good mixer. And a bottle of Ketel One, a much better option that I rather enjoy. While most of my liquor is in a cabinet, I have the Ketel One at the ready in my freezer, a Captain Morgan spiced rum on my dining table, and Buchanan’s blended Scotch on my kitchen counter. None of which I imbibe very often. I just like having them ready. That Buchanan’s, by the way, is horrible right out of the bottle; I get why so many YouTube whisky raters don’t score it highly. However, if you pour it and let it sit for a few minutes before sipping (neat), it’s quite good. I don’t know what the explanation is.
  5. How’d you like to go fishing this weekend?
    Man, I would love to. I wouldn’t mind grabbing a bamboo pole and getting ankle-deep at Waimanalo and hooking oama for a few hours. I haven’t been oama fishing since elementary school days with the McGuires. Any nice beach time at all right now would be great, really.

Friday was mildly productive in a super-slo-mo kind of way. I was rolling on this proposal I backburnered near the end of March. I got up to take a break and saw that I had a Zoom meeting in forty minutes, and I didn’t think it would be worth it to get re-absorbed in the proposal only to have my workflow interrupted by the meeting. Then the meeting got called off, and then I had half an hour until the regular daily Zoom call, so I kind of waited around for that. It was not the best use of my time.

I don’t think I’m going to be pleased with myself if I don’t spend some time this weekend just wrapping up the first draft to send to the fundraiser. Urrrrrggggghhh.

I didn’t go walking Friday either. Urgh again. Just felt super lazy and even though I knew I’d feel great once I got moving, it just didn’t happen this time. My weekly stepcount is going to be its lowest in months, I think.

I did, however, get Taco Bell for lunch, something I’ve yearned to do for six weeks. I wasn’t even hungry. I just saw a window of opportunity and once the idea popped into my mind, I could not shake it. So a burrito supreme, a taco supreme, and a 7-layer burrito with a large Diet Pepsi. The Taco Bell drive-through didn’t have a pay-with-phone option, much to my annoyance. It’s a brand-new building, not two months old yet! They didn’t outfit the drive-through payment system with a phone payment capability? I’m appalled.

Breakfast was a bowl of Churros breakfast cereal. Soooo bad. Dinner, which I just had a moment ago, was some of that pulled pork and kale, with hapa rice. Delicious. The hapa rice for certain dishes is going to work out if I don’t cook it in the Instant Pot and then let it sit in the keep-warm phase for 90 minutes as I did this evening because I fell asleep. I will try to stick to brown rice for most dishes, but there are certain things brown rice just doesn’t work for.

Don’t tell my doctor.

I did a lot more snacking than usual. A couple of times I had a few bites of potato salad just to drive the twitches away. And right before I decided not to go walking, I had four Oreos. While I am not much of a cookie guy, I’ll enjoy the occasional three or four Oreos, and the supermarket had these tiramisu flavored Oreos. They’re quite good.

It looked like there would be no interpersonal connection via texting Friday, but then Ali in Boston finally reponded to my messages going back two weeks. We chatted about a few things. I miss her.

Then Sharon asked me about the Hawaii Stories project I’m working on with Ryan, and we talked a little about Ellen DeGeneres, Demi Lovato, and Christina Aguilera. No contact with Crush Girl but it feels okay.

IMed with F5 girl for a little while too.

It was not my best day, work-wise or life-wise, but I am grateful for the interaction with these friends.

Oh, I did one semi-productive thing today. I continue to set up my workspace at home, a task I could have finished six weeks ago but which I continue to drag out. I finally took an old HP tower off my desk and cleaned up the stuff that accumulated beneath it: mostly hair ties and a few coins. I’ll take the hard drive out of the machine Saturday and destroy it with my drill. My goal is to have the entire table cleared of everything except the (working) computer stuff and things directly related to my daily work. This desk doesn’t have drawers, so I’m keeping stuff I need but not all the time in a plastic bin on a TV tray next to my desk. It’s mostly working. I just have to get all this other garbage, the accumulation of years and years and years, off this table so it’s a nice, clean workspace.

It was a long week and I’m looking forward to this weekend. Gotta do some stuff for the Hawaii Stories project. Some personal writing. A little bit of work (making that my first priority for Saturday when I eventually get out of bed). A ton of walking. Reading. I’d like to squeeze a movie in, too. I won’t have to do any cooking, since I have so many leftovers in my fridge, but I fed the sourdough starter this evening. I’ll have another go at sourdough bread in the afternoon.

“In these uncertain days…” it can be easy to feel disconnected from the world, which if you want it can be a glorious thing. Believe me, I’ve been there. But if you don’t want it, it can be horribly discouraging. Don’t be discouraged. Reach out and I’ll be happy to spend some connection time with you, in texts or DMs or IMs. “Because we’re all in this together…”

Lockdown: A five-hour explanasian

I did get permission from my boss to punch in a few hours late. Thank goodness. It was still not very much sleep, but it made a difference, and my tiredness didn’t affect me too much. Got some housekeeping (work housekeeping, not home housekeeping) taken care of and updated my to-do list. Worked on the next proposal, which has been almost done for more than a month. I’m a little annoyed with myself about that one.

InDesign did something funky on me in the wee hours of the day, as I was working on the proposal keeping me up all night. So at the end of our daily department Zoom meeting, I threw it out there for some opinions. Me and three coworkers talking InDesign. It was maybe the highlight of my day. It was just nice to have work-related discussions about an aspect of the work I enjoy, completely detached from work-at-home topics and COVID-19 topics. Felt like a normal work day, except instead of leaning over a cube wall, I stared into my phone.

Aside from personal emails, work emails, and the Zoom meeting, it started off as kind of low-contact day, which my tiredness was totally okay with. Then Crush Girl texted me to tell me about a book she just started and is really enjoying. Man, I love text messages like this. Later, I sent her a screen shot of one of Thursday’s crossword puzzles. It had a long answer that’s the name of a character on her favorite TV show.

My group text with my friends from the engineering firm woke up for a little while, Suzanne mentioning that Hustlers, the Jennifer Lopez film with Constance Wu, is on demand on Showtime. We chatted a bit about whether or not Suzanne owns “stripper shoes,” which I claimed she does.

Sylvia sent me some photos of the sourdough crackers she made. Very cool! I seriously want to try this with my sourdough starter discard.

Jennifer texted me to ask when I’m going to do Led Zep in this FB thing I’m doing. That led to a short conversation about our favorite Zep songs. Sharon texted me a photo of this Korean instant noodle stew she thinks I’ll really like. It looks great; I’m going to try and get my hands on some. F5 girl and I talked a little bit on FB Messenger about this week’s Friday 5 and how long it takes her to drive to Detroit.

Good connection all around, none of it initiated by me. I’ll take it!

I skipped the walk hoping to get to bed early and hit the beach before work, but it’s 4:11 a.m. now, so it’s clearly not going to happen. Bleah. Now I have to wait for Monday or Tuesday, because there’s no way I’m going during the weekend. People in this town do not know how to stay away from me.

Instead, I made a dash to the supermarket. Totally not needed, even though it’s been exactly two weeks since my last visit. I just really want some white rice, something I haven’t had much of, and certainly not in my house, for several years. When I make rice at home, it’s brown rice. But there are some super simple dishes I favor that don’t work with brown rice, so I’m going to try making hapa rice (a first for me) and see how that goes. So while I was there I picked up Diet Pepsi, some veggies (peppers, onions, bok choi, potatoes), some canned things, milk, and (holy cow) three boxes of breakfast cereal. No, I do not know what got into me.

Oh wait; yes I do. I’ll get into it more later (because I’m tired), but one of the sports podcasts I listen to every day had an interesting conversation about breakfast cereal, so I’ve had cereal on my mind non-stop for two days. It’s so bad for me, but I really love breakfast cereal.

Food. I pretty much ate the same thing all day. I woke up not very hungry. I had a few bites of the pulled pork (with Carolina-style BBQ sauce) just because my meds go down better when I have food in my stomach. Just before the Zoom meeting, I threw in a bag of chopped kale and pressure-cooked it for five minutes. That was lunch, the wonderfully vinegary pork and kale, in some orphan hot dog buns. Dinner was more of the same.

I didn’t snack all day, but right now I’m taking a few hits off a snack-size bag of Cheetos Popcorn. I’m so not into Cheetos that this little bag is going to last me a few days.

I’m only aware of two metal albums coming out today, both of which I’ve a passing interest in. Havok and Vader. They can wait. There’s still some good stuff from last Friday I haven’t checked out yet. There doesn’t seem to be anything in non-metal either.

There’s a five-hour PBS series on Asian Americans, May 11 and 12. The PBS website says

Asian Americans is a five-hour film series that delivers a bold, fresh perspective on a history that matters today, more than ever. As America becomes more diverse, and more divided while facing unimaginable challenges, how do we move forward together? Told through intimate personal stories, the series will cast a new lens on U.S. history and the ongoing role that Asian Americans have played.

Some people I follow on Twitter are in it. Advance word is that it’s quite good. I’m mostly writing this here to remind myself, but hey. If you’re looking at this, especially if you’re not Asian American, I’d encourage you to check it out. Asian American history and culture are American history and culture, but it is so seldom represented in either the history classes or pop culture. Yes, it’s a lot better now than it was even a few years ago. Still, I feel almost as disincluded today as I did when I was nine.

There’s a tiny chance an Asian will be the vice president in a few months. Kamala Harris is on the shortlist. Tammy Duckworth is on the long list. This could go a looooong way.

I’m babbling now. Time for bed. If you’ve got something to babble about and need someone to whom you might babble, please reach out. I’m here for it!

Lockdown: Sun sun sun here it comes

Weeeeeeeelllllll it’s 6:33 Thursday morning and I just pulled an all-nighter. I’m only writing this now because of compulsion: I am pretty sure I won’t write it at all if I don’t do it now.

I just couldn’t get that proposal done during my workday. I tried. But it was a very warm afternoon. There was a lot of noise outside. I kept getting emails. I couldn’t focus.

Around 10:30 in the evening, I went for a walk. Got back around 1:30 and sloooooowly got going on the proposal, not really finding my groove until about 2:30. I emailed it to the development officer at 6:00. Then I emailed my supervisor to ask if I could punch in a few hours later than usual Thursday. I don’t think I really need those few hours of sleep, but I’ll take them if I can get them.

It was laborious, but I admit once I found my groove I kind of thrived on the challenge. Writing is so much like a puzzle sometimes; if you can see it this way, it almost becomes a game. Sure, it’s a game where you feel like you’re opening a vein just to advance your pieces, yet there are strategies and maneuvers, and trials and errors. And there’s an aesthetic aspect that really turns me on. It’s not enough to get to checkmate — you have to get there when the pieces are arranged prettily on the board.

Breakfast was overnight oats. Lunch was potatoes and kale. Still delicious the third day in a row. I was going to make pulled pork with Carolina-style barbecue sauce in the Instant Pot, but the pork needed to be defrosted. You’re not supposed to have to defrost stuff before throwing it the IP. Unless it doesn’t fit in the pot. I had to defrost it so I could separate it and get it in there.

So I saved it for after my walk. And had dinner midway: a double cheeseburger and a McChicken sandwich (plain) at the McD’s on Dillingham. They were both yummy, as was the large Diet Coke I washed them down with. I snacked a little on some Cheetos popcorn, but honestly not much. Cheetos flavor just doesn’t do it for me, and I don’t get too excited about packaged popcorn.

However, during a break in the proposal writing, I got all that pork in the IP, and 90 minutes later it was ready. So I had a small bowl of that just to see if it worked. It worked fine, ‘though I’ll wait until Thursday afternoon to finish the dish. I want to throw the second bag of kale in there and let it soak up all that pork yumminess. Kind of a deconstructed laulau with kale instead of luau.

I traded several emails with Ryan about this new project we’re working on together. It’s mostly him. Also to get him signed up on an alumni thing some coworkers asked me to get him onto. Jennifer and I traded a few texts related to the project with Ryan. San Diego AJ and I texted a little about what’s getting us through the stay-at-home. She’s gotten into jigsaw puzzles. Crush Girl texted me to say she’s almost done with a novel she’s working through, a novel I read two thirds of a couple of years ago and mean to finish soon. F5 girl and I traded IMs about Chicago hot dogs and the Jones Act. Sharon and I IMed each other on the work Skype about a former coworker who recently reached out to her — she’s working where Sharon used to work.

It was a day of interesting connections.

I did minimal work on the Monster. Will have to do a better job Thursday if my whole day hasn’t been ruined by this all-nighter.

I wish I could spend a little bit of alone time with Crush Girl. She’s easily the only person whose company I really miss in this lockdown. I miss spending time with my parents, but with them, it’s really about just the time spent in their company. I miss conversations with Crush Girl, and I miss learning more about her, something that’s harder to do via text messages.

I know her in one context. I’d like somehow to be more assertive about spending time with her in other contexts, although that could be tricky to execute. We went to a movie once; if we could kind of start there and see what else we like doing together, I think it would be good for me.

If you’re reading this and not connecting as much or as meaningfully as you’d like, I hope you’ll reach out. I’m convinced that a certain amount of some kind of interpersonal connection is necessary for getting through all this craziness. I’m here if you want me.

Lockdown: Object at rest

I don’t know if my problem is malaise or inertia. I guess it could be both.

At the end of my workday I had big plans for attacking the Monster, then going for a walk, then getting some writing done. What I mostly did was mope around. I’d lie down and plug my phone in to charge up, then struggle to get up, then get my shoes and socks ready, then lie back down. Then get up and do the dishes, then lie back down. It was ridiculous.

Because I really need to get a few things done Wednesday for work, I was going to write the whole evening off and turn in. Except I thought I’d kind of hate myself if I didn’t at least walk around the block or something. Just for the fresh air and circulation. So I invented an errand, to walk down to Long’s and get a few things I keep forgetting: hair ties, fluoride rinse, and replacement brushes for my electric toothbrush. I got out the door at ten past one.

Once I got going, though, of course it felt nice so I thought I’d just walk down to the 7-Eleven and have some ice cream or something, and then go to Long’s. On my way to the 7-Eleven, I just decided to walk what’s become my usual route. It mostly felt great. I listened to a short podcast and then listened to my Indigo Girls playlist (I thought their new album was out last Friday but I was early by a month) and then the new I Am Abomination album.

I hate myself.

Work was a slog. I have got to finish the revision on this proposal Wednesday or I’m going to hate myself even more, and everything and everyone around me.

Breakfast was a McD’s Big Mac combo, picked up in the drive-through and enjoyed at the laundry at like four in the morning. At least this time I just had the sandwich, fries, and drink. Lunch was a bowl of cereal. Dinner was the potatoes and kale. I’ve got one more serving of it for Wednesday. I snacked mid-afternoon on some tortilla chips and fresh salsa. Then during the walk I had an egg salad sandwich picked up from the convenience store.

Okay, connections. My writing partner and I traded a few quick texts about a quote I sent her. Crush Girl and I talked about face masks after I sent her a photo of my new Harry Potter mask, pictured yesterday on my sleep-deprived face. Sharon asked me for help asking someone for help, and of course I said I was happy to see what I could do. That was about it. I meant to ask JB how his kids are doing (three teens and a young adult) but didn’t get to it. Oh, and that San Diego friend (I need to come up with a fake name for her; her real name is unique and I’d rather not be too easily Googled) messaged me early to ask how I’m doing. I forgot to get back to her until very early this morning.

This week is really taking its sweet time. I can’t believe it’s only Wednesday. It’s five in the morning Wednesday and I’m going to bed.

Connections can be rough. If you’re having difficulty in this department, reach out. I’m not great company lately but I’ll try!

Lockdown: Just another meatless Monday

Why is the phrase in the Seven Dwarfs song spelled “Heigh-Ho” and not “Hi-Ho?”

Monday felt normal in a pleasant way. I got up, tripped my way to the fridge, grabbed breakfast, carried breakfast to my desk, and pretty much got right to work. Breakfast was overnight oats with a liter and a half of ice water and a 22-ounce Diet Pepsi.

Breakfast of writers.

I suppose it helped that my first task was one of my favorites: copy-editing the monthly staff newsletter. I still long to be the actual editor, but I only get that chance when my supervisor is away, and after some tension with teammates last summer, I may not get my chance again wherever my supervisor is.

‘Twasn’t my fault, but I’ll take the blame. I was certainly complicit.

The copy-editing was a bit more tedious than usual. Coworkers sent content without actually writing some of it, and making it readable wasn’t quite as fun as it usually is. Not sure why.

I worked on the proposal revision that’s been a bear since October. I didn’t get very far on it, but I’m feeling okay about it. Hopefully will have a sharable draft by the end of Tuesday.

Inconspicuous consumption

Lunch was more of the potatoes and kale from last night. Delicious. I made enough that I think it’ll be lunch for the next couple of days.

Dinner was three small burritos, the ones I make myself. I needed something quick and easy because Tuesday morning is laundry day and I really wanted to get to bed early.

I snacked on tortilla chips and fresh salsa. With some sour cream this time.

So it was unintentionally a meatless Monday. Didn’t even realize it until I typed it up just now. I’m not even four hours into Tuesday and it’s already not a meatless Tuesday.


I exchanged texts with four people Monday. My sister was the big one. She’s difficult to get ahold of; my last unanswered text message to her was five weeks ago. She’s got a lot going on, so it was nice to chat.

Crush Girl and I traded a few texts about our weekend. Sylvia and I talked about the meat situation, and I thanked her for the kale, which has been great. My supervisor and I talked about a task I insisted on adding to my list and she talked me into letting someone else do it. I was actually relieved.

Mask me no questions

The Monster. Because I hoped to get to bed early, I didn’t waste much time once the workday was done. I set a modest goal, slightly more than I did Sunday now that I understood how it would go, and I went slightly past the Monday goal. It was unpleasant as heck, but it didn’t suuuuuuuuck, so I don’t know. I’d still much rather not do it than do it. It felt good to do it, though.

The first of my masks came in the mail. I ordered two or three from several sellers, and one each from a couple of others. This was one of the solos. I’m rather pleased. The one I made myself is pretty good, and I’ll continue to use it because I like how much of my face it covers and I like that it’s just one piece of cloth with no sewing. It just looks like it was cut out of an old t-shirt with dull scissors. Which it was.

I last visited a grocery store ten days ago, intending not to go for at least two weeks. Looking at what I have left, I think I could go another two weeks. Sure, I had takeout a few times (pizza, Korean food, McD’s), and Sylvia bought me those two bags of chopped kale, but compared to how often I usually eat out, I’m practically living on stuff I grew myself.

The only thing I underestimated was how much Diet Pepsi I needed. I was going to run out Tuesday, three days shy of two weeks. So it’s not as if I guzzled it like Nicholas Cage put away vodka in Leaving Las Vegas; I just decided to have one when I wanted one without going overboard. Early in the lockdown, I limited myself to one a day. Later, as sleep became an issue as sleep always becomes an issue, I made it one or two a day based on need. Then two weeks ago I decided if I wanted a second or third not for the caffeine but for the pleasure, I didn’t see why I shouldn’t. When it’s not on sale, it’s a dollar for a 22-ounce bottle (or less than half what a 20-ounce bottle costs in a convenience store), and for the amount of pleasure it gives me, a dollar is nothing.

Three dollars a day for three Diet Pepsis seems more than reasonable to me. I do have to watch the caffeine intake because of my BP issues, though, so I think I’ll start monitoring again. Evenings, once the workday is done. It’s been months since I checked it myself.

On my way to the laundry Tuesday morning (which is where I’m typing this now), I stopped at Long’s at the neighborhood stripmall and picked up a few six-packs. At 2:30 in the morning, I was the only customer in there so I think it’s okay.

As I’ve mentioned, 2020 is supposed to be the year of finishing unfinished books. I got off to a late start because I had to read this year’s award-winners (the Newbery and the Printz, plus a Printz honor book, all of which I’ll review eventually in this space), but now I’m attacking the first of the unfinisheds: Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I read it shortly after its release eight years ago, but I read it quickly so I could write a review in a timely fashion for the side gig. None of it stuck. I have never considered it a read book.

I may do some reflecting here as I work through it.

We’re still dealing with this new weird reality, and I’m still offering to be a connection if you’re having trouble connecting. Please reach out if connection’s been an issue.

Lockdown: Sunday mundania

Sunday was pretty mellow. I slept until just before noon. Ate breakfast (three small burritos), read the news, did the NYT crossword. Thought about a few things I might do, checked on my Amazon and Etsy shipments. Went back to bed at around two. Got up at around four.

Had a late lunch: all those leftover Korean veggies. It was good. I mean it was really good. Korean food keeps so well. I attempted to make kimchi many years ago and it came out terrible, but it’s such a favorite of mine that I think I should give it another try, especially now that I’ve been making refrigerator pickles for a few years and they’re great.

I meant to do two chores Saturday but never got to them. I did the easy one Sunday and goofed around for a little while. Watched the news on TV. Listened to a podcast. Read some of the metal blogs. I had a feeling I was going to skip walking tonight, but sometime after things closed I was going to the supermarket to refill my water jugs. It left me time.

To do the unpleasant chore. Listen, I have a feeling I’m going to have to write about this extensively over the next month, but I can’t tell anyone what it is. It’s a big task that got way too big, to the point of ridiculousness. It could have been a small task every day but I got behind on it and then it was a big task and now it’s a monster. Henceforth I’ll refer to it as either the Task or the Monster, depending on my mood.

I actually started on it a month ago, when this lockdown first started. I felt good, too, about the progress I made in one short night. I thought a little bit of time every evening and I’d have this thing licked by the time I returned to the office. But then a little complication developed, making an unpleasant task even more unpleasant. So of course I procrastinated, unsure if the new wrinkle was going to be prohibitive. I would never know until I gave it a try, and every evening since that first night I’ve been meaning to give it a try.

Weeeeellll tonight was the night. I looked around and found nothing to do. So I just did it. The prep took like twenty minutes, but I think it was only because it was the first time with the new wrinkle.

And then I set a reasonable goal, something modest but not too modest, and I did it, and then I went a little past it, and the Monster is still a Monster but it’s ever so slightly less monstrous. It was unpleasant but not especially difficult. More Monster-slaying Monday. I can do this. I can do this!

It’s 1:25 Monday morning, around when I usually get back from my walk. I’ve got some potatoes in the Instant Pot, which I’ll swap with some kale in a few minutes for a late dinner. The kale Sylvia got for me yesterday.

Sylvia and I traded a few texts about the bread she made in her bread machine with the yeast I gave her. It’s a good-looking loaf. She’s had a bread machine for some time, inherited from a friend, but this is the first time she’s used it. Penny finally read Dig, that novel I’ve been thirty pages from the end of for more than a month. Now I’m super motivated to get it done by tomorrow night.

It was sort of a pleasant, normal, boring day and I think it did me a lot of good. I’m going to have this ridiculously late dinner and try to get to bed at a decent hour.

Whatever your ridiculousness is, if you haven’t got someone to talk about it with, reach out. I’m here. And I have chips and salsa.