Friday 5: From the Top

  1. What’s a food or drink whose bottom is better than its top?
    Nestle Quik, something I have a total weakness for but haven’t had in ages because of this blood sugar issue I have. But I have an unopened Costco-sized jar of the stuff and I believe the time may be nearing when I give up something else to allow the occasional glass of Quik.
  2. What’s at the top of your weekend agenda?
    I’m writing this late Sunday night (for posting late Monday, I think), so this is in the past tense. The main thing for me was getting enough necessary stuff done so I could watch football all day Sunday. It’s not what happened. I got the important stuff done Saturday, sure, but Sunday I turned on the TV for the games and spent most of the day in bed in the other room. Just wasn’t up for being up.
  3. When did you last wear a non-hat covering for your head?
    During my trip to Boston, I unzipped the hood in my green jacket, mostly to keep dry. It was very cold while I was there, but the cold didn’t bother me much.
  4. What tunes did you spin this week?
    Oh, hah. I kinda answered this question in yesterday’s post. Taylor Swift’s Lover, Tool’s Fear Inoculum, Sonata Arctica’s Talviyö, Elvenking’s Reader of the Runes — Divination, and apparently (according to Last.fm), a little bit of Rush’s Signals, and Dio’s The Last in Line, which counter to expectations, was good cruising-to-the-beach music.
  5. When were you last on the roof of a building?
    If the top floor of a parking structure counts, sometime last month. The view from our parking structure at work is pretty great, since it’s the tallest building within half a mile or so. I tried to get up on the actual roof of the actual office building, but the door looks rigged to set off all kinds of alarms, so I backed away. The most recent actual roof of a building might have been a year or so ago. One of the classroom buildings at UH Manoa, where I used to work, has a lanai that goes to the roof. It’s blocked off by a gate but I hopped it just to look around.

Shallow (also Friday 5: Smallifying)

It occurred to me yesterday morning while I was floating on my back in the Pacific Ocean, trying to soak up some of the peace its name promises, that if I’m as shallow as I suspect, maybe it won’t be so hard to get over Crush Girl.

I think about some of the shallow people I know, the guys who have a type. They pretty much roll from one relationship to another with seemingly little damage. This one likes Filipino girls; that one likes redheads. If you’re shallow and you know your type, perhaps you just bounce into the next person who satisfies the type.

Seriously. I know who I am, and an elite college gets me hot. Or at least warm. R went to Stanford. Mochi Girl went to Cornell. One of my former colleagues (a really good friend) went to William and Mary, and before I knew anything else about her, my interest was piqued. Man, I’ve always wanted to go out with a William and Mary girl. It was clear very early on that we were going to be great friends and that was it. I was totally fine with that, but for a few moments, I mean come on. William and Mary.

It makes sense, really. Some of my best friends went to upper-tier schools. Grace went to Wellesley. Karen went to Bryn Mawr. Mina Kimes went to Yale (okay, she’s not a friend but she’s responded to my comments on IG so it’s a start). And let’s not forget all the beautiful, brilliant women I know who went to UH Hilo. If so many of my good friends went to school like this, why wouldn’t I be attracted in more-than-a-friend ways to women who also attended them?

Mochi Girl was a botany major, but maybe that’s why that one didn’t go anywhere.

Do the dating apps let me filter for certain universities and certain majors? Hook me up with a Princeton English major, please. Or a Penn art history major. Or a Harvard education major. Does Harvard even have a college of ed? I have no idea, but I’d love to find out.

Shallow, I know, but maybe my shallowness is the key to swimming my way out of this misery, up to the surface where perhaps I belong. Those depths, I tell you, are fraught with currents of melancholy.


I had my annual performance review at work today, a formality I dislike with intensity, but one I understand is an important part of my job and my supervisor’s job. It went well; it was possibly my best one with this employer. I think I’m trending upward.

I could really use a hefty raise, though. I mean something that by itself would cover my rent. Honestly, if I were paying no rent I think I’d consider myself well off — okay, well enough off– with what I make right now. The employer has been good about boosting my pay each year I’ve been here, including the one year when I was only there six months before this annual review thing. I don’t think the raises have quite kept up with inflation, so I’m still getting poorer, but I appreciate the effort.

Man. I’d still like something more liberating. One of my colleagues (someone more than twenty years younger than me in a different department) asked me what I make. It’s taboo in America to talk about such things, but this person’s a friend, so I considered answering it the way a friend would answer it.

Before I responded, the person asked, “Do you make 50?”

“I make way less than 50,” I said.

“Do you make 45?”

“Shoot. If you consider 45 way less than 50, I make way, way less than 50.”

She was appalled, which gives me an idea of what she makes.

It’s okay. I don’t do it for the money. I make enough to scrape by; I love my work; I love the people I work with. There are so many worse scenarios. And thank God I don’t have anyone to support. Yes, what a blessing it is that nobody has deemed me fit to start a family with!

Anyway. I won’t find out about a raise until probably a month or two from now, based on past experience. It’s a good thing I love me some Princeton girls who can support us both. If they can find me.


Friday 5. From here.

  1. What mini version of a popular snack food is better than its original?
    I don’t think they make Butterfinger BBs anymore, but when they did that would be my answer. I loved those things. Ah, that link says they were discontinued in 2006. Those mini Nutter Butters are pretty dang irresistable. Also, I’d like to say that the optimal size for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups is not the original or the mini, but the snack size (or whatever it’s called). The perfect ratio of chocolate to filling. Those minis were such a good idea, but there’s too much chocolate for the amount of filling you get.
  2. What mini version of a popular snack food is not as good as its original?
    Just today I was in a convenience store and I picked up these Rice Krispies snacks in little bite-sized bits. These were frosted. There were chocolate and vanilla creme; I went with vanilla creme. And blech. The icing was just like the white icing on those frosted animal crackers, only frosted animal crackers are yummy and these were gross.
  3. What food, not yet miniaturized as far as you know, might make a great hors d’oeuvre for parties?
    It’s been my goal for years to get a deep fryer and make mini chimichangas. Think of it. I use a cookie cutter to cut rounds out of tortillas, about three inches across. Smear some burrito filling on them, add a slice of cheese, roll, and fry. Then serve on toothpicks with little cups of salsa for dipping. I need to get on this, maybe before the next office potluck.
  4. What snack food might be better in a giant size?
    How about blueberry Newtons? Like, brownie sized, so you can put a scoop of French vanilla ice cream on top.
  5. What five mini-scoops of ice cream flavors would go really well together?
    Okay, ready? Coffee. Cookies and cream. French vanilla. Chocolate. Chocolate chip cookie dough. POW.

Friday 5: Timing is Everything

Today was a state holiday: Admission Day or Statehood Day, according to Wikipedia. I grew up with it as Admission Day but I heard someone smart a few years ago say the state changed it to Statehood Day and I accepted it without questioning it. Finally looked it up (just now!) and the Hawaii Department of Human Resources calls it Statehood Day. Good enough for me.

I was so tired last night I just collapsed in bed without putting myself properly away, something that’s been happening far too frequently lately. It’s disturbing, because I have the Darth Vader machine to put on or I don’t sleep well, which affects my blood pressure, which I’m trying to keep under control. I also have eyedrops for my high eye pressures. Those are fine if I put them in when I wake up in the morning but my doctor recommends I put them in before bed, and I try to listen to my ophthalmologist even though she’s a Broncos fan.

So of course I woke up really early. There was a rat in my live trap. I stopped at Starbucks before taking the cage up to the place where I let the rats go. I’m not saying where because I don’t want to get anyone mad who might live in the area, although if I told you where it is you would agree with me that it’s a reasonable place to let rats go. Let the wealthy deal with my vermin.

I had a latte, letting the rat sit in my car for half an hour while I did the NYT crossword puzzle and sipped my coffee. There’s a Starbucks in a spot that would have been enormously convenient when I was still teaching at HBA. I’m kinda-sorta glad it wasn’t there when I taught, although it seems like a total no-brainer. How Kalihi got a Starbucks ten years before Nuuanu is a bafflement.

I watched the rat run out of the cage, then do this weird bounding thing the rats do when they get to the tall grass. Then I hit the beach. It was nice. My shoulders were still a bit tired from pushing myself Thursday morning, so I took it easy. The physical benefits are one reason I get in the water but the mental health benefits are the bigger reason. Just cruised my usual distance and enjoyed the salt, sand, and sunshine.

At work I had this deadline for Monday at 9, so yesterday was focused mainly on that, and speaking of focus, I couldn’t find any. I was going a little crazy not being able to lock in and get the assignment done. Around 1:00 I went for a walk around the block (my boss is very understanding of a writer’s need for a change of scenery when the ideas aren’t flowing) and it occurred to me that if I were to put myself in a deep state of depression (maybe not that deep), the part of my brain I need to keep occupied so it doesn’t get distracted could wallow around in that while the part of my brain that does the writing could snap into its groove.

Luckily for me, depression is never very far away. Especially lately with Crush Girl friendzoning me. By the time I got back to my desk I was good and miserable, almost to the point of tears.

I banged that story out like I had it memorized. My keyboard was almost like a player piano, independent of the hands pretending to control it. It wasn’t really like that, and there were a couple of transitions I had some difficulty with, but I was utterly in control the whole way.

So. Add darkness and depression to my writer’s toolbox. I might try to turn that into an article for a writers magazine or something.

Jocelyn thinks I should give it one more shot with Crush Girl (she’s aware of the complications I’ve mentioned but not named) because she thinks I may not have been clear about what I want, which is to spend time with her in alternate contexts so as to get to know her better because I really like her so far. Jocelyn thinks I have to hurry because if I’m in the friendzone for too long (and it doesn’t take too long to get to too long) I’ll never get out of it, which could be unfair to us both.

I’m considering it. Goodness knows my own wisdom has yielded little more than warm memories and cold misery so far in my love life, such as it exists, so why not take the advice of someone who’s made it work? Yeah, why not?

I wish this were only physical attraction; it would be so much easier to deal with. While it’s definitely that, there’s so much more going on here. She makes me smile in strange, small moments I haven’t seen before.

R made me laugh all the time, and the ways she made me smile were always tinged with a little bit of sadness. She’s had a rough life, and her defense, at least in all the years before she had kids, was to cling tenaciously to a childlike way of experiencing the world, and expressing what she saw through this lens. It was disarming and tragic at the same time. It’s where her beauty came from, not to mention her art.

Crush Girl makes me smile in a completely different way I haven’t been able to define, mostly because it’s new. It took me ages (as in decades, plural) to define how R made me smile, so if it takes me a while to figure out what it is with Crush Girl I guess that makes sense although I’m thinking about it more directly than I ever did with R.

One theory I’ve floated to myself (and now to whoever is reading this) is that when you’ve been around the same people for a very long time, which I have with most of my friends, you become so familiar with each other’s timing and tendencies that while you continue to make each other laugh and smile, there’s nothing unexpected about any of it.

Crush Girl’s timing is so different, and her wording, and her sentiment. I don’t think she even knows most of the time that she’s making me smile, or how she’s making me smile.

A really, really smart guy I once knew (who played in this band) explained to some students we had in common how love at first sight is possible. I’ve never believed in it; love is too big a word. But this guy talked about how something about the way someone carries him- or herself can define a room, can alter a room, and it’s not difficult to fall in love with that.

I didn’t buy it then, and I don’t buy it fully now, but the guy had a good argument.

You can’t really notice upon first sight someone’s rhythm or timing or diction in how she makes you smile, but if you could I might be convinced that love at first sight is possible.


Here’s this week’s Friday 5, whose questions are related to the stress of my work deadline this week.

  1. What’s your hurry?
    While I don’t know if I agree with Jocelyn about how long in the friendzone someone can be before any chance at romance is lost, I’m willing to entertain the notion that it’s very very very short. I think I need to make another move Monday. And if I get shot down again, that is it, at least until circumstances change.
  2. Where’s the fire?
    Geez. There have been an unusual number of deaths in house fires on this island this summer. I live in a very old house and I have to admit I get worried about fire sometimes. This isn’t helping.
  3. You need it when?
    This is going to be a lean week ahead, and the two weeks following may be just as lean. So if someone could sprinkle some fairy dust on my pay schedule and get me the next two paydays really quickly, can we shoot for this coming Wednesday? Thank you!
  4. What’s your ETA?
    We had to complete self-evals for performance reviews, and one of the questions was, “What new challenges, objectives, or career goals would you like to pursue in the upcoming rating period?”

    I wrote that I have no career objectives beyond doing good work, and it’s true. It comes from being a teacher all those years. If you teach and if you don’t hope to be an administrator, there’s no real upward mobility. You just teach, and you just hope to do better each year than the last. There are all kinds of objectives related to that, but I don’t think this is the same thing.

    I mention this because since I don’t have a spouse or kids, the way I might define my arrival has to be different. I’ve been in a weird state of arrested development ever since I settled into the identify of my profession, something that hasn’t really changed even as my professions have. I think (I hope) my arrival will be tied somehow to my writing. This may be a lame answer but it’s the one I’ve been pondering these last couple of weeks. Thanks to my job, I can now actually call myself a writer, but I’m not the writer I want to be. I’m going to set my ETA at five years from today.
  5. What’s the holdup?
    Immaturity, mostly, in the form of avoidance of things I don’t want to do in favor of silly dreams, infatutuation, imagining, and just getting myself out of bed every morning and (more difficult) putting myself to bed every night.

Friday 5: Scattergories Part 9

I made my move. I can’t say why, in this public space, but I pretty much only got one chance at this — there would be no wooing, none of my customary long game. It’s the main reason I waited so long. I had to pick a time when I thought the moment was good. I wasn’t getting a second shot.

I asked her (via text, of course) if she wanted to see a movie with me next week, one evening during the week. She said she’d already told other friends she’d see the movie with them. I said let me know if you change your mind. Then I said it wasn’t really about the movie, so if she wants to hang out, let’s hang out. If not, I’ll back off. And then something about really enjoying getting to know her.

She replied the next morning with thanks — you’re a good friend.

Oh yeah. Friend-zoned right out of the gate.

At first I felt lousy, of course, but I also felt pretty good. “I’m back in the game,” I wrote in some public social media space somewhere. I even texted two friends saying the same thing. “I asked her out. She shot me down in flames. But I’m back in the game so I’m okay.”

That lasted almost a day, and now it pretty much just feels crappy, and here’s why. For most of my life, I haven’t pursued female companionship for dating’s sake. I casually dated rather a lot, especially in high school and early in college, because I love female companionship, but it was never really about long-term relationships. I didn’t pursue relationships after my first high-school girlfriend as the object themselves.

With R, it wasn’t about wanting to be in a relationship. It was her. I just liked being with her more than I liked being with anyone else, including alone by myself. When I asked Mochi Girl out, it was her, not a relationship, I was interested in, and we’re talking about a lot of years between R and Mochi Girl. Except for K (a very long story I should probably tell, now that all interested parties are married except me), someone I pined a very long time for without ever making a move, it’s pretty much just been R and Mochi Girl since I graduated college 24 years ago.

Mochi Girl didn’t work out mostly because I liked being alone more than I liked being with her, and I rather liked being with her. So it takes someone rather terrific for me to start thinking moves.

Don’t get me wrong: there have been crushes galore. Pretty much non-stop ever since things ended with R. But, you know. Just crushes.

This one was (is) different. I really like her, or at least the her I know so far. Circumstances (those blasted circumstances again!) sort of make it difficult to get to know her outside one or two contexts. I don’t know what she’s like when she’s angry, or how she treats people who are uncool to her, or whether she’s pre- or post-millennial about the rapture, or what she thinks of predestination (possible deal-breaker, I tell myself even though I know it’s a lie).

What I do know, though, was enough to get me out of my crush stasis and into move-making mode.

That’ll teach me.

Because you know, I have this dating app (I’m not saying which but some of the stuff three paragraphs up would give you a clue) on my phone and I considered opening it up.

I installed it months ago but haven’t opened it yet. At first it was because I had to ask myself what my approach was going to be, but then it was because I was into Crush Girl, and the stupid dating app seemed meaningless. I wanted Crush Girl, or at least I wanted to see if Crush Girl and I could be a thing.

But hey. I’m back in the game, right? Let’s take that dating app for a spin.

Not as easy as I kind of thought it would be. Crush Girl is pretty outstanding. I’d post a few bullets here but circumstances make that impossible for now; I’d have to find some kind of code to write it in.

If you know me well, you’d just say, “Well of course.” Certain things about where she went to school and what she studied, and what she does on Sundays, just shallow LinkedIn profile kind of stuff, might have you shaking your head too. Like, don’t I ever learn?

I’m not saying someone on the dating app would have to have those bullets (which R and Mochi Girl both did). But at least in the immediate aftermath of being shot down, I have to say it’s difficult to imagine anyone not having them catching my interest.

‘Cause it’s not about the dating. I’m fine without dating. It was about her, and now I’m not sure I’m fine without her.

It kind of hurts to type that.

It’s been ten(ish) years since Mochi Girl. It took someone like Crush Girl for me to make a move. Someone find me someone like that!


Friday 5, from here. The annual Scattergories theme. The random-letter generator rolled me an R. I am not making this up.

  1. What beverage do you enjoy but seldom have?
    Root beer for sure. I love it, but there’s just too much sugar in regular soda, and I have some blood sugar issues. I still have a root beer wall in my house, though, where 20+ glass bottles of root beer from different bottlers tells the story of my love.
  2. What’s better now than when you were a kid?
    I want to say rock concerts. When I was a kid, the local concert scene semed so not-happening, although I remember missing a good number of great shows just because I wasn’t old enough to go anywhere. In fact, one reason I got my first paying job right after turning 14 was so I could buy my own concert tickets and not have to ask for money. The first one came along in 9th grade, a few months after I got the job. .38 Special with Golden Earring. I presented my case to my dad, even though I already knew the answer. It was a school night. My parents were religious about school nights. My dad said he appreciated that I’d worked hard for the money and if it hadn’t been a school night, he’d have let me go. Dang! The concert scene is pretty lively now. I’ve been to more concerts in the past three years than in the previous 20.
  3. Who makes you happy?
    Speaking of concerts, Rush was my first, and something inspired me to listen to lots of Rush this week (not that I ever need a reason), and there was a moment, sitting in front of my computer at work, when I wanted to say aloud that Rush really makes me happy. I can’t say that of many people, so thanks to Geddy, Alex, and Neil. I’m flicking my Bic in Canada’s general direction.
  4. Where do you go when you want to indulge?
    There’s an Italian restaurant in my parents’ neighborhood called Ricado’s, and I’m a big fan. Some friends and I used to go a lot, but it’s been rather a long time since I’ve been there. I think I’ll try to organize a weeknight dinner with those friends this week. Take my mind off what’s-her-name. IT WORKED! Just kidding. That’s an old Peanuts joke.
  5. Where’s a comfy place to sit?
    I have great difficulty finding comfy places to sit. I don’t do chairs very well, although I’ve known a few pleasant rockers and recliners in my day. Denise, who rolled an H, says hammock, which is a great answer. Hammocks are ridiculously comfortable. I’m afraid my answer is Regal Dole Cannery IMAX and RPX, the movie theater in my hood. It’s a quiet, air-conditioned, dark, comfy place to catch a nap, something I’ve done many times over the years. I have better naps in that theater than anywhere, other than the theater close to the office!

Friday 5: A Week

I’m reading Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine, winner of the National Book Award for Children’s Literature in 2010. The momentum I had coming out of my Harry Potter re-read carried me through several pretty good books (and one really good one), but this one’s been a speed bump. It’s a short book, too, so that’s kind of a disappointment.

It’s written from the point of view of a ten-year-old girl with Asperger’s Syndrome, whose brother is killed in a school shooting. If you’ve worked with Asperger’s students, you know they require a lot of patience, patience I have (almost) always had because they were my students. Reading inside the mind of one of these students who isn’t mine requires a bit of patience I don’t have. It’s been a little frustrating, but I may have turned a corner. Something in the novel I hadn’t thought of, a connection to To Kill a Mockinbird, may have emerged, something I find intriguing.

Still takes a bit of effort to pick that thing up during my usual reading times. I’m finding it easier to stare at my phone.

Friday 5 from here.

  1. If I give you $20 to spend selfishly by tomorrow evening, what do you spend it on?
    Almost surely a meal out. Maybe a bowl of pho and some Vietnamese iced coffee. Heck yeah.
  2. What’s a delivery you recently waited too long for?
    I ordered a book to give a friend for her birthday, even though I don’t know when her birthday is. I just want to have it ready for when it comes up. The book has had a few covers, but I wanted the hardcover edition with the original cover, so I ordered it from an Amazon seller who claimed my order was Prime eligible. They shipped it out the next day, all right, but they sent it USPS media mail! Do you know how long media mail takes to get to Hawaii from the U.S. East Coast? In this case fourteen days. Since I wasn’t exactly in a hurry to get it and since the book is in terrific shape, I’m not going to complain (‘though I mentioned it in my review of the seller), but next-day MEDIA MAIL is not what I’m paying for when I renew my freaking Prime membership every year. Gr!
  3. How annoying have you been lately?
    I’d say pretty annoying. I’ve been having difficulty getting myself locked in at work, which always makes me a little distractible, which makes me a distraction to those around me. Sorry, office-mates.
  4. When did you last give someone a ride in your car for the first time?
    Hey, but I did give a coworker a ride when she had to leave her car in the shop before work one morning. Met her at a nearby Starbucks with a cup of coffee, and drove her in. That was two weeks ago I think.
  5. What was the last piece of candy you ate?
    We have this bucket of candy on the reception desk at the office, and I threw a bag of li hing mui honey drops in there last week. I often throw candy in there and seldom indulge, but I have a weakness for these and had four of them Thursday and another few Friday.

Friday 5: Back Turn

Super tired. I hit the water early Saturday and planned to take it easy — I’ve been a little sore all over from all the stepcount-chasing and the regular swimming, and I’ve slept pretty horribly all week. It was a combination that told me to mellow out for the weekend.

And a weird thing happened in the second half of the swim. I can easily point to halves in my swimming because I jump in at one buoy, swim a varying number of buoys down the beach and then turn around and swim back. On the way back I thought I ought to do at least a short stretch of strenuous swimming, and I just kept going, doubling my usual goal. It was insane because I didn’t really feel strained while I was in it. Just kept swimming swimming swimming swimming. My body wanted to go.

Then I did my errands on foot and got my stepcount without even really trying. So I am rather tired despite a 90-minute nap this evening. My arms and shoulders feel dead.

It might not help the sleepiness (although it helps the writing some) that I’ve got Enya’s Shepherd Moons in the headphones. I was just in the mood. While I won’t argue against “Orinoco Flow” from Watermark being her best song, Shepherd Moons is the slightly better album. For a time in 1992 it was my main way of relaxing and getting to sleep, when I was in probably the worst period of my life for insomnia. And “Carribean Blue” is quite nearly as good as “Orinoco Flow.”

This is the album with Enya’s lovely recording of “How Can I Keep From Singing?” It’s really a cover of Pete Seeger’s less overtly Christian version, but it still works for me. Pretty pretty pretty.

I don’t know if I’m supposed to feel fitter after only six weeks of pretty hardcore focus on regular exercise, but I don’t. Honestly, except for swimming faster and longer, I don’t notice any difference. I suppose the faster and longer thing is a good indication of progress in my primary aim, which is not to die. My BP is going down too, so okay. But naked, I still look terrible, and I wanna get lean for Crush Girl (secondary aim but more effective motivation). Or at least slightly less doughy.

Here’s the Friday 5 for this week, from here.

  1. What are you ahead on?
    We have this staff newsletter at work, something I work really hard on every month. I mentioned to my boss last year that I would eventually like to take it over entirely, rather than just edit the publication draft and contribute my two monthly columns (a one-minute writing tip and a short movie review). Because of a few major organizational changes recently, my boss is a lot busier, so last month she just sent me the material and I put it together and made it sound nice. It was fun. I love this kind of work because I’ve been working really hard to transmit a sense of inclusion among my coworkers as much as a lowly staff writer can, and this newsletter is one nice way to do it. This month I’m putting it all together myself for the first time and I’m excited to do it, and I’ve been really on it, far ahead of my usual timeline for this thing. And coworkers have responded well, sending me some really nice contributions. I kind of wanted to give a life answer and not a work answer here, but work is on my mind a lot lately.
  2. Who’s slowing you down?
    I suppose the answer for everyone is going to be “me,” and I’m going with the same answer. Seriously, who among us can really say we aren’t the ones most effectively getting in our own ways? I wish I could find a way to — oh, never mind. There’s really nothing to say here except “me too.”
  3. When did you last stumble getting out of the gate?
    Man, Wednesday and Friday were difficult. Because I’ve slept horribly, I had an unusually difficult time Wednesday getting up and out to the beach before work. I have to drag myself out every morning anyway, but I manage okay most of the time by telling myself that sleeping in is for people who didn’t let their bodies go to hell for a decade and a half. Don’t knock it; it totally works. I don’t psych myself up to hit the beach. I psych myself down. Anyway, I did get there but I got there so late I got lousy parking and was only able to jump in and jump out. Friday I had similar difficulty but for different reasons. Thursday I woke up SUPER early to get my dad to the hospital for some knee surgery. While he was under the knife I hit the beach for the unusual Thursday swim, so Friday morning I was utterly beat. Skipped the beach (even though Friday is usually the best morning for it) and stumbled into the office close to ten! One more reason this job may be better than teaching for my longevity. School bells are a bit less forgiving of this sort of thing.
  4. How’s your mane these days?
    Ugh no no no no no no. I don’t want to talk about it, but I’m grateful for the reminder. I need to make an appointment with a doctor to talk about it! It’s thinning at an alarming rate now. I mean, it’s sort of on schedule because I’m FIFTY this year and holy moly. Okay switching subjects because the hair thing is really a sensitive issue.
  5. When did you most recently find yourself unexpectedly hoofing it somewhere?
    Walking is (once again) a regular part of my existence, so it’s seldom surprising to me that I’m walking anywhere. So the unexpected part would have more to do with the where than the how. A couple of weeks ago on Administrative Professionals day, I was invited to lunch by another department who was taking its Administrative Professional to Aunty Pasto’s. I was happy to be included so I quickly grabbed my stuff, locked my screen, and joined in. And we had a very nice time. I had a mixed mushrooms pasta dish, great conversation, and a nice walk. I take most of my lunches by myself, mostly because I need some me-time sometime during the workday, but also because I usually have breakfast after a swim, so I’m not ready for lunch until most people have eaten, like 2:00 or 2:30. I wasn’t about to say no to such a nice invitation, though, and it was the right call.

The first three months of the year, it seemed like there were one or two major new metal releases every Friday. That’s sort of slowed down lately, so I’ve been going back to the old favorites. Lately I’ve had the Springsteen playlist on repeat, and it’s been good for my ears. I’m mentioning this now in hopes of reminding myself to put a few thoughts together about “Thunder Road,” which in recent years has dislodged “The River” and “Born to Run” as my favorite of Bruce’s tracks.

That would be a good list. Ten favorite Bruce songs. Note to self.

Friday 5: Clicker is Quicker

“There’s a very fine line betwen a groove and rut,” sang Christine Lavin, and and I’ve fallen into what feels like a groove, but I’ve basically stripped my life down in the past few weeks to work, rest, and feeding myself. The side work has slowed down, and I’m finding my time away from the office enjoyable again. I’m putting myself to bed at a reasonable hour, although still not habitualizing the Darth Vader machine the way I need to.

My focus at work has been unsually keen. I’m not ready to credit the new office, but I need to be honest and say that certain truths about the new space have worked better for my writing focus. Other circumstances make a difference too, like having reliable wheels and not taking an hour to get from home to work, or two hours to get back home. I’m having most of my breakfasts and dinners at home (I’m getting home early enough because I haven’t been stopping at cafes to do the side work), so I’m mostly letting myself eat out for lunch. Not having to deal with all that lunch prep every week makes a difference too.

This whole routine of waking, having breakfast, going to the office, working an honest day, then coming home for dinner and downtime feels like what it’s supposed to be like for a single, middle-aged guy. Sometimes I run errands after dinner, or go to a flick, or get groceries. It feels like life. If I made a little more money I would almost call this contentment.

Can’t stay like this, though. I’m about to try and add something to my evenings, and because I don’t make a little more money, I do have to ramp up some of that side work. And getting exercise hasn’t been a priority lately, and I have to work that back in. I don’t see how I can add any of that stuff back in without throwing me out of this groove.

One way I think I can do it is to make more strategic use of my vacation days. I get twenty-two days a year (or thereabouts) and can carry over fourteen or fifteen days from year to year. Last year I only took as many days as I had to not to lose any to that carryover limit, and maybe that’s not the best way to use them. This is a new thing for me, these vacations days not dictated by the academic calendar, and my approach so far has been that having them is more valuable to me than using them, kind of like this little stash of giftcards I have for lean times when I could really use a dinner out. Using a day today might be nice, but it feels nicer knowing I can.

Today is a state holiday, and I never get enough stuff done on holidays, so I’m taking the morning half of my day off tomorrow. It feels good not feeling pressured to do everything on the to-do list, knowing I have a little bit of overflow tomorrow. This might be the new strategy for those vacation days. Just add a half day to each state holiday or three-day weekend.

Friday Five from here.

What’s something you’d like to increase the volume of?

My fridge has been feeling a bit cramped lately, and it’s plenty big enough. Still, it’s very old and I think I need to start with a fresh one, one with a bit more freezer space.

Who would you like to mute?

I can’t say the answer that comes first to mind because for Lent I’m sort of not bad-mouthing this person. I mean, I’m doing something more than not bad-mouthing the person, but bad-mouthing definitely works against the goal (if there’s actually a goal) I seek. I’ve already kind of blown it and am assigning myself a few makeup days after Easter to make up for the slippage. You know, like snow days in those parts of the continental US where snow days exist. So maybe I’ll say I’d like to mute myself.

When was your body (or part of your body) most recently scanned?

I had some blood work done last week, so my blood was scanned, and that’s a much nicer answer than what I would have had to say before the blood work, because I recently had to mail something in for colon cancer screening. That test came back negative. Yay. I guess before that it was at the airport coming home from Boston.

What part of the upcoming weekend would you like to skip?

I’m getting to this after the weekend in question, so the part I would have said is the time set aside for some house chores. I didn’t do the chores anyway. I guess I did skip that portion of the weekend.

Whose input could you really use right now?

Ah, geez. I had lunch with a former colleague yesterday, and without bringing up something that’s been weighing me down, I managed to get a little bit of input anyway, and it really helped. If I felt ready to talk about it with anyone, I suppose it would have been her. I mean, I could definitely use some input on this certain social situation (yeah , the situation is a woman) but I think talking about it now would be creating a situation that might not actually be a situation. Better to keep it as hypothetical as I can for now. I guess.

Friday 5: It Means Everything

From here.

If you were outside right now, what would you most likely be doing?

It’s Sunday afternoon as I type this, so almost surely listening to podcasts and just walking about. I really need to do more of that. The move to the new office has made it trickier to find my steps goals. The area itself is fine; I’ve pounded tens of thousands of steps in the neighborhood over the years but I haven’t worked it into my day the way I could on campus.

Right now, what’s a little too close to you?

The dog. It’s a cute little thing but it wants to play fetch and I’m trying to write.

Right now, who misses you?

That’s a good question. My students used to call me heartless when they asked, “Are you going to miss us after we’ve graduated?” and my response was, “Probably not.” Actively missing someone is an emotional thing I don’t think you can predict about students (and maybe anyone) no matter how good your relationships are with them. You spend so much time focused on the students in your classrooms; it’s rare that you have moments to miss the students who aren’t. I hope wherever they are, they realize I was right, since of course they don’t miss me one iota. People have their lives. I don’t think they miss the absence of me in those lives. And since I am at this very moment in my parents’ living room, I can’t say my folks miss me.

Right now, what’s having its way with you?

Certain household chores keep piling up and I can’t seem to get caught up. They’re beginning to cause me stress, and that stress is affecting the quality of my life. Maybe it’s the stress that’s having its way with me. I even took a day of vacation Thursday to try and deal, but I ended up sleeping most of the day and then going to a late matinee of Captain Marvel. Which turned out to be a good idea, because my stress level dipped but I still haven’t done anything on the house work. Ugh.

What do you most wish you were doing right now?

Ninety percent of the time my answer to this question is usually “sleeping,” but right now I wish I were drinking coffee and reading Harry Potter.

Friday 5: Beware

From here.

  1. What’s something people cautioned you against that turned out not to be dangerous or bad at all?

    I know a person who once worked where I work today. He was supportive of my efforts to get a position here, and when I accepted the position, he congratulated me and then warned me that the culture is toxic.

    I said, “Then this is my chance to detoxify it!”

    I meant it because I think good influencers, which I’ve spent my whole adult life trying to be, are more powerful than bad ones even when they’re outnumbered. Yet I’ve found very little toxicity here, and certainly none in my department. I really love the people I work with and am super happy to be here.

  2. What’s something you wish someone had cautioned you about?

    My problem is that when someone warns me not to do something, I almost automatically want to do it. For the purpose of this question, let’s assume it’s someone I trust and it’s something I sincerely want wisdom about. I’ve had my failed relationship with R on my mind a lot lately — I just turned 50, and I fell in love with her for good when I was 19, and I recently downloaded a dating app on my phone (which I have not yet opened, and it’s been three weeks), so I’ve got a lot to think about. I think maybe my biggest regret in life is not making the most of love when I was in the middle of it and when it was requited (in my mid-20s). I worried about appearances; I worried about not being grown up enough; and honestly I was pretty comfortable right where we were. I believe now that there are critical moments (I’m still trying to decide whether it’s plural or singular, actually) in a relationship where if you don’t go to the next thing, you never will. I would actually have been okay with that but it’s clear that I am the only one. I wish someone had at least led me to consider what this might be at 50, especially with some kind of foreknowledge that I would not be teaching high-schoolers anymore. But even as I type this I know I wouldn’t have listened!

  3. What’s your favorite non-English word of warning?

    There are two interesting phrases in Japanese I always hear in my mom’s voice. The first is ki o tsukete kudasai or usually just ki o tsukete which she says when I’m on my way out the door. It’s just “be careful” or “travel with care.” If I say it to her, her response is always “hai, thank you.”

    The other is abunai, which is more like “watch out!” It’s literally “dangerous,” so the meaning depends on context and tone.

  4. What’s a really stupid thing you’ve done that could have resulted in your demise?

    I’m saving this story for another time so the short version: I saw a homeless man yelling at a Korean shop owner in downtown Honolulu once. She was yelling back, so I went inside and asked the guy what the problem was. He told me he was only asking to use the phone and that the lady yelled at him to get out. I said, “Let’s go outside and talk about this.” I let him share as we walked across the street, and a few minutes later I put him on a bus and paid his bus fare to get where he said he needed to go (he said he’d needed the phone to call a cab). I went back to the store to ask the lady if she was okay and she was. I’m not sure what I could have done differently and still diffuse the situation, but with so many of these guys you don’t know what state they’re in or what they’ve got in their pockets. I was lucky; the confrontation only cost me $2.75.

  5. What should you probably stay away from this weekend?

    They opened a new Japanese dollar store less than a block away from the office. It’s the second location in Hawaii, and people still line up to get inside the first, which has been open for months. It’s a symptom of rock fever, that disease many of us get where we’re dying for something new because we often can’t find something new without getting on a plane. I hate crowds and lines, so although I will go in to the office for a little while, I will avoid the area around the new store.

Friday 5: Parental Guidance

From here.

Where do you think you’re going?

I’m writing this on Wednesday, and tomorrow I am definitely not going to work. I really need a day or two off, and I prefer not to take Fridays, which are often my most productive days in the office. Also, I would rather be off on days when I know most people are working. I have a bit of housework piling up, and I wouldn’t mind seeing a movie or two. Although there’s a fair chance that where I think I’m really going is to a boba cafe to drink tea and read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It’s all I really want to do anymore.

Who do you think you are?

According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, I’m INFJ, which, according to the popular graphic someone put out several years ago, lines me up with Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter universe. I’ll take it, but I disagree with some of the characters this person put in the chart. I don’t know if there’s any way to tell Sirius Black is an extrovert, for example, or that Lupin is an introvert. Also, why are Lily and James Potter in this chart? We don’t even really know them, and there are so many other characters we could consider for these types. When I’m done re-reading the series, I really want to re-do the chart, although I doubt I’d be much better at it. I have to admit I like being a Lupin.

What’s gotten into you?

I’ve been working rather hard lately, and what’s gotten into me is a kind of weariness. Add my struggles with Lent this year (I’ll explain another time, maybe) and it’s physical weariness on top of mental weariness. Yeah, I’m a big wuss. Physically and mentally.

How do you expect to pay for all this?

I’m having to rein in a few things, but I mostly do all right, although I’ve been unable to save anything since my gig with the city councilmember ended last August. I dipped into saving to pay regular bills last month, and my car was in the shop most of last week for some clutch work. That was a $700 repair I’m still paying for. So mostly, how I expect to pay for all this is to cut back on a few bad habits I’ve picked up and be a little stricter with my impusive spending. That’s the plan, anyway! Next on the car list is to get the AC looked at.

When are you going to come to your senses?

Hopefully never. Without the MBTI chart, if you ask me which HP character I identify most closely with, I’d say Luna Lovegood. We’re very different in so many ways, but I feel like I get her, and I think she’d get me. Sense, at least the way we usually talk about it, is not one of Luna’s governing traits. My second choice would probably be Mad-Eye Moody, although I’m basing that mostly on the Mad-Eye we know through most of book four, and (no spoiler!) if you’ve read the book you know why I can’t honestly do that. It isn’t Moody’s CONSTANT VIGILANCE, but the way he knows how to say the encouraging thing to a student when the student most needs to hear it. I’m not the greatest teacher in the world, but that’s something I do.