Friday 5: Gripe session

I have a lot to write about, but my brain is porridge these days, so you’re just getting a Friday 5 right now and maybe some journaling over the weekend. We’ll see.

I will say that if you’re a pumpkin spice fan, as I am, check out the new (presumably seasonal) pumpkin spice Special K breakfast cereal. Cereal lovers should love it. I like it rather a lot.

From here.

  1. What complaints do you have about this weekend?
    Two days off and nobody to tell me what to do? Who needs it! I’ll add my vote to a predicted chorus of “it’s not long enough,” of course. Rain probabilities in my neighborhood this weekend are 43% Friday, 54% Saturday, and 44% Sunday. The Raiders are undefeated after two games and host the Dolphins in Vegas Sunday, which I suspect will be a heartbreaker. The big item on my to-do list is housecleaning. The Athletics are having a terrible September and are likely to play themselves out of the post season this weekend. Yeah, I got a problem with you, upcoming weekend!
  2. What are your grievances with yourself?
    I’m in a ridiculous pandemic funk I can’t get out of, and it’s affecting my health, my work, and my interactions with people, such as they exist. I’ve taken steps to deal with some of the things stressing me out, but I need to do more, and I honestly don’t know if it’s helping, beyond the immediate satisfaction of crossing them off the stress list.
  3. What are your objections to rainbows, flowers, and puppies?
    Freaking rainbows. They only show up when it rains. Where are they when the weather’s lovely? Also, they distract me when I’m driving north through Nuuanu because at certain times of day, you’re likely to see a nice one. Nuuanu Valley seems to be built for rainbows — on campus at HBA where I went to school and where I also taught, they usually popped up in the space between the gym and the main classroom building, looking north into the valley. So distracting! And flowers? Fleeting beauty followed by a reminder of death, decay, and the dust to which we all must return. I guess those are all sort of synonyms. Puppies are horrible because I can’t have them where I live. Also, I’ve spent my whole professional life afraid to commit to a puppy since I didn’t know what my family situation was going to be like. Now twenty years have gone by and I still live by myself and probably could have had a dog all this time, and now I’m annoyed. All those wasted puppy-less years.
  4. What are your criticisms about your domicile?
    Well obviously, not being allowed puppies is a major issue. Also: I can’t afford a housecleaner. Forget the rent being far, far lower than the market would suggest and just about the right amount of space for a person like me, and the proximity to the city to do anything within fifteen minutes while being far enough away not to feel threatened by its ills.
  5. What’s your beef with excessively negative people?
    My biggest beef with them is their tendency to focus on themselves and to be unconcerned with the problems of others. It’s the easiest way to be depressed about oneself and the laziest way to live. Excessively negative people are a downer: they diminish my view of people in general, and I try my best to stay far away from them. Thankfully, most of my friends are the opposite — excessively positive. Maybe that makes me hypersensitive to excessive negativity, but that’s fine.

Bring on the lousy weekend!

Friday 5: A line of wolves

I’m in a bit of a furrow these days. Certainly not an abyss, thank God, and not quite a pit. I spent a little bit of time at the end of the work week trying to make myself feel better at least about the things in my control. More later. Meanwhile, the Friday 5s from this week and last.

Ax + By = C. From here.

  1. It’s been said (notably by Divinyls in 1985) there’s a fine line between pleasure and pain. How has this proven true in your life?
    This concept was posited the first time in a Philosophy 100 course at Leeward Community College. I didn’t like the course much, but I liked the professor. I dropped the class because I couldn’t stand my classmates. The prof mentioned the fine line between pleasure and pain, and some classmates laughed and said it was ridiculous. The professor asked if anyone disagreed with the dissenting classmates. I just said the word “hot sauce” to myself, but the prof heard me and used that as an example. Heck yeah hot sauce. So painful sometimes but so pleasurable.
  2. Where in your life have you witnessed the fine line between genius and insanity?
    I know a lot of writers, musicians, and artists, and there’s an element of this with many of them. Most people who know her wouldn’t guess it, but R has some darkness in her. I’ve seen her teetering on the brink a time or two, and didn’t always know what to do about it. She dips into it when she writes or when she plays piano, and she’s the best writer I know.
  3. Where do you draw the fine line between supporting someone and enabling someone?
    I’ve never been able to in my personal life. Tough love cannot get its claws into me. I’ve sent people I love money to fly home from bad Las Vegas trips, against the advice of their friends. I’ll keep doing it if I need to. Thankfully, this particular thing hasn’t happened since the 90s, but it’s a good example. Professionally, drawing that line is part of the job. Clear expectations and consistent follow-through; I know they make me a better teacher, even if there are casualties along the way. This doesn’t mean there’s no room for grace: of course there is. But as one colleague once wrote as a report comment, “Sometimes in this flawed world, the grace runs out.”
  4. Which sides of the fine lines between caution and cowardice, and between courage and foolhardiness do you tend toward?
    I’m on the side of cowardice more often than caution, I’m sad to say. It’s one of the things I beat myself up most about. And definitely foolhardiness. I cannot tell you how many reckless things I’ve done just because I didn’t consider the consequences. Or because the consequences didn’t matter. That’s definitely not courage. I’ve actually done stupid things just because I thought it would be a good story. That’s not courage either.
  5. Tasked with drawing a literal fine line, what is your writing utensil of choice?
    New York magazine ran a list of the 100 best pens, and I’ve been sloooowly working my way through each pen listed higher than mine. This qualifies me to give a good answer, and my answer today is my answer for the past 20 years: the Pilot Precise V5 Rolling Ball pen. Number 16 on this list, ladies and gentlemen, but number one in our hearts.

Wolf! From here.

  1. When are you the tortoise, and when are you the hare?
    “Slow and steady wins the race” is practically tattooed on my soul, except the winning the race part. I take too long to do almost everything. I’m the last to finish eating at almost any table. People think I come in on weekends or stay late at night at work because I work hard. I don’t. I work slowly. I think one instance where I’ve been the hare is with Christmas shopping. I usually set aside one weekend in October or November and (these days) do almost all the shopping online and take care of it at once. This is mostly true for my first- and second-tier friends. I take a little more time with family, and usually shop locally, but yeah: I still get it done quickly most of the time.
  2. When are you the grasshopper, and when are you the ants?
    Besides working slowly, I also procrastinate and take impulsive side-trips for fun, so I’m the grasshopper just about every day. I’m lazy. But I still mostly get the stuff done. It just take me longer once I get moving. I’m ants, a grasshopper, and a tortoise.
  3. When were you the lion, and when were you the mouse?
    I don’t know how to talk about this really, but in recent years I’ve gone out of my way to help people who were kind of scary. Drunk homeless people at bus stops. Drunk non-homeless people waiting for buses (I actually told this story in this space, the one where I helped him find his phone). I think those are good mouse stories, although calling the people I helped lions may be a stretch. There was certainly nothing regal or menacing about them. Just unpredictably dangerous, maybe. I’ve been humbled more than once when students have reached out to help me. I hate asking for help, but there are a few times when I was genuinely helped, me the person not me the teacher, by a concerned student who didn’t see me as an authority figure in the moment but as a human who needed help.
  4. Are you more like the town mouse or the country mouse?
    I hate to push, but the best answer is I’m half of each. My favorite places in this state are Molokai and Hilo, definitely the country. I believe I’ll likely retire to Hilo someday. But man, I do love being in town, close to everything.
  5. Which fable told in your childhood has resonated with you through the years?
    The one I frequently go to is the Boy Who Cried Wolf. I try never to be an alarmist; in fact I’ve been asked to be more alarmed than I was more than once. But there’s an element here that’s really not about being alarmist. The boy wasn’t genuinely alarmed; he was either mischievous or dishonest, or just insecure. I’ve been guilty of them all, and while I’m mostly unrepentant about mischief, I’d like to be less dishonest. I think it’ll make me less insecure.

Friday 5 times two

From here: Unto others.

  1. When did you last give (or serve) something you cooked to someone not in your residence?
    There’s this traditional Hawaiian dessert called kūlolo. I grew up here and never heard of it until like ten years ago. It’s good. It’s basically grated taro, coconut milk, and brown sugar. When you show up at someone’s house with it, people get very happy. And it’s pricey. Maybe that’s why people get happy when you bring it over. So I saw this pretty easy Instant Pot recipe for it and I’ve made it five times now, and people really like it. This week I made some Monday night and Wednesday night and gave it to coworkers, plus some for Penny, which I dropped off at her place this morning. If I get good enough at making it, so I can make it quickly and confidently enough to bring to potlucks (when we have potlucks again, if ever!), I think I’ll make this my usual contribution. People get excited. I’ll be the potluck winner.
  2. When did someone — not a restaurant or takeout spot or housemate! — last prepare a dish for you?
    She didn’t prepare it for me, but she prepared it and gave some to me. Crush Girl gave me some cookies about a year ago, when we were still mostly locked down. I gave her some mochi I made. It was a good trade!
  3. When did you last reach out to someone who could use some company?
    I don’t know about whether or not he could use company, but I’ve texted Ryan a couple of times since Jennifer died. Just in case.
  4. When did someone last reach out to you for similar reasons?
    Mmmm that’s a good question. Penny texted me last week, when it looked like our state might go back into lockdown, to say if I needed to shelter at home she would be glad to bring me whatever I needed. She probably made the offer to a bunch of people, knowing her, and it was really thoughtful. I texted her back that I wasn’t that worried about myself these days, and was in fact on my way to a new speakeasy in town with some coworkers.
  5. How good a listener are you when someone needs to talk it out?
    I suffer from the guy impulse: listen so I can try to fix the problem. I’m very aware of this as a flawed approach, and I’m not nearly as bad about it as I used to be. I’m learning. I still have the impulse as strongly as ever, but I’m learning just to sit and listen, especially when the other person is a woman. So I’ll say I may not be as good as most women, but I think I’m better than most men. Which is almost good enough for me!

I missed last week’s Five, and it was the annual Scattergories game, so I’m going to do it now. From here: Scattergories part 11.

The random letter generator gave me G.

  1. What’s something that recently exceeded your expectations?
    I really want to say The Queen’s Gambit, which I am three episodes into, but I think that’s not a valid answer, so hm. Oh, I know. A few weeks ago I checked out this spot in my hood called Griddle N Grindz. I’ve seen the photos on social media, so I knew to expect massive portions, but the photos of the chicken katsu didn’t look especially appetizing. Let me say I grew up eating my mom’s amazing tonkatsu and chicken katsu and nobody’s has ever come close to hers. Until that day at GnG. It was very close. Close enough that if my eyes were closed and you put it in my mouth I would guess it was hers. Amazing. I have a photo around here somewhere but I just said the photos don’t really communicate well enough, so I’ll refrain.
  2. What snack from your childhood would you love to have right now?
    I’m sure I’m thinking of this because Kimberly’s answer was similar. When we were growing up in San Francisco, the Navy Commissary sold the Granny Goose version of Otter Pops. I never saw an Otter Pop until we moved to Hawaii. These were called Goos Bars. They were something of a comfort food — a daily snack in my preschool days meaning I was being cared for. I’m sure they’re gross now, but I would looooove for my mom to hack off the end with her chef’s knife and serve me a purple Goos Bar.
  3. What ailment do you suffer from?
    Gimpy knees. Especially my left knee.
  4. Which musical artist would be fun to hang out with?
    Ginger Spice, Gillian Welsh, and Selena Gomez would do it for me, but if Amy Grant‘s free, yes pleeeeeeeease.
  5. What’s something you’re looking forward to this weekend?
    I guess I can’t say The Queen’s Gambit here either. So I’ll say games. I’m going to explore the app store for some games that will play well on the iPad, probably step away from my usual genres, like word games and puzzle games, and try something completely different. There are also some good baseball games coming up this weekend.

Friday 5: Make it simple to last your whole life long

From here. I want to embed videos and WordPress doesn’t handle this well within numbered lists, so I’m going to format this one a little differently. It’s sloppy, but at least not as sloppy as trying to fit this all into one list the normal way.

1. What kiddie song do you still like as a grownup?

I love a lot of kiddie songs. “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” is probably my favorite song ever, but while it certainly sings like a kiddie song, I don’t think it is. So give me (in this order, I think) “Jesus Loves Me,” “How Much is That Doggie in the Window?,” “Ulili E,” “It’s a Beautiful Day,” “In a Cabin,” and “Arky Arky.”

2. When did a new* song most recently* get you excited?

In recent years I’ve really put in some effort to keep up with new music. You should see my spreadsheets. This one’s pretty easy to answer. Taylor Swift’s “No Body, No Crime” is a murder ballad from last year’s Evermore album. First, it’s really well done. Second, it’s a murder ballad. On a Taylor Swift album. Did not see that coming!

3. What song were you introduced to via television ad or as background in a movie or TV show?

Two commercials made me run out and buy the albums the songs are from. More recently, The Heavy’s “How You Like Me Now?” in a 2010 Kia Sorento commercial.

In 2002, the Wiseguys and their Mitsubishi Eclipse commercial. This one took some work. It was pre-YouTube and (of course) pre-Shazam. Had to scour a few message boards to find it and go to Tower hoping it had the CD. It did, and now so do I.

4. Which song’s opening lyric do you especially love?

I know I’ve said this in this space before, but the opening line of “Jumper” by Third Eye Blind may be my favorite opening line ever. “I wish you would step back from that ledge, my friend.” Holy freaking moly.

It may be a cliché of an answer, but we shouldn’t leave out Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.” “How many roads must a man walk down?”

Oh, and what about “Sundown” by Gordon Lightfoot? “I can see her lying back in her satin dress / In a room where you do what you don’t confess.” Wowowowowowowow.

5. With which five songs would you begin a weekend-themed playlist?

  1. “Friday I’m in Love” by The Cure (1992)
  2. “Groovin'” by the Young Rascals (1967)
  3. “Lifetime Party” by Cecilio and Kapono (1974)
  4. “Good Times Roll” by the Cars (1978)
  5. “Take a Little Rhythm” by Ali Thomson (1980)

Wooo that’s an old man’s list!

Friday 5: Touched by your presents, dear

From here.

My sleep is so messed up this week I can’t tell if at 3:42 a.m. Friday I’m up late or up early. I should be in bed either way but I don’t want my whole evening-morning to have been a waste so here’s something useful (ha!) instead.

  1. For what ability do you seem to have a natural gift?
    You should just see how easily I let food in my fridge go to waste. It’s amazing! I stick some broccoli crowns or green beans in, and *pow* despite being home all the time, and despite loving my greens, in just a few days I’m throwing them all out with all my unrealized good intentions! I had a funny, snarky answer here about repelling the sort of women whose company I most enjoy (middle-aged divorced teachers or librarians!) but despite my status as a professional writer I couldn’t make it not also sound pitiful and pathetic, which was not the vibe with which I want to begin my Friday morning. Or end my late Thursday evening.
  2. What’s pretty good about the present moment?
    I didn’t have dinner, and I’m sorta looking forward to either a couple of small sandwiches when I finish typing this (I’ve two rolls left of half a dozen I bought Sunday night) or the leftover Indian food I brought home from lunch with some coworkers. If you live on Oahu and dig Indian food, check out Spice Up on King St. between Piikoi and Keeaumoku. It’s where Choi’s Family Restaurant used to be. Delicious.
  3. What nearby, everyday object would be a good symbolic bequest to someone in your life?
    It would be funny to leave my Kindle Paperwhite to R to represent the love we never rekindled, but she’s married so I doubt she’d receive it in the intended spirit, if she made note of my death at all. So I’m bequeathing this large bottle of naproxen sodium to all the girls I’ve loved before who wandered in and out my door, to remind them of all the pain we caused each other and to accept this gift as a token of our mutual healing. Why I’m thinking about relationships at this late (early) hour is a bit of a mystery, since I’ve been feeling pretty great in my self-sufficience these days. Although now that I’m emerging from this long lockdown, I suppose I’m craving the company of the fairer sex.
  4. What recognitions, large or small, have been bestowed upon you?
    My senior year of high school, the newspaper staff named me Most Likely to be a Televangelist (this in the years of the Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggert scandals) but I think the newspaper advisor made them think of something else (It was a small, moderately conservative Christian school) so I was renamed Most Likely to be a Used Car Salesman.
  5. What was your most recent charitable donation?
    Spelling names correctly is of severe importance. I was freakishly devoted to it when I taught high-schoolers, and I’m nearly as devoted now that I work in a nonprofit. So I have this rule. Anything I’ve written or edited, if it gets published with a misspelled name, I anonymously donate $20 to the associated fund at the university, if there is one. If the misspelled name is in an article about an engineering scholarship, for example, I donate money to that scholarship. If there’s no immediately related fund, I find something close. Someone else misspelled a coworker’s name in our staff newsletter, and for some reason I didn’t check spelling on the names when I edited (which I always do, even the names I absolutely know the spelling of), and it went out with the mispelling. I made the donation to the staff social/party fund, a little side account not budgeted by the foundation but by bake sales and bottle recycling.

Happy long weekend and happy Independence Day. I don’t have plans beyond Friday night but I hope to do some catching up on personal writing. I have so many unreviewed books, films, and TV series. And I’m doing July’s Camp NaNo, so there’ll be a bit of noveling all month.

Friday 5: Heights

From here.

  1. What’s the best non-animated movie musical you’ve seen in the past several years?
    I realized several years ago that I was unlikely to be fond of any non-animated movie musical I didn’t already like. All the stuff I find bizarre and uninteresting about a movie musical is true of my faves (The Music Man, Little Shop of Horrors) but the old favorites are too much a part of my movie-lover identity. The same stuff in new (and new-to-me) films is just kind of unwatchable. But then there were La-La Land, which I liked, and The Greatest Showman, which I loved and which I purchased on Blu-Ray, and maybe there’s hope. I saw In the Heights Thursday night in a theater and enjoyed the heck out of it. So yeah. The Greatest Showman is my answer.
  2. How are you most likely to pass the time during a lengthy blackout?
    I’m realizing we did this question some time not too long ago. Dang it. The answer used to be playing my guitar and singing songs, but these days it’s pen-and-paper crossword puzzles. I don’t like going to sleep at night with no power, but if the blackout is during daylight hours, I’ll most likely grab sleep in anticipation of being up all night. I have enough backup juice for my phone, Kindle, and other toys, but if I’m feeling restless I might drive around my neighborhood and charge things there, staying away from traffic lights and important streets to keep them clear for emergency vehicles.
  3. When were you last in a swimming pool?
    It’s been a looooong time, like more than half my life ago. When I was a kid, I practically lived in pools during the summer. Our summer rec program took us to Waipahu pool every Tuesday and Thursday, all day. In intermediate and high school, my scoutmaster took the whole troop to Pearl City pool on meeting nights instead of having our regular meetings. He believed fervently that if you live on an island, you should be a good swimmer, so we spent a ton of time in the water, most of it unstructured. The guys in my patrol destroyed a summer camp record in the relay race, ‘though we finished with the second-best time: the other patrol in our troop destroyed the record by a few seconds more than we did. But in my post-college years, pools have been less available and less attractive. I’m mobile enough that a beach is as accessible as a pool, and I’d much rather swim in the ocean. So I think the last time I was in a pool was 29 years ago during a weeklong summer mission trip to Molokai. I wasn’t sure I wanted to get in the water, but the girls on our trip got in, and I wasn’t going to miss that.
  4. What do you remember fondly about the neighborhood where you grew up?
    I grew up in Waipahu, a historic town playing a huge part in my state’s cultural history. It was the heart of the island’s sugar industry, which means it was the heart of immigration from Japan, Korea, China, the Philippines, and Portugal. By the time my family moved there (my second grade year), we were on third generations of most of these cultures, and my neighborhood was going through ethnic changes. By the time my family moved away (end of my tenth-grade year), it was more known for its first-gen Filipino population, and sections were booming in Vietnamese immigrants. This was all critical in developing my extremely liberal ideas about immigration in this state and in this country. Throw the doors wide open, I say.
  5. What language did you study in school, and what’s something you remember how to say?
    I studied Japanese after school in fourth and fifth grades, then for three years in high school, and then for another few semesters in college. My mom is from Japan, so there’s a lot I still remember. たべましょう! Let’s eat! おてあらいに いっても いいですか? May I go to the bathroom?

Friday 5: Mental health again

From here.

  1. What’s the best thing you’ve done for yourself in recent days?
    Three times in the ocean in the past ten days. It was especially good Thursday morning before work. It’s light enough by 5:30 in the morning to jump in, but I’ve been doing it closer to 6:30, but even after nearly an hour in the water, there’s enough time to grab breakfast before heading to the office. It’s wonderful. Now if my favorite breakfast spots in town would just open for dining in!
  2. What have you to overcome in the coming days?
    A small mountain of of personal writing I’ve piled up. It’s been on my list each weekend for the past few months but THIS weekend for sure! I’m going to set an easy goal. Structure for success, I always say.
  3. What’s growing inside you?
    A weird uneasy feeling about returning to the office full-time by August, as is the plan. I can’t identify the source. Being in the office once or twice a week lately has been fine except for the extreme difficulty getting to sleep the nights before. Maybe I’ve just gotten too used to working at home, where I am extremely comfortable. Maybe I’m a little worried about leaving the house unattended for such long periods every day. I’ve had some problems with break-ins, and several times in the past year or so, people have come into my carport to mess around. I don’t know. I’ve taken to saying a short prayer every time I leave the house and then whispering thanks to God when I get home for protecting my space. I’m not saying my house is protected by prayer; and I can’t say I’m not doing it more for inner peace than as entreaty to the deity. But I can’t say the opposites either.
  4. What has lately been your escape?
    I’m not proud of it, but I’ve been retreating to bed a little too much lately. When I don’t want to deal with the unpleasant realities of things, I’ve just gone to bed. Being super sleep-deprived these past few weeks is a contributing factor to stress and escape, so I think I can be excused, but this isn’t the healthiest way to deal with stuff. I’ve also taken more comfort from very cold bottles of Diet Pepsi than usual. That’s also not healthy but it’s a healthier escape than other options!
  5. What amazing thing have you recently crammed into your maw?
    A popular Korean spot right across the street from the office has moved to Kapahulu Ave, probably a better location for it. A new Indian restaurant has moved in, and people in the office have been raving. One coworker has been there four or five times. Thursday I was invited to come along, and it was heavenly. We had chicken momos, samosas, rice, butter chicken, chicken tikka masala, lamb korma, cheese naan, and regular naan (there were five of us). I added a sweet lassi, and we all loved the meal. I don’t think I understand $2.99 for raita, which I encouraged us to get, but I’m looking the other way because I didn’t pick up the check and because I’m totally here for good Indian food in a casual setting. Can’t wait to go back!

Friday 5: I’m so unusual!

It’s easy to think of Cyndi Lauper only in context. The wild hair, crazy wardrobe, unique vocal inflections, and strange association with professional wrestling all combined with the explosion in popularity of music videos to set her up as a true creation of MTV, although it could as easily be said Cyndi made MTV as much as MTV made Cyndi.

This is all true, but it doesn’t change that she was supremely talented, a songwriter and vocalist truly unlike anyone else of her time, or anyone since. She may have lost her knack for writing sticky songs, as her later material was competent but unmemorable, not to mention sometimes cheesy.

But she can still sing.

From here.

  1. When did you most recently have a change of heart?
    I don’t want to get into too much detail, but I had one of those periodic, professional identity crises. My employer created a new position in our department, and I never thought for a second about applying for it until a handful of coworkers suggested I really should. There are undoubtedly aspects of the work I’d have to learn as I went, but there are parts of it I could do well, and a couple of the coworkers said I would do them well enough to make their jobs easier, which is one of the nicest things your colleagues can say, especially when they’re in other departments. It didn’t help that I was really struggling with this one story I was working on, and the best time to get a writer thinking about changing paths is when he’s struggling with a writing assignment. I went pretty dark for a few days. Then at the end of one work day I just remembered I like what I do, and while I won’t rule out trying for positions like this some other time, for now I’m doing what’s right for me. And while I’ve not had my best year doing it because, you know, this pandemic, I think I’m pretty good at it and I’m still finding ways I can be better.
  2. In the coming months, what’s most likely to keep you up all through the night?
    I’m having so much trouble with sleep lately it can be literally anything that keeps me up through the night. One night last week I stayed up all night watching season one of Mythic Quest, which I’ve already watched three times through. Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?
  3. When you gonna live your life right?
    Sunday night I bought a bathroom scale for the first time in my life. Tuesday morning I stepped on it. Let’s get this thing started, shall we?
  4. Do you wanna go out with a lion’s roar?
    You know I always heard this lyric as a question about going out with friends or something. But isolated like this it seems it’s about going out like dying. If it’s the latter, my answer is no. I want to go out meekly and quietly, trying my darndest to hang onto life. If it’s the former, then still no, but maybe with a lion’s confidence. I went to freaking Zippy’s the other night, dined in the restaurant by myself while reading a book, and enjoyed the heck out of simply dining out at a long-time hangout. Thursday I went to my ophthalmologist after skipping my appointment with her last year. I’m not roaring, but I’m getting close to strutting. Lions strut, right?
  5. When did you recently decide something wasn’t perfect but was good enough?
    Well. I wrote these five questions and didn’t love them, but I thought they’d be good enough at least for me, which of course dictated that I then answer them, which I don’t always do.

They say I better get a chaperone
Because I can’t stop messin’ with the danger zone

I won’t worry and I won’t fret
Ain’t no law against it yet!

Okay yeah, it’s a crude subject, but it’s a woman singing about it, which makes it kind of awesome, and these lyrics are just great. Although I think Cyndi was wrong — there were a lot of places where it was illegal. I think there are fewer now.

Friday 5: Self-care

A tree grows in central Honolulu. Sunset at Makiki District Park.

From here.

  1. What have you done lately for improving or maintaining your mental health? What more would you like to do?
    I’ve done a lot toward degrading my mental health for absolute sure, with crazy sleep habits and my bad knee keeping me from taking the long walks that mostly kept my sanity a year ago when we first locked down. These last few weeks, and especially this past seven days, I’ve taken myself to Makiki District Park for walks around the park just before sundown, through dusk, into the early evening. It’s 75 to 90 minutes of non-strenuous movement, and I walk pretty slowly because I’m reading my Kindle nearly the entire time, but it’s been good for me. I’ve gone two or three times a week. I feel myself integrating slowly back into society. I love the fresh air and sun on my face. And the book time is great, of course. I’ve been hitting the beach once a week but I’ve got to up that for swims at least twice a week. Before the lockdown I was going three or four times a week, swimming nearly an hour in the mornings before work. I need this back!
  2. When did you last eat something specifically because it was good for you?
    Because my potassium levels were low-normal the last time I had bloodwork, when they’ve never been a problem before, my doctor recommended some additions to my diet, so I’m downing about seven dried apricots and three clementines every day. Most days. Some days I just don’t want them or I forget, but most days I do it right after I take my daily meds. I don’t dislike the apricots but I don’t particularly like them either, so they are just for the potassium and fiber.
  3. These days, what are you learning about, and what would you like to learn about next?
    Besides the usual assortment of recipes, I’m reading a lot about the blockchain these days. I’ve got most of it, but there are some important holes I can’t seem to fill. Like, I could explain cryptocurrency to just about anyone so they’d get the gist of it, but I’d have to admit where a couple of holes are. And how NFTs work in the blockchain is still puzzling to me because the blockchain is supposed to be decentralized and I can’t seem to find an answer to where, in a commercial NFT venture such as NBA Top Shot, the ledger exists and how it’s kept. Argh. I’ve also spent time learning about car stereos because I want to work on a few DIY improvements to mine, so that’s probably my next focused effort. My car stereo already sounds good, but I want it to sound gooooooooooooood so the ladies at the bus stops can sing along with my ABBA playlist as I cruise slowly past. Sorry ladies: I’ve got somewhere to be, but I’ll be back to pick you up later!
  4. What’s positive about your physical appearance lately?
    This is a sore spot with me so why did I write this question? Maybe because I need it. I’ve put on a lot of weight this past year and it doesn’t bother me too much except I don’t like what I see and I know it’s unhealthy. I’m having hair issues, too, which stresses me out big-time. My hair, even on its best days, looks ridiculous (I’ve not cut it since 2002), like the midlife crisis everyone knows it is, but I’ve worn it this way because it pleases me. My hair is a kind of outsider identification that makes me feel good, and the one place where people compliment me on it is at metal shows — another outsider affirmation with deep meaning for me. Sooooooooo ugh. I’m not feeling good about my appearance these days. However, among my weird purchases this lockdown year has been a fairly pricey beard trimmer, to replace the small arsenal of cheaper (shorter-lived) devices I get from Ross (the discount clothing store, not my math-teacher friend) every so often, and it’s been a good buy. When I bother to clean myself up, which is usually Saturday or Sunday night, I feel good about the way it looks, and it takes a lot less time and effort with the new gear. I’m also considering a major change to my professional wardrobe which I shan’t detail yet in case I don’t do it, but I’m ready to shift gears with my look, as I did several years ago when I first left the classroom. There will still be plenty of black and dark solids, but I want to put it together differently. Send a different message in the office.
  5. What will you do this weekend to bring joy into your life and a smile to someone else?
    It begins with taking a vacation day today, Friday, to catch up on reading and a few nagging tasks I don’t want to worry about Saturday and Sunday. I’m picking up food for me and my parents for dinner with the folks on Mothers Day, and in case I see my sister, I’m picking up something really nice for a late birthday present. We don’t give each other birthday presents, but I want her to know this year I’ve been thinking of her. If I don’t see her I’ll bring it over to her house, which is something of a trek. And of course: beach time.

Friday 5: Aca-scuse me?

From here. What an obnoxiously silly set of questions.

  1. In what way have you recently been rebellious?
    Keehi Lagoon Park has been closed for a year. There are concrete barriers blocking entrance to the park by car, but the tennis courts in front are open. So parking there and walking into the park is a piece of cake, as I’ve been doing these past few weekends. I’m not the only one — there are a few others walking around and through the park when I’m there, but we stay far, far away from each other. If you know anything about the park, you know it’s very popular with homeless people. I guess during the pandemic, the city erected a little compound with large military tents and picnic tables, fenced off and overlooked by police officers, for the usual park residents, ostensibly to keep them safe. Whenever I go by, there aren’t very many people there unless they’re all in tents. The whole thing is a placid picture I’ve enjoyed walking through while reading my Kindle. My car’s safety inspection expired in February 2020, so there’s also that.
  2. What fond memories do you have of camping out?
    I was a Boy Scout, so camping was a huge part of my teen years, from seventh grade until I graduated high school. One of my NaNoWriMo projects was about summer camp the year after my sophomore year, the year my patrol (The Roach Patrol) won the patrol challenge, and there are a ton of memories from just that one week. Lately, though, I’ve remembered late nights playing cribbage under the dining fly, by the light of old Coleman lanterns. My scoutmaster always brought a couple of boards, usually one for each patrol, and we played for chores or KP duty. The new scouts almost always got the raw end, as older guys would take advantage of their rawness. Cribbage is supposed to be a civil game, but it has one cutthroat feature: when the scores are announced after each hand, if a player doesn’t claim points the opponent sees, the opponent gets to steal them. We usually played four-handed cribbage, with older guys partnering up and younger guys partnering up, but in my patrol we also mixed it up sometimes, older pairing with younger. These were great friends. We played game after game, telling the same stupid stories from past summer camps, laughing at the same stupid jokes, drinking cocoa warmed up on a propane stove, late into the night for the whole week.
  3. When did you last have a snow cone, or something similar?
    In Hawaii, it’s called shave ice (except on the Big Island, where it’s called ice shave), and it’s one of my favorite snacks. Like most of us, I’ve avoided the shave ice stands for more than a year. The last real shave ice I remember was when my company moved to its new offices on King Street. There’s a bikeshare station on our block, so one day at lunch I changed into shorts and a tee, and biked the King Street bike lane back to University Ave, then came back. On the way back, I stopped at a little hair salon slash shave ice joint. I know, it’s a weird combination, and based on the quality of the shave ice, I’m going to say the salon is the main business. Oh, wait! I remember for Penny’s birthday in October ’19, we went to that Korean shave ice spot on Keeaumoku, inside the 88 Mart. In Korean it’s bingsoo, and at En Hakkore Cafe it’s a large and busy dish. Not what I’m used to but still quite good. So that was a few months more recent than the hair salon.
  4. Where do you have difficulty fitting in? Where do you easily fit in?
    Fitting in has been an issue my whole life. I’m just a misfit in most situations, and I’ve come to be (mostly) at peace with it. And I think it’s one reason I’ve been thinking a bit about those cribbage games when I was a teen. The feeling of belonging I felt with my friends under that dining fly especially is dear to me. I didn’t even really feel like I fit in with my troop most of the time, but in my patrol it was usually great. These days, I enjoy the feeling of misfit community at metal shows, where I have found the people to be nicer than at concerts of any other type.
  5. How do you feel about banannas?
    I disliked bananas for most of my life. If anything I ate or drank had banana in it, I just couldn’t get it down. Then several years ago, I made a dedicated effort to learning to like them. First I chilled them, then smeared them with lots of peanut butter and brown sugar. It took a while (and lots of brown sugar) to consume a whole banana, but I did it, not enjoying it at all for weeks. Then I got to where I could tolerate them, and I gradually used less peanut butter and less brown sugar. Now I can actually eat a banana. I can’t say I like it, but it’s no longer an issue. When I get an acai bowl, I eat every slice of banana in the bowl with no problems. I’ve been surprised by how starchy bananas are, how filling and satisfying just one good banana can be. And I’m hoping within a few years I will actually like them.