Lockdown: Anxiety has got me on the run

Depending on how you think about it, the lockdown is either about to end soon, or it ended last summer, or it ended earlier last summer, or it ended late last spring.

When it began, we were pretty much locked down. Like universally grounded. So much was uncertain (“in these uncertain times…”), and we didn’t know what was safe, and we thought this might end in a few weeks and everything would be back to normal.

We were ever aware of our food stores, our toilet paper supplies, and the latest hot spots where the numbers shot up.

I think I handled those early days best. All this alone time was kind of welcome. The adventure of finding interesting ways to feed myself with the stuff I had kept me thinking about my next meal as I was completing the current meal. Sleep was a huuuuge issue, but when is it not, in my life?

These past few weeks, as I’ve fallen behind on my daily updates, it hasn’t been just about being busy, which I sort of have, or being slightly depressed, which I also have, or being a little anxious, which I also have. I think I’m moving into a different mental space: out of lockdown and cautiously but eagerly into whatever’s next.

Eventually, I’m going to stop with these intended daily updates and settle into whatever needs this space satisfies, with whatever frequency. The season of the lockdown journal is ending.

I’m a week away from being about as immune as I’m expected to get, I guess. There will be an accounting, too. My body is in the worst shape it’s ever seen. My brain is teetering on a few different brinks, some of which are new ground for me. I’m restless in a lot of ways. I’m anxious in a lot of ways. I’m mildly depressed in a lot of ways. All related to this stupid lockdown.

Yeah, I’m a little overwhelmed, too. And as I’ve felt it, I’ve retreated into escapist behavior, which of course makes everything worse. So I’ve sunken into this little hole and I need to get out of it. I keep telling myself tomorrow is the day and the day goes by and it feels worse because I didn’t make it actually be the day.

Ugh.

Twice over the long weekend I drove to Keehi Lagoon and walked as I read my Kindle. It helped. Enormously. Of course, it sounds like doing something (fresh air, sunshine, exercise) when it’s really the ultimate escapist behavior. My first escapist behavior. Why is reading my favorite thing? Because it takes me away.

As disappointing as this past year has been, now it’s home, and now it’s about to change again. I’m not ready to rush headlong back into the old space, even if the old were to be exactly the same as it was when I left it. I want to see my writing partner again over pizza. I want to sit in a cafe and drink coffee as I read. I want to go to a concert. Just maybe not all at once, I guess.

I also want my year back, damn it.

Anyway.

I’ll get this lockdown journal caught up some time this week; I swear. I will also do some of the other stuff I’ve been putting off simply because I have to. And yeah, the beach. I need some beach time.

I’m okay. I just need to sort through some stuff, and most of it will be best sorted through by getting it done, not by writing about it. Ack.

Back to the inanity of my daily recaps sometime Tuesday. I promise! Sorta!

Lockdown: Bury my heart on Klickitat Street

Saturday I slept in. The only reason I got up when I did was the fantasy baseball draft I scheduled for noon. The draft went well. I had the second pick in a snake draft and really liked the team I put together. Took about an hour and twenty minutes.

Breakfast was lazy burritos. Of course breakfast was at noon, so maybe it was lunch. For a late lunch, I made this simple mushroom chicken recipe in the Instant Pot. Chicken breasts, mushroom broth (water plus a few teaspoons of mushroom Better than Bouillon), mushrooms, garlic, pepper, salt, butter. It came out pretty good. The chicken was fine but next time I’ll cut it into chunks. The mushrooms and broth were terrific. I made enough for three meals. Then kim chi stew for dinner.

I sorta had in mind to do what I did the Saturday before. Drive to Mapunapuna and check out Fisher for some discounted shelves, then walk around Keehi Lagoon while reading my Kindle, but I just couldn’t get myself out the door. So I watched Cobra Kai and mostly just did what I did Friday. Veg.

I really wish I read more.

There wasn’t much texting Saturday, mostly short continuations of conversations from Friday. Penny did text me the Atlantic’s obituary of Beverly Cleary, which I’d already read. She hadn’t heard about Larry McMurtry, but she never did finish Lonesome Dove, so I didn’t expect her to be as tuned in on that.

Two of the most influential writers in my life, one in my formative years and one in my post-college years. I’ve written this here before, but I say it all the time anyway: nobody writes as clearly as Larry McMurtry. He’s the clearest, most readable writer I’ve encountered, and I’ve modeled my own professional voice after his, as much as I could anyway. He does it in prose fiction and in non-fiction, and I don’t know how he does it. I know he doesn’t waste words, and it’s his economy I’ve most tried to mimic. Not here in this space, obviously, but in more formal writing.

Maybe you’ve noticed it. I’ve removed several common constructions from my prose, and I can feel the difference. The ubiquity of “both” in common written communication is one. “So-and-so says the new policy with affect both A and B.” Get rid of “both.”

I can’t share a specific example I encountered this week, because it’s related to my work and I can’t piss people off. But I read a proposal by a group of professors in which one paragraph contained THREE sentences using “both” this way. It was insane. I almost couldn’t believe it, but of course I can. Pay attention and you’ll see it aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalllllllllll the time.

Another, almost as ubiquitous peeve: “not only A, but B.” Or “not just A, but B.” It’s maddening.

These things crowd our language and make murky our meaning.

So yeah. This weekend I’ll pour one out for Beverly Cleary and one for Larry McMurtry.

Don’t forget to leave a comment if you’re pandemicking disconnected. Don’t do that.

Lockdown: Lazy burritos

It’s late Tuesday and still no real side effects, thirty-two hours after the injection. My arm where the needle went in is sorer than it was, but that’s it.

Not entirely true. I was reeeeally tired at the end of my workday today, so I locked up the house, brushed my teeth, and went to bed just after seven. But then I woke up at half past midnight ravenous, so I’m up now. Not exactly sleepy but definitely tired. Run-down. Is that the side effect or something else?

I woke up Friday morning (a state holiday!) with not enough sleep because I wanted the option of getting Taco Bell for breakfast. Quickly decided Taco Bell could wait for some other day and went right back to bed, where I stayed until the very late morning.

Lazy burritos for breakfast. Someone reminded me that I promised months ago to share my lazy burritos situation. I’m telling you, it’s one step more involved than opening a can of refried beans and spooning them into a flour tortilla, so don’t get excited.

Open a large can (twice the size of the regular can) of refried beans and dump its contents into an appropriately sized food storage container. I usually go with the vegetarian variety of refried beans. I like fat, but if I can choose veggie fat instead of animal fat, I might as well.

Mix in a whole can of Ro-Tel. That’s a specific brand of canned tomatoes and peppers. There are other brands and they work too, but not as well. So if you’re making the big bucks that I, a writer for a nonprofit, rake in, just get the Ro-Tel.

I have a jar of home-concocted chili powder which I will talk about another time. I usually don’t bother, but sometimes (as this week), I mix in a couple of tablespoons. If I have some leftover rice, I’ll stir some in too. It adds texture and extends the filling so I can have it for more days in a row. Before I was rolling in dough for being a writer in a nonprofit, I used a lot more rice. These days I use less, and I usually don’t use any at all. It’s carby enough, and beans are good carbs (because protein and fiber) while rice is just carbs, unless it’s brown rice, in which case it’s still carby but a bit better for you.

That’s it! Spread it on a flour tortilla, usually with a generous slice of extra-sharp cheddar and roll it up. I usually make two and stick them in the microwave oven on high for a minute. Keep the food storage container in the fridge for breakfast all week.

I considered filling a second container with scrambled eggs so I could make lazy breakfast burritos. I didn’t do it, despite picking up fresh eggs. Maybe this weekend.

I mostly vegged my day away and I’m only somewhat rueful. Worked a few crosswords, read a little. I can’t remember what I had for lunch, if I had it at all, but I had tofu stew for dinner and it was great.


Okay now it’s late Wednesday. I crawled into bed before finishing this, intending to rest just a little while, and it turned into hours. And when I got up I didn’t feel like writing.

Friday interaction. Crush Girl texted me to talk about this place where she was picking up dessert. We seldom text on weekends so it was a nice surprise. Jennifer sent me a short video of a local newscaster (my favorite, although I seldom watch her station) calling Kermit the Frog’s song “Rainbow Collection.” Of course I had to text Cathy to wish her a happy Prince Kuhio Day, her favorite Hawaii state holiday.

That’s it. Leave a comment if you’re in need of someone to connect with.

Lockdown: Fear! Does not exist! In this dojo! Does it?

Who has two thumbs and a sore arm where a second needle was inserted Monday afternoon? Yeah. This guy. It’s very late Monday night (nearly three in the morning) and I should have been in bed hours ago, but I’m morbidly staying awake to see when the side effects kick in. If they don’t by the time I post this, I’ll call it a day and see what the deal is when I wake up.

Thursday the 25th was a struggle. The week of sleep deprivation really caught up to me, but hallelujah: Friday was Prince Kuhio Day, a state holiday, so Thursday was Friday.

My supervisor needed the day off because she’d just had her second shot, so my three-meeting-day was down to two, and I had a mostly stress-free day working on my usual stuff. There was more newsletter work, and more discussion about upcoming proposals. I heard back from the program director of the thing I wrote the UH Hilo story about, and he seemed to be pleased.

The mid-day meeting was really a monthly lunch activity. Once a month, someone leads a little Zoom session teaching, informing, or demonstrating something fun or interesting. We’ve had little workshops on better phone photography, the many neato uses of tahini, and (this time) getting into gardening. I attend because it’s important to me my coworkers know I support them. Better team-building.

My late meeting was the big monthly advancement meeting, to which I’m not an active invitee. I’m invited to the meetings because I work so closely with the development officers on some of their projects, but the meeting’s not for me, so I get to participate passively.

After work I crashed hard, and when I woke up I didn’t get back to work as I usually do because it was the weeeeeeeeekeeeeeeend. I mostly just vegged. Watched a few episodes of Cobra Kai. Listened to podcasts. Since new music drops Fridays and late Thursday night is Friday everywhere else, I spun some new music.

New metal releases (on first look) didn’t seem that interesting, so I caught up on March releases outside the genre. Neil Young, live and solo. Amazing. Beautiful. Heartbreaking. Ringo Starr. Optimistic, somewhat insipid, unchallenging, and sweet. And only five songs, which I think is the sweet spot for new Ringo music every few years. Paul Stanley doing Motown covers. It sounds great but it’s not for me.

I didn’t know “Down by the River” was a Neil Young song. I knew it was a cover when I heard it on Indigo Girls’ 1200 Curfews live album, but I never looked up who they were covering. It’s on this new Neil Young album (recorded 1971; released 2021) and it’s freaking gorgeous.

Breakfast was lazy burritos. Lunch was hot dogs. Dinner was more waffles. Yeah, I pretty much ate the same stuff Thursday as Wednesday and it was great!

My goals for the weekend were many and not scribbled in blood, but the stuff I most wanted to hit were a trip to the beach, lots of reading, catching up on reviewing stuff, and some vegging with Cobra Kai.

Reid texted me to get the name of a former colleague I’m recommending. We had some talk in the Suzanne-Cindy group text about this Asian American march I wasn’t going to. Crush Girl and texted a bit during my late meeting.

I was spent. Wrung out. Went to bed too late but mostly happy because I was enjoying the further adventures of Daniel LaRusso and looked forward to three days off. Yay.

Hit me up in comments if you need someone to connect with! Don’t pandemic lonely!

Lockdown: Not enough sleep and I feel waffle

Because I was up so late doing newsletter stuff Tuesday, I was a mess Wednesday as well. Mad cycle.

We kind of moved the staff newsletter edits up a few days because one of us is taking Monday and Tuesday off, but our original deadline for submissions was Friday, so even though I submitted my edits late Tuesday night, a lot of Wednesday was working on late content. Not officially late, but late for our new workflow. It was okay. I think the first draft came out great.

I also finally reworked this UH Athletics proposal I’d been sitting on for a few days, then thought it might not fly, so I made a second reworked proposal and submitted two parallel drafts. I was right. We went with the second, while I felt the first was a lot more readable.

More early proposal conversation trickled in. I think I now have three proposals on their way to me, so this coming week could be a little crazy.

There was some emailing about our book discussion group’s selection, too. That was fun.

Yes, I took a short, intense nap after work just to get my brain back on track, then got up, ate dinner, and went back to bed early, like around 9:30. Laundry was plan.

I got up an hour earlier than my alarm and just went with it. Packed up the laundry and my Kindle and headed down to that crappy laundry in Kapalama, which was at least quite a bit less messy this time.

It was a lot busier than my first time! Ack. People were cool about trying to keep their distance, but that’s a narrow room. I was quick about loading the laundry, then escaped to the parking lot, where I ate a Big Mac combo on the trunk of my car while I read A Pho Love Story.

That part of the experience was nice. It was a cool, slightly breezy early morning. The food was delicious, the Diet Coke refreshing, and the reading very entertaining. I thought of two Vietnamese families I know with kids who might like to read it, so I put two hard copies in my Amazon shopping cart. Haven’t pulled the trigger yet, but I think I will.

I spent a mini fortune on the wash, and not only because it’s so dang pricey there. I did a few more loads than usual, but whatever. In a few weeks I’ll most likely be taking my laundry to the folks’ on weekends and doing it there.

As crappy as this laundromat is, I have to say it’s nice to be down and back in two hours. That’s at least an hour less than when I was driving to Manoa. Although I’d still rather be doing my wash there, at least the tradeoff isn’t entirely against me with this new situation. I could have been back in bed by 5:15 but I watched the morning news first for some stupid reason and got to bed closer to 6:00.

Breakfast was lazy burritos, lunch was hot dogs, and dinner was mini waffles from the waffle batter I bought at Liliha Bakery. They were so good I didn’t put anything on them, just ate them at my kitchen counter as they came out of the iron. I’d eat one while the next was in the iron. Not a healthy eating day for sure.

Crush Girl and I texted about books quite a bit Wednesday. That was nice. Sharon asked me a work question, this one about my friend Ryan who I introduced her to. I texted Tiger to ask if she’s received her shots yet (not yet). I also texted with Sylvia a little about books, since she’s participating in the book discussion.

That was Wednesday. Kind of a draining day, but they were all kind of draining this week except for Monday, which I remind myself was quite nice.

Leave a comment. If you want someone to connect with. I’m a texting machine lately and you can slide right in if you need someone.

Lockdown: A foggy brain and some meatloaf

Tuesday I was kind of a mess, thanks to Cobra Kai. I wrote some social media copy for the Kauai scholarships story and we sent it out on our platforms. Also got an email from a new development officer asking what my bandwidth looked like, as she was hoping to send me a proposal draft soon for me to look at. Exciting, working with a new DO. I’m honestly looking forward to this.

Most of the rest of the day, I worked on staff newsletter stuff. We got some pretty good content. I had to write a couple of things but my brain was mush. So I clocked out a little early and got a head start on my nightly nap, then got up and finished everything. Wrote a writing tip column on “every day” vs. “everyday,” and a film review column listing some Asian American movies I consider good representation of the Asian American experience. Yeah, I had certain current events on my mind.

Breakfast was lazy burritos again. I just remembered that I skipped hot dogs for lunch and instead got takeout from Liliha Bakery. The meatloaf again, and it was better than usual for some reason. I had half for lunch and half for dinner. I also picked up waffle batter from the bakery. They used to sell these really good frozen waffles, but they stopped doing it around ten years ago in favor of the waffle batter.

Crush Girl texted me from that burger truck I’ve been meaning to try. She really likes it. Sharon texted to ask a work-related question I had no answer to. Jennifer asked how long it would be after my being fully vaccinated before I’d see a movie in a theater. I didn’t have a good answer, but I think I might go on a weeknight to whatever the latest show it, and if I get freaked out I’ll just leave.

I just did a quick look, and the theaters nearest my house are still closed. Pearlridge and Ward are open, but their latest shows are in the 7:30 to 8:30 range, which is prime time. I don’t know. I might still try it. In two weeks, I’ll be in a position to make the call, which feels good to say but still kind of fills me with anxiety. I don’t know if I know how to be around people anymore.

That might have been it. Tuesday was kind of a fog for me so it’s just as well. I hate to say it, but meatloaf may have been the highlight.

4:00. Off to bed. Hit me up in comments if you need someone to connect with. And hang in there.

Lockdown: What do you do for the money, honey?

I don’t want to write about it, but it’s 2:30 in the morning Saturday night and I planned to go to bed at nine. I’m not exactly wide awake, but neither do I really want to go to bed, even though I know I would probably get right to sleep.

I’ll try to keep this short. Which shouldn’t be difficult since I’m writing about Monday, which was like a month ago.

I remember it was mostly a quiet day at work. I’d posted (but not published) a web story about a Hawaii CC program, the one I started in December and didn’t get finished until March for various reasons, some of which are mine and some of which are others’. It came out pretty good. So Monday all I had to do was write the social media copy, which I sent out. It was quickly shared on different platforms and the whole thing worked out well.

That story I rewrote from a bio someone else put together was picked up by one of the Kauai newspapers. That was nice to see too.

I had the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day from Monday to Thursday. Lazy burritos for breakfast. Hot dogs for lunch. It reminded me of early in the pandemic (except I was having overnight oats for breakfast and hot dogs for lunch). The simplicity, ease, and routine really suited me well for a week, and I may try it again next week, perhaps with different stuff. Overnight oats for sure, I think. I miss having them but I keep forgetting to prepare them.

I actually already picked up the stuff for lazy burritos again next week, but not the stuff for hot dogs. There’s this bakery that kind of supplies all the supermarkets and drugstores with bread, a local brand that’s about as local an institution, as much a part of our lives as any other single brand. It’s closing up after a hundred and twenty years or something like that.

I meant to get some hot dog buns (since I still have hot dogs) but the grocery store was clean out. It’s a holiday weekend, so I’m guessing that’s part of it.

I cannot for the life of me remember what I had for dinner. It might have been tortilla chips and fresh salsa.

I know I was exhausted. Took a long nap after work and I think I read a little bit. Then I picked up Cobra Kai season one from where I left off. Episode three, I think. And I stayed up far too late watching it until I passed out. Unhealthy!

Crush Girl texted me first, to ask how my Monday was going. I responded that my day was going pretty well. I was in pretty good spirits about that Hawaii CC story and the response it received. She was having a less positive day, which we chatted about for a little while. She also told me about this bad dining experience she had over the weekend. I really liked the interaction.

I texted my coworker Lauren to ask if the honey thing went through. She said yes, and my Big Island beekeeper friend was sending her the honey midweek. I was so glad it worked out. Later, the beekeeper messaged me on FB to thank me for hooking them up. I thanked HER, saying she was the one blessing us.

Truth is, it’s a mutually beneficial thing and it really makes me feel good to have been part of it. I’m stoked, actually.

JB texted to ask how much it would cost to make the Six Million Dollar Man today. I actually have read articles about this so I pointed him in their direction. I feel like all the expounding people have done on the topic is inaccurate, though. That show was set in its own present. We probably have more technology in our smartphones than was in Steve Austin’s entire body, and setting him up with those bionics using late 70s tech would probably cost nothing.

I actually texted Ali. Just a few words to offer clarification on very brief exchanges we’ve made about ten days apart. I think this friendship is over, and it makes me sad.

Monday really does feel like an aeon ago. Too bad, because as I replay it, I’m remembering how positive it was. I’m not sure the rest of the week played out similarly. I do know I’m moody as heck right now for reasons escaping me, and it influences the way I remember feelings about things.

This may be one of the unconsidered values of these recaps. Although I remembered the facts of Monday, it wasn’t until I looked at my texts with Crush Girl and Lauren I remembered how good I felt. Does it matter how I remember the feelings? Or does it only matter I had them? I can’t decide, and I’m certainly in no emotional state right now to make a ruling.

3:13 in the morning now. I may do an immediate lockdown recap of Tuesday since I’m still up and still writing.

You know what to do. Leave a comment if you’re feeling disconnected. I know I just wrote this, but I am very grateful for the interactions with my friends via text. I can look at them and remember that Monday, the 22nd of March, was a pretty good day and I felt good, even if early Sunday, the 28th, I don’t feel quite as good. Smash the comments.

Lockdown: The sum of our ambition

An island lost at sea, oh

It’s just past midnight Friday night. I was supposed to have a fantasy baseball draft at twelve, but the league was cancelled because not enough teams signed up. It’s fine. It was a money league and it would have been against strangers, and the season doesn’t begin until April 1. Plenty of time to get in other leagues, which is my intention.

It’s another weekend, and I’m once again behond on lockdown journaling by nearly a week. Silly. But today was a holiday, and I spent most of it vegging, so chances are good I get caught up by weekend’s end.

Sting has a new compilation album out, released last weekend. It’s a collection of his duets, almost all of which I haven’t heard. I was looking forward to spinning it this evening, but Spotify doesn’t seem to have it. Instead, I’m just listening to this live album called My Songs: Live. It’s pretty dang terrific, one track in.

I’ll always be king of pain

I saw him in concert here, the last time he played here solo. It was like 1990 or 1991, Valentine’s Day. It was something of a weird night. I was living in the BSU dorm. My roomie Henry was a business major. We got along fine but we had very, very little in common.

As many of us did, when he had group assignments, he often met his partners at the dorm to work. I was rather taken with one of them. I think he name was Glenda but it may have been Wendy or something similar.

Boy did I turn on the charm when she was around. By which I mean I mostly ignored her the first time she was there, then flirted very casually the second.

I got in line to buy Sting tickets without a date in mind. I got pretty good seats, too. The first row after the first section break, about seven o’clock from center stage. On paper, it looks like a great seat, because even if you’re seated, you can see the stage terrifically even if the last row of the first section is on its feet.

On the other hand, there’s a nonstop stream of people walking right in front of you. Who goes to a concert to walk around? Lots of people, which of course I observed at my very first show in tenth grade. I just never thought of it that early morning standing in line. Dang it.

Not long after the purchase, I thought my classmate Jolene would be fun to take. We really disliked each other from the first day of school in seventh grade until sometime in our senior year. Actually, this isn’t true. I disliked her. She hated me. We tolerated each other because we had the same group of friends, but yikes. It was a chilly relationship.

Then something clicked and we started getting along great, right near the end of our senior year. We don’t know what happened, but we were in the same van for our senior trip to the Big Island (I told you we had the same group of friends) and it was sometime then.

And then, the super uptight annoying Jolene who I was sure was going to be a business major went to USC and she majored in art history. Art history! She didn’t see it coming and neither did I, and when she moved back home and I was still four years from graduating, we called each other a few times and even hung out once or twice.

As friends.

But I thought she would be great to take to Sting, and I’m still sure we would have a great time. However, while she was totally going to accompany me, her parents said she couldn’t go. Yeah, I’m not going to delve into this except to say when we were in high school school, the only friend I had whose parents genuinely liked me was Reid, whose parents loved me. So it wasn’t crazy that Jolene’s parents didn’t want her to go to ao concert with me except that she was a college graduate and I was a fifth-year college sophomore (or something).

Jolene, me, and Sting never did converge.

She didn’t have to put on the red light but she did anyway

Then I did something I would never do today, and it embarrasses me more than a little when I remember it now. Someone asked me to sub a jazz radio show at the campus station. I always said yes when people asked me to sub a show, whenever it was and in whatever format. I wanted to be known by as many people at the station as possible as the guy they could call to fill in. It was how I got to know people, and I got to know a ton of music I would otherwise never have been familiar with. I didn’t yet have my own show, and the way to get your show is to be the ultimate team player.

The other reason I said yes to every sub request was that deejaying was soooooo fun. It’s like in the top ten funest things I ever did. I still have on cassette almost every show I ever did. It’s a lot of cassettes.

I was allowed to have two guests in the studio with me. So a few weeks before the Sting show, when I was subbing that jazz program, I brought Kirk and JB with me. And we spent the three hours of the program offering reasons Glenda or Wendy or Brenda should go to the Sting concert with me.

I’d play four songs, get back on the air and say, “Here’s Kirk with our number six reason Glenda or Wendy or Sandy should go to the Sting concert with Mitchell: Because Sting is awesome!” Then I would spin four more songs.

The joke was JB and Kirk gave every great reason they could think of, as long as the reason had nothing to do me or with being in my company. Pretty hilarious. I didn’t even think of it. They did it on their own without telling me it’s what they had in mind.

I don’t remember if I asked Henry to tell Glenda or Wendy or Kendra to listen to the program or if I gave him a tape to deliver to her. However I did it, I called her on the phone and asked her and she said she would think about it, and then she told Henry to tell me she was in.

It was awkward. We didn’t have much to talk about. The show was great but I wa so self-conscious I had great difficulty just absorbing the moment.

Glenda or Wendy or Tandi said she had a nice time. I kind of hoped we might chat a little in my truck as I drove her home, but conversation was pretty one-sided. And when I pulled into her driveway, she was out the passenger door and in her house like she had desperately to go to the bathroom. I mean, she said thank you and she had a nice time but then she was gone.

I wasn’t going to do anything, but she was cleeeeeeaarrrly not going to leave that to chance.

These aren’t the Seoul cages

Sunday I slept in. Did the usual Sunday stuff: crossword, news, Spelling Bee, nap. I ate clementines and dried apricots mostly to tide myself over until I decided what to eat. Then of course I didn’t eat anything. This is actually also part of the Sunday routine lately.

I went to the office, thinking I’d get Korean food at Choi’s, which I tired for the first time a couple of months ago and really liked. Got the computers set up, downloading software updates. Called Choi’s to order takeout. The nice Korean lady took my order and when I said I’d be over in about ten minutes, she asked if I knew where the new location was.

Um.

Yeah. Choi’s shut down on King Street and moved to McCully Street. That’s too far for me, I said. I’ll come by another time.

You can’t throw a dol sot in the neighborhood without hitting a Korean restaurant, but it was Sunday and a lot of Korean places don’t open on Sunday, even in that neighborhood. I walked down King and just settled on Panda’s, figuring that would take care of my veggie craving. They have the supergreens now, which I really like.

Took it back to the office and devoured it while I did some work. I was super let down but it was still a good meal. Just not what I’d had my heart set on.

Sending out an SOS?

I think I had lazy quesadillas for dinner. Stayed up too late but I don’t remember why.

There was some texting in the Suzanne-Julie-Cindy group text about some stuff someone saw in a thrift store, and Cindy admitting she didn’t feel well after her shot. Also some trash-texting in our NCAA Tourney group chat. And I sent individual updates to everyone to keep people current on scores and placement.

That was it for texting. Typical Sunday.

I’m going to defrost my fridge now. If I still have some mental energy, I’ll write about Monday before I turn in.

Leave a comment if you need someone to connect with, to get you through these rough days. My number six reason you should feel free to reach out? Because Sting is awesome!

Lockdown: Munchkins in the parking lot

Saturday was uncharacteristically nice. I got up after not enough sleep for reasons I don’t remember. Something online or something. Drove to Young’s for a Hawaiian combo plate, which was breakfast and lunch. On the way, I took money out of the ATM and purchased a money order for the rent.

Went back to bed and took a nice long nap. Got up at three, took care of a few chores, and drove to Mapunapuna for my other Saturday task. I needed a new chair.

For a year, I’ve been lounging and working in a dining room chair. As dining room chairs go, it’s pretty comfy, but it certainly wasn’t meant for hours and hours and hours of occupancy each day. My posture and my back are not happy.

I have a friend who writes about video games for the Washington Post. Like an actual friend. Once upon a time, he wrote a traffic column for the Star-Bulletin. Now he writes about video games for the WaPo. It’s kind of amazing, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

So yeah. Several months ago, he wrote that he bought a racing-style gamer chair for his work at home and it’s been great for him. He said he just bought a cheap one on Amazon. I tried to get the same thing but with demand so high at the height of the lockdown and with supply lines so out of whack, it was tough to get one. The company was out of stock and didn’t know when more would be available. When, months later, they were available, when I tried to order one I was informed I live outside the delivery area.

You know, that might have been a nice thing to know right up front. Thanks.

So I went to Fisher, thinking I’d grab something office-like from the clearance room. Fisher’s got tons of office furniture and they’re always marking stuff down. They did have some good-looking stuff, but they also had a racing-style gamer chair on sale. It was like $20 or $30 off; not a clearance but just a sale.

I sat in it and liked it. Rang it up and loaded it into my car. It’s some cheapo made-in-China chair, but I decided it would work for me, for now. I paid $180 for it, which is pretty steep, but I went in planning to spend around there. I need to work and live in this thing and I’m tired of being uncomfortable.

Don’t get me started on how overpriced furniture always is.

I’m 52 and this is the first piece of furniture I’ve ever purchased new, I’m quite sure, not counting a couple of assemble-and-paint-yourself particleboard book shelves. Everything else I either purchased used, inherited from a friend, or received as a gift. I’m talking ever.

I drove to the post office for stamps, then mailed my rent and a couple of Netflix DVDs, then hit the Dunkin’ drive-through since I was in the area. Got an iced latte and a bag of Munchkins, then drove to Keehi Lagoon, where I thought I would read a book, drink some coffee, and eat doughnut holes.

Except the park is closed. I had no idea.

The parking lot in front, where the tennis courts are, is open, although the cement barriers that must have blocked the lot during the official lockdown are still nearby. So I parked there. A couple of other people in cars were doing the same thing, although whether they were drinking iced lattes and eating doughnut holes I couldn’t tell you.

The picnic table was wet. So I drank my latte and ate my doughnut holes in the car. One of the very, very rare times I’ve ever eaten in my car.

Then I put some shoes on, grabbed my Kindle, and walked around the park, reading. I walked for about an hour, enjoying A Pho Love Story. I got my fresh air, a little bit of sunshine, some movement, and book time. I got rained on too, but not much.

I could have walked another hour, but I didn’t want to push it. I knew my knee would ache later. How much? Would I wake up in tears again? I figure I’m not going to get it looked at for at least a few more months, so I should just experiment and see what the limits are.

I took another nap when I got home, then got up to assemble the chair.

I’ll spare you, gentle reader, the ridiculous details, but putting that thing together was freaking difficult. Everything went smoothly except attaching the chair back to the chair seat. Someone was drunk at the chair factory when my chair was manufactured, I tell you.

I eventually got past that part and the rest was a cruise. And my chair is definitely great for relaxing, for watching TV or reading or phone-vegging. It’s not quiiiiiite what I had in mind for working, but it’s still way better than what I was using before. I mostly have to sit forward in the seat, but the angle is good and it’s easy to sit upright with decent posture. I can raise the seat back if I want, and that’s okay sometimes, thanks to the lower back cushion. I’m still figuring out what works best for me.

This thing reclines. And my life has changed. I’ve already fallen asleep in it once.

Stayed up late writing. Ate a late snack of clementines and dried apricots. Went to bed around 4:30. Yikes.

I set up a group text for the NCAA tourney pool participants, so Saturday there was a little bit of trash talk. Nice. I think that was mostly it.

If you’re pandemicking alone and you need some connectivity, leave a comment. I’ll send you my contact info and we can text or whatever. I’m totally serious.

Lockdown: March gladness

Scroll down to “Not a lockdown entry” if you want to know Friday’s mindset. This will mostly just be about Friday’s events.

I actually emailed the coworkers who’d be reviewing that cancer center story. “Don’t anyone start their weekends yet!” I wrote. “I’m nearly done with this!”

An hour later I finally submitted it, and everyone liked it. Yay. I was rather unsure.

I also updated an already-published story. Someone was concerned that the group photo (one of those giant check photos) didn’t show the subjects wearing masks. Whoever shot the photo considered that possibility, though, so he or she also shot one with masks. I guess someone thought we should swap the photos. Not a big deal except the photo was show with all the faces in shadow, the image color-adjusted for exposure on the giant white check. That kind of editing’s beyond my skills, so I had to email the photo to our photographer.

Also made last (ha!) edits on a school of public health studies proposal. It went to the dean of the school for approval.

Most of the day, I also had the TV on mute so I could have the NCAA men’s tourney in sight. It’s one of the best sports days of the year, the first day of March Madness.

After work I took a long nap then just vegged. My brain was pulp. Wrote the thing I wrote and went to bed.

Breakfast was Taco Bell. Once a week is the sweet spot. Any more often and I get sick of it and sick with myself. Once a week it still feels like an indulgence but also not super disgusting.

For a late dinner (because there’s no lunch on Taco Bell breakfast days) I had a couple of my yummy leftover hamburgers. There was a slice of pie for dessert, too, and of course my daily clementines and dried apricots.

Lots of texting from coworkers about the tourney, which is exactly what I had in mind. Water cooler talk is crucial for a good office culture, and it’s hard to come by when everyone’s working at home. The tourney talk often leads to other kinds of talk, and that’s suuuuper useful. In one case it led to my connecting our alumni relations people with a beekeeper I know in Hilo for this upcoming online event.

In The Undoing Project, Michael Lewis spends a good bit of space talking about Building 20, this crazy space on the campus at M.I.T. where some great projects evolved, producing amazing science. It’s fascinating stuff, so if you don’t read the whole book (although why wouldn’t you? It’s Michael Lewis) read the Building 20 stuff, which I think is in the beginning.

Lewis’s point is that coincidental, casual conversation is the stuff that drives new ideas and creates excited, exciting new work. If you’re an engineer refilling your mug at the office coffee pot at the same time as Phyllis in accounting, you may strike up conversations about the latest episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier or whatever bug is going around the office, and most of the time that would be that. But sometimes it leads to other stuff. Phyllis is having problems with the way the paper comes out of the copier. You’ve never had that problem because you don’t print from the same copier. You ask Phyllis to show you what’s wrong, and you each take your coffee mugs to the copy room on the other side of the office.

I’m making this example up so don’t scrutinize it too closely. I’m just offering a gist of the concept. You see there’s a flaw in the design, so you put your project on hold while you think of ways to fix the flaw. Now you and Phyllis are collaborating on how accountants use the copier and why copiers don’t satisfy one specific need. And because you’re a good engineer, you make it work. Then you mention it to the copy machine maintenance guy, and now you have a little team of people who otherwise might never work together. And who knows where that leads?

The creators of the Basecamp software knew what Michael Lewis knows. Water cooler talk is important for a lot of reasons. It’s why the company, who has people working remotely all around the world, created Campfire. Campfire no longer really exists, as it was folded into Basecamp, but they got it too: create a place for sharing silly cat videos in the middle of the workday, and you’re building good company culture, which can lead to any number of unpredictable good things.

I feel very strongly about this. It’s why I run our office fantasy football league and why I do these silly NCAA tourney pools. And now I’m facilitating a book discussion group (prompted by someone else, not me — she had the idea and wanted someone to facilitate, and I volunteered).

If I could juuuuuuuuust get my stories done on time, it would be nearly a perfect situation. I’m always looking over my shoulder to see if people are watching whether or not I’m doing my actual job. I don’t blame them!

It should be someone’s job, I’m telling you. Invest in culture and watch it pay off. When we moved offices from the Manoa campus to this building on King Street, they put her (the coworker who asked if I would do the book discussion group) in charge of selecting and hanging artwork for the walls and selecting an indoor plant service. It’s the right idea, and it’s a good start. Now if we could create a position to cover these kinds of things plus stuff like the office pool and happy birthday things, we might be on to something.

Supermarket’s going to close soon and I need clementines. And maybe taro. And maybe beer. So leave a comment if you need someone to connect with or to share silly cat videos with. I already have one friend sending me otter videos, and there’s always room for a few more. Just don’t go through pandemic daze without someone to send that stuff to.