Lockdown: Where’d the day go?

I’m not really sure what I did with my Saturday.

Stayed in bed until past 11 for starters. Worked the Saturday NYT crossword (it was brutal, but I solved it), stared at my phone a lot, and read quite a bit of news. That’s really all I remember.

Got to 16,500 steps for the day, walking a different (more urban) route. It’s quiet out there.

Breakfast was leftover macaroni and marinara. Actually, so was lunch. Dinner was an egg salad sandwich. I didn’t feel the need to snack until just now, after my walk. Tortilla chips and spinach-artichoke dip.

I got the okay to go to the office Sunday. I’m missing a few things from my desk, and if I’m not going back at least until the end of April, I’d like to have them at home. Also want to update my Creative Crowd programs on the work laptop. I have a loose data cap on my wifi (long story), so I’d like to run my updates on the office network.

I was hoping to get to the beach at sunrise before heading to the office. Alas, we have flash flood warnings this weekend, and it poured on the island, so although I haven’t heard of a brownwater caution, I’m not taking chances. Runoff is nasty stuff — you do not want to swim in that.

It just occurred to me that I have broccoli about to turn, and that would have been a better option for the spinach dip than the tortilla chips. Note to self for tomorrow.

Traded a few texts with Jennifer about the new Pearl Jam album (she hasn’t listened to it all the way through yet). It’s pretty dang good, possibly the best non-metal album of the year so far. Also a couple of texts with Crush Girl.

I also gave first spins to the new Morrissey album (it’s not bad but it’s not especially memorable) and the new Boomtown Rats album (first half excellent; second half meh).

The number of new COVID-19 cases on Oahu from Friday to Saturday is more like what I expected. I’m getting a little nervous.

I’m less nervous about ordering takeout. Except for a few late-night snacks at McD’s (close to midnight when there are almost no customers), I haven’t had takeout. I haven’t even had grab-and-go from convenience stores as is my wont. But this article by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt helps me relax a little. I might even drive somewhere tomorrow and get something. I wouldn’t say I’m tired of my own food at home, but it’s nice to get a meal out once in a while. It’s a long article but totally worth the read; I promise.

It’s been just over a full week since I brought the office home. Ostensibly I’m supposed to have more down time, but I haven’t opened a book (digital or physical) in all this time. Very strange. And I’m 30 pages from the end of a rather amazing book. I don’t know what’s going on there. Will finish sometime Sunday!

It’s a strange time we’re living in. If you’re going through it alone or you need to connect with someone, I hope you’ll reach out. I’m happy to talk you through whatever.

Lockdown: Some days are good enough (and a Friday 5)

Not my most productive Friday at work. I revised the voiceover copy for a 30-second radio PSA we’re doing for emergency student aid. It’s okay (my boss likes it) but it’s too long, and I don’t think it’s compelling enough. I asked if I could work on it a little more and submit a few other suggestions, and she said that would be fine.

So I’ll be doing a little of that over the weekend, which is okay. I kinda feel like I owe a few weekend hours after my non-productivity today.

It was another day of bad food decisions. Breakfast was two small frozen burritos which sounds unhealthy but really isn’t. Lunch was two hot dogs with ketchup, mustard, and sauerkraut. Dinner was a bowl of macaroni with marinara sauce, prepared in the Instant Pot. I didn’t really snack unless you count the after-walk bowl of leftover macaroni I’m having right now. I prefer to think of it as the final course of my dinner meal, interrupted by five miles of walking.

I hit 14,448 steps for Friday. When midnight hit I was still a ways from home (I got off to a late start) so I already have 4,200 steps accumulated for Saturday. I kinda like doing it this way even though it really amounts to the same amount of walking. It’s nice to wake up in the morning and see I only have 9,000 steps to go.

Traded texts with a friend from work — but it wasn’t about work, and she’s not just a work friend anymore so I’m counting it. Responded to a text from a friend in San Diego, and sent a text to Grace to let her know (in case she missed it) that the city bus is operating on holiday schedules every weekday now.

I went through a few podcasts and laughed aloud at a few. Took a nap during my lunch hour. No progress on chores today but I knew that would happen when I stayed up ’til 3 Thursday night.

Neither a bad day nor an especially good one, so I’ll take it.


Friday 5: Final Frontier, from here.

  1. What would you do with more physical storage space?
    Put all my music, books, and DVDs in some kind of nice, neat arrangement, all in one place. They are taking over my residence and I’m getting a bit overwhelmed.
  2. What would you do with more living space?
    I’d like to get a restaurant booth and table just for meals, maybe with like a napkin dispenser and sugar shaker. I actually have room for this but I have to toss a bunch of stuff first. Not giving up on this dream.
  3. Would you rather have more kitchen counter space or kitchen cabinet space?
    I have a lot of cabinet space I don’t use. Stuff gets put in cabinets and forgotten about. Most of my cabinets are empty, except one where I keep the alcohol and a few cans. So I would like more counter space for my many kitchen appliances. Right now they take turns between the counter and the space under my dining table. The only permanent residents are the bread machine, Instant Pot (which only recently replaced the slow-cooker), and microwave oven. That’s right: I’m a bad Japanese boy. I don’t keep my rice cooker on the counter. I made brown rice in the Instant Pot the other night and it came out great, so I’m thinking of just using the IP for rice now, since it’s in the position of honor.
  4. What would you do with a larger bedroom?
    A couch and a papa-san for sure. I wouldn’t mind having a second desk in there either.
  5. What’s taking up too much space in your brain lately?
    For once I don’t feel especially burdened lately. Maybe work? I’m a little concerned about being more productive working at home. And although I thank God daily that my company is keeping me working, I honestly don’t feel safe if things get worse. There are indispensable people around here, and I don’t think I’m one. There are several people with more seniority in my company who can write. I’m not worried right now, but I’m a little worried that I might have to worry later.

I hope anyone reading this is sheltering well. You don’t have to go through it alone; please reach out if you are.

Lockdown: Hopeful beaches

The city and state both say physical activities for exercise are permitted as long as social distancing guidelines are followed. The state edict specifically includes surfing and swimming, which means all I have to do is find a good spot, and I’m back in the water. My usual beach, Ala Moana, is attached to a park, which means its greatest advantage (besides being right in the heart of the city) is wiped out: parking right next to the beach and walking fifteen yards to get into the ocean.

But there are other options if I’m willing to drive a bit further. Than one option that’s reeeeeally close to Ala Moana where there’s plenty of free parking (probably not closed because it’s not a park), and it’s right on the beach. The problem there is that the better area for swimming is a leeeeettle bit of a walk along the water’s edge. I’m going to do it next week before work.

My writing partner has a new little activity for us to work on together, something journaling-related. Should be interesting.

I didn’t do nearly as much stuff today as I intended, but I did okay. My chores were interrupted by a suddenly very slow drain, which I hope to take care of Friday during my work day. Picked up some foaming Drano at Long’s near the end of my long walk this evening.

I went 15,700 steps (2000 of them after midnight last night) before picking that stuff up at Longs. The Walgreen’s in my hood closes at 9 these days instead of being open all night, so thank goodness for Long’s sticking to its open-all-night schedule.

After midnight it was another 2000 steps (that’s about the distance from Long’s to my house) to count toward Friday’s goal.

Only eleven new diagnoses yesterday in Hawaii.

I started Tim Allen’s The Santa Clause Thursday. Only got eight minutes into it before the local news came on (I felt a sense of responsibility to watch it since I read no news the day before). It’s pretty promising. I saw the sequel (The Mrs. Clause) in the theater and really liked it. It was one of those impulse DVD purchases last December and I’m just getting to it.

Cowboy Mouth has a new EP Friday and it’s pretty dang good. New albums also drop from Pearl Jam, Morrissey, and Vanessa Carlton, all probably worth checking out. Meanwhile nothing that interesting in metal is out this week (nor last), so this weekend’s a good time to get caught up. There were new Boomtown Rats and Maria McKee albums this month too, and I still haven’t gotten to them.

I’m up late, resigned ahead of time to work tired Friday. Most of the stuff I have to do isn’t too mentally strenuous (I hope), and honestly sometimes when I’m tired the work comes out better because I don’t overthink it. The stuff I have to produce Friday needs to be good but it doesn’t need to be amazing, which means I’m helped by being unable to try super hard.

My brain and body sooooo yearn to go to vampire hours. I kinda floated the idea casually past my boss a couple of weeks ago in anticipation of this working from home thing, and she very quickly shot it down. She reminded me that some of the stuff I’m working on nowadays is quick with little notice, like this COVID-19 student aid thing I’ve been working on.

So it’s time for this wannabe vampire to fly back to the cave even though 2:00 a.m. is the best part of the day.

Lockdown: My phone actually has phone call functionality (who knew?)

I don’t know how other departments in my company are handling the work-from-home situation, but our department (seven of us including our director) has a daily conference call at 2:00 on Zoom. Most of us video call; I call on my phone. I understand it’s an important thing but it’s my least favorite time of day. It combines two things I dislike: meetings and phone calls.

Today I had three phone calls when most days I have just the one. Consulted with a fundraiser for notes on an article I’m writing for her. Then my usual one-on-one with my director. Then the group call.

Managed somehow to be pretty productive anyway. I am still not working as efficiently as I could be, but true efficiency may never come in this setup.

Traded brief messages with my uncle in San Diego just to see how he was doing in his own lockdown. He’s still going to work and says he’s doing well. I said I’m working from home and also doing pretty well. That was about it.

Also sent a text to a friend in Boston, and traded a few texts with Crush Girl. Mostly stayed off social media, not for any specific reason.

I won’t go into what I ate because it’s embarrassing. Let’s just say my lunch rhymed with rips and balsa, and it may have been the healthiest meal of my day.

Chipped away at house chores. That felt good. I took a late walk for 14,415 steps and got a 2000-step jump on tomorrow’s count. Picked up dinner at McD’s and picked up some brown sugar from Long’s. Listened to a little bit of Talking Heads, and then the new Gordon Lightfoot album (it’s good). Got through a mess of podcasts.

Thursday is a state holiday, and I’m looking forward to it. I’m going to sleep in, do some chores, maybe watch a movie, work on some personal writing, and work on the podcast. Ambitious, yes, but doable. I’ll hopefully squeeze in some reading too.

I didn’t pick up any local news at all today, not even incidentally. Weird. Maybe I’ll pop open the app from my local paper (which I subscribe to) and do a quick scan before bed.

I hope wherever you are, you’re making the most of this time. Stay safe.

Lockdown: Neither mindful nor purposeful

A quick one this evening because after my long walk (14,327 steps) I needed a snack, and I went to town on some tortilla chips and fresh salsa. They took up enough time and attention that I don’t have a lot of time for journaling right now, not if I want to be at my desk ready to work at a reasonable time. Which I do.

Not my best day, productivity-wise, although I got a couple of chores done. After submimtting like three things at work yesterday, today I found myself kind of trickling rather than flowing. Sometimes the words are harder to find.

Breakfast was overnight oats. Lunch was two hotdogs with ketchup, mustard, and sauerkraut. Dinner was two hotdogs again, with a couple of steamed red potatoes. Then those incredible tortilla chips and salsa for a late-night decadence.

I was feeling pretty crappy until the walk. It rained, not very hard but pretty steadily, and I got rather wet. Still felt great.

It wasn’t my most purposeful, most mindful day. I’ll right the ship Wednesday, and it begins with getting myself to bed now.

Tomorrow: a pocast I really like did a 32-seed bracket of the best things about working from home. I found some of the comments really, really in tune with my experiences. I’d like to break it down a little.

Reach out if you’re feeling alone. You don’t have to go through this by yourself.

Lockdown: Almost finding a work groove

My workspace is still not what I want it to be, and it’s slowing me down a little. Still, although I got off to a bit of a late start (because of that laundry excursion) and although I was pretty draggy all day (because of that laundry excursion), I found a bit of a groove and submitted a few pieces of work.

I did a couple of easy, quick chores (yay), did a few crosswords (yay), took a very short nap, and went for a walk. Not quite as long — about 12,500 steps — but it felt like a good, healthy distance.

I ate like a madman today. Stopped for a local deluxe platter at McD’s on my way home from doing laundry. That’s a McD’s order you can only get in Hawaii: Portuguese sausage, Spam, rice, and scrambled eggs. So bad, but so good. Although that shoulda been breakfast, by late morning I was kind of hungry again, so I had some overnight oats. Then two hot dogs for lunch (with mustard, ketchup, and sauerkraut) and the last of my leftover beef stew with brown rice for dinner.

After the walk, I added a bowl of steamed broccoli. I know. It was slightly insane.

I had minimal connection today with others. Chatted a minute or two with my boss on the phone, Texted Crush Girl a couple of times. Traded a few texts with Grace. It was fine. I don’t have to consciously seek connection every day; I just have to be careful I don’t unconsciously go without it for too long at a time, since that’s kind of my wont.

Finishing that stew means tomorrow I get to play with the Instant Pot again. Since I still have a ton of broccoli to use up very soon, I’m thinking steamed red potatoes. Add some (microwave) steamed broccoli and garlic herb butter, and it’ll be super frugal and delicious.

What I need more than anything right now is a good night’s sleep. It’s been a while but I have a good feeling about tonight.

Lockdown: Monday it’s official

Settling in

Sunday was a balance of relaxing as much as I wanted but not more than I wanted — always a bit of a challenge when I have nowhere to go and nothing pressing. I indulged myself with a few crossword puzzles, my usual NYT puzzles for Sunday and Monday and then a few unfinished puzzles from when I wasn’t as good as I am now. Like a year ago.

Consumption

So far in the stay-home period, I’ve mostly had podcasts running a consistent stream of information and amusement in my ears, because I’ve really fallen behind on the daily consumption this past year. I’m current on the Tony Kornheiser Show, my favorite daily, and most of my weeklies, but the other dailies have really piled up.

Sunday I thought I needed a break from the audio, but the quietude of the house is kind of oppressive these days, like putting my forced solitude in italic type, so I put a movie on while I did a few busy-but-not-actually-busy tasks. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which I watched a couple of months ago, after seeing its sequel. It is such a well-written movie, the kind of thing that surprises me in an action flick because I never expect it. Yes, the movie is carried on the broad shoulders of Dwayne Johnson and the broad comic chops of Jack Black, but it never forgets that it’s a movie about people, not action or one-liners. I swear I teared up a couple of times.

Breakfast was a couple of hot dogs with mustard, ketchup, and sauerkraut. Lunch was a large bowl of steamed broccoli. Dinner was leftover beef stew (made in the Instant Pot some friends gave me for Christmas last month) with brown rice. So food was pretty great Sunday. In between I snacked a bit on wasabi roasted peas.

To the motion be true

I thought I might try the supermarket in my hood, but I picked up a bad vibe when I pulled into the parking lot. Instead, I left my car in the lot (in front of McD’s again) and went for a long walk. Banged out 15K steps, and yeah it took me two and a half hours to go 6.8 miles, but I’ll take it. A lot of it was uphill, I should say.

And then I kind of undid it with two sausage burritos at McD’s and a large Diet Coke with extra ice. Man, that was a pleasurable snack though.

Mayoral edict; not giving up on the ocean yet

Sunday the mayor announced stay-home policies until the end of April. I knew it was coming (although I admit my sources had me thinking it was coming from the governor). There are a lot of excepted activities, though, among them outdoor activities for exercise, which on this island seems to be what everyone’s doing all the time. It means if I can find a beach where swimming is allowed (or at least not barred), I can get some ocean time with some good planning. A friend’s IG stories showed Sandy Beach completely deserted Sunday, as in nobody there but the person who shared the video.

I need to find something that’s not such a long drive away, though. Plus, you can’t really swim at Sandy’s. Also, I’m one of the rare local boys who loves the ocean who’s never actually been in the water at Sandy’s. They’re always rescuing people there from the killer (I use that word literally) shorebreak and its resulting undertow.

So Sandy’s is out, but there’s got to be an accessible strip near Waikiki that could work. I actually have something in mind but I don’t want to share it publicly yet.

Coming clean in Manoa

It’s 3:35 Monday morning and I’m typing this in the open-all-night laundry in Manoa. It’s probably my favorite laundromat for early-morning washes because it’s very clean and usually very quiet, not to mention the pretty safe neighborhood.

Last week I came in at 4:00 and had the place to myself until 5:00. It was glorious and lovely and just about perfect. My clothes were still in the dryer at five, though, when a couple of others came in to do wash, and they were chatty (with each other). My solitude was ruined along with my social distancing.

So this morning I got here at 3:00 and there were people here! Ugh. Two of them had come together and were very chatty. The other asked me if I had change for a 20 (I didn’t) but while we were brainstorming solutions, the guy kept stepping up to me. I really wanted to help him out, but I wished he would step off. Ugggggh. Anyway he didn’t get what he needed and took off.

I wish now I had just put $10 on his card (it’s one of those places where you load up a plastic card with funds and use the card on the machines), but I was so distracted by wishing he wouldn’t get so close to me that I didn’t think of it until he was gone.

Sorry, guy. I’ll take care of you next time.

With 10 minutes to go for the washer, the two ladies have gone but two guys have come in, including (just now) the guy who needed change. This is not working out at all the way I wanted.

Making contact

Texted Chuck about possibly hitting the beach together (going in separate cars) once I figure something out. Texted Grace to verify that she’s on the mayor’s okay-to-work-at-the-office list (she does IT support at a care facility). Texted Penny to ask whether she’s finished reading a book I need to talk to someone about. She hasn’t started it yet and it’s overdue at the library. Traded a few emails with Reid who had questions about a crossword puzzle answer he didn’t understand. Plus the usual Twitter and FB back-and-forth.

If you’re reading this and you’re feeling as if you’re going through this weirdness alone, please reach out. I’m lousy company most of the time because I like to keep to myself, but I’ll trade texts or emails with you. Nobody needs to go through this by him- or herself.

Lockdown: It’s going to take a bit more effort

Saturday found me feeling slightly less upbeat than I felt Friday. Tried to hit Ala Moana for a sunrise swim, but the driveway is closed (blocked by city vehicles and barriers). I’m thinking I might need to just suck it up and find other ways to get the mental whatever I get from the ocean. I’ve gone much longer than a couple of months between times in the water, after all. I’m just a little spoiled now.

So I’m mildly embarrassed to say I spent most of Saturday alternating between the bed and the dining table. Didn’t get any to-dos taken care of, but then that’s kind of normal for a weekend lately. As the end of the day crept up on me, I jumped into my car, parked it at the bottom of the hill (in front of the McD’s actually) and went for a little late-night walk. Ninety minutes later I was feeling a little better about things, as I usually do after walking.

My writing partner sent me a draft of her latest article for the momblog. It’s a pretty good idea, and I’ll link it from here when it publishes. I’m pleased she’s being productive. Among other things, it gives me some motivation to produce similarly.

Friday evening I called my folks, who are in very positive spirits, or at least they’re presenting as such. My mom knows the seriousness of this thing and has stayed put, but is also getting some sunshine and fresh air on their lanai. She’s got her flowers and the dog, of course, so I think she’s going to be okay. She agrees with me that staying indoors in front of the TV all day is a bad path.

My dad feels pretty good about his preparation. He’s been stocking up on food for a couple of months, inclulding enough flour and yeast for fresh bread for quite a while. I can see, though, that I’m going to have to give them a call two or three times a week, for my own peace of mind more than anything else. They’re telling me I can come over whenever, but I’m not going anywhere near them unless I really have to, or unless they need something from me.

One semi-productive thing I did was get started on my second ambitious new year’s resolution. The first was Honolulu Silent Book Club, which of course is on hold after just our initial meeting. The plan was to get that rolling and then jump into my next thing, but now it makes more sense to get this other project going.

It’s a podcast. I won’t share details until I it’s got some momentum. I’ve been planning it for more than a year and feel like it’s ready to be nudged into motion. You possibly remember I did a podcast for a year or so maaaaany years ago, and this is kind of a morphing of that, although with less emphasis on me and more on others. Still reading-themed, though.

I may have purchased a couple of toys for this purpose. I’d rather not get into it yet. Don’t want to talk it out of existence, and I’ll feel better once the ink’s dry on the commitment. One thing I’ve learned from producing and consuming podcasts is that I want to do ten complete episodes totally as practice before I drop the first official. Too many podcasts don’t hit their stride until at least five episodes in. I’d like my first to be as good as my tenth, so I’m making my eleventh my first.

A key to thriving in this new normal will be making myself do things I don’t want to do, things I want to have done. House chores, for one thing. Reaching out to others for another. Sunday is usually my do-nothing day, the day I visit my parents and take care of my laundry. Since I’m not going over there (and since my own laundry stuff doesn’t work anymore) I have to take my clothes to a laundromat. I’m thinking I’ll save that for the wee hours of Monday morning.

This means nothing is really on the agenda for Sunday. And since I kind of did that Saturday, I’m thinking of making a small to-do list for Sunday. And maybe working on that podcast.

I’m not planning to quanitify everything during this weirdness, but here’s some of what I did Saturday.

  • Walked 90 minutes for a paltry 9000 steps, or four miles. Yeah, it was a slow walk, and my goal is 13,000 daily. Normally at work I walk 5000 just between clocking in and out, so you can see there’s some making up to do.
  • Read a few articles in the Washington Post, but not as much as usual.
  • Texted Penny to ask about what she’s doing about her mom, who’s in an elderly residence. Friended someone on FB I’ve known online very casually for a couple of years; we chatted on FB Messenger for a while. Two connections — not bad.
  • Worked on writing partner’s article.
  • Mapped out details for new podcast. Brainstormed list of possible practice guests (I need 10; I have 8 to ask so far). EDIT: now I have a pretty good list of 15)

That’s about it. It’s creeping up on 2:30 Sunday morning so I’m going to bed.

Lockdown day 1

It just hit midnight Friday night. I was supposed to begin working from home Wednesday, but technical issues with my work-issued laptop meant I was in the office on Wednesday and Thursday, but the company (especially our seriously hard-working IT team) worked super hard to get everyone working at home if he or she could do it. It strongly urged us all, if we could, to stay away from the office.

There are people who have to be onsite (although I’d argue that our senior leadership is not among them). We get a lot of money in and we send a lot of money out every day, and people have to be there to disburse it and to collect it. We’re nearly all virtual desktopping now, so some tech people have to be onsite to manage that.

Still, it’s going to be eerily ghost-town-like for the foreseeable future.

I live alone, which is a mixed blessing at a time like this. I’m seriously glad I don’t have a roomie (or worse: roomies. Crush Girl has multiple roomies, she tells me), but I suppose a spouse would make this situation better.

I easily have enough food in this house for a few weeks. The pitfall is going to be not eating it all at once. I’m only half-joking. Can’t believe how much I’ve eaten in the last week.

I’m strategizing ways to keep myself healthy and happy during this weirdness. Wednesday night, I took a very long walk through the neighborhood, late at night when I wouldn’t run into people. Got through a bunch of podcasts, got drizzled on ever so slightly, breathed the fresh air, soaked up the night. It felt good, and it’s going to have to be part of my survival plan.

They’ve closed the parks on this island, but the beaches are still up for debate. If I go early enough, just before the sun’s coming up, I know I can stay far away from others and get a decent half hour in the brine. I’m hoping, anyway. That’s at my main beach, which is right in Honolulu itself. There are other options, beaches not attached to parks, but most of them are a bit of a drive. Probably not feasible on days when I work.

I’m so grateful for my employers’ keeping us working. I know not everyone’s so lucky. I can’t guarantee we’ll all still be working when this finally winds down, but for now I’m fairly secure.

I’ll share more about what I’m doing to keep myself sane over the next few days. One part of the strategy is to write a little something in this space each evening unless I’m super tired. Meanwhile, I hope anyone reading this is staying connected to someone. Please reach out if you’re not. Nobody needs to go through this alone.