You don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction

I got my best sleep in a couple of weeks, about seven hours, interrupted twice that I can remember. I really wanted that eighth hour but it just wouldn’t come. So I was up at close to eleven. Read the news. Ate breakfast. Drove the car to the shop.

I kind of took a scenic route home, hoping to get half my steps in so my evening walk, if I took one, could be brief. One does not want to be walking around late on New Year’s Eve through this neighborhood. One does not want to be driving around late on New Year’s Eve through this neighborhood.

I meant to grab my enormous umbrella from Jessica’s trunk before leaving the shop, but I totally forgot. It was fine, and I didn’t even think of it until I got to School Street, which is sorta two-thirds of the way home. Driving, it’s a minute to my house. Walking, it’s more like fifteen but it feels like thirty because it’s up a steep hill.

It came down pretty hard, and while I normally would just have walked home in the downpour, Dark Skies said it would let up in ten minutes, giving me enough of a window to get home. So I vegged on my phone, standing beneath the eaves of that building where Rainbow Drive-In is, and in a few minutes, ta-da. These microweather apps are amazing, and Dark Skies is the standard.

La la la la. Vegged at home a while before the shop called and told me some good news and some bad news. Some repairs weren’t going to cost me as much as I expected, while some where going to cost me a lot more. Because of the holiday, they weren’t sure on the second thing because the one place they thought had my parts wasn’t picking up the phone.

So I walked back to pick Jessica up. They’ll call me after the weekend, when businesses open back up, and let me know the deal.

Vegged some more, did some crosswords, took a nap, listened to a ton of podcasts. I thought I’d spend the evening reading Klara and the Sun but it’s 1:32 a.m. now (happy new year!) and I haven’t even picked it up.

I shan’t bore you with the usual this-island-is-crazy-on-New-Year’s-Eve stuff. It was crazy as usual, but not as crazy as last year. I called the parents as I always do, half an hour after the new year, to wish them happy new year, and they were in bed. First time that’s ever happened.

When the cacophony died down (it hasn’t stopped; it’s just mellower) I did a few chores.

Breakfast was overnight oats. I used up the last of the store-brand oats and can’t wait to get back to the name brand. Lunch was a teri cheeseburger from Bob’s, across the street from the auto shop. Delicious.

Dinner was a couple of quesadillas, but then I had a second dinner a few hours later. I stir-fried a whole head of won bok and ate half of it with a drizzle of that chili oil I’m in love with, alongside a whole block of tofu. It was all yummy.

I snacked a little on pistachios and drank a lot of Maker’s Mark. Something like six shots over nine hours, hardly enough to qualify me as a party animal, but more than I’ve had to drink in one night since I was in my thirties, I think. I’m glad to be rid of it — I’m not a fan, so it was nice to finish that bottle off.

Yeah, I’m still on my intermittent mission to get through all the alcohol in my house before I bring anything new through the door.

Grace and Excrush Girl each returned my texts from Thursday, so we had very brief conversations. There was some DM action on IG, too. Plus I commented on something in Sarah Spain’s stories and she replied, so that was cool. It was just a word: “Right?!” but I’ll take it. She was acknowledging my sage comment.

Good riddance to 2021. I don’t know how to feel about 2022 except the way I always feel about a new year. Still, I know how terrible 2021 was and I’m glad to be done with it.

New year’s eve eve

Just a quick one this evening since there wasn’t much to this day and because I’d like to get to bed before 2:00. It’s two minutes to 1:00 now.

The foundation gave us a day off for the holidays. It’s our annual Christmas gift. We could take either the full day before Christmas Eve off or the full day before New Year’s Eve. Alternately, we could take half the day before Christmas Eve and half the day before New Year’s Eve. I took the third option.

So I didn’t set my alarm Thursday morning and still got up at a decent hour — it was like 10:30. I lazed for an hour before getting up and doing normal morning things, just a lot more slowly.

I put myself on task a little early, which was fine, and submitted a first draft of that proposal. Then mostly did organizing stuff because who was I kidding? I was most unlikely to get any real writing done on my other projects.

Shortly before sundown, I cleaned out my car. I actually didn’t have much to do since I’ve been trying to keep the passenger areas tidy these days. The car seems to run better when it’s not full of junk. Also, I had occasion to drive Excrush Girl a couple of places some time ago, and of course I cleaned it up beforehand. Keeping it tidy nowadays usually just takes a few minutes once a week.

Then I bleached out my water jugs, hit the Times Supermarket for a few groceries, and refilled my drinking water at the School Street Foodland.

That was pretty much my day.

Breakfast was overnight oats. Lunch was a couple of lazy quesadillas. Dinner was two stir-fried crowns of broccoli drizzled with Maui Chili Chili Oil. I snacked on pistachios, some fried pork rinds, and a few olives.

I didn’t get out for a walk. It rained like crazy this afternoon and into the late evening. There were flash flood warnings and brownwater alerts.

The writing partner texted me to ask if I’ve yet thought about resolutions. I hadn’t, and neither had she. We both usually give ourselves until the end of January, but this year I don’t think I’ll wait that long. It’s a long weekend and I won’t have my wheels since I’m taking them for repairs Friday. Plenty of good reflection time.

Texted Grace to see if I could drop something off for her on my way to refilling my water (she lives across the street from the Foodland) but she didn’t get back to me. Texted Excrush Girl to say one of her friends knows one of my friends. I didn’t really expect a reply to that one — there’s not much to say, I guess. Just an interesting fact I thought I would share.

Tried to listen to music today but the proposal required a bit more concentration than these usually take, so I didn’t listen to anything until I was done with work, when I put on some of the podcasts I’m behind on.

We had 3400 new COVID cases today. Are you kidding me?

Knee-deep in the hoopla

In that small window between COVID spikes, I saw my doctor a few times for a few issues. I finally spoke to her about my bad knees.

She gave them a quick examination and ordered some x-rays, which didn’t seem to reveal any damage. Strangely, and I can’t remember the details, the x-rays showed that my right knee was in worse shape than my left, but my left is the one that really bothers me.

The last time we spoke, she ordered me some knee braces and suggested I might have arthritis. This actually came as something of a relief to me, although I suppose arthritis is chronic. At least this is a manageable condition, something I can deal with. If she’d told me my ligaments were shredded or I was walking around with no cartilage, I guess we’d be talking about surgery. I think (but am not sure) that the pain is just pain, and it’s not indicative that my knees will give out on me one day while taking stairs. With arthritis, it’s about managing pain, rather than repairing damage. I think.

I got neoprene braces for both knees and a topical painkiller in case the aches get as bad as they were a year ago, waking me up in tears. So far they haven’t, but I haven’t done a lot of walking in the month and a half since my visit.

Since I haven’t been to the beach in a couple of weeks — we’ve had rain almost every night, and this week is the monthly jellyfish influx — and since I’m in sort-of lockdown again, tonight was the night to get back out there.

I went without the knee braces because I wanted to test the knees out. Weirdly, although they were especially achy this morning, they seemed fine this evening. I only went 10K steps in a couple of hours. Ten thousand has sorta been my ceiling lately since I’ve been trying to avoid pain.

It was kind of scary at first, not because of the knees but because Kalihi and Nuuanu at night can be scary. I slowly got past the spooky feeling, but maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe I’ve been a little foolhardy in my late-night roamings.

It was good podcasting catch-up time. I got back to the house at 1:30 in the morning and felt pretty good, and my knees aren’t even twitching, which pleases me enormously.

Work was mellow and kind of engrossing. Working on a proposal for a named chair, without most of the kinds of details I’m used to getting. I like the challenge. Also had my weekly check-in with my supervisor, via phone.

Breakfast was overnight oats. You know, I used to get whatever rolled oats were cheapest, which usually meant the store brand wherever I was. Since I jumped back on the overnight oats train, I’ve had the major name-brand (you know which one) and right after, the store brand, and there is definitely a difference. The store brand is mushier, like the oats are thinner somehow. They’re fine, but they aren’t quite as good. This may change my approach in the supermarket aisle.

Lunch was a couple of quesadillas. Dinner was a teri chicken egg salad sandwich at 7-Eleven at the midpoint of my walk. During the day I snacked on fried pork rinds, pistachios, and a few bites of the cold pot roast. Definitely not my healthiest day, despite the 10K steps.

I got a text from Alison, a former coworker, about Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, a novel I’ve heard about all over the place this past year. Guess I need to add it to my list. I did some MS Teams chatting with a couple of coworkers about Klara and the Sun — one of the participants has finished the book.

I spun that James McMurtry album a few more times Wednesday, ‘though most of my listening was podcasts again. Still trying to catch up on a few.

If I can get myself to bed in the next nine minutes, I’ll be asleep before four in the morning. This would be progress. Here I go.

Washed down to gravel and stones

The shift back to working from home hasn’t been easy. I can’t decide if this surprises me or if it doesn’t.

Some of it’s predictable, including the unintended shift to vampire hours. I had to drive to the office early Monday morning to get my work laptop. Combined with my weekly difficulty putting myself to bed Sunday night, I got about two hours of sleep before the alarm went off at 5:30. On my way back I picked up a few groceries (okay, it was mostly caffeine-free Diet Pepsi but also fresh veggies and a chuck roast), so I didn’t get to back to bed until around 7:00, leaving me another two hours before I had to get up for work.

It was the first domino in what might be a week’s worth of sleep-deprivation dominoes. We’ll see, I guess, but since it’s quarter to five now Wednesday morning, I think we can see where this goes. I’m off for half the day Thursday and off all day Friday, so I kind of think I’ve already resigned myself to being miserably sleep-deprived for another day. Not a conscious decision; I swear.

Monday I was in such bad shape I asked for a half day’s vacation. I’d have preferred to take the whole day, but I had mailouts for two community colleges to edit and schedule. Tuesday I was just kind of wasted all day. Managed to work on a few tasks, but you can imagine I wasn’t very efficient. Bleah.

Monday night I felt kind of terrible, so after a longish nap I cooked that roast in the Instant Pot and watched the Seth Meyers standup special on Netflix. It did the job better than I predicted. It’s quite funny, and one of the few comedy specials on the service where every joke landed. The pot roast was good, but since I’m mostly off rice and potatoes, it wasn’t as good as it should have been.

Tuesday evening I watched the first half of Don’t Look Up, on the recommendation first of my boss. What a cast, and what sharp writing. I’ve been following Adam McKay since The Big Short, and he’s a consultant for Meadowlark Media now, the production company that cranks out at least half my podcast listening. I think he’s brilliant.

I actually got on the phone and made an appointment to take Jessica in for a few repairs. It felt good to get just that much done. Car stuff stresses me out, so it’ll be nice to take care of this one thing. I have a few more car issues to attend to once these repairs are made, but I feel like I’ve got things in motion, finally.

Breakfast Monday was overnight oats. Lunch was granola and yogurt with raw honey. Dinner was the pot roast. I snacked on potato chips — too many for sure — and olives. I never cared much for olives until recently, when I decided they’d be a decent low-carb snack. I have four varieties in my fridge right now.

I forgot to put overnight oats in the fridge Monday night, so Tuesday breakfast was granola and yogurt with raw honey. Lunch was overnight oats. Dinner was takeout from Panda Express: mushroom chicken and black pepper Angus steak with supergreens. I snacked on pistachios.

Texted a little with Allison, a newish coworker. Also with Excrush Girl (I’m still not feeling the EX part of that but I’m going to keep trying for a while at least).

Monday and Tuesday I mostly listened to podcasts. I fell three or four weeks behind on the Dan Le Batard Show and spent most of the weekend and the early part of this week trying to catch up. Still working on it.

Right now I’m spinning the 2021 James McMurtry album, The Horses and the Hounds. It’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect, but probably a little better.

My fields are empty now
My ground won’t take the plow
It’s washed down to gravel and stones
It’s only good for burying bones

He’s the son of Larry McMurtry, and this album makes me think of the elder. I wrote about this last spring, but Larry McMurtry and Beverly Cleary both died March 25. Two writers who most influenced my writing. Cleary turned me from an avid reader into a real bookworm; she’s the inspiration for my declaring in fourth grade I wanted to be a writer. McMurtry is the writer whose skill I envy more than any other. His clarity and readability are my daily aspiration.

Note to self: Stephen King’s mention of Larry McMurtry in On Writing would be a good topic for this space.

My weight is creeping back up. Need to address this beginning Wednesday. I’m not kidding.

The rubble, or our sins?

but if you close your eyes
does it almost feel like nothing changed at all?
and if you close your eyes
does it almost feel like you’ve been here before?
how am i going to be an optimist about this?

2200 new cases. 1500 the day before. 1800 the day before that. This is getting insane.

I finally got the text message from my boss urging everyone in our department to work at home at least through Wednesday. An hour later, an email from our COO said we’re going to have a reduced in-office presence through the holidays. It only makes sense. I’m mildly surprised it took until Sunday evening to let us know.

I suppose I’ve said this already, but I’m dealing with some depression about this. A lot of anger, too, although I’ve decided mostly to process the antivax stuff later, perhaps when this is all over, if it is ever over. It infuriates me to think about it now, and it keeps me from thinking kind thoughts about people, a major failing of my spiritual gift of mercy.

Yeah, I’m doing an okay job of not getting too messed up about people prolonging this thing far, far beyond its reasonable life because of — oops. Let’s just say “for whatever reason.” And mostly, on a day-to-day level, I can handle this. Yet when I zoom out a little and realize my life is passing chronologically and biologically while I’m in a kind of personal stasis, I feel the spiraling again, as I’m feeling it this moment while I write about it.

Christmas was pretty mellow, and only slightly less mellow than Christmas last year, which of course I spent alone. This year I spent the morning alone, then went to my parents’ for dinner, picking it up on the way from Big City Diner in Pearlridge. It was the same meal as last year, a lovely prime rib with mashed potatoes, a Caesar salad, a green bean salad, some crab cakes, and macarons. I left the macarons for my mom (I don’t care for them) and most of the potatoes for my dad, but did bring leftovers home of half the remaining prime rib and all the remaining salad.

Came home and watched Remember the Night (1940) with Barbara Stanwyck and Fred Macmurray. It was lovely. Fantastic. It had most of the stuff that made me fall in love with old movies when I was a teen, and was just a really nice surprise. It doesn’t measure up to Casablanca (I mean, nothing does, right?), and it’s a different genre — romantic comedy vs. romantic drama — but it’s thoughtful, sweet, and witty. It’s immediately a new favorite.

Then I watched Desk Set (1957) on the recommendation of a coworker, whose cube is right behind mine and who also loves old films. She’s the only person I know who also subscribes to the Criterion Channel. This is the seventh or eighth of nine films Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy starred in together, and I have never gotten into Tracy (except in Boystown and Men of Boystown), but I think in this one I started to see him better as an actor. Might have to look into some of his other stuff. Hepburn, of course, is great. This film’s quite a bit sillier, but it’s also witty if also fluffy and insubstantial.

They are both Christmas movies, and I’m happy to add them to my list of good films for the holiday.

Breakfast Saturday was overnight oats, as it has been every morning for a couple of weeks. Lunch was the Big City Diner meal at my parents’. I should have had a dinner after that, but I had a couple of quesadillas and the leftover Caesar salad very late before bed.

Breakfast Sunday was overnight oats. Lunch was nigiri sushi from Kuru Kuru, picked up on my way to my parents’ again. Dinner, which I just finished, was a dish of yogurt (yes, my homemade yogurt) with some granola and raw honey.

Texting Saturday was the usual Christmas greetings from all over, including from coworkers, from Excrush Girl, and from Reid-Grace-Penny. Sunday it was a little more of the same, but also with the others in my department after my boss told us not to come in. Oh, and the writing partner texted me to thank me for the gift I mailed her — a hardback copy of The Lost Apothecary, which I’m pretty sure she’ll really like.

Sunday NYT xword in 32 minutes, slower than my Sunday average. Monday xword in 4:15. That’s around where I usually finish a Monday lately.

It’s coming up on 2:30 and I still have a couple of quick tasks to hit before bed. Then up early to get my work laptop from the office, before anyone else gets in because I’m trying to avoid everyone. I have kind of a slow week ahead of me, if nothing pops up on short notice, so it’ll be a good few days to catch up on a few things. Kind of looking forward to it.

and the walls kept tumbling down
in the city that we love
great clouds rolled over the hills
bringing darkness from above


Crush Girl seems to be over the annoying thing I did, much to my gentle relief. I’m sure her ire was exacerbated by my uncontrollable giggling while apologizing and insisting I was contrite. I was contrite, but I was also super amused because the thing she was annoyed about was something I messaged her. And I knew I was pushing a button when I hit send. I looked at it first, and said, “That’s a real button. What if I just push it lightly?”

Fireworks, of the stony face and silent treatment variety. So yeah. I was laughing at her for being so transparently sensitive about it, but I was mostly laughing at myself for this lifelong need to test every sign that says DO NOT PUSH THIS BUTTON.

She’s been a little more communicative these past couple of days, which is super nice, but I also think I need to get myself over her. Maybe start calling her Excrush Girl in order to facilitate it. I’m kidding myself if I think I’ll ever somehow wriggle my way out of the friendzone and into the little bit of her heart I think I could fill.

I should say I haven’t been trying to nudge her out of the friendzone. I accepted my assignment the day I got it, and I am long past the stupid youthful idea that you can win someone over, even if most of my love history is evidence to the contrary. Put yourself out there, and if you get a no, take the no and move on. It’s the only mature, respectful thing to do.

I like being in the friendzone, at least as a second option. I think we could be really close friends if certain circumstances weren’t such obstacles. Stupid pandemic isn’t helping.

Something caught me off guard the other night and I didn’t roll with it the way I usually do. Got knocked for something of a loop, teetered momentarily before plunging into an eddy determined to suck me into the deep.

I allowed it for a couple of hours, glorying in self-pity and hollowness, but I yanked myself out, mostly for survival’s sake. Also because it was such a stupid thing to get depressed about. There are things I can’t control, and if they aren’t unjust, harmful to anyone I care about, or a serious threat to my well-being, I shouldn’t allow them to control me like this.

So I wrapped gifts, and when I was done with that, I opened the gifts my coworkers left for me, keeping notes in my iPad so I’d remember what to write thank-you cards for. That wonderful Christmas album, Carcass’s Torn Arteries, kept me company throughout, and I was feeling pretty goodwill-toward-humans by the time I was done.

My Christmas Eve was nice. I slept in, sorta, then ran a couple of errands. Took everything at a snail’s pace, not hurrying through anything because I didn’t have a schedule to worry about. Took a short nap, did a few chores, listened to some podcasts. I read a little bit of Klara and the Sun, which is taking a bit of a dark turn about a third of the way through.

Breakfast was overnight oats. Lunch was a Panda Express plate (mushroom chicken, string bean chicken, super greens). Dinner was a couple of chicken thighs steamed in the Instant Pot, with choy sum, bean sprouts, and more string beans. I drizzled some Maui Chili Chili Oil on the chicken and it was amazing.

Texted Excrush Girl a little about a book she’s reading. Also two coworkers about Tsum Tsum — they’ve recently jumped back in, a year after my return to the game, and wanted to know how my scores have gotten so good.

I’ll do the Friday 5 tomorrow. Too tired!

The viral spiral

Much to my annoyance, I woke up a few hours ahead of my alarm Sunday and didn’t get back to sleep. Put the Packers-Ravens game on and did a few chores, then drove out to the folks’ to hang out and have dinner.

I had a few things I wanted to get done and mostly only got to one of them.

For the first time in a couple of years, I couldn’t bring myself to listen to Meet the Press or This Week with George Stephanopolous. I just couldn’t handle the depressing news. New COVID cases in this state were nearly a thousand for Sunday and I just can’t. I did listen to World News Tonight, but I did not listen to PBS Newshour. I still might, but it’s unlikely.

I’ve caught myself a few times each day this weekend peering into the abyss, gazing into the blackness. It’s hit me deeply and I’ve pulled back, but yikes. I feel myself spiraling slowly. Why does the darkness call me, and why do I kind of want to go in there?

I’m almost certain it’s COVID-related. Even the stuff that’s not (like stress about my car and small concerns about cashflow) sort of is.

I think for the next couple of days, I’m going to spend my downtime taking care of Christmas stuff. That seems to make me feel okay most of the time, but it’s also making me wistful because I think Christmas weekend is going to be when things get really terrible.

Breakfast was overnight oats and the rest of that salad from Jolene’s. Yum and yum. Lunch (actually dinner) was a sushi platter from Genki Sushi, shared with my parents. Good stuff. Dinner was a couple of quesadillas I probably shouldn’t have and definitely didn’t need. I snacked on some beef jerky and a handful of fried pork rinds.

Didn’t listen to much music because of football. I have the Dan Le Batard Show podcast on the speakers right now but I’m only kind of listening.

I’m kind of looking forward to work this week. I have a few interesting things to work on, plus it’s a short week. Oh, and Monday afternoon I have an appointment to have my vision tested for new glasses. My benefits give me a certain amount each calendar year for glasses, and I missed last year because of the stupid lockdown. This year, it’s been super difficult to get an appointment, but here we go. With ten days to spare before the year ends. I want new specs, whether I need them or not.

I annoyed Crush Girl and she’s not really speaking to me. Sigh.

Lockdown 2: The Wrath of Khan

A musician I follow posted his five favorite live albums, a list I’ve been thinking of making since sometime last year. So this is what I came up with on the fly.

Five favorite live albums
Bruce Cockburn—Live
The Seventy Sevens—88
Billy Joel—Songs in the Attic

Honorable mention
Fleetwood Mac—The Dance
Eden Burning—Smilingly Home
Styx—Caught in the Act (I know; sorry)
Rush—Exit…Stage Left

It’s a good list, though I’m sure I’m forgetting some killers. If I were to spin U2’s Under a Blood Red Sky right now it might supplant the Billy Joel album.

Meanwhile I’m making a list of ten saddest songs. Still a work in progress. I’m up to six now. Spoiler: there are two Dar Williams songs in the top five.

I’m in a little of a dark space these days. Not oppressively, paralyzingly dark; just kind of grey and overcast all the time. And not in the pleasant way. For now, I’m just blaming it all on second lockdown (Lockdown 2: Die Harder) and the weird displacement I feel in the transition.

It’s a jellyfish week too, with Wednesday the last day of the influx. With the storm we had the weekend before last, I stayed away from the water (because runoff), and I’m sure two weeks without jumping in the ocean isn’t helping my mood.

I was hoping to make a roast beef in the Instant Pot — like the deli meat — but my local supermarket didn’t have a decent roast cut. So I picked up a pork shoulder and prepared it a different way from my usual treatments. This was basically shoyu with brown sugar, garlic, and something else escaping me. It came out pretty great. I’ve used it this week for tacos and quesadillas. Tomorrow I’m hoping to throw together an orzo salad.

The second Brian Regan special I saw wasn’t great. Last night I watched the Craig Ferguson special and it wasn’t great either. They’ve both been a lot better. I also watched The Girl Next Door with Elisha Cuthbert and Emile Hirsch (and a young Paul Dano). It’s charming and cute but there’s some sleaziness I really don’t care for.

I walked 10K steps Monday evening while listening to some news podcasts, rather than while reading. Tuesday evening I didn’t do anything. Guess I’ll have to walk Wednesday since I can’t swim. I’m considering returning to late-night walks through the neighborhood, but taking it a little easier. 13K to 15K will kill my knee, but maybe 10K two nights in a row with one night off?

I’m ending this here even though I didn’t really say anything. Just have to get to bed. Tryyyyyyying to get some decent sleep.

Lockdown: Lockdown 2 Electric Boogaloo

I just watched this clip and it’s not the best example of how funny this special is. Too lazy to find something else. Just watch the thing on Netflix.

Thursday the 26th I was about to text Crush Girl to predict Hawaii was going to hit 1000 new cases in a day by the next Wednesday. I held back because I didn’t want to be a downer.

We hit it Friday the 27th. Our highest one-day total since this stupid thing began.

There is probably no more divisive issue today in this town than whether the governor and mayor should lock things down again. I understand both sides; I really do. But we’re talking about lots of our friends and neighbors getting ill and staying in the hospital, many of them dying. Plus there’s the issue of filling those hospital beds and not having room for unpreventable cases.

I have friends who work in hospitals. You have friends who work in hospitals. There’s no point in retelling the horror stories, but the horror stories are real and if you haven’t spoken to your friends who are going through them, you should.

This is the clincher for me: what’s going on in local hospitals. It’s a grim picture, and our elected leaders have the power to do something about it. I think we’ve got to do it, economy be damned if that’s what it takes.

I can’t make the governor do anything. I can do my part, though, and keep myself out of the way, and hope others will do likewise. Soooooo I’m mostly locking myself down again.

Yeah, it’s a bummer.

It’s especially difficult for a couple of reasons I wouldn’t have predicted.

I’m actually not feeling very vulnerable. I feel pretty confident in my immunity and I think I’m unlikely to pass the virus along if I should inhale it. With appropriate social distancing and other precautions we’ve (almost) all grown used to, I’m pretty dang comfortable in my usual spaces.

And even in a few unusual spaces. With cafes still closed at night, I’ve gone to bars for some alone time with a book. Plus, now that I and my friends are vaccinated, I’ve been Mr. Social Chairperson, planning parties and dinners and pau hanas. I’m on the record as hating bars, and I still don’t like them much, but I’ve enjoyed my time in them lately.

Which is the second reason locking down again is difficult. The freedom I’ve felt since I’ve ventured back into the world has been great. A couple of times I’ve stopped at neighborhood bars on my way home from the office just because I could. I’ve dined in restaurants. I saw a movie in a cinema. I even went to the supermarket in the middle of the day, during my lunch break.

Once. I did that once. It was too freaky, so I shan’t be doing that again any time soon.

So I’ve reveled in my freedom, breathing sighs of relief that I and my family got through this horrible thing.

And now we’re back in it. Argh.

I have permission from my boss to work at home full time for now. All summer I’ve been going in a few times a week, and it’s been good. Nice to see my coworkers. Nice to be productive in my cube. Nice to get lunch at all the spots I’ve missed this past year. Nice just to walk around in broad daylight (with a mask) in a city I rather enjoy.

Yet here I am. Locking down again. Mostly. I’ll still see my folks on weekends and I’ll probably still go to the beach during hours when I can mostly stay away from others, and I may even have the occasional dinner out if there’s outdoor seating and I can be far from others. Like the Mapunapuna Wendy’s, which I have had far too much of these past few weeks.

I’ve been walking at Keehi Lagoon and not at all at Makiki Park lately. Too many people at Makiki, and too small a space. Keehi really lets you spread out and away from others. And the Wendy’s is just right there. With outdoor tables sufficiently distanced.

I think I’ve had four Frostys in the past two weeks. Would have been five but it was kind of crowded Friday night, so I just came home.

Lockdown has me feeling down. I’m down for a few other reasons, too, but I think it’s mostly lockdown. Aaaaaand yeah. I’m finding myself diving into the unhealthy behaviors I used this space to protect myself against for more than a year.

Which means I need to get back to it. I don’t think I’ll be as verbose (today’s verbosity aside), but I need to keep track of a few things for myself, so the lockdown journal is back.


More explication later, I guess. For now:

Breakfast: a couple of hot dogs. Yeah, I’ve embraced them again as a quick, satisfying meal, and if each dog takes 36 minutes off my life, as I heard on a podcast recently, I’ll try to earn them back with more veggies and use the pandemic as my excuse. Extraordinary times (if they can still be called this) call for extraordinary leeway. I’ve added jalapeno slices to the usual hot dog, by the way. The combination of salty hot dog with tangy mustard, sweet ketchup, and acidy sauerkraut goes really well with the spice of the jalapenos. Ketchup, sauerkraut, and jalapenos are veggies, right?

Lunch: Loaded taco fries and a couple of tacos supreme from Taco Bell, grabbed at the drive-through on my way home from Keehi Lagoon.

Dinner: A couple of lazy quesadillas, just now.

Contact: Not much, but a few DMs on IG, and some good interaction on FB with some book-loving friends.

Fresh air: 10,000 steps at Keehi Lagoon just before sunset. I didn’t read as I walked, as I usually do, because I really wanted to hit 10K and I walk too slowly when I’m reading. Listened to music instead.

Music: The new Neal Morse Band album, Innocence & Danger, released Friday. It’s long, like most NMB albums, but it’s good. It’s better than their last release, and more memorable. The second track actually made me feel physically good, it’s so well done. Especially Mike Portnoy’s drumming, which kind of blew me away. Streamed it on Spotify but I’m ordering the double CD.

Two weeks ago, I was going to rent The Suicide Squad, but it was thirty bucks. I almost pulled the trigger anyway, then realized for a third the price I could get a month of Netflix streaming. It was an easy decision.

The first thing I watched was Vivo (review later). Since then, I’ve devoured The Queen’s Gambit (terrific), most of season one of My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman, and stand-up specials by Ronny Chieng, Ricky Gervais, and Brian Regan. The Ricky Gervais thing is wonderful. They were all really good, but that Gervais one is definitely a re-watch. Oh, I rewatched a couple of early episodes of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, which I originally saw on their original platform, Crackle. I’m rather delighted I have a chance to get caught up.

Anyway. If you’re locking down again too, you don’t have to be alone. Reach out and I’ll try to be decent company (texts, emails, FB, IG, Twitter, you know the deal).

Lockdown: The island of lost time

I don’t know exactly why I’m planning to stay up super late to do some work, but I am. I’m not behind. I am a little swamped. So maybe it’s that. Kill it this evening so I get less swamped?

Not wanting to give my whole night over to the work, now I will write about me to me.

The stupid pandemic is going the wrong way. My boss took an informal survey, asking some of us if we were feeling more anxious with this delta variant exploding, and most people said yes. I said no. It’s pretty much the same amount of anxiety. I do not want this stupid virus, but if I get it I feel confident I won’t suffer from it much, and I’m unlikely to pass it along. I can live with that for now until data indicates I’m mistaken.

I’ve been dining out like a madman lately, apparently in an effort to make up for lost time. Mostly I get lunch on days I’m at the office, and occasionally dinner on the way home, and sometimes breakfast on the way in. On days I work at home, I mostly just eat at home. I’ve tried new places and they’ve been good. So Gong Dong for Korean food. Mian for Sichuan. Jejubing for Korean shave ice. A couple of bars for a cold one and whatever food looks good. I’ve dropped in on some old faves, like La Pizza Rina, IHOP, and Wendy’s. So far so good.

I even showed my vaccination card to get into one place. Bars are allowed to operate at full capacity if they check cards, and we had a work thing for someone’s birthday with an intended party of 13 to 15 that ended up being just 9. So cards were unnecessary but I didn’t know it when I showed up first, so I whipped my card out.

The birthday thing was fun. We reserved a private room mostly for privacy (and to get away from the bar’s VERY loud, constant K-pop), but we ended up singing karaoke the whole time. I’ve crossed the karaoke line with coworkers at this place of employment. Not a big deal. Two years ago I crossed the board-shorts-no-shirt line when we had a company picnic at this most gorgeous of beaches.

Speaking of lost time (yes we were; back up three paragraphs), the depression about wasting the gift of time this past year and a half is still on me, following me around and hovering, like a cloud of gnats. And (I guess) like gnats, it swoops in in waves, just invading my brain and bringing me way down for, you know, not all day or night but some amount of time.

I’m told I’m not alone. This makes me feel a little better.

It’s just a couple of nights before Ted Lasso season two starts. Do yourself an enormous favor and check out season one. I mean it.

Mythic Quest season two ended in a place where it could have been the series finale. I’m satisfied. I definitely want a season three, but it hasn’t been announced yet so who knows? I’m glad we got what we got.

Apple TV+ has this terrible original series called Physical. It stars Rose Byrne, who is terrific and whom I love, so I checked it out and now I can’t stop watching. I can’t say I like it, though, because all the characters are terrible. If you’ve already watched Mythic Quest and Ted Lasso, you might check it out. Trigger warning for bulimia.

I’m four episodes into season one of the Leftovers, which I only put in my Netflix DVD queue because Andy Greenwald kept talking about it when it first came out. I finally got to it (Aha. Who wasted his pandemic year? Not this guy!) and it is the most dismal, dark, depressing show ever. One of my coworkers says she loved this show so I’m going to stick with it for now. It’s compelling; I’ll give it that. But yikes. People who look askance at me for loving heavy metal with its themes of war and pestilence and death and decay but who can watch a show like the Leftovers can suck a lemon, a lime, and the marrow from the shattered bones of the fallen.

I’m about to fire up season three of Halt and Catch Fire too.

Okay I’m sated. Going to take a short nap and pound that work. Maybe.