Lockdown: Rabbit don’t come easy

If a show doesn’t do it for you, it just doesn’t. I get it. But man, I wish I could make people click with some shows just so they can get to the really, really good episodes.

A couple episodes in Forever with Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen are great examples. If you were to just watch the episodes as stand-alones, it wouldn’t work. You really wouldn’t be seeing the show, and this is one thing TV (or TV-like stuff) has that movies don’t. The payoff after the long build-up, when you didn’t know there was a build-up. It’s like getting punched in the gut while you’re protecting your face.

An episode in season one of Mythic Quest did it to me too, although this great episode didn’t make me wish I could make everyone watch the series. But then *pow* two episodes in season two hit you even lower than the gut. Amazing.

So yeah I can’t make you watch it, but if you have Apple TV+ you really should at least check it out. Season two ends with the next episode, much to my heartbreak, but at least the new Ted Lasso season is coming up at the end of July. Yeah, I already renewed my subscription for another year. My free year ends July 5.

Sometime this week (I can’t remember when; time is meaningless to me anymore) I watched the first episode of The Leftovers. Have you heard of it? It’s dark as frick. In the twinkle of an eye, two percent of the world’s population disappears. Just vanishes. The series seems to be about what happens in the aftermath. And let me tell you: so far, there’s not a lot of light on this planet. People are broken, lost, hurting, and not their best selves. Yikes. And of course a religious cult pops up, adding weirdness and more darkness.

I have to say the first episode does not make me want to watch the second. If not for its being adored by critics I admire, I wouldn’t stick with it, but I might as well see a few episodes more.

In other news I’m sure you don’t care about, Helloween released a new album, its sixteenth studio album and its first self-titled. Which is kind of cool because all three of the lead vocalists in the band’s history sing on this album, together. Not just a song or two, but like most of the album. So the only album probably better suited for a self-title would be one where everyone who’s ever played in the band plays on the whole album, which would be crazy and amazing.

I’m not recommending it. If you think power metal is silly and laughable, which it is, you’ll find this album doubly so. If you think power metal is majestic, grand, soothing, and fun, which it also is, you probably already know whether or not you want to check it out. I’m spinning it now for like the fifth time and enjoying the heck out of it.

I actually did a bit of decluttering, returning to this enormous task after too many weeks off. It made me feel great, and I tossed a bunch of stuff. I wish I could make myself do it on the weekend instead of Monday evening, when it causes me to push several other things back, leaving me to turn in far too late. I need to keep trying. Failing that (again and again), doing it Monday evening at least gets it done and makes me feel good, if also sleep-deprived and miserable.

Weighing myself after weeks 2 and 3 showed me how these things fluctuate. I’m still down from week 0 but I’m up from week 1, and slightly down from week from 2. So yeah, a more concerted effort is definitely called for. I hit the beach Saturday and Tuesday, and I’m going again Thursday. I’ve done slightly less walking this week because I’ve been a little down, not to mention more sleep-deprived than usual, thanks to a couple of deadlines I recently took all night to meet.

Now that lockdown is nearly done, I’m seeing Crush Girl more often in our familiar context. While I still wish we were spending time together in other contexts, like the favor I did for her a few weeks ago, I’ll take this. We seem to be communicating more easily, with more familiar comfort. It makes just being friends a bit easier on my cold, battered, icy heart, but it also makes it a little more melty. I’ll take it.

I’m seventy percent of the way through Jakob Guanzon’s Abundance. I’ve slowed down because I haven’t been walking as many evenings as I was. Still pretty dang compelling.

It’s 9:30. I’m getting ready for bed. It’s been that kind of week.

* The title of this entry is the title of a Helloween album. It has nothing to do with anything I’ve written except that. What a ridiculous name for an album.

Lockdown: Measuring out my life in coffee spoons

(I’m almost certain I’ve used this title fairly recently but whatever)

I’ll make this a fast one since it’s rather late at night. Just needed to get the fingers working a little before I turn in.

I bought that bathroom scale primarily because I needed to know my weight for a very specific purpose and I couldn’t for the life of me think of somewhere I could just get on a scale.

Secondarily, I really do need to drop some weight. Pandemic pounds and then some. I thought a couple of weeks ago that quantifying my steps these past many years has really helped. I try not to be a slave to the numbers, and often remind myself on days when I’m really not feeling it that it’s okay to cut short one of my walks. Yet the constant awareness of these numbers gives me something against which to measure myself. Like, if I find myself on consecutive days not feeling it, what’s going on in my body and mind?

Ideally, I think it’s best just to make the lifestyle change so that I’m not worried about numbers. I’m mostly there with swimming: I do it more for mental health than physical health and would keep doing it with no quantification. However, I do check my time in the water every time, just to see what I did. I can tell you how many buoys I swam on any given morning. And I still count strokes.

Not like I used to, when I was first getting back into swimming condition a long time ago. Now I count strokes when I’m swimming the Australian crawl (“freestyle”) because it helps me keep track of how tired I am against my own norms. And on mornings when I want to push myself, I can check my weariness against the number of strokes and set new goals. These things help if I want to get better and stronger, which I do.

I weighed myself last Tuesday, then didn’t step on the scale again all week. I wanted to have a normal week without thinking about my weight beyond however much I already do.

And yesterday morning I stepped on it again, seven days later, and I was down four pounds.

Progress, or just a standard ebb and flow based on my varying diet and exercise? Impossible to say with such a small sample size. So I’m going another week with the same approach.

I’m tired as heck lately. Sleep has been a huge problem these past several weeks, especially the nights before my days in the office. I’m dragging aaaaaalll the time these days, but especially office days. I’m getting slightly concerned.

And this week’s been especially rough. Seems I’ve got ten times my usual number of meetings. One of them was at 8:00 and was followed by another at 9:00. It was my beach morning, too, so I had to nix my morning swim, which of course gets the day off to a bad start.

It’s all bringing me down. I’m not having a good emotional health week, which is my main reason for typing these words this morning instead of trying to get some sleep. It helps. I’m feeling clearer-minded already, so I’m off to bed. Perchance to sleep.

Won’t be for long, anyway. I have a meeting at 9.

Lockdown: Catching up

Back in a Honolulu groove

A couple of Thursdays ago, I met some coworkers after work at a brewery a block from the office. It opened May 1 and it’s too convenient to ignore. I envision a lot of pau hana get-togethers. For me alone, if not for me and my officemates.

There were seven of us, including our new assistant controller whom I just met that day and invited to join us. I was the oldest person at the table by 12 years but whatever. Everyone my age has people waiting at home. Sylvia and Sharon were there, probably my two best friends at work, and they were my coplanners.

My first social gathering. My first time in a restaurant with anyone other than just me. It’s not a restaurant but it equates. It was fine. We’re all vaccinated. We wore masks when we weren’t consuming. I found myself not at all stressed.

It was a good warmup for the following Tuesday: my first day back in the office during regular hours. This was less fine. I had an upset stomach most of the day, and I’m not ruling out stress. Still, it was super nice to see people, and we caught up, and I could tell my coworkers were as happy to see me as I was to see them.

I wasn’t nearly as productive as I’d have liked, because I got only two and a half hours of sleep the night before. I used my lunch break for napping in my car.

Steppin’ out

The weekend walks around Keehi Lagoon, at about 6,000 steps, weren’t killing my knee. I still felt it but I wasn’t waking up crying as I did that night last summer. So now I’m going 7,000 steps about five nights a week and my knee feels about the same.

It’s better than nothing. It’s far, far better than nothing: the fresh air, diminishing sunshine, and quiet reading time are good for my heart and brain, and while the benefits to my body are probably questionable, 7,000 steps is better than zero steps, so for now I’ll take it.

It’s gotten to be such a part of my day that a couple of times when circumstances wouldn’t get me out the door early enough ahead of sunset, I went anyway and perambulated the park at night.

They’re closing Keehi Lagoon at seven in the evening, which is cruel in these early summer days, as there’s still a good chunk of daylight left. So more frequently, I’m doing Makiki Park. It’s a much shorter circumference and there are a lot more people, but it works. The park’s lawn is easy on my footsteps, my car is pretty safe, and “one more lap” is easier to make happen. Also easier to turn into another “one more lap.”

My books and my poetry to protect me

Stuff I’ve read while moving my body (including titles I’ve already mentioned): The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. A Pho Love Story by Loan Le. NBA Jam by Reyan Ali. The Time Machine Did It by John Swartzwelder. From Little Tokyo, With Love by Sarah Kuhn.

Oh, I also volunteered to beta-read my friend Stella’s novel-in-progress. It’s a good first draft and took about a week’s worth of evening walks for completion.

I started The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner last night. It’s super compelling and very interesting. Probably, strictly looking at the quality of narrative prose, better than anything else I’ve listed. I’m enjoying the heck out of it.

I’ve got my orange crush

In fifteen months, I saw Crush Girl exactly twice. Once to give her something (at her request) and once to do her a quick favor. A few weeks ago, I meant to write something about how I’m over her, pleased no longer to be swooning and instead to be enjoying what’s becoming (ever so slowly) a nice friendship.

But in the past two weeks, I’ve spent some quality time with her, and it’s coming back. Definitely not with the heart-stabbing sadness that once kept me awake at night, but with gentle aortic squeezes when she says my name. I can live with this kind of unrequited affection. And probably will for some time until I get over her. Again.

Lockdown: Shelf esteem

Most of the week was pretty productive by day and semi-adventurous at night. I was decently productive through most of the week, but I admit it was mostly to check things off the list without actually doing any real writing, and I have a couple of nagging writing projects I really need to get done.

Still, those checkmarks were assignments, and I got them done. People seemed pleased with my work. I also had four meetings and although I’m working on being a better contributor, I think I did okay this week. I’m a harsh critic of my meeting participation because I dislike meetings so much and I want to be better at them, since my aversion is so well-known in the company.

“That guy is so bad in meetings; it’s no wonder he hates them so famously” is a not as good as “That guy’s good in meetings; it’s too bad he hates them so famously.”

I made another Target run, this time for a friend who’s collecting packages of feminine hygiene products for a huge donation to a social agency in my neighborhood, to celebrate her birthday. I think it’s ten packages for every year she’s been alive or something. So I hit Target again and bought something like sixty bucks worth, which doesn’t seem like that much product for the price. No wonder indigent women and girls have difficulty. It makes me angry.

I also hit two neighborhood bars this week. One on Wednesday night and one this evening (it’s late Friday night as I write this). This makes three bars in a week, and I think I’ve just about gotten it out of my system. First, it’s kind of a pricey way to spend an evening. And while the food is great (I chose bars who are known for having good food), bar food is just not very good for you, at least not the stuff I had.

On the other hand, I got a lot of good reading done, which is my main reason for going to bars. With cafes not open late, I just want somewhere quiet to read, somewhere out of the house, in the company of strangers. I’m about 40% of the way through Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library, which I am rather enjoying.

There must be a decent, happy medium. I crammed far too much food into my gaping maw this evening, and that’s on me. I also had two beers when all I really wanted was one. Or one and a half. Maybe if I become a regular at some of these neighborhood spots, I won’t feel as pressured to spend more money at once, because that’s part of it. Nobody wants to be the guy everyone recognizes as the One Who Drinks Water and Just Orders Fries While Reading a Book.

If freaking Zippy’s had a more pleasant bathroom, I would just go there a few nights a week, as I did when I was a bus rider and didn’t have a lot of options, and when I was working on my master’s thesis and just needed somewhere I could work and not be pressured to give up my table.

I need the cafes to get back to normal. My favorite neighborhood boba cafe is usually open until 10:30, but these days it closes at five. Ugh.

I didn’t make anything new in my kitchen this week, or anything really worth sharing. Lazy quesadillas more than once. Lazy burritos a few times. Kimchi and tofu. I realized a few days ago it had been more than a month since I’d had spaghetti, so I made that twice, and too much of it each time. But geeeeeez it made me happy.

I played around with a cream sauce the second time. So it made me even happier but was of course even worse for me. Dang it!

I had cream in my fridge because I’d been jonesing for white Russians. I’ve been trying to use up the liquor in my house before I buy any more alcohol, so I’ve lately had black Russians. Did you know a black Russian made with tequila instead of vodka is called a brave bull? I had no idea until I looked it up to see if I’d somehow invented this. What a silly thought.

There are a few names for a white Russian made with tequila.

Anyway, in case you didn’t catch that, I used up my vodka and now I’m focusing on finishing the tequila and gin.

I didn’t listen to much music, preferring to fill the background with the sounds of baseball. I listened to a lot of ballgames, keeping up with my podcasts the rest of the time. I did spin some playlists when I drove anywhere, but I stayed close to home (except for the trek to Target), so the song count was low.

However, Gojira’s new album Fortitude dropped Friday and I’m loving it on repeat. Mostly it’s slow, plodding, dense, and heavy. I find it blissfully soothing.

I didn’t do a lot of texting this week. JB and I chatted about our parents for a little while the other night. Short exchanges here and there with Cindy, Julie, Crush Girl, Sylvia, Sharon, the writing partner, Penny, and Desi. A few work-related texts.

Neither did I watch anything new, except Nomadland Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s fantastic. I’ll post a short review sometime this weekend. When I had my eyes on a screen, if it wasn’t the news it was going back through highlights from Ted Lasso and Mythic Quest.

My free year of Apple TV+ expires July 6. Ted Lasso season 2 drops July 23. I could pay $5 for an additional month to watch it (tooooooootally worth it!) or $50 for another year. That saves ten bucks off the monthly price, but I need to figure out what kind of usage I’d need to make $50 worth it. Maybe if Apple added one more series for me to love, that would be three good series with limitless replays for $17 bucks each. That might do it.

I’m going to give The Morning Show another try, and I think I’ll finish up Central Park before my trial ends, but I can’t see myself getting very amped for either.

This week, I’ll re-watch Mythic Quest in anticipation of season 2’s drop Friday. Yes. Yes yes yes.

Okay, one last thing. I’ve been a little depressed — not like the waves of darkness that rush in and cover me for a week or more, but like little wavelets of it for a couple of hours here and there, and leave just the burden of their memory until the come in for another round.

It’s all related (I think) to that thing I mentioned some weeks ago, that this lockdown is just about over and while I made decent use of my time in these four walls, I didn’t make good enough use of my time. I have little to show for it, at least to the casual observer, and this matters to me.

My life is still a mess. It is far, far less of a mess (I’m kind of talking literally here) than it was fourteen months ago for sure, and I’m proud of it, but I’m still in a hole. I haven’t caught up enough to be on lvel ground, and that’s what I wanted.

So this week I identified one thing that was stressing me out: my vinyl. I’ve spent quite a bit of money these past few years of vinyl reissues of beloved albums, and I can’t keep the records where I used to keep all my records, for reasons I can’t go into.

So they’re stashed temporarily here and there where I hope they won’t be damaged accidentally by some stupid act of my own idiotic negligence. Yes, I know I just began two consecutive paragraphs with “so” but I usually begin ten consecutive paragraphs with “I,” so it’s an improvement.

In that first run to Target I bought a small two-compartment shelf. Those modular cube-like things, only it’s two of them in one unit. A good size for LPs.

Tuesday night I put the thing together, and THEN (this is huge) I tidied up the area where I wanted to put it. It took some time, and I did slightly more than the least I needed to clean up, and dang it felt good. When I put my stack of books-to-be-read on the bottom shelf and the LPs on the top shelf, and my autographed Ken Stabler football helmet (a gift from my sister) on the top of the unit, it looked great, and the area around the stupid shelf also looks great.

Looking at it even now, five nights later, makes me happy. The way taming the monster last year made me happy. This weekend I’m going to identify the my next small project and then I’m going to do it next week. I think I already have it in mind.

I’ll do the Friday 5 tomorrow. This weekend is about catching up on some personal writing and possibly some sleep. And hopefully some ocean.

Lockdown: Chicken I didn’t Rew

I’m writing this kind of late Monday night, having a late dinner of rice, scrambled eggs, and Vienna sausage. Not healthy and not especially yummy, but quick. And I’ve had one can left for a few months of the case bought a year ago as part of my lockdown survival rations. Also, the eggs pretty much had to be cooked today or they were going in the bin, which is going to the curb before I hit the bed for pickup Tuesday.

The weekend was pretty good, if every so sliiiiiightly unsatisfying.

Friday evening I had a few errands. Dropped some stuff off on campus, in the office space where I used to work, for my coworkers there. Then I hit Target.

I’d last been to this Target in the early pandemic days, but before the official lockdown, and it was kind of scary. The only other trip to a department store this past year was to the Salt Lake Target half an hour before closing, back in early fall. I had to pick up that dorm fridge I’ve been surviving with ever since.

I’ll spare the details, but despite my being nearly a month past my second shot, it was still kind of terrifying. I figure this anxiety will be with me a while, as it’s been soooooo long since I’ve truly mingled with the throng.

I dropped a serious wad of cash, too.

Saturday I got up early but not as early as my Saturday usual, to pick up a late breakfast-slash-lunch but not the usual Saturday breakfast-slash-lunch. Dropped a few things in the mail and went to Rew’s Chicken, this new spot inside the HMart in Kalihi. This is the smaller, more Kalihi-like HMart, the one that’s been around for a few years before they opened that HMart megastore in Kakaako, which I haven’t been to yet because it opened during the lockdown!

My little neighborhood HMart has a house-made kimchi I prefer over the house-made kimchis at the other Korean markets (exception: the kimchi at 88 Mart, near the office, which is pretty close to my Platonic ideal), and I was running low. Good chance to pick up some wings and picked cabbage in one stop.

I actually didn’t OD on wings. Ate my fill and put the rest in a storage contanier for later. Moderation, baby!

Did the usual Saturday things and went back to bed. Took care of a few chores and you know what was next: A sunset walk at Keehi Lagoon with my Kindle. This time I stayed away from where the tent city is so the cops wouldn’t shoo me out, just walked out behind the canoe shelter along the water’s edge and back, then out and back again, then back and forth in the parking lot because it was too dark for roaming around a park by myself.

I’m reading a book about the history of NBA Jam, the arcade video game. It’s called NBA Jam and is part of a series of similar video game books. Unless you have the deep connection to the game (and accompanying fond memories) people like me have, I can’t recommend it. But if there was a time when you knew where all the machines were within half an hour of your house and were intimately familiar with each machine’s quirks, you’ll probably really enjoy it, as I do.

It really was a special game, and now I know why.

I was in the area, so I did my second brave thing of the weekend. I went to a bar in Mapunapuna.

Asked for a Blue Moon, which they didn’t have, so settled on a couple of Coronas, an order of potato skins, a couple of Diet Cokes, and my book. It actually felt safer than Target. I was in one spot; everyone else was in his or her own spot, and if any of us got up to move around, we wore masks. I was so pleased to have time alone in a space like this for the first time in more than a year I dropped a nine dollar tip on a thirty dollar check.

I’ve tipped generously all year even in situation that didn’t traditionally call for it. These people kept showing up for work while I locked myself away except when I couldn’t resist a burrito’s siren song. I’m hoping we’ve all been as grateful.

Sunday I went to the folks’ early, so I could catch the entire Oscars broadcast. More on that in a separate post, maybe later this week.

The only real problem this weekend was my not giving myself enough catchup sleep. I have got to be more disciplined about this or I’m just more of a mess than I usually am.

I finished Mythic Quest and it was excellent. Seriously, go watch it. Season 2 drops the week after next.

I’ll write about my other media consumption and foodventures later this week.

Lockdown: Pho what it’s worth

(I started this Tuesday afternoon and am only finishing it late Friday night. That kind of week.)

It was a pretty good weekend. I took my first, tentative, fully vaccinated, post-lockdown steps into society, sort of. Sleep continues to be an issue.

I got up early Saturday after only a few hours of sleep. I meant to, but I woke up earlier than planned and couldn’t get back to sleep. Again. I called my parents to let them know I was coming over Sunday just to hang out, and I’d pick up dinner on the way.

The Saturday Hawaiian plate ritual continues. I had some of it for breakfast as I listened to some baseball. Took a long nap. Finished the Hawaiian food for lunch. Did the usual Saturday stuff: crosswords, news, fantasy sports catchup, the Spelling Bee.

I drove to Keehi Lagoon again. Walked around the still-closed park as I read my Kindle. Took a few photos. Was shooed out by a police officer supervising that little tent village, but I still got a good hour of walking and nearly finished the novel.

I kind of wanted to stop somewhere for takeout but I just wasn’t hungry. As reluctant as I was to head home, that’s what I did. Tucked myself back into bed and finished A Pho Love Story.

Sunday I got up before sunrise and drove to the beach about an hour later than the Sunday before. The parking situation was more like what I expect on a Sunday morning, so at that hour, I didn’t get the good spots on the Kewalo end. Plenty of good spots on the Magic Island end, and I had a good swim. My body told me to go, unlike a week earlier, and it felt good. I actually hung out a little longer than usual, just enjoying being in the warm sun and salty ocean.

The Subway at the enormous shopping mall across the street had been closed for breakfast these past several month. It had actually been a few months since I drove past, and I wondered if it was back to normal hours.

It didn’t make it. The signage and decor were gone. Dang it.

So I hit the Jack-in-the-Box drive-though for a couple of breakfast biscuits and took them to the office. I had a few tasks to take care of but I didn’t settle in and actually do work. Just took care of the tasks, finished my breakfast, and got out.

Came home for a nap, then drove to Pearl City. Picked up takeout and visited the parents. It was nice to spend time with them again even though all we did was watch TV and eat dinner.

It was an okie dokie weekend. I’m eager to get the beach back into my routine, and I’m thinking about working in the office a couple of days a week beginning soon.

Lockdown: This is the way we wash our clothes

(so early in the morning)

Friday evening, about 10:45. I’m barely hanging on to consciousness but I need to stay up another hour or so in an effort to reset the body clock. I tried it last night, too, getting to bed at about half past midnight, but I woke up at 3:30 and stayed up until 6:30, kind of destroying the plan.

I’ve been dragging all week for lack of a good night’s sleep. It’s bad. No matter when I put myself to bed, I get up in the middle of the night and just can’t settle back in.

Or worse: I manage to stay awake all evening without a post-work nap, then when I struggle past the sleepiness, my brain finds this extra store of energy and I’m wide awake until late.

One of my principals at Assets was like this too. She said she always found a second wind at about 10:30, so she tried to be in bed before it kicked in.

Work was a mix of being very productive and not making the best use of my time this week. I did good work, and brought a few things across home plate, but I did it slowly in some cases. Crossed a bunch of new things right off the list, but some of the old things are nagging and lingering. Bleah.

But hey. One of my proposals, worked on for a couple of weeks, went to a donor who’s very open to a large gift we asked for. We’re talking millions. It’s still in the discussion stage, but when you ask someone for millions of dollars and the person doesn’t say no, you get a good feeling.

It helps that the fundraiser I worked with has been one of my cheerleaders. We bring this gift home and I’m going to get a little bit of the credit, which will be nice. I want to be good at this, and it helps when I have the confidence of the people I work with.

I didn’t get out at all during the work week. No beach time. No walks. Mostly because of my tiredness. I don’t think I did any reading either, except Wednesday morning when I went to the laundry. The one in Manoa, the one who changed its operating hours from open-all-night to last-wash-at-nine. Now that I’ve got those two shots in me and two weeks of getting my immunity built up, I felt okay going back to do a five a.m. wash. It wasn’t bad, either. A few other people in there, but we kept our distance and almost everyone had a mask worn properly.

The problem with going at 5 is I missed the overnight lunch menu at McD’s, and I was really looking forward to a Big Mac combo. I think they shift to the breakfast menu at 5, and I ordered a few minutes before 5. Must go a little earlier next time.

So I had an Egg McMuffin combo, which was still good, but I’d had one earlier in the week, too. Not the same.

I also read A Pho Love Story and am nearly done.

This week, someone asked if I’d seen Mythic Quest on Apple TV+. I’d heard of it but hadn’t investigated. The someone said she was interested. A couple of days later, she’d seen the whole first season (season 2 drops next month) and really liked it, and was looking for someone to talk about it with.

So yeah. I picked it up the other night and I’ve now seen five episodes. I do like it — it appeals to a certain geekiness in me. Reminds me a little of Silicon Valley, but there are elements reminding me also of Halt and Catch Fire and even Atlanta and Forever. Pretty dang good.

Coincidentally, Friday Apple dropped an eleventh episode, a special addition to season 1. Kind of cool — a new episode dropping right when I’m picking the show up, a year after its debut. And I got to break the news to the friend, who was pretty stoked to hear about it.

I listened to a ton of baseball, which means my podcast consumption has dropped off, and my music-listening, too. Although Liquid Tension Experiment dropped its third album Friday and I’ve had it on repeat all evening. I’m really digging it.

It wasn’t a very interesting food week. After the watercress tofu tomato onion salad, I didn’t try anything new. Made a couple of omelets with leftover salad ingredients. Had Taco Bell for breakfast Thursday. Got takeout from Bangkok Chef Thursday night, which meant Thai food for breakfast and lunch Friday. I’ll probably make fixings for lazy burritos sometime this weekend, and I have a couple of ideas for some new things to try in the IP.

My ambitions for this weekend are slightly less slothful than last weekend. I have a few things to do, and I’m hoping to visit the parents, perhaps bring some dinner over, now that we’re all post-vaccine. I may even skip going to the office. I got enough done and enough prepped for next week that I can give myself two days completely off from even thinking about work. Yay. We’ll see if I actually do it.

Okie dokie. Time for some teeth-brushing and then a hopeful trip to bed.

Lockdown: Back to the beach (at last)

Thankfully the McD’s at Waiakamilo and Dillingham was open for takeout. I thought I needed to get some sugar into me quickly, so I had a small vanilla shake, then chased it with two cheeseburgers and a medium fries. They did the trick. At least the weird internal shakiness was gone.

I wrote this a year ago. Early April 13 about April 12, 2020. I remember that night. I was really feeling unwell. Shaky. I scarfed that impromptu takeout meal standing on the walkway of the adjacent stripmall. The fries were especially delicious that night.

I miss these late-night walks, which may have been my mental health anchor in the early weeks of the lockdown. We were actually locked down that weekend, Easter weekend, with an actual citywide curfew. You could be out excercising, but if you were in your car you had to be on your way home or on your way to work, or getting something important from a store. Great evenings for walking late at night. Great alone time.

Saturday morning I wrote something about slothful intentions. See, when you set the bar at sloth, it’s pretty easy to feel accomplished. I got up early that morning after only four hours of sleep, drove to Young’s for a huge Hawaiian plate, and enjoyed the heck out of it while writing my Friday 5.

Took a long, heavenly nap. Worked the crossword while finishing my food, then it was time for a little foodventure. I made pimento cheese, inspired mostly by a great segment on the ESPN Daily podcast.

Just give it a quick listen. It’s short, like three minutes, and it’s super interesting. And it made me seriously want to make it.

After all the tasting as I went, I felt pretty gross, so I quickly asked Siri when sunset was. In half an hour. I figured it would take me fifteen minutes to get to Keehi Lagoon, leaving me fifteen minutes before sundown and another thirty before darkness. I could work with that.

So I read A Pho Love Story on my Kindle as I walked around the still-closed park. It was really pretty, which is a nice surprise because it’s not a very pretty park by Oahu standards. Like a lot of stuff this past year, it’s benefitted from having no people.

The book’s quite engaging, so I kept walking after dark, just back and forth in the tennis court parking lot, where my car was. I think I totaled an hour of very leisurely walking for a little over two miles.

The sunshine, fresh air, and mild exercise were a tiny piece of the weekend, but I think they really made the weekend for me. Without them, I’d have felt pretty terrible about the way the rest of it went. With them, my spirits were just a lot better, and I’m fairly sure my hitting the beach eeeeeaaaaarly Sunday morning had a lot to do with how good I felt Saturday night.

I was still craving movement, so on impulse, I stopped at a liquor store in my neighborhood, thinking I’d grab a Diet Pepsi, then walk around on Pier 38 as I continued to read. Then as I stood outside my car putting my mask on, I realized I’d really had quite enough, so I hopped back in and went home.

I blanched a bunch of watercress and ate a few handfuls of that for a snack. All that Hawaiian food had me pretty sated, and I thought the fiber would be good for my insides. Then much later I had a pimento cheese sandwich, because of course.

I went to bed kind of early Saturday night, so I could wake up early Sunday. Got up a little earlier than planned, about an hour before my 4:45 alarm, and couldn’t get back to sleep. So yeah, it was off to the beach. After a stop at the McD’s drive-though for an Egg McMuffin and a couple of breakfast burritos, which I ate in my car (a rare thing) while reading my Kindle before the sun came up.

I do not know what the deal was, but I got my favorite parking lot and still would have if I’d come twenty minutes later. For some reason the beach was not a popular early morning activity Sunday. I actually waited until the water was light enough for me to see how gross it was before jumping in. It wasn’t gross at all. It was nice. And still there weren’t that many people in the water.

I took it easy, since it had been more than two months since my last swim. I guess I went for nearly forty minutes, but it was a old man’s forty minutes. Stopped at Starbucks on my way home for a decaf vanilla latte.

I was about to head home with it, when I remembered that I was vaccinated, and one day away from the two-weeks-post-shots milestone. So you know what I did? I grabbed my Kindle and drank my coffee at one of the outdoor tables. It was almost normal.

Got home and almost immediately took a nap. Woke up pretty refreshed but achy as heck a few hours later, and made another pimento cheese sandwich. Took some photos for the ‘gram, of course. Went back to bed, but not for tooooo long. Woke up and made the salad for which I’d blanched the watercress. Watercress, tofu, grape tomatoes, sweet onions. It came out pretty great but blanching the watercress was kind of dumb. Took the edge off the greens, so they added blandness. Without the nice bite of raw slices of onion, it would have been a failure.

I had a bowlful with just shoyu as a dressing.

Did a few house things and headed to the office, where I actually did regular work-work. Edited some photos, then placed them in a proposal I’m working on. This one’s kind of different: it’s related to hog farming. Most people around here don’t know it, but the University of Hawaii started as an agricultural college, so the ag college at Manoa is actually the oldest college in the university, predating statehood by fifty years or so.

Oh yeah, and I picked up dinner at Grace’s on my way in. This is turning into a bad habit, but maybe it was okay. The morning’s swim was causing me to burn through everything. That’s the theory, anyway.

To recap: lots of sleep. Lots of reading. A little bit of sunshine, fresh air, and exercise. My slothful ambitions were satisfied, and so was I for a change.

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.


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.


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.