Lockdown: Sunday mundania

Sunday was pretty mellow. I slept until just before noon. Ate breakfast (three small burritos), read the news, did the NYT crossword. Thought about a few things I might do, checked on my Amazon and Etsy shipments. Went back to bed at around two. Got up at around four.

Had a late lunch: all those leftover Korean veggies. It was good. I mean it was really good. Korean food keeps so well. I attempted to make kimchi many years ago and it came out terrible, but it’s such a favorite of mine that I think I should give it another try, especially now that I’ve been making refrigerator pickles for a few years and they’re great.

I meant to do two chores Saturday but never got to them. I did the easy one Sunday and goofed around for a little while. Watched the news on TV. Listened to a podcast. Read some of the metal blogs. I had a feeling I was going to skip walking tonight, but sometime after things closed I was going to the supermarket to refill my water jugs. It left me time.

To do the unpleasant chore. Listen, I have a feeling I’m going to have to write about this extensively over the next month, but I can’t tell anyone what it is. It’s a big task that got way too big, to the point of ridiculousness. It could have been a small task every day but I got behind on it and then it was a big task and now it’s a monster. Henceforth I’ll refer to it as either the Task or the Monster, depending on my mood.

I actually started on it a month ago, when this lockdown first started. I felt good, too, about the progress I made in one short night. I thought a little bit of time every evening and I’d have this thing licked by the time I returned to the office. But then a little complication developed, making an unpleasant task even more unpleasant. So of course I procrastinated, unsure if the new wrinkle was going to be prohibitive. I would never know until I gave it a try, and every evening since that first night I’ve been meaning to give it a try.

Weeeeellll tonight was the night. I looked around and found nothing to do. So I just did it. The prep took like twenty minutes, but I think it was only because it was the first time with the new wrinkle.

And then I set a reasonable goal, something modest but not too modest, and I did it, and then I went a little past it, and the Monster is still a Monster but it’s ever so slightly less monstrous. It was unpleasant but not especially difficult. More Monster-slaying Monday. I can do this. I can do this!

It’s 1:25 Monday morning, around when I usually get back from my walk. I’ve got some potatoes in the Instant Pot, which I’ll swap with some kale in a few minutes for a late dinner. The kale Sylvia got for me yesterday.

Sylvia and I traded a few texts about the bread she made in her bread machine with the yeast I gave her. It’s a good-looking loaf. She’s had a bread machine for some time, inherited from a friend, but this is the first time she’s used it. Penny finally read Dig, that novel I’ve been thirty pages from the end of for more than a month. Now I’m super motivated to get it done by tomorrow night.

It was sort of a pleasant, normal, boring day and I think it did me a lot of good. I’m going to have this ridiculously late dinner and try to get to bed at a decent hour.

Whatever your ridiculousness is, if you haven’t got someone to talk about it with, reach out. I’m here. And I have chips and salsa.

Lockdown: Don’t walk this way

Well that was a strange day.

Saturday I got up just before noon. Breakfast was the last of the shoyu chicken with brown rice. I did the NY Times crossword puzzle and read the news and I’m not really sure what else. I was sleepy all day. Seems like whenever I sat still for more than a couple of minutes, I drifted off.

Around 3:30 I was just going to surrender to the sleepiness and take a nap for as long as my body wanted, but then I got a text from Sylvia. She was on her way back to town from Waianae, after volunteering with some group to hand out face masks to whoever needed them. She wanted to know if she could stop by or meet me, to get some of that yeast I bought last week from the restaurant.

I had to say yes, mostly because I offered last week, but also because Sylvia gave me the sourdough starter. Good reason to get up and about. I’ve been wanting to check out this liquor store, the storefront for a local distillery in my neighborhood, so I told her to meet me in the parking lot of the local strip mall where the storefront and tasting room are.

The liquor store was going to close too early for me to get anything, but I had a few other things to do. I have internet access at home, but it’s sort of a limited data plan (I don’t want to get into it). I have wifi access through a wide network of hotspots in town, so at times like these when I can’t avail myself of wifi at one of the boba cafes I hang out in, I take my laptop near one of the hotspots and update my software.

I was due for several updates, including an iOS update on my phone. I found a nice isolated parking stall and got to work. Sylvia drove up in the opposite direction so our windows were facing each other. I handed her the yeast. She handed me two bags of chopped kale I asked her to pick up since she made a stop at Whole Foods.

The updates took an hour or more. I thought I’d get some boba; the tea cafe in the strip mall was open. That’s when my dad called. So I chatted with my folks for a little while there in the parking lot. My dad and I both said that whenever we thought to call each other these past two weeks, it seemed a little late to call.

I grabbed takeout at the Korean place. Barbecue chicken and beef for Saturday lunch. And a veggie plate for dinner and leftovers. So yeah, I finally got some veggies in me: broccoli, tofu, bean sprouts, kim chi, cabbage, and seaweed.

I watched most of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood again. Like many Tarantino flicks, it definitely rewards repeat viewings.

I relaxed in bed, goofing around on my phone and finally, after freaking midnight, I got out for a walk. It was ridiculous.

I had a bag of empty bottles to tie to a trash can at a bus stop. I figure someone needs the nickels more than me. I was about to cross the street near Lanakila Park (behind Joey Desa Field, on School Street), where I usually tie up my bottles, when I saw someone lurking in the shadows there. It’s pretty dark along the outfield fence, and homeless people often sleep right against the fence or behind the bleachers so you can’t seem them from the street.

I’m not afraid of anyone down there, but I do try to be cautious, especially at 1:30 in the morning. So when I saw the person in the dark, walking toward me from where I about to cross, I crossed the other street instead. Against the light. It was 1:30 in the morning. There were a couple of cars coming, but they were far enough away that I knew I could trot through the intersection and get across safely.

I did. Right in front of a police car with its blue lights turned off.

Sooooooo yeah. A $130 ticket for jaywalking.

It’s kind of funny, because people who walk places with me know I’m the one who always waits for the WALK light. It’s less true (far less true) late at night in the streets of Kalihi, especially in these social distancing days, but pretty much I’m a stickler for crossing at the crosswalk, with the light. My writing partner teases me about it.

A hundred and thirty bucks is pretty steep, but I figure for as many times as I’ve gotten away with it without being cited, I was due, and it comes out to maybe ten cents per jaywalk total in just the past ten years.

I’ll say what I said when I got the trespassing ticket for walking through the parking lot at Honolulu Community College a few years ago. What I did was clearly illegal and I don’t deny it. But it’s pretty difficult to make the argument that it’s wrong.

I accepted the citation and continued with my walk. I mostly listened to new albums, Katatonia’s City Burials and I Am Abomination’s The Passion of the Heist II. Both excellent, excellent albums. My two favorite albums of the year so far.

I didn’t get home until around 3:30, with 14,000 steps logged. It’s the first day all week I went over the line within a single day (that is, not straddling two days). Not my best week walking for sure.

During the walk I stopped at a 7-Eleven and had an ice cream bar and a ham sandwich. That was dinner, then, so the leftover Korean veggies from lunch will wait until tomorrow.

The only other person I really connected with besides Sylvia and my parents was Crush Girl, who texted me to tell me she finally tried this takeout place we’ve been talking about for a couple of weeks. Sent me a photo. It looks delicious, but she said it was just okay. She’s looking forward to trying some of the other dishes there.

I have to say it really makes me happy when Crush Girl reaches out to me first. I’ve pretty much given up any hope of having a relationship with her, but our friendship is definitely a huge positive in my life, and it means something to me that perhaps she gets something out of the connection as well.

I’m wondering if the sleepiness is my brain trying to avoid the darkness. It happens. I mean, sometimes sleep is the darkness, you know? When it’s at its worst, which thankfully it hasn’t been for quite a long time, the symptom is very long amounts of time in bed. And let me say that the sleep I got throughout Saturday wasn’t satisfying in any way, which is characteristic of the avoidance sleep depression often brings.

I wasn’t really feeling yucky though, so maybe not. Maybe it’s the ‘rona.

It’s creeping up on 6:00 a.m. and I can hear the birds chirping excitedly outside my window. This is the latest I’ve been up since the lockdown began, not counting those mornings when I wake up at 2:30 to do the laundry. I’m not sure what this all implies for Sunday, but I’m going to bed, and when I wake up, I’m going to face the day full of ambition and drive.

I’m blessed to have parents who are getting through this pretty well, friends who bring me kale who also allow me to share my yeast, a Crush Girl to send me photos of what she’s eating, and only one jaywalking ticket after decades of crossing the street against the light. Here’s to more of it Sunday.

If for whatever reason you’re not feeling as blessed and you want to chat about it, I’m encouraging you to reach out. Let’s text or DM or IM and commiserate. I can give you advice on jaywalking; you can give me advice on paying for my jaywalking tickets. Or something!

Not going to proofread this one until sometime late Sunday morning or early afternoon. Don’t judge.

Lockdown: Salt in my hair; sun on my skin; sand between my toes

Ocean day

Didn’t get to bed quite as early as 11:30, plus I woke up an hour ahead of my alarm, so I really didn’t get anywhere near enough sleep last night and it affected me all day.

Still, I knew what I had to do. I had to get into the ocean. What (it turns out) I didn’t have to do was get there so dang early. It seems the one morning when I got iced out of parking was the fluke. It must have been an outstanding surf day, that one time, on the south side or something.

There was plenty of parking when I pulled in at 5:00 and when I left around 7:30.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen so few people in the water at Ala Moana in the years I’ve been swimming there. I swam to the second buoy and back, probably a little more aggressively than I should have, but I felt the need to make my body work.

Great plan. My arms and shoulders were screaming all morning, until I took a naproxen sodium around lunch time. Couldn’t take it.

The only part of it all I really regret is not getting to bed earlier Thursday night.

All the live-long day

Work trickled out of me like a dripping IV. It was not my best day. I sorta found my stride around the time of the daily Zoom meeting, which I think coincides with the painkiller kicking in and my body not complaining. I called a donor for an interview, a 92-year-old former Honolulu teacher. It was a good talk, and she gave me some really good content for the article.

Our staff newsletter goes out next week, so that was my next task. I put only a tiny dent in it before turning in. I’m going to have to pay it some attention sometime this weekend.

Bee ye glad

Saturday, mid-afternoon. I’m outside near the lanai. Four or five bees buzz around my head, coming close enough for me to hear the buzzing quite loudly. They seemed a bit aggressive, so I kind of ran out of there. I thought I’d give them half an hour or so to finish whatever they were doing before I went back out, but when I did, they were still there, and they came right at me. This time, after running from them, I stuck around and spied on the area.

There were a small number of bees going into and coming out of the vents in a shed door. The shed, which I don’t use, is right in the area where I spend a lot of time outside, almost every day. I dig bees, but I just couldn’t have them there. I mean, it was very stressful. If a hive had established itself I was going to be severely inconvenienced.

I have friends who’ve kept bees. So I asked on FB, and got some good advice and info. I kind of went with my own impulse, now that I had a little bit of info on bee behavior. It was getting close to sundown, and if the hive hadn’t yet moved in, I didn’t want to give it a chance. So I went out, flung the shed door wide open, propped it open with a lanai chair, and ran.

When I went back out a couple of hours later with a flashlight, there was no evidence any bees had been there at all. Whatever they were up to (possibly scouting hive locales), they decided to move on rather than move in.

Not much of a story, and certainly not worth waiting a week for, but it was a major stress for me in a time when for the most part, I’ve avoided most non-work-related stress.

I’m so, so glad it worked itself out. I was seriously not equipped to deal with a problem like that.

Text shooter

I forgot to mention that D, one of my best friends from high school with whom I’ve spent a lot of time since our reunion three years ago, texted me Thursday. She became an empty-nester that year, so after a couple of decades of barely interacting beyond once or twice a year for birthday greetings, we’d hardly been in contact at all. These last few years have been really nice.

For a while, I went monthly to shows with D and another classmate Kathy. Our classmate Derek has been in bands since our high-school days, so seeing his band once a month sorta became our thing. His band had to break up because of health issues for some bandmates, so it put a little dent in our hanging out.

Anyway, it was nice to trade a few texts with her. I have to call her D because of her work. She has to maintain as low a personal online presence as possible, out of caution for her safety and her family’s safety.

I don’t think I mentioned that Penny and I sent a few texts back and forth Thursday about what we’re reading, and about how all this extra time we’re supposed to have working from home hasn’t really panned out the way we thought it would.

Friday was not nearly as interactive. I got enough interaction during work to kind of cover me, although I acknowledge that work connectivity can’t substitute long-term for personal connectivity. In addition to the phone interview and daily Zoom meeting with my department, I traded texts with the fundraiser who works with that retired Honolulu teacher. We get along really well, so although the conversation was mostly business, the connection was enjoyable.

Crush Girl did text me once, responding to a text I sent her late Thursday. It wasn’t much of a conversation continuer, so we didn’t keep going beyond that. I kind of missed her.

I sent a pre-sunrise photo from the beach to Ali in Boston and JB, neither of whom responded. I’ll hear from Ali in Boston probably at the end of the weekend, or possibly very early Saturday. I’m guessing late Sunday.

“I’m as real as a doughnut”

I was right about ordering masks from Etsy. Four masks I ordered from two sellers have already shipped, one from the midwest and once from the central East Coast. Expected arrival for both orders is next Saturday, but both are already in USPS possession, and mail doesn’t take a whole week from either of those spots.

Keeping an eye on stuff I’ve ordered on Etsy and from Amazon is something of a new hobby now. Normally I order stuff and don’t even think about it because Amazon has been super fast since adding a dedicated daily flight to Honolulu. Now, with increased demand and strain on the warehouses, orders are prioritized based on seriousness or something, so I get some things in a few days and other take more than four or five weeks, even stuff that’s ostensibly in stock.

It’s a good thing, too, because I have some subscriptions on snack items I buy for the office (it’s really not worth explaining), and thanks to checking order statuses a few times a day, I’ve been able to cancel the standing monthly orders.

Today I watched Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which I saw in the theater (of course). I didn’t love it the first time, and since I love Tarantino, I knew I had to give it a second viewing before I reviewed or rated it. I’m glad I did, because it’s much better the second time. My main complaint was that the middle act was boring, something a QT film should never be, but it wasn’t boring at all this second time. In fact, it was pretty darn compelling. Brad Pitt won an Oscar, but Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie put in equally admirable performances. Leo especially.

Alas, the DVD only has deleted scenes. No commentary or interviews. So I’ll probably watch it once more before mailing it back. I also received this week a Korean flick, Woman on the Beach, which has been in my queue for ages, but I couldn’t remember why I put it there. Films like this, about which I know nothing, are often in queue because of some beautiful actress, but the cast list doesn’t reveal any familiar names. However, the Wikipedia article for director Hong Sang-soo has the answer. He directed In Another Country, a film with Isabelle Huppert I reviewed for 8Asians seven years ago! This has been in queue for seven years? Insane.

Scarfed it like it was my birthday

It was not a banner day for food consumption, depending on how you look at it I guess. In some ways it was great.

After the swim, I stopped at Megs (no apostrophe in the name, for a good reason) and picked up a grilled ahi for breakfast (I’m ravenous after a good swim) and a chicken katsu for lunch. I eat out so seldom nowadays that I feel I should spend at least $20 when I do, to help out local businesses if I can. Also: gluttony.

Dinner was cold pizza (yum!). I had a late snack of tortilla chips and fresh salsa. Notice I’ve been saying all week I need to eat some veggies and I still haven’t. Ugh.

Although the case could be made for fresh salsa as fresh veggies. Tomato, onion, peppers. Nothing especially beneficial, but veggies still.

I hate to say this, but after two plate lunches and three days of pizza, I’m really enjoying getting takeout, and I might do it again this weekend if I can overcome my fear of humans.

Clouds on the horizon?

I don’t usually use swim days as days off from walking, but I did Friday, except after I parked this morning, I walked around the block for a good 3000 steps before jumping in the water. Still, 3000 is fewer steps than I incidentally walk on a normal work day, so it doesn’t really count. I’ll hit the streets again Saturday.

Okay, Saturday plans. I have a few chores I’d really like to do, one of them rather unpleasant. I’m setting aside some time to read (yes, it’s come to this: I have to block off time for reading — almost unheard of). I have a couple of short writing projects to get done (a couple of movie reviews and a book review) and a little bit of work on that staff newsletter. And napping, of course. Oh, and I really need to call mom and dad.

Although it was a struggle of a day, I’m feeling pretty good at 2:32 in the morning Saturday. I guess weekends can do this just by being weekends. I’ve had moments where I can sense a little bit of darkness creeping in on the fringes of my awareness. I see you, clouds. Just don’t get any closer, and you and I will coexist peacefully.

Managing my relationship with the darkness is one reason I journal in the first place. It doesn’t always work, ‘though I think it’s mostly working now. I hope if you’re reading this and finding it difficult to stave off the black clouds, you will reach out. I don’t think I’m very good at helping others through the abyss, but I can certainly sympathize. The abyss and I are long-time friends, perhaps for longer than my friendships with D and Kathy, even. I’m here if you want some company.

Lockdown: Carb City and City Burials

I gotta make this a fast one because it’s 10:45 and I’m trying to get to bed before 11:30.

Work wasn’t very productive. I’m trying to finish a proposal I’ve been working on with a fundraiser since October, and this last revision is substantial. It’s been mostly little adjustments here and there over the months, but this last suggestion is almost a restructuring of the case I’m presenting. I’m not discouraged, but the work requires some sustained focus I wasn’t able to give today, ‘though I tried to power through it.

Breakfast: overnight oats.
Lunch: cold pizza (yum!).
Dinner: fried bread made with the sourdough starter discard. I’ll explain later.
All those carbs meant there was no need for snacking. Boy do I need to get some greenery in me soon.

I’m skipping the walk tonight for a good reason, which I will share Friday.

I traded texts with Crush Girl (more talk about stuff we’re cooking) and Sylvia (also more talk about stuff we’re cooking). JB messaged me to ask why all the mainland sports commentors pronounce Tua Tagovailoa’s name with an /n/ sound between the first A and the G. I explained it to him.

Stuff you learn when you go to a high school founded by missionaries.

These past couple of days I’ve been doing more work while playing music through the laptop’s onboard speakers. I usually hate listening this way, but the low-grade audio has actually been beneficial; easy not to be distracted by it but audible enough to keep my distractibility down, which is its main function. Listened mostly to Power of Omens’s Rooms of Anguish (2003) and Presto Ballet’s The Lost Art of Time Travel (2008). Good stuff. I have a Power of Omens tee that used to be my main concert tee. People at metal shows used to ask about it.

The first round of the NFL draft was today. Because there haven’t been any sports for more than a month, this is huge for anyone craving something sports-related. It got me all amped for the NFL season, which I don’t think is going to happen. Such a tease, but I’ll admit I’m willingly teased.

I spent a ridiculous amount of money ordering face coverings online this evening. The ones I ordered on IG could take months; I honestly have no idea when I’m getting them, if at all. Late last week, I ordered a few masks on Amazon and from another online seller, but those look like they’re getting here the first week of June. So I hit Etsy, where there was no lack of sellers.

I spent a lot of money, because it looks like this is going to be part of everyday attire for some time. If I’m going to wear them as often as I wear work shirts, once we get back to the office, I don’t want to get whatever, and it makes sense to spend what it takes, within reason, to make me happy. So, you know. Harry Potter. Lord of the Rings. Las Vegas Raiders. A lot of skulls. Some sellers promised shipping within three business days, which I can definitely live with. The others will ship within a week or two.

In my browsing, I saw masks that two coworkers would really like, so I bought those too. What says “I care” in these days of the ‘rona more than cute face masks?

Oh holy cow I just realized it’s Friday in every timezone east of here. That means the new Katatonia album, my most-anticipated album this year, is probably on Spotify right now. Katatonia’s The Fall of Hearts is my favorite album of the 2000 to 2009 decade. Okay now I really have to wrap this up and hit the bed. I’m going to put this in my earbuds right now.

There’s also a new Indigo Girls album I’m really looking forward to, but Amy and Emily may have to wait until the weekend for me. New Katatonia!

If something’s got you amped for the weekend and you haven’t got anyone to talk about it with, don’t be lonely. Reach out. I’d like to hear about it. And if nothing’s got you amped, I’d like to hear about that even more. Seriously.

Lockdown: Slices of life

Yay. I rolled out of bed in better spirits if not (again) on quite enough sleep. Work was slow but I guess it moved okay. Called one of the fundraisers to get info on one of our donors, a retired schoolteacher I’m writing a story about. Sent out some emails. Outlined another story. It was nice not to have to work so urgently on stuff. It’s kind of the work day I needed.

My 10:30 Zoom meeting became a 10:00 phone meeting. My weekly face-to-face with my supervisor. It went well. We both had bad days Tuesday and debriefed a little Wednesday morning. I may have lent her a little bit of help, and she definitely helped me.

Breakfast was overnight oats. And I sent out for pizza for lunch. No-contact delivery. I left a small folding table just outside the carport. Ordered and paid for the pizza online. Delivery guy left it on the table. I kind of nibbled at the pizza all day, so it was lunch and dinner.

In the midst of my bad day Tuesday, I put in one of my M*A*S*H DVDs. Season seven. I’ve seen all these episodes a million times, but as you know, it’s my favorite show of all time. Still brings me joy. Still moves me. Yet I’m so familiar with it that I can just have it on and still focus on work. The effect was therapeutic.

One episode, not one of the good ones in one of the show’s better seasons, has a killer payoff, one that always leaves me in tears. I’ll spare you the summary, but Charles Winchester receives an unexpected Christmas gift, something from home. The gift was Father Mulcahey’s idea. Charles rushes over to him, hands him a wad of cash to give to the orphanage, and says,

You saved me, father. You lowered a bucket into the well of my despair, and you raised me up to the light of day.

Nobody in the show waxes poetic better than Winchester. I think my favorite episodes are almost all the ones where something hits that button in him.

I did almost no connecting with friends today. It’s okay. There were a couple of late texts with Crush Girl; I reached out to her first, which hasn’t been the case these last few days. Just to let her know I was thinking of her. Sent a text to Penny to ask what she’s reading, but haven’t heard back. Traded a few IMs with Friday 5 girl.

I did go out for a walk after two nights of not doing it. Got off to a late start, so I only got to 8900 steps before midnight, but went to 7000 after midnight, so not bad. It didn’t feel great, and I went the long way coming back, mostly listening to podcasts. My feet are pretty dang sore.

The pizza was both good for my soul and bad for my soul, mostly because self-loathing is counter-productive. Still, it was nice to have pizza, which I haven’t had for kind of a long time. Tomorrow I need veggies and I need to use up some leftovers.

No time to write about the bees. It’s 3:45 a.m. and I need to get to bed before 4. Hoping to reel in my hours a little at a time to get better control of things.

We’ve got a long road ahead of us, I think, and if that’s getting to you and you don’t have someone to debrief about it with, I encourage you to reach out. We can lower buckets into the wells of each other’s despair and attempt to raise each other up to the light of day. Or we can just talk about the NFL draft. Whatever works.

Lockdown: Some days are diamonds (some days are stone)

My first official day working from home was March 19, just a few days past a month ago. Today the mayor of Honolulu extended his stay-home order to the end of May. This is not the reason I had my first real down day of the lockdown, but it’s an interesting confluence of events.

I just looked up confluence to make sure I was using it correctly. Journaling is educational.

Forced to point the finger of blame, I’d say the likely culprit is severe sleep deprivation combined with falling behind on work. I’m not feeling bad about anything really; it’s just a general lousy feeling. It doesn’t make sense, either, because I’ve got a lot to be joyful about.

If it continues, I’ll delve further, but for tonight I think it’s just good to acknowledge it and hope it passes. One bad day in over a month is something to be grateful for.

Somewhere along the line
Well I know it’s just a matter of time
When the fun falls through and the rent comes due
Somewhere along the line
Well you know I love my woman
And I’d never let her down
And I did my share of loving when I used to get around
Now I’m satisfied and she is looking fine
But you pay for your satisfaction
Somewhere along the line

That’s “Somewhere Along the Line” by Billy Joel, from his Piano Man album (1973). Just popped into my head now so I sang it and shared some lyrics. Stream of consciousness, baby.

I feel my mood lifting already.

Tuesday morning is laundry morning, as I guess I mentioned yesterday. I got there half an hour later than planned because I stopped for a quick two errands on the way. I filled up some gallong-sized water bottles at one of those filtered water dispensers at the supermarket. For reasons I don’t want to get into, I can’t drink the tap water at home. My remedy for the past couple of years (that is, since my employment) has been bottled water from Costco. One-point-five-liter bottles at about $.60 a bottle.

But dang it. I am not messing around with Costco until things get closer to normal. The savings are just not worth the risk. And I drink so much water that spending a dollar a bottle (the price at the local drugstores and supermarkets, while affordable, feels too wasteful. I was going to buy a couple of five-gallon bottles and fill those at the dispenser, but the bottles were just not to be had on this island when I looked a few weeks ago.

So I bought some (filled) one-gallon jugs at the supermarket ($2 to $2.50 over a couple of weeks) and I’m filling those. The system’s working pretty well so far, and it’s fifty cents a gallon.

I filled a few bottles since it was on my way, and of course I hit the McD’s drive-through again. I’m not married to it for laundry day, and I’m considering other options. For now it’s just too convenient. Plus, it’s in the same spot as the water.

Two women came into the laundry together about half an hour before I was done. Thankfully they loaded their machines and left. My planned timing is about right. Going to have to make more of an effort to get there at 3.

Breakfast was a Big Mac combo, and it was delicious.

I got home and went to bed — took the morning off from work. It would have been nice to sleep until I was on the clock, but a friend of mine hooked me up with a yeast source. One of the local restaurants is selling uncooked food, to keep its supply line moving at least partially. You place your order, pay online, and drive up the door. They stick your order in your car and you hit it.

Rather than snow crab legs or pork chops in bulk, this unusual offering was a ten-pound sack of all-purpose flour and a one-pound bag of instant-rise yeast for $20. One pound of yeast is a crazy amount, but the price is good, and it’s difficult to find flour in the supermarkets when I go, which is half an hour before closing.

I had to do the pickup early this afternoon, which meant not as much sleep as I probably needed. Now that the stay-home order is extended, though, I’m happy I have the goods.

Running on a couple of days of not-nearly enough sleep is rough. Not only am I behind on my work, but I’m behind on knowing what my work is. I was suuuuper ineffective and inefficient at my desk all day, so I checked out a little early, took a nap, and got down to it (after ridiculous amounts of foot-dragging and procrastination). We’re talking just past midnight when I finally went back through all my emails, finished the tasks I could finish (which, honestly, I wasn’t even aware of; that’s how clueless I’ve been), and caught up on the reading for the projects I need to work on next.

I owe a few phone calls. I owe a few emails. I have some serious rolling-up of sleeves and focusing. But I feel like I’ve got it under control, at least. I have a plan.

I skipped the walk this evening to get there, which is a little bit of a bummer. I’ve already identified the late-night walks as an important part of my mental health in this lockdown. It just made more sense not to go this evening, and to focus on the work. I feel okay about it. I’m actually glad, even though it means two nights in a row without hitting the steps.

Despite my moroseness (I just looked it up, and that’s a word), I enjoyed a few connections. Crush Girl and I did a lot of texting. I started with a photo of my sourdough; she continued with a photo of her cinnamon rolls. Later we talked a little about how, while I’m very grateful to be working at all, I don’t know if I can keep going at what they’re paying me. I’m fine scraping by right now, but my work doesn’t seem to be valuable enough to get me where I need to be by the time I’m approaching retirement.

I was sorry to go down that road; I’m hoping I can blame it on my feeling terrible all day. Late in the day I mentioned the mayor’s extension of stay-at-home. She replied with my favorite words of the day: “Wow. That’s a long time and a lot of bread and pastries to make.”

I actually laughed aloud. It felt good. And yeah: thank goodness I have flour and yeast!

I also had a few text conversations with Sylvia about sourdough, and things you can do with the sourdough starter discard. That’s the part of the starter you throw away when you feed it, to keep it under control.

Beyond McD’s for an early breakfast, the rest of the day’s eats are kind of a blur. I had a few slices of my sourdough with (mediocre) cheddar and (awesome) black mission fig balsamic vinegar for lunch. And then again for dinner. Simple and satsifying, although I have to say I have to get better with sourdough because after the first few slices, this first loaf is just not great.

When I sat down to work a few hours ago, I was pretty hungry so I had a couple of hot dogs with mustard, ketchup, and sauerkraut. I had two hot dog buns that needed to get finished off soon.

Too tired to write about the bees. I’ll do it sometime Wednesday.

I got through my first bad day, and I’m feeling better now. Sincerely. If you’re having a bad day, or even just a normal day (how do you manage normal? tell me!), please reach out. I’m convinced that interpersonal connection is critical in all this weirdness. If you’re not getting enough connectivity, add me to your web. Let’s talk about it.

Lockdown: Tide me over

Pithing off

Sunday afternoon, when I was in the midst of dealing with the bee stuff (which I’ll get to), our website guy at work emailed to say he had a bunch of videos ready to post. They’re videos from students who’ve received emergency relief, explaining who they are and what their stress is. They all say thank you, too, which isn’t part of what we asked, but it’s nice to hear.

We asked for the videos for our website, so people could see who they’re helping, or who they could be helping. Hopefully this leads to their making a donation to the fund.

Each video on what we’re calling the video wall on our website is given a title and a small introductory blurb. We want both to be compelling enough for a reader to click the item and watch the video.

I have a knack for it, for some reason, something I only learned when I started this job. It’s not exactly anything I’ve ever had to do; at least I don’t think it is. For videos and stories in our email newsletter, I often write the titles and blurbs.

Honestly, I don’t think I’m great at this, but I’m pretty good, if sometimes a little slow.

This is one of the tasks I said early early Monday morning I wanted to get done before bed. I didn’t finish until close to six in the morning. Ugggggh. The fact that these titles and blurbs would all be on the same page, next to, above, and below one another, means you have to think of each as part of a whole, not a stand-alone thing. So you can’t write, “So and so, a _____ major at This Campus or That Campus, found him/herself in [describe situtation], but thanks to you, he/she will ______ on his/her journey to a degree.”

I mean, you can, but you can’t write it for all of them. Some of them have to be something like, “[short emotional phrase from the person’s video].” Some should just summarize something interesting about the person, or unique to the situation. It’s so that when you’re looking at all the videos arrayed on one screen, each looks like its own special thing.

Which it is.

I don’t always have this luxury (if luxury it can be called), but seven videos at once meant the best attack was to watch all the videos first, taking notes that might be useful for the titles and blurbs. The ones I write first are the very difficult ones (the videos that don’t really say anything different) and the easy ones (the ones that say something very different.” Then filling in the rest according to the dictates of variety.

I do the difficult ones first because they’re the ones I use my best weaponry on. The special words laden with aesthetic appeal, and emotional impact. The writer has to be more involved when the story by itself won’t serve my purpose. It’s not that the story is less compelling or less urgent or less meaningful. It’s that the person, for any of a million reasons, doesn’t make the case well, so the writer makes it for the person.

Boring work stuff, I know, but I’m putting it out there in case it’s ever useful for someone reading this someday.

Dough you wanna go my way?

I really wanted to get that stuff done before people showed up for work Monday, since I come in a couple of hours after everyone else. Having it ready meant they could get right to it while I made the long journey from bed to desk.

However, it meant that the stuff I meant to do all weekend had to wait until the workday Monday, and now I was doing it on three hours of sleep. Bleah.

Work is already taxing on my sensitive eyes. It’s doubly so when I’m running on fumes. It’s triply so when I’m doing copy editing.

I got my first task done well ahead of my loose deadline. The second took far longer. I was asked to have it done by 2, but at 5 I was still a short distance from the end, and my eyes were dying. So I sent an apologetic email, took a break from the screen, and finished it off at about 8.

During the break, I made sourdough bread!

I didn’t get the rise I expected. Sylvia has since told me she’s seen online testimony that bread machines don’t allow enough time for sourdough to rise; she sent me some links but I haven’t looked at them yet. Also, I wasn’t very hungry and I was suuuuuper tired and I was planning to wake up at 2:30 to come to the laundry, which is where I’m typing this at 4:27 in the morning. So I got everything ready while my small, dense loaf cooled on a rack, then ripped off a small piece right before bed.

Oh man. The crust is lovely, and the taste is divine. Or maybe as close to divine as can be experiened in my kitchen. It’s a dense, chewy loaf, not at all light or fluffy, which is what I envisioned. But it’s real. Sourdough. Bread. And I made it.

Well, I sorta made it. The bread machine made it. But I didn’t buy it!

I kept thinking of more things I had to do before bed, so ugh. I only got about 3 hours of sleep. Again. However, I’m taking the morning off from work, so I’ll get a little bit more sleep before checking in at noon or one.

No more yankee my wankee! The Donger need food!

Breakfast, which as usual I ate at my desk while catching up on emails, was overnight oats. For lunch, I had to use up the rest of that marinara sauce from a week or so ago, so I made penne in the Instant Pot and stirred in some of that nice blue cheese. I was too tired and too busy to make something new for dinner, so I had it for dinner too. I swear I ate the whole one-pound box of pasta in these two meals, but I had considerable leftovers. It’s weird when you think you’ve eaten far more than you have, which I suppose it preferable to thinking you’ve eaten far less than you have.

I had a few tortilla chips and fresh salsa for a snack, although I can’t seem to remember when.

I skipped the walking, as you might imagine. Mondays are probably going to be my weekly night off from that.

I’m bringing texty back

One of the friends from the engineering firm sent a photo of some ducks who’ve moved onto her property. A friend from work texted me to talk a little about working from home. I asked her what she misses most, and she said eating out. I said I miss sitting in cafes. We talked about some work stuff, then stuff about our respective baking projects. She said nice things about our video wall.

Crush Girl sent me a photo of her workspace at home. She made a few adustments related to something we discussed last week. We talked a little about baking too. Then Sylvia and I traded some texts about sourdough. She’s the friend who gave me the starter, remember. Friday 5 girl IMed me some video links.

Connection-wise, it was enough. Work soaked up most of my day, but somehow I managed to live a normal day as well. Oh yeah, except for sleep.

I’ll have to write about the bees later. My writing partner sent me something to look at, and my clothes are almost done in the dryer. Whatever’s going on in your weird, weird world, I hope at least you’re getting enough sleep. I can’t do anything about that if you aren’t (although, if you’ve read this far, you’re probably already asleep), but I can try to help if you’re not getting connected enough. It’s worth a shot. Please reach out.

Lockdown: CDB? DBSA BZB.

Gotta make this a fast one because there are still a few things I want to do before putting a bow on this weekend.

I could have slept until 2 again but I resisted. Got up at 10:30, had breakfast (shoyu chicken and brown rice), read the news, did a few small chores, and took a nap. Woke up for lunch (two hot dogs with mustard, ketchup, and sauerkraut), wrote my Jay and Silent Bob review (see below), watched Borg vs McEnroe again while I worked on reorganizing my workspace, and did some cleaning up in my iTunes.

I think I’m going to put all my CDs in tubs and store them in my big closet. Since I listen to almost all my music via Spotify nowadays, I seldom listen to CDs or even iTunes. However, a lot of my stuff isn’t available on streaming platforms, so I want to make sure whatever isn’t is in my iTunes. I want access to my whole collection wherever possible.

This takes a bit of time, but it’s fun. Good, geeky, musical fun.

Ali sent me a photo of her dog, lying with his head on the carpet next to the book I gave her for Christmas, which she is getting around to reading. We had a nice conversation about the dog, the book, and going to the beach. Crush Girl said she finished reading the book I lended her, and she asked for a photo of the sourdough. She thought I’d baked some already but I was still feeding the starter. I’m hoping to get to the sourdough during my lunch break Monday. Very late, during my walk, my friend Sharon asked me something about someone on LinkedIn. So I had three nice text exchanges with good friends, all initiated by them. I wasn’t feeling very reach-outy, so it was nice.

Also traded a few IMs with Friday 5 girl.

I went for a short walk, knowing I still had stuff to do before bed. I got it to 12,800 steps before midnight (from 8000 already walked in the wee hours) and then another 4500 after midnight, so really only 10,000 steps for the day. During the walk I had dinner, grabbing a double cheeseburger and strawberry shake at McD’s and downing them in the parking lot. There was no snacking for some reason.

Sometime Monday I’m going to write about the bees.

Okie dokie. I’ve run out of things to say for once. Time to get some work done.

Reach out if you’re having difficulty getting through this weird time. I’m good at weird. Let’s talk about it.

Lockdown: On introversion and Gen-Xness, Part 1

Oops. I meant this to be a lot shorter. I’m going to have to split it in two, and deal with the Gen-Xness part later.

I read a lot of business-related writing for my side gig, and nobody is as consistently interesting, accessible, and scholarly as Adam Grant. When Grant publishes, I’m usually all over it. I also follow him on Twitter and I receive his email newsletter, which often includes book recommendations. Good book recommendations.

A few days ago he published, “Yes, Introverts Can Be Lonely Right Now” in the New York Times, a short piece I recommend.

The gist of it is that research indicates the conventional wisdom about extroverts and introverts is not true: extroverts get energized by interaction, but so do introverts. We all get energy from interacting positively with others; introverts merely need a lot less of it. Further, there seems to be a point for introverts beyond which “the emotional benefits fade and costs begin to emerge — introverts start to feel more negative emotions, more exhaustion and less authenticity.”

He doesn’t say this, but I’m saying it now, mostly to repeat what a lot of introverts have said about introversion in the workplace: the working world rewards extroversion, so most of us who are introverts have learned to fake it. We speak up in meetings, we smile and make smalltalk, and we organize the occasional potluck. But if we can get away with it, we still prefer emails to meetings, we sit on the edges of the room when there’s a potluck, and the sooner we can move from “What did you do last weekend?” to “What made you think last weekend?” the better.

Working from home is an adjustment. My own adjustments have less to do with isolation and more with my own challenged attention. My setup in the office cubicle is conducive to my writing, with a comfortable chair, dual monitors lifted considerably above eye-level, an over-enthusiastic air conditioner (I like to be uncomfortably cold when I work), and a selection of visual stimulation decorating my field of vision when I write.

People who have attention issues often work best while music plays. It’s not because the music puts them in certain mind spaces; it’s because the music allows the distractible part of their brains to handle the music while the focused part of their brains does the work. Without music, I hear the clicking of every keyboard, the scratch of every pen on a notepad, and every word of conversation, and my whole brain wants to engage with all of it at once.

Similarly, if I’m looking at my computer screen, it helps my focus if my field of vision includes pleasing stuff. You’ve done some writing at work, so you know how sometimes when the words are difficult to find, you have to look away from the screen. The stuff I see in my cubicle when I look away makes me happy, but it usually doesn’t take me away from the task. I have a small bit of Harry Potter artwork, two day-by-day calendars, a small selection of books I may never read, and some Harry Potter vinyl figures, all a quick glance away. Also stacks of important papers I haven’t filed because I’m a slob, but that’s (I think) a separate issue.

I’m over-explaining my adjustment mostly to say this: a group video call is a good thing. It’s keeping us together in ways I don’t think creators of the technology ever really anticipated. It reminds me of the good people in my department, teammates I respect and like. I would say they’ve become friends. My department has a daily Zoom call at 2:00 every afternoon. Some coworkers in other departments have told me it’s too much, but I find the daily check-in encouraging.

But let’s be honest. Just as the working world values extroversion, making extrovert-like behavior almost a necessity for being recognized or noticed, its use of the Zoom meeting is really an assertion of this these values. Working alone at home just isn’t extroverted enough, so we wedge required extroversion into the structure of a new way of working.

Introverts should be thriving in this new world of work, and I mostly am, considering the adjustments I continue to make by myself. Yet for all its many benefits, the Zoom meeting brings some of an attention-challenged introvert’s least favorite things about work and makes them even more difficult. For me, the sustained, unidirectional focus combined with group interaction lasting beyond my okay-I’m-good threshold often makes me subdued at best — and surly at worst.

I’m sure my coworkers in these Zoom meetings must think I hate being there, but it’s simply not true. I love being there.

Until I don’t.

I got to bed close to 5:00 in the morning, which is just crazy. I need to reset my clock so I’m not killing myself every workday. I’m telling you, the vampire in me realliy wants to be let loose and it’s a struggle not to allow it.

I got out of bed at 10 in the morning because I had to use the bathroom, so I also had breakfast and took my meds (I try to take them between 8 and 10 every day, usually around 9). Breakfast was two hot dogs with mustard, ketchup, and sauerkraut. Then I went back to bed and got up at 2 in the afternoon.

It felt wonderful.

I did the crossword, read the news, answered some emails, and dealt with bees. I’ll explain the bees tomorrow, but they took quite a bit of my energy for the remainder of my daylight hours.

Lunch was a couple of pieces of shoyu chicken, just the chicken. I wasn’t hungry enough to bother with rice. But then dinner was three more pices of chicken with brown rice. It was freaking delicious.

No snacking, not even on my walk. I miiiiight have a few chips before I finally go to bed, though. Starting to feel the twinge now as I’m finally wrapping my day up.

I watched Jay and Silent Bob Reboot for the third time, and I think I’m about done with it. Dropped it in the mailbox at the stripmall to start off my walk.

I got the Saturday stepcount up to 18,000 steps before midnight, then added 6600 steps after midnight. It wasn’t pleasant. My bad knee ached most of the way, and my doggies are beat. The second half, which is mostly downhill or level, was a lot better, but I was pretty tired the whole way. Listened to podcasts and Metallica’s Master of Puppets, so that was nice.

Oh, in the middle of my bee situation, I also drove to Sylvia’s house, and she reached through the back window of my car to place a sourdough starter on my back seat. I’m excited. It’s a 10-year-old starter and I’m going to start feeding it tomorrow for the bread machine hopefully Monday.

In addition to the texts with Sylvia leading up to the pickup, we texted later about Taco Bell, a weakness for us both. I was craving it like mad when I left her place, but the Taco Bell in my hood closed Saturday around 8, I guess. I get it; it’s a weird time, and sometimes a business can’t open or close when it wants to. Man I was disappointed, though.

It ended up great anyway, because as I said, my shoyu chicken was delicious. I didn’t have fresh ginger or garlic, so I added rice vinegar, allspice, cinnamon, basil, and a bay leaf. Allspice was exactly the right call. This is some killer chicken.

Crush Girl likes to bake, so of course I texted her about getting ahold of a ten-year-old sourdough starter and offered her some. She was in the middle of making cinnamon rolls when I messaged her, but she said she’d love to get some. Although it wasn’t a long interaction, I was happy for the positive connection.

Okay, Sunday. I’m planning to get up early to run a quick errand and maybe hit the beach. There will definitely be napping, and maybe a call to mom and dad. I want to write my review of that Jay and Silent Bob movie, and I still have some work I’d like to get done and emailed before people get to work Monday. It’s been a few days since I’ve had veggies, so I should probably plan on something Sunday, ‘though I can’t promise I won’t just scarf Taco Bell.

A little bit of meaningful connection goes a long way. If you’re not getting enough, I hope you’ll reach out! I’m here. Let’s connect for a little while.

Lockdown: I’ll shoyu mine if you show me yours

I’m too tired to comment on that Adam Grant piece in the NYT. I’ll do it sometime Saturday.

It was a little bit of a rough day, not because anything went wrong. I was just dragging all day. Aaaaaalllll day. Still, I got a few things done but honestly not as much as I should have. I’m going to have to do some stuff over the weekend.

My brain feels a little mushy.

Okay breakfast was overnight oats. The plan was to steam some broccoli for lunch while I cooked shoyu chicken for dinner, but the chicken came out so good that I had that for lunch instead. Dinner was an unplanned two cheeseburgers from McD’s I grabbed in the middle of my long walk. I don’t think I snacked, but I definitely went overboard on the chicken at lunch.

My friend Ali in Boston is one of those people who returns my texts someday. I suspect she doesn’t do this with all her friends; I think it’s a kind of intentional armslength-keeping. Which is fine. She answered some of my messages today and then had a bunch of conversation. It was nice. I really miss her.

I also had text conversations with Sylvia (she’s sharing her sourdough starter with me tomorrow) and Crush Girl (she was interested in getting a burger at this place I’m familiar with). It was all some pretty good interaction.

When I went out for my walk (at about 10:30) I already had 10,000 steps for Friday. I got it up to 17,500 before midnight, then walked another 7800 steps after midnight. Kind of a lot of walking in two days.

Saturday I want to catch up on some reading and on some sleep. I think I’ll go do one of those now.

It’s a weird time we’re going through. I feel pretty good about the weirdness, but not everyone does, and I’m seeing it come out in some friends who admit they’re going a little stir-crazy. If this is you and if you don’t have someone to with whom you can decompress about it, please reach out. I’m here for that.