Lockdown: Azooming the position

I’m going to try to make this a quick one because I’m super tired.

I proposed

I think it was a productive day at work. A new proposal popped up for a major gift and I turned it around really quickly. I was told it’s urgent but as I’ve said, I’m learning there are different levels of urgency so I’m not totally sure. I thought I did good work but it looks like I’m going to have to redo a whole section or two, which is totally fine.

I suspect my employer values the proposal writing much more than the other kinds of writing I do, but the proposals are probably the easiest. The challenge is in figuring out what the fundraisers want, because some tend to be really unclear, and when I push them for direction, I don’t think they know how to give it.

This one I did Wednesday is fine; I think the fundraiser is a good communicator. I just went with an angle I thought was most compelling based on the material I have, but she knows the potential donor, so of course she has a better idea of what will work.

Telling someone’s story is far, far more challenging, and it’s too bad it’s not as valued a skill, because I think I’m pretty good at it.


Breakfast was turkey chili and brown rice. Lunch was two frozen burritos. I had a snack of tortilla chips and fresh salsa. Dinner was two hot dogs with ketchup, mustard, and sauerkraut. I ate a late snack of a strawberry shortcake ice cream bar while on my walk. Mmmm.

Tomorrow’s about fresh veggies I think. I’ve got a bunch I need to use up before they turn.

Step this way

I came suuuuuuper close to not going for a walk. I just wasn’t feeling it. I went to the supermarket instead, for just like a few things I don’t really need, like cinnamon for my overnight oats and more Diet Pepsi so I don’t have to think about pacing myself if I don’t want to.

But the rain let up to just a little drizzle, and I already had shoes on, so what the heck. At about 11 I just set off. I got rained on but it wasn’t unpleasant, and the rain was pretty much done after half an hour. The late start meant only 9,300 steps before midnight, but I walked another 5400 steps after midnight.

Listened to a few podcasts and a ton of Foo Fighters music. Thursday’s ESPN Daily podcast is an excellent story of Darko Milicic’s post-NBA life. He’s an apple farmer in Serbia now. It’s really, really well done.

Reaching out

I joined our daily conference call via the Zoom app on my phone for the first time. Everyone else is videoing in, but I’ve only been calling in via audio on my phone. It didn’t suck. I also had a short phone meeting with my supervisor, and a phone call with that fundraiser to talk about the proposal.

Traded a very few texts with a friend / former student in San Diego, the friends from the engineering firm, Crush Girl, and JB. Sent a very late text to Faye. Didn’t call mom and dad, so I’ll do that Thursday.

Friday is a holiday, so I’d like Thursday to be really productive.

Hope anyone reading this is thriving. If you’re not, and if you’d like someone to chat with (IMs, DMs, or texts) please reach out! Any way you’re feeling in these weird days is totally valid and meaningful. If it’s wearing you down, though, you don’t have to go through it alone.

Lockdown: Every tomorrow is the same as before

This new Pearl Jam song is my frontrunner for best song of 2020. Interesting: I didn’t know it was released as a single in January, so apparently Pearl Jam is fond of it too. I heard everything on their new Gigaton album for the first time all at once when the album dropped a couple of weeks ago. And this one really stands out.

Perchance to dream

Ahh, sleep. I still didn’t sleep wonderfully when I got back from the laundry early Tuesday morning, but I had the morning off so I did about five hours, waking up every couple of hours for no reason I could tell. But the sleep felt pretty good, and I wasn’t tired all afternoon as I have been in recent days.

The other night when I said I was going to drop 5 mg of melatonin? I didn’t. I got all comfy in bed when I realized I hadn’t done it, and by then I wasn’t in the mood to disconnect Darth Vader, get up, and go to the kitchen. Wondering if I should keep the bottle in my room.

G-L-U-T! T-O-N-Y! I ain’t got no al-i-bi!

I ate so much today I can’t even tell which were the meals. It was a little crazy and out of control. I picked up a Big Mac combo from the McD’s drive-through on my way to the laundromat. So I guess that’s breakfast. Then I had two hot dogs with ketchup, mustard, and sauerkraut when I woke up and sat down to work, so that’s lunch? I worked a little late (thereby kind of erasing the concept of taking time off) and before I stood up to call it a day at around 8:00, I’d also put down the overnight oats I’d planned to have for lunch and forgotten about, and a bunch of tortilla chips and fresh salsa. Dinner and a snack, I guess. Then I polished off the rest of that potato salad — snack again? And during my walk I popped into a 7-Eleven with no customers in it and had a strawberry shortcake ice cream bar. Yummmmm. Now I’m back in front of my keys waiting for rice to finish so I can have a small bowl of turkey chili and brown rice. With a Heineken Light. Second dinner?

No idea what came over me, but thankfully days are not usually like this at all.

The to-dos

Work was fairly productive. My people liked the thank-you emails I wrote. I helped someone with yet another final draft (like, the fourth final draft) of a proposal. I interviewed a student applying for emergency assistance, and wrote her story, My boss like it, so I’m sending it back to the student in the morning to see if she likes it.

I fell fewer than 200 steps shy of my 13K goal this evening, but I was totally fine with it. I almost didn’t go out at all, but I thought I’d at least wander around a little, and when I got it going I just kept with it. It felt good. Listened to podcasts and that Pearl Jam album again. Oh, and I watched the NBC Nightly News on the NBC News app.

There were 25 new cases in Hawaii yesterday. I mentioned flattening the curve since the new cases are remaining fairly steady, but I was thinking of the curve as a rate-of-change curve, which of course it’s not. The curve is a number of people with the illness, or maybe a number of people who’ve been diagnosed, a first derivative of the rate-of-new-cases curve, so that’s something close to linear. Linear is good, though. What we don’t want is exponential.

Not much connection today. A few texts with JB, the friends from the engineering firm, and Crush Girl, plus some IMs with Bethanie and someone I’ve sorta gotten to know through Friday 5. It feels like a lot, though, since I had the phone interview with that student and my department’s daily conference call. I’m planning to call my parents Wednesday.

It could be verse

I’m wondering if these lockdown journal entries are going to fall into a sameness. I suppose they have already, since I’m logging certain things regularly. Seems important, though, as a way to distinguish one day from another. Perhaps I’ll write tomorrow’s in verse, just to change it up a little.

The world is going crazy but its people are hanging in. If you’re teetering on the edge, or even just thinking about teetering, please reach out. I’m not much use for woe-is-me counseling, but I’ll chat with you about stuff. Don’t go through this alone.

Lockdown: Cafe Downy

Final but not really final

It was a bit of a hectic morning, at least compared to other days working at home. The stuff I’ve been doing on the urgent student relief fund (we’ve raised more than $800,000 so far, with more than 1500 students appying for assistance) has taken precedence, pushing other writing tasks down the list. Usually not a problem but the list is bottom-heavy in a way that causes me some tension.

My supervisor called me on the phone to ask if I’m overwhelmed. I don’t know what I said or did to tip her off, but I told her I’m not overwhelmed, just a bit tense. She wondered if she should funnel some of the relief stuff away until I feel okay. I asked her not to. I’m okay; I just need to get stuff done.

So I interviewed one of the UH Hilo students applying for aid. Highlight of my day. She has four young children and lives in a part of the Big Island where the internet service providers don’t even offer service. Her work got canceled. Other stuff that made me want to give her half of the $800K. And this isn’t a sob story at all — she’s a professional, in the literal sense of the word, with a license to practice her profession, taking classes to add to her BS so she qualifies for the next level of licensure in her field.

Then I worked on like the fourth or fifth “final” drafts of a couple of proposals and some thank-you letters. The thank-you letters were really the source of my tension, I think, because I’d been promising them for a while, then totally forgot about them, then I thought I did them but it turned out the stuff I did was for a different project. It was a little confusing and then stressful to find myself suddenly overdue on something I thought was complete.

I feel good about the work, though. I think I did it well, which is really all I want most of the time.

Unexpected issues

I really like to cook, but most of the time I just don’t have enough time at home to cook every evening. I work until the early evenings at the office, then usually go for a long walk, not getting home until a couple of hours before bedtime. This means dinner is usally picked up on the way home or heated up from an enormous amount of food I made over the weekend before. When I make food, I make a week’s worth.

Now I’m home all the time, with plenty of time and desire to cook, but I can’t cook every night because my fridge is full of the food I made yesterday or the day before. Or yesterday and the day before. When I made turkey chili Sunday, I made five quarts of it, enough to feed me for a week or more. Cooking anything now, as much as I’d like to, would likely be wasteful, not to mention a storage problem.

So, no cooking Sunday or Monday. Breakfast Monday was overnight oats. Lunch was two hot dogs with mustard, ketchup, and sauerkraut. Dinner was chili and brown rice. It was all delicious.

Okay, the overnight oats aren’t exactly delicious, and Monday I had to kind of power myself through it. It tastes fine. It just gets a little tiresome once in a while, but I find it a satisfying meal not only because it’s filling, but it’s super inexpensive and I swear I can feel the soluble fiber doing its thing to my insides. I add about a tablespoon and a half of flaxseed and whole chia seed (combined), so we’re talking a lot of soluble fiber. I probably go a little heavy-handed on the brown sugar, something I should probably start decreasing but whatever.

I didn’t snack much, but you know that tub of potato salad I inexplicably picked up at the supermarket Friday night? It’s juuuuust about gone. Yikes.


I skipped the walk, partially because I’m getting a little nervous about being out and about, but mostly because I’m typing this at the laundromat at just past 4:00 in the morning. Tried to get to bed early but I only got about two hours of sleep. The vampire in me wants to take over and it’s going to be a struggle for the duration of this work-at-home season.

I got here just past 3:00 and have run into exactly zero others. With my clothes now in the dryer, I’m feeling pretty good about my timing. I’ve also taken the morning off from work — I thought maybe I’d give the beach a try, but on so little sleep I’m now just looking forward to a few more hours of sleep before I tackle those urgent stories.

I have to say I really, really look forward to my time in the laundry every week. I bring my laptop, my mechanical keyboard (note to self: good topic for journaling later), some food, and some diet soda. I set up on one of the tables, do a ton of writing (like this), eat, and drink in quietude outside my home. It’s almost cafe-like. Working in a cafe is maybe the thing I miss most about this new life.

Oh, you know what else I miss? Glazed doughnuts. I don’t even eat pastry very often, but my nightly walks take me past Liliha Bakery (I usually drive past on my way home from work, but driving past and walking past are two different things), which has closed “until further notice,” so now of course all I want is a Liliha Bakery glazed doughnut. Sigh.

I thought I might stop at Kamehameha Bakery on my way to the laundry, because I’m not seeing any indication online that it’s closed, and because it opens each day at 2:00 in the morning. The glazed doughnuts there aren’t great, but they’ll do the job. And I can pick up my favorite bread pudding. When I got in the car, though, I just wasn’t in the mood to delay my getting here beyond going through the McD’s drive-through. So maybe I’ll try the bakery later this week.

Do ya think I’m texty?

I did some pretty good texting with Crush Girl Monday. I also sent a link to that Queen Elizabeth address to several people late Sunday night, which got a few comments and launched a couple of short conversations. My favorite response was from Penny, who said *sigh* and nothing else. Traded a few thoughts also with JB, Sharon, Faye, Andrea, and my writing partner. Writing partner finished our agreed-upon journaling assignment, I’m still working on it so I’ve got to get moving.

The writing partner and I planned to do some Gchat to work on some ideas for her courses (she’s a high-school English teacher) but she never showed up at our agreed-on time. It’s okay. We’ve got all month, and it’s not like I had to cancel anything in order to make our appointment. I was still actually working on work.

Oh I said I was going to link to her momblog article. I think she’s really on to something — she could conceivably keep going to this well because there’s going to be a lot of audience for ideas like hers.

Laundry’s just about dry. A guy came in 20 minutes ago and of course he wanted to use the machines right behind where I’m standing. At least he loaded his machines and went right back out to his car.

It’s April 7, and most of us are going to be locked down until the end of the month, although I suspect it’ll be quite a big longer. I’m okay with it. If the thought kind of freaks you out and you don’t have someone to talk about it with, please reach out. Nobody needs to go through this alone!

Lockdown: “Better days will return”

Yay. I got my taxes done. E-filed and now I wait for refunds. I’m getting back two months’ worth of rent and that’s exactly what I’m going to use them for.

I did a few chores. Busted out my collapsible beach chair and left it out in the sun to get some air. I was really worried roaches had gotten into the bag, so I haven’t been using it. When I dragged it out onto the lanai right into the bright sunlight, I prepared for the worst, but the only thing that came out was a cockroach egg sac. Everything else looked pretty good.

I didn’t watch The Lighthouse with the director commentary, opting instead to dig into my backlog of podcasts. It was a good decision: I laughed aloud multiple times, mostly at the Dan Le Batard Show.

If you haven’t seen this speech by the queen of England, you really must. It’s four and a half minutes long, but stick with it. It made me a little wistful. And of course tickled my little Anglophile I keep hidden most of the time.

Please watch this if you haven’t already seen it.

Okay breakfast was overnight oats. Lunch was some steamed red potatoes with garlic butter and sauerkraut. Dinner was a bowl of Apple Jacks because I have to use up this gallon of milk soon. Unintentionally a meatless day, until after my long walk I had two cheeseburgers and fries from McD’s. Ugh. I know I’m going to regret that.

I exchanged a few texts with Don (it was his birthday last week and I just got around to saying happy birthday) and Ali, and sent a few to Faye and my writing partner. I’m usually a little more communicative Sundays but what does Sunday even mean anymore?

I hit 14,500 steps, which is about the norm now for what’s unintentionally become my usual walk. I may have to alter it soon; there are just too many people walking on School Street late at night for my comfort, and nobody seems concerned about social distancing but me. I walk way out into the middle of the street to avoid people.

A retired long-time local anchorwoman, someone I’ve become friends with in recent years mostly because we’ve been playing Words with Friends together (matched up randomly but she figured out who I was before I figured out who she was), shared on FB some photos of some bread she made Sunday, with a caption about worrying about the Quarantine 15. I think it’s a clever name for the weight gain we’re all trying to avoid, and a takeoff on the Frosh 15, but I’ve been trying to get the Covid 19 to catch on instead. I think it’s funnier. I can’t seem to get others to latch onto it, though.

The numbers continue to go up, but the rate has been steady in Hawaii, not exponential. I still expect there to be an explosion in positive diagnoses soon, perhaps this week, but part of me is holding out hope that we’ve already flattened this curve. Wishful thinking, I know.

I’m sleeping terribly lately, back to bad habits with taking off the Darth Vader in the middle of the night. I’ve been off melatonin because I suspect (based on a little research) it doesn’t put me to sleep more quickly. However, I was sleeping for longer uninterrupted periods while I was on it, and if it’s a placebo effect I think I have to take it. Just got to play with the dosage, because 20 mg was carrying over into my workday. I’m going to take 5 mg in a few minutes and hope it just gives me six good, uninterrupted hours.

Think I’ll give it a shot now. I hope you’re sleeping and waking well, and if you’re not, please reach out. You don’t have to go through any of this weirdness alone, and while i’m not the world’s best listener, at least I’m also terrible at giving advice!

“And though self-isolating may at times be hard, many people of all faiths — and of none — are discovering that it presents an opportunity to slow down, pause, and reflect in prayer or meditation.”

Lockdown: Hypochondria much?

The Lighthouse turned out to be compelling but something of a bafflement. The cinematography was pretty terrific (the film was nominated for an Oscar in that category) and the acting admirable, although I don’t know how I feel about some of the decisions, mostly the accents affected by both principal actors.

I’m withholding judgment until I see it with the director commentary.

I was so lethargic today I worried several times that I had the virus. Got up early-ish for breakfast (two hot dogs and some potato salad) but went to bed shortly after, where I alternated between dozing off and goofing off on my phone.

Forced myself up at 2:00 or so to make the chili, which turned out yummy; then I finished the movie. I ate way too much so I pretty much skipped dinner and went out for my walk.

It wasn’t a nice walk at all. My body just didn’t want to go (so of course I was worried again I had the virus) and either it was a really humid evening or I’ve got the virus, because I was warm and sweaty. And I was sneezing and sniffling like crazy in the second half of the walk, something I’m hoping was a reaction to the tall grass I walk past, but maybe I’ve got the virus.

Today I traded just a few texts with Crush Girl and my friends from the engineering firm. There were a few DMs in IG with Penny, Winnie, and Sharon.

Sunday I’m going to watch the movie with that commentary and then write my review. There’s some stuff in the laundry room I want to clean up. And I really should do a little bit of work since I’ve been so inefficient during working hours. Oh, and that journaling activity my writing partner and I agreed to do. I may be holding us up on that. I would like to do some reading too.

Some coworkers mentioned that they’re being far more productive working at home than they are when working in the office. They’re hoping when the office opens back up, they can get permission to work from home more often — much more often, like maybe three or four days a week. I’m not there yet; I definitely benefit from having a dedicated work space. But who knows? I might find myself cranking out the work like crazy by the time this is up. I’ve had permission to work from home for a year and I’ve never taken advantage of it.

Here’s your daily reminder that you don’t have to go through this alone. If you’re struggling and need a little bit of contact, please reach out. I know a bunch of dirty jokes and stupid stories.

Lockdown: Grossery shopping

Mellow day at the office

Kind of a mellow Friday. I did what I think are final edits on two proposals, then final edits on the thank-you emails we’re sending to people who donate to the university’s emergency relief fund. Worked on a short bio about a person who’s the namesake of a chair I helped land. We’re talking about a gift in the millions.

I still worked kind of slowly though. One of my goals this weekend is to work on my workspace so it’s a little more comfy than it is. I suspect some of my slowness has to do with not enjoying my workspace.

Chicken and oats

Breakfast was overnight oats. Lunch was an enormous bowl of steamed broccoli and asparagus on brown rice with garlic butter. I had tortilla chips and fresh salsa for a snack. Dinner was (oh no) a ridiculous number of Chicken McNuggets from McD’s. It was a late dinner; I just finished it half an hour ago and it’s a quarter past midnight.

I took some ground turkey out of the freezer so I can make turkey chili tomorrow. It’ll be the first time I make my chili in the Instant Pot. I have a feeling a thing like that is much better slow-cooked, but that’s how I’ve made it for twenty years. I have a new toy with a pressure function so of course I’m going to use it.

I’m having Kafka dreams this evening; I’d almost bet on it.

Exposure? No thank you.

I really wanted to try the drive-up shopping at Target but of the four things on my list, one was sold out, two were “not available for pickup” (that is, you have to go into the store to purchase them), and the last was just a couple of six-packs of Diet Pepsi, which of course I can get anywhere. So much for that plan.

I need distilled water for the Darth Vader machine, and it’s $.75 more per gallon at the local supermarket than at Target, but whatever. I can sneak into the supermarket fifteen minutes before closing and minimize my exposure. Fair trade.

Of course I got a little carried away, also picking up more oatmeal, some hot dog buns, a gallon of skim milk, a tub of potato salad (seriously; what?) and a couple of cans of corned beef hash just in case the disease erupts in this town and I’m too wussy to run out for fresh food.

And Diet Pepsi, of course.

All that walking I did after midnight meant I didn’t have to go far to hit my goal. Ended up with 15,300 steps without really working for it, and I can live with it. My body wasn’t feeling it this evening.

Children of the next level

New metal releases have been a little ho-hum these past couple of weeks, but Friday brought the much-awaited (by me, anyway) new album by Testament. I pre-ordered the CD from Amazon because Testament toured Europe with Death Angel and another band, and they all came back with the freaking virus. The Death Angel drummer is in intensive care on a ventilator. Ugh. I bought the CD to kind of show them they have a fan who’s pulling for them. Should probably buy a Death Angel CD as well.

I gave it a spin (via Spotify) and it’s pretty darn good. The first three songs are nice candidates for the live show.

I also watched the first hour of The Lighthouse, that movie last year with Robert Pattinson (Support Cedric Diggory, the real Hogwarts champion!) and Willem Dafoe. It’s not as horrifying as I expected, nor (yet) as homoerotic. Then again, I’m only an hour into it and there are still forty-nine minutes to go. That’s a lot of time to disturb the living heck out of me.

Today I traded texts with Crush Girl and the group from the engineering firm. There was so much interaction at work today that it was enough.

Too tired for the Friday 5. I’ll do it sometime Saturday.

It’s only April 4, and we’re pretty much all staying put until the end of the month. If that’s freaking you out or dragging you down or leaving you a mess, and you need someone to talk you through, I hope you’ll reach out. I’m lousy company but I’ve been practicing making sympathethic listening sounds. They’re all yours if you want them. Don’t go through this alone.

Lockdown: Salty and wet

I got to sleep far too late Thursday night for an early Friday swim, but I woke up and did it anyway. I tried to find parking at Kewalo Basin, thinking I could just walk over to Ala Moana and do a quick swim. Apparently lots of people had that idea, including a bunch of dawn patrollers. My search for a parking stall was in vain.

Plan B was parking in that free parking lot behind the Hilton Hawaiian Village (I don’t know what that area’s called). I walked from there to Fort Derussy, which looks like a longer walk than it is. Threw my stuff on the beach and jumped in.

I did it at the beginning of February to see if I could, so I knew what I was diving into. The swim isn’t as nice, but I did have the water pretty much to myself and the beach was practically empty. There’s a beachwalk way up on the edge of the beach, and lots of people were walking there without practicing safe distancing. I avoided most of them.

The water was really clear. I haven’t been in the water there since I was a teen, except for that one time in February, and I do not remember the water ever being so clear. A hundred yards out, I could see the sandy/reefy bottom. This lockdown stuff is good for the beaches, I tell you. Now I really want to get in at Ala Moana, just to see if it’s different there.

So it wasn’t the nicest swim but dang it felt good.

I got home early enough for a short nap before work. Work was okay; I was more productive than yesterday even though I didn’t really submit anything except new edits to stuff I edited Wednesday. My writing goes through a lot of other hands before it comes back to me. Sometimes it makes the work better. Sometimes!

Breakfast was grilled ahi from Megs Drive-In, picked up on my way back from the beach. Lunch was two frozen burritos. I made dinner before my walk, but I had a snack instead, thinking I would have dinner after the walk, instead of always snacking after the walk as I’ve been doing. That may have been an unwise choice, because I was hungry but too tired to eat. So I lounged for an hour before sitting down to write this and have my meal and now I’m going to be up far too late (again). It’s 3:20.

The pre-walk snack was tortilla chips and fresh salsa. Dinner is a huge bowl of steamed broccoli and asparagus with garlic butter on brown rice. It’s delicious but I wish I’d stopped for potatoes.

I walked more than 19K steps, 13K before midnight and just shy of 7K after midnight. Ridiculous. I’m past the halfway mark for Friday’s steps already. And boy is my body sore.

Traded texts with JB, Faye, and Crush Girl. Exchanged a few FB messages with Lauren. Chatted with my mom and dad, who continue to be in pretty good spirits. Tried to hit up Jocelyn in Gchat, but she’s stressed and she wasn’t having it.

Friday I’m going to try Target’s drive-up shopping. Pay for your stuff in the app, then let them know what time you’re coming. They meet you at the curb. Crush Girl says she went into the store Thursday evening and there were a lot of people there. No thank you.

Hawaii had slightly fewer new cases yesterday than the day before. I’m praying for the unikely holding steady for a few weeks, indicating a rather flattened curve. I’m not really optimistic about that one, but a guy can hope.

I think it was a good day. It’s hard to tell anymore! If your days are sucking and you’re going through this alone, please reach out. I won’t actually speak with you on a phone (yuck) but I’ll be happy to trade texts, DMs, or IMs. You don’t have to be alone!

Lockdown: Squirmy day

Planning to make this a quick one because Thursday is the day I try to get into the water.

I had a good walk. 15,500 steps and I was back at the house just past midnight. I was squirmy for almost my whole work day, so I was not super productive, but I did submit like three or four things fo review, most of them edits of works in progress. Emailed my boss midway through the day to let her know I was struggling, and she was totally sympathetic. Suggested I take a walk and do a mental reset. She’d done the same earlier in the day.

Four hundred deaths in New York in the twenty-four hours leading up to the beginning of my day. It’s mind-boggling, and it’s going to get worse. We’re up to 258 cases as of Wednesday morning. I can’t remember the number of new cases, but it’s the biggest jump so far.

Traded a few more texts with my former department chair at HBA today. My former coworker who moved to the East Coast has officially been replaced, so I texted her to let her know. Traded texts with another coworker during the day, and laughed at a few things in a group text I’m in with former coworkers at the engineering firm. And a couple of quick ones with Crush Girl. Meant to call mom and dad but got distracted; I’ll do it Thursday when I get back from the beach.

Breakfast was overnight oats. Lunch was the rest of those brussels sprouts and some tortilla chips and salsa. Dinner was two small frozen burritos. And then two more. Yikes. For a late snack I had a tuna sandwich. Drank an unusual amount of soda today. I’ve decided that as long as I can afford it, it’s an indulgence I’ll allow myself without going overboard even though I never drink soda at home. Work is home now so that changes things a little.

And it makes me feel good.

Tomorrow I have a lot of broccoli to get through and probably some asparagus too. I might pick up some red potatoes if I’m brave enough to chance the supermarket. Broccoli and potatoes are so good together.

Ugh I forgot to do my taxes. Must do tomorrow or I’ll just keep dragging this out.

Getting late and I’ve been staring at this screen without typing for twenty minutes. No time for introspection.

Please reach out if you’re going through this alone or if you’re feeling disconnected or despondent. It’s a weird time we’re going through and any response at all is reasonable and understandable. You may need to suffer, but you needn’t suffer alone.

Lockdown: The wash and a morning off

There were too many people in the laundry for my comfort, but we were spaced out enough that I think it’s okay. Early Tuesday is definitely better than early Monday, though, so that will be my laundry night.

I took the morning off from work so I could recover from late-night laundry. A five-hour workday is much better than an eight-hour workday at home, and I have quite a bit of vacation to burn. I may make this a weekly thing. My boss has encouraged me to take as much time off as I want.

Work was productive. More revisions on that PSA, then edits to a digital version of our quarterly publication, then some talk about the letters I wrote on behalf of our CEO. A little bit of conversation about edits to a proposal I worked on. I like the variety.

The daily conference call was looooong, going more than an hour, but I think it was productive too. A lot of it just didn’t really concern me, which is the problem with larger meetings.

I got a text from my former department chair at HBA, asking how I’m doing. We traded a few. HBA ends an extended spring break Wednesday with the first day of all online classes. I’m kind of envious of my former colleagues, as they get to rethink their classrooms in a completely new way. I know some teachers find this kind of thing discouraging, but I think my friends would be kind of amped for the challenge.

I’m envious. I would love to try and teach ninth-grade English this way. I wonder if George, who’s the middle-school principal now, is also envious. I think I’ll ask. It must make him yearn to be in his classroom again; it does me.

Also sent a text to a former coworker Ali who’s on the mainland now. The time difference makes it rough for us to have conversations. Other text exchanges were with one of my coworkers and with Crush Girl. She sent me a photo of a grownup coloring book with some parts colored in — with the colored pencils I gave her for Christmas. That made me feel pretty good.

I did my census, but not my taxes. Will do those Wednesday.

Breakfast was a Big Mac combo, enjoyed with great pleasure while I worked at the laundry. For lunch, I went to a teahouse in my neighborhood. They’re doing drive-up takeout in their sizable parking lot (it’s a very popular party room). I’ve never had their food, ‘though I’ve heard it’s very good, and Mochi Girl sold her business to them. $10 for a tonkatsu plate, and it was *chef kiss*. I kind of want to go back again tomorrow. I kind of skipped dinner because I had tortilla chips and spinach artichoke dip for a late snack.

If I had started walking fifteen minutes earlier, I’d have hit my goal. I was nine hundred steps shy of my 13,000 target when the clock struck twelve. Ah well. Still a pretty nice walk.

It’s coming up on 2:00 in the morning and I plan to have a productive day, so off to bed.

My spirits are pretty good. I think my mood is tied to a productive workday and a nice walk, plus a little bit of interaction with people I love. This journaling probably helps a little too, just to stimulate the creativity a little. I think the essentials are the work and the fresh air.

I hope you’re finding whatever it is that does it for you. If you’re going through this alone, please reach out. We can talk each other through all this craziness.

Lockdown: Spin cycles

Walk / Don’t Walk

I skipped walking for the first night in more than a week, mostly in anticipation of laundry, which I am doing right now in my (now) usual spot. Last week’s Grand Central Station coming and going freaked me out a tiny bit, and I was confused because the week before I’d only encountered those two ladies who came in for the last hour of my time.

I realized (too late) that the week before last, I’d been here at 4 on an early Tuesday, while last week I was there at 3 on an early Monday. Of course. Sunday is laundry night.

So I’m here now, off to a later start than planned, on an early Tuesday again. One guy just left and another is finishing up now, so here’s hoping?

I’m slightly disappointed I didn’t get my walk, but more because I enjoyed the streak than because my body and mind felt the need to go. I think both felt a night off was appropriate, if not preferable.

Zooming into uncertainty

At work Monday, we had our first virtual all-staff meeting via Zoom. My company’s been using Zoom for years, since we have people on Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii Island, and the nature of our work dictates a lot of face-to-face meetings. We sometimes have all-staff meetings of our 100 people, with a few people Zooming in. This would be the first where all participants would be calling in.

It mostly worked. With everyone on mute, our leaders took their turns saying what they had to say. Some people IMed their questions, which our moderator tossed to the speakers when appropriate.

Then they unmuted everyone. I called in via phone (rather than web) and of course I had myself on mute from my end. You can tell a lot of people didn’t do the same. The cacophony of background noises was incredible. I kinda hope someone was recording the meeting so we could play it back some day, because it was truly comical. The idea was to unmute everyone so we could have an open Q&A, as we usually do at these meetings. It took just under a minute for us all to realize this wasn’t going to work.

Back to all-mute, and questions via IM.

You could feel the tension. People are worried about their positions, echoing some of the concerns I’ve expressed in this space. I wonder if that’s the vibe everywhere in this country, among people still lucky enough to be working.

After the brainstorm

I spent all weekend with two projects bouncing around in my brain. No actual writing on either, but lots of gestating. Then when I sat down at the keys Monday, they both kind of just rolled out of me. Revisions to the 30-second PSA came first, and I was pleased. I was even more pleased when they came back with revision suggestions and one suggestion made the entire thing better. A word had really been bothering me and I’d been unable to find something that worked better. Without my mentioning my discomfort with the word, someone suggested just deleting it. Yessss. I don’t know why the writer is often the last to think of that.

I negotiated to change back two small edits and got my way, and the piece is stronger over all, if for no reason other than its brevity.

The other project was a set of thank-you letters to donors, to be signed by our company president. It’s become a regular part of my job, to write new sets of letters every few month for our president, the president of the university, and some of the university’s units.

Our president and the university’s president were unhappy with my last set. I got too metaphorical on one set; I was too specific on another. This threw me a little because compared to letters written by someone else before I started doing them, these were pretty dang good. But it’s not my signature at the bottom, so I get it. I’m writing on behalf of someone else.

The challenge (as it ever is in all my work) is not to sound like everything else. In these thank-yous, you want donors actually to feel thanked, in a way that doesn’t sound like the chorus of other thank-yous these people receive.

I submitted a set I feel pretty good about, but after the hits I took on those last two sets, I no longer write these with confidence. It took the equivalent of two entire working days to write the letters I submitted yesterday, which is probably too long.

“Kale was a bad idea”

Monday I kinda skipped breakfast because of that early staff meeting (something I almost never do!), snacking later on chips and dip. Ugh. Lunch was two frozen burritos (I’ve found a brand whose ingredients list doesn’t read like you expect on frozen prepared foods). Dinner was about a pound and a half of steamed brussels sprouts in garlic butter.

The article I linked the other day by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt made me feel better about getting takeout, but oh, ugh, bleah. I’m still tense as heck when I’m out around others. I’d like to support local businesses but unlike certain lieutenant governors in other parts of the nation, I’m unwilling to die in order to save the economy for someone else’s children. And I’m certainly not willing to kill for it.

I’m on a mini-mission to finish the abundance of fresh produce in my fridge before it turns. Someone didn’t exactly panic shop last week, but someone might have gotten a little ambitious with veggies at Costco.

Making a list

In addition to more of those letters I have to write and a couple of proposals to get to fundraisers, I’m hoping to find time today to do my census and taxes. This past year was the least complicated money year I’ve had in a verrrry long time, so I’m absolutely filling out the short form.

I also have a Nielsen form to complete. A couple of months ago I got a dollar in the mail with a Nielsen survey, promising $10 if I completed the questionnaire and sent it in. So I did it and got a $10 bill in the mail some time later. Monday I got a radio survey to complete (I haven’t opened the envelope yet so I don’t know if there’s the promise of cash) and I’m all in, either way.

Brief connections

I traded a few texts with Crush Girl early. Then my coworker Sylvia a few times about today’s meeting. A couple of short FB Messenger exchanges. I think that’s it. It feels like enough.

I think I need to make a little bit of an effort to reach out to a few others. Will add to my to-dos for Tuesday and Wednesday.