Following my arrow

Just had a really long day. Scribbling for a few minutes just to decompress. I won’t get into it here but if we’re FB friends you can read it there. If we aren’t, you should add me.

If you’ve never worked where payday is every other week, as opposed to twice a month, I suggest quitting your job and finding someone who’ll pay you this way. My first school paid this way, as did the engineering firm. The non-profit used to pay me twice a month but a couple of years ago switched to every other week, at the urging of employees. And yes, I’ve worked for a Japanese-owned company so I know what it’s like to be paid weekly! That could be sweet too but I don’t see it happening.

It means 26 paychecks per year instead of 24. People who work in places like this call those extra two the extra paychecks, and they can be glorious. See, most monthly deductions for stuff like insurance or parking are split in two, since you usually have two paychecks a month. Twice a year, you get a third paycheck in a month, and these paychecks don’t have the deductions. So not only is it a third paycheck in a month, but it’s often a larger paycheck.

I don’t have that many deductions, but I have more now than I ever did. I’m paying for parking (we get free parking after our fifth year; I’m just completing my third) and I loaded up on supplemental health insurance last year, in anticipation of turning fifty. I was sure I was going to get a colon cancer diagnosis, which I did not.

My check was not quite two hundred bucks larger, but holy moly what a difference it felt like. I’ve been super bummed about my pay lately. I knew when I switched careers I’d be starting over, but I kinda thought that in three years I’d have proven more value than they were expecting. My employer doesn’t see it this way.

The not-quite-$200 take-home pay bump this pay period isn’t quite half the increase I want, need, and deserve, and it felt soooooo good. I almost forgot how unappreciated I feel. Until this long (pricey) day, I almost felt like a grown-up making a grown-up living.

On the other hand, it’s Christmas. Getting most of my shopping taken care of during the weekend felt great, but now it’s going to be a pretty lean couple of weeks! Still feels good, though. Better to be scraping bottom because I spent money on gifts than scraping bottom because of the usual reasons.

Is it weird that I left teaching and became poorer?


I put Crush Girl on my Christmas list. I hope it’s not weird. I didn’t even get her something practical; I wanted to get her a book but I know her stack is pretty high right now. Plus I gave her a book for her birthday and I have a feeling she didn’t care for it.

So I got her something that’s probably just going to take up space but is a cute gift. I saw it while flipping through IG. Those ads are pretty useful. I’ve now purchased two things IG targeted at me, both of them gifts. And there’s one more thing I bookmarked to get myself for my birthday next month.

I didn’t see the Kacey Musgraves Christmas TV special, but I picked up the CD and it’s pretty cute. Yes, I still get CDs. Not nearly as many as I used to (thanks, employer!) but I don’t want the medium to die.

I feel fine about the long day I had, but it’s created me more work, which means at least two more long days in addition. Not really looking forward to that but not complaining either. I don’t know about jolly, but ’tis the season to be positive, and I remain so.

Oh, I finished NaNoWriMo just past 50K words. Yay. I’m drained! So I’ll save discussion about that for later.

Even at My Worst, I’m Best with You

I can’t tell you why the title of this entry is relevant, but the song is playing on the speakers in this establishment, and the song is an especially good soundtrack to part of what I’m writing here.

I don’t know if I have it in me to do the Friday 5 this late Sunday evening. I’ll type a few thoughts and see.

My part in the stressful project at work isn’t as finished as I thought. I’m not sure when my part will be done — it seems when I think they’re happy with my draft, they come at me with “can we do this?” And it doesn’t bother me much but the communication this past week was weird. Like people are saying, “Why did you do this?” And I’m saying “You know why I did this. If you wanted to reverse it you totally could have, or just told me you wanted it reversed and I’d have been happy to do it.”

I understand my role, and I embrace it. I’ve embraced it for going on three years, and usually it’s not a problem. Tell me what you want, and I’ll write it. If I disagree, I may say something about why, but I’ll almost always defer unless the point of contention is about grammar or some other mechanical aspect of the language, which I consider myself better informed about than almost everyone I work with.

People I work with appreciate and respect my expertise. I don’t know much about most things, but I know what good writing is, and I know how to produce it. On this project, though, I think people aren’t being clear about what they want and don’t want. So I assume the drafts are fine until I’m told that I need to change certain things and I need to change them now.

Geez. I wouldn’t really mind that either, but be a little nicer about it, you know? And don’t make it sound like the draft is where it is now because of me. If I’m waiting for you to tell me what you want, and you don’t tell me what you want until seconds before you need it, don’t act like I’m the reason nothing’s been done yet.

Arrrrrrrgh.

This project has been making me lose sleep, and it’s not the work itself. I haven’t been nervous or stressed a single moment about the work, which involves some very high stakes. This team I’m part of always produces excellent work. High stakes don’t change any of that. I want our project to succeed, but I’m not afraid of its failure. That’s how you do good work.

It’s the communication that’s been driving me insane.

I’m working myself up just typing this, so I’m going to back off a bit.

This is going to sound a little weird, but I’d kind of like to piss Crush Girl off. Not about anything important, but maybe some minor way that sets her off. I haven’t seen her mad (although I’ve certainly made her mad; I just wasn’t around to see it!), and I suspect she’s beautiful when she’s angry.

I can think of two friends who got really beautiful when they were mad. One is Janice, with whom I spent a lot of time before she married my former college roomie Sterling. I was on the receiving end of at least four very angry scoldings and I have to tell you, that fury made a beautiful woman beautiful. A few times I saw her unleash it at others, and how great it was when I wasn’t the target. I could get a closer look, for one thing.

The other is R, whom I’ve seen angry more than anyone I’m not related to, and only a very few times was I the person she was angry with. Hers was a little different — she went right up to the line between anger and psycho. Once, when she was mad at her mom, I am quite sure I saw her go a step or two over the line, and that was pretty scary. I didn’t have anyone to compare it to until Helena Bonham Carter’s performance as Bellatrix LeStrange. Yeah, it was that kind of psycho-beautiful.

I’ve only noticed in the past couple of months (that is, in the time since she friendzoned me) that Crush Girl has a really musical way of speaking, especially when she’s either going a little gaga over a doggie or a baby, or when she’s listening sympathetically to someone else’s sad story.

I’m actually trying to learn a thing or two from her on that last thing. She makes all these really sympathetic sounds that I’m not sure would work coming from me, but the vocalizations are so sympathetic that I think they help all by themselves. When I hear someone telling her about their bad day or whatever, and she makes these (I’m not even going to try and spell them) sounds of caring, I feel like little daggers are going right into my heart.

I still don’t know her very well, especially not outside the one context in which we interact, but when I see the way she listens to people, I think she’s someone I could love. That’s never enough, I know, so don’t remind me. It’s a good sign, though. There’s a really good person in there.

R had a very musical way of speaking, which over many years of being her friend I picked up a little of, which I’m sure doesn’t help my already semi-effeminate speaking mannerisms, which have led many people to ask if I’m gay, which I’m not. Or from California, which I also am not.

Crush Girl’s musical inflections are different. Like she’s singing along with a completely different orchestra. Like she’s got a story to tell, and if you just wait a moment, she’s going to sing it to you. I’m picturing Amy Adams in Enchanted, although it’s not quite like that. I need time to think about it, because I’m pretty sure I can think of an actor she reminds me of.

this is a crappy picture of the movie on my tablet, but there are NO good still images on the web for this film! but dang: isn’t she pretty?

Speaking of Enchanted, I saw the new Anna Kendrick movie, Noelle, which is streaming on the new Disney +. It’s not great, but Anna is great in it, so I’ll probably see it a few times a week between now and the new year. It reminded me of a cross between Elf and Arthur Christmas. It’s going to remind everybody of Elf.

A coworker also saw it, and she said it reminded her of Elf and Enchanted, and I can see that too.

It has moments of cleverness and genuine, sincere kindness. It has moments of stupid, too, like when Noelle is required to address the North Pole denizens about what Christmas means to her. Ugh. Ugh. Bleah. Vomit.

But you know, I teared up twice and actually shed tears once. Anna really sells the kindness.

Now that things aren’t going to happen with Crush Girl, I should probably give Anna another chance. Although really, if she goes another ten years without calling me, I might stop waiting around.

Gummy one reason

I’m unusually stressed. I was going to text someone completely uninvolved just to get it out, but that person is ill and I’d rather not bother her at close to eleven in the evening.

I did text my friend Suzanne because I’m sure she’s up (and possibly out) but haven’t heard back from her. I figure that’s my sign. I’ll just deal with it myself, and with Ronald McDonald.

I don’t plan to write about any of it here, so I’m just hoping the act of writing something will help calm me down.

I know I shouldn’t stress-eat. I shouldn’t eat my feelings either and you should have seen my dietary behavior when I was in the depths of my Crush Girl misery. Helllllloooooo Cinnabon.

That was actually Suzanne’s fault too. When I texted her that I’d asked Crush Girl out and been rejected, she said, “Let’s to go Cinnabon!” We didn’t go that day, but you can believe I went later. And later. And. Later.

Cinnabon is amazingly effective at making you feel better. But only while you’re eating it. Then when it’s all over, you’re like, “Holy crap, not only am I still in this crappy situation but now I have eaten a CINNABON as well,” and you just feel lousier.

I don’t think I’ve written about Suzanne here. I met her when I was working for the engineering firm in Chinatown. Cornell grad (oh wait a minute, I have mentioned her but I haven’t said who she is) and a really supportive friend. She does a good job of sympathizing and then making you feel tougher.

Oh, I’ll write about this part of it. I sorta took care of the non-work-related stressful stuff. I really wanted to get some emails taken care of, so I got in my car to head to the boba cafe I’m so fond of. Pulled into the lot with two hours before closing, and realized I’d left my laptop in my living room.

Drove home. Grabbed laptop. Headed back to the cafe, but midway there I realized I didn’t know where my phone was. I called out “Hey Siri!” a few times but Siri didn’t respond. Noooooooo. Drove home and found my phone next to the spot where my laptop had been, with the flashlight still on. Urrrrrrggggggghhhhh. Got back to the cafe with a little more than an hour before closing.

At least I got the emails done. For a moment, though, I was having the worst evening in a very long time. Coulda been worse: I wasn’t sure what I’d done with my phone — I thought there was a fair chance I’d left it on the roof of my car (something I’ve never done, but there’s a good chance I will someday). But you know, most things are taken care of as best they can. Yet there’s still this hard, squiggly ball in the pit of my stomach.

Which I am now trying to feed with a Big Mac and fries. I don’t think it’s working.

I’m involved in a rather big project at work. The task itself is not daunting, even though possibly a hundred million dollars are at stake, and that’s not an exaggeration. I’m confident enough in my writing and in my coworkers’ talents (I’m the best writer in my company, but I don’t think I’m the third most creative or artistic person within fifteen feet of my desk), so I’m sure we’re going to knock this thing silly. We’re good.

So I’m not stressed about the task; I think I’m stressed about getting it going. I can’t really get rolling yet and argh. Also, I have a few other tasks I’d like to get moving on, but it’s the weekend and I need some rest. Not that I’m exactly getting that, what with all this thinking about it.

Oh, and sometime this week I’m going on a day trip to one of the neighbor islands. Because of the big project. Normally that would be awesome — I’d ask to stay overnight, too, since the others on this project are staying overnight. But I’m in frugal mode, remember (he asked, cramming another handful of McDonald’s fries into his maw)? I can’t really have the kind of fun work trip this could be. So it’s in and out, stay on task, and nobody gets hurt.

I wish I could text Crush Girl and just converse with her about all this, but I’m fairly sure she wouldn’t get back to me, possibly until Monday. We’re friendly but I don’t think we’re in the let’s-share-personal-problems-whenever stage of this friendship yet.

I was chatting with the CEO of my company about sleep, and he asked if I’ve ever tried melatonin. I hadn’t, and he recommended it. So a couple of weeks ago, while I was picking something up at Safeway, I thought I’d see what was available.

There were “regular strength” gummies. The bottle said to chew one or two 5mg gummies. Then there were “maximum strength” gummies. The bottle recommended one or two 10mg gummies. Hey, I’d had zero experience with melatonin, but if anyone’s sleep issues called for two 10mg “maximum strength” gummies, it was me, right?

I can’t say whether it worked or not because I was super tired that night anyway. I do know that I was very, very groggy the next morning, all the way to lunch. Yeah, that was bad.

Everyone I spoke to who’s taken it (and it’s a surprising number of people who’ve taken it) says he or she doesn’t take it every night, so I guess that’s my plan now. I’ll go through the whole bottle over time and see what happens.

I’ve eaten just one gummy a few times since, and I can’t tell if it’s working. I definitely don’t wake up groggy, and I don’t have an especially difficult time waking up (getting moving is a different story, but that’s related to my recent low work morale), but I can’t tell if it’s helping me get to sleep or if I’m just going to sleep.

What I would love is if, when I wake up in the middle of the night, I can just close my eyes and drop back to sleep. That hasn’t been happening. It’s my own fault because I always look at my phone. I check Twitter to see if the White House has blown up the world yet, and then I usually check Instagram to see who’s viewed whatever silliness I put in my IG stories before bed. And then all that blue light goes to work on me and makes my brain think I’m up.

I wonder if this is the time to take a melatonin gummy. When I get up in the middle of the night? Might have to try it.

Oh Suzanne just texted me back. She was sympathetic but not very verbose about it. Then when I told her I’m stress-eating, she said she hopes I’m eating nacho cheese Doritos. I said, “Big Mac and fries — close!”

I feel a bit calmer, if still quite wound up. This might be a good night for a melatonin gummy.

Scraping

Friday 5 from here.

  1. What does your favorite mug look like?
    I have two I consider favorites. I have a very large Eeyore mug I prefer most of the time. It holds two cups of coffee, for starters, and two cups of coffee are better than one cup of coffee. Eeyore is my spirit animal, and one of my friends in high school even used it as a nickname for me (I called her Roo, which if you knew her you’d know was close to perfect). This is the mug I bring with me to coffee hours or staff meetings (I try not to use disposable coffee cups at these things), so by now everyone at work knows it’s my mug. My other favorite is a white UH Hilo mug using a font and logo the school doesn’t use anymore. I bought one for me and two for my parents the week of my graduation. I don’t think they still have the ones I gave them (which is too bad — if they were going to give them away, I’d gladly have taken them off their hands). Go Vulcans.
  2. With a typical dinner out, how many glasses of water do you drink?
    I drink a lot of water. Easily six to eight glasses on a good night, if the waiters are attentive, but I wouldn’t be surprised if in some places it goes to ten. I just really like clearing the palate frequently so I can enjoy my meal appropriately. Plus I just like water, and the colder the better.
  3. What’s something for which you recently used a paper cup, other than to hold a beverage?
    Because I don’t like to use disposable cups, I try to get at least two or three uses out of each one I come into contact with, not counting whatever I get in fast food joints. Recently, I’ve used paper cups as my change jar, a pen holder, and a measuring cup for one of my go-to meals on evenings after longs days: microwaved pasta.
  4. How confidently do you pour a drink into a tumbler with your non-dominant hand?
    Something very few people know about me is that I’m trying to train my left hand to do everyday tasks in case I ever lose the use of my right hand. Have you ever tried to take your keys out of your pocket, select the right key, insert the key into your front door, and let yourself in with your non-dominant hand? I couldn’t believe how such a seemingly simple task could feel so complicated the first time I tried it. I do it with aplomb now; in fact I do it most days leaving the house or coming home, since I usually have my gym bag in my right hand. Pouring drinks into cups (or from one bottle of water to another, to consolidate half-drunk bottles) with my left hand has been a recent, targeted skill. I’d say I do it pretty confidently, ‘though not with the second-nature, no-need-to-concentrate ability with which I unlock a door.
  5. What’s going to be your holy grail for this weekend?
    I’d like to complete minimal amounts of work in pursuit of my holy grail: plenty of good sleep and time to read. Last weekend’s hoped-for good weather did come, but I only made it to the beach Saturday while I was hoping for two good days in the water. This week I’d like to get those two mornings, too.

Rereading what I wrote last week, I know I wasn’t being honest with myself when I said the bruises I still have were only because of the introspection. It was mostly that for sure, but it’s dumb to pretend I’m not also still aching a bit from the rejection, even while totally convinced I deserved rejection and pretty much no other response. It sucks to be rejected, and it causes injury. Nobody really thinks otherwise, not even me.

Crush Girl has inspired a lot of aching this week. I’ve been in a terrible mood everywhere I go, almost all the time, for the past few weeks, and fleeting moments with her have been respites from the crappy feelings. It makes me grateful in a twisted way for the friendzoning. Better this than no relationship at all, but the echoes of her absence do load me up with melancholy from time to time, this week particularly.


I’m in the middle of two weeks of deliberate frugality. It’s not extreme, as it has been a few times in recent months, but it’s still not exactly pleasant. Right after payday I took care of my obligations, and seeing how little I had left, I stocked my pantry and filled my gas tank, leaving me a little bit of cash for the occasional boba and possibly some fast food once or twice. So it’s not hellacious; it’s just pretty restrictive.

I’m typing this in my neighborhood boba spot. I like this place a lot for its super-fast wifi and good tea. The fruit teas are amazing here. I just wish they had a few no-caffeine options, as I’ve been getting here close to closing. Oh, that’s another thing I like about the spot: it’s open until 10 on weeknights. Down the road a few blocks is a really popular spot in a rather unlikely, mostly industrial place near the community college. We’re talking line from the counter to the door popular. I haven’t checked it out yet despite raves from friends mostly because it closes at 9.

I think this is going to be my NaNoWriMo HQ for November. I can get two solid hours here each night if I don’t waste time either getting out of the office or settling down to get busy. Still no idea what the plan is for a NaNo project, but I’ve got a few ideas floating around up here.

Sometimes I question my participation in this thing every year. I’ve already proven to myself that I can crank out the words, and that sometimes they’re pretty good. And as much as I value the community — I’ve made some really good friends during NaNo — it’s been difficult being one of the veterans with an ever-refreshed cast of newcomers. I like the new people fine; I just miss some of the old friends who no longer do this.

There is also, of course, a difference between knowing I can crank out 50K words in 30 days and actually doing it, and with my writing partner suuuuuuuper busy with real-life stuff, I haven’t had the motivation to work on stuff. Plus, of course, there’s the way the writing part of my brain is so tired after a long day of actually doing it for a living for someone else.

Teaching is emotionally and physically exhausting. It wasn’t nearly as mentally exhausting as writing is. I’m not sure why, but it’s absolutely true in my case. I’ve pretty much never been one of those get-home-and-veg-in-front-of-the-TV guys, since when I was teaching I could seldom afford myself the luxury. I can see it now, though. My brain when I get home from work at this job just wants to go into cruise control.

More about NaNo later.

Phase doubt

I think I can say I’m over Crush Girl, which is not to claim I’ve no feelings anymore. I would still like to get to be friends with her outside the one context in which we’re acquainted, and I still ache once or twice a day, but the hollowness doesn’t linger. Although I’m still not sleeping at night (except for last night which was wonderful), it’s for specific reasons that have nothing to do with her.

The bruises, which I still carry, had a lot to do with the self-examination I had to give myself. I came up wanting, big time, and there’s stuff I need to work on for sure. I lived. I still loathe myself, but that’s pretty much a constant state lately so whatever.


second-best album of the year so far

The new Opeth album is a thing of beauty. While it’s definitely not for everyone (some metalheads have tired of this phase of Opeth’s artistic arc), a lot of people who love music and think they know what metal sounds like would hear something they didn’t think existed. I don’t know if I can rate it fairly just yet, because the band released a regular version (with lyrics sung in Swedish) and an English version because if you want to be seriously profitable in metal you need to sing in English, a fact that annoys me but works in my favor, so I’m not complaining. I’ve only listened to the English version so far. Once I get a nice sense of the lyrical intentions, I’ll switch to Swedish and see if I hear something different.

I’ve tried my best to keep track of everything new I listen to this year, so my best-of list doesn’t have to wait until April or someday as it always does. I don’t have the list with me here, so I’ll wing this. My ten best metal albums of the year so far are probably

  1. Dream Theater, Distance over Time
  2. Opeth, In Cauda Venenum
  3. Soen, Lotus
  4. Fallujah, Undying Light
  5. Tool, Fear Inoculum
  6. Soilwork, Verkligheten
  7. Devin Townsend, Empath
  8. Evergrey, The Atlantic
  9. Children of Bodom, Hexed
  10. Avantasia, Moonglow

I kind of had to reach for the last three, not that they aren’t good. They’re just clearly not as good as the top four. One of my favorites, Vanden Plas, is releasing a new album the first of November, and I’m maybe keeping that number 5 spot warm for it.


Okie dokie. Friday 5 while I have this lovely Oreo McFlurry before heading to bed.

  1. What were you recently sure of, but are now having doubts about?
    I need to preface this (just in case) by saying I love where I work and I love my job, and I think anyone in the office who pays attention wouldn’t question either assertion. Still, I am having a heck of a trying couple of weeks at work, where two coworkers I’m very fond of had their positions terminated and several others have moved on. Six since September 13; sixteen since early July. It’s depressing the heck out of me, so I think it’s understandable that I’m beginning to doubt I’ll feel very much joy at work in the near future, if ever again. It’s fine. Loving the work and loving the people is enough without the joy. Still, that’s pretty dang sad.
  2. What’s something you’d like to see this weekend but probably won’t?
    Clear skies, pleasant tradewinds, a calm sea, and cool evening temperatures. My work-related depression has given me serious sleep problems, which means I’ve been unable to get up early enough to hit the beach in the mornings, and if you read this space with any regularity, you know how miserable that is. I just need two mornings in the next three to be swimmer-friendly and I think it’ll be a good weekend, however many or few points the Raiders beat the Packers by.
  3. When were your doubts pleasantly verified?
    This is going way back, but it popped into my head today while thinking about a friend who recently got engaged. I kinda doubt it’s going to work out that way, but of course I can’t say that to anyone, because what a jerk I am for even thinking of it. When R was engaged to Gregg, she packed up her stuff and moved to San Francisco to be with him while they figured out how it was going to happen. I was as sad as I’ve ever been in my life but I was pretty doubtful they would actually get married. They didn’t. Similarly, my friend Traci quit her teaching position and was all set to go to seminary, but I quietly told a couple of friends I just didn’t see it happening. I may have told Traci herself. Then she met Artoo and got engaged and seminary was off. I think in both cases, my not believing in my very close friends was some kind of failing, even though I was proven to be right. I’m telling you, you don’t want to tell me you’re about to make big plans for your future because I’m very likely not to believe it’s going down. What a jerk.
  4. When were your doubts pleasantly disproven?
    Almost every time I have to do something social with my closer friends. I’m super doubtful I’m going to have a good time, and I usually try up to the last minute to think of some excuse not to participate, but then I do and it turns out fun. Most recently I went to a Japanese whisky tasting with Jennifer, and darn it if it wasn’t really fun and super educational. I didn’t buy anything, but I got some good gift ideas for my dad and sister.
  5. What’s something you have absolutely no doubts about?
    I have lamented this aloud to my closest friends (and nearby strangers) for more than ten years: one of the things I miss most about being young is being totally sure I’m right about stuff. I was wrong most of the time, in retrospect, but I was sure I was right, and I miss that certainty. Now I’m fifty, and I am certain about nothing. I have doubts about everything. I’m probably right more often than I was in my youth, but the feeling of being that sure? I don’t think I’ll ever feel that again.

And down the road, I see the fog roll in.

I will spend my life happily as the butt of others’ jokes

The open letter to Crush Girl thing is idiotic, and I knew it as soon as I re-read my work after posting it. It changes the entire tone of this journal, so of course I’m not doing it. Besides, is there anything to say in this space I haven’t said already, besides stuff I would never put here? No. And I just asked myself a rhetorical question, something I kind of despise.

anna

Suzanne and Julie, two friends I made when I worked for the engineering firm, invited me to see the Downton Abbey movie the weekend before last. I’d never seen the TV series but I needed to write a film review for our newsletter at the office. It seemed like a fun idea to review the film this way.

mary

Honestly, how could I ever have thought I might not like it? I’m already a sucker for a good costume drama, and Downtown Abbey is a very good costume drama. The entire series streams free via Amazon Prime. I had the first season downloaded to my phone before day’s end.

I’m five episodes in and it’s great. Hooked. Big-time.

sybil

Turns out Crush Girl is a big Downton fan (I guess I should have known), which would be super super cool if we could be real-life friends. We’re not there yet. I’m happy it’s given us something new to talk about, though. She even guessed who my favorite characters are after a couple of episodes.

The favorite characters thing is very fluid. I only have the movie and the first few episodes to go on, but it’s Bates among the men and either Anna or Mary among the women, so far. Mary is really nice in the movie but not so nice in season one. If she doesn’t start to be more like Mary in the movie, I’m going to be all-in on Anna.

Crush Girl thinks I’ll like Sybil. Sybil definitely caught my attention. Five episodes into season one, I can see why anyone would guess I’d favor Sybil. She’s a bit of a rebel, isn’t she?

Anna is so pretty, though. This isn’t everything in my favoring a character (I mean, Sister Ingalls is my favorite in Orange is the New Black), but it’s not nothing either.

More about Downton when I get through season one, which I imagine will be around midweek. It’s only seven episodes.

Bye Bye Love

I’m not going to pretend I was the biggest fan of the Cars, or that I was into them from the beginning. Like anyone else who grew up when I did, they were a steady presence in my life, not a band I sought but neither a band I’d change the station on. I couldn’t really change the station anyway, because we had one real rock station in town, and through most of middle and high school that’s all I wanted to listen to.

By the time Heartbeat City came out at the end of my ninth-grade year (I’m tellling you, 1984 is the greatest music year ever), I was well-versed in the FM radio Cars canon. I didn’t care for “You Might Think,” the lead single from Heartbeat City, but I dug the next song, “Magic” (“Uh-oh it’s magic when I’m with you…”), and then I reeeeeeally disliked “Drive.” I still think it’s the worst song they ever recorded.

But then DC, my best female friend in school most of those years, bought Heartbeat City for me on cassette for my birthday, more than six months after its release, and I still have that thing. Listened to the heck out of it, almost always fast-forwarding over “Drive” but loving the album, in no small part because it was a gift from DC, whose life I was out of for a very long time while she raised two daughters, but who is an empty-nester and therefore more available for hanging out. As recently as last year, she called me her best guy friend.

She doesn’t even remember giving me the album, which is fine with me (she also gave me my first Rush album without even knowing anything about Rush; she just knew I liked them and didn’t have any of their albums, so she got me Moving Pictures).

When Captain Daveman, my roomie in Hilo, got married to Tasha (whom I knew before I knew Dave) and I was in the wedding party, he asked me what song they should use as the recessional. This was the day of the rehearsal, so we were short on time and were limited to something in his collection or something we could get at a record store in Hilo. Apparently Tasha was letting him choose the escape song, as long as she was okay with his choice.

My first response was the very obscure “Your Love is Like a Tire Iron” by Ted Nugent, but I was pretty sure we wouldn’t be able to chase that one down (yeah, that’s why we didn’t go with it), but then I said, “You know, if it were my wedding and I were given this choice, I would really, really want some rock and roll in the ceremony somewhere.”

Dave agreed with the sentiment, and my next suggestion, the Cars’ “Good Times Roll,” was met with strong consideration.

I wasn’t just suggesting it because of its theme. The song’s intro is just so good, so full of anticipation for a great, great song. If you know the song, that intro really gets you up. And it’s so celebratory.

It was ultimately rejected in favor of another of my suggestions, “Linus and Lucy” as played by the Vince Guaraldi trio. Dave and I were big Peanuts fans, and that worked okay too, but I filed “Good Times Roll” away as an idea for my own wedding someday. Little did I know I’d be 50 and still keeping that idea alive.

Then about ten years ago, I bought that first Cars album (digitally). What a great album. I couldn’t believe it. Six of nine tracks were part of that rock-radio canon. How cool is it to buy an album and already really really know two thirds of it? The remaining three tracks are pretty great too.

And so I’ll say what everyone has already said in their eulogies. Nobody sounded like Ric Ocasek or the Cars. They had a flair for melody without sounding like a pop group. They shimmered, squeaked, wailed, warbled, and created their own thing. I think it’s impossible to categorize them, though you’d have to mention new wave as part of the mix, but they were such a rock band.

Ric Ocasek’s death, for people of a certain age, is the death of a steady part of our childhoods, a piece of the soundtrack of our first dates, first breakups, and most lasting friendships. I’m so grateful that my memories of the Cars are anchored mostly by my friendships with DC and Captain Daveman, and not some crush or girlfriend. Although that would have been pretty cool too.

My top 10 Cars songs in order.

  1. You’re All I’ve Got Tonight
  2. My Best Friend’s Girl
  3. Good Times Roll
  4. Candy-O
  5. Dangerous Type
  6. Bye Bye Love
  7. Hello Again
  8. Magic
  9. Sad Song
  10. Blue Tip

I did a stupid thing the other day. Crush Girl and I were talking about this friend of mine, and I sent her to a link of this friend’s blog. Then (honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking), I messaged her: “Oh look. He mentions me halfway down the page.”

Dude hasn’t updated his blog since 2011, and halfway down the page, he mentions me as the keeper of the Friday 5, linking it with the old URL. The occasion was Ryan’s death earlier in the week, something I still haven’t written about here.

It was a stupid thing to do because although that’s a dead link, if she wanted to she could easily track down the existing Friday 5, which of course links here, where I’ve done all this writing about her. I’m a little nervous about it, honestly.

Although really, just Googling me would bring her right here as well, in which case this is all moot.

I don’t think I’ve written anything here I’m ashamed of, although perhaps the intensity of my disappointment and depression is not the best message for someone I’m trying to get to know in the friendzone.

I decided while I typed this that I’m not going to worry about it. There are lines within which I write this stuff anyway, and I’d be an idiot to write anything I really didn’t want people to look at. I just hope it doesn’t negatively affect our growing friendship.

We’re sliding into a casual comfort, a wee bit of that real-world friendship I’ve wanted. Maybe Jocelyn is right, and friendzoning makes actual friendship easier.

I admit it still aches, especially on days when she looks especially nice. Yet in exchange for that aching, I get to interact with her about some good stuff. Nothing especially intimate or personal, but more than smalltalk for sure, and I’m grateful for that too. I’m just focusing on trying to be a good friend, something I can certainly improve on. But more about that later.


Speaking of the Friday 5, here we go. This week, it’s Telltale Tales

  1. What’s a story you really like from your country’s (or ethnicity’s) folklore?
    For the United States half of me, I’ve always been especially fond of the stories of Paul Bunyan, influenced mostly by the Disney cartoon(s) about him. I became aware some time later in my childhood of Joe Magarac, the mythical steelworker, and I’ll put him just a notch below Paul Bunyan.

    For the Japanese half of me, it’s pretty tough to beat Urashima Taro. CliffsNotes version: The young Taro, something of a loner in his fishing village, rescues a sea turtle from abuse by other boys. The turtle asks him to climb on his back; he’d like to reward Taro for saving him. He takes Taro beneath the sea to the Dragon Palace, where he meets the princess. They spend a few days laughing, playing, and exploring. She asks him to stay. He’s worried about his mother and grandmother who depend on him. Sadly, he says he’s got to go back. The princess gives him a box in whose lid is carved the kanji for the four seasons. She tells him not to open it; it’s just to remind him of her. When he gets back home, nothing looks the same, and he can’t find his mother or grandmother, and nobody knows him. He figures out he’s been gone for more than a hundred years. In an act of — actually I don’t know why he does it — he opens the box, which I guess contains all those seasons he missed, because he instantly turns into a very very old man. The stories of my people are very sad.
  2. What movie version of a fairy tale do you especially like?
    What’s a better fairy-tale inspired movie than Tangled? That film is beautiful. Beauty and the Beast is a far better film but I don’t think that’s a fairy tale, is it?
  3. Some fables tell the story of how something came to be (for example, Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears). What’s a fable you especially like in this vein?
    A story every child in Hawaii is familiar with: the story of the Naupaka, which grows near the ocean and up in the mountains, and bears a strange-looking half flower. If you put halves of the ocean flowers together, they don’t look right, and neither do two halves of the mountain flowers. To get the right look, you have to take an ocean flower and match it with a mountain flower. Separated lovers. There are a few versions of the story out there.
  4. Some fables have a moral attached to the end (for example, The Boy Who Cried Wolf). What fable in this vein is especially applicable to your life?
    I was going to share the story of the rabbit in the moon (in Japan, they see a rabbit, not a man), but someone beat me to it. So instead, I offer the Fox and the Grapes, from which we get our “sour grapes” expression. I think it’s a terrible moral, but have I considered it in my trying to recover from Crush Girl’s friendzoning me? I certainly have. It won’t stick, though! She’s too nice. I’ve sorta done the reverse lately: convinced myself that I’m pretty horrible boyfriend material in my current state. It didn’t take much convincing, and it mostly works. Better not to get her involved with the likes of me.
  5. If you got together with your high-school friends, what’s a story they might retell about you?
    At our twenty-year reunion (a million years ago), several female classmates told stories about how I was the first guy who spoke to them when they were new. Because of course I was. You can believe there were no guys telling that story. One classmate, Elise, says that on her first day, I walked up to her with my Walkman headphones on, but the phones weren’t plugged into my Walkman. They were plugged into an apple. Apple the fruit, not the (still to be invented) iPod. I remember doing that. I don’t remember the next part she told, that I approached the new girl, took off my headphones, and asked her if she wanted to listen. Haha. What a terrible, incurable flirt. If she had said yes, I’m sure we’d have been married and divorced by now.

    Elise was super cute though. I regret nothing.

You’re All I’ve Got Tonight

Can’t expound on the death of Ric Ocasek yet, but I may have to soon.

I meant to do a ton of writing this weekend. I’m behind on a few personal projects, including film reviews and book reviews, but I didn’t get to them, so hopefully that’ll be next weekend.

I did get to the thing I’ve most wanted to work on. My writing partner and I met the week before last for the first time in ages, during which she had a baby. She’d been saying for months before having the child that she was absolutely not giving up on her writing, that our partnership was not going to evaporate. I listened and nodded, but I never believed.

I’m still not sure, but we did meet, six months after her son’s birth (she gave him a literary first name, so perhaps there’s some hope), and it wasn’t long enough. We didn’t have time to catch up and really get into each other’s work, which we’d shared the week before.

I sent her five unfinished Halloween short stories and asked her to look at two of them. She gave me some good, quick advice, so my goal before our next meeting later this week is to edit what was a first draft and complete the story. It needed serious editing — I was kind of appalled at the draft’s wordiness and questionable readability, two areas I consider strengths in my style.

Still don’t know how to finish the story, but I think I have a great premise, and the editing this weekend really amped me to get it done. I have a couple of decent ideas for direction, but I don’t know how to wrap this stuff up. Typical of my attempts at fiction.

I don’t understand it. I’ve been known to tell a good story. My fellow teachers have told me it’s something I do well for young people — that I keep students “rapt” with my storytelling. Yet when I’m at the keyboard trying to do the same thing, I’m lost. It’s maddening.

It was a mellow weekend, not at all social but I’ve had social things the past two weekends so just chilling by myself is pretty much what I needed. I feel ready to go back to the office and kick some butt, which I’m going to have to do because I’m a little nervous about being behind on a few things.

I mentioned some time ago, in the depths of my mooning over Crush Girl, that I put a dating app on my phone, which I still have not opened. Since then, FB added a dating feature, and you know, someone has to take that thing for a test drive, right? I should be that guy. I have some air conditioning issues to work out with my car this week (I was going to do it this weekend but just wasn’t motivated), and I need to get that thing operational before I even consider asking someone out, but I might as well set up my profile this week. I’m putting it on the list.

I’m led to believe that the protocol with these apps is to meet at some mutually agreed-upon place, not to pick up someone for the date, and I guess that makes sense. I haven’t been in the game for so long I don’t know what expected behavior is anymore. If it’s true, this AC issue is moot, at least for now.

Good thing a likely date is also super old like I am.

This is going to sound really, really stupid, and perhaps I shouldn’t even put this here since I expect a likely date to Google me and find this space, but I’m a little worried that I’ll compare everyone to Crush Girl. Which would actually be progress for me, since any time before this year I’d compare everyone to R, whose picture I’ve been out of for maybe twenty years. I stopped trying to figure out when it was, but it’s more than ten for sure.

I don’t even know Crush Girl that well, which is why this comparison thing would be so stupid. I was friendzoned before I got the chance to spend time with her away from the one context where we interact. This misery I’ve been feeling has mostly to do with not getting that chance. But now I’m repeating myself so I’ll shut up about it. For now.

I was going to do the Friday 5, but that’ll wait ’til later too. It’s late Sunday night and I have other late-Sunday-night ruminations to get funked up about.

Let the good times roll.

Help, I’m Stepping into the Friendship Zone

I’ll get to obligatory Crush Girl talk in a bit. In an effort not to keep writing the same stuff all the time, I’m switching it up a little.

It was an interesting week and a half in new music. Taylor Swift’s new album was followed immediately by new music from Tool, Elvenking, Tarja Turunen, and Visions of Atlantis; then just two days ago a new album from Sonata Arctica, which I was totally not expecting.

I still haven’t given Tarja or VoA a spin. I was kind of stuck on Taylor during drives to (and at) work, which left Elvenking for drives home. I listened to Tool and Elvenking during walks until Friday, when I bumped Sonata Arctica to the top of the list.

I don’t think many readers of this space are fans of power metal, so I’ll (for now) spare everyone the details, but the Elvenking is better than the Sonata Arctica, but the best songs on Sonata Arctica are better than the best songs on Elvenking. There are a couple of slow songs on the Sonata Arctica that I suffer through but will probably be skips after I’ve given the whole album ten spins or so.

Also, I like Elvenking’s folk-flavored brand of the genre. Plus the album cover is better. I think I’m going to buy this one on CD.

Sometime in the next week or so (ha!) I’m going to post a song-by-song breakdown of the Taylor album. It would be a great ten-song album, but it’s mostly just an okay eighteen-song album, and boy is it overproduced. This is the most disappointing thing about it, the layers of production unnecessarily covering up the Taylorness.

The new Tool is so much better than indicated by commentors’ responses on metal blogs. I’m disappointed in these fans but happy that critical response seems pretty good. I’m not ready to discuss it yet — it’s going to need several more listens. Also this is the band’s album cover ever.

I’m not as miserable over Crush Girl as I’ve been. There’s an aching hollowness in a weird, annoying place that might have been there all along without my being aware of it, but now I feel it and think about it all the time, and it’s making life kind of disappointing.

Someone I know has guessed Crush Girl’s identity. Like, with no problem. This concerns me a little, as I’ve tried to be pretty opaque about this all. I’m definitely not nicer to Crush Girl than I am to others around me, at least as far as I can tell. Except for the dark clouds floating over my head all the time, I’m pretty much the same person I’ve been. Ugh. I don’t really need the world knowing about this.

In the absence of possible romance, I want to be Crush Girl’s friend. That’s going to be a little achey at first, and possibly forever, but I’m willing to bear it. This brings up all kinds of issues I’ve debated with the friend who figured it out. The friend seems to think Crush Girl’s accepting of normal acts of friendship are leading me on, giving me a feeling that there’s hope for something more.

My feeling is that it doesn’t matter. Hoping for something more is not the same thing as expecting something more. Feeling crappy but having a normal friendship is far, far preferable to me than feeling less crappy but not getting to do normal friend things.

My being shot down in flames is better for our friendship, right? Jocelyn (who endures pretty much all the anguished conversation of Crush Girl since this started six months ago) thinks Crush Girl’s friendzoning me makes it easier for Crush Girl to be friendly. I’m already in the friendzone; she can be extra friendly if she wants and have the F word to shield her from my masculine romantic aggression, such as it exists (and I am beginning to think it doesn’t). I’m okay with it. Friend who figured it out doesn’t think I should be.

These past two weeks haven’t been as lean as I intended, so of course I’m worse off for the next couple of weeks. I’m talking a lean couple of weeks coming up now. I’m thinking of going full-on poverty for the first week so I can try to have a normal week the next, but that never seems to work for some reason. It’s too bad, too, because I have a few car things I want to have taken care of soon, and they’re going to have to wait.

I’ve also had my eyes on a new guitar. Crush Girl feelings demand some kind of outlet, and is there a better musical muse than a new instrument? I’m thinking of cruising the pawn shops next weekend just to see if there’s a decent bargain out there, to tide me over until I can afford something new.

I was going to do Friday 5s from the past two weeks but this is too long already. I’ll do them later.

Mirror Mirror

Periodic surges of melancholy are preferable to unrelenting waves of it, but they’re still pretty inconvenient. At work last week, I used the bathroom and took a moment to stand a few moments looking at myself in the mirror. I look the same as always, although I am starting visibly to see the result of some of my physical activity lately. I’m dropping pounds.

I’m still unhappy with myself, and mostly it’s just this general unhappiness, nothing I can put a finger on. I’m not writing this so the world can hear me say woe is me, but woe is me, dangit. And I don’t like it as much as I usually say I do.

As I came out of the restroom, I muttered, “I hate myself,” while a coworker was passing. She said, “That’s an odd thing to hear from someone exiting the men’s room.”

I was caught off guard for a change.

She said, “Having one of those look-yourself-in-the-mirror moments?”

“That’s pretty much it,” I confessed.

“I understand,” she said, and left me alone. It was kind of beautiful.


I don’t think I plan to wallow forever, or even for much longer. I’m even sorta talking myself out of wallowing. This is what I figure.

The likelihood of two people being matches for each other is narrow. I know this. There’s nothing right or wrong with it; it’s just the way. If I took forever to get past R (and forever may be the right word, literally) it was largely because we were matches for each other. This is different. I just really like Crush Girl, not even like-like, necessarily. But like, enough to go out on the limb.

There are at least a thousand reasons I wouldn’t be as interesting to Crush Girl as she is to me. I know it. I can name seven hundred and fifty of them, easily. I put myself out there; she shot me down. It happens every day and most of the time it’s not a big deal. I’m smart enough to know that if I keep putting myself out there, I’m going to find someone who’s interested in me too. The odds alone would have to ensure it, but I’m not just talking about odds.

For as much as I loathe myself (and I do!), I know I’ve got something to offer someone, maybe even someone I’ll enjoy being with more than I enjoy being by myself. If there’s a plan for me, it doesn’t make sense for me to wallow in disappointment and hurt. That’s no way for a plan to unfold.

This is what I tell myself. It makes sense. I get it. The world turns. And as the dust blows in, the light blows out. It’s been a long time looking for you; it’s been a long time breaking through. Gonna be a long time getting over you.

Or not.


I’m rambling. It’s okay. That’s what this space is for.

I got permission last year to start a fantasy football league at the office. We had ten participants last year. This year, we lost two from last season but we added six new teams. Fourteen teams. I’m so excited. I was looking for a project related to camaraderie and inclusion, and some of the new participants are from departments that some of us feel kind of separated from.

We drafted online live last night, and ten of the fourteen people showed up. Ten people hanging out with coworkers online for two hours last night. I’m very happy.

Also happy because Yahoo and another source evaluated the draft and declared me the winner of the draft. Heck yeah. Bring on the NFL.