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.

Shallow (also Friday 5: Smallifying)

It occurred to me yesterday morning while I was floating on my back in the Pacific Ocean, trying to soak up some of the peace its name promises, that if I’m as shallow as I suspect, maybe it won’t be so hard to get over Crush Girl.

I think about some of the shallow people I know, the guys who have a type. They pretty much roll from one relationship to another with seemingly little damage. This one likes Filipino girls; that one likes redheads. If you’re shallow and you know your type, perhaps you just bounce into the next person who satisfies the type.

Seriously. I know who I am, and an elite college gets me hot. Or at least warm. R went to Stanford. Mochi Girl went to Cornell. One of my former colleagues (a really good friend) went to William and Mary, and before I knew anything else about her, my interest was piqued. Man, I’ve always wanted to go out with a William and Mary girl. It was clear very early on that we were going to be great friends and that was it. I was totally fine with that, but for a few moments, I mean come on. William and Mary.

It makes sense, really. Some of my best friends went to upper-tier schools. Grace went to Wellesley. Karen went to Bryn Mawr. Mina Kimes went to Yale (okay, she’s not a friend but she’s responded to my comments on IG so it’s a start). And let’s not forget all the beautiful, brilliant women I know who went to UH Hilo. If so many of my good friends went to school like this, why wouldn’t I be attracted in more-than-a-friend ways to women who also attended them?

Mochi Girl was a botany major, but maybe that’s why that one didn’t go anywhere.

Do the dating apps let me filter for certain universities and certain majors? Hook me up with a Princeton English major, please. Or a Penn art history major. Or a Harvard education major. Does Harvard even have a college of ed? I have no idea, but I’d love to find out.

Shallow, I know, but maybe my shallowness is the key to swimming my way out of this misery, up to the surface where perhaps I belong. Those depths, I tell you, are fraught with currents of melancholy.


I had my annual performance review at work today, a formality I dislike with intensity, but one I understand is an important part of my job and my supervisor’s job. It went well; it was possibly my best one with this employer. I think I’m trending upward.

I could really use a hefty raise, though. I mean something that by itself would cover my rent. Honestly, if I were paying no rent I think I’d consider myself well off — okay, well enough off– with what I make right now. The employer has been good about boosting my pay each year I’ve been here, including the one year when I was only there six months before this annual review thing. I don’t think the raises have quite kept up with inflation, so I’m still getting poorer, but I appreciate the effort.

Man. I’d still like something more liberating. One of my colleagues (someone more than twenty years younger than me in a different department) asked me what I make. It’s taboo in America to talk about such things, but this person’s a friend, so I considered answering it the way a friend would answer it.

Before I responded, the person asked, “Do you make 50?”

“I make way less than 50,” I said.

“Do you make 45?”

“Shoot. If you consider 45 way less than 50, I make way, way less than 50.”

She was appalled, which gives me an idea of what she makes.

It’s okay. I don’t do it for the money. I make enough to scrape by; I love my work; I love the people I work with. There are so many worse scenarios. And thank God I don’t have anyone to support. Yes, what a blessing it is that nobody has deemed me fit to start a family with!

Anyway. I won’t find out about a raise until probably a month or two from now, based on past experience. It’s a good thing I love me some Princeton girls who can support us both. If they can find me.


Friday 5. From here.

  1. What mini version of a popular snack food is better than its original?
    I don’t think they make Butterfinger BBs anymore, but when they did that would be my answer. I loved those things. Ah, that link says they were discontinued in 2006. Those mini Nutter Butters are pretty dang irresistable. Also, I’d like to say that the optimal size for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups is not the original or the mini, but the snack size (or whatever it’s called). The perfect ratio of chocolate to filling. Those minis were such a good idea, but there’s too much chocolate for the amount of filling you get.
  2. What mini version of a popular snack food is not as good as its original?
    Just today I was in a convenience store and I picked up these Rice Krispies snacks in little bite-sized bits. These were frosted. There were chocolate and vanilla creme; I went with vanilla creme. And blech. The icing was just like the white icing on those frosted animal crackers, only frosted animal crackers are yummy and these were gross.
  3. What food, not yet miniaturized as far as you know, might make a great hors d’oeuvre for parties?
    It’s been my goal for years to get a deep fryer and make mini chimichangas. Think of it. I use a cookie cutter to cut rounds out of tortillas, about three inches across. Smear some burrito filling on them, add a slice of cheese, roll, and fry. Then serve on toothpicks with little cups of salsa for dipping. I need to get on this, maybe before the next office potluck.
  4. What snack food might be better in a giant size?
    How about blueberry Newtons? Like, brownie sized, so you can put a scoop of French vanilla ice cream on top.
  5. What five mini-scoops of ice cream flavors would go really well together?
    Okay, ready? Coffee. Cookies and cream. French vanilla. Chocolate. Chocolate chip cookie dough. POW.

Friday 5: Timing is Everything

Today was a state holiday: Admission Day or Statehood Day, according to Wikipedia. I grew up with it as Admission Day but I heard someone smart a few years ago say the state changed it to Statehood Day and I accepted it without questioning it. Finally looked it up (just now!) and the Hawaii Department of Human Resources calls it Statehood Day. Good enough for me.

I was so tired last night I just collapsed in bed without putting myself properly away, something that’s been happening far too frequently lately. It’s disturbing, because I have the Darth Vader machine to put on or I don’t sleep well, which affects my blood pressure, which I’m trying to keep under control. I also have eyedrops for my high eye pressures. Those are fine if I put them in when I wake up in the morning but my doctor recommends I put them in before bed, and I try to listen to my ophthalmologist even though she’s a Broncos fan.

So of course I woke up really early. There was a rat in my live trap. I stopped at Starbucks before taking the cage up to the place where I let the rats go. I’m not saying where because I don’t want to get anyone mad who might live in the area, although if I told you where it is you would agree with me that it’s a reasonable place to let rats go. Let the wealthy deal with my vermin.

I had a latte, letting the rat sit in my car for half an hour while I did the NYT crossword puzzle and sipped my coffee. There’s a Starbucks in a spot that would have been enormously convenient when I was still teaching at HBA. I’m kinda-sorta glad it wasn’t there when I taught, although it seems like a total no-brainer. How Kalihi got a Starbucks ten years before Nuuanu is a bafflement.

I watched the rat run out of the cage, then do this weird bounding thing the rats do when they get to the tall grass. Then I hit the beach. It was nice. My shoulders were still a bit tired from pushing myself Thursday morning, so I took it easy. The physical benefits are one reason I get in the water but the mental health benefits are the bigger reason. Just cruised my usual distance and enjoyed the salt, sand, and sunshine.

At work I had this deadline for Monday at 9, so yesterday was focused mainly on that, and speaking of focus, I couldn’t find any. I was going a little crazy not being able to lock in and get the assignment done. Around 1:00 I went for a walk around the block (my boss is very understanding of a writer’s need for a change of scenery when the ideas aren’t flowing) and it occurred to me that if I were to put myself in a deep state of depression (maybe not that deep), the part of my brain I need to keep occupied so it doesn’t get distracted could wallow around in that while the part of my brain that does the writing could snap into its groove.

Luckily for me, depression is never very far away. Especially lately with Crush Girl friendzoning me. By the time I got back to my desk I was good and miserable, almost to the point of tears.

I banged that story out like I had it memorized. My keyboard was almost like a player piano, independent of the hands pretending to control it. It wasn’t really like that, and there were a couple of transitions I had some difficulty with, but I was utterly in control the whole way.

So. Add darkness and depression to my writer’s toolbox. I might try to turn that into an article for a writers magazine or something.

Jocelyn thinks I should give it one more shot with Crush Girl (she’s aware of the complications I’ve mentioned but not named) because she thinks I may not have been clear about what I want, which is to spend time with her in alternate contexts so as to get to know her better because I really like her so far. Jocelyn thinks I have to hurry because if I’m in the friendzone for too long (and it doesn’t take too long to get to too long) I’ll never get out of it, which could be unfair to us both.

I’m considering it. Goodness knows my own wisdom has yielded little more than warm memories and cold misery so far in my love life, such as it exists, so why not take the advice of someone who’s made it work? Yeah, why not?

I wish this were only physical attraction; it would be so much easier to deal with. While it’s definitely that, there’s so much more going on here. She makes me smile in strange, small moments I haven’t seen before.

R made me laugh all the time, and the ways she made me smile were always tinged with a little bit of sadness. She’s had a rough life, and her defense, at least in all the years before she had kids, was to cling tenaciously to a childlike way of experiencing the world, and expressing what she saw through this lens. It was disarming and tragic at the same time. It’s where her beauty came from, not to mention her art.

Crush Girl makes me smile in a completely different way I haven’t been able to define, mostly because it’s new. It took me ages (as in decades, plural) to define how R made me smile, so if it takes me a while to figure out what it is with Crush Girl I guess that makes sense although I’m thinking about it more directly than I ever did with R.

One theory I’ve floated to myself (and now to whoever is reading this) is that when you’ve been around the same people for a very long time, which I have with most of my friends, you become so familiar with each other’s timing and tendencies that while you continue to make each other laugh and smile, there’s nothing unexpected about any of it.

Crush Girl’s timing is so different, and her wording, and her sentiment. I don’t think she even knows most of the time that she’s making me smile, or how she’s making me smile.

A really, really smart guy I once knew (who played in this band) explained to some students we had in common how love at first sight is possible. I’ve never believed in it; love is too big a word. But this guy talked about how something about the way someone carries him- or herself can define a room, can alter a room, and it’s not difficult to fall in love with that.

I didn’t buy it then, and I don’t buy it fully now, but the guy had a good argument.

You can’t really notice upon first sight someone’s rhythm or timing or diction in how she makes you smile, but if you could I might be convinced that love at first sight is possible.


Here’s this week’s Friday 5, whose questions are related to the stress of my work deadline this week.

  1. What’s your hurry?
    While I don’t know if I agree with Jocelyn about how long in the friendzone someone can be before any chance at romance is lost, I’m willing to entertain the notion that it’s very very very short. I think I need to make another move Monday. And if I get shot down again, that is it, at least until circumstances change.
  2. Where’s the fire?
    Geez. There have been an unusual number of deaths in house fires on this island this summer. I live in a very old house and I have to admit I get worried about fire sometimes. This isn’t helping.
  3. You need it when?
    This is going to be a lean week ahead, and the two weeks following may be just as lean. So if someone could sprinkle some fairy dust on my pay schedule and get me the next two paydays really quickly, can we shoot for this coming Wednesday? Thank you!
  4. What’s your ETA?
    We had to complete self-evals for performance reviews, and one of the questions was, “What new challenges, objectives, or career goals would you like to pursue in the upcoming rating period?”

    I wrote that I have no career objectives beyond doing good work, and it’s true. It comes from being a teacher all those years. If you teach and if you don’t hope to be an administrator, there’s no real upward mobility. You just teach, and you just hope to do better each year than the last. There are all kinds of objectives related to that, but I don’t think this is the same thing.

    I mention this because since I don’t have a spouse or kids, the way I might define my arrival has to be different. I’ve been in a weird state of arrested development ever since I settled into the identify of my profession, something that hasn’t really changed even as my professions have. I think (I hope) my arrival will be tied somehow to my writing. This may be a lame answer but it’s the one I’ve been pondering these last couple of weeks. Thanks to my job, I can now actually call myself a writer, but I’m not the writer I want to be. I’m going to set my ETA at five years from today.
  5. What’s the holdup?
    Immaturity, mostly, in the form of avoidance of things I don’t want to do in favor of silly dreams, infatutuation, imagining, and just getting myself out of bed every morning and (more difficult) putting myself to bed every night.

Friday 5: Scattergories Part 9

I made my move. I can’t say why, in this public space, but I pretty much only got one chance at this — there would be no wooing, none of my customary long game. It’s the main reason I waited so long. I had to pick a time when I thought the moment was good. I wasn’t getting a second shot.

I asked her (via text, of course) if she wanted to see a movie with me next week, one evening during the week. She said she’d already told other friends she’d see the movie with them. I said let me know if you change your mind. Then I said it wasn’t really about the movie, so if she wants to hang out, let’s hang out. If not, I’ll back off. And then something about really enjoying getting to know her.

She replied the next morning with thanks — you’re a good friend.

Oh yeah. Friend-zoned right out of the gate.

At first I felt lousy, of course, but I also felt pretty good. “I’m back in the game,” I wrote in some public social media space somewhere. I even texted two friends saying the same thing. “I asked her out. She shot me down in flames. But I’m back in the game so I’m okay.”

That lasted almost a day, and now it pretty much just feels crappy, and here’s why. For most of my life, I haven’t pursued female companionship for dating’s sake. I casually dated rather a lot, especially in high school and early in college, because I love female companionship, but it was never really about long-term relationships. I didn’t pursue relationships after my first high-school girlfriend as the object themselves.

With R, it wasn’t about wanting to be in a relationship. It was her. I just liked being with her more than I liked being with anyone else, including alone by myself. When I asked Mochi Girl out, it was her, not a relationship, I was interested in, and we’re talking about a lot of years between R and Mochi Girl. Except for K (a very long story I should probably tell, now that all interested parties are married except me), someone I pined a very long time for without ever making a move, it’s pretty much just been R and Mochi Girl since I graduated college 24 years ago.

Mochi Girl didn’t work out mostly because I liked being alone more than I liked being with her, and I rather liked being with her. So it takes someone rather terrific for me to start thinking moves.

Don’t get me wrong: there have been crushes galore. Pretty much non-stop ever since things ended with R. But, you know. Just crushes.

This one was (is) different. I really like her, or at least the her I know so far. Circumstances (those blasted circumstances again!) sort of make it difficult to get to know her outside one or two contexts. I don’t know what she’s like when she’s angry, or how she treats people who are uncool to her, or whether she’s pre- or post-millennial about the rapture, or what she thinks of predestination (possible deal-breaker, I tell myself even though I know it’s a lie).

What I do know, though, was enough to get me out of my crush stasis and into move-making mode.

That’ll teach me.

Because you know, I have this dating app (I’m not saying which but some of the stuff three paragraphs up would give you a clue) on my phone and I considered opening it up.

I installed it months ago but haven’t opened it yet. At first it was because I had to ask myself what my approach was going to be, but then it was because I was into Crush Girl, and the stupid dating app seemed meaningless. I wanted Crush Girl, or at least I wanted to see if Crush Girl and I could be a thing.

But hey. I’m back in the game, right? Let’s take that dating app for a spin.

Not as easy as I kind of thought it would be. Crush Girl is pretty outstanding. I’d post a few bullets here but circumstances make that impossible for now; I’d have to find some kind of code to write it in.

If you know me well, you’d just say, “Well of course.” Certain things about where she went to school and what she studied, and what she does on Sundays, just shallow LinkedIn profile kind of stuff, might have you shaking your head too. Like, don’t I ever learn?

I’m not saying someone on the dating app would have to have those bullets (which R and Mochi Girl both did). But at least in the immediate aftermath of being shot down, I have to say it’s difficult to imagine anyone not having them catching my interest.

‘Cause it’s not about the dating. I’m fine without dating. It was about her, and now I’m not sure I’m fine without her.

It kind of hurts to type that.

It’s been ten(ish) years since Mochi Girl. It took someone like Crush Girl for me to make a move. Someone find me someone like that!


Friday 5, from here. The annual Scattergories theme. The random-letter generator rolled me an R. I am not making this up.

  1. What beverage do you enjoy but seldom have?
    Root beer for sure. I love it, but there’s just too much sugar in regular soda, and I have some blood sugar issues. I still have a root beer wall in my house, though, where 20+ glass bottles of root beer from different bottlers tells the story of my love.
  2. What’s better now than when you were a kid?
    I want to say rock concerts. When I was a kid, the local concert scene semed so not-happening, although I remember missing a good number of great shows just because I wasn’t old enough to go anywhere. In fact, one reason I got my first paying job right after turning 14 was so I could buy my own concert tickets and not have to ask for money. The first one came along in 9th grade, a few months after I got the job. .38 Special with Golden Earring. I presented my case to my dad, even though I already knew the answer. It was a school night. My parents were religious about school nights. My dad said he appreciated that I’d worked hard for the money and if it hadn’t been a school night, he’d have let me go. Dang! The concert scene is pretty lively now. I’ve been to more concerts in the past three years than in the previous 20.
  3. Who makes you happy?
    Speaking of concerts, Rush was my first, and something inspired me to listen to lots of Rush this week (not that I ever need a reason), and there was a moment, sitting in front of my computer at work, when I wanted to say aloud that Rush really makes me happy. I can’t say that of many people, so thanks to Geddy, Alex, and Neil. I’m flicking my Bic in Canada’s general direction.
  4. Where do you go when you want to indulge?
    There’s an Italian restaurant in my parents’ neighborhood called Ricado’s, and I’m a big fan. Some friends and I used to go a lot, but it’s been rather a long time since I’ve been there. I think I’ll try to organize a weeknight dinner with those friends this week. Take my mind off what’s-her-name. IT WORKED! Just kidding. That’s an old Peanuts joke.
  5. Where’s a comfy place to sit?
    I have great difficulty finding comfy places to sit. I don’t do chairs very well, although I’ve known a few pleasant rockers and recliners in my day. Denise, who rolled an H, says hammock, which is a great answer. Hammocks are ridiculously comfortable. I’m afraid my answer is Regal Dole Cannery IMAX and RPX, the movie theater in my hood. It’s a quiet, air-conditioned, dark, comfy place to catch a nap, something I’ve done many times over the years. I have better naps in that theater than anywhere, other than the theater close to the office!