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 saw a creature, naked, bestial

My favorite boba spot is closing in the middle of this week. I haven’t been coming here as much since we moved offices, even though the new office is actually closer. The spot is along the bus line home from the old office, and four blocks (or so) out of my way driving home from the new office.

However, they claim they’re reopening in the Liliha area, which is pretty much the neighborhood just over from mine — I drive through it every day on my to and from work. One thing that’s kept me from this spot most nights is that I’d rather have boba close to home after work, so this could be a nice development, assuming there’s parking. Get out of the office, drive home for dinner, then hop back a little way to get boba.

I asked the cutie working the register if she knows where the new spot is going to be, explaining that I live in the area. She said she wasn’t sure, and that if I keep an eye on their social media that’s where they’d announce it. I asked her if they didn’t know, or if they knew but just weren’t telling people. She laughed and said they weren’t telling people. Of course.

If they’re being honest and actually mean Liliha (and not, say, Nuuanu), I can think of a few places it could go, and one of them is right across the street from Grace’s house, which would also be kind of cool. I hope it’s open as late as this location (until 11 on weeknights and 12 on weekends) but knowing the area, it almost surely won’t be.

I’ve found that the best thing about the massive proliferation of boba spots in this town is that when you identify the best unique thing each spot offers, you think of each differently for different moods or occasions, and they don’t blur into each other. The spot I favor makes this ginger black milk tea that’s amazing. A couple of other spots in town make it but those places don’t even come close to this one.

For a time a couple of years ago, they were always out of it when I asked. We’re talking six or eight months. Disappointed, I once accused them of not intending to bring it back.

The cutie behind the counter (a different cutie) explained to me that they get their ginger from China and it takes a long time to get here!

The boba girls all knew it was my drink. One day when I came in and ordered something else, the boba girl said, “You know we have the ginger again?”

It was worth waiting for, I tell you. Here’s hoping the new spot will also be worth waiting for. I’m trying not to hold my breath, but I will be keeping an eye on the social media.


The concert scene really slowed down after the early spring. Suddenly, though, a whole bunch of bands I’d like to see have been announced. Black Flag is coming up in a few days, Hanson was last weekend, the Raconteurs (!) are playing the Republik next month, and Jason Isbell is playing the concert hall in January. I’m not as liquid nowadays as I was, so I’m actually having to be choosy, and right now I can’t make up my mind.

I already have tickets (plural) to see Patton Oswalt the weekend of my birthday. I bought the tickets when I still thought Crush Girl and I could be a thing, before the friendzoning, figuring if that never worked out it wouldn’t be difficult to find someone to come along. It’s a standup comedian — I could easily just bring a guy friend if I ran out of girl friends to ask.

One of my friends has been texting me to ask if I’m going to Black Flag — she only wants to go if someone she knows is going too. While I was trying to decide, they announced the Raconteurs so of course she’s going to that, probably with her husband, so now my participation isn’t needed.

I’m almost certainly not going to the Raconteurs because tickets are a little steeper than I’m willing to pay for that show. I saw Jack White when he did a show here a few years ago (the same friend was also at that show, on the other side of the arena) and it was pretty good. I just have to be pickier, and I’m leaning toward Jason Isbell.


Wednesday night I saw the Metallica movie, an edited film of the band’s performance with the San Francisco Symphony in September. It was really good, although a little self-indulgent, a vibe I didn’t pick up from the CD recording of the original show with the symphony twenty years ago. I’m happy to look the other way on the self-indulgence. The band is still, all these years later, the biggest-selling live band in America, so they deserve some indulgence.

I enjoyed it so much I came off the fence on the Slayer movie next month. Slayer’s supposedly calling it a day after the current tour, so what the heck; I might as well.


This past summer, something at work really, really got me angry and I didn’t tell anyone about it, but a friend in the office says everyone knew I was pissed, even if they didn’t know what I was pissed about. They couldn’t have, because it was all happening in email between me and a few people in my department.

I don’t know why, but I always thought I was good about keeping my feelings to myself when I was determined to. But this coworker said no, when I’m mad it “oozes out” of me, a description I really liked. I’m picturing what I must have looked like during my four-hour CPR training that day if everyone else in the room (including the instructor, according to my friend) could see anger oozing out of me. I’d like to have seen it.

I mention this because I’ve been really down about something at work this week, something everyone knows about. Although I’ve heard from a few people that they didn’t think it was handled well, nobody seems to be as personally upset as I am, which puzzles me a little. I swear I must be oozing out of every pore.

So I stayed in bed all morning and didn’t drag myself to the office until somewhere around 2. We’ve had terrible rain this week, which means I can’t go swimming unless I want to soak up all that runoff. Yick.

That threw off my Saturday morning game, but sleeping in was really what I needed. I didn’t get anything on my list done at the office today. I did spend a few hours thinking about this thing I’m upset about, and about possible ways of (a) dealing with it now and (b) defending myself against this kind of being upset the next time it happens.

Yeah. I actually had a little cry about it, because it seemed the solution is just to stick to my job, and stop directing my energies at trying to encourage camaraderie and goodwill. I don’t want to be specific about what I do toward trying to help others feel as good about working here as I feel about it, because honestly it’s embarrassing and if I spelled it out, you’d think what I really need is a girlfriend or a dog or something, on whom I could direct all this energy and time.

Or a classroom full of teenagers, if I’m being honest.

But as I made a specific action plan for reining in my energies so I could just do my freaking job, I realized that although I could do it, I would be even unhappier than I am now. I’d rather try and fail, and have my ideals smooshed down, than not try. The trying makes me happy. The failure is just an accepted part of the mission.

I am going to cut back on a few things, though, because one must, every so often. I’ve been doing some fill-in work at the reception desk, and I’ve already asked that they call me only when they’ve gone through the list first, at least until sometime next month. And we’re doing our annual Halloween thing at the end of the month. I’m going to sit this one out.

My bitter heart needs some downtime.


In the Desert
by Stephen Crane

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, “Is it good, friend?”
“It is bitter—bitter,” he answered;

“But I like it
“Because it is bitter,
“And because it is my heart.”


You and me, naked, bestial creature.


Okay here’s the Friday 5.

  1. What’s something (besides an electronic device) for which you spent extra money on a protective case?
    When I wrote this question I was thinking about this cool case I bought for my wireless mechanical keyboard. Someone online recommended this hard case meant to carry around a small Akai electronic keyboard, but it’s the perfect (perfect!) size for this computer keyboard too, and it only cost thirteen bucks. I can’t tell you how pleased I am with it. Alas, it doesn’t answer the question because it houses something electronic, which means I have to go way back to maybe last fall, when I bought a plastic pencil case for all the pens I use for my bullet journal. I’ve put the BuJo on hold for now, but I still carry that pencil box around with me, and I still take it out of my bag and put it on my desk when I come in to work every morning.
  2. What product’s packaging do you find excessive or inadequate?
    In general, I think Amazon’s packaging gets out of hand quite often. Specifically, I’m thinking of these individual snack packs of roasted peanuts I have delivered to the office every two weeks. The packs of peanuts come 24 to a box, and on Amazon you buy them in sets of two boxes. The two boxes come in one box, and that box is packed into an Amazon box, along with those inflatable plastic packing bubbles (not bubble-wrap, but that other stuff). It’s incredibly wasteful.
  3. What are your preferences for food storage containers?
    Okay, I really like those Corningware microwavable things with the rubber lids, but those are expensive(ish) and far too often they sit somewhere unwashed for so long they get gross. I’ve lost some good food containers this way. So for the past few years (since I got out of the classroom, come to think of it), I pack food in disposable Gladware and Ziploc containers. At work, I spoon stuff into a microwaveable bowl (I don’t like microwaving stuff in plastic) and while it’s heating up, I wash the containers in the sink. I can’t tell you how much happier this has made me. On the rare occasion where I don’t get to wash stuff before I bring it home, I usually take care of it at home, but if I forget to and it gets gross, it’s not as heartbreaking to toss it.
  4. This coming week, what would you like to be shielded from?
    It’s been warm and muggy as heck. I’d like to be shielded from humidity, please.
  5. What’s something interesting you’re keeping in a plastic storage box in your home?
    I have a million plastic storage boxes in my house, since the day I committed to never storing things in cardboard boxes. Maybe the most unexpected thing is a small plastic box with my cross-stitching stuff in it. 🙂

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.

Friday 5: dd/mm/yyyy

I’m a week late with this one but of course I couldn’t let it go without giving it a shot. Even knowing the likelihood someone will click to watch any of these videos is extremely slim. If this online journal were audience-driven and not communicator-driven, pretty much none of the content over 15 years would exist.

What’s a good song with a time of day in its title?

I’m going with “2 Minutes to Midnight,” one of my top 5 Iron Maiden songs.

What’s a good song with a day of the week in its title?

Let’s list a few great ones first:

  • “Monday Morning” by Fleetwood Mac
  • “I Don’t Like Mondays” by the Boomtown Rats
  • “Blue Monday” by New Order
  • “Tuesday” by Five for Fighting
  • “Tuesday’s Child” by Steven Curtis Chapman
  • “Friday I’m in Love” by the Cure
  • “Friday” by Rebecca Black
  • “Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting” by Elton John
  • “Lookin’ for the Heart of Saturday Night” by Tom Waits (but covered better by Shawn Colvin)
  • “I Scream Sunday” by One Bad Pig

But the best is probably “Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2. This video is from the incredible Live Aid performance.

What’s a good song with a month in its title?

“September Morn” by Neil Diamond is a good one (I mean that with no irony), but how about “December” by Collective Soul? And no, you’ll not get a “November Rain” by Guns n’ Roses out of me, although I don’t dislike the song as I once did. They played it when I saw them last January and it was pretty dang good.

What’s a good song with a year in its title?

Tempted to go with “Summer of ’69” by Bryan Adams since that’s the year I was born, but “1974” by Amy Grant is one of her three best songs.

What’s a good song with the word “time” in its title?

Like everyone else, I have a million songs in my iTunes library whose titles contain this word. My favorite group all through intermediate and high school was Styx, and of course I still have a super-soft spot for them in my heart. My favorite album of theirs, Paradise Theater, has two hit songs with the word in their titles: “The Best of Times” and “Too Much Time on My Hands.” “The Best of Times” is the song that got me hooked on them, that turned me eventually away from top 40 to rock, where I pretty much stayed (exclusively!) until I got to college and opened my mind up a little more. If you’re old enough and lived in Hawaii, it didn’t get me from KIKI to 98 Rock, but it opened the door.

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.

Is this thing on?

So yeah. My brain’s been a little drained lately, specifically the part that writes stuff. I get home lately, have a small dinner, and hit the sack. Consequently, this will probably be short and will undoubtedly be a bit shallow, not to mention ineloquent.

Reading. I just finished Flour Babies, something I picked up used at the annual Friends of the Library book sale. Proper review later, but it was an interesting read. I couldn’t decide until the very end whether I liked it or not. I did. Anne Fine, the writer, does something really strange, unless I misread the novel. She’s certainly a fine writer, but in the last five pages or so she really cranks up the writing, and it sounds almost like a different person. The last five pages are lovely, almost heartbreaking prose. I’ll probably skim it again to see if I missed something earlier.

I’m now in the middle of Lynne Rae Perkins’s Criss Cross, my favorite book of the 2000s for sure. It received the Newbery Medal in 2006, the year I wrote my master’s thesis on the Newbury Medal, and honestly it’s the book I’ve been trying my whole life to write. It’s possibly better this second time through.

Amazon says I’ve purchased the book six times, which doesn’t include my original purchase at the local Barnes and Noble. I like giving it as a gift.

I saw Spider-Man: Far from Home last week. Fun movie! It’s really sweet, like a good teen flick, and the web-slinging is the coolest it’s ever been. And holy moly Marisa Tomei.

In the evenings before bed, I check my BP, but I have to sit still a while before I hit the button on the machine, and then I sit still a while more so I can take a second reading. Usually during this sitting still, I watch an episode of Silicon Valley, of which I’m nearly finished with season three. It doesn’t match the first two seasons’ creativity and genius, but it’s still pretty smart, and despite one story arc that’s distracting and stupid, it seems to have concluded that arc and done something pretty neat with the character involved. I’ve got season four on DVD on its way to my mailbox. Ordered it on physical media so I could pass it around.

Concert scene’s been a little dead after what’s been a pretty great previous twelve months. I’m okay with it, really. My last show was Michael Franti in early May, and I left the concert while it was still going on. I think he’s great but his audiences drive me crazy. I didn’t enjoy myself the last time I saw him a couple of years ago either.

But Keb’ Mo’ is coming next month, and he’s terrific, and last week I purchased tickets I can’t afford for Patton Oswalt in the lovely Hawaii Theater. It’s the night before my birthday so I couldn’t resist. Now I gotta find someone for the other ticket. Still on the fence for Keb’ Mo’. Gotta decide this week.

Friday 5: Back Turn

Super tired. I hit the water early Saturday and planned to take it easy — I’ve been a little sore all over from all the stepcount-chasing and the regular swimming, and I’ve slept pretty horribly all week. It was a combination that told me to mellow out for the weekend.

And a weird thing happened in the second half of the swim. I can easily point to halves in my swimming because I jump in at one buoy, swim a varying number of buoys down the beach and then turn around and swim back. On the way back I thought I ought to do at least a short stretch of strenuous swimming, and I just kept going, doubling my usual goal. It was insane because I didn’t really feel strained while I was in it. Just kept swimming swimming swimming swimming. My body wanted to go.

Then I did my errands on foot and got my stepcount without even really trying. So I am rather tired despite a 90-minute nap this evening. My arms and shoulders feel dead.

It might not help the sleepiness (although it helps the writing some) that I’ve got Enya’s Shepherd Moons in the headphones. I was just in the mood. While I won’t argue against “Orinoco Flow” from Watermark being her best song, Shepherd Moons is the slightly better album. For a time in 1992 it was my main way of relaxing and getting to sleep, when I was in probably the worst period of my life for insomnia. And “Carribean Blue” is quite nearly as good as “Orinoco Flow.”

This is the album with Enya’s lovely recording of “How Can I Keep From Singing?” It’s really a cover of Pete Seeger’s less overtly Christian version, but it still works for me. Pretty pretty pretty.

I don’t know if I’m supposed to feel fitter after only six weeks of pretty hardcore focus on regular exercise, but I don’t. Honestly, except for swimming faster and longer, I don’t notice any difference. I suppose the faster and longer thing is a good indication of progress in my primary aim, which is not to die. My BP is going down too, so okay. But naked, I still look terrible, and I wanna get lean for Crush Girl (secondary aim but more effective motivation). Or at least slightly less doughy.

Here’s the Friday 5 for this week, from here.

  1. What are you ahead on?
    We have this staff newsletter at work, something I work really hard on every month. I mentioned to my boss last year that I would eventually like to take it over entirely, rather than just edit the publication draft and contribute my two monthly columns (a one-minute writing tip and a short movie review). Because of a few major organizational changes recently, my boss is a lot busier, so last month she just sent me the material and I put it together and made it sound nice. It was fun. I love this kind of work because I’ve been working really hard to transmit a sense of inclusion among my coworkers as much as a lowly staff writer can, and this newsletter is one nice way to do it. This month I’m putting it all together myself for the first time and I’m excited to do it, and I’ve been really on it, far ahead of my usual timeline for this thing. And coworkers have responded well, sending me some really nice contributions. I kind of wanted to give a life answer and not a work answer here, but work is on my mind a lot lately.
  2. Who’s slowing you down?
    I suppose the answer for everyone is going to be “me,” and I’m going with the same answer. Seriously, who among us can really say we aren’t the ones most effectively getting in our own ways? I wish I could find a way to — oh, never mind. There’s really nothing to say here except “me too.”
  3. When did you last stumble getting out of the gate?
    Man, Wednesday and Friday were difficult. Because I’ve slept horribly, I had an unusually difficult time Wednesday getting up and out to the beach before work. I have to drag myself out every morning anyway, but I manage okay most of the time by telling myself that sleeping in is for people who didn’t let their bodies go to hell for a decade and a half. Don’t knock it; it totally works. I don’t psych myself up to hit the beach. I psych myself down. Anyway, I did get there but I got there so late I got lousy parking and was only able to jump in and jump out. Friday I had similar difficulty but for different reasons. Thursday I woke up SUPER early to get my dad to the hospital for some knee surgery. While he was under the knife I hit the beach for the unusual Thursday swim, so Friday morning I was utterly beat. Skipped the beach (even though Friday is usually the best morning for it) and stumbled into the office close to ten! One more reason this job may be better than teaching for my longevity. School bells are a bit less forgiving of this sort of thing.
  4. How’s your mane these days?
    Ugh no no no no no no. I don’t want to talk about it, but I’m grateful for the reminder. I need to make an appointment with a doctor to talk about it! It’s thinning at an alarming rate now. I mean, it’s sort of on schedule because I’m FIFTY this year and holy moly. Okay switching subjects because the hair thing is really a sensitive issue.
  5. When did you most recently find yourself unexpectedly hoofing it somewhere?
    Walking is (once again) a regular part of my existence, so it’s seldom surprising to me that I’m walking anywhere. So the unexpected part would have more to do with the where than the how. A couple of weeks ago on Administrative Professionals day, I was invited to lunch by another department who was taking its Administrative Professional to Aunty Pasto’s. I was happy to be included so I quickly grabbed my stuff, locked my screen, and joined in. And we had a very nice time. I had a mixed mushrooms pasta dish, great conversation, and a nice walk. I take most of my lunches by myself, mostly because I need some me-time sometime during the workday, but also because I usually have breakfast after a swim, so I’m not ready for lunch until most people have eaten, like 2:00 or 2:30. I wasn’t about to say no to such a nice invitation, though, and it was the right call.

The first three months of the year, it seemed like there were one or two major new metal releases every Friday. That’s sort of slowed down lately, so I’ve been going back to the old favorites. Lately I’ve had the Springsteen playlist on repeat, and it’s been good for my ears. I’m mentioning this now in hopes of reminding myself to put a few thoughts together about “Thunder Road,” which in recent years has dislodged “The River” and “Born to Run” as my favorite of Bruce’s tracks.

That would be a good list. Ten favorite Bruce songs. Note to self.