Friday 5 for August 25 and a few musings

It annoys me that I haven’t been doing the Friday 5s, especially because I’ve been (mostly) pleased with the questions. I’m finally taking some time to do the most recent, and they aren’t even ones I’m especially fond of. Story of my life!

I had a few new year’s resolutions I didn’t write about here. One resolution was the big one, the one I really, really thought I needed to follow through on, based on conversations I’ve had, mostly with some NaNoWriMo friends but also just a lot of people through my adult years. Which are many these days. The years, not the friends. ‘Though the friends are also many.

My resolution was to call my primary care physician about what I have long suspected to be undiagnosed depression and ADHD. I’ve spent my adult life aware of them — and a good chunk of my professional life working with others diagnosed with them — but I’ve told myself that while things are not optimal, I’ve gotten by. Intervention seemed unnecessary.

Then there was all that emotional ickiness about Ex Crush Girl, and I knew. I could certainly go through life like this forever, but I really didn’t want to.

The ADHD thing, which is not emotional but behavioral, has always bothered me. The teacher friends who know me best have told me for decades they think I’m undiagnosed ADHD. And of course I taught many students who had serious ADHD, and boy did I see a lot of myself in them. The spark that lit this fire was just a realization one day that I could be a lot better at my work. I do excellent work, but I don’t do it excellently. My time management is terrible, improving in tiny increments over time but only so they don’t cost me my job, not so they make me better at it. Distractibility, focus, some impulsivity, hyperfocusing on non-salient things because everything seems salient to me all the time: they are good in some ways, but they are awful in too many others. Am I capable of being better at my job? Not without some kind of help.

In June, I called my PCP. She gave me encouragement and another number to call, which I promptly misplaced. I did some tidying last weekend specifically to find it, and hello. I found it. And only 242 days into the year, I actually followed through on the resolution. I have appointments, one virtual and one in person. Who knows what comes next? I don’t, but I told myself on December 31 I’m not saying no to anything.

Bring on the dancing horses and all that.

Okay if I spend forever on this I’ll get my fill and then who knows how long it’ll be until I do it again? Should leave myself wanting to write more. It’s an old NaNoWriMo trick. On with the 5.

From here.

  1. Which charitable organizations do you think do especially meaningful work?
    I work for one, so there’s that, but other organizations I’ve given some money to are Doctors without Border, Amnesty International, and the Hawaii Innocence Project.
  2. When has someone recently appreciated your giving them your time?
    There are some profound answers to this I think I’ll skip this time. Instead I’ll say most recently, I run the fantasy football league in our office. So many people signed up this year that we split into two leagues, which means I now run two fantasy football leagues in our office. I’m happy to do it, but it’s a bit more work, and we had separate draft nights Monday and Tuesday. A few coworkers who understand the effort this is going to require this year have apologized and said thank you. Which is nice.
  3. When have you asked someone to give you a little space?
    I’m a writer. I have to do this all the time. From my first week on the job, I’ve had permission to take my work laptop away from my desk in the office and find anywhere else on campus where I could get the writing done. It has sometimes been in the library or one of the food courts or a few secret spots I don’t tell anyone about. We’ve temporarily been off campus since 2019 (with actual real plans to move into an actual, brand-new building on campus in a few months!) in the basement of an office building in Honolulu. I sometimes have to be asked to be left alone so I can work on my stuff. The wireless headphones usually do the trick, but sometimes I just need to be physically away from people.
  4. What do you simply not give a darn about, despite its mattering to your friends or relatives?
    Boy do I not care about the royals.
  5. What are you close to giving up on?
    The Southern Baptist Convention and the local churches — a few of which are pastored by childhood friends, college friends, and even my former students — who are sticking with it. “Close to” may be an unnecessary modifier here. I have to leave my answer at this, or I’ll go off on 22,000 words screamed into the cybersphere and I don’t have it in me today.

That was fun. I should do this more often.

That’s weird. I can’t find the categories menu.

Lockdown: Wednesday, Bloody Wednesday

Two weeks ago, I mentioned a hastily called departmental Zoom meeting. Hasty because my supervisor wanted us to get the news from her, and word was already zipping around the organization. They were laying people off. Ten percent of the company.

We all knew it was probably coming, but that’s ten positions. It was going to be painful.

I was certain I would be let go. With some friends at work, I composed a list of my twelve likeliest candidates for being cut loose, and my name was at the top of the list. I’ve been here three and a half years, and I’m the most recent hire in our department.

Plus, I’m replaceable. As my boss pointed out in a conversation later, everyone is replaceable, but I’m the most replaceable. I just write. Nearly everyone in my department can do what I do. One of my colleagues, in fact, held my position for some time before I came aboard. The truth is that you could remove almost anyone from our team of six or seven, and the others could cover the bases. Not as well as the one person, but ably enough.

However. Last in, first out, right?

They told us we’d know by July 15. That was effectively three weeks’ notice. I was stressed, not because I can’t handle unemployment — I’ve been through it a couple of times in recent years and I was okay. I just really like what I do, and I really like the people I do it with.

When I worked at the engineering firm, the mission was the work itself. We existed to get work, and we did work to get paid. There are bigger-picture concepts, sure. Runways have to be engineered so planes can land safely upon them, and planes bring tourists who drive our economy. Safe stream runoff protects property, ecosystems, and lives. These are important, or it wouldn’t be such a lucrative, competitive industry.

I made it work for me because I loved (I mean really, really loved) the people I worked with. It brought me into the office every day and kept me there late at night and on weekends. I also thrilled to the challenge of doing good work in an area previously foreign to me, but I have a feeling that would have translated to almost any job that relied on my thinking and writing skills.

But I don’t really care about runways and runoff. I do care about young men and women. I care about research and education. My work, however indirectly, helps people get educated and research get done. I’ll stay up all night working on the cancer center proposal because something I do today might bring us closer to alleviating the destruction of cancer later. That’s something.

I think I’m underpaid by a lot. Still, I’ve already told my management that it’s not a reason for me to leave. I want to do what I’m doing, and I want to do it with the people I do it with.

I survived Bloody Wednesday, but boy was it a difficult day. Word came through the textline that so-and-so was packing up his stuff and saying bye in the main office, where not that many people work nowadays. Over the next few hours, other names trickled down. No way. Her? She was going to be a lifer. What? How are we supposed to do our work without a such-and-such? Who’s going to replace that person’s experience, smarts, and culture-defining personality?

This person heard someone was saying bye. That person was CCed on an email that made it certain another person was leaving. It was a rough way to get the news.

By the time we had our all-staff meeting, I had half the names. I got the rest later. Nobody on my list of twelve likeliest candidates took the axe. I suck at this, which should really teach me a lesson.

There were tears. There was anger. Actually, I didn’t pick up much anger from the others, but I felt it myself. These are good people who showed up for work every day and did their jobs the best they could. None of them deserved this.

I honestly like everyone who didn’t make it; some of them I consider friends. I texted a few to offer my support, then got on social media to reach out to former coworkers and let them know who was suddenly available, in case they had leads or references.

With tempered relief, none of my closest work friends was on the list. Small consolation, but consolation.

This is going to be a long time recovering from. For me and for this company.

I still managed to get two things turned in, despite most of the day spent working things out with co-workers behind the scenes. One was a monthly report I wasn’t as careful as usual putting together. Another was a revision of one of the two stories I submitted the night before.

Breakfast was overnight oats. Yay. I finally got my act together the night before. I made it this time with macadamia milk. I have a vague memory of it being pricier than organic almond milk, and either it was on sale or I splurged, most likely the latter. I’ve been reading some unpleasant things about almond milk, ‘though I honestly don’t know that macadamia milk is any more socially responsible.

Almond milk has a distinct almond flavor. Cashew milk has a slightly less distinct cashew flavor. Soy milk doesn’t taste like soy (but then, what does soy taste like? Shoyu? Tofu? Kinako? Edamame?), but it tastes like its own thing. The others all kind of taste the same, and I don’t know that I could pick macadamia milk out of a lineup with oat milk, rice milk, or any of the other opetions I’ve tried.

So now I have to investigate the nutritional info. If it’s all pretty much the same, I’ll feel better about macadamia milk than almond milk and I think I can afford it, at least for now.

I had a very late lunch of instant ramen with a mountain of bean sprouts and baby bok choi, plus an egg and several splashes of apple cider vinegar.

My usual all-night McD’s was closed when I went to fill my water jugs! So I stopped at 7-Eleven, and dinner was an egg salad sandwich and a turkey pesto sandwich.

My computer’s running out of juice, so I’m ending this here. I’ll catch up with tomorrow’s entry. I’m at the laundry and don’t want to save posting this for after breakfast this morning.

Reach out. I’m here. Etc.


What am I thinking? I have my wireless mechanical keyboard here and a cool phone. I can continue my silly musings this way, which I’m doing. 24 minutes left on the dryer.

I still have a bag of bean sprouts, one head of baby bok choi, and one block of tofu, but I’m not feeling instant ramen Thursday. Maybe a little stir-fry tonight.

I think I’m going to bake bread, too. Or, make bread. I’m not sure you can call what I do with the bread machine actual baking.

Texted my sister to check on her, since the last time I heard from her was before Mothers Day. She’s okay. Still working. A lot.

Almost all the rest of my texting was frenzied exchanges with co-workers. I sent a couple to the people who were let go, letting them know I’m here for them.

And as I’ve mentioned, lots of IMing to let people know I have ten wonderful former coworkers who are looking for positions.

Crush Girl and I talked about a chain restaurant she tried for the first time. There was more to it than that, actually, and my exchanges with her Wednesday were the highlight of my crappy day.

I caught Ali up on the work situation. She was predictably as miserable as I am about it.

There were some really silly memes in the engineering group text. I mostly kept out of it.

Didn’t go for a walk because it’s laundry day.

Two Helloween albums were very high on that Loudwire list of 25 greatest power metal albums of all time. The first was a no-brainer: Keeper of the Seven Keys, Part 1. I own it on CD and although it’s flawed, the band’s second LP is one of the defining albums of the genre, almost setting the tone for all the power metal that followed. Other albums were more influential on developing the genre, but this is one of the earliest that’s recognizable today as straight-up power metal. “Halloween” on this album is possibly the greatest power metal song ever recorded. Ooh, another list I could make.

The other album on the list was the band’s third album, Keeper of the Seven Keys, Part II. Haha, laugh all you want. I know how dorky this all sounds.

I’d never listened to it, ‘though of course I always meant to. Between the end of my workday and my (far too late) bedtime, I played it a few times, and holy moly. Its position at the top of Loudwire’s list may be justified.

Top to bottom, it’s definitely a better album. Song-by-song, you can hear the band’s growth into this new-ish form it was pioneering. While nothing on the album is as cool as “Halloween,” that song’s counterpart on this Part II album, “Keeper of the Seven Keys,” might be a better song. I might have to listen to just this song on repeat a dozen times or so, as I have often done with “Halloween.”

Most striking to me is how very much better this album, number one on the Loudwire list, is than that Lost Horizon album I listened to Tuesday, and the Lost Horizon album was number seven. The dropoff is freaking steep.

If I’m babbling it’s because I’m excited. Such a good album, and such a great (long delayed) discovery. I’m going to see what’s out there on CD because I have to own this.

Thirteen minutes left on the dryer and I have thirty-something turns to take in Words with Friends. So go spin that album if you know what’s good for you!

Lockdown: This ketchup had better pass muster

Arizona had 1500 new cases yesterday. Florida’s still hovering around 1000 a day — it’s averaged this over the past five days or something like that. The latest projection I saw Monday was for 150,000 deaths in the United States by the end of August.

This last is a staggering number. Michigan Stadium, “The Big House” where the University of Michigan Wolverines play football, holds 107,601 people officially. It’s ridiculous. Largest stadium in the United States, 34th largest in the world.

If Ohio State is playing Michigan on some Saturday and some horrific thing happens and everyone in the venue dies, that’s roughly only 67% the number of COVID-19 deaths we’re expected to see by August. What would we as a nation sacrifice to keep these people alive if we could? I’m worried that people might be dying because everyone’s tired of doing jigsaw puzzles.

Who gets tired of doing jigsaw puzzles anyway?

Some days, when I recap the day’s eating, I wonder if the gluttony is related to thoughts like these. I wonder if this is how I’m coping. This can’t be healthy, and while I suspect a lot of understanding people would be willing to write me a pass on this one, I think it points to a possible inability to deal with stuff in some non-carnal way.

“Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace which the world cannot give.” John 14 something. 27. John 14:27.

I’m willing to speculate that God can give this peace in a multitude of ways, and food could be one of them. Somehow I doubt a huge carton of hot, salty fries (which I am scarfing as I type this) is what he had in mind. Plus it doesn’t really help once I’ve digested the food, or I wouldn’t have to keep chasing them with something else.

Samuel Johnson said patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, but Lisa Simpson (in one of the best Simpsons episodes ever) said prayer is the last refuge of the scoundrel. I may hold with Lisa Simpson on this one. At least for starters. ‘Cause you know. Patriotism’s likely to cause me to order everything on the menu including Thank you for dining with us.

From what I’ve tasted of desire, I hold with those who favor fire.

Irrelevant quote but what a great line of verse.

I still haven’t finished that cancer center proposal outline. Gotta get it looked at sometime Tuesday or I’m going to be really stressed out. Someone requested a proposal for West Oahu that looks like a lot of fun to work on, but someone else in my department is going to work on it with the fundraiser. I did sketch an outline for them both, to give them an idea of where they might go with it. I hope it’s helpful.

I actually didn’t email that outline until just before midnight. Long story. It wasn’t difficult; I just thought I might be able to finish the cancer center thing first and I did not.

I spent a couple of hours tackling the Monster again. All three tasks. I set a hopeful goal to match last week’s goal, which I went slightly past. It wasn’t fun, but I hit the goal and it felt good.

Before I got to the West Oahu outline, I threw a bunch of yesterday’s groceries together in my first attempt at gyoza. I knew I didn’t have time to do the cooking because of laundry, so I just focused on the filling. It was therapeutic. Sometimes cooking is as refreshing as a nap, as this was. By the time I was cleaned up and the filling resting happily in the fridge, I was energized enough to get the outline done.

Normally when I make something the first time, I stick to the book so I can make sure I know what I’m doing. However, I used to work in a ramen restaurant and I’ve seen my mom make thousands of gyozas. So although I didn’t pay close attention, my guess is that it’s a pretty forgiving process, at least preparing the filling.

The supermarket in my ‘hood didn’t have any ground pork — one of the drawbacks of shopping thirty minutes before closing — and the ground turkey looked a little tired. Ground chicken it is. The main not-in-the-book thing I did was slice up some shiitakes and mix them in without rehydrating them. I figure the chopped veggies are going to throw off a bit of moisture, and I also mixed in some shoyu, sesame oil, and sake, so the mushrooms can suck that stuff up and keep all that umami goodness in the dish, rather than leaving far too much in the soaking water. Guess we’ll find out!

Did not go for a walk, as predicted. I miiiiight try to hit the beach, though.

Breakfast was (again) a couple of hot dogs with ketchup, mustard, and sauerkraut. I’m running low on ketchup and when I went to get more Sunday night at the supermarket in my ‘hood, they were no longer selling this brand I’ve grown fond of. Best Foods. Yeah, Best Foods ketchup. There’s a Best Foods mustard too. I like them both, but the ketchup especially.

Several years ago, Hunt’s ketchup bragged that it got rid of its high fructose corn syrup, an ingredient I try to avoid. So I moved my allegiance from Heinz — a decades-long allegiance, by the way — and switched. Then some time later, Heinz got rid of HFCS as well. Yay!

Have you looked at the ingredients lately? They both have it again, and for some time. Why the heck don’t brands proclaim loudly when they’ve switched back? I wonder how many people are still using these brands because they haven’t looked at the ingredients lately, assuming the product they’re consuming is the product they’ve consumed for years.

I had a teaching partner (no, not that teaching partner; another one) who was allergic to anything with corn or corn products in it. Including corn syrup. So I’m not just complaining for the sake of complaining here. It’s a very real issue.

The Best Foods ketchup doesn’t have HFCS, and it tastes really good. Possibly as good as Heinz. Now my supermarket, which got me hooked on it a few months ago, doesn’t stock it. Grrrr. There was this organic brand on sale and it doesn’t have HFCS so we’ll see what happens. I’m not optimistic.

Lunch was a bowl of raisin bran. I almost didn’t have lunch because I snacked on those Krispie Kreme drugstore shelf doughnuts again, while I was working on the gyoza filling. I needed something while I did the West Oahu outline, though.

Dinner, which I am nearly done with here in this laundry, is again a Big Mac combo. The carnal pleasure cannot be overstated here.

I listened to Yes’s YesSongs on repeat almost all day. Took a break to catch the news. Definitely one of the ten best live albums ever, right? Okay maybe twenty best. But an amazing album.

This would be a fun list to make.

I listened to the first part of the new Michael Franti & Spearhead album on the drive to the laundry. It’s pretty much exactly what you think it is, only slightly better. So far. Good vibes of course, but good beats too, and a little bit of cute humor.

I’m feeling a little restless. I don’t mean right now, but generally. Maybe I’ll go for a drive sometimes this week.

The writing partner texted me to share a couple of short stories she’s working on. She’s an English teacher and hates short stories for some reason. Of course I’m going to call her on it when I look at her work.

Sharon texted me to follow up on something she asked me to do for work. Then we chatted about a few other things.

Jennifer sent me a photo of her latest Scotch acquisition, an Aberlour 18. Heck yeah. She said someone gave it as a gift. That’s a good friend. This is the kind of bottle I give my dad as a gift, not something I get for myself. Too pricey for me.

Crush Girl texted to tell me she’s booked a short trip, so of course we talked about that a little while. I had to admit I’ve considered a weekend hop to the Big Island before summer’s up, but I’m still too much of a wuss. Maybe I’ll go camping once the parks open for camping instead.

Laundry’s about done. And so is the Big Mac.

We’re all coming out of our caves too soon. I’m convinced. So if you, like me, are keeping cooped up for as long as you can and if you need someone to connect with, please reach out here. I’m getting restless too but I’m staying in place!

Lockdown: Still, like air, I’ll rice

In case you were losing sleep over my stuck-open sunroof: when I got into the car this afternoon, started the engine, and hit the button, the roof closed right up. Whew.

My mom’s gift was six five-pound bags of Japanese rice from Rice Factory, a rice mill in Honolulu. Sooo I’m no expert, but I know from testimony by my elders that Japanese rice is a different animal from American rice, which is almost all grown in California. Some Japanese people have difficulty adjusting to American rice, and when there have been rice shortages in Japan and importers have brought in American rice, it’s almost always a failure.

Japanese rice has its own terroir, supposedly, and Rice Factory brings in stuff it considers the best. So I bought my mom six varieties from different regions, asking her to let me know what she likes best. For future reference.

I drove it over and left it at the front door. My dad came down and carried it upstairs, and I chatted with my mom from below. It was nice. My parents both look good. The dog seemed happy to see me but disappointed we couldn’t hang out. I was happy to see them all.

Breakfast was a bowl of turkey chili with hapa rice. Have I mentioned how pleased I am with how this pot came out? Lunch was a Wendy’s hamburger and baked potato, grabbed on the way home from seeing the folks. I’ve got (American) rice cooking right now for a late dinner: more chili and rice. Mostly because it’s made, and I’m not up to preparing anything despite this morning’s intentions.

Somewhere in there I snacked on some potato salad.

I tackled the Monster for a bit. Set a modest goal and went past it. It felt good, as unpleasant as it was. I’ve sorta broken the whole nasty project into three separate tasks. One is pretty clean and doesn’t take long, but it makes a huge difference in my ability to do the other tasks, so I try to save it for evenings when I’m especially unmotivated. Low effort with big rewards? Yeah, bring that on.

The second task is slightly unpleasant and somewhat laborious, but when I do it, the third (disgusting) task is easier to get into, since’s it’s merely unpleasant and not much work. Sunday evening I did the third task for about an hour. I got a lot done in an hour.

And then, right at 11 in the evening, I went out for a long walk. I logged 6000 steps before midnight (I’d already had 2000 just from normal walking around the house beforehand). Then 9600 steps after midnight, so somewhere between 13K and 14K for the evening. It felt good. I listened to the new Nightwish album, this time determined to listen attentively to the whole thing. More on that later, but I have to say I like it quite a bit more than I thought I would. I also listened to the debut album from Konvent, Puritan Masochism. They’re an all-female death-doom band from Denmark and I was pretty impressed, even if a little of that music goes a long way for me. Then got through most of Under Acid Hoof by Acid Mammoth, a stoner-doom band. I’m liking it so far. It’ll take a few listens before I get a good handle on it, which in the case of stoner metal usually means figuring what (if anything) distinguishes it from other bands in the same genre.

The thing about depression is that sometimes it has a reason, and sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes when you’ve embraced that, you don’t try to find a reason. I’m not willing to put money on it, but I suspect it’s easier to slide into the numbness when I’m not getting those steps in the evenings. The fresh air, the aching knee, the blister on my right sole — I think they’re all related to keeping the hounds at bay.

I sent texts to Tiger (I’ve called her something else in this space, the high-school classmate whose identity I can’t share because of her work) but it makes more sense to call her by her high-school nickname even though I haven’t called her that in 30 years. Also to JB. Haven’t heard back from either yet.

Charles and I traded texts about his work situation. He had a part-time job as a resource aide at a local middle school, but with no students on campus, there’s no need for him, and he was laid off. He’s still got a part-time job at a pizza place, but that’s not going to keep him going. I’m keeping an eye out for work for him.

Crush Girl and I traded texts about a friend we have in common who has a new position. A short but nice conversation.

The rice is done, but I think I’m better off saving it for Monday. Maybe I’ll just have a few bites of something small, instead of the full-on dinner I was looking forward to. I think sleep is a higher priority right now, as it’s 3:18 a.m. Monday.

I’m looking forward to a super-productive week, one in which I may finally get that nagging car stuff taken care of. I have one more task for it, hopefully for Monday evening, before I send it off to the shop. I’m also determined to get everything ready for the laundry before eight in the evening so I can get to bed suuuuuper early and have enough sleep before I drive to Manoa.

Whatever you’re looking forward to, if anything, if you haven’t got someone to share it with, I encourage you to reach out. Let’s get through this together.

Friday 5: For Ric and Ben

From here.

  1. Where did you go the first time you drove by yourself?
    My mom managed a Japanese restaurant a mile or so from the house. I’m pretty sure the first time I drove anywhere by myself was bringing the car back from dropping her off at work. It was meant to be practice. Drive mom there, then drive home alone. A slightly less (but still) boring alternate answer: the first time I drove my own vehicle alone the first time, my dad woke me up one Saturday morning and tossed me the keys to the truck and said, “Learn to drive it!” It was a stick, and I’d been having slight difficulty learning to really drive it while he was riding shotgun. He knew it, too. So he told me to take it out and learn to drive it on my own. It was actually kind of brilliant because I knew what I needed to work on. I drove into Waimalu Valley where I found a small rise, then worked the clutch and gas back and forth, pulling up the rise, coasting backward back down it, and holding steady midway up. Then I took it into town and drove it up Nuuanu Avenue a few times. I was going to have to take my sister to school, and that was the main hill between home and her school. I pretty much had it down pretty quickly, so then I just drove around for the fun of it.
  2. Who was the first non-family non-instructor you drove anywhere, and where did you go?
    In that first drive in the truck, I picked my friend Colleen up, and we cruised around Makiki for an hour or so. It was fun. It’s still fun. I love driving.
  3. What’s the dumbest thing you’ve done behind the wheel?
    I’ve done some pretty stupid things behind the wheel, but the dumbest has to be driving without my glasses. I had a pair of novelty glasses and I thought it would be funny to pick up a friend while wearing them. Two blocks from his family’s house in military housing, I pulled over and put the novelty glasses on, putting my prescription glasses in the glove compartment. Stupid stupid stupid! If I’d done it to impress a girl, that would have been one thing, but this was just some guy I offered a ride to. We were on our way to meet a some other computer nerds at some computer nerd gathering somewhere.
  4. What’s the nicest drive you’ve ever taken?
    Near the end of my second-to-last semester in Hilo, Captain Daveman, Tasha, Rosanne, and I drove to Kona for a picnic. I’d never been! We took Tasha’s cute little Mazda two-door hatch. Dave drove out, we had a great time, and I drove back. It was dark coming back, and we were all aglow from the nice day. Some of us slept. Rosanne rode shotgun, and we sang along to whatever was playing on Tasha’s stereo. I would have confessed my love for Rosanne that night if she’d pressed me, whether or not I was actually in love with her (I wasn’t). We were all feeling so good I probably would have confessed my love for everyone in the world, but it would have been most true of — well, R of course, but Rosanne would have been second. Visually, it was a far better drive going out there. But sometimes the nicest drives don’t involve scenery at all. I’ve taken lovely drives in California, Virginia, and Tennessee. I can’t think of one that compares to that long, starry, dark drive from Kona back to Hilo.
  5. Who’s the worst driver you know?
    Speaking of driving in Virginia, I was visiting JB and his soon-to-be wife in Richmond. We went to DC to pick up a rental van for some people flying in for the wedding, taking the day also to see the Orioles host the Mariners in Camden Yards. It was the summer Cal Ripken would break Lou Gehrig’s ironman record for consecutive games played. We’d taken the fiance’s car up (of course I know her name but since I’m about to talk smack about her I’m keeping it off Google; we’re friends now after all these years but still), but JB drove the van back, and asked me to ride shotgun with the fiance to help her stay up. Turns out the fiance doesn’t have depth perception and drives RIGHT UP ON THE CAR IN FRONT OF HER. At freeway speeds in the dark of night down through major construction. I have never been so scared with someone else behind the wheel. That ride from DC back to Richmond was incredibly long, and when we finally (miraculously) pulled into the driveway, I got out of the car and kissed the ground. Yes I did. Then JB came over and whispered, “Forgot to warn you she’s the worse driver ever.”

I’ve been thinking about how Crush Girl might be reading this, and I’m sliiiightly self-conscious now. Trying not to think about it, but I think sometimes this week I’ll write an open letter to her in this space, just in case she is. Although really, after what I’ve already written, I’m not sure I have much more to say.

Mochi Girl used to read this space, in the time leading up to our near-miss and for some time after. Rosanne has also read it, leaving comments here and there (I haven’t written about it here but Rosanne was an exchange student at UH Hilo and we had a little bit of a fling for two days before she went back). I don’t think K ever read it, but S was at least aware of it. R was aware of it from day one but I think she chose never to read it as a matter of principal. And of course Mr. HBA (that’s Mr. R) has read it. I’ve been told he was pretty pissed about some of the things I’ve written. I don’t apologize for expressing myself and I take nothing back, but I do understand if the man thinks I unfairly wrote bad things about him in a public space.

I can’t point to a specific day when it was over, but I realized this week that I’ve been out of the Crush-Girl-initiated depression. I also didn’t realize until this week how deeply I was in it.

I don’t use this word depression lightly. I know what it means. And while I don’t have a diagnosis, a college professor pretty much convinced me I probably have a low-grade version of it, and conversations with friends who have been diagnosed reinforce my belief. It’s why I write so much about the darkness. Whatever it is, it takes me into these really dark spaces; thankfully never truly incapacitating, but nearly.

I’m not struggling to get out of bed and look at the world anymore, and it was a pretty solid month and a half of it. I’m still sad, of course. The Crush Girl stuff is rough ground, and I half wish I’d never even gone there, because now all the normal things in my life feel quite a bit lamer.

Someone I know works in an office with a terrificly beautiful view, and she feels lonely there. Her coworkers work across town, and she hasn’t bonded yet with the people in her office space.

“I have this amazing view and nobody to share it with,” she said to me one day recently.

I almost said, “Welcome to my whole life!” but I resisted. I don’t have to make every conversation about me, despite popular belief.

At least the friend has a family and kids. She’s only lonely at work! Haha.

Ha. Ha.

Anyway yeah. Still sad. But not stay-in-bed-for-sixteen-hours miserable. Someone at work commented on it. She said I seem to have returned to my former self. I wouldn’t go that far, but I appreciate the observation, the sentiment, and the concern.