2019: Non-consumption recap

morning swim before work, new year’s eve 2019

Here’s to the new year.
May she be a damn sight better than the last,
and may we all be home before she’s through.
(Col. Sherman T. Potter in M*A*S*H)

Crush Girl’s Christmas gift to me was a gift card from my second-favorite boba spot, plus a small boba charm/keyring. And a Ghirardelli peppermint bark square, which may not have been part of the actual gift but Crush Girl knows I have a weakness for them despite my not being much of a chocolate guy.

Pretty good friendzone gift, right? Thoughtful but not too personal. Well done. Mine to her was a set of color pencils, with the colors named after references to her favorite TV show. Also thoughtful but not too personal, and sliiiightly less friendzoney than a gift card. I think I did pretty well too.

I think I’ll remember 2019 as the year of Crush Girl, and while that’s not the cheeriest possible milemarker for 365.25 days, there are certainly less cheery options, as there have been in years past. Except for Crush Girl the only thing really distinguishing this year from others was my company’s physical move from the university campus to an office building near Ala Moana, kind of a boring thing to mark a year by, but certainly influential in a lot of ways. Where a person physically goes to work is as big a deal as for whom one goes to work. We just usually tie the two together, so they seem like the same thing but here’s one case where they’re not.

I’m encouraged by my adding some healthy things to my daily life. I got the wheels in September 2018, but we had such a wet winter that I didn’t habitualize the morning beach stops until around March. I can’t say there’s been a noticeable, visual difference in my health, but I’m doing things in the water (and for longer) I haven’t done since I was in my twenties.

The benefits of morning swims and long evening walks to my mental health cannot be measured (nor even really confirmed, especially given my Crush Girl depression around the middle of summer, and lingering effects deep into the fall), but when I go without for a week or so at a time, I feel the difference. And the difference isn’t mere self-loathing brought about by malaise. I wouldn’t call it an endorphin addiction (if only!). I might call it something related to the multi-sensory stimuli I get from both activities.

After two years of adjustments to my medication and sleep routines, I seem finally to have gotten my BP into acceptable ranges, and fiiiiiiiinally I’m regularly getting good sleep with the stupid Darth Vader mask clinging to my face. The two major factors were 10 mg of melatonin before bed and a black sleeping mask. I must be a sight but since I’m still single, I’m not going to worry about the sexiness and feel good about the REM sleep.

My living space continues to be a disaster. I suppose that will have to be my 2020 focus, somehow adding that enormous project while maintaining personal health gains. I have to be honest and say I don’t know if it’s doable.

Personal writing slowed way down but didn’t come to a screeching halt, thanks largely to NaNoWriMo and its step-sibling forms in April and July. I wrote some interesting short-shorts and the beginnings of what may be a fleshable novel. My writing partner’s new freelance gig certainly helps there too.

I’ve had a few service-related projects in mind for some years, and now that I have wheels and a steady job again, I’ve felt the need to put at least one of them in motion. That’s going to be a January initiative for sure, although I’m wary (again) of losing the gains my positive lifestyle adjustments have brung about. I never was Superman, but I’m less so today than I ever was. And now I’ve learned to accept it. I’m beginning to think this is one of those step-out-in-faith things.

I’m writing this in a boba cafe, not any of my usual haunts but one at Ala Moana. After a swim, I had breakfast at Subway (of course), then took a short walk and sat down here to write. I’m off from work until 1 p.m. and at first I had no plan for the extra time, but taking a moment to write this was a good move.

Tonight it’s all about chilling at home, and hopefully doing part two of this recap.

Crush with Eyeliner

It’s been a rough April and also quite a good one. I’m doing a little Halloween stories project for Camp NaNoWriMo, hoping to come up with something good to polish for a Halloween stories contest in October. The local daily had a contest every year for decades (I entered it a few times), but didn’t have it last year, so I may be looking for other options.

I’ve come up with a couple of good ideas, one of them stealing from a theme I came up with during Camp NaNo last July, when I wrote those fifteen microfictions in 31 days. It’s a fun theme to wind a story around: dumb things guys do to impress girls.

The focus on Camp NaNo has meant almost no real media consumption in the post-work hours. I haven’t seen a movie or watched a TV program in what feels like ages. It’s kind of nice, to be honest, but the Criterion Channel launched its new streaming service on April 8, and I purchased a yearly subscription back in February. I haven’t been able to take it for a spin, thanks to Halloween stories month.

I’ve spent mornings and lunch breaks rereading Harry Potter, and finally finished the Deathly Hallows this past Saturday. More on that later. Without TV and movies, reading books and writing stories has proven not a bad way to go through life.

I’ve ramped up my beach game this month, too. When I bought the wheels last September, the main reason was to get myself back in the water on a regular basis, but man. We had an incredibly rainy winter, with the kind of rains that push lots of runoff into the ocean. You really don’t want to swim in that, so I sorta went from November through March without a trip to the beach.

Which is really inexcusable, considering where I live. So April has been about reestablishing formerly excellent habits, and I’ve been swimming four times a week for the past (nearly) four weeks. It’s been mostly outstanding. I hit a few personal milestones I thought I was far away from the last time I was a regular beachgoer, a few years ago. It’s like some switch was flicked, and I’ve totally rediscovered my stroke and a surprising reserve of stamina I didn’t know was there.

I’m motivated primarily by just not wanting to die. But there are side benefits, such as a very good mood at work on days when I hit the ocean first. Oh yeah, I go in the mornings before work. My new office is super close to the beach.

I can’t really talk about it here until I figure out a way to do it in code, because this writing space is too public and too Googleable, but I’ve been crushing pretty hard on someone, and the swimming has made some of it a bit more bearable. Just taking that 45 minutes or so to let my brain rest a little, to let my whole body breathe, helps with the other 23.25 hours of the day when I can’t seem to stop thinking about whether or not there’s another relationship left in this battered and (let’s face it) aged heart.

Interestingly (or not!), I’m not at all worried about getting hurt, or making myself vulnerable, or going out on a limb to say hey, wanna see a movie and get dinner this Friday night? And I’m only slightly concerned about messing up what seems to be a growing friendship. I think if certain realities were different, I’d have asked this person out already, but certain realities are what they are, and there’s more at stake than just my feelings and this new friendship.

Once upon a time, the stakes would have been prohibitive. I’m slowly talking myself out of the prohibitions, though. But I can’t actually do anything about it until I decide if this crush is more than a crush, and that’s usually a matter of time.

Maybe it is. I’m so into women that I’ve always got a crush going on, plus a crush in waiting and a crush emerita, and time is almost always the factor that nudges the line along, and I’m grown up enough not to take any of it seriously or to mistake a crush for something else. It’s just a nearly constant feel-good.

But holy moly. This one doesn’t feel good. This one aches. It’s been some time since I’ve felt that. Could be an illusion, so I think the only thing to do is nothing.

This week’s Friday 5 is about impressing people. It’s related to this topic. I’ll answer the questions later.

Some People Say Whatever Comes to Mind

The Oakland Athletics beat the Baltimore Orioles Saturday, putting them one game over the .500 mark. I have a feeling that’s the way the season’s going to be. A few games over, a few games under, and hopefully a game or two over by season’s end. It’s a good team. It’s just not good enough, and I don’t think it’s for lack of talent. I think the team just needs to play together for a full season. The same guys next year, I think, will be a contending team.

Lefty starter Sean Manaea pitched a no-hitter a couple of weekends ago and was the AL pitcher of the month for April. Jed Lowrie is among the AL leaders in RBI. They have a couple of great young hitters in Khris Davis, Matt Chapman, and Matt Olson. It’s a fun team to follow.

Lava is fountaining out of the streets in a neighborhood in the southeast section of Hawaii island. This volcano has been erupting for 35 years, and it has wiped out entire communities, beloved landmarks, and historic buildings. But that’s been lava running down the slopes, creeping wherever it will, sometimes into the sea, sometimes over barren plains of hardened basalt, and sometimes right through neighborhoods.

This, however, is crazy and amazing. Fissures are opening up in neighborhood streets, and lava is shooting twenty feet into the air. It’s literally awesome. Add the thunder-like explosion sounds as lava spews violently from the fissures and earthquakes with seemingly endless aftershocks, and it’s all anyone around here can talk about. We’re grown pretty jaded about lava, but none of us has ever seen this.

This planet is terrifying and beautiful.