Lockdown: Almost finding a work groove

My workspace is still not what I want it to be, and it’s slowing me down a little. Still, although I got off to a bit of a late start (because of that laundry excursion) and although I was pretty draggy all day (because of that laundry excursion), I found a bit of a groove and submitted a few pieces of work.

I did a couple of easy, quick chores (yay), did a few crosswords (yay), took a very short nap, and went for a walk. Not quite as long — about 12,500 steps — but it felt like a good, healthy distance.

I ate like a madman today. Stopped for a local deluxe platter at McD’s on my way home from doing laundry. That’s a McD’s order you can only get in Hawaii: Portuguese sausage, Spam, rice, and scrambled eggs. So bad, but so good. Although that shoulda been breakfast, by late morning I was kind of hungry again, so I had some overnight oats. Then two hot dogs for lunch (with mustard, ketchup, and sauerkraut) and the last of my leftover beef stew with brown rice for dinner.

After the walk, I added a bowl of steamed broccoli. I know. It was slightly insane.

I had minimal connection today with others. Chatted a minute or two with my boss on the phone, Texted Crush Girl a couple of times. Traded a few texts with Grace. It was fine. I don’t have to consciously seek connection every day; I just have to be careful I don’t unconsciously go without it for too long at a time, since that’s kind of my wont.

Finishing that stew means tomorrow I get to play with the Instant Pot again. Since I still have a ton of broccoli to use up very soon, I’m thinking steamed red potatoes. Add some (microwave) steamed broccoli and garlic herb butter, and it’ll be super frugal and delicious.

What I need more than anything right now is a good night’s sleep. It’s been a while but I have a good feeling about tonight.

Lockdown: Monday it’s official

Settling in

Sunday was a balance of relaxing as much as I wanted but not more than I wanted — always a bit of a challenge when I have nowhere to go and nothing pressing. I indulged myself with a few crossword puzzles, my usual NYT puzzles for Sunday and Monday and then a few unfinished puzzles from when I wasn’t as good as I am now. Like a year ago.

Consumption

So far in the stay-home period, I’ve mostly had podcasts running a consistent stream of information and amusement in my ears, because I’ve really fallen behind on the daily consumption this past year. I’m current on the Tony Kornheiser Show, my favorite daily, and most of my weeklies, but the other dailies have really piled up.

Sunday I thought I needed a break from the audio, but the quietude of the house is kind of oppressive these days, like putting my forced solitude in italic type, so I put a movie on while I did a few busy-but-not-actually-busy tasks. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which I watched a couple of months ago, after seeing its sequel. It is such a well-written movie, the kind of thing that surprises me in an action flick because I never expect it. Yes, the movie is carried on the broad shoulders of Dwayne Johnson and the broad comic chops of Jack Black, but it never forgets that it’s a movie about people, not action or one-liners. I swear I teared up a couple of times.

Breakfast was a couple of hot dogs with mustard, ketchup, and sauerkraut. Lunch was a large bowl of steamed broccoli. Dinner was leftover beef stew (made in the Instant Pot some friends gave me for Christmas last month) with brown rice. So food was pretty great Sunday. In between I snacked a bit on wasabi roasted peas.

To the motion be true

I thought I might try the supermarket in my hood, but I picked up a bad vibe when I pulled into the parking lot. Instead, I left my car in the lot (in front of McD’s again) and went for a long walk. Banged out 15K steps, and yeah it took me two and a half hours to go 6.8 miles, but I’ll take it. A lot of it was uphill, I should say.

And then I kind of undid it with two sausage burritos at McD’s and a large Diet Coke with extra ice. Man, that was a pleasurable snack though.

Mayoral edict; not giving up on the ocean yet

Sunday the mayor announced stay-home policies until the end of April. I knew it was coming (although I admit my sources had me thinking it was coming from the governor). There are a lot of excepted activities, though, among them outdoor activities for exercise, which on this island seems to be what everyone’s doing all the time. It means if I can find a beach where swimming is allowed (or at least not barred), I can get some ocean time with some good planning. A friend’s IG stories showed Sandy Beach completely deserted Sunday, as in nobody there but the person who shared the video.

I need to find something that’s not such a long drive away, though. Plus, you can’t really swim at Sandy’s. Also, I’m one of the rare local boys who loves the ocean who’s never actually been in the water at Sandy’s. They’re always rescuing people there from the killer (I use that word literally) shorebreak and its resulting undertow.

So Sandy’s is out, but there’s got to be an accessible strip near Waikiki that could work. I actually have something in mind but I don’t want to share it publicly yet.

Coming clean in Manoa

It’s 3:35 Monday morning and I’m typing this in the open-all-night laundry in Manoa. It’s probably my favorite laundromat for early-morning washes because it’s very clean and usually very quiet, not to mention the pretty safe neighborhood.

Last week I came in at 4:00 and had the place to myself until 5:00. It was glorious and lovely and just about perfect. My clothes were still in the dryer at five, though, when a couple of others came in to do wash, and they were chatty (with each other). My solitude was ruined along with my social distancing.

So this morning I got here at 3:00 and there were people here! Ugh. Two of them had come together and were very chatty. The other asked me if I had change for a 20 (I didn’t) but while we were brainstorming solutions, the guy kept stepping up to me. I really wanted to help him out, but I wished he would step off. Ugggggh. Anyway he didn’t get what he needed and took off.

I wish now I had just put $10 on his card (it’s one of those places where you load up a plastic card with funds and use the card on the machines), but I was so distracted by wishing he wouldn’t get so close to me that I didn’t think of it until he was gone.

Sorry, guy. I’ll take care of you next time.

With 10 minutes to go for the washer, the two ladies have gone but two guys have come in, including (just now) the guy who needed change. This is not working out at all the way I wanted.

Making contact

Texted Chuck about possibly hitting the beach together (going in separate cars) once I figure something out. Texted Grace to verify that she’s on the mayor’s okay-to-work-at-the-office list (she does IT support at a care facility). Texted Penny to ask whether she’s finished reading a book I need to talk to someone about. She hasn’t started it yet and it’s overdue at the library. Traded a few emails with Reid who had questions about a crossword puzzle answer he didn’t understand. Plus the usual Twitter and FB back-and-forth.

If you’re reading this and you’re feeling as if you’re going through this weirdness alone, please reach out. I’m lousy company most of the time because I like to keep to myself, but I’ll trade texts or emails with you. Nobody needs to go through this by him- or herself.

Lockdown: It’s going to take a bit more effort

Saturday found me feeling slightly less upbeat than I felt Friday. Tried to hit Ala Moana for a sunrise swim, but the driveway is closed (blocked by city vehicles and barriers). I’m thinking I might need to just suck it up and find other ways to get the mental whatever I get from the ocean. I’ve gone much longer than a couple of months between times in the water, after all. I’m just a little spoiled now.

So I’m mildly embarrassed to say I spent most of Saturday alternating between the bed and the dining table. Didn’t get any to-dos taken care of, but then that’s kind of normal for a weekend lately. As the end of the day crept up on me, I jumped into my car, parked it at the bottom of the hill (in front of the McD’s actually) and went for a little late-night walk. Ninety minutes later I was feeling a little better about things, as I usually do after walking.

My writing partner sent me a draft of her latest article for the momblog. It’s a pretty good idea, and I’ll link it from here when it publishes. I’m pleased she’s being productive. Among other things, it gives me some motivation to produce similarly.

Friday evening I called my folks, who are in very positive spirits, or at least they’re presenting as such. My mom knows the seriousness of this thing and has stayed put, but is also getting some sunshine and fresh air on their lanai. She’s got her flowers and the dog, of course, so I think she’s going to be okay. She agrees with me that staying indoors in front of the TV all day is a bad path.

My dad feels pretty good about his preparation. He’s been stocking up on food for a couple of months, inclulding enough flour and yeast for fresh bread for quite a while. I can see, though, that I’m going to have to give them a call two or three times a week, for my own peace of mind more than anything else. They’re telling me I can come over whenever, but I’m not going anywhere near them unless I really have to, or unless they need something from me.

One semi-productive thing I did was get started on my second ambitious new year’s resolution. The first was Honolulu Silent Book Club, which of course is on hold after just our initial meeting. The plan was to get that rolling and then jump into my next thing, but now it makes more sense to get this other project going.

It’s a podcast. I won’t share details until I it’s got some momentum. I’ve been planning it for more than a year and feel like it’s ready to be nudged into motion. You possibly remember I did a podcast for a year or so maaaaany years ago, and this is kind of a morphing of that, although with less emphasis on me and more on others. Still reading-themed, though.

I may have purchased a couple of toys for this purpose. I’d rather not get into it yet. Don’t want to talk it out of existence, and I’ll feel better once the ink’s dry on the commitment. One thing I’ve learned from producing and consuming podcasts is that I want to do ten complete episodes totally as practice before I drop the first official. Too many podcasts don’t hit their stride until at least five episodes in. I’d like my first to be as good as my tenth, so I’m making my eleventh my first.

A key to thriving in this new normal will be making myself do things I don’t want to do, things I want to have done. House chores, for one thing. Reaching out to others for another. Sunday is usually my do-nothing day, the day I visit my parents and take care of my laundry. Since I’m not going over there (and since my own laundry stuff doesn’t work anymore) I have to take my clothes to a laundromat. I’m thinking I’ll save that for the wee hours of Monday morning.

This means nothing is really on the agenda for Sunday. And since I kind of did that Saturday, I’m thinking of making a small to-do list for Sunday. And maybe working on that podcast.

I’m not planning to quanitify everything during this weirdness, but here’s some of what I did Saturday.

  • Walked 90 minutes for a paltry 9000 steps, or four miles. Yeah, it was a slow walk, and my goal is 13,000 daily. Normally at work I walk 5000 just between clocking in and out, so you can see there’s some making up to do.
  • Read a few articles in the Washington Post, but not as much as usual.
  • Texted Penny to ask about what she’s doing about her mom, who’s in an elderly residence. Friended someone on FB I’ve known online very casually for a couple of years; we chatted on FB Messenger for a while. Two connections — not bad.
  • Worked on writing partner’s article.
  • Mapped out details for new podcast. Brainstormed list of possible practice guests (I need 10; I have 8 to ask so far). EDIT: now I have a pretty good list of 15)

That’s about it. It’s creeping up on 2:30 Sunday morning so I’m going to bed.

Lockdown day 1

It just hit midnight Friday night. I was supposed to begin working from home Wednesday, but technical issues with my work-issued laptop meant I was in the office on Wednesday and Thursday, but the company (especially our seriously hard-working IT team) worked super hard to get everyone working at home if he or she could do it. It strongly urged us all, if we could, to stay away from the office.

There are people who have to be onsite (although I’d argue that our senior leadership is not among them). We get a lot of money in and we send a lot of money out every day, and people have to be there to disburse it and to collect it. We’re nearly all virtual desktopping now, so some tech people have to be onsite to manage that.

Still, it’s going to be eerily ghost-town-like for the foreseeable future.

I live alone, which is a mixed blessing at a time like this. I’m seriously glad I don’t have a roomie (or worse: roomies. Crush Girl has multiple roomies, she tells me), but I suppose a spouse would make this situation better.

I easily have enough food in this house for a few weeks. The pitfall is going to be not eating it all at once. I’m only half-joking. Can’t believe how much I’ve eaten in the last week.

I’m strategizing ways to keep myself healthy and happy during this weirdness. Wednesday night, I took a very long walk through the neighborhood, late at night when I wouldn’t run into people. Got through a bunch of podcasts, got drizzled on ever so slightly, breathed the fresh air, soaked up the night. It felt good, and it’s going to have to be part of my survival plan.

They’ve closed the parks on this island, but the beaches are still up for debate. If I go early enough, just before the sun’s coming up, I know I can stay far away from others and get a decent half hour in the brine. I’m hoping, anyway. That’s at my main beach, which is right in Honolulu itself. There are other options, beaches not attached to parks, but most of them are a bit of a drive. Probably not feasible on days when I work.

I’m so grateful for my employers’ keeping us working. I know not everyone’s so lucky. I can’t guarantee we’ll all still be working when this finally winds down, but for now I’m fairly secure.

I’ll share more about what I’m doing to keep myself sane over the next few days. One part of the strategy is to write a little something in this space each evening unless I’m super tired. Meanwhile, I hope anyone reading this is staying connected to someone. Please reach out if you’re not. Nobody needs to go through this alone.

Missing Mojo

Wow. It’s been more than a month. I’ve been especially productive at work lately, which kinda drains the writing mojo out of me most of the time. I’ve got stuff to say, but the connections between my brain and my fingertips kind of get white-noisy after I’ve written all day.

Work is the same, mostly, except I’ve been picking up more of these hey-if-you-have-a-moment tasks, which I seriously don’t mind. They tend to pile up though, while I do the main stuff of my job, and then I get a little stressed. I find it all satisfying, which pleases me.

Many years ago, I tried to explain to Reid why Larry McMurtry is such an amazing writer. I envy a lot of writers, and McMurtry is maybe at the top of the list — not because I want to write what he writes (I don’t), but because his writing is clearer than anyone’s. “Do you know how difficult it is to do what he does?” I asked. His response, which I didn’t like then and don’t like now although I kinda accept it, was, “The fact that something is difficult doesn’t make it great.” Fair enough.

For the past fifteen years or so, clarity has been my primary focus, and I think it’s paid off. I’m still not even in McMurtry’s area code, but if I can point proudly to one thing in my professional writing, it’s readability, an offshoot of clarity. And this past month, I’ve had a few reasons to look at my work and be proud. Which of course is rather satisfying.

The problem with writing very clearly is that people don’t notice clarity in writing and consequently they don’t care about it. Which means they don’t appreciate it or value it. I have a few coworkers (including my supervisor, thank goodness) who’ve seen what I do with the stuff they send me for editing and understand. They’re sorta in the minority though. Most people see the grammar and spelling corrections, not the corrections I make for flow, so they think what I do is a matter of knowing the mechanics.

It’s true I know the mechanics in a way I can’t explain, not quite in the way a gifted musician can compose music without knowing music theory, but something like it. I don’t know stuff English majors are supposed to know, like what the present imperfect tense is, or what the difference is between intransitive and transitive verbs. I do know what the language is supposed to look like and sound like, and that’s gotten me by most of the time.

However, since that stuff has just always come to me, probably from years of locking myself in my room and reading, rather than learning how to throw a ball or dance with girls, I’m unimpressed with myself for it. Editing for readability? That’s freaking difficult. Especially when I edit so many academics’ writing.

No one has ever asked me for an example, but I have one at the ready. There’s a school within the University of Hawaii called SOEST. The School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology.

This is the closest thing to a verbal version of FOIL (remember that from algebra 1?) I’ve ever seen. It’s a school. Check. What kind of school? A school of science and technology. In what realms? Ocean and earth. So it’s a school of ocean science, ocean technology, earth science, and earth technology. They condensed the whole thing down into something that needs parentheses, not in a language way but in a mathematical way: The School of (Ocean and Earth) (Science and Technology). FOIL it baby: first, outer, inner last.

If this doesn’t drive you mad, please be driven mad at least on my behalf. Have some sympathy: this is the kind of thing I have to work with all the time.

All of which is to illustrate that what I kick major butt at in my job is rewriting all this stuff in a way that makes sense to a general audience, in a way that reads smoothly and easily. This is the truly difficult part of my work, and with the exception of those few coworkers (and my supervisor, thank goodness), people don’t appreciate it.

Although Reid is probably right: the fact that it’s difficult doesn’t make it good. Or valuable, necessarily.

I’ve gone through quite a bit of agony over this, these past few months. I probably will again. For now, though, I’ve found a nice peaceful space where I’m proud of it on my own, and where I’m grateful for the appreciation I do get from coworkers whom I love, even if those coworkers aren’t the ones who decide how much I get paid.

I look back on the work I produced this past month and a half and I feel freaking good. I’ll take it.

2019 consumption recap: film/whatever

First a quick few lists of (most of) what I saw in 2019.

2018 movies I saw in theaters in 2019
On the Basis of Sex
Aquaman
If Beale Street Could Talk
The Favourite

2019 movies I saw in theaters in 2019
Captain Marvel (twice)
Avengers: Endgame (twice)
Late Night
Spider-Man: Far from Home
The Farewell
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Blinded by the Light (twice)
Downton Abbey
Knives Out
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

A sorry showing to say the least. I will have to do better in 2020.

I also took the morning off from work to see The African Queen in a theater, my second-favorite film of all time. And I saw three concert films in theaters: Rush’s Cinema Strangiato, Metallica’s S&M2, and Slayer’s The Relentless Killogy. All quite good but Rush especially.

Movies I saw via streaming or on DVD in 2019
The Last Detail (1973)
First Reformed (2018)
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)
Hearts Beat Loud (2018)
Mid-90s (2018)
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (2018)
Twilight (2008)
Noelle (2020)

This is not counting movies I re-watched, which would include multiple viewings of Hell or High Water, The Muppet Movie, The Princess Bride, All the President’s Men, and The Greatest Showman.

I no longer have the attention span to truly binge-watch a TV series, but I did take my time through Silicon Valley seasons 3 and 4, Downton Abbey season 1 and some of season 2, ├ćon Flux the second series. I re-watched Silicon Valley seasons 1 and 2 and Forever season 1.

…and dang it. I just learned that Forever was canceled. So annoying. The first season was freaking brilliant. I’m pissed. And I also discovered that Atlanta will air seasons 3 and 4 in 2021. Also annoying, but at least it’s coming back.

In retrospect, I guess the best film I saw in 2018 (not counting The African Queen, because that’s cheating) was If Beale Street Could Talk, but my favorite is probably either Downton Abbey or Spider-Man: Far from Home.

I thought Silicon Valley lost some focus in seasons 3 and 4, but it was still hilarious, and I imagine without T.J. Miller it should be a lot more focused for seasons 5 and 6, which I plan to watch this year. It really couldn’t stand up against Downton Abbey, though, which is wonderful.

There is a movie in this list I think I will always think of when I remember 2019. I won’t say what it was, but it’s the movie I invited Crush Girl to see with me, that evening I was friendzoned. I went to see it anyway, by myself, and it was rather good, and someone in it is likely to be nominated for an Oscar. I really thought she was signalling me for takeoff, but I was shot down in flames. I’m still recovering in case you can’t tell, and while the movie is good enough to be remembered for much better things, it will remind me for a while of the beginning of a few months of pretty dark stuff.

As depressive episodes go, this wasn’t nearly as dark or crippling as others I’ve gone through, but it was pretty long, and it comes back every so often. I suspect that Crush Girl shooting me down in the year of my being XXXXX years old is part of it — it’s excellent fodder (I use present tense because it’s still present) for who-am-I-and-what-am-I-doing-with-myself ruminations and reflections.

I suspect this will be my journaling theme for MMXX, which is a nice segue into resolutions, which I’ll post in a day or two.

Zones of proximal development

Crazy busy at work these last two weeks. Like, can you get this done today kind of busy. In the plus column: the days are moving quickly. In the minus column: January, my favorite month, has flown without me and I never really got to enjoy it as I usually do.

Also in the minus column: either the busy-ness is causing me to sleep poorly or it’s coinciding with my sleeping poorly. Either way I’m physically, emotionally, tenuously hanging on.

I’ve decided, perhaps arbitrarily and perhaps out of survival’s necessity, that the movie with Crush Girl was by far most likely just a friend thing. I will take it. I would so much rather have her as a movie-going just-a-friend than not, even if it breaks my heart from time to time. A rock feels no pain, and an island never cries.

This lyric is probably not applicable or relevant, but it seemed like a good place for it.

One of my friends is moving to the East Coast and it’s a little bit of a bummer, even though I suspect we’re both better off not living so close to one another. I liked having a buddy who shares my birthday, even if we never celebrated it together. She’s a twin, so while I have never shared my birthday with anyone, she’s shared hers with someone her entire life. Not a big deal at all.

I think we’re better off because we are either getting along famously or we’re not getting along at all. It’s maybe the most tempestuous friendship I’ve ever had, and I am just not equipped for it. Because I dislike confrontation, I deal with these weird periods of taking up arms by simply withdrawing. It’s depressing. It would make being friends with her completely not worth it if it weren’t so good when we are getting along.

I’m sad to see her go, and she’s sad to be leaving. I really don’t think she’s going to be better off all the way over there, but one does what one must. Still, a long-distance friendship may work best for us. Here’s hoping.

Too tired for the Friday 5. I’ll get to it this weekend.

We all need some measure of unwarranted grace

I’m still writing my other year-end reflection and my resolutions post, but I’ll get those up later this week.

Man, I don’t know how to write this but I’m going to try I guess.

Crush Girl and I went somewhere together by ourselves. She mentioned a movie she was hoping to see, and I mentioned that I was going to see it too, probably later, after a few other things on my list.

She messaged me later the same day, asking if I wanted to join her and a couple of her friends to see it. Holy moly. Two things went through my brain on endless repeat at a hundred miles per hour: Oh my gosh what is this and what does it mean? and oh geez I can’t afford a movie this week my budget is super tight until payday!

So bad was my cash situation that I was going to have to take my coin jar to a Coinstar (note to self: use that rhyme in a rap someday) just to cover the movie. Crush Girl asked me how much movies cost nowadays (she commented last fall on how expensive they are) and I said this one was going to be $10 at theater A (it was cheap movie night there) and $6 at theater B (it was cheaper movie night there), but $6 only if she signed up for the free club thing.

She tried to convince her friends to change plans and go to theater B, but they were set on theater A, I guess, so they were going there. She asked me if I wanted to go to theater B. I said sure, but I was equally happy to see it at theater A. I was lying of course, lying through my lying teeth.

Lying through my lying messaging fingers, actually, but the point is I very purposely gave her a chance not to be stuck alone with me and she didn’t take it.

I met her at theater B. I’d been sending Jocelyn the play-by-play as these events unfolded, so while I normally might have been a mess, I was pretty calm by the time I was in line at the box office. I wasn’t going to worry about oh my gosh what is this and what does it mean, and I had enough cash to handle $6 (I’m telling you; things were this tight), so I was just going to go along with it and be nice.

I can be nice, contrary to popular opinion.

She asked me if I had a seating preference, which of course I do, but people were already there, so I said, “I do, but someone’s there, so let’s sit wherever you want to sit.” She chose a typical seat, near the middle, not too far back. I slid in next to her and dropped the armrest on my left. She dropped the armrest on her right, and neither of us dropped the armrest in the middle.

This may not sound like a big deal, but the only person I haven’t dropped the middle armrest for is R. I usually don’t even sit next to Penny or Grace if we’re in a movie together.

I have to say I was a leeeeeettle uncomfy being able only to put my left arm on an armrest, so I sat mostly with my arms crossed throughout the film. This may have seemed a little standoffish, but given the circumstances and the friendzoning, I wasn’t taking chances on being misread.

I just realized that sitting with my arms crossed was in fact taking a chance on being misread, but given the many ways I might have been misread, it’s better to err on safety’s side.

Anyway.

She’s not a movie talker (thank you Jesus) but she did lean over and whisper a couple of questions during the film, which I was happy to answer (incorrectly, it turns out), and those are my two favorite moments of 2020. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. You’ve been a great audience; it was a great year. Bring on 2021.

We chatted after the movie for a few minutes and I walked her to her car, which we discovered was parked a few stalls away from mine and as she drove off, I got Jocelyn caught up via Google hangouts. Jocelyn is super super super super super super super busy with super important stuff (like, life-or-death stuff) so I knew she wasn’t going to get back to me. I just needed to type to someone oh my gosh what is this and what does it mean?

Couldn’t just get into my car and drive home after that. I paced the parking garage a few times and watched a few airplanes fly out of HNL.

I kind of knew how they felt.

2019 Consumption recap: written word

This year, the number of books I read is greater than the number of movies I saw, I’m pretty sure. It’s possibly the first time this has happened since the year I wrote my master’s thesis, although it’s possible the year before getting hired where I work now at least came close. That was a lean year.

Prioritizing sleep and exercise will do this to you, I guess. Especially sleep. Because I dislike crowds, I favor late movies, or matinees on weekdays. The late movies were tougher to attend while being conscious of my sleep hours, and honestly I’ve missed my cinema time.

The other big reason for my film decline is just what it is for most of us: too much media competing for my attention. Shortly after the 2016 election, I resubscribed to the Washington Post, largely out of a sense of responsibility. Most of my daily reading is a balance of the WaPo and Google News, with the Post usually as my breakfast reading.

Of non-fiction, the best thing I read is A History of Heavy Metal by Andrew O’Neil. I still need to go through my notes, which include bands I need to check out and some history I’d like more info on.

For novels, I may remember 2019 as the year of the re-read. I went back to favorites I haven’t read since high school, such as Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy, and books I read for my thesis but didn’t have time to soak up as I’d have liked, such as Patricia MacLachlan’s Sarah, Plain and Tall, Lynne Rae Perkins’s Criss Cross, and Linda Sue Park’s A Single Shard.

Also in the old favorites revisted category: Danny Dunn and the Anti-Gravity Paint and Danny Dunn and the Swamp Monster by Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin. The fifteen books in this series were among my favorites in fifth and sixth grade, and when I saw that some had been converted to ebook format, I had to see if they are as good as I remember. They’re not, but they’re still quite good. I expect to buy a few more in the series this year.

Of course, what took up most of my time (mid-January to mid-spring, I think) was my first re-read of the Harry Potter books, and my first read of its final installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I don’t understand people who dismiss the series as mere children’s literature, although I don’t understand the dismissal of anything as mere children’s literature. It’s a beautiful story, and while J.K. Rowling is not especially skilled with the language, she’s a heck of a storyteller. I think I’m going to re-read the last book this year.

I’d like to make 2020 the year I finish a bunch of books I started but never completed. I’d like also to read something from the English major canon I never got to, perhaps something Russian or Victorian English.

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.