Crush Girl seems to be over the annoying thing I did, much to my gentle relief. I’m sure her ire was exacerbated by my uncontrollable giggling while apologizing and insisting I was contrite. I was contrite, but I was also super amused because the thing she was annoyed about was something I messaged her. And I knew I was pushing a button when I hit send. I looked at it first, and said, “That’s a real button. What if I just push it lightly?”

Fireworks, of the stony face and silent treatment variety. So yeah. I was laughing at her for being so transparently sensitive about it, but I was mostly laughing at myself for this lifelong need to test every sign that says DO NOT PUSH THIS BUTTON.

She’s been a little more communicative these past couple of days, which is super nice, but I also think I need to get myself over her. Maybe start calling her Excrush Girl in order to facilitate it. I’m kidding myself if I think I’ll ever somehow wriggle my way out of the friendzone and into the little bit of her heart I think I could fill.

I should say I haven’t been trying to nudge her out of the friendzone. I accepted my assignment the day I got it, and I am long past the stupid youthful idea that you can win someone over, even if most of my love history is evidence to the contrary. Put yourself out there, and if you get a no, take the no and move on. It’s the only mature, respectful thing to do.

I like being in the friendzone, at least as a second option. I think we could be really close friends if certain circumstances weren’t such obstacles. Stupid pandemic isn’t helping.

Something caught me off guard the other night and I didn’t roll with it the way I usually do. Got knocked for something of a loop, teetered momentarily before plunging into an eddy determined to suck me into the deep.

I allowed it for a couple of hours, glorying in self-pity and hollowness, but I yanked myself out, mostly for survival’s sake. Also because it was such a stupid thing to get depressed about. There are things I can’t control, and if they aren’t unjust, harmful to anyone I care about, or a serious threat to my well-being, I shouldn’t allow them to control me like this.

So I wrapped gifts, and when I was done with that, I opened the gifts my coworkers left for me, keeping notes in my iPad so I’d remember what to write thank-you cards for. That wonderful Christmas album, Carcass’s Torn Arteries, kept me company throughout, and I was feeling pretty goodwill-toward-humans by the time I was done.

My Christmas Eve was nice. I slept in, sorta, then ran a couple of errands. Took everything at a snail’s pace, not hurrying through anything because I didn’t have a schedule to worry about. Took a short nap, did a few chores, listened to some podcasts. I read a little bit of Klara and the Sun, which is taking a bit of a dark turn about a third of the way through.

Breakfast was overnight oats. Lunch was a Panda Express plate (mushroom chicken, string bean chicken, super greens). Dinner was a couple of chicken thighs steamed in the Instant Pot, with choy sum, bean sprouts, and more string beans. I drizzled some Maui Chili Chili Oil on the chicken and it was amazing.

Texted Excrush Girl a little about a book she’s reading. Also two coworkers about Tsum Tsum — they’ve recently jumped back in, a year after my return to the game, and wanted to know how my scores have gotten so good.

I’ll do the Friday 5 tomorrow. Too tired!

The viral spiral

Much to my annoyance, I woke up a few hours ahead of my alarm Sunday and didn’t get back to sleep. Put the Packers-Ravens game on and did a few chores, then drove out to the folks’ to hang out and have dinner.

I had a few things I wanted to get done and mostly only got to one of them.

For the first time in a couple of years, I couldn’t bring myself to listen to Meet the Press or This Week with George Stephanopolous. I just couldn’t handle the depressing news. New COVID cases in this state were nearly a thousand for Sunday and I just can’t. I did listen to World News Tonight, but I did not listen to PBS Newshour. I still might, but it’s unlikely.

I’ve caught myself a few times each day this weekend peering into the abyss, gazing into the blackness. It’s hit me deeply and I’ve pulled back, but yikes. I feel myself spiraling slowly. Why does the darkness call me, and why do I kind of want to go in there?

I’m almost certain it’s COVID-related. Even the stuff that’s not (like stress about my car and small concerns about cashflow) sort of is.

I think for the next couple of days, I’m going to spend my downtime taking care of Christmas stuff. That seems to make me feel okay most of the time, but it’s also making me wistful because I think Christmas weekend is going to be when things get really terrible.

Breakfast was overnight oats and the rest of that salad from Jolene’s. Yum and yum. Lunch (actually dinner) was a sushi platter from Genki Sushi, shared with my parents. Good stuff. Dinner was a couple of quesadillas I probably shouldn’t have and definitely didn’t need. I snacked on some beef jerky and a handful of fried pork rinds.

Didn’t listen to much music because of football. I have the Dan Le Batard Show podcast on the speakers right now but I’m only kind of listening.

I’m kind of looking forward to work this week. I have a few interesting things to work on, plus it’s a short week. Oh, and Monday afternoon I have an appointment to have my vision tested for new glasses. My benefits give me a certain amount each calendar year for glasses, and I missed last year because of the stupid lockdown. This year, it’s been super difficult to get an appointment, but here we go. With ten days to spare before the year ends. I want new specs, whether I need them or not.

I annoyed Crush Girl and she’s not really speaking to me. Sigh.


I woke up a little early for me on a Saturday, and not to get to the beach, although I certainly wanted to. I went over to mom’s to help her with Christmas cards. We spent some nice time together. Both parents thanked me repeatedly, but I was honestly grateful for something to do with my mom.

Came home for a short nap, then went to the office. I didn’t have to go in, but I knew I’d have a better Sunday if I took care of a few things Saturday. While I was there, I wrapped gifts for my office mates. Wrapping gifts always puts me in the Christmas spirit, and I liked getting the injection a full week before the actual day. I think this bodes well for the days leading up to the holiday.

I still have a couple of gifts to pick up.

Recent spins: I’m revisiting 2021 releases I enjoyed, toward my year-end best-of list. Most of Thursday and Friday I had Evergrey’s Escape of the Phoenix on repeat. Wednesday it was Soen’s Imperial, which may be my favorite album of the year. Right now I’m spinning Einherjer’s North Star, not because I expect it to make the final list (I don’t) but because I couldn’t remember it very well.

I haven’t been as mood-swingy today as I have been the past week. I think part of it is the slow news day. These days, I listen to news broadcasts via their podcast releases, since I’m not home all the time as I was the year and a half I mostly worked from home. PBS Newshour with Judy Woodruff and World News Tonight with David Muir. They were both very, very light Saturday. I know there’s an important lesson here but I’m not ready to deal with it. Despite seeming evidence to the contrary, I think it’s better to be informed these days. Even at the cost of my emotional health.

Breakfast was overnight oats. For a late lunch, I stopped at Jolene’s Market, the airport location. Jolene’s has a prominent spot in the Chinatown Cultural Plaza, where Regal Bakery used to be (Jolene is the daughter of the Regal founders), and opened big some time ago with its lobster roll. Lobster rolls are super trendy in this town, and I think Jolene’s was the instigator.

The airport location is super casual — it’s a walk-up window with a couple of picnic tables — and it’s open early, I guess partially because it’s still a bakery too. The walk-in bakery with its display cases is still there, next to the walk-up window. So yeah, you can get a lobster roll at 5:00 in the morning if you want. I haven’t done it yet, but one of these mornings before I go to the beach I’m totally going to do it because I can.

So for lunch I had the lobster roll, and I ordered a fried chicken salad to go. That was my dinner. The lobster roll was quite good. I tried it once, the day before my birthday two years ago, the night Reid and I went to Patton Oswalt at the Hawaii Theatre. I remember liking but not loving it then, but I really liked it today, my second try. It’s quite a sandwich.

The fried chicken salad is a large spring mix salad topped with pieces of boneless fried chicken, and it was outstanding. I saved some for breakfast or lunch Sunday.

I snacked on pistachios at the office, then some beef jerky at home.

When I was still at UH Manoa, living in the BSU dorm, JB and I thought it would be cool to bring home a live lobster from Safeway and keep it as a pet in the aquarium we had in the dorm lounge. We had a dorm-mate named Robert whom we sometimes called Robster, and thought Robster the Lobster would be a great name for our new pet.

I went so far as to visit a tropical fish store I liked (stories for another time; when I was a kid my father had as many as twenty aquaria in the house, and I’ve kept two at once a couple of times) to ask about keeping water temperatures cold enough for lobsters. The chillers you’d need were far too expensive for a stupid novelty idea like keeping a lobster as a pet in a dorm lounge, so we quickly abandoned the plan, but one of these days I might do it.

Everyone needs a panda hold onto

End of a week. It’s nearly quarter to five Friday night and of course I shouldn’t still be up, but I did the thing again.

I just stood on the scale after avoiding it for a few days. Pleasant surprise. If my scale is to be believed (and I’m seldom convinced it is), I’m down seven pounds in three weeks and I’m down seventeen pounds since June 1. It’s been something of a roller coaster in between, so I’m really not looking back to June 1, the day I brought the scale home from Target.

However, the three weeks thing is a big deal to me because I’ve been actively trying to drop some pounds. More on that later.

We had our holiday party at work this afternoon via Zoom, as we did last year. It was pretty fun for a Zoom gathering. We had a couple of games and a fun gift drawing based on our performances during the games. It was also blessedly short, but of course its being (comparatively) brief means it was quite lacking in interpersonal goodwill, the vibe I most like about our holiday gatherings.

This stupid virus.

I’m feeling super down about the news these days, and the news is not especially bad. It’s just the normal bad. I think I’m feeling super sensitive to it lately.

Thursday I finished the book I’ve been reading during my lunch breaks. Every Day the River Changes: Four Weeks Down the Magdalena (2021) by Jordan Salama. I don’t read very much travel writing, yet I always enjoy it when I do. Saw mention of it on Twitter one day and bought it on impulse. And yeah, the title.

Today I got into Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun (2021). So far so good. I’m leading a book discussion group in the office and this is our new selection. I didn’t select the novel, but I’m glad we’re reading it. I’ve meant to get into Ishiguro for a super long time.

Breakfast was overnight oats. Yes, I’m back on the overnight oats train. Lunch was at Panda Express: orange chicken and string bean chicken with super greens. That super greens side is the draw for me. Broccoli, cabbage, and kale. It’s a short walk from the office and by the time I have lunch, there are very few fellow diners. Good space for reading.

Dinner was a small bowl of granola with yoghurt (the yoghurt I made in my Instant Pot last weekend) and raw honey. Second dinner several hours later was a couple of quesadillas with whole-wheat tortillas. Those whole-wheat tortillas, I tell you, are not terrific. At the office, I snacked on pistachios. At home in the evening, I had two palmsful of popcorn: the Smartfood popcorn with Cap’n Crunch crunchberries mixed into it.

Five minutes after five. To bed.

Friday 5: Are you prepositioning me?

Work has been a bit frenzied lately. It usually calms down for me in December — when I was first hired in December five years ago, they told me not to come in until the second week of January because there just wasn’t much for me to do yet.

If the last few Decembers have been less than frantic, I’ll just say I kind of earned them because in order to get year-end stuff out, my busy time is September into November. Those stories take time to write, and getting them approved by all stakeholders often takes even more time.

But I’ve picked up a new responsibility: sending out bulk emails on behalf of some of UH’s units. We are tenacious protectors of our data, as we must be. We collect money from a lot of people, and our records are freaking sensitive as heck. We also keep alumni data. So when the department of ______ wants to send out a bulk email to its donors or alumni, it does it through our foundation.

I’m not in charge of any of it, but we lost one of our people who used to do it, summer 2020 on the day I still think of as Black Tuesday. So responsibilities have shifted, and they continue to shift as people move into and out of positions.

I’d been bugging my boss for years to let me learn Mailchimp so I could help out with that stuff once in a while. Also because learning new stuff is critical to keeping me interested in my work. I finally got the okay when someone needed to pick up the mailouts for a few units.

The end of the calendar year is pretty busy for a task like this. I’m handling the smallest number of these and they still take up an enormous chunk of my time and energy. They’re not supposed to, but I’m still new to this task, so I’m still in the steeper part of the learning curve.

I’ve complained to my boss that I haven’t lately had any time for goofing off during my workday. I have to do my NYT crosswords at home before bed, rather than during breaks at my desk. I was being playful when I said it, but I was also being serious.

Not complaining about the work or the workload, actually. Just trying to keep it going without letting myself get fully immersed beyond a reasonable week’s hours. ‘Though I could certainly let myself without worrying too much. It would never be as self-destructive as when I was teaching.

It’s 2:33 in the morning and I’m still up because this last two weeks I crash as soon as I get home, for two to three hours, and then I’m up too late getting non-work things done. It’s a very unhealthy thing I do every so often and I find the cycle super difficult to break. I was going to reset last weekend, but I got a request to put together a proposal on Saturday afternoon and spent Sunday evening — late Sunday evening — doing it. Because end-of-year stuff. We’re a charity, and people want to get their donations in by the end of December.

Soooooooooooooooo I might as well do a Friday 5.

From here.

  1. When did you recently do something on the sly?
    I stayed late in the office to get a few things done Tuesday night. Was about to lock up (everyone else had gone home) when I remembered Wednesday is when I hoped to put my office Christmas gift out: eight tins of assorted teas from Harney and Sons. I wasn’t exactly sneaking around to do it, but I like to leave that stuff when nobody’s seeing me. Santa-like. I printed an obnoxiously punny message on some Christmas-printed cardstock and set it up nicely in the break room where we keep the tea stuff.
  2. Which of your plans for the coming week is still up in the air?
    I have to mail Christmas gifts to people I won’t see in person, and I still have two unchecked items on my list. Gotta pick something up then pack stuff to mail. I’m hoping to get the shopping done Saturday evening and mail it all out early Monday morning.
  3. What’s happening across the street?
    I live across the street from the faculty housing of a certain Hawaii private K-12 school, and since they’re about to begin Christmas break, it’s been super quiet over there. I think some of my neighbors are from off-island, so during breaks they go away. Just a suspicion; I don’t actually know any of them. Between semesters, there’s often some turnover there too, although less in December than in July.
  4. What have you heard recently through the grapevine?
    As I have said many times, I try to run away from gossip. If I consume any gossip at all, it’s usually about football or baseball, but that’s not gossip. In baseball’s winter months, it’s hot stove. A different creature entirely. Which player is thinking of signing with which team, that kind of stuff. And the hot stove league is quiet these days because the stupid Major Leagues are in lockout pending some kind of new collective bargaining agreement.
  5. What kinds of videos on YouTube are likeliest to send you down the rabbit hole?
    I don’t like looking at video on my phone, and I’ve never really liked it on my computer. I’m kind of old that way. I like computers and phones for reading and interacting. I don’t like them for sucking in video content. However, when I do get drawn in (or when I let myself willingly be pulled under), there are three common culprits. I like compilations of Jimmy Kimmel’s Celebrities Read Mean Tweets segments. I find them hilarious and have watched some of them several times. I also like concert videos of bands I like. Most of the musicians I really want to see in concert never make it out here, so if there’s good live video of them, I’ll occasionally lose a few hours. Related: the third culprit is a series by Loudwire, a metal blog, called Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction? in which the host interviews metal musicians, reading them stuff Wikipedia says about them. The musicians then confirm or correct the info. It’s just this chill vibe with musicians I admire the heck out of, and there are few things I find more interesting than artists talking about their art.

Friday 5: The work of the child

From here.

  1. What musical instruments have you played?
    I took several years of piano lessons in elementary school, and taught myself harmonica in high school. Then mostly taught myself guitar in college. Those are the main ones. I’ve goofed around with ukulele and planned to buy one during the lockdown but I got distracted by other things. I have a doumbek Ross gave me when he didn’t want it anymore, but it’s doesn’t have great tone so I never play it. Planning to use it, though, if I ever record any of these silly songs I’ve written.
  2. When do you play with your food?
    Man, I can’t remember when I’ve done this. I play around in the kitchen all the time, messing with or creating recipes, but that’s not really what the phrase means. Oh, sometimes when I’m eating goldfish crackers, I like to make little stories with them moving around on the table, taking photos to illustrate little sequences. I kind of consider this writing, though, but in the context of snacking it certainly is playing. Sometimes I close my eyes when I’m eating M&Ms or Skittles and try to guess what color candy I’ve popped into my mouth.
  3. What’s your favorite stage play?
    I’m very fond of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but I also really like Arthur Miller’s All My Sons and Death of a Salesman. The Music Man may be my favorite, though, which is weird because I don’t love musicals. I’ve also directed three high-school plays, so they are closest to my heart. A little comic murder mystery called If It’s Monday, This Must Be Murder! Also Once Upon a Mattress and this wonderful musical called The Emperor’s New Clothes with music by Allan Jay Freedman (who, I just now discovered, died this week) and lyrics by Oscar-winner Paul Francis Webster.
  4. What games do you play on your phone?
    I’ve been playing Words with Friends since the moment I got my first iPhone. I’m also into this word game called Ruzzle, and as I’ve mentioned in this space, I got back into Tsum Tsum during the lockdown, after a few years away. These are the current games, but I do try not to get stagnant, trying new games every few months to see if anything else is sticky.
  5. When did you recently play it by ear?
    It’s pretty much the way I live my life, when I’m not in the classroom, and even sometimes when I am. These days I eat lunch out every day at work, and most of the time, I just walk around until something strikes me. Now that I’m trying to avoid empty carbs, it takes longer, or I just end up in the same few spots for a good salad. Yesterday I walked in a different direction and found myself at Ja Gal Chi, a Korean spot in the neighborhood I haven’t been to since right before the lockdown, when Ali moved away. It made me a little sad since she’s not talking to me anymore and I miss her. The tofu soup was great, though.

Friday 5: Everything but Yul Brynner

From here.

  1. How have you recently kept yourself in check?
    Uggggh. I’ve been seeing my doctor for a few issues lately. It began with a routine checkup, which led to some blood work, some encouraging numbers and some discouraging numbers, some more blood work, some mostly encouraging numbers (ruling out some bad stuff, whew), and some calm advice for adjusting the bad numbers, most of which involves my intake of two things I’m rather fond of: caffeine and carbs. So for the past two and a half weeks (excluding yesterday) I’ve really been good about checking my craving for caffeine. I’ve mentioned in this space a few times that I’ve never had a problem going cold turkey on caffeine — no withdrawal or DTs or anything — but it does make me quite happy when I consume it. Alas. I’ve also replaced most carby sides with greens. I love me some broccoli, arugula, and kale, but they do not please me quite the way noodles, rolls, or RICE do. I’m half Japanese. We are practically religious about rice. But you know. My doctor says for the most part we are fine-tuning, and that’s the kind of encouragement I need. Life’s a pain but I’d like to stick around for as long as I possibly can. There are too many things on the Cheesecake Factory* menu I haven’t tried yet.
  2. What’s the closest thing to a castle you’ve been in?
    Structure-wise, there probably isn’t anything remotely like a castle in my experience, having spent my whole life either in the middle of the Pacific Ocean or on the West Coast of the United States. But this lovely island state used to be an island nation, and it had an elected, constitutional monarchy, and the monarchy resided in a palace, which I have visited more times than I honestly cared to, most times chaperoning ninth-graders on field trips. Iolani Palace is a huge part of our history here and while it’s no castle, I imagine castles as the abodes of royalty, as are palaces. It’s a lovely building with a lovely history, and if you visit Hawaii you really should check it out.

    Oh wait a minute. Castle Park. A water park (believe it or not) in Honolulu in the 80s and 90s. You entered through a large castle-like building, which was the very cool arcade where my friends and I wasted a lot of money before high school football games (the stadium was across the street). Game tokens there were called Coins of the Realm. It’s since long gone, filled in, and replaced by a K-Mart. Which has been since replaced by who knows what?
  3. What were the circumstances the last time you were hoarse?
    Wow. It’s been a very long time, I think. I was sick with a very bad cold about fifteen years ago, during which I went hoarse for a few days. I missed two weeks of teaching, and it was the time when I kind of ghosted Mochi Girl, something I’m not proud of. We were headed that way anyway; the long illness just hastened things. She wanted to offer me some comfort and care. I wanted to be left alone. At least we agreed on one thing: I was not worth her concern!
  4. What’s your favorite song by Queen?
    I hate to admit this these days because the song’s a bit problematic, but it’s probably still “Fat Bottomed Girls,” ‘though in recent years I feel “Somebody to Love” and “I Want to Break Free” inching their way past it.
  5. For what will you likely pay a king’s ransom in the near future?
    Well I’ve already gone a bit overboard on some Christmas gifts (I’m trying to get my shopping done before the first of December), and when I’m Christmas shopping, I make a supreme effort not to buy things for myself. Once I get the gifts paid for, I need a new refrigerator and I need some work on my car. I’m also ordering new glasses by the end of the year, and the last two pairs I bought were more than $400 each. I can’t imagine I’ll spend less this time around. That really does seem a bit much.

* I use this establishment’s menu as a metaphor. I’ve only dined there twice, and while I liked it quite a bit, it’s in a part of town I just don’t care to drive through. Plus the line is crazy.

The curse of the second hand

NaNoWriMo is kicking my butt, but I’m still plugging away. I’ve actually been more productive in week two than I was in week one, which is a little strange. The real test, as it always is, will be week three.

I made the Instant Pot yogurt I’ve been planning to try since very early in the lockdown. I don’t remember why I didn’t do it when I mean to, but I’ve done it now. Came out great. I can’t believe how easy it was. I used to eat yogurt every day, and now I can see myself doing it again since it’ll cost so much less if I make it myself. Yee-ha.

Too tired to write. I’ll pick this up Sunday morning.

So we nod over coffee and say goodbye
Bolt the door it’s time to go
Into the car with the radio on
Roll down the window and blow the horn

Ain’t that the curse of the second hand
Ain’t that the way of the hour and the day

Transitioning back to the office has been a challenge. Once I’m there, it’s pretty good. I focus better in my dark cubicle. I like seeing my coworkers. I do better in in-person meetings, which I still dislike, but at least I can engage, read the energy in the room, and pay better attention.

The biggest snag is the time issue. I joked all the time about waking up at 9:00 to be at my desk working at 9:15, but there’s a lot to that. I got used to working a certain way in my living room, and I can’t just switch back to how it was two years ago. I have to pack up my personal laptop and all the things that make my setup my setup: my mechanical keyboard and wireless mouse (which I was already toting to and from the office before the lockdown), my four-port USB hub with my USB-C, lightning cable, micro USB, and wireless mouse dongle. The mouse is Bluetooth capable, but it just works better this way. I’ve found it’s easier to just bring the entire hub with me back and without unplugging anything, so I don’t leave anything out.

Then there are my wireless headphones, my Bluetooth external speaker, my iPad, and my Kindle. Oh, and my company laptop. Most days I don’t need all this, but I’m so used to having it according to my moods and tasks that I’m not ready to deviate. It all packs in my eBags laptop backpack, everything in its assigned space, so as long as I don’t deviate from routine, I don’t forget anything.

For a while I was also lugging an iPad stand (I prefer to Zoom on my iPad as a first choice and my phone as a second choice), but that got ridiculous since it didn’t fit in the backpack, so I just bought one to keep at the office. Which I suppose is what I will do for most of the other stuff, piece by piece. Some of that stuff is pricey.

I picked up the iPad partially so I could leave my personal laptop at home most days. Still working on a system I like for making sure whatever I work on at home is available at the office. Yes, we have cloud storage but for some reason I’m finding it easier to email myself any in-progress work. Which is also cloud storage.

I picture myself most days, perhaps by next summer, just hauling my iPad and Kindle, perhaps in a messenger bag. Oh, and probably a gigantic water flask, as I’m also trying to figure out a system for having plenty of ice-cold water. We had an ice machine (a nice machine) in the breakroom that made good ice, but it’s broken and they’re not planning to repair it. The freezer in the breakroom that used to make things cold very quickly no longer does it for some reason! So frustrating.

This long, uninteresting breakdown of my process illustrates my point well, because it’s just one aspect of returning to the office. There are other things, like being able during the workday at home to prep dinner. Or to wash dishes or tidy the kitchen. All these domestic things I could incorporate into my workday that now wait until I get home from the office, at which time I’m too spent to do it.

I don’t have the mental bandwidth to prepare a lunch either, which I knew would be the case as soon as they called us back to King Street. Resigned myself immediately to dining out for lunch every day until I get back into some kind of groove. I actually don’t mind it, most of the time, since the lunch options are good around the office, but geez it adds up.

The commute’s not really a problem, since it’s a short, unstressful drive both ways most of the time. It’s actually making it easier for me to get to the beach regularly. It’s just the time. Forty minutes or so (totaling both trips) I could be doing something else, like sleeping.

I’m mildly surprised I haven’t gotten takeout for dinner more than a couple of times. I’m just so tired I want to get home. Plus, since it’s NaNo, I have to be ready for the nightly Skype sessions at 9, which means getting certain things done ahead of time, if I want to get to bed at a decent hour.

Meanwhile, I have a few health things to work on. I’ll save that for a separate post.

Friday 5: November rain

So much to write about but no energy. It’s been a crazy first week of November, which is the first week of NaNoWriMo and the first week of working in the office with everyone at the nonprofit. We’re all a bit stressed in the transition.

Friday 5 instead.

When you buy tickets to a Guns N’ Roses show, you never know what you’re getting. So much depends on Axl’s mood. When he wants to do a good show, he does a great show, and when GNR played Honolulu three years ago he and the band clearly wanted to. They played nearly three and a half hours and it was just a really good performance from beginning to end. They looked like they were having a great time, too, for the last performance on this leg of their long tour.

They were very careful on stage about their future together. It sounded like Slash and Axl weren’t making promises, but they were feeling good about things, and they would see what happens. Yeah, they said all this after the last encore, which is a little weird for stage banter. They were clearly adrenalized from a great show in front of a most appreciative audience.

It was a pricy ticket, but I seriously doubt anyone thought he or she didn’t get his or her money’s worth. Even though the band didn’t play two songs I wanted to hear. Yeah, it’s possible for a band with only six studio albums, playing from only four of them, to leave some really good songs out of the set list!

  1. What unique behavior, attire, or ceremony element have you seen at a wedding?
    I’ve seen some appalling behavior, but I’m going to stay positive here and say I thought it was poetic and pretty cool when Tash and Dave took communion together, privately with their backs turned to the congregation, for their first act as a married couple. I also liked when Arjay taped Tara’s garter to a basketball (they met in a gym playing basketball) before tossing it over his shoulder like it was a no-look pass.
  2. Who’s your favorite piano player?
    So many to choose from, and although I have favorite players of just about every other rock band instrument, I don’t know if I have one for piano. Rick Wakeman (of Yes) is the first I think of, but I think I only like him in the context of Yes. Bruce Hornsby. Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater. There have been days when R was the easy answer. Sorry; I might have to come back to this one.
  3. When did rain notably ruin your plans?
    It does this all the time when I have plans to swim at the beach. I don’t mind swimming in the rain; I mind swimming after the rain. When the island is saturated or when the rain comes down too quickly for the ground to absorb it, it runs right into the sea, and you do not want to swim in that yuckiness. Very often I will go to bed early so I can have a sunrise swim, only to discover it has poured like demons all night long. It’s most disappointing.
  4. What is your going-to-bed ritual like?
    I actually have one, now that I’m of a certain age with certain conditions needing attention. Assuming I’ve locked up the house, done the dishes, and brushed my teeth by the time I’m ready to turn in, I put some ice and drinking water into a small water flask Grace gave me for Christmas, so if I wake up thirsty I have water right by my bed. It’s the only food or drink allowed in my bedroom, ever. Then I set timers for two prescription eyedrops, which I have to lie still for, for four minutes each with six minutes in between. Those times are actually longer than necessary, but I like to play it safe. Then I pour distilled water into my Darth Vader machine, strap it to my face, drop my sleeping mask over my eyes, and lie flat on my back, where on a good night I will stay for six to seven hours, but usually only for four or five.
  5. When did you last give roses to someone or receive them from someone?
    I used to give roses to people all the time but I’m only realizing now that it’s been a very long time. I gave sunflowers to all the office support staff on the first day of school when I was teaching, once. Anonymously. That was fun. Okay, this is a lame answer, but I often pick up leis for people at Cindy’s Lei Shop, the best lei shop in Honolulu, volunteering to grab something on the way to work on behalf of coworkers who will Venmo me part of the price. I did this yesterday morning, in fact, for a coworker who’s leaving. While I can’t remember specifically buying anyone a lei with rosebuds on it, I’m sure I have some time in the past five years, so that’s going to have to do. I’m a single guy who’s romantically not seeing or courting anyone. Roses are too risky. Don’t want to be misread. When I was younger and didn’t mind being misread and when my intentions were blatant anyway, I bought lots of roses for lots of lovely young women. I thought I was being charming or something. Now I think I was being a doofus.

Friday 5: We learned more from a three-minute record, baby

(than we ever learned in school)

From here.

  1. Who needs you?
    I’m a single guy who mostly sticks to himself, so I don’t think anyone actually needs me, but since I try to be the here-if-you-need-me guy, the person who needs me changes on the reg and doesn’t come around very often. Similarly, I don’t think my parents need me, but they need me to be ready when they need me. I think this counts. I kept myself away from people for a year in case they should need me. Isn’t this a great Leo Sayer song?
  2. Who runs to you?
    Everyone’s mentioning their pets in response to this question, and it’s a good one. My parents’ dog gets pretty psyched to see me when I go over. They say he recognizes the sound of my car coming up the hill (much to my embarrassment, it’s a very loud car) and runs to the fence to watch me pull into the driveway. Then he meets me halfway down the stair as I’m coming up to the living room. There are worse ways to be greeted than excitedly by a dog, I tell you.
  3. Who forgets you?
    I don’t know what it means that, while people may forget my name, they seldom forget me. There’s a guy on this island whom I run into every five years or so, and he calls my name and says, “You still don’t know who I am, do you?” And I have to admit I don’t, but could he please tell me? And he never does. Whoever it is, he’s known me since we were kids, so I probably haven’t forgotten him: I just don’t recognize him because while I almost never forget a name, I forget a face very, very often. Ohhh I just thought of a good group of people. My students’ parents. Which is more than fair. I think we forget each other. To them, I’m just one of a long string of teachers they met maybe once a year. To me, they’re quite often more types than they are people, which isn’t fair, but I suppose I’m just a type to them as well. It’s okay. We know each other when we have to know each other, and then we forget each other. One parent I have not forgotten recently announced her candidacy for governor of Hawaii. We interacted a lot for a few years when I taught her son — she even sat next to me at another student’s graduation dinner. I had a bit of a thing for her and still do. I wonder if she’s forgotten me.
  4. Who keeps you hangin’ on?
    People are answering this question as if it’s asking who keeps you from losing your grip, which is fine. But I think the lyrics to the song have more to do with keeping someone on the hook. Like, get out of my life, why don’t you? You’re just keeping me on the hook and I’m ready to move along. To which my answer is perhaps nobody. I’m the one who can’t let go of people; they don’t have to keep me hanging on because I can’t seem to loosen my grip. That friend Ali whose text messages helped me get through the first year of the pandemic has ceased to communicate with me altogether, and I miss her, even though I pretty much know it was too volatile a friendship for either of us. I’ve backed off completely, knowing she won’t respond well to my reaching out again, but I still have wisps of hope that we can be friends.
  5. Who’s watching you?
    As one respondent pointed out, when you journal online as I do, you don’t know who’s watching, and I’m intentionally pretty visible on different channels. I keep all my social media accounts wide open too. It’s just a life I want to live, for now, which means I don’t know who’s reading what I write, or looking at my photos, or judging me for the music I listen to or the films I like. I’m sure there are more than a few people who note every error I make in spelling or punctuation, since I’m famously (but really only supposedly) a language snob, taking wicked glee in my hypocritical ignorance. It’s fine. I hope they also see a person who’s trying his best not to reach for that other half of the pizza too.