Lockdown: Happy bedtime reading

I’m always glad I went for a walk, after the walk is through. I never look forward to it.

Most of the time, I enjoy it while it’s happening. I like being outside. I like fresh air. I like wandering, in the daylight or at night. I especially like it at night. Once in a while, my body feels good too, like it was meant to walk 15,000 steps up a steep hill and through a couple of neighborhoods. That’s when it’s the best, when my body feels good and my mind feels good.

Wednesday night was mostly the opposite. I finally got my carcass out the door at 1:40 in the morning, the latest I’ve done it since this lockdown began. It didn’t suck. I just kinda wished I’d stayed home most of the time I was out, which was close to two and a half hours. But I’m home now, and I’m glad I did it. Mostly.

I listened to some podcasts in the second half, but in the first half I didn’t want my brain engaged with words, so I listened to the new album by Sylosis, Cycle of Suffering. I’d only heard of the band but had never heard their stuff until this album came out in January. Something someone wrote somewhere inspired me to add it to my running list of music to check out, and I didn’t get to it until Wednesday evening.

Such a nice surprise. Musically, I think it’s a cross between Children of Bodom and Metallica. Equal doses of melodic death metal and thrash, minus the killer CoB keyboards, with a bent toward super-melodic soloing with some amount of shredding. It’s a great combination, and this album shoots into my top five of the year so far.

I also checked out the first half of Giobia’s Plasmatic Idol. Not really metal, but metal in spirit. It’s a nice melding of 70s psychedelic, acid, and space rock styles. Enjoyable in small doses. Kind of mind-numbing in larger doses.

Anyway. 13,600 steps.

Work was almost as rough Wednesday as Tuesday, only instead of dragging my work out until 5 in the morning, I only dragged it out to 11 in the evening. Improvement.

I actually took a two-hour nap break in the middle of the day, with encouragement from my boss. And I was excused from my daily Zoom meeting. I still had a mid-day Zoom meeting for the proposal I’m working on and a phone meeting right before.

Breakfast was the leftover kajiki from yesterday, with hapa rice. Not nearly as good the second day as the first. Lunch was a bowl of cereal — I opened a new box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I don’t know how people call breakfast cereal a meal. It’s really dessert. I’ll write more about dinner tomorrow, but I finally explored the Polish open-faced sandwich I heard about last week. Split a hoagie roll and put the stuff together, sticking it in the toaster oven. In the middle of my walk, I stopped at a 7-Eleven for a bottle of water and a salmon musubi.

We have 46 active cases of COVID-19 in the state, all of them on two islands. Three new cases yesterday, all from one family.

Crush Girl and I had a few text conversations Wednesday, beginning with her suggesting I might be interested in Robin Sloan’s Sourdough, which I have on my Kindle but have not yet read. She thought of me because I’ve been messing around with sourdough bread lately. Then we talked about shoes for a while — she just got a new pair and I’ve been planning to order a new pair Friday. My walking shoes are pretty close to shot.

Ali in Boston and I continued our conversation about e-readers. She’s not ready to commit, but she spent time doing research and passing along her thoughts and questions. It was a great text conversation, spread out across the later part of the day. She passed along quotes from Paperwhite and Oasis reviews she found amusing, like this one for the Oasis:

The real reason I like the buttons is this: I live in Alaska and we have very long, cold nights. But even in the winter, we turn down the heat at night. I read in bed every single night, tucked all cozy and warm under my down comforter…except for having to have my hand out in order to touch the screen on my Paperwhite to turn the page. My hand starts to get very cold. It’s uncomfortable. My half frozen hand takes away from my happy bedtime reading experience. With the Oasis, I can keep my hand under the blankets and just push the button. You don’t know what a big deal this is until you spend night after night with a frozen hand.

I said she sounded cute and I’d be happy to turn her pages for her.

We have a 9:30 Zoom meeting Thursday. All staff. Our leadership is going to reveal a plan for getting everyone back into the office, in stages. I think I heard that each of us will have two days a week in the office, which to me sounds like it’s still way too many people in our space. I don’t feel safe enough yet, especially since we’re in a 14-story office building with elevators, narrow stairwells, lobbies, and parking structure. I might trust my coworkers but I don’t trust everyone else’s coworkers, not to mention their visitors, clients, and customers.

Buuuut you know what? The other day, Uber had a three-minute conference call during which it informed 3500 employees (employees, not drivers) their positions were being cut. So maybe I’ll just shut up and be grateful I still have work.

I am not looking forward to this meeting, and I almost always look forward to our all-staffers.

Okay I have to get to bed. It’s nearly 5:30. Reach out. If you’re having difficulty connecting. I’m here for your texting, DMing, and IMing needs. Wanna get an e-reader? Let’s talk about it!

No time to proofread. I’ll do it Thursday.

Lockdown: Marlin, yooooou send me (honest you do; honest you do; honest you do)

I think I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but I need to make this one quick, for reasons soon enough to be clear.

I had a suuuuuper difficult time focusing on work, which is suuuuuuuper disheartening, because I had one get-it-done-today task and I didn’t get it done until just now — at 5 in the morning. I did all sorts of other non-work-related things as the day went on, but even though I actually wanted to write this thing and looked forward to it, I just couldn’t get it done.

Writing is such a strange, strange thing sometimes.

But it’s submitted, and it’s a little rough, but that’s why I promised I’d have it in people’s boxes by the time I was done with work Tuesday. So we’d have time to make the adjustments. There’s a lot at stake on this one and I don’t want my work to be the reason we don’t get what we’re after.

Tuesday morning, as I mentioned, was my laundry day. It went well. I’d gotten enough sleep Monday night that I thought I had it in me to hit the beach for a sunrise swim before heading home. It started off great: I parked in my favorite stall, then walked around the park waiting for the dawn. But then I reeeeeally had to get to a bathroom. Normally in this situation, I’d head for the office and use the restroom there — it’s one advantage to working right in town and having an after-hours access key.

However, with our work-at-home directive, we’re supposed to get permission to go to the office, and there was neither time to secure it nor good-enough a reason to ask at 5:30 in the morning. So I got back into my car and sped home. All’s well and everything, but it would have been nice to get a swim.

Breakfast was a Big Mac combo, enjoyed very very early in the morning at the laundry. For lunch, I grilled that kajiki I picked up Saturday night, on my countertop appliance grill (it’s not a George; it’s a similar thing from another manufacturer, a gift from my Japanese cousin several years ago).

Kajiki is the Japanese name for blue marlin, a gorgeous sport fish whose Hawaiian name is aʻu. It’s good for sashimi, although this is the rare sashimi fish I prefer cooked. It was a huge, thick fillet, selected for its thickness so I could prepare it medium-rare. Olive oil, salt, and pepper are all you need for a nice fish like this, although I would have liked some citrus to spray over it. Kajiki’s not nearly as pleasurable as a good ahi fillet, but ahi’s price is so volatile, and it was a little steep this week. Not too steep to afford, but when I saw what I could get with less money by settling for kajiki, it wasn’t even a debate. It’s a good fish, especially for its price.

I ate half of it with hapa rice, leaving the other half for tomorrow. Dinner was more of the turkey chili with hapa rice. I had a few bites of potato salad for a snack. I brushed my teeth a few hours ago but I’m tempted to have a little bite before bed, which hopefully will be very soon. Kind of have the munchies after that writing.

During my non-focused writing time, I worked on the Monster a bit, which really made me feel good. I didn’t go for my walk because I kept telling myself I’d do it when I was done with the writing. So much for that plan.

Not much texting Tuesday. I sent Sylvia a link to an interesting local sardines recipe — she and I had just spoken a few nights ago about the variety of canned, boneless, skinless sardines available on Amazon. We are both huge sardine fans. I sent Crush Girl a link to an article in the Atlantic about the flour shortage in the nation’s markets. It’s super well-written, the kind of writing that makes me hate myself. We chatted a little about my kajiki too.

The birds are chirping loudly and in great multitudes, which means I’m up past my bedtime. I have a 10:30 phone meeting and I need to prep for it, so ugh. Still going to report for work half an hour later than usual and hope that’s enough time.

A productive day but hooooorribly inefficient. It’s okay. They’ll be this way sometimes. And if you would like someone to talk about your day with, and if you’re having difficulty connecting with someone, please reach out. We can trade photos of our lunches or something. Hang in there!

Lockdown: All along the washtower

It was the rare Monday where my work wasn’t great but the day was still pretty good.

I was working on something that should have been easy but was sloggy as heck to put together. I honestly don’t know why. It took the better part of the day and it should have taken an hour. When I finally submitted it, I think it was pretty good, but there’s no way the pretty-goodness justifies the amount of time it took.

I had a Zoom meeting to talk about another big project. It was kind of daunting on first glance, but the conversation actually helped me put it together in my brain so that I should (should!) have something useful by the end of Tuesday, which is when I sort of promised it.

Okay breakfast was a bowl of turkey chili and rice. I know. It’s crazy. Normally if I have dinner for breakfast, I have a healthy breakfast for lunch. That’s not what I’ve been doing lately. It was a large breakfast so I kind of skipped lunch, opting for a few bites of potato salad as a snack. Dinner was a bowl of cereal, the last of the faux Honey Bunches of Oats.

I keep spelling that Oates. My brain is telling me to listen to “Private Eyes” or to read “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”

I attacked the Monster for a bit (without explaining, Monday night is the best night for the first, easy task — the one that makes the biggest difference in getting the other tasks done). Didn’t get to my car, which I have a few things more to do with before I take it in.

Neither did I get to bed by eight as planned. I got to bed around nine and fell asleep around 9:30. That should have been okay, except I woke up twice before my alarm. The second time it was just past one, so I just stayed up. Four hours is better than three, which is what I’ve been getting on laundry nights.

No walking because laundry.

Tiger got back to me, responding to my text the other night. Crush Girl and I got into a text conversation about her favorite show. We also talked about how we feel about the state’s relaxing of guidelines, which neither of us feels very good about. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels the way I do.

JB and I traded some messages about how his family is handling the lockdown. He has four teenaged kids, so I was really interested in their experience.

And early Tuesday morning, as I was getting ready to head to the laundry, Ali in Boston and I traded a bunch of texts about several topics. My Silent Book Club (on hold for the foreseeable future) and this other project I’m working on. She also had some questions about owning an e-reader. I gave my usual advice about how nothing will ever be better than a physical book, but an e-reader offers a lot of great things too good to reject categorically. A book lover should have both.

Monday was perhaps the most mundane day I’ve had in a while, and I think it’s what I needed. I have Tuesday morning off, but I’m looking forward to a productive half-day at work. And putting some heat on that fish fillet I bought the other night. It’s been a while since I cooked fish, and I feel my body craving it.

Connection is critical. If you’re not getting enough and if you’d like to trade texts, IMs, or DMs, just reach out. I’ve got room for you in my silly existence.

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.

Lockdown: Let the sun shine in

My sunroof is stuck open.

I washed my car. For the first time in more than a year. There’s a leak in the roof, so I can’t drive it through the drive-through car wash. The leak doesn’t come all the way into the car unless there’s a very hard rain, and then it’s only an annoying drip right over the driver’s seat.

But I’m taking it in for some small work, and I suspect repair shops do a better job when it looks like the car is kept clean.

The sunroof was closed. I’m not such an idiot that I’d accidentally wash it with the stupid sunroof open. I mean I’m not such an idiot that I’d do it twice.

As I was giving it a last rinse, I saw that the sunroof was almost all the way open! I know it was closed because the roof is the first thing I washed. I started up the car and the stupid thing wouldn’t close. Ugggggh.

I did the best toweling off the car even though it began to drizzle. Of course. As I was cleaning up and returning a couple of text messages, I looked again and it was nearly all the way closed! I mean, it’s not shut enough to make me feel okay — it’s leaving like a three-inch opening.

I suspect water got into the wiring where the sunroof controls are. In fact, I know water got into it. I didn’t think such a thing could open and shut the stupid sunroof on its own and not otherwise, but that seems to be what happened. Ugh. I’m going to try to air the whole thing out Sunday and hope simply drying will take care of things. Otherwise I guess I add another thing to the small list of things I’m asking for when I take it in.


I woke up at 4:30 and got to the beach at 5. There was still a lot of good parking. Walked around the park, and there were more walkers there than I was comfy with, but we all managed to avoid each other. It was mostly a nice walk.

The swim was nice. By the time I got out and back to my car, the park was a teeming mass of moving people. I was happy to get out of there. I was super happy to have been there at all.

I stopped at Pancakes and Waffles for breakfast and lunch takeout. Breakfast was chicken and waffles, something I’ve always wanted to try there. It was reeeally good. The waffles wasn’t at all crispy when I got home, but dang it was tasty. And the fried chicken thighs were far better than I expected. Crispy and juicy. I usually get one or the other around here. These were both. Yum.

Lunch was a vinha d’alhos omelet with fried rice. Also quite good but if I thought a Denver omelet would keep better, I’d have preferred something with a few veggies.

I drove down to the strip mall to get takeout from somewhere, then had second thoughts. So instead what did I do? I had a scoop of jamocha and a scoop of Snickers ice cream in a cup. Sinful and terrible but so, so good.

What I did next isn’t to surprising, but I was still surprised. I went to the supermarket. I mean, it’s right there next to the ice cream shop. I didn’t need a thing. Yet I spent a hundred bucks. On stuff I don’t even really have room for in the pantry. A six-pack of some vanilla porter. Half a pound of fresh strawberries. Some brown sugar (which I use a lot of in my cooking, so that one’s okay), a package of hoagie rolls, two trays of mushrooms, a jar of chili sauce, a gallon of milk, a couple of six-packs of Diet Pepsi, a two-pound fish filet, and a pound of uncured hot dogs. The hot dogs are part of the regular rotation, but I’d rotated them out lately, and the store was out of hot dog buns anyway so I can’t even really enjoy them properly.

If I don’t waste any of it (which I can’t guarantee), nothing in there is frivolous, at least. Some of it is experimental — I made the mistake of going into a little deep-dive on a Polish sandwich dish I’d never heard of until this past week and I can’t wait to mess around with it — but kitchen experiments are part of my life anyway.

It’s just that I seriously didn’t need either the trip to the market or the stuff I bought. I think I’m getting a little more stir-crazy than I’ll admit.

I did mostly stay out of bed once I was up from my nap. A wonderful, heavenly little nap after breakfast and before lunch. It wasn’t the feel-nothing sleep I’ve been sorta trapped in. Just a nice, warm sleep. I didn’t wake up smiling but I was close.

I’m having my real dinner now: a bottle of the vanilla porter and most of the strawberries. They’re both rather nice.

If not for the stupid sunroof situation, which I’m still hoping will work itself out, I’d feel so good about the two hours cleaning my car, inside and out. It’s one of those things I always feel like I don’t have enough time for, and I did a pretty good job. And it was nice to labor over something physical. So much of my personal tasks involve banging on this keyboard. It’s a different kind of strenuous and honestly it takes its toll.

Okay contacts. There was a text from Julie to the rest of the engineering firm friends about Downton Abbey, the movie. We saw it together. Sylvia sent me a photo of some Cheetos popcorn and another of a bread recipe she’s about to try.

Crush Girl responded to my happy weekend text from Friday night. She tried a third dish from that spot we’ve been talking about and said it was also meh. It happened to be while I was dealing with the sunroof, so I vented a little. Then we talked a little about the book she just finished.

I sent Ali in Boston one of the photos I’m sharing here, and a couple of short videos I shot for her. Just 30-second clips of the water breaking against the jetty in the moonlight. It’s pretty.

It’s Sunday morning as I wrap this up. Mothers Day. Happy Mothers Day to any moms reading this. Mother or not, if you’re in need of someone to connect with, please reach out. I got itchy texting fingers and all the time in the world, for real.

I’m going to polish off the rest of the strawberries and try to get to bed before dawn.

Lockdown: Doses of melancholy

Interesting how once I identified it, it wasn’t as bad. I mean, it’s still kind of there; I just didn’t indulge it, except for a 20-minute nap break after lunch, which I’ve taken most days anyway.

Today’s nap didn’t feel like the everyday naps — it felt like what it’s been these past few days, that kind of gradual sinking into the quicksand of non-feeling. It’s so tempting to stay there, but I resisted.

I’m turning in early in hopes of a quick swim Saturday morning. I know, I know. I hate the thought of all those people out there, but I can’t keep putting this off. I need some ocean time and if I keep not going, I’m only going to keep feeling crappy.

In my ears: the new album from Axel Rudi Pell, Sign of the Times. It’s big, dumb, arena rock, albeit with better than fair guitar chops. I’ve never been much of a fan, but I’m in the mood for new music that doesn’t distract me from my writing. It seriously sounds like it came right off MTV circa 1985. Unchallenging and fun.

Work was okay. I chose a tedious, time-consuming task so I could do it with the TV on (Orange is the New Black season one disc 4). Also because I procrastinated on it until the day it was due. It took longer this time than usual. It’s my monthly report, a kind of summary of the work I completed and the work in progress, divided into categories.

Took longer because it’s also my monthly occasion for going through the previous month’s emails to make sure I didn’t let anything slip through the cracks. I did! Darn it. Two things, now re-added to my list. There are no one-on-one conversations in the office now, and everything is an email, and my emails for April were impressively numerous.

It also took longer because for some reason the list itself was long, as if I were busier in April than usual. I’m not buying it, but it’s tough to argue with the list. I never pad that thing — in fact, I’ve often left things off that I thought made me look more productive than I was. I’m telling you, and I’m not being modest, that I do not think I worked that hard last month. Being productive was the hard work, but I don’t think that translates to a longer list of stuff.

Anyway. I have stuff I’d like to get done this weekend again. Maybe this weekend I’ll actually do it.

Breakfast was a bowl of cereal. Yesterday I wrote that I had Honey Bunches of Oats, forgetting that at the grocery store a week ago, I opted for the store-brand, discount equivalent. I noticed it too, before I remembered what I’d done. Still tasty, but not quite as tasty.

Lunch was turkey chili and hapa rice. Dinner was unintentionally tortilla chips and salsa. Meant it to be a snack but I just kinda kept going until I didn’t care to have dinner anymore. I also finally got through the tiramisu Oreos, polishing off the last three sometime after lunch.

I’m skipping the walk this evening so I can get up early for the beach. If I get there as early as I expect, I’ll walk before the swim, since I’ll have to wait an hour for the dawn.

Around mid-morning, I called my mom and dad. They seem to be doing well. Still. I think they’re encouraged by the low numbers of COVID-19 cases — we had zero new cases for the first time since they started testing, and planned to hit the Navy Exchange Saturday. I also made arrangements to visit Sunday for Mothers Day. I’m not going to hang out, just dropping off a gift at the front door for my dad to carry upstairs to the house. Then calling my mom on the phone from the driveway while she looks down from the lanai.

That’s the plan anyway. Both parents said I was welcome to stay for a while, but I nixed that. I’m still not feeling safe, and I can’t take the thought of contaminating them.

I also texted Ali in Boston, around my lunchtime, which is shortly after the end of her workday. For once, she responded right away and we actually had a meaningful conversation, although she (as usual) wasn’t very expressive about whatever is going on in her life. She insists she’s an open book but getting anything out of her most of the time is impossible.

Unless she’s pissed. It’s getting so I like it better when she’s pissed, just because it means she opens up a little more. As long as I’m not the one she’s pissed at.

Very late in the evening I texted Crush Girl to wish her a happy weekend. I didn’t think I’d hear back from her but still wanted her to know I was thinking of her.

I think Saturday I’m going to get takeout for all three meals. Just feel a little like having someone else’s cooking, even though I love this pot of chili I made.

My new Katatonia CD came in the mail this week. I imported into my iTunes. I was amused by the sticker on the shrink-wrap, which read, “Katatonia’s new studio opus of absorbing, soaring progressive rock and meticulously crafted doses of melancholy.”

Meticulously crafted doses of melancholy. That should either be my epitaph or the bio on my book jacket when I publish the Great American Novel someday. Also, it’s a perfect description of the album, which like most of their stuff in recent years has been gorgeously moody.

Time to turn in. Reach out if you’re needing someone to connect with. I’m right –> there.

Lockdown: Come as you are

April 5, 1994. Kurt Cobain killed himself. There’s an essay in me about that day, but I’m not writing it now. I’m just remembering how it led to almost two weeks of staying in bed, miserable, partially for Kurt but also for me.

I was nearly finished with my first academic year at UH Hilo, a difficult, challenging, almost desperate year headed for a glorious finish. I’d be awarded a creative writing award in a week or two. I had a cool summer job lined up. I was on the newspaper staff, and I’d made real friends — fellow English majors, the newspaper crew, and the campus ministry friends. Most importantly, I’d made enough progress that I was finally finally finally finally finally about to have senior status.

Two more semesters. All I had to do was get through two more semesters and eight years after graduating high school, I would finally have my bachelor’s degree.

In those ten or so days a month before finals week, I almost blew it. I went to bed and crawled out to eat, use the bathroom and somehow (somehow!) make it to my weekend job.

Side note: it’s not that surprising, really. In my history with this thing, I’ve always managed to get to work and do my job. I hadn’t had it long enough in 1994 to understand it yet, but this thing was low-grade, something I managed without counseling or medication. Not powerful enough to devastate me, but tough enough to mess up more than its fair share of semesters.

By this point in my college career, I at least knew enough about myself to know it was coming. So at the beginnings of all my semesters in Hilo, I made sure to get off to a really, really good start. To meet with professors during office hours, to make friends in class, and to establish enough goodwill to get me some mercy when I missed a week or two of classes. I turned long-term assignments in early.

I think often about this time, because it was one of those cases when this near-crippling burden had a reason, and when it felt miserable. Also, it’s one of the few I remember specifically because it’s tied to Kurt’s death.

I forget that most of them don’t feel miserable. They feel numb. I don’t stay in bed because I feel terrible; I stay in bed for no discernable reason. I get up and do things — go to work, make a meal, use the bathroom — and then go right back to bed, and it’s a relief. It’s nothingness, and it’s a relief.

I realized this evening that I’m in it. I was looking one way for dark clouds on the horizon and this other thing snuck up on me from the other direction. It’s been so long that I didn’t even realize it. I thought I was ill, and maybe I am, but it’s not just physical illness. Perhaps the emotional stuff was brought on by illness, or perhaps the two illnesses merely coincide, but dang it. It’s weird that I forgot what it was like.

Anyway it helps that I know what it is now. It doesn’t feel like it’ll last very long. Although who knows?

Work was difficult. In fact, I’m writing this now and then getting back to it. I didn’t return a few emails because I just didn’t want to deal with stuff. This is bad. I’ve got to clean this up before it gets really bad.

Food was good today. For breakfast I had the leftover mashed potatoes with green beans and corn. I made some turkey chili for lunch in the Instant Pot. It came out pretty great. I had it for dinner too. With hapa rice. I had five or six tiramisu Oreos for a snack, a few after lunch and a couple after dinner.

Lying in bed numb, I realized I’d just stay there if I didn’t get up and do something. So I went for a short walk — we’re talking fewer than 4000 steps. Just walked down the hill, put my Netflix DVD in the dropbox, walked around the neighborhood a little, then went to Long’s. I didn’t even need anything, but I spent $40 on some canned goods, some frozen food, and a bottle of local honey. Just to shop. Just to do something normal.

It was a small triumph. I’m glad I did it.

My first text message this morning was from AJ in San Diego. She sent me a tracking link for the puzzle she mailed me. She’s so funny. And adorable.

JB messaged me to tell me he and his son have a favorite Korean baseball team. In case you don’t know, the Korean Baseball Organization (don’t ask me why it has an English name with an English acronym) opened play this week, and ESPN is contracted to air their games, with American broadcasters doing play-by-play and color commentary. American sports fans are so starved for sports I expect it to be a big hit. I don’t have ESPN so I can’t watch, but I think it’s just as well.

Crush Girl texted me and I can’t say what we conversed about without giving away identifying info about her, but it was nice, and I was able to do her a long-distance small favor. It made me feel good. And it was nice to hear from her.

Okay. Insert my usual message here about reaching out if you’re having difficulty connecting. I may not respond right away, but I’ll get to you! I’m going to answer a few emails and get to bed.

Friday will be a better day!

Lockdown: License to ill

I felt slightly unwell today. It started off okay but all my energy drained out of me sometime after the daily Zoom meeting. I dozed off and didn’t get up until well after the end of my workday. It was a little weird.

Mostly worked on emails and a couple of stories I didn’t get far enough on. Had a phone meeting and the Zoom meeting. And then nothing. Ugh.

Breakfast was the last of my pulled pork leftovers, with rice leftover from that McD’s breakfast platter Tuesday night. It wasn’t really enough for a full meal so I chased it with a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats.

Lunch was a couple of slices of sourdough with some good cheddar. Dinner, which I just finished, was instant mashed potatoes with canned corn and canned green beans. Simple but filling, salty, and yummy.

I had four tiramisu Oreos as a snack, also just now.

I got a text message from Jenny, asking for some advice with a letter she was writing. That let to a little more conversation. It’s always great to hear from her. I think she’s doing some consulting work for HBA now, based on the little bit of copy I helped her with.

Jennifer M sent me a photo of a misspelling in a local news graphic. I think Hawaii people have problems with plurals ending in -ISTS, often leaving the second (nearly silent) S off the end of words like FLORISTS and SCIENTISTS.

I sent my sister a text about Mothers Day.

Ryan responded to a text I sent him late Tuesday night. About the Hawaii Stories project.

AJ in San Diego asked me for my address — she wants to send me a jigsaw puzzle she says was too intense for her to finish. I think that’s incredibly sweet and kind of cute. There are worse things than to be the person who comes to mind when other people think of puzzles. It’s gotten me a couple of fun, paying gigs.

Yes, I skipped my walk again this evening. Hopefully I’ll feel better Thursday so I can get back out there. Kalihi needs haunting, and its feral cats need to be photographed.

I watched the first disc of Orange is the New Black season 1. Again. I own the first three seasons on DVD but haven’t watched past Season 2 for some reason. So I’m starting over from the beginning.

I’m flagging. Back to bed. Please reach out if you’re having difficulty connecting. People are speaking as if the end is in sight, but I’m not buying it. There could be a long way to go. Don’t go it alone if you don’t want to.

Lockdown: Water you doing?

Aaaand tonight I’ll start with: work. I got home from the laundry and went to bed, getting up an hour before I was scheduled to begin work. I took the morning off, so I didn’t have to be on the clock until noon.

Emails took a little longer than usual, and I had to do some reading for a Zoom meeting about potential future proposals. Then the usual daily Zoom meeting, and work on some copy introducing one of our publications.

That didn’t leave a lot of time for working on the two stories I have lined up. It’s okay. I’ve been thinking about each for more than a week, and I’ve already done the interviews. Unless something comes up, I think I can get both done in a day.

I skipped the walk Tuesday evening. I’m trying to reset my clock, and although I can’t get it all back in one night, if I can get to bed very soon I’ll be okay Wednesday at work and then hopefully set the clock back another hour or two for Wednesday night. That’s the plan, anyway. I can’t simply let myself continue to slide later and later into vampire hours. It’s ridiculous. The sun’s been out and shining almost every night by the time I put myself to bed lately, Monday night the lone exception for the laundry.

I did a few chores, then tried to get water refills at the supermarket. No luck. It was still out of order. So I looked up alternate locations in my area. There was one in an area suuuuuper sketchy at night. I chanced it. Actually, I almost chanced it. On my way there, I saw some machines outside a convenience store in a slightly less sketchy area. The machines looked a little sketchy, but what the heck. At the worst, they’re just selling me regular tap water. And regular tap water is fine as long as it doesn’t taste like the water at my house.

Hopefully I won’t have to go through this again. I’m set for just under a week.

Okay I gotta hurry.

Breakfast: leftover penne. Lunch: sourdough bread with good cheddar. A simple but delicious meal. Dinner: I didn’t want to do this but it was getting late, so on the way home from refilling my water jugs, I went to McD’s and had a local deluxe breakfast platter. It’s a cholesterol bomb. I probably erased weeks worth of overnight oats.

For snacks, I had three tiramisu Oreos.

Then I watched Joker, about which I’ll reflect later. I kinda wanted to hate it, but I don’t. It’s a very, very, very well-made movie and I doubt I’ll ever watch it again.

Not too much interaction today but it was good. I texted Crush Girl to ask if she was having a better day, which led to some conversation about our governor’s overly hasty re-opening of some businesses in the state. Neither of us is very comfortable with it.

I texted Sylvia to tell her to let me know if she needed more yeast or flour. That led to some conversation about Taco Bell, including a selfie from her in the drive-through. Then Susannah texted me to ask if I’d gotten her submission for the Hawaii Stories project. All good interactions with people who make my life better.

Joker was a downer. I’m trying to fight off some yuckiness before turning in. Writing this stuff down helped some; I’ll probably drift off while listening to a podcast, my comfort listening when I lay me down to sleep.

I’m going to try to make waffles sometime tomorrow.

Non-sequitur memory that just popped into my head: when I lived in an off-campus Christian dorm while still studying at UH Manoa (before my transfer to UH Hilo), I took up pie-baking as a hobby. My close friends know apple pie is probably my favorite dessert (Dutch apple from Anna Millers when I can get it; ala mode of course), and dorm living gave me a chance to really explore cooking, something I’d done a lot at home but not very adventurously. So yeah, apple pie. Our campus ministry director took an interest in my efforts and even gave me a pastry cutter as a gift when I couldn’t attend an appreciation lunch of some sort.

I was determined that the crust was the most critical element. You can luck into a good filling just by tossing the requisite ingredents into a pie tin. So it took a lot of practice, and I got to where my pies were pretty decent. Certainly not up to Anna Miller standards, but good enough to share un-selfconsciously.

That’s what I did. I’d eat a few slices myself, share a few with whoever was around when I was done baking, and leave one or two for the girls in the dorm. Slick, huh? The dining area had a row of refrigerators, and each of us was assigned one shelf in one fridge. We all knew whose shelves were whose because our names were on the fridge doors. I’d decide whom to leave some pie for, put it on a small dish with plastic wrap over it, then just leave it on someone’s shelf to be discovered later.

I was then and I still am a shameless flirt.

I’m down to exchange non-sequitur memories with you if you’ve got ’em. Reach out and connect, especially if you’re having difficulty connecting. I won’t do Zoom meetings or voice calls, but we can trade texts or DMs or IMs if you’re down for that.

Lockdown: Slog time no see

Some questions I’m asking myself about this lockdown journaling.

  • Is it lame that I almost always begin with work? When I sit down to write about my day, it’s the first thing on my mind, almost without fail, and I suspect it has the most influence on my feelings about a day, at least on weekdays.
  • Three specific things I’m logging for my own record of the era are exercise, food, and work. On one hand it’s convenient because they’re the constants; on another it seems mundane and basic, as if the depth and feelings about my existence swivel on what I do to earn my money, what I put into my body, and where I take my body.
  • The fourth, I think, is not something someone would predict but which definitely makes a difference: the record of my interactions with others. The days are something of a blur, but one thing that marks any kind of movement through time is the conversations I have with people who are important to me. I kind of want to be more detailed about these things for this reason — I mean, in fifteen years, if I look back on these scribblings, will I remember or care who these people are if I can’t recall specifically what we talked about?

No further rumination today on these silly self-referential questions. It’s a journal. The only real task is to write whatever I’m thinking about, and unless I’m worried that what I’m thinking about reveals a rut in my thinking (a very real possibility, but one I’m willing to endure for now), I think maybe I shouldn’t waste energy considering it. Just shut up and write.

Work was something of a slog, but I powered my way through this proposal that’s been nagging at me since before we moved out of the office. I finally, finally got a (first!) draft to the development officer and I think it look pretty okay for a first draft. It took far too long and it was far too much work although I don’t think it was especially difficult.

This is one aspect of the actual mechanics of work that suffers when I’m working from home. My internet connection at home isn’t one millionth as good as the connection at the office (for reasons I don’t want to get into). At the office, I’m working on dual monitors on elevated stands, so I’m looking slightly upward at the screens the way you’re supposed to. At home, I’m working on the tiny screen of the work-assigned laptop, something that works fine for writing but horribly for layout work in InDesign or photo editing in Photoshop.

I suspect I’m going to be working from home a lot more, even once they open the offices back up, so I’m going to order some new monitors when I next get paid. Even if I have to get something cheap (and I probably will) and even if I have to order one at a time. I just really need to see my work better if I’m going to do it as well as I expect. My eyes are exhausted to the point of tears by the end of most workdays, especially days when I’m running on insufficient sleep.

Some people at work asked to take their monitors home. I might have as well if my setup at work wasn’t such a pain to break down. I really, really wish I’d thought to ask if I could bring my office chair home, because my chair at home makes things pretty difficult too. I’m not exactly complaining, because the chair I have at home is fine, and it’s better than I’ve lived with in other times in my life (I’m thinking of my apartment in Hilo when I did all that reading in a resin lanai chair in my bedroom), but compared to a decent office chair, it’s pretty unforgiving.

So the proposal took up most of my day, which means I had to push a few things to Tuesday. I’m not super happy about this. I am, however, suuuuuuper relieved to have these two nagging proposals off my desk and in the hands of my partners for edit suggestions. I’m got some things on hold that I can focus on now without stressing out.

Breakfast was a bowl of Churros cereal again. I’ve finally finished that box and can think about other things. More overnight oats and one of those three (!) boxes of cereal I picked up at the supermarket last Thursday night.

A very late lunch was some penne and jarred sauce I made in the Instant Pot. It came out great. I didn’t even feel the need to add some of that blue cheese I’m worried about finishing before it turns. Just red pepper flakes and brown sugar, right in the pressure cooker. Wonderful.

I made my second attempt at sourdough, which was sort of my late dinner. I think it came out great, but I’m learning that almost everything out of the bread machine tastes great when it’s super fresh like that. The test will be how the bread tastes later Tuesday. Already better than my first loaf, I’m pretty sure.

I don’t remember snacking during the day, so focused was I on my freaking proposal, but I may have had one or two tiramisu Oreos. They’re sitting there on my desk when I usually keep them in the cabinet. I either moved them there and forgot about them or I had a few and just don’t remember.

Skipped the walk because it’s laundry day. I was suuuuuper inconvenienced on the way in when the water machine outside the supermarket was out of order. Dang, this puts a little speedbump in my day. I’ll probably have to stop at a convenience store on my way home from the laundry just to pick up a few bottles of drinking water.

Sylvia and I had a text conversation about the sourdough crackers she’s been making — she’s not using the starter for bread even while she’s baking bread. She’s using them for crackers. I might have to give that a try.

Crush Girl reached out to ask how my day was going, which led to a conversation about streaming services. She’s thinking of jumping from one to another. She also tried a second dish at that place we’ve both been wanting to try, and said the furikake mahi was just okay. I talked a little about planning to make sourdough waffles this week. Also agreed to pass along some yeast and flour if she wants it. We’re thinking Wednesday as a possibility. It’ll be nice to see her, even if only in passing.

Laura from work and I texted a little about the #givingtuesdaynow effort. She shared with me a tweet from a donor relations expert we both follow. It was an interesting conversation, and she was in a lousy mood for totally understandable reasons. I don’t think I was any help at all.

Jennifer O texted me to talk about her story in the Hawaii Stories project.

F5 Girl and I IMed a little about cars and fast food.

I skipped the walk because laundry. Which has been folded and packed up for fifteen minutes but I’m still here so I can finish writing this.

Whatever you’re dealing with and wherever you are, if you’re having difficulty finding someone to connect with in this pande-monium, I’m inviting you to reach out. Let’s trade a few texts or DMs. Maybe you can tell me what you’re eating, what’s going on at work, and what you’re doing for fresh air and sunshine.