Lockdown: Blue mood? Blu-Ray.

Saturday was mostly about football. Although I went to bed far too late Friday night, the first game didn’t kick off until past eleven, so I got a fair amount of good sleep.

Watched the games. Made a second pot of kimchi stew. Worked from memory and winged it a little and it came out better. Delicious. I’m adding this to my regular rotation, and some of the ingredients to the regular shopping list, although most of it I always have anyway.

The second game ended late and I was restless, so I got in my car and drove looking for takeout. I didn’t roam very far. As I approached Dillingham I remembered Crush Girl talking about the burger at La Tour Cafe, a popular spot in my hood I’ve only eaten at like twice. I don’t know why.

Restless and moody, I should say. I don’t know why this comes over me out of nowhere sometimes, especially at dusk. I was getting really down as I drove, and I worried that I was trying to stanch the flow of feelings with food or with spending money, which I have usually found to be stopgaps, although if it’s just regular moodiness maybe a stopgap is all I need.

Got there two minutes before they closed, and ordered a burger with garlic fries, and a soybean kouign amann. The burger is good. I recommend it. Not my favorite kind of fries but they were good enough. The kouign amann was quite good for a pastry that probably sat in the display case for more than twelve hours. Honestly, they should have just given it to me.

As I ate, I watched Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, a documentary by Sam Dunn, whose work I love. This film’s eleven years old and I only saw it Saturday night. It moved me deeply. I got misty a few times. I can’t express enough how much I love this band, and how sad I am that Neil Peart died last year. It was so cool to see this group talking about itself and tracing its history. The archival material is unbelievable: video and photos from the band’s earliest days when they were high-school students.

One of my favorite things about this film is the parts where great musicians talk about how much they love Rush, sharing their stories of how they discovered Rush, and the influence Rush has had on them. Taylor Hawkins, Mike Portnoy, Sebastian Bach, Jack Black (yes, he’s a musician!), Vinnie Paul, Gene Simmons. So cool to see the due respect paid to one of my favorite bands.

Those very real feelings of nostalgia and love for this band I’ve adored since I was a teen (my first concert was a Rush show at age 15) banished the moodiness for the night, I’m pleased to say. I’m writing this here mostly to help me remember. This DVD is from Netflix, but I’ve already got the Blu-Ray in my Amazon cart. If it’s good for moodiness, eleven bucks is penny-money.

I did a few chores and cleaned up a little, then finished The List of Things That Will Not Change. Good book. I’ll write my review Sunday while I’m watching the games.

Stayed up pretty late, getting to bed at around three. I can’t explain it but I went to bed feeling more peace than I have in a very, very long time. Why? Where did this come from? It can’t just be a good burger and a DVD about Rush. I’m wondering if it was fake peace, just an illusion. But it’s lasted; I’m still feeling it as I write this nearly ten hours after going to bed.

I get worried when I’m not worrying or bummed. There must be something I should be worried about, or something to be bummed about. Yet here I am, typing about peace while I watch the last of the week’s football games. Even after a contentious text exchange with someone, which I will document when I write about Sunday.

I should make a list of things that work.

Crush Girl and I exchanged some smalltext, but in the evening I thanked her for the La Tour recommendation. I sent JB an IG photo of some dishes from a new, local saimin spot to give him ideas. For Christmas, I sent him a couple of boxes of Sun Noodle saimin to share with his family. I texted Sharon and Lauren, two coworkers, to ask if we should play buzzword bingo again at our all-staff meeting in March. Lauren, who won last time and is super competitive, said yes, of course. This led to some group-texting about football, Seahawks fans, and The Bachelor.

Resolutions, next post. I mean it this time.

Reach out if you need someone to connect with. Assuming I’m not in one of my doom-funks, I’ll be happy to talk you off your own ledge. Or send you food porn photos.

Lockdown: It is well with my Seoul

I did stop at Safeway on my way home from the laundry Friday morning — there was only one other customer in the whole store. This is the way to shop. I had a few new meals in mind and shopped accordingly. The something new this time was two acorn squashes. Also picked up a kabocha.

It’s going to be a soupy week.

Slept a couple of hours before work, but I got up a little too early so I drove to the Korean market in my hood to get some gochujiang, the only thing Safeway didn’t have on my list. I’m a little surprised. Hit the Taco Bell drive-though for breakfast and loved it.

I returned to the UH Hilo scholarship story and copy-editing the employee handbook. Looks like I’m working on two versions of the story, a shorter and a longer, and I submitted a first draft of the shorter a couple of hours before the end of my workday, but after the end of my supervisor’s workday, which is not ideal because now I have to sit on it for a whole long weekend. My fault.

I had a late lunch break and made kimchi stew for the first time. Followed a pretty easy recipe, and it was rather tasty. I’ll have to adjust for my preferences the next time I make it. I can see why this is a staple in Korean homes. It’s simple and quick and you can make it up as you go along. The blend of gochujiang, red pepper flakes, mirin, shoyu, and garlic is fantastic. I’d add a little bit of rice vinegar. And I can see myself using this combination to adapt some of my favorite Japanese meals, like soba. I should see how it is cold.

I’m just mildly stoked to have created something new, with an utterly different flavor from what I’m used to putting together. I’ve cooked with gochujiang before, but not in soups or stews, and this is where I think it really shines. This and bibimbap.

I took a hard nap after work and then just vegged the rest of the evening. Wanted to read but couldn’t bring myself to lift a book. I had a slice of Dutch apple pie for dessert (or I guess for dinner), tidied up a little, and went to bed.

Texted JB to see how his family’s doing. The other Jennifer texted me to ask me if it was okay if she did something on FB and I was like you don’t need my permission! Looking forward to whatever she puts together. Sylvia and I small-texted about some office stuff and Korean food. Sharon and I did the same thing. Crush Girl and I texted about a wide range of stuff through the day.

New music releases are always pathetic at the end of a year and the beginning of the next, but there were some releases Friday. I decided just to spin a bunch of them even though I hadn’t heard of any of the bands. Dale Crover, Gatecreeper, Kabbalah, and Miss Lava. Kabbalah was the most interesting; I might have to explore their stuff more. Gatecreeper sounds like something that’ll grow on me. Miss Lava is total stoner metal, so it was enjoyable without being very mindblowing. Pretty much describes the whole genre.

Also checked out a couple of bands I’d heard of but never listened to: The Obsessed and Neurosis. The Obsessed is really good. Neurosis might be an acquired taste — I can see what they’re doing and it’s interesting, but I might have to crawl around in it for a while before I decide whether I like it or not.

I need this weekend. I might need a day off soon too. A lot depends on what happens in the next four days, I guess.

Don’t forget you don’t have to go through pandemic days disconnectedly. Leave a comment and I’ll send you contact details. Seriously.

Lockdown: Further along the downward spiral slicer

Here’s how it went down Thursday. I got a fair amount of decent sleep Wednesday night. Made a bowl of instant ramen for breakfast, with a mountain of bean sprouts and a couple of eggs. Yeah, a couple. Busted out the Shin Ramyun because my soul needed some medicating.

Worked on the UH Hilo story and some copy-editing on the new (not yet released) employee handbook. I’ve been bugging people above me on the org chart to let me copy edit the thing since my first week of work, four years ago. Now it’s in my hands and I’m getting to do it. I’m pleased, but I wish I had a longer turnaround than two weeks. Some sections of this thing are going to take some time. I think I’ll spend some time this long weekend working on it. Not because I feel like I have to, but because I really want to do a good job. And it’s 56 pages long.

We had a department Zoom meeting at 2:00. It was nice to see (almost) everyone.

In the after-work hours, I had a feeling I was going to do the laundry early Friday morning, although I wasn’t quite committed to it. I’d packed up my laundry Wednesday night and made a small grocery list for supermarket, thinking I’d stop at Safeway on my way home.

For a late lunch, I made a raw potato salad, something I’ve been wanting to try for a couple of months. I own two spiral slicers, both of them gifts (my sister and Penny) and I’ve never used either. And the raw potato salad at Angelo Pietro’s is delicious. It was a little bit of a struggle learning to use the one my sister gave me, so the results weren’t pretty, but the salad was pretty good. Not quite what I was going for — I really want long, super-thin strings of potato and daikon, and these weren’t quite that. But with the Pietro miso dressing it was good, and I’m pretty sure I’ll try again, perhaps when I find Penny’s slicer to see if it produces the thinner strings. I think the one from my sister is specifically with zucchini noodles in mind, which is a completely different concept.

Got to sleep around 10, later than I wanted, but I got kind of involved in some doomscrolling and dumb phone games.

I woke up about half an hour before my 2:45 alarm and decided this was it. I know I make a bigger deal out of all this than it really warrants, but driving to the laundry is one of two regular going-out things in my existence these past ten months. Laundry mid-week (now mid-week in alternating weeks) and the office most Sundays, although lately I’m trying to scale that back.

Plus it just feels good to turn a pile of dirty laundry into a pile of clean laundry.

I again left the laptop at home and brought only my book. Still reading The List of Things That Will Not Change and put a huge dent in it. I’ll almost surely be done Saturday, depending on how engrossing the football games are and whether or not I make it to the beach.

I didn’t need to stop at the grocery (still have a week’s worth of Diet Pepsi), but wanted to grab a few things for some kitchen adventuring this long weekend. I’m wearying of takeout and itching to try a few new things. Plus my IG is getting stale. Need new content.

I’m only half-kidding about IG. Look, when you’re locked in your house for ten months with no in-person interaction, you have to keep up some of the online friendships, even if the personal relationships are thriving with semi-regular texting. There are people I care about with whom I only interact on IG. So yeah.

Also stopped to refill my drinking water at Foodland and pick up a Big Mac combo from the neighboring McD’s.

It all went swimmingly.

Sharon texted me to talk about work stuff. It led to conversation about Cobra Kai, Morimot’s instant ramen, Tamlyn Tomita and The Karate Kid 2, and stimulus checks.

Crush Girl and I chatted a little about stimulus checks and tea. Oh, and raw potato salad, which she’d never heard of. She seemed quite skeptical.

I don’t think I snacked on anything. Didn’t even think about it.

Here’s your reminder not to suffer the ordeal of these days alone or disconnected. Leave a comment and I’ll send you some contact info. Pandemic days suck but they don’t have to be lonely.

Lockdown: When the roll is called up launder

Tuesday night I got a pretty solid six hours of sleep, much to my relief. It’s still not enough but it’s about my ceiling these past couple of months so I’ll take it.

I got up Wednesday (mostly) ready to roll. Hit the Taco Bell drive-through for breakfast. It was great, and boy does that breakfast stay with you. I skipped lunch.

Worked mostly on that UH Hilo scholarship story, but it was slow going. I’m still in the brainstorming-prewriting stage and it’s not singing to me yet. I’m kind of waiting on someone at UH Hilo to respond to an email, where I think the real heart of this thing is going to be.

Took a phone call to give one of the DOs some writing advice. Had my weekly telephone one-on-one with the supervisor, who helped me prioritize my projects, which was most welcome. I seldom left my desk, yet I didn’t produce much, and I admit I got distracted super easily.

Most of my downtime after work was considering whether I wanted to take the laundry early Thursday. Despite what I said about not having to, I kinda feel led to just to get it done, to check it off the list, to have done something in my personal life that’s routine and purposeful. The problem with this is time. If I’m going to do it, I have to decide early and go to bed early, or else my work the next day will most likely be for crap.

I kind of have to decide early so I know what to do about dinner, too. If I’m going, I usually don’t eat dinner so I can go to bed early and because I usually get McD’s on my way over.

You can see where this going. I spent the whole evening trying to decide until it was too late to decide, and then it was also too late to take advantage of that extra time with more sleep. I hate myself.

At least I got a few chapters of The List of Things That Will Not Change read. It’s pretty great so far. I think definitely a YA book (late elementary, really) that would never have been written when I was growing up.

Didn’t really have time for a decent dinner, so I had a couple of quesadillas with some leftover spaghetti sauce for dipping. I also ate like half a bag of nori kakimochi and some high-protein cheese puffs Sylvia left for me on my desk.

Sharon texted to ask for some writing advice. I texted a former student, a nurse in Texas who’s done some time in the COVID unit, to get her mailing address. I have a few Hawaii things I didn’t have room for in the packages I sent JB and my uncle, and I think she’d appreciate them. Ali texted me an article of quotes to read before bed, which is pretty much what I need. This is the one I liked:

There had been times when he knew, somewhere in him, that he would get used to it, whatever it was, because he had learnt that some hard things became softer after a very little while.

Nick Hornby, About a Boy

Not bad for lad lit, a genre I never really took seriously. I might have to rethink Nick Hornby as well, whom I have never actually read.

The week is both crawling along and zooming by. I can’t believe it’s Thursday already, and yet the Capitol invasion was eight days ago when it feels like ages. What even is time anymore?

Don’t go through it alone. Leave a comment and I’ll send you contact info if you need someone.

Lockdown: Lift every invoice and sing

Tuesday was a bit of a repeat of Monday, with yet less sleep. Insanity.

I got out of bed and immediately ran down to Rainbow for a loco moco even though what I really wanted was some eggs, rice, and sausage, which Rainbow has. I just ordered something different at the last minute. No complaints; it’s a decent loco despite its utterly pedestrian (on a good day) hamburger patties. It’s a popular dish on the strength of Rainbow’s excellent gravy, but objectively it’s only a so-so dish. You’re better off getting the make-your-own breakfast special with the boneless chicken and two eggs. Basically a chicken loco.

Worked on the UH Hilo scholarship story, calling the donors around a normal person’s lunch time. They were such incredibly nice people and we had a great conversation. This story will be my focus for the next couple of days. Spent an hour near the end of the day submitting invoices. I’ve sorta become the guy who submits invoices for our department, which is funny because (a) I’m horrible with administrative paperwork — it takes me much longer than it takes anyone else I know, which I tell every employer these days before they even hire me, and (2) I’m terrible with money.

However, I also want to be as useful as I can, and while filling out the online paperwork takes an enormous amount of mental energy it wouldn’t take most people (I know my strengths and challenges), I find a strange satisfaction in trying to conquer this. The computer interface definitely helps. Give me a hard copy and a pen for a task like this and I swear it’s like doing an exorcism on myself. The power of Christ compels me!

Spent a bit of time at the very end of my day doing emails and working on my mid-year self-assessment.

I had in mind that I’d spend the evening reading OR getting ready to go to the laundry, although I already kinda knew I wouldn’t go. I looked at the clean clothes and realized I could go another week without doing a wash, and I was sooooooooo tired.

Instead I took a good, hard nap, then did a little writing and some chores. Picked up a sashimi combo from Ahi & Vegetables for dinner. It’s basically three kinds of sashimi (hamachi, ahi, and salmon) on a bed of greens. It’s delicious, and I’m trying to eat more fish and veggies these days. I had a slice of Dutch apple pie for a late dessert. I picked that thing up Sunday afternoon and only dropped a knife into it Tuesday night.

Went to bed at a decent hour because I needed to.

Sylvia texted me to chat about what’s on sale at Costco, which kind of amused me. Cindy sent the Cindy-Julie-Suzanne group text a portrait she ordered of her three-legged cat. Pretty funny. I mean, not the three-legged part. I guess there are places you can send your pet’s photo and they put it in different scenarios. This one had the cat wearing a tuxedo, which is hilarious. You can’t tell from the portrait the cat has three legs.

Crush Girl and I chatted about this new burger truck in Aiea which I have to check out. It’s in a used car lot, a very unusual spot for it, but this is the immediate neighborhood where, until two weeks ago, there was an acclaimed plate lunch spot in a garage. Aiea is a lot more interesting than people would think, just driving through.

I’m hoping once I get my sleep back to normal (ha!) I can settle into a better routine on work days. I hate to admit it, but getting meaningful tasks checked off a to-do list has given me enormous satisfaction lately, professional and personal. The pleasure I get from looking at the stupid carport light I changed Sunday cannot be denied. A couple of times Monday and Tuesday, I turned it on just to see it.

Let’s see: work, food, texting, sleep. That covers it all. Except this: we’re on the eve of destruction, but whatever. Don’t go through it alone. Leave a comment if you want someone to text or DM with. I’ve got you.

Lockdown: We’re in 2020’s stoppage time

I don’t remember how well I slept Sunday night into Monday morning, but I felt okay. I think it was in the area of six and a half hours of good sleep.

I spent most of the workday working on one story, emailing donors and UH people and doing the background. Everyone emailed me back quickly (because yay UH Hilo people!).

Lately, even on my most industrious days, I’m not being productive enough. My work is horribly inefficient. 2021 was supposed to be different, but these first 11 days have been worse, except for that gloriously long New Year’s weekend. I saw this on Twitter this evening and it’s hitting me right where I’m living (sleeplessly):

I am pissed about the beginning of the year. Someone on FB said 2021 doesn’t officially begin until January 20; until then we’re just kind of in extra 2020 time. I laughed and said this is exactly the news I needed to hear, but then last Wednesday happened and now it’s not funny. I don’t even know how we’re possibly going to make it to the 20th.

I’m doomscrolling like crazy and it is not good for my mental well-being. I mentioned on some other platform that I’m doomscrolling more than I have since the false missile alarm a few years ago, and it’s sort of the same thing: can this be happening? How is this happening? What the heck is this reality we’re living in now?

I do this thing on FB, begun right when the lockdown began in March, called Social Distancing Top Five, in which I list my five favorite songs by some musician or group, and one least favorite song, and invite others to participate. It’s kind of fun, but in the darkest, most sleepless day leading up to the election (and during a few periods when the campaigns were still going on) I had to take long breaks, not so much from the fun music lists but from FB itself.

Monday I took a little break from my work and posted a new Social Distancing Top Five: Styx. My favorite group from the summer after sixth grade through the summer after twelfth grade. I’d kind of been putting Styx off because the band’s too special to me, and I wasn’t really down for any bad lists, but I also thought I had to do something that made me think of happier things, like the favorite music of my youth.

And the response has been great! The lists are great, and the conversation stirred up by the lists has been great. I had no idea I had so many friends who remember Styx with the fondness I do.

So there have been moments of real happiness in the muddy midst of this muck. Distractions, all of them. Escapism. Denial.

Anyway. I’ll be fine. I’m finding some satisfaction in getting work done. I’m enjoying some texting with people I care about.

In that spirit, here’s what some of my friends are reading. I asked a bunch of bookish friends, because one thing I always want to know is what my friends are reading.

Grace and JB are the only friends who didn’t respond this time. I expect it from Grace, but was surprised by JB. He usually responds but he’s going through something difficult so we chatted about that instead. There were others (Faye, Melody, Suzanne, AJ) who said they’re not reading anything, and I feel them: I didn’t do any reading for most of the lockdown.

  • Penny: In a Dark House by Deborah Combie and a book by Toni Anderson about FBI agents pursuing a killer targeting FBI agents.
  • Desi: Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry.
  • Patty: Writers and Lovers by Lily King.
  • The writing partner: Barack Obama’s A Promised Land.
  • Anto: The Homilies on the Gospel of John (I’m assuming that’s the actual title) by Augustine, and Tales from the Folly by Ben Aaronovitch.
  • Susannah: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski.
  • Dynah: Spring Moon by Bette Bao Lord, and Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express.
  • Nikki: Hacking Leadership and White Fragility.
  • Jennifer O: My Year of Rest and Relaxation, a book about Timothy Leary, and another book about Reagan and Nixon.
  • Cathy: Dolly Parton’s Songteller and some boring-sounding educator stuff.
  • Julie: The Whisper Man by Alex North.
  • Ali: The Guest List by Lucy Foley. A past selection of Reese’s Book Club.

After work I crashed and had a wonderfully drooly, comatose nap. Got up and did some housecleaning and then against my better judgment, I wrote that Utopia Avenue review because I wanted to get it down while it was still fresh. Stayed up too late, though, but I’m going to live with my choice because what the heck is going on in Washington? Staying up late to write a book review nobody’s going to read makes as much sense as that, at least.

Breakfast was instant ramen with a mountain of bean sprouts and an egg and some rice vinegar. Lunch was a pan-fried kajiki fillet on quinoa. I wish I used the George Foreman for it. It was good but what a muscly piece of fish. Dinner was the rest of the kajiki and my leftover Chinese food (mixed veggies with tofu) with quinoa. It was all right. I need to remember this dish isn’t as good as leftovers as other dishes on the menu.

Not a lot of texting but it was good. I gave Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License” a few spins and texted Sharon to ask if she’d heard it yet. She was actually listening to it the moment I texted. We talked about some work stuff. Crush Girl and I texted about our weekends and I told her a little about Utopia Avenue.

I haven’t started it yet, but next up is The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead, a physical book I just got in the mail. I freaking love, love, love Rebecca Stead.

Resolutions, next post.

If you want someone to connect with, I’m not saying I’m going to be very good company, but what the heck. Reach out. I’ll send you contact info if you leave a comment.

Review: Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell

Utopia AvenueUtopia Avenue by David Mitchell (2020)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

David Mitchell wrote the singular Cloud Atlas, a novel so ambitious and creative it deserves first mention even in a review of any other David Mitchell novel. Although I’ve now only read two of his books, I feel okay saying if you read only one, it should be Cloud Atlas. It’s not for everyone, though, so maybe his latest is as good a starting point.

Utopia Avenue is a different creature entirely, and it reminds me not one iota of Cloud Atlas, yet some things are consistent. Mitchell’s fondness for the English language’s music and flow:

On the table is a pot of tea Jasper doesn’t recall making, the core of an apple he doesn’t recall eating, and a page of staves, notes, and lyrics he knows he wrote.

His clever descriptions of people, places, and moments:

It’s a classy Victorian pub with brass fittings, upholstered chair backs, and NO SPITTING signs.

His combining the physical with the cosmic, sometimes without explanation and always without apology:

If a song plants an idea or a feeling in a mind, it has already changed the world.

And always an understated, wry humor:

The cellar of the 2i’s Coffee Bar at 59 Old Compton Street is as hot, dank, and dark as armpits.

It’s set in the second half of 1967 and the first half of 1968, mostly in London, the days following the Summer of Love. Levon Frankland, a band manager, invites four local musicians he admires to form a band. It’s almost Monkees-like, one character observes, but these are players with serious chops, selected not for their looks but their talent and disparate playing styles.

Elf is the folksy singer-songwriter-keyboardist. Jasper is the long-haired psychedelic guitar god. Dean is the bluesy rock bassist. Griff is the jazzy drummer. Each has something to say apart from the others, but the band clicks because each has something to say to the others and with the others.

Utopia Avenue is most enjoyable when the writer captures the musicians’ responses to one another, as they’re performing and as they’re creating. The energy generated and absorbed by each player, and the musical conversation they have with one another, spoken in riffs, fills, and solos, makes the reader want to pick up whatever instrument he or she once studied and get the band back together. Mitchell’s capturing this feeling of creativity in motion is my favorite aspect of this novel.

It’s a great story with compelling characters. When you change your mind about who’s your favorite character from chapter to chapter, a writer has come up with some good ones. Real-world figures play supporting roles: Hendrix, Joplin, and Bowie make appearances, among many others, but where their presence could easily be nostalgia-pandering gimmickry, it is instead the color and flavor of life for this nearly-famous band with talent recognized by successful musicians first, and not yet by the consuming public.

For readers averse to certain cosmologies, the story will bog down a bit near the two-thirds mark. I admit I found myself skipping lines, then forcing myself back to read more attentively. I was happy I slogged through this bit because the payoff is worth it, although I wonder if it would have been a stronger story without it.

Still a highly recommended read, and I may be turning into a David Mitchell fan.

View all my reviews

Lockdown: Latest sedition

Sunday. Part two of the great NFL playoffs weekend. Also my dad’s birthday. I didn’t sleep well, but at least there was a decent amount of it. Like a little more than six hours I think. It’s more difficult to tell when I’m not strapped in.

I ate leftover pizza while watching the first game. Then wrapped the gift and drove it out to the folks. I stopped at Anna Millers to pick up a couple of strawberry tarts for Mom and Dad, and a Dutch apple pie for myself. Hawaiian Pie Company is on a New Year’s vacation.

We chatted a while. It was nice. Tried to keep my distance, but my parents aren’t worried about my being contagious, while I’m totally worried about my being contagious. So it was a little stressful.

I also picked up my Christmas gift from my sister, which she left there. A Food Saver. Yay. Need to think about how this will work itself into my kitchen life.

Got home and watched the second half of the second game, then the third game. Leftover pizza for lunch, too. During the third game I took care of more of that to-do list. Changed the lightbulb in the carport light. The WD-40 did the job, and now there’s an LED bulb in there to replace the compact fluorescent. It should be a few years. I also reset the rat traps, which is a little more involved than you might think because of what I bait the traps with.

It was late to head for the office, but I didn’t go last weekend and I wanted to make sure my software was up to date (it was) and take care of some housekeeping. There were a few gifts from coworkers, for Christmas and my birthday, on my desk. Some cool jigsaw puzzles and a book I’d been saving in my Amazon to-read list.

I stopped to fill some of my drinking water on the way home, finally getting back at around 10:30. Goofed off a little and did a few more chores.

I also took some time to set the presets on my car stereo. It has an HD radio receiver, which I haven’t messed around with in the two years I’ve been driving it. There’s a classic rock station not available on over-the-air FM. It was pretty good. Played some Styx, Autograph, AC/DC, and something else I don’t remember but definitely sang along with. My list of HD stations on Oahu was incomplete, so I only messed around with a few stations. Going to see what else is out there because it sounded good and I enjoyed the selections.

I went to bed far too late, mostly because I crashed while trying to start a new book and didn’t wake up until about four. So stupid. This doesn’t bode well for the resolutions, which I’ll share in my next post.

Cathy sent me a response text to my what-are-you-reading question, which led to a long chat about certain recent events. Jennifer texted to tell me this bakery we both like is making cutely shaped milk breads.

It’s madness out there. If you’re going through it without sufficient human connection, leave a comment. I’ll send you some contact details.

Unless you think the election results are bogus and the incumbent is is being robbed of a second term. In which case I can’t make any promises, ‘though I’m not ruling anything out. But damn it: screw your head on correctly and look at the evidence.

Lockdown: All we are saying is give pizza chance

As I wrote yesterday, I started Saturday with an ambitious-but-not-too-ambitious to-do list for the weekend. When I slept terribly Friday night and woke up at 3:30 Saturday morning not having put myself properly to bed, I thought maybe I derailed the whole endeavor.

I’d hoped to hit the beach early, but with my cruddy sleep I just didn’t think it would be a good experience. I got up to put my leftover Chinese food in the fridge (I’d put it in storage containers but hadn’t put it away), brush my teeth and shut everything down. First I polished off the beef choy sum cake noodle.

I read an article somewhere saying many people find brushing their teeth in the middle of the day is as good as a cup of coffee. This has been my experience, which is why I keep a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss at the office, and brush my teeth after lunch every day.

I wouldn’t say it was like a cup of coffee at 4:00 Saturday morning, but it did get me going. So heck. I put on some board shorts and drove to the beach with a stop at the McD’s drive-through. I wasn’t hungry at all, having just eaten leftover Chinese food, but I was going to be at the beach well before sunrise and I just wanted to keep eating. Terrible, I know.

I got a two-burrito combo with a large Diet Coke (extra ice), and realized as I ordered it: all I really wanted was the Diet Coke. I don’t know what McD’s does to its Diet Coke but it’s delicious coming out of that fountain. I’m not kidding. Especially first thing in the morning.

Read Utopia Avenue in my car as I ate, enjoying the darkness and the sound of the ocean. About twenty minutes before sunrise I jumped in and ugh. I was bloated like crazy and felt terrible. So. Much. Food. In my gut.

Still, I had a decent swim, and by the turnaround I was feeling a bit closer to normal. There were quite a few stand-up paddleboarders, but I only saw one swimmer. Unusual. I still didn’t push myself much; on that little sleep it’s difficult. But it was a nice time and it felt great.

Didn’t realize until late Saturday night that it was a jellyfish day. Oops.

Got home, put the first football game on and watched the first half, then took a nap, then watched the first half of the second game. That second game (Rams and Seahawks) was the one I really wanted to watch. At halftime I jumped in my car and headed for Tamura’s in Restaurant Row. Google said it opened at 10:30 Saturdays, and it’s the closest of their stores to my home. I thought for sure the store would be uncrowded on a Saturday. That spot just doesn’t hop on weekends.

Aaaaaaaand it was closed. What was meant to be a thirty-minute errand was now going to take a lot longer. My dad’s birthday was Sunday and I needed to get him a gift. So I drove to the Kaimuki store, got him a nice single-malt Scotch and myself a pretty bottle of Cava. Since I was in the area, I thought I’d grab dinner from Boston’s Pizza. It was my first visit there since late February, pre-lockdown. They’re not selling slices, just whole pies. So I ordered a whole pie and had to wait 25 minutes for it. I walked up to Pipeline Bakery and got an order of bread pudding (which I am eating as I write this). By the time I got it all home, of course the game was over.

Errands by their very nature take longer than you expect. Even when you know they’re going to take longer than you expect, they take still longer. I wasn’t angry or annoyed, because that’s what I signed up for. Just a little amused at myself and what R used to call “the E word.” Ah, she hated running errands. One of the nicest things I routinely did for her was just accompany her on the E word. I’d usually offer to drive, too. She appreciated the company but she was seldom good company herself on the E-words.

There was enough time before the third game to take a short nap. Then I watched the game as I read, played stupid phone games, and ate pizza. I took another nap after the game then finally finished Utopia Avenue. I put myself properly to bed for a change and set my alarm for 8:30 (half an hour after kickoff of Sunday’s first game), which would give me six hours of sleep.

I got a what-are-you-reading response text Saturday, from Nikki, a former coworker who’s now the principal where I taught, and one from Jennifer, who I learned has already read Utopia Avenue and whose favorite writer is David Mitchell. We talk about books all the time and I never knew this.

Vicky texted to ask if I had thought of anyone who might want to get in on her MLM. I went through my contacts some time ago and actually thought I knew a few but now I can’t remember who they were.

Suzanne asked me and Cindy if we’d heard of this boba spot in Ala Moana. I told her what I knew, that its name is inspired by Diagon Alley and that its logo was a stag for this reason. She invited me to check it out with her Sunday but I said no way. Ali texted me a book recommendation, but it was for a psycho thriller, which I’m reaaally not into.

It was a fairly nice Saturday, and I’m so glad I started it at the beach. Also glad I didn’t meet any jellyfish. Not as glad I got only one thing done on my to-do list — picking up Dad’s birthday gift. It was the most important item, though, and the only must-do.

Whatever’s keeping you going, if you’re going through it without enough connectivity, leave a comment. I’ll help you out as long as it doesn’t involve voice calling or video calling. Not my thing. But helping you get through this lousy-so-far January? That’s my thing. I can do that.

Lockdown: A choice sum for a few Chinese dishes

The title makes me think of one of the funniest things I ever said, according to me. We were hanging out at Armand’s for dinner and games one night, talking about food or something, when Armand asked, “What’s your favorite British dish?”

I didn’t even have to think about it. “I dunno,” I said. “Elizabeth Hurley?”

Thank you. Thank you. This guy in the corner gets it. I’ll be here all week.

Wow. Thursday night I slept six and a half good hours with Darth Vader, interrupted at about 6:30 for no reason I could figure. Best sleep in weeks, I think. It still wasn’t enough, but darn did it feel great.

Friday I got up almost as late as I’m self-allowing, returned a few quick emails, hit the Taco Bell drive-through for breakfast, and worked on a few different projects, including my monthly report. The day went fairly quickly as I managed to be pretty industrious, if not especially productive, most of the day. My mid-day nap in place of lunch helped a lot too.

Drove down to the Chinese restaurant nearest my house for a very late working lunch. I picked up enough food for a few meals: beef choy sum with cake noodle (it’s a Hawaii thing), lemon chicken (which I almost never get but was jonesing for), and mixed veggies with tofu. It was good. According to Swarm my last Chinese food was in September, which sounds about right. That’s a bit unusual, and not what I would have predicted when lockdown began, since it’s so near my house. Pretty sure this is only my third visit in ten months.

After work I just crashed. I did a couple of quick chores, but my heart was really not into it. I was pretty toasted. When I got up, I read the news and did more doomscrolling (Twitter has been fascinating and depressing) and crashed again. I again didn’t put myself properly to bed and thus slept terribly.

I’m just glad the week’s over. What a crazy-long week, and not a good one either. I feel like someone owes me a do-over of the first week of the year and the first few days of my being 52.

I texted a bunch of friends to ask what they’re reading, which led to short chats with Anto, AJ, Penny, Faye, Dynah, and JB. Crush Girl and I texted each other briefly through the day. Ali and I chatted a little about what she’s reading, and she sent me a photo of a cute dedication page from a novel she just started. Katherine FB messaged me to say she finished Okay for Now on my recommendation. She really enjoyed it, and thanked me for the heads-up. The Kindle edition was on sale for three bucks in December and I put on FB that people should read it.

Some time between zonked-out sessions, I made a to-do list for the weekend. As I type this at 1:01 Sunday morning, only one thing of nine is completed. This indicates either a very productive Sunday or a very restful Sunday with a week’s time to think about what I’m doing next weekend. I predict the latter.

Resolutions, next post.

Don’t be disconnected. Now these hot days is the mad blood stirring. I need a new quote. While I think of one, leave a comment if you’re feeling the need for some one-on-one interaction. Life’s too crazy to go through this garbage alone.