Friday 5: Touched by your presents, dear

From here.

My sleep is so messed up this week I can’t tell if at 3:42 a.m. Friday I’m up late or up early. I should be in bed either way but I don’t want my whole evening-morning to have been a waste so here’s something useful (ha!) instead.

  1. For what ability do you seem to have a natural gift?
    You should just see how easily I let food in my fridge go to waste. It’s amazing! I stick some broccoli crowns or green beans in, and *pow* despite being home all the time, and despite loving my greens, in just a few days I’m throwing them all out with all my unrealized good intentions! I had a funny, snarky answer here about repelling the sort of women whose company I most enjoy (middle-aged divorced teachers or librarians!) but despite my status as a professional writer I couldn’t make it not also sound pitiful and pathetic, which was not the vibe with which I want to begin my Friday morning. Or end my late Thursday evening.
  2. What’s pretty good about the present moment?
    I didn’t have dinner, and I’m sorta looking forward to either a couple of small sandwiches when I finish typing this (I’ve two rolls left of half a dozen I bought Sunday night) or the leftover Indian food I brought home from lunch with some coworkers. If you live on Oahu and dig Indian food, check out Spice Up on King St. between Piikoi and Keeaumoku. It’s where Choi’s Family Restaurant used to be. Delicious.
  3. What nearby, everyday object would be a good symbolic bequest to someone in your life?
    It would be funny to leave my Kindle Paperwhite to R to represent the love we never rekindled, but she’s married so I doubt she’d receive it in the intended spirit, if she made note of my death at all. So I’m bequeathing this large bottle of naproxen sodium to all the girls I’ve loved before who wandered in and out my door, to remind them of all the pain we caused each other and to accept this gift as a token of our mutual healing. Why I’m thinking about relationships at this late (early) hour is a bit of a mystery, since I’ve been feeling pretty great in my self-sufficience these days. Although now that I’m emerging from this long lockdown, I suppose I’m craving the company of the fairer sex.
  4. What recognitions, large or small, have been bestowed upon you?
    My senior year of high school, the newspaper staff named me Most Likely to be a Televangelist (this in the years of the Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggert scandals) but I think the newspaper advisor made them think of something else (It was a small, moderately conservative Christian school) so I was renamed Most Likely to be a Used Car Salesman.
  5. What was your most recent charitable donation?
    Spelling names correctly is of severe importance. I was freakishly devoted to it when I taught high-schoolers, and I’m nearly as devoted now that I work in a nonprofit. So I have this rule. Anything I’ve written or edited, if it gets published with a misspelled name, I anonymously donate $20 to the associated fund at the university, if there is one. If the misspelled name is in an article about an engineering scholarship, for example, I donate money to that scholarship. If there’s no immediately related fund, I find something close. Someone else misspelled a coworker’s name in our staff newsletter, and for some reason I didn’t check spelling on the names when I edited (which I always do, even the names I absolutely know the spelling of), and it went out with the mispelling. I made the donation to the staff social/party fund, a little side account not budgeted by the foundation but by bake sales and bottle recycling.

Happy long weekend and happy Independence Day. I don’t have plans beyond Friday night but I hope to do some catching up on personal writing. I have so many unreviewed books, films, and TV series. And I’m doing July’s Camp NaNo, so there’ll be a bit of noveling all month.

Lockdown: Rabbit don’t come easy

If a show doesn’t do it for you, it just doesn’t. I get it. But man, I wish I could make people click with some shows just so they can get to the really, really good episodes.

A couple episodes in Forever with Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen are great examples. If you were to just watch the episodes as stand-alones, it wouldn’t work. You really wouldn’t be seeing the show, and this is one thing TV (or TV-like stuff) has that movies don’t. The payoff after the long build-up, when you didn’t know there was a build-up. It’s like getting punched in the gut while you’re protecting your face.

An episode in season one of Mythic Quest did it to me too, although this great episode didn’t make me wish I could make everyone watch the series. But then *pow* two episodes in season two hit you even lower than the gut. Amazing.

So yeah I can’t make you watch it, but if you have Apple TV+ you really should at least check it out. Season two ends with the next episode, much to my heartbreak, but at least the new Ted Lasso season is coming up at the end of July. Yeah, I already renewed my subscription for another year. My free year ends July 5.

Sometime this week (I can’t remember when; time is meaningless to me anymore) I watched the first episode of The Leftovers. Have you heard of it? It’s dark as frick. In the twinkle of an eye, two percent of the world’s population disappears. Just vanishes. The series seems to be about what happens in the aftermath. And let me tell you: so far, there’s not a lot of light on this planet. People are broken, lost, hurting, and not their best selves. Yikes. And of course a religious cult pops up, adding weirdness and more darkness.

I have to say the first episode does not make me want to watch the second. If not for its being adored by critics I admire, I wouldn’t stick with it, but I might as well see a few episodes more.

In other news I’m sure you don’t care about, Helloween released a new album, its sixteenth studio album and its first self-titled. Which is kind of cool because all three of the lead vocalists in the band’s history sing on this album, together. Not just a song or two, but like most of the album. So the only album probably better suited for a self-title would be one where everyone who’s ever played in the band plays on the whole album, which would be crazy and amazing.

I’m not recommending it. If you think power metal is silly and laughable, which it is, you’ll find this album doubly so. If you think power metal is majestic, grand, soothing, and fun, which it also is, you probably already know whether or not you want to check it out. I’m spinning it now for like the fifth time and enjoying the heck out of it.

I actually did a bit of decluttering, returning to this enormous task after too many weeks off. It made me feel great, and I tossed a bunch of stuff. I wish I could make myself do it on the weekend instead of Monday evening, when it causes me to push several other things back, leaving me to turn in far too late. I need to keep trying. Failing that (again and again), doing it Monday evening at least gets it done and makes me feel good, if also sleep-deprived and miserable.

Weighing myself after weeks 2 and 3 showed me how these things fluctuate. I’m still down from week 0 but I’m up from week 1, and slightly down from week from 2. So yeah, a more concerted effort is definitely called for. I hit the beach Saturday and Tuesday, and I’m going again Thursday. I’ve done slightly less walking this week because I’ve been a little down, not to mention more sleep-deprived than usual, thanks to a couple of deadlines I recently took all night to meet.

Now that lockdown is nearly done, I’m seeing Crush Girl more often in our familiar context. While I still wish we were spending time together in other contexts, like the favor I did for her a few weeks ago, I’ll take this. We seem to be communicating more easily, with more familiar comfort. It makes just being friends a bit easier on my cold, battered, icy heart, but it also makes it a little more melty. I’ll take it.

I’m seventy percent of the way through Jakob Guanzon’s Abundance. I’ve slowed down because I haven’t been walking as many evenings as I was. Still pretty dang compelling.

It’s 9:30. I’m getting ready for bed. It’s been that kind of week.

* The title of this entry is the title of a Helloween album. It has nothing to do with anything I’ve written except that. What a ridiculous name for an album.

Friday 5: Heights

From here.

  1. What’s the best non-animated movie musical you’ve seen in the past several years?
    I realized several years ago that I was unlikely to be fond of any non-animated movie musical I didn’t already like. All the stuff I find bizarre and uninteresting about a movie musical is true of my faves (The Music Man, Little Shop of Horrors) but the old favorites are too much a part of my movie-lover identity. The same stuff in new (and new-to-me) films is just kind of unwatchable. But then there were La-La Land, which I liked, and The Greatest Showman, which I loved and which I purchased on Blu-Ray, and maybe there’s hope. I saw In the Heights Thursday night in a theater and enjoyed the heck out of it. So yeah. The Greatest Showman is my answer.
  2. How are you most likely to pass the time during a lengthy blackout?
    I’m realizing we did this question some time not too long ago. Dang it. The answer used to be playing my guitar and singing songs, but these days it’s pen-and-paper crossword puzzles. I don’t like going to sleep at night with no power, but if the blackout is during daylight hours, I’ll most likely grab sleep in anticipation of being up all night. I have enough backup juice for my phone, Kindle, and other toys, but if I’m feeling restless I might drive around my neighborhood and charge things there, staying away from traffic lights and important streets to keep them clear for emergency vehicles.
  3. When were you last in a swimming pool?
    It’s been a looooong time, like more than half my life ago. When I was a kid, I practically lived in pools during the summer. Our summer rec program took us to Waipahu pool every Tuesday and Thursday, all day. In intermediate and high school, my scoutmaster took the whole troop to Pearl City pool on meeting nights instead of having our regular meetings. He believed fervently that if you live on an island, you should be a good swimmer, so we spent a ton of time in the water, most of it unstructured. The guys in my patrol destroyed a summer camp record in the relay race, ‘though we finished with the second-best time: the other patrol in our troop destroyed the record by a few seconds more than we did. But in my post-college years, pools have been less available and less attractive. I’m mobile enough that a beach is as accessible as a pool, and I’d much rather swim in the ocean. So I think the last time I was in a pool was 29 years ago during a weeklong summer mission trip to Molokai. I wasn’t sure I wanted to get in the water, but the girls on our trip got in, and I wasn’t going to miss that.
  4. What do you remember fondly about the neighborhood where you grew up?
    I grew up in Waipahu, a historic town playing a huge part in my state’s cultural history. It was the heart of the island’s sugar industry, which means it was the heart of immigration from Japan, Korea, China, the Philippines, and Portugal. By the time my family moved there (my second grade year), we were on third generations of most of these cultures, and my neighborhood was going through ethnic changes. By the time my family moved away (end of my tenth-grade year), it was more known for its first-gen Filipino population, and sections were booming in Vietnamese immigrants. This was all critical in developing my extremely liberal ideas about immigration in this state and in this country. Throw the doors wide open, I say.
  5. What language did you study in school, and what’s something you remember how to say?
    I studied Japanese after school in fourth and fifth grades, then for three years in high school, and then for another few semesters in college. My mom is from Japan, so there’s a lot I still remember. たべましょう! Let’s eat! おてあらいに いっても いいですか? May I go to the bathroom?

Friday 5: Mental health again

From here.

  1. What’s the best thing you’ve done for yourself in recent days?
    Three times in the ocean in the past ten days. It was especially good Thursday morning before work. It’s light enough by 5:30 in the morning to jump in, but I’ve been doing it closer to 6:30, but even after nearly an hour in the water, there’s enough time to grab breakfast before heading to the office. It’s wonderful. Now if my favorite breakfast spots in town would just open for dining in!
  2. What have you to overcome in the coming days?
    A small mountain of of personal writing I’ve piled up. It’s been on my list each weekend for the past few months but THIS weekend for sure! I’m going to set an easy goal. Structure for success, I always say.
  3. What’s growing inside you?
    A weird uneasy feeling about returning to the office full-time by August, as is the plan. I can’t identify the source. Being in the office once or twice a week lately has been fine except for the extreme difficulty getting to sleep the nights before. Maybe I’ve just gotten too used to working at home, where I am extremely comfortable. Maybe I’m a little worried about leaving the house unattended for such long periods every day. I’ve had some problems with break-ins, and several times in the past year or so, people have come into my carport to mess around. I don’t know. I’ve taken to saying a short prayer every time I leave the house and then whispering thanks to God when I get home for protecting my space. I’m not saying my house is protected by prayer; and I can’t say I’m not doing it more for inner peace than as entreaty to the deity. But I can’t say the opposites either.
  4. What has lately been your escape?
    I’m not proud of it, but I’ve been retreating to bed a little too much lately. When I don’t want to deal with the unpleasant realities of things, I’ve just gone to bed. Being super sleep-deprived these past few weeks is a contributing factor to stress and escape, so I think I can be excused, but this isn’t the healthiest way to deal with stuff. I’ve also taken more comfort from very cold bottles of Diet Pepsi than usual. That’s also not healthy but it’s a healthier escape than other options!
  5. What amazing thing have you recently crammed into your maw?
    A popular Korean spot right across the street from the office has moved to Kapahulu Ave, probably a better location for it. A new Indian restaurant has moved in, and people in the office have been raving. One coworker has been there four or five times. Thursday I was invited to come along, and it was heavenly. We had chicken momos, samosas, rice, butter chicken, chicken tikka masala, lamb korma, cheese naan, and regular naan (there were five of us). I added a sweet lassi, and we all loved the meal. I don’t think I understand $2.99 for raita, which I encouraged us to get, but I’m looking the other way because I didn’t pick up the check and because I’m totally here for good Indian food in a casual setting. Can’t wait to go back!

Lockdown: Measuring out my life in coffee spoons

(I’m almost certain I’ve used this title fairly recently but whatever)

I’ll make this a fast one since it’s rather late at night. Just needed to get the fingers working a little before I turn in.

I bought that bathroom scale primarily because I needed to know my weight for a very specific purpose and I couldn’t for the life of me think of somewhere I could just get on a scale.

Secondarily, I really do need to drop some weight. Pandemic pounds and then some. I thought a couple of weeks ago that quantifying my steps these past many years has really helped. I try not to be a slave to the numbers, and often remind myself on days when I’m really not feeling it that it’s okay to cut short one of my walks. Yet the constant awareness of these numbers gives me something against which to measure myself. Like, if I find myself on consecutive days not feeling it, what’s going on in my body and mind?

Ideally, I think it’s best just to make the lifestyle change so that I’m not worried about numbers. I’m mostly there with swimming: I do it more for mental health than physical health and would keep doing it with no quantification. However, I do check my time in the water every time, just to see what I did. I can tell you how many buoys I swam on any given morning. And I still count strokes.

Not like I used to, when I was first getting back into swimming condition a long time ago. Now I count strokes when I’m swimming the Australian crawl (“freestyle”) because it helps me keep track of how tired I am against my own norms. And on mornings when I want to push myself, I can check my weariness against the number of strokes and set new goals. These things help if I want to get better and stronger, which I do.

I weighed myself last Tuesday, then didn’t step on the scale again all week. I wanted to have a normal week without thinking about my weight beyond however much I already do.

And yesterday morning I stepped on it again, seven days later, and I was down four pounds.

Progress, or just a standard ebb and flow based on my varying diet and exercise? Impossible to say with such a small sample size. So I’m going another week with the same approach.

I’m tired as heck lately. Sleep has been a huge problem these past several weeks, especially the nights before my days in the office. I’m dragging aaaaaalll the time these days, but especially office days. I’m getting slightly concerned.

And this week’s been especially rough. Seems I’ve got ten times my usual number of meetings. One of them was at 8:00 and was followed by another at 9:00. It was my beach morning, too, so I had to nix my morning swim, which of course gets the day off to a bad start.

It’s all bringing me down. I’m not having a good emotional health week, which is my main reason for typing these words this morning instead of trying to get some sleep. It helps. I’m feeling clearer-minded already, so I’m off to bed. Perchance to sleep.

Won’t be for long, anyway. I have a meeting at 9.

Friday 5: I’m so unusual!

It’s easy to think of Cyndi Lauper only in context. The wild hair, crazy wardrobe, unique vocal inflections, and strange association with professional wrestling all combined with the explosion in popularity of music videos to set her up as a true creation of MTV, although it could as easily be said Cyndi made MTV as much as MTV made Cyndi.

This is all true, but it doesn’t change that she was supremely talented, a songwriter and vocalist truly unlike anyone else of her time, or anyone since. She may have lost her knack for writing sticky songs, as her later material was competent but unmemorable, not to mention sometimes cheesy.

But she can still sing.

From here.

  1. When did you most recently have a change of heart?
    I don’t want to get into too much detail, but I had one of those periodic, professional identity crises. My employer created a new position in our department, and I never thought for a second about applying for it until a handful of coworkers suggested I really should. There are undoubtedly aspects of the work I’d have to learn as I went, but there are parts of it I could do well, and a couple of the coworkers said I would do them well enough to make their jobs easier, which is one of the nicest things your colleagues can say, especially when they’re in other departments. It didn’t help that I was really struggling with this one story I was working on, and the best time to get a writer thinking about changing paths is when he’s struggling with a writing assignment. I went pretty dark for a few days. Then at the end of one work day I just remembered I like what I do, and while I won’t rule out trying for positions like this some other time, for now I’m doing what’s right for me. And while I’ve not had my best year doing it because, you know, this pandemic, I think I’m pretty good at it and I’m still finding ways I can be better.
  2. In the coming months, what’s most likely to keep you up all through the night?
    I’m having so much trouble with sleep lately it can be literally anything that keeps me up through the night. One night last week I stayed up all night watching season one of Mythic Quest, which I’ve already watched three times through. Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?
  3. When you gonna live your life right?
    Sunday night I bought a bathroom scale for the first time in my life. Tuesday morning I stepped on it. Let’s get this thing started, shall we?
  4. Do you wanna go out with a lion’s roar?
    You know I always heard this lyric as a question about going out with friends or something. But isolated like this it seems it’s about going out like dying. If it’s the latter, my answer is no. I want to go out meekly and quietly, trying my darndest to hang onto life. If it’s the former, then still no, but maybe with a lion’s confidence. I went to freaking Zippy’s the other night, dined in the restaurant by myself while reading a book, and enjoyed the heck out of simply dining out at a long-time hangout. Thursday I went to my ophthalmologist after skipping my appointment with her last year. I’m not roaring, but I’m getting close to strutting. Lions strut, right?
  5. When did you recently decide something wasn’t perfect but was good enough?
    Well. I wrote these five questions and didn’t love them, but I thought they’d be good enough at least for me, which of course dictated that I then answer them, which I don’t always do.

They say I better get a chaperone
Because I can’t stop messin’ with the danger zone

I won’t worry and I won’t fret
Ain’t no law against it yet!

Okay yeah, it’s a crude subject, but it’s a woman singing about it, which makes it kind of awesome, and these lyrics are just great. Although I think Cyndi was wrong — there were a lot of places where it was illegal. I think there are fewer now.

Lockdown: Catching up

Back in a Honolulu groove

A couple of Thursdays ago, I met some coworkers after work at a brewery a block from the office. It opened May 1 and it’s too convenient to ignore. I envision a lot of pau hana get-togethers. For me alone, if not for me and my officemates.

There were seven of us, including our new assistant controller whom I just met that day and invited to join us. I was the oldest person at the table by 12 years but whatever. Everyone my age has people waiting at home. Sylvia and Sharon were there, probably my two best friends at work, and they were my coplanners.

My first social gathering. My first time in a restaurant with anyone other than just me. It’s not a restaurant but it equates. It was fine. We’re all vaccinated. We wore masks when we weren’t consuming. I found myself not at all stressed.

It was a good warmup for the following Tuesday: my first day back in the office during regular hours. This was less fine. I had an upset stomach most of the day, and I’m not ruling out stress. Still, it was super nice to see people, and we caught up, and I could tell my coworkers were as happy to see me as I was to see them.

I wasn’t nearly as productive as I’d have liked, because I got only two and a half hours of sleep the night before. I used my lunch break for napping in my car.

Steppin’ out

The weekend walks around Keehi Lagoon, at about 6,000 steps, weren’t killing my knee. I still felt it but I wasn’t waking up crying as I did that night last summer. So now I’m going 7,000 steps about five nights a week and my knee feels about the same.

It’s better than nothing. It’s far, far better than nothing: the fresh air, diminishing sunshine, and quiet reading time are good for my heart and brain, and while the benefits to my body are probably questionable, 7,000 steps is better than zero steps, so for now I’ll take it.

It’s gotten to be such a part of my day that a couple of times when circumstances wouldn’t get me out the door early enough ahead of sunset, I went anyway and perambulated the park at night.

They’re closing Keehi Lagoon at seven in the evening, which is cruel in these early summer days, as there’s still a good chunk of daylight left. So more frequently, I’m doing Makiki Park. It’s a much shorter circumference and there are a lot more people, but it works. The park’s lawn is easy on my footsteps, my car is pretty safe, and “one more lap” is easier to make happen. Also easier to turn into another “one more lap.”

My books and my poetry to protect me

Stuff I’ve read while moving my body (including titles I’ve already mentioned): The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. A Pho Love Story by Loan Le. NBA Jam by Reyan Ali. The Time Machine Did It by John Swartzwelder. From Little Tokyo, With Love by Sarah Kuhn.

Oh, I also volunteered to beta-read my friend Stella’s novel-in-progress. It’s a good first draft and took about a week’s worth of evening walks for completion.

I started The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner last night. It’s super compelling and very interesting. Probably, strictly looking at the quality of narrative prose, better than anything else I’ve listed. I’m enjoying the heck out of it.

I’ve got my orange crush

In fifteen months, I saw Crush Girl exactly twice. Once to give her something (at her request) and once to do her a quick favor. A few weeks ago, I meant to write something about how I’m over her, pleased no longer to be swooning and instead to be enjoying what’s becoming (ever so slowly) a nice friendship.

But in the past two weeks, I’ve spent some quality time with her, and it’s coming back. Definitely not with the heart-stabbing sadness that once kept me awake at night, but with gentle aortic squeezes when she says my name. I can live with this kind of unrequited affection. And probably will for some time until I get over her. Again.

Friday 5: Self-care

A tree grows in central Honolulu. Sunset at Makiki District Park.

From here.

  1. What have you done lately for improving or maintaining your mental health? What more would you like to do?
    I’ve done a lot toward degrading my mental health for absolute sure, with crazy sleep habits and my bad knee keeping me from taking the long walks that mostly kept my sanity a year ago when we first locked down. These last few weeks, and especially this past seven days, I’ve taken myself to Makiki District Park for walks around the park just before sundown, through dusk, into the early evening. It’s 75 to 90 minutes of non-strenuous movement, and I walk pretty slowly because I’m reading my Kindle nearly the entire time, but it’s been good for me. I’ve gone two or three times a week. I feel myself integrating slowly back into society. I love the fresh air and sun on my face. And the book time is great, of course. I’ve been hitting the beach once a week but I’ve got to up that for swims at least twice a week. Before the lockdown I was going three or four times a week, swimming nearly an hour in the mornings before work. I need this back!
  2. When did you last eat something specifically because it was good for you?
    Because my potassium levels were low-normal the last time I had bloodwork, when they’ve never been a problem before, my doctor recommended some additions to my diet, so I’m downing about seven dried apricots and three clementines every day. Most days. Some days I just don’t want them or I forget, but most days I do it right after I take my daily meds. I don’t dislike the apricots but I don’t particularly like them either, so they are just for the potassium and fiber.
  3. These days, what are you learning about, and what would you like to learn about next?
    Besides the usual assortment of recipes, I’m reading a lot about the blockchain these days. I’ve got most of it, but there are some important holes I can’t seem to fill. Like, I could explain cryptocurrency to just about anyone so they’d get the gist of it, but I’d have to admit where a couple of holes are. And how NFTs work in the blockchain is still puzzling to me because the blockchain is supposed to be decentralized and I can’t seem to find an answer to where, in a commercial NFT venture such as NBA Top Shot, the ledger exists and how it’s kept. Argh. I’ve also spent time learning about car stereos because I want to work on a few DIY improvements to mine, so that’s probably my next focused effort. My car stereo already sounds good, but I want it to sound gooooooooooooood so the ladies at the bus stops can sing along with my ABBA playlist as I cruise slowly past. Sorry ladies: I’ve got somewhere to be, but I’ll be back to pick you up later!
  4. What’s positive about your physical appearance lately?
    This is a sore spot with me so why did I write this question? Maybe because I need it. I’ve put on a lot of weight this past year and it doesn’t bother me too much except I don’t like what I see and I know it’s unhealthy. I’m having hair issues, too, which stresses me out big-time. My hair, even on its best days, looks ridiculous (I’ve not cut it since 2002), like the midlife crisis everyone knows it is, but I’ve worn it this way because it pleases me. My hair is a kind of outsider identification that makes me feel good, and the one place where people compliment me on it is at metal shows — another outsider affirmation with deep meaning for me. Sooooooooo ugh. I’m not feeling good about my appearance these days. However, among my weird purchases this lockdown year has been a fairly pricey beard trimmer, to replace the small arsenal of cheaper (shorter-lived) devices I get from Ross (the discount clothing store, not my math-teacher friend) every so often, and it’s been a good buy. When I bother to clean myself up, which is usually Saturday or Sunday night, I feel good about the way it looks, and it takes a lot less time and effort with the new gear. I’m also considering a major change to my professional wardrobe which I shan’t detail yet in case I don’t do it, but I’m ready to shift gears with my look, as I did several years ago when I first left the classroom. There will still be plenty of black and dark solids, but I want to put it together differently. Send a different message in the office.
  5. What will you do this weekend to bring joy into your life and a smile to someone else?
    It begins with taking a vacation day today, Friday, to catch up on reading and a few nagging tasks I don’t want to worry about Saturday and Sunday. I’m picking up food for me and my parents for dinner with the folks on Mothers Day, and in case I see my sister, I’m picking up something really nice for a late birthday present. We don’t give each other birthday presents, but I want her to know this year I’ve been thinking of her. If I don’t see her I’ll bring it over to her house, which is something of a trek. And of course: beach time.

Lockdown: Shelf esteem

Most of the week was pretty productive by day and semi-adventurous at night. I was decently productive through most of the week, but I admit it was mostly to check things off the list without actually doing any real writing, and I have a couple of nagging writing projects I really need to get done.

Still, those checkmarks were assignments, and I got them done. People seemed pleased with my work. I also had four meetings and although I’m working on being a better contributor, I think I did okay this week. I’m a harsh critic of my meeting participation because I dislike meetings so much and I want to be better at them, since my aversion is so well-known in the company.

“That guy is so bad in meetings; it’s no wonder he hates them so famously” is a not as good as “That guy’s good in meetings; it’s too bad he hates them so famously.”

I made another Target run, this time for a friend who’s collecting packages of feminine hygiene products for a huge donation to a social agency in my neighborhood, to celebrate her birthday. I think it’s ten packages for every year she’s been alive or something. So I hit Target again and bought something like sixty bucks worth, which doesn’t seem like that much product for the price. No wonder indigent women and girls have difficulty. It makes me angry.

I also hit two neighborhood bars this week. One on Wednesday night and one this evening (it’s late Friday night as I write this). This makes three bars in a week, and I think I’ve just about gotten it out of my system. First, it’s kind of a pricey way to spend an evening. And while the food is great (I chose bars who are known for having good food), bar food is just not very good for you, at least not the stuff I had.

On the other hand, I got a lot of good reading done, which is my main reason for going to bars. With cafes not open late, I just want somewhere quiet to read, somewhere out of the house, in the company of strangers. I’m about 40% of the way through Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library, which I am rather enjoying.

There must be a decent, happy medium. I crammed far too much food into my gaping maw this evening, and that’s on me. I also had two beers when all I really wanted was one. Or one and a half. Maybe if I become a regular at some of these neighborhood spots, I won’t feel as pressured to spend more money at once, because that’s part of it. Nobody wants to be the guy everyone recognizes as the One Who Drinks Water and Just Orders Fries While Reading a Book.

If freaking Zippy’s had a more pleasant bathroom, I would just go there a few nights a week, as I did when I was a bus rider and didn’t have a lot of options, and when I was working on my master’s thesis and just needed somewhere I could work and not be pressured to give up my table.

I need the cafes to get back to normal. My favorite neighborhood boba cafe is usually open until 10:30, but these days it closes at five. Ugh.

I didn’t make anything new in my kitchen this week, or anything really worth sharing. Lazy quesadillas more than once. Lazy burritos a few times. Kimchi and tofu. I realized a few days ago it had been more than a month since I’d had spaghetti, so I made that twice, and too much of it each time. But geeeeeez it made me happy.

I played around with a cream sauce the second time. So it made me even happier but was of course even worse for me. Dang it!

I had cream in my fridge because I’d been jonesing for white Russians. I’ve been trying to use up the liquor in my house before I buy any more alcohol, so I’ve lately had black Russians. Did you know a black Russian made with tequila instead of vodka is called a brave bull? I had no idea until I looked it up to see if I’d somehow invented this. What a silly thought.

There are a few names for a white Russian made with tequila.

Anyway, in case you didn’t catch that, I used up my vodka and now I’m focusing on finishing the tequila and gin.

I didn’t listen to much music, preferring to fill the background with the sounds of baseball. I listened to a lot of ballgames, keeping up with my podcasts the rest of the time. I did spin some playlists when I drove anywhere, but I stayed close to home (except for the trek to Target), so the song count was low.

However, Gojira’s new album Fortitude dropped Friday and I’m loving it on repeat. Mostly it’s slow, plodding, dense, and heavy. I find it blissfully soothing.

I didn’t do a lot of texting this week. JB and I chatted about our parents for a little while the other night. Short exchanges here and there with Cindy, Julie, Crush Girl, Sylvia, Sharon, the writing partner, Penny, and Desi. A few work-related texts.

Neither did I watch anything new, except Nomadland Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s fantastic. I’ll post a short review sometime this weekend. When I had my eyes on a screen, if it wasn’t the news it was going back through highlights from Ted Lasso and Mythic Quest.

My free year of Apple TV+ expires July 6. Ted Lasso season 2 drops July 23. I could pay $5 for an additional month to watch it (tooooooootally worth it!) or $50 for another year. That saves ten bucks off the monthly price, but I need to figure out what kind of usage I’d need to make $50 worth it. Maybe if Apple added one more series for me to love, that would be three good series with limitless replays for $17 bucks each. That might do it.

I’m going to give The Morning Show another try, and I think I’ll finish up Central Park before my trial ends, but I can’t see myself getting very amped for either.

This week, I’ll re-watch Mythic Quest in anticipation of season 2’s drop Friday. Yes. Yes yes yes.

Okay, one last thing. I’ve been a little depressed — not like the waves of darkness that rush in and cover me for a week or more, but like little wavelets of it for a couple of hours here and there, and leave just the burden of their memory until the come in for another round.

It’s all related (I think) to that thing I mentioned some weeks ago, that this lockdown is just about over and while I made decent use of my time in these four walls, I didn’t make good enough use of my time. I have little to show for it, at least to the casual observer, and this matters to me.

My life is still a mess. It is far, far less of a mess (I’m kind of talking literally here) than it was fourteen months ago for sure, and I’m proud of it, but I’m still in a hole. I haven’t caught up enough to be on lvel ground, and that’s what I wanted.

So this week I identified one thing that was stressing me out: my vinyl. I’ve spent quite a bit of money these past few years of vinyl reissues of beloved albums, and I can’t keep the records where I used to keep all my records, for reasons I can’t go into.

So they’re stashed temporarily here and there where I hope they won’t be damaged accidentally by some stupid act of my own idiotic negligence. Yes, I know I just began two consecutive paragraphs with “so” but I usually begin ten consecutive paragraphs with “I,” so it’s an improvement.

In that first run to Target I bought a small two-compartment shelf. Those modular cube-like things, only it’s two of them in one unit. A good size for LPs.

Tuesday night I put the thing together, and THEN (this is huge) I tidied up the area where I wanted to put it. It took some time, and I did slightly more than the least I needed to clean up, and dang it felt good. When I put my stack of books-to-be-read on the bottom shelf and the LPs on the top shelf, and my autographed Ken Stabler football helmet (a gift from my sister) on the top of the unit, it looked great, and the area around the stupid shelf also looks great.

Looking at it even now, five nights later, makes me happy. The way taming the monster last year made me happy. This weekend I’m going to identify the my next small project and then I’m going to do it next week. I think I already have it in mind.

I’ll do the Friday 5 tomorrow. This weekend is about catching up on some personal writing and possibly some sleep. And hopefully some ocean.

Lockdown: Chicken I didn’t Rew

I’m writing this kind of late Monday night, having a late dinner of rice, scrambled eggs, and Vienna sausage. Not healthy and not especially yummy, but quick. And I’ve had one can left for a few months of the case bought a year ago as part of my lockdown survival rations. Also, the eggs pretty much had to be cooked today or they were going in the bin, which is going to the curb before I hit the bed for pickup Tuesday.

The weekend was pretty good, if every so sliiiiiightly unsatisfying.

Friday evening I had a few errands. Dropped some stuff off on campus, in the office space where I used to work, for my coworkers there. Then I hit Target.

I’d last been to this Target in the early pandemic days, but before the official lockdown, and it was kind of scary. The only other trip to a department store this past year was to the Salt Lake Target half an hour before closing, back in early fall. I had to pick up that dorm fridge I’ve been surviving with ever since.

I’ll spare the details, but despite my being nearly a month past my second shot, it was still kind of terrifying. I figure this anxiety will be with me a while, as it’s been soooooo long since I’ve truly mingled with the throng.

I dropped a serious wad of cash, too.

Saturday I got up early but not as early as my Saturday usual, to pick up a late breakfast-slash-lunch but not the usual Saturday breakfast-slash-lunch. Dropped a few things in the mail and went to Rew’s Chicken, this new spot inside the HMart in Kalihi. This is the smaller, more Kalihi-like HMart, the one that’s been around for a few years before they opened that HMart megastore in Kakaako, which I haven’t been to yet because it opened during the lockdown!

My little neighborhood HMart has a house-made kimchi I prefer over the house-made kimchis at the other Korean markets (exception: the kimchi at 88 Mart, near the office, which is pretty close to my Platonic ideal), and I was running low. Good chance to pick up some wings and picked cabbage in one stop.

I actually didn’t OD on wings. Ate my fill and put the rest in a storage contanier for later. Moderation, baby!

Did the usual Saturday things and went back to bed. Took care of a few chores and you know what was next: A sunset walk at Keehi Lagoon with my Kindle. This time I stayed away from where the tent city is so the cops wouldn’t shoo me out, just walked out behind the canoe shelter along the water’s edge and back, then out and back again, then back and forth in the parking lot because it was too dark for roaming around a park by myself.

I’m reading a book about the history of NBA Jam, the arcade video game. It’s called NBA Jam and is part of a series of similar video game books. Unless you have the deep connection to the game (and accompanying fond memories) people like me have, I can’t recommend it. But if there was a time when you knew where all the machines were within half an hour of your house and were intimately familiar with each machine’s quirks, you’ll probably really enjoy it, as I do.

It really was a special game, and now I know why.

I was in the area, so I did my second brave thing of the weekend. I went to a bar in Mapunapuna.

Asked for a Blue Moon, which they didn’t have, so settled on a couple of Coronas, an order of potato skins, a couple of Diet Cokes, and my book. It actually felt safer than Target. I was in one spot; everyone else was in his or her own spot, and if any of us got up to move around, we wore masks. I was so pleased to have time alone in a space like this for the first time in more than a year I dropped a nine dollar tip on a thirty dollar check.

I’ve tipped generously all year even in situation that didn’t traditionally call for it. These people kept showing up for work while I locked myself away except when I couldn’t resist a burrito’s siren song. I’m hoping we’ve all been as grateful.

Sunday I went to the folks’ early, so I could catch the entire Oscars broadcast. More on that in a separate post, maybe later this week.

The only real problem this weekend was my not giving myself enough catchup sleep. I have got to be more disciplined about this or I’m just more of a mess than I usually am.

I finished Mythic Quest and it was excellent. Seriously, go watch it. Season 2 drops the week after next.

I’ll write about my other media consumption and foodventures later this week.