Four Whole Weeks!

I’m sorry. This will be the last of this kind of post. I promise.

But, hey, it’s been 4 weeks where I’ve written something Monday through Friday. There are more posts this month than I’d written its entire run before it. That’s awkward phrasing, but I’m having a hard time coming up with a better version, so it’ll stick for now.

It ain’t a lot of words, usually just around 300 or so average, but it’s sort of seeped into my routine that around 7ish I need to sit down and write something. Even when I can hear that little guy on my shoulder saying “naw, man, you don’t have anything to write about tonight. Why don’t you just skip it? No one will know or even care,” I still click on the little WordPress tab in my browser and then on the icon to make a new post. And I get to writing…something.

Granted, a lot of what I’ve written has been fluff: stupid musing on why I can’t write or whatever. But it is something. One thing I’ve been thinking about is trying to do something a little more creative. Lately I’ve been reading a book called The City of Roses Season One: Autumn into Winter. Bit of a convoluted title, but it comes from the fact that the book is a collection of serialized episodes by Kip Manley. The episodes are usually released on his blog City of Roses. He’s just started posting Season Two. The story is sort of urban magical realism fantasy and the city of Portland just permeates the story and characters. It was a big surprise to me that I liked it in that that genre is not really my thing, but I really clicked with the story and the author’s writing style.

Now, I’m not suggesting something as ambitious as a serialized novel, but maybe some snippets from short stories I’m working on or little vignettes or perhaps my Muse will even decide that some poetry is in order. I might skimp on the word count requirement for that last one. :)

Looking forward to the next month!

The Winter Pits

Winter is slow around here. It snows a bit during the winters on Sado, and once the snow’s on the ground there really isn’t very much farming you can do. In the past I occupied myself with building a guestroom, creating designs for packages, and freelance construction work. This year, though, I haven’t had much of anything to do. This is not good for a few reasons:

First, I don’t get any money if I’m not working. Duh. I’ve saved up for the winter so I can skimp on things and make it through, but with my return to the US quickly getting closer I should probably have more saved for tickets and sending stuff home and other moving expenses. Oh, and maybe to have some breathing room once I get back. *sigh* I hate money.

Second, when I don’t work I tend to just…collapse is the only way I can describe it. I don’t eat much. I don’t move much. I don’t do much. I get depressed, and then that makes everything worse. This winter’s bout of depression hasn’t been as bad as in the past (I still get depressed even when working, but work helps keep my mind from dwelling to hard on it), which is odd. It might be because of the move (new adventures and all that). But the depression just facilitates the collapse. I am worthless, so why do anything? You’re only going to fail. Just sit here or lay there. Don’t get up to eat, you’re not hungry. Don’t write anything because it will suck. You get the idea.

Third, once I collapse, it’s really hard to pull myself up. Like, when I finally have some work to do I resent it for some stupid reason. Like I was being productive when not working (I wasn’t). And even though the work makes me feel better physically and mentally. It’s so weird.

I need goals. This blog has been a nice surprise as far as actually doing something each day (as little as it is), but I need more. I think I’ll do that now. Write down some small things to accomplish tomorrow. Maybe make it a thing like the blog; once I finish the day’s entry, I should jot down a couple things to get done the following day. I like that.

Wood Burning Stove

Last week I helped put in a wood burning stove into our kitchen. Turned out pretty nice, I think:

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As small as it is, it does a pretty good job of heating up the room that it’s in, though I am an awful fire-starter. The Prodigy would be very disappointed in me.

The pipe running from the stove to the outside runs up through the ceiling and into the attic area just above the kitchen, and then out the side of the house. Right now the attic area above the kitchen is just open under the roof. There are boards down so you can walk around on parts of it, but most of it is just the upside of the ceiling from the first floor. Japanese houses are odd in that there is significant space (about 30ish centimeters) between floors with nothing there. No insulation or anything. This tends to make them drafty and really bad at holding in the heat in the winter time or creating a hotbox in the summer time. This area above the kitchen is kind of wasted, in that if you closed it off the pipe would do a great job of heating that area along with the kitchen.

If I ever get around to owning my own house when I get back to the States (pure fantasy, I know), having a wood burning stove is going to be a priority. I’ve been intrigued by the recent trend of “small houses” and would love to make one of those centered around a stove, with the 1st floor heated by the stove itself and the 2nd floor by the pipe leading outside.

 

I Wish I Was More Musical

Trying out the Windows App for WordPress. So far I’m a little wary because there isn’t a Spellcheck. This isn’t a huge deal, cause I think I’m not that bad a spelling, but there are a few words that I tend to use that I can never remember how to spell and I rely on the the little red squigglies under the word to alert me to the mistake. Anyway, on to the topic of the evening…

When I was in the 6th grade I played the violin. 6th grade being the first grade of junior high school, students are given the opportunity to join the band or orchestra of the school. I wasn’t feeling the trumpet or saxaphone in the band, and I was told that I couldn’t play the flute because I have a dip in my lip, which I think the teachers told me to save me from the ridicule I’d face since the flute was a girls insturment (I know that’s gender-role bullshit now, but at the time…). My best friend joined the orchestra and played the stand-up bass and I thought that’d be pretty cool and fun, but when I asked the number of bass players had filled. How about the violin? OK, I said. I lasted about 6 weeks. My “friends” (not my best friend, mind, but the “friends” that lived close to me and thus rode the schoolbus home with me) made fun of me for playing the insturment and I was a weak-willed child and gave into the pressure and quit. This is a mistake I still regret today.

There’s something in music, when I hear a good song or a good guitarist or a good whatever, and the music just…gets into my bones and resonates throughout my body. I have no outlet and the energy just swirls and creates this vortex within me that eventually dissipates or disolves or…just disappears after a bit. It’s this energy within and I have no idea what to do with it. I have no vocabulary for it, no way to express what it does to me. I feel like it’s this huge waste of energy or something, that if I’d stuck with the violin way back when maybe I’d have found a way to deal with this buildup of energy.

Carry Around a Notebook, They Say

Arrrgh! I had it. It was an interesting topic. I had a couple of ideas on where I could go with it. I had today’s writing in the bag! And then I was distracted by something. Maybe it was the water boiling for my morning coffee. Maybe it was one of the cats jumping up on the counter, sniffing around my yogurt, that needed to be shoo-ed away. Or, was it the laundry that needed to be put in the washer and started? I can’t remember. But whatever it was, it set off a series of events that eventually lead to the point in the day where I remembered that I had a good idea, but I can’t remember what that idea was.

I do this a lot. Everyone does, I think, but I feel like I do it more than most. And because I feel like I do it more than most, I often follow the advice given to folks like me to carry a notebook around and write down these fleeting ideas. I follow this advice so much that I have a lot of notebooks scattered throughout my life with the first couple of pages filled with writing, the rest empty. There’s one on my desk in front of me. It’s got a whole lot of pages. They’re mostly blank. The pages that do have something on them are filled with numbers (I’ve forgot what for) or passwords I needed to jot down and then change or “things to do” lists (with only one or two of the things checked off). There’s one in my car. I know for a fact that it only has one page written on, but I can’t tell you what it is off the top of my head. I bought that one a month ago. I used to have one next to my bed. Don’t know where it disappeared to.

It’s good advice, keeping a notebook. Wish I could follow it.

Slave To My Electronic Devices

On most days that you might ask me about it, I’d be a bit cranky about the modern habit to self diagnose with newfangled disorders and diseases. My argument usually goes along the lines of by buying into the fad of, for a recent example, of gluten free nonsense you are diminishing the problems faced by people who actually have Celiac Disease. Whether this is right or wrong, I don’t know. But it’s curmudgeonly and pretty much the way I see things.

On other days I tend to think it’s a good thing that folks can come to a better understanding of how they’re functioning as a human and possibly try to fix things about themselves. Like if you suspect you might have ADD and can go to a doctor and they agree and work with you on overcoming that through drug therapy or therapy therapy or whatever, then that’s a pretty great thing.

The other day I read an article titled “Hi, I’m a Digital Junkie and I Suffer From Infomania.” The title alone triggered the former response in me. Infomania? Seriously? Infomania? Get outta here! However, as I read the article I began to get that feeling that someone has been secretly observing my life and decided to write an article on it. There were parts of it that were very much me:

“I want to read all these articles about everything from the latest scientifically engineered sugar substitute to an in-depth analysis of Donald Trump’s hair,” she said. “It’s like a different flavor of FOMO.… It’s fear of missing out, but missing out on content — and on knowledge. With limited time and mental resources, there’s no way to get through it all.”

 

We know our attention span is limited, but even if our phone doesn’t buzz with a text, we self-interrupt. We check email one more time. We look at our Twitter or Instagram feed. We don’t resist clicking on that link. It could be funny! Or contain life-changing information! Or at least provide conversation material for that holiday party tonight! We are inadvertently training our minds to seek digital interaction with little deeper intellectual payoff.

This is me. I browse the same web pages over and over thinking that there’s some new information there even though I know there isn’t. But even if there was, what does it matter. None of this affects me. It doesn’t alter my life or my behavior. It’s just a waste of time with no payoff. And I know this. I know this. Yet I keep doing it. Infomania.

Which brings me to my phone. I complained the other day about my phone’s battery going kaputskies. Well, yesterday it did just that. Wouldn’t charge and was draining fast at 10% power. So, I decided to take it into the Docomo shop and see if they could fix it. Turns out it was still under warranty so they are replacing it with a new phone. Same version, but beggars can’t be choosers, and the phone, when it was new, wasn’t all bad. Since they’re sending me a new one, they gave me a loaner for the time I have to wait until it arrives at the shop. The loaner is a bigger version of the phone I had, but I haven’t registered it with my Google account so, even though I can make phone calls and browse the net with it, it’s not personalized and I don’t have a lot of the social media apps that feed my Infomania.

At first, when my old phone was dead, I felt…what’s a word…naked? I felt out of touch. Something like that. Like I can’t check Twitter on a whim! Or what if I want to know the name of that weird movie I saw on HBO way back in the day? Or any other number of stupid “too much information” based fears. But that fear, as stupid as it was, and I knew it was stupid…I know it’s stupid…ended up going away quickly. And even though I can load up this loaner phone with all the apps to do Twitter and chat and whatever, I am choosing not to. And I’m wondering if when I get my new old phone if I should load them up on that.

I probably will. But maybe this time I’ll try to take it easy with the Infomania. Heh. It’s still a stupid word.

WW2 Documentaries and Annoucement

I’ve made this joke elsewhere, but I figure I can recycle it here: I think I inherited from my father the inability to turn down watching a World War II documentary. Seriously, tell me it’s about WW2 and I’m gonna watch it. I’m not even that in to the history. That’s my father’s domain. I’m more into ancient history. But show me that black and white footage, and I can’t say no. The most current culprit is The War. It’s interesting with this one that there is a good focus on some of the hypocrisy in regards to race that was part of the US at the time (and still is), that is the segregation of black soldiers or the internment of Japanese United States citizens.

Oh, yeah, so that podcast I said I was on last week? Well, they released the episode. You can listen to it here, the podcast is called You’re Not From Around Here. I think it turned out alright. It’s still very weird hearing my voice. One of the hosts and I did a little dry run of the questions a few days earlier, and he sent me the audio file and my voice sounded even weirder on that file. Maybe they did a little autotuning or something to make me not sound so weird. :)

It was an interesting experience. I feel that maybe I didn’t really convey what a nice place Sado is. I am truly sad that I’m going to be leaving this coming summer.