Giving Myself a Break

I’ve spent some time this morning fretting over the fact that I have not been very productive in my writing so far this year. My blog stats are down. I haven’t worked on the book much at all. I didn’t have a blog post idea for this morning. Rather than let the fretting continue, I instead decided to look at what I have done and will do this week. While I have not been productive when it comes to writing I have:

  • been more active online which is important in getting your work out there when you do write
  • cleaned the bathrooms
  • taken down the outdoor Christmas lights
  • cooked dinner most nights
  • taken out the trash
  • done a load of laundry
  • organized my sock drawer, throwing away ones with giant holes in them
  • spent quality time with my daughter
  • taken multiple walks
  • exercised more

This week I may not be productive writing but I know I will:

  • pick up holds at the library
  • stop by the grocery store while I’m out to pick up some essentials
  • maybe also buy a lottery ticket while I’m out
  • go to my therapy session online
  • deliver some belated Christmas gifts to porches
  • virtually attend the funeral of a friend’s mom
  • do more laundry
  • go for more walks
  • clean the kitchen
  • vacuum the house
  • spend more time with my daughter

So, even if I don’t get much writing done, it’s not like I’m sitting around doing nothing. I need to give myself a break. Next week, when my daughter is back at her apartment and my wife is home I can get into a more regular routine.

What’s Good in Tater Town 1/10/20

It’s been an eventful week in the news. It’s been a very uneventful week in Tater Town. Let’s look at the good.

  1. The Ravens won Sunday and are in the playoffs.
  2. Monday would have been the day I went back to work after the holidays, but I was home instead.
  3. The weather has been nice enough for me to take several walks.
  4. I finished my first book of the year. It was a 600 page zombie novel.
  5. My reading will likely go faster now.
  6. My daughter is still home for another week.
  7. Kentucky basketball is on a three game win streak.
  8. Free sandwich at Mission BBQ.
  9. Free coffee at Dunkin.
  10. Six NFL games to watch this weekend,

That’s all I’ve got this week. Next week I hope to be more productive with writing and work around the house. That can all change if there is another breaking news event.

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A Couple of Weeks in Books, Movies, and TV 1/8/20

The last two Fridays were Christmas and New Year’s Day so I didn’t do my regular weekly recaps. Let’s see if I can think of anything worth reporting over the last three weeks.

Movies – I watched American Pickle on HBO Max. It stars Seth Rogen as an immigrant worker in a pickle factory in New York who falls in a pickle vat and preserved for 100 years and then wakes up in modern day New York. Seth Rogen also plays his last remaining descendent. I expected it to just be about him trying to adjust to modern life, but it was not that at all. I really liked it, but I am a fan of Rogen and of Simon Rich who wrote the screenplay and the story on which it was based. We watched the new Wonder Woman movie. I liked it more than most people have reported, but I did feel like the ending was lacking something. Wonder Woman is still the best of the DC franchises. My son watched a lot of Marvel movies while he was with us so I saw pieces of Ragnorak, Ant Man, Spiderman, Infinity War and End Game. We did our annual watch of Miracle on 34th Street.

TV – Generally, regular TV viewing is replaced by random movies when the kids are home and this time was not different. I don’t recall a lot of TV shows we watched between the holidays. This past week, though, has brought us back to TV. We finished the latest streaming season of The Next Step. My daughter and I watched an old season of the Amazing Race. We are watching the final Alex Trbek episodes of Jeopardy. We tried the new TV show Call Me Kat. It was not good. I watched the premiere of Last Man Standing. They started mid pandemic but then flashed forward 2 years so the rest of the season is post pandemic. We watched the first episode of The Chase last night. It is a quiz show where contestants face off against one of the three Jeopardy GOATs. We love all three of them, so we loved the show. I like seeing the two chasers not playing commenting on the game. We will definitely watch more.

Books – I read three books over the last three weeks and fed one to the dustbunnies:

A Time for Mercy by John Grisham – This is the third book in the Jake Brigance series. In this one he is appointed to defend a teen who killed a police officer who was abusing his mom. It is about the case, but also about the fallout for Jake in regards to him defending the person who killed a popular police officer. Grisham is always good and that is the case here as well.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon – A YA romance. Dimple has just graduated from high school and is going to Stanford. Her mom is more focused on finding her a husband. Her parents have payed for her to go to a summer program for aspiring web developers. Rishi is very traditional and has given up on drawing comics to go to MIT. He is very traditional and wants his parents to arrange his marriage. He is going to the program because his parents have arranged for him to marry Rishi. One problem – no one told Rishi. This is my second book I’ve read by Menon and I’ve loved both. I have a third in the TBR pile.

If it Bleeds by Stephen King – four new novellas including a new Holly Gibney story. King has been my favorite author since I was a kid and now I get his new book every year for Christmas. Reading the new King book is a great way to end the year.

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline – This is the one I fed to the dustbunnies. I started it. Put it down and read another book. Tried again. got a good distance in and it was still just a ramble of 80’s references and set up with no real story. I gave up for good.

On Deck – We are watching another old Survivor season. This time it is Pearl Islands. When my wife returns we will have two episodes of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. I love that show. I have some DVDs at the library, but I’m not sure if we will watch any movies this week. I am reading The Living Dead by George Romero and Daniel Kraus.

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Watching the Attack on the Capitol

I’m glad I decided early on yesterday that I was going to get nothing done. I expected to read my book while keeping an eye on the certification vote. As is standard thee days, instead of reading my book I was scrolling through Twitter. As CNN was still on the speeches Twitter was reporting that a couple of buildings in DC had been evacuated. Then I saw a reporter tweet that people had breached the Capitol grounds and were trying to get in the building. It took a few minutes for CNN to switch coverage from the speeches to the events outside. Soon after it was reported that the hearing was paused. I watched stunned as the rioters broke into the Capitol building. I was seeing pictures from inside of guns drawn. I saw the woman who was shot being taken out on a stretcher. I couldn’t believe this was happening, but in some ways I guess I wasn’t shocked at all. We’ve had four years of a president who encouraged the worst behavior from his supporters. They threatened violence on the streets if he lost. I expect this is not the end. I expect more riots and violence in the days to come. I expect disruptions at the inauguration. I will not be shocked if someone attempts to assassinate Biden. Thats where we are as a country.

On Facebook I called it what it was – an attack on our country. I said the military needed to be called in to drag the rioters out in shackles. It is appalling that these people were allowed to wander around the Capitol doing what they wanted. It is appalling that there is video of them walking calmly out while a police officer holds the door open for them. No one should have let the building not in cuffs. Every single person who entered the building should be in jail and they should be in jail for a long time. An attack on our country should not be met with politeness. The president who incited this should be removed from office and indicted for treason. Allowing something like this to happen with no repercussions is damaging to our country and our elections.

This was not a protest. This was a riot. This was an attack on democracy. It should be treated as such.

I noticed today that a friend from high school unfriended me on Facebook after my post. I’m actually surprised it was only one. I saw before I was unfriended that she was going to unfriend anyone who called out this but was too silent on the Black Lives Matters protests. I’m not sad at all that she is gone the same as I’m not sad at people who unfriended me because I’m not “religious enough” for them.

I am who I am. Take it or leave it.

My Predictive Text Resolutions

I don’t generally make resolutions. When I do I never keep them. It seems pointless. Yesterday, though, a friend shared a thing where she used predictive text to make resolutions. I like the predictive text stuff. I once did an entire post here using it. I did mine and,as another friend pointed out, they are actually good resolutions for me. I decided to expand on them here.

Be Sure That I Would Love It

Eventually in 2021 I will probably have to rejoin the working world. I’m coming off 25 years of being focused on what fits my family schedule, what pays well, advancement, etc. instead of being happy. My leaving was about me and my mental health. I don’t want to fall into that again. I can explore my options and spend time making sure wherever I land is somewhere that will not be detrimental to my mental health. I don’t know that I will love any job, but I should at least like it.

Be a Nice Person

I think everyone should work on this one. I feel like I do a pretty good job most of the time. People who know me in real life can let me know if I’m wrong.

Be a Little Late

This is a good one for me. I’m not just on time for everything, I’m generally early. I still think it is important to be on time for most things. Work, school, church. Things like that. I need to relax when going places with no real start time. I’m the person who, if we say we are heading out on a road trip at certain time, gets annoyed if everyone is not ready at that time. I know it’s not a hard deadline but I still expect everyone to stick to it. I drive fast and get annoyed with delays when I’m going to random places with no time issues. I’m like the Alabama song

“I’m in a hurry to get things done. I rush and rush until life’s no fun. All I really got to do is live and die. I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.”

Alabama

Why am I in a hurry? Especially now. I’ve got no place to be. I need to relax and live life to the fullest and not rush through it.

Be There at Five

I’m not sure where I’m supposed to be at five, but given the one above, let’s make it five-ish.

Be a Little Bit Better

I can do this. A little bit better is easy. Baby steps.

So, there you have it. My official 2021 resolutions brought to me by predictive text.

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The Proposal Story

I follow a lot of reporters for the Washington Post on Twitter. One of them is Lisa Bonos who writes about dating and being single in the DC area. The articles don’t apply to me but Lisa did a program for me at the library so I always look at her posts. Not too long ago there was a lot of talk about Pete Buttigieg and his airport proposal. There was the question: Are airports romantic? All of that made me think of when I proposed to my wife in a very unromantic place – a parking lot. How did we get there? Keep reading to find out.

The idea of me proposing was not a surprise. We had been dating for a while. We had talked about marriage. We had looked at rings together. We already knew who we wanted as a wedding photographer(a mutual friend from college). All that remained was the actual purchase of the ring and the proposal.

I went back to the jewelry store and bought the ring she liked. I waited and thought about the perfect time and place for the proposal. I’m not good at stuff like that, so I decided on a night and decided we would go out for dinner and I would propose there. I told her to pick any place she wanted for dinner. I forgot that she would not pick any place fancy. I was hoping at least for a place that would not be a terrible choice for a romantic event like a marriage proposal. She decided she wanted to go to a new pizza place that has just opened. It wasn’t optimal, but I held out hope that it would be a romantic enough atmosphere for toe proposal.

It wasn’t It was very bright. The tables were very close together. It was way too casual for a proposal. I spent the dinner trying to decide what to do. Do I go ahead and propose there regardless of the atmosphere? Do I wait for another night and a better place? Can the plan be salvaged? I ultimately decided against proposing in the restaurant. It was loud. It was bright. People were sitting way too close. It was not optimal.

As we left the restaurant I decided that I still wanted to propose that night. I’m not sure why. It’s not like I was going to lose my nerve. We had already basically decided we were getting married at some point. So, since I decided tonight was the night, before we got to the car I said(not sure of this is the exact wording, but close)

“I really wish you had chosen a different place for dinner because now I’m going to have to propose to you in a pizza place parking lot”

She overlooked the very unromantic location(and all of my flaws) and said yes. And here we are – married for almost 29 years.

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Day One of a New Life

As regular readers know, I left my job recently. I had been with the same organization for 25 years. I had been at my current location for a little over 4 years. I was unhappy with my situation before the pandemic and it was much worse after. After months of talking about it my wife finally agreed it was time for me to get myself out of a bad situation. My last day was December 12.

I had already decided that my first week out of the job was going to be a week to relax and refresh. I planned to do little more than read and watch TV. My kids also both came home the Monday after my last day. The week was a mix of reading and watching TV with my kids. I had planned to be off work December 23-January 3 when I was still working. I didn’t really need to worry for a bit about what my new life would be like.

Now, it is that day. January 4. The day I would have returned to work. The day I start to ease back into some sort of routine. The day when I no longer feel I can justify not getting some writing done every day. At the very least a blog post. Hopefully, some work on writing about my life in jail. I do have some excuse for not going fully into a new routine. My daughter is still home for a bit so once she is awake I will spend time with her. My wife is in Kentucky with her mom and will be there until at least next week sometime. I won’t really know what my new normal looks like until my daughter is back at school and my wife is back home.

It will be hard to establish a routine until then. I need to work to make sure I am not completely lazy during this time. It would be too easy for me to relocate from the bed to the couch every day and spend my days doing nothing. Even if I don’t accomplish much writing I need to accomplish something each day. Some sort of cleaning. A load of laundry. Exercise.

It’s the first day of my new life, but it will be another two weeks or so before I really know what this new life looks like.

What’s Good in Tater Town 1/3/21

2021. Hopefully a year of hope and an eventual return to something resembling normal. I’m back from a holiday hiatus. Let’s find the good.

  1. Both of my kids were with me for 2.5 weeks.
  2. My daughter is still home for at least another week.
  3. We had a good family holiday.
  4. I got my usual Stephen King book for Christmas and enjoyed having time to read it.
  5. My surprise gift this year was Bluetooth earbuds. I’ve been warning those.
  6. I’m now three weeks removed from my toxic work environment.
  7. I was always planning to be off from the 23rd through today so I’ve felt no pressure to be productive at home,
  8. My niece, the nurse, has received her Covid vaccine.
  9. Kentucky football and basketball won yesterday.
  10. Kentucky kid Dontaie Allen was the star for the Kentucky basketball team.
  11. My wife is able to be in Kentucky to spend some time with her mom.

I’m sure there are more from the past couple of weeks, but I will end it there. Tomorrow starts my official new life.

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My Year in Reading 2020

I finished one final book yesterday to get my total to 71 books for the year. Those 71 books added up to 24,304 pages. That is 13 books and 4700 pages less than last year. While many people have said they read a lot more this year, I struggled to focus on a book during the height of the pandemic. The combo pack of a toxic work environment(via phone during lockdown) and worry about the pandemic made it very hard for me to get to where I needed to be to read a book. I was also down in 2019. Maybe 2021 is the year I get back to my normal level of reading. I’m making no promises. Now. let’s get to the books.

Top ten books in no particular order

  • Shakespeare for Squirrels by Christopher Moore – One of the good/bad things for 2020. I got a new book by Chris but my plans to see him in March were done in by the pandemic. This is his latest Pocket book, this time his take on A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.
  • Redshirts by John Scalzi – I finally got to this one. If you watch Star Trek, you know what the fate of a redshirt is. What happens when they figure out what is happening?
  • Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse – the start of a great series. A Native fantasy series written by a Native author.
  • American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins – This one had controversy, but if you just look at the book alone, it is very good. The story of a woman and her child fleeing her former friend and leader of a drug cartel.
  • Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke – When a black lawyer and a local white woman are murdered, black Texas Ranger Darren Mathews is called in to solve the case before racial tensions erupt.
  • The City We Became by NK Jemisin – Every city has a soul. New York has five of them. Five strangers, who are the embodiment of the five boroughs of the city must come together to fight an ancient evil.
  • Long Bright River by Liz Moore – The story of two sisters: Mickey, a Philadelphia cop and Kacey, a drug addict who lives on the streets. Kacey goes missing at the same time women on the streets are being murdered. It bounces from past to present to tell the story of how they got here.
  • The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead – Based on the real story of a reform school that operated for 111 years and warped the lives of thousands of children.
  • If It Bleeds by Stephen King – four new novellas, including a new adventure for Holly Gibney. My favorite was the first one, Mr Harrigan’s Phone.
  • The Poppy War by RF Kuang – the start of a fantasy series. It start with a poor, peasant girl making it into an elite military school and ends with the beginning of the war.

Honorable Mention

  • From Twinkle With Love by Sandhya Menon – I discovered at one point that a good YA romance is what I needed to break my reading slump. This was that book.
  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins – I enjoy a good villain origin story
  • The Third Twin by CJ Omololu – twins Lexi and Ava made up a third sister when they were kids. As teens they sometimes go on dates as Alicia. When one of the guys Alicia goes out with ends up dead, the evidence points to one suspect -Alicia. but she doesn’t exist…or does she?
  • The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly – Mickey Haller is back, but this time he is the client after he is framed for the murder of a former client. His brother, Harry Bosch joins the team trying to prove his innocence.

Book I would most recommend

The City We Became by NK Jemisin. It is an interesting premise and the only book that compelled me to read during the height of the pandemic.

Worst book I finished

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera – probably not fair to put this here as I was not the target audience, but when scanning the list it is the one that jumps out at me.

Book I Dustbunnied

I’m going to put two here since I officially gave up on one right before midnight last night. That one was Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline. I was 80 pages in and it was still just a combo of the main character being obsessed with the online world and a new quest and random 80’s references. It is a mess. I also did not finish Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, another book that took too long to get to the point.

It was harder to do the list this year. So many books suffered from my mental state this year. Here’s hoping for a better reading year in 2021.

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