There is no more efficient way to expose your own mundanity than through writing. So be it. Perhaps the mundane has some minor value.”
In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e., capital, is developed, in the same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class, developed—a class of labourers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour increases capital. These labourers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market.
— Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto
As of 7:00 AM this morning 10.5 inches of snow has fallen outside. It’s 10:00 AM now and I know a few more inches have fallen since. I’m grateful for my neighbors snow blower and his generosity. I only have to shovel from my door to the car today. Not that we are going anywhere. With over 500 closing alerts across the city there is nowhere to go even if we wanted to.
Those of us working for the school districts were gifted with an even longer Thanksgiving break. I have nothing planned for the day but there shouldn’t really be plans or expectation on a snow day. They should just be enjoyed, savored.
I’m in our “creativity room” this morning cleaning up and making room for writing and making art again. My desk was covered in notes, books, trash from my backpack, and even a dead plant. It’s about 75% clear now with dedicated spaces for my laptop, my books, and my collage work. I have fresh notepads, new X-Acto blades, and a renewed sense of purpose.
This week will be a short one. I’m scheduled to work just two days with the option for a third. I might take it, I might not. It sounds nice, but the tradeoff is that this week is also the week of Thanksgiving and the unofficial U.S. holiday known as “Black Friday”. When I’m not working, I’ll be stressing over making time for friends and family and making sure I’m doing enough to maintain my sense of self-worth. God, I hate the holidays.
This week I want to:
Practice gratitude. It is the week of Thanksgiving after all and while I don’t particularly like the way that US history has been warped around this holiday; the sentiment is useful. It is good for the heart and the spirit to take stock of all the good we gained and all the people who have helped us gain it. Look around and find contentment for a change in your little happinesses and comforts. There are many who don’t have nearly as much.
Update: Perhaps I should have written a post about it, perhaps I still will, but though I didn’t share I still took time to reflect on everything in my life that is good, even the things that don’t always seem good at first but are the kind of problems and stress that only the privileged have. I have a good life. I’m surrounded by good people. I have a good job. I have a good future ahead of me. I have a lot of good to give others and a so much more good yet to receive.
Write 1000 words a day. I just finished reading Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing and it left me with feeling enthusiastic and focused once again on writing as my true life’s work. Much of the book centered on the concept of simply sitting down and doing the work until the work becomes automatic and you can relax and allow your best ideas and prose to come forth. He advises it will take 1000 to 2000 words a day for several years to get there so it’s best to start as soon as possible.
Update: It was a rough week. Between the holiday, and shopping, visiting family, and all the rest I needed there wasn’t much time left over for more than a couple of blog posts here. I really shouldn’t have tried to do so much the week of Thanksgiving but I didn’t realize just how busy I would be and just how much chronic illness would take out of me. I’m disappointed because I know there won’t be much more opportunity than what I had this week for a long time to come.
Make some art. I didn’t think my little collages and poems really counts as art but my wife has been working hard to convince me otherwise. She enjoys them and she can see i enjoy making them. I’ve heard writers should have hobbies that do not involve working with words, perhaps this can be mine?
Update: The same as writing except perhaps I didn’t try as hard. I’m still working through the feeling that creating art is not considered productive nor a worthwhile way to spend my time. I know those things aren’t true but I don’t feel like those things aren’t true, you know. Whenever I sit down and make something my mind races with the work or the writing I could be doing instead. I’m trying to try harder.
Rest as much as possible. December starts next week, and that means a heavy work schedule, Christmas shopping, time with family and friends, and the start of a new year. It’s going to be busy and this will be the last week I will get to take so much time for myself and with my health declining little by little I think it’s best I take all I can get while I can get it.
Update: I probably needed more but absolutely made sure to sleep when I needed to and to do nothing when doing something felt overwhelming or exhausting. Have you ever noticed that it is harder to rest than it is to work, to clean, to run errands, to work out, to go out, to do anything else at all? Have you noticed how guilty it makes us feel to care for ourselves? It kills me every time to feel so useless, lazy, and weak.
Begin a body weight workout. I’ve been trying for months to start a simple workout routine at home but I never can seem to find the space, or the energy. When I get home, from work, without even thinking, I end up in the living room, on the couch, in front of the T.V. my weights and my goals forgotten in the spare bedroom. This week the weights are getting moved. I’m bringing them into the livingroom where I can see them and be reminded.
Update: Obviously no. I was able to move the weights into the livingroom and I even spoke with my wife about making time to work out together after work. I entertained the idea of waking up just a half hour early and started to really feel good about the idea, but my body will not cooperate and I know that exercise, being a kind of stress, would not be a good idea while I am feeling poorly. Perhaps in a few weeks?
This week I will work on being proactive rather than reactive. The best way to fight anxiety is with a plan, the second best is with action. I won’t let my mind run wild and I certainly won’t put my worries in charge.
P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 47.
There is a nervous excitement all around me today. A snow storm is forecasted to move in tonight and there is a real possibility it will at least be significant if not record-breaking. We hope with each storm for a snow day, but this time, in a week where we’re only scheduled to work for two days anyway, we are daring to allow the certainty of it.
I’ve still got Ray Bradbury in my head telling me to WORK RELAX DON’T THINK. I’m up to the task of writing 1000 words or more a day but I’m not sure what those words should be about or what form they should take? Should I write in a stream of conscious? Should I simply begin in my preferred genre, the essay? Should I start with an idea, a quote, a point in mind? I have the time but too much self-consciousness to begin.
That sounds as sad as Bradbury said it would.
How long has it been since you wrote a story where your real love or your real hatred somehow got onto the paper? When was the last time you dared released a cherished prejudice so it slammed the page like a lightning bolt? What are the best things and the worst things in your life and when are you going to get around to whispering or shouting them?”
— Ray Bradbury
I finished Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury tonight and I’m convinced that it’s the greatest book on writing I have ever read (except perhaps for On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King but that may only be because I read it first).
It has been a long time since I felt so enthusiastic about writing and so willing to try again, to fail, and to have some damned fun with it. I remembered how it felt when I first started to write and how I felt when a few publications accepted my work. It has been a long time since I wanted to feel exactly that again.
I’m picking up The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx next. It’s another short one. I won’t reach my reading goal by far this year but I’d like to be well of halfway there come December 31st. I’ll probably read Ethics by Baruch Spinoza. It’s less than 200 pages long.
Hello and happy Sunday! Thanks for stopping by for a bit of conversation and catching up over a cup of delicious coffee.
I’m feeling a bit fatigued this morning but I’m fighting it tooth and nail. I have too much to do to let a little chronic illness get in my way. The house is a mess. My resume still isn’t finished. The laundry is piled up. I have meals to prep, dinners to plan, pets who need attention and later, if there is time enough left, I’d like to do something for myself before the workweek begins. There may not be enough coffee in the house to get me through but there might be time for a nap in the middle of it all if I can keep moving now while I have the energy.
So, please, pull up a chair and grab a cup. I’m still in love with my French press though I’m starting to feel guilty for neglecting the Moka pot. I have a fresh bag of blond grounds and a fresh carton of sweet almond milk too though I am starting to miss the silkier texture and the firmer foam that comes from soy milk.
Let’s talk about last week!
“Black as the devil, hot as hell, pure as an angel, sweet as love.”
― Charles Maurice de Talleyrand
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that last week felt like a particularly long one. Between the weather, the added workload, and the raw anticipation of a Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving break, December, Christmas, and the New Year is making the time before and in between drag.
Most of the week was warm enough but around midday Wednesday things started to turn. A frigid wind blew bringing rain that froze overnight into heavy snow and icy roads by Thursday morning. I had checked the weather the day before and expected the storm to blow out of the city early in the morning but unbeknownst to me, the forecast had changed. We saw snow through the rest of the morning and the early afternoon.
Cold weather makes for hard days when you work in a transportation centered industry. It makes for even longer days when you are transporting the world’s most precious resource, children. The district opted to delay the start of school though none of us who have to venture out in the elements understand exactly how this is supposed to help. To us, it just adds chaos and confusion.
I continue to take on more responsibility and to stress myself out, for now, because I’m looking at the possibility of promotion. Before the year is over, I expect things to calm down. They have too because I am wearing myself out. I’m feeling worse, physically, but it’s not so bad that I can’t function, but I know from experience that things move downhill very slowly and then all at once I’m in pain, too sick to work, and sliding into depression. I’m emailing the doctor today so we can hopefully start doing some tests and get this thing under control before I’m too bad off.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you even though this week was a busy one I was able to plenty of reading time during lunch hours and in between work tasks. Last Thursday I wrote that I’d “finished Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky on Sunday, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller this morning, started Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury, and made slow progress through Moral Letters to Lucilius: Volume 1 by Seneca nearly every day.”
I will probably finish Zen in the Art of Writing tonight or tomorrow and next, I have The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and then Walden and Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau, maybe. Since finishing The Song of Achilles I’ve wanted to read more fiction, maybe more from Madeline Miller too?
My next goal is to get back to writing my old “what I learned from..” book reviews. I like sharing the things I like and I like documenting and tracking my tastes and what I gained from what and from who. This blog, after all, is supposed to be a sort of second brain, and friend, a place to think and to bounce thoughts, ideas, and feelings off of. I already started a few drafts, but the starting has never been my problem, finishing is where the challenge lies.
Other than reading there wasn’t a lot I accomplished. In the evenings when I came home from work I had only enough energy to cook meals, clean, and care for the pets before I started
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that Thanksgiving is fast approaching and I still have no idea how I am spending the holiday. I feel like no one has the energy for it this year. I know I don’t. I’ll ask around this week and see if any of my family is planning on cooking and would like me to stop by, but if not it’s okay. I quite like spending holidays just my wife and I. I’ve already floated the idea of a seafood feast rather than turkey and the usual sides.
I’ve got to get my black Friday shopping itinerary in order too. I want to get my Christmas shopping early and there are a few things I’m hoping to snag for myself and our home too. A new thermostat, a phone upgrade, a new Roku perhaps so I can watch Apple TV+. There are an overwhelming number of craft markets popping up over the next few weeks and Target’s gift sections are already beginning to look picked over and bare. I have to get going on this soon!
Yesterday my wife and I decided that getting new tattoos together sounds like a nice couple’s Christmas gift for one another. For the past few years, we’ve only been getting little things here and there and we both agree it’s time to start something big. She’s considering a back piece and I might get my knees done finally, or maybe my thighs, or my stomach, or, or, or…It’s hard to choose so this week I’m going to start settling on some ideas.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that next week should be an easy one. I’m only working for three days, maybe only two depending on how much snow next Tuesday’s storm drops on us. I have some things scheduled but nothing major and knowing my boss and my coworkers it’ll be fun. The mood always lightens before a break.
The week after that will be hard though. I’m scheduled to teach another class of new employees and we have no idea yet how many there are going to be. I’ve been told anywhere from 4 to 20. That’s quite a spread. I’m looking forward to the overtime but not to the lost hours I normally give to reading and writing time.
I’ve been learning lately that not everyone can balance work and personal pursuits every day. Some days are going to be spent doing what has to be done and then there will be whole days where you get do whatever you want instead. I’m working on remembering this when I get stressed, frustrated or feel burnt out. I’m working on recognizing when my time is mine again and learning to spend it doing what will make me feel better in the long run and not what will feel good right now. I’ll really need to focus through the rest of the year if I want to begin 2020 with the right mindset.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the sun and the chilly air coming in through the west windows is only reminding me of how close tomorrow is and how much more I still have to do. It reminds me of just how tired I am too. If I want to get anything done and then get any rest, I guess I had better get going.
I hope you had a good week. I hope that you had plenty of time for yourself and you can rest easy today knowing you’ve accomplished what you set out to do. If you didn’t or if you can’t I hope you know every day is a new chance to try again.
Until next time.
Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up.