023 // The Reading Ritual

I’m so proud of myself for knocking 5 books off my 2019 reading challenge and I’m powering through the 6th as we speak. Of course, two were already half started, two were graphic novels, and one was the easiest read ever, but still, five books already! I’ve never read so much, so consistently, for so long before. All my other resolutions might be in the toilet but on this one, I have exceeded all my expectations, so far.


Whenever I start a new book, I go through this weird little ritual. I sharpen a new pencil (henceforth be known as my “book pencil”) to take notes in the margins, underline my favorite passages, and to circle names or other items to research later.

I choose a bookmark that “feels right” from my drawer of brightly colored postcards, stickers, scrap paper and tags I’ve saved for this purpose. I get a sticky note out and place it at the “endnotes” or wherever I can stop reading, which is often many, many pages before the last page. Then I do a bit of math.

I calculate how many total pages there in the main text to read (minus those endnotes, or the sample of the author’s next book, or whatever else is tacked on at the end) and divide that by how quickly I’d like to finish the book, usually between 7 and 10 days. The answer is how many pages I plan to read per day. I get another sticky note out to mark this page daily so I can read without thinking about it.

I mark the book as “currently reading” on Goodreads just before I start so that every night when I put the book down I can update the app with my progress. Then and only then can I begin reading and always with the introduction, the preface, the forward, or any notes from the author first before the main text. I do not consider those parts to be “skippable”.

It’s a lot, I know, and I know it’s weird, but sometimes a book is a conversation and like any other between two people you both have to be open and ready to interact, share ideas, and even disagree. This process allows me to establish a strong and immediate connection to every book I pick up. The ritual gives me permission to take every book I read very seriously and facilitates an easier immersion into the author’s world and mind.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

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022 // Separate and Together

The only thing better than a delayed schedule is a snow day. My girlfriend and I spent it on opposite sides of the couch reading and binge-watching stupidity on Netflix. We both took naps at different times of the day and we each had our own bursts of productivity in wholly different ways, one in the morning and the other in the late afternoon.

One of the great perks of being in a relationship is being able to be separate and together at the same time.

It’ll be time to head to be soon, but I’m stalling. It’s going to be exponentially harder to return to work tomorrow than it would have been today, which was already going to be exponentially harder than returning yesterday. So, I’m dragging it out and risking sleep deprivation. This small control is all I have and worth every bit of what I will suffer in the morning.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

021 // Perfect Isn’t Always Good

It was a tough day, as I expected it would be. The venue wasn’t quite right but just right enough that we feel frustrated and as unsure as ever. We had to pep-talk each other again and renew our resolve to keep moving forward. We had to be reminded that what is perfect isn’t always what is good and what is good can be perfect if you let it.


We’re in a blizzard warning from just 10 minutes from now until late morning tomorrow. Nothing is happening but we have a feeling that school will be delayed. Delay days are chaotic and stressful but secretly I like them. On delayed schedule days, nothing that goes wrong is my fault at all. On delayed schedule days, it can all be blamed on the weather, time, and decisions made well above my pay grade.

It’s easier to let go of your frustration when so much is out of your control.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

020 // Decisions and Doubt

Book shopping day! The sun was out, and the air warmed enough to persuade me to get out of the house. I gathered up the gift cards I’ve been hoarding since Christmas and went to my favorite place, the bookstore. I got the two newest volumes of Saga, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, and Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I’m excited to read them all, but more excited for the book shopping I’ll get to do again once I finish these.


I’m nervous about tomorrow.  We’re heading out early to look at a wedding venue. It’s going to be a long drive there, and a long drive back, and in between a long talk and a hard choice. Wedding planning isn’t fun, I’ve learned that.

The money, the time, the endless decisions and doubt. Not about our life together but about what you have to do to begin it. Our future began a long, long time ago and paradoxically the more that time has diminished our need for a wedding the more we feel the need to have it and the grander our day needs to be.

So, tomorrow we may have one step settled but then the other dominos will need to fall into place quickly. It’s all very scary, and hard, but the sooner it’s done the better and I’m sure, once we find our groove and get over enough humps, we’ll find the fun in it.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

019 // Permission to Rest

I got to spend the day on my own doing all the nothing I wanted. Last week I read a post from Eclectic Alli where she mentioned giving herself a much needed whole day of rest per week to help cope with her chronic illness. I was inspired.

So, I finished my book and started another one. I watched a few shows and wrote a few words on this draft and that, and when I was ready I got up, reorganized some cabinets in the kitchen and showered. That was it and that was enough.

I’ve had plenty of lazy days before but this was the first time I didn’t feel guilty about it. This was the first time I gave myself permission and acknowledged the reason. I too have a chronic illness, and chronic pain and chronic fatigue have been kicking my ass lately.

It’s good for my body and for my piece of mind to make room to recuperate regularly. I just wish it was easier to allow.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

018//365

It’s finally here, the weekend, a nice long three-day one too.

No one expected it to snow as much as it did today and we didn’t expect it to melt away this fast either. I normally loathe to be out in the snow, but today I was relieved to see it. It’s been a very dry winter here and what little snow we’ve had has been more like what we see in March or April. I keep thinking it’s climate change and I worry about the heat and the water levels come summer.

We went home for lunch together in the snow, a rare treat. I miss the days when we both had hours and hours off between shifts and we’d have time to nap. I miss most those long hours at home, in the summer.

Everything about us has always been better in the summer. Today, as we got home I felt great mourning for warm nights on restaurant patios drinking white wine and eating oysters together. I realized that in the winter we go out for events, but in the summer we go out for the air and the night alone. I miss the night. I miss the warmth.

I miss us in the summer.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

017//365

It was a bad writing day, but it’s okay. Tomorrow is Friday and this weekend will be three days long and knowing that makes everything a little bit brighter.

I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to this long weekend from work. The days since we’ve been back from Christmas break have been so long and as time slows, the stress grows, or maybe it’s the other way around?

We have an appointment to tour a wedding venue and I plan to catch up on some reading and finish up the drafts I started this week. We might try to find a project to do around the house, or maybe run some long neglected errands but I sincerely hope not.

I don’t want to do anything but settle into my “creativity room” for a few days and force myself focus long enough to finally feel like I’ve gotten somewhere this month.

I’ve just got one more day to go. One last day to do it right, and then plenty of time to make up for failing.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

016//365

I finished The Iliad today. I’ve been reading it for months and as excited as was to get through the tome, I felt right away like something in my life was missing after I finally turned the last page.

It’s like I had made a friend, an interesting and beautiful friend that frustrated me to no end but taught me so much. And now, suddenly, after all we had been through, and just as we had really begun to find our groove and understand one another, that friend has to go away.

We’ve come to the end of our time together though when I am ready I may walk the same path with them again and look and learn again with them if I choose. Sadly, though our time was certainly eye-opening and moving, I know I will not be able to put myself through the great task of loving them again for a long time.

I am grieving for sure, but I’m more anxious than ever to make a new friend of another tale. I had planned to pick up The Alchemist tonight, but I remembered I had 100 or so pages left of Nietzsche’s On the Geneology of Morals. Better to finish it and leave all my reading failures firmly behind.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

015//365

I woke up this morning feeling sure that it was Wednesday and that I had already worked two days this week. I was incredibly disappointed to realize it was only Tuesday when I arrived at my workplace. It sucks to be so far away from the weekend still, but part of me is also happy to have more time to make some progress since yesterday was such a bad writing day.

I’m still struggling to find my writing groove, but it’s getting easier. I’ve started two drafts for Zen and Pi this week, though I’m not sure either fit into my narrower—but somehow still hard to define—niche there. I’m trying not to worry too much about that though. The goal is only to overcome my doubts and unrealistic expectations and learn how to feel good while writing again. For that, all I have to do is write and publish, write and publish, write and publish, again and again.

It’s getting easier but it needs to start getting better if I’m going to get anywhere in 2019.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

014//365

This morning was a rough one. I made a few little mistakes and my anxiety magnified them until I was crushed to tears under the weight of my guilt.

You know, it’s bad enough to obsess and overthink so much of your own life and actions but having anxiety plus a significant other, and friends, and coworkers, and family to obsess and overthink about too is almost too much to bear. It’s bad enough when I let myself down, but it’s god damn catastrophic when I let the people I love and care about down.

Of course, I didn’t really let anyone down. Not the way my mind is convinced I did. I ran a little late in one instance and didn’t pay close enough in another. Both actions are probably long forgiven and forgotten by the people they affected, but I’ll lay awake an extra hour or two tonight thinking of all the ways I can stop myself from ever making such stupid mistakes again.

As if there weren’t a million more ways for me to screw it up again. As if I even needed to try so hard to be perfect.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren