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

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.

Did I mention that we won a painting from the Octopus Initiative this month? The program is awesome. The way it works is you log into their website every month and select which paintings you like. If you win, you get to take the piece home and keep it for up to 10 months.

Today we went to pick it up, and I did my best to enjoy being out of the house. I’ve been spending too many weekends cooped up and though I’d love to go on being cooped up I have a feeling it’s not the healthiest way to spend my winter. The weekends are my best chance to see the sun and remember there is more than work, and sleep, and darkness.

It doesn’t feel very much like a Friday. Getting up was very hard this morning. So hard I almost opted to spend the day in bed. I’ve decided I get one day a month to do nothing when I should be doing something but November’s mental health day has already passed.

So, I went in, and then worked much more than I wanted to. We moved around office furniture and I ate lunch at a desk. At least we ordered out and at least I got to eat with the best coworkers around. And now I’ve been left to work alone. I sound like I hate it but I’m flattered by the opportunity to play boss.

Looking back on the day I’m grateful for a job where I can get up and move, where I get to be with my friends and laugh, where I have a team and where I know I’m wanted and doing well. I don’t think most people have that.

I’m trying.

It has been a good week for reading. I 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.

It feels good to spend so much time with books again, but I’m also disappointed and perplexed in my inability to keep up the habit given how much I enjoy it. Why am I like this? People are weird and I guess I am no exception.

I didn’t have a good night last night, but it did end on a happy, productive, and loving note. I slept well, woke up on time, and even made it into work early. I’m feeling better both physically and emotionally today than I did yesterday.

I feel more awake, aware, and, dare I say it, happy? It could be because I slept better or maybe it’s because I am finally about to finish reading Notes from Underground, The Double and Other Stories by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. This book has plagued me for months! I have never hated and loved a book at the same as much as I do this one. I’m exhausted! Just 18 more pages to go…


And I finished it! and just in time too. A coworker remembered I had asked months ago to borrow Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein and brought it to work this afternoon. It’s a nice change from Russian existential fiction and I fully intend to finish and move on to the next book within a week.

My hopes for achieving my 2019 reading goals are pretty low, but I thought I’d try reading a few shorter books and see how far I can get that way for a while. I set about searching Project Gutenberg this evening for free versions of titles in the Little Black Classics Box Set.

It’s cheating, I know, but a book is a book and I fully intend to purchase the set for aesthetic purposes, anyway. What’s important is that I am reading again, enthusiastically!

Today is the end of one kind year and the beginning of another. A year with seasons like any other. A year with cold month, hard months, months of growth, and warm months of sun and green too. A new year with my love begins and no matter what it brings we will weather it, always.

I wish there could be more celebration but there was already so much last month and there will be so much more in a couple of months. Still, this day means everything and I can’t let it end without saying so. This day, 17 years ago, was the beginning of my real life and today I celebrate that most of all. It’s been such a lovely life. A life other’s might only dream of and one for which I am infinitely grateful.

The weekend took its sweet time getting here but at least it had the decency to end on a better note than it began. I may have worked my ass off and I may have exhausted myself and stressed myself out but I got paid for it all and though I mourn the loss of my free time and I’m looking forward to that paycheck!

I’m grateful. The work isn’t hard physically and here I have respect and a lot of leeway is given to me to do things when and as I please. Most people don’t have this luxury and the truth is if I really wanted to I could take a lot more time off than I do. The truth is, though the year is starting out hard and I am exhausted and stressed part of me still enjoys helping out, doing my best work, and getting to be a part of a team.

The problem is that another part of me—a rather large part—would rather not.

Today my workload is looking lighter than usual so I’m taking some time for myself and tackling a long list of small things that feel more like procrastination than productivity on a normal day but nonetheless need to get done.

I recently discovered Google Tasks and fell instantly in love so I’m migrating my Todoist lists over and now I have my mail, calendars, and to-do lists all in one place. While I am there, I’m filling out my editorial calendar, then creating drafts for my upcoming posts, and getting links together for the return of my “Weekend Reads” lists.

For the last two days, over lunch, I’ve been working on the first essay of my upcoming “Essay a Week” project. I’m following these steps but instead of writing 3,000 words in one day I’m spreading the work out over the course of one week. I’ve got my topic and most of my outline complete and I’ve even worked on step four in advance and have tons of quotes too. Tomorrow I’ll flesh out the intro and perhaps get a few random paragraphs I have already written in my head onto the screen.

For the late afternoon and evening, my goals are just to finish a few chores around the house and then read a big chunk of Notes from Underground. I am so close—and so ready!—to finally be done with this very boring but, I admit, very important book and to move on to something that feels more like an escape than a lean into the dreadful realities of human existence.

133 // An Audiobook Experiment

Today was a good reading day. I finally made it through The Double by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, but I still have to make it through Notes from Underground and the “Other Stories“.

I purchased and began my very first audiobook today as well, Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin. My sisters and my mom all “read” by audiobook and have been trying for a long time to convince me of the method’s virtues, but I know myself and my comprehension cliff dives whenever I am listening to rather than reading words. Hell, I can’t even read well from a screen! Old fashioned ink on paper is the only way for me, I guess.

But! Times are changing and I’m watching the stats of other readers climb to numbers that I know I just cannot attain through traditional means. Plus, Google offered me $5 toward a purchase so I thought, why not give it a try? Perhaps practice is all I need.

I’m enjoying how quickly I can move through “reading” by simply listening, but my habit of reading with a pencil has become another hindrance as well. With audio, I cannot mark the margins, insert my opinion, underline, or argue with the author! I cannot move through a book smoothly without being able to get my thoughts out along the way.

So, I’ve already decided that when I finish I will simply have to buy a physical copy and read it again.


These entries are inspired by Thord D. Hedengren