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

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