Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Hives - Main Offender


Reflections on Another Trip Around the Sun



I turned 56 on February 11th.  I'm still sure how I feel about it.  I am trying to remain positive with such thoughts as, well, it's better than the alternative, or, that I am older now than my older brother, Marvin, was when he passed away.  I know, that's kind of morbid. When he died 15 years ago, I wasn't only sad that he died (of course) but a little shocked that I had outlived him.  From the age of around 17 until I was around 40, I didn't really take care of myself.  Self-destructive habits.  I smoked around 2-3 packs of cigarettes a day, drank to excess.  Drugs were too expensive or otherwise unattainable, so I had that going for me.

After my brother was diagnosed with cancer, I endeavored to make a turnaround.  I quit smoking, for starters, although I wasn't really able to do that until my first wife decided to call it quits.  Suddenly, all the stress in my life seemed to disappear.  I have been cigarette free, with only one relapse only about a month into quitting, for fifteen years. Now I can't tolerate even being around second hand smoke.  

This isn't an anti-smoking rant.  

It's not a rant at all.  It's just a reflection, something that needed to get out.  

I am not the same person I was 15 years ago.  I'm not sure I would even recognize him.  He was bitter, cynical, self-loathing, and as I said, self-destructive.  Life was spiraling out of control. It was around that time I moved back to Madison from Milwaukee.  I moved here because I definitely needed a change in scenery.  Part of the reason of moving here was to help an old friend out of a difficult housemate situation.  What she may not realize was that is was her that helped me by being a catalyst for change.

It was a good decision albeit a rocky start.  I was still trying to get my head on straight and my finances in order (which was difficult).  June of 2004 was the beginning of a new life, as dramatic as that sounds.  And then in November, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, everything changed dramatically.

I met the love of my life, Valerie.  Fourteen years later, we are still together, barely spending a day apart.  I say to her all the time I would be lost without her.  I'm pretty sure that's not hyperbole.

(as they say, to be continued...)

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Deconstructing Hermit Time - A Pie Chart


At the behest of my friend Edmund, I have decided to write a hermit time manifesto.  Who knows how long it will take me? I foresee a work in progress that will be written without deadline and at my leisure. I will post progress (or lack thereof) on this blog.  I won't say I will serialize because hermit time is all about the stream of conscious ramblings and and an ever changing path.  

Why is hermit time important?  Well, I am not only trying to be a full time sustainable artist.  During last summer I did 12 art fairs in Wisconsin and Northern Illinois.  I also work a 40 hour a week job that I really don't like. It is like what I imagine working 2 full time jobs. Hermit time, the time I have to myself (or alone with Valerie) is the glue that keeps me from unraveling.

I know people who say they don't like being alone.  I sympathize.  Maybe it's not for everyone.  Some people thrive in crowds.  Crowds terrify me.  I thrive when I am alone with my thoughts, making art, reading, and yes, goofing off.  Hermit time, which for me is Friday night to Sunday night, makes Monday slightly more tolerable.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Kindle vs. Books - An Ongoing Internal Debate



When the Amazon Kindle first appeared on the market, Valerie and I both bought one.  The idea of being able to carry around a device that held numerous books at once was appealing.  This was before we even had Wi-Fi in the apartment.  We would buy the books and then go to the Perkins restaurant down the road to download while having coffee and pie.  Amazon offered hundreds of books that were in the public domain for no or little cost.  I have had a Kindle for at least five years now and probably have over 400 books on it.

The appeal is now wearing thin.  I re-discovered how much I like holding a book, a real book.  It also occurred to me that I wasn't retaining what I read on the Kindle as well as I do when I read a print book.

And there is this article by Naomi S Baron of the Washington Post.  It confirmed what I suspected about e-readers such as Kindle and Nook. I wasn't imagining things. As an example, I read the complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, all four novels and 56 short stories.  I don't remember as much as I feel I should.  They are all going back on my reading list.  In print.  And maybe I won't try to read them all at once.

There are authors, obscure or otherwise, that are nearly impossible to find in print second-hand.  H.P. Lovecraft comes to mind.  Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan and other series, also. When I worked at a used book store, they never came in, and when they did, they didn't stay very long.  Their works are available on digitally, now.

E-Readers do have advantages.  Say you see an article you want to read online but don't want to print it?  There are several browser extensions, like Send to Kindle, that can re-format to article and send it to your reader.  Once it's read, then you delete it.  

So, although I am not giving up my Kindle, I will probably refrain from adding any more digital books to my library, free or not. While there is something to be said to buying a book and having it instantly available (we do have Wi-Fi now) I still enjoy holding a book.  I have also become a big fan of Thriftbooks.  Their books are very affordable.  There are also several used book portals if you, like me, like to spend time as a hermit.

And despite what Marie Kondo says, it's not hoarding if it's books...