Odds and Ends #1 (Things That Don’t Deserve Their Own Blog Posts But Are Worth Writing About )

Hey. How’s it going? Are you having a decent January so far? 

Today I want to spend a little time visiting some topics I’ve been thinking about lately. I don’t think I could write entire blog posts around these topics. Well, of course I could. But I don’t want to. So I’m going to fold them all into this blog post. And then maybe next month I’ll do another one of these. It should be fun!

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Here we go. 

Diet and Exercise (Are Things I’m Not Into Lately and I’m Starting to Go Crazy) 

Dammit. I haven’t exercised since before Thanksgiving. It’s been nearly two months already. The absence of exercise is manifesting in a number of shitty ways: 

  • I’m gaining weight while losing energy 
  • My mood is a little less happy and optimistic 
  • Sleep sucks 
  • My clothes aren’t fitting as well as they did before the onslaught of the holidays 
  • My body feels tired and worn down 
  • There’s an unattractive Andy Rooney-esque quality to my writing, as you will no doubt notice as you continue reading this piece 

I also have been eating like an asshole. I mean, it’s settled down considerably since the holidays, but lots of stuff I don’t normally eat has found its way into my expanding belly lately. 

I have changed my diet considerably since arriving in New Mexico back in 2011. That’s when I started exercising again, too, after letting myself go for the better part of the aughts. Every once in a while I can’t help myself from eating and loafing like a Wisconsinite (yeah, yeah; I know — “not all Wisconsinites” and all that). But I always get back on track. It means a lot to me. So even though I kind of feel like shit these days from my eating and inactivity, I know I’ll be all right. 

Trying to create a middle-class music career at age 42 will require me to be strong and healthy. So that’s what I’m going to do. But not today. Maybe this weekend. We’ll see. 

This Show Called Patriot on Amazon Prime 

This is a deeply flawed show. But it’s also inventive, pleasantly quirky and full of interesting observations about the human condition and the problems associated with solving problems. I don’t watch as much TV as I used to, which is something I wrote a little bit about here. But I like to have one or two shows on the active roster for those times when I’m up late in the living room and am looking for a little inspiration for my songs or if I just want to separate myself from thinking about work or whatever. So basically every single night. 

Anyway, I was looking for a new show and I ran across this article by Claire McNear on The Ringer. I was intrigued enough to check it out around the same time I stopped exercising and eating properly last year. I can’t say I loved the show, but I could not stop watching or thinking about it. It has many notable characteristics that I found appealing: 

  • It is the only TV show I can think of that takes place primarily in Milwaukee and Luxembourg 
  • Terry O’Quinn (John Locke from LOST) is one of the show’s stars 
  • The main character, John Tavner (played by New Zealand actor Michael Dorman) is a fascinating dude; he’s a melancholy secret CIA operative who is also a talented singer/songwriter. His depression, which is portrayed really convincingly, is salved by his songs, most of which describe in exacting, literal detail his often dangerous, soul-crushing missions. 
  • The show’s writers are clearly full of ideas and completely unafraid to stuff every one of them into their scripts, sometimes to the show’s detriment. But I admire the swinging for the fences. 
  • It depicts what is probably the the longest continuous game of rock-paper-scissors (or rochambeau, if you prefer) ever committed to film or video 
  • There’s a character named “Jack Birdbath” 

I could go on and on. 

Like I said, Patriot is not without its flaws. It relegates many of its non white-male characters to the margins. It tries to depict violence in humorous ways, which I admire, but it doesn’t always succeed, and that leads to cringeworthy results sometimes. And then there’s the whole “everything-and-the-kitchen-sink” ethos the writers abide by, which makes the show confusing and unfocused occasionally. 

But I think it’s a show worth watching. Especially if you’re into stuff like Coen Brothers films and quirky stories of international intrigue. The second season finale, in particular, is a great example of what television can do as an art form. Funny, poignant and haunting.

There are two seasons available to watch on Amazon Prime. The first season has ten episodes. The second season has eight. Check it out if you wanna. 

I Have This Whole System for Library Books 

I consider myself pretty well read. But I don’t own a lot of books. I prefer using the public library. 

I’ve gotten into the practice of putting books I want to read on hold at the library instead of keeping a list of them. This works out pretty well when I’m reading consistently. But it gets tricky when I’m not. 

I’ll pick up my books on the last possible day after they’ve become available for me from the hold list. I renew them for the maximum amount of time. I return them on the last possible day. And then I put them on hold again, which buys me some time. So I usually have anywhere from 10-25 library books taking up space in my house. 

Some of these books I have to prioritize, usually because they are new, popular titles that other readers have put on hold. So I try to read those first. But a lot of times I just keep checking them out, returning them, putting them on hold and then checking them out again. And so on. The latest books to be subject to this cycle are My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh and Falling Upward by my fellow Burqueño Richard Rohr. 

Thankfully, I have gotten back on the reading horse this year. I feel a lot smarter when I’ve got a book or two going, so I’m going to try to maintain the practice here in 2019. Most recently I finished Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind, which was pretty good. I actually kept that one longer than I had a right to so I could complete it. I apologize to the person who was next on the hold list. I may write another blog post about that book, specifically, as well as some of my thoughts about psychedelics at a later date. Stay tuned. 

The next book on the list for me is Shankar Vedantam’s The Hidden Brain. It’s due in three days and I have renewed it the maximum number of times. 

On a related note, you know what’s cool? Libraries don’t charge overdue fees anymore. Or at least my library doesn’t. This whole enterprise would collapse if that weren’t the case. #Gratitude. 

I’ve Been Listening to a Fair Amount of Psytrance 

Yeah, I’ve been listening to a lot of it. Mostly while working. I don’t know shit about the music or the artists who perform it; I’ve just been putting on Spotify playlists like this one and this one and hitting the “Shuffle Play” button. It’s music made for people who are experiencing altered states of consciousness, so I’d say that makes it perfect for me when I’m sitting in the office trying to write about scoliosis or leadership development or whatever I’m working on that day for my clients. Good times. I wonder how the influence of this music will emerge in my own creative pursuits. 

Disenchantment? 

Lately Annie and I have been thinking and talking more frequently about what it would be like to leave the Land of Enchantment. Obviously, this is one of the least enchanting times of year to be here, but still. I’m just getting a little itchy, wondering if other geographic locations might be better suited to our current and future endeavors. For better and for worse, there is nowhere in the world like New Mexico. 

I don’t want it to seem like I don’t like where I live, though. It’s just kind of complicated. Here are three compliments for my current location: 

  1. The climate is ideal 
  2. I love New Mexican food
  3. We have mountains, forests, desert landscapes and a river near our home, in addition to numerous open spaces that are available for recreation and enjoyment 

We’ll see how things go with this one. 

That Fuckin’ Guy 

You know the one I’m talking about. I practice compassion for all beings, but sweet Jesus, this guy makes it tough. Ram Dass, whom I admire greatly, keeps a photograph of this guy on his altar, which challenges him to truly practice love and compassion for everyone. I don’t think I’m there quite yet. So my practice continues. 

I’ll keep noticing my thoughts and emotions without judgment. The negative thoughts and emotions are certainly appropriate. But I can’t let them define me, and I have to be sure not to base my belief system and values on opposition to other human beings, disgusting, vulgar, cruel and ignorant as they may be. 

So yeah. I’m one of those snowflake libtards you hear about. How does that make you feel? 

Geez, see what this guy has done? I’m a silly person. Whimsical. I like to talk about music and trippy stuff and basketball. But now I’m all worked up with a furrowed brow and an upset stomach. So I’m going to keep on meditating, practicing gratitude and doing what I can in my own small way to steer the culture to a place where people value ignorance and fear a whole lot less. Then we can all joke around, goof off, make fun music and chill out together. Stuff like that. 

Vertical Video 

Until human eyes evolve to become vertically oriented, I am strongly against it. But I’m also trying to be more forgiving of people for recording video vertically. I mean, that’s the way we hold our phones all the time and stuff, so it kind of makes sense, I guess. I don’t want to be defined by my resistance to it, either. That’s not a cool way to be. So I’ll keep finding the spot in my body that vertical video seems to injure and then I’ll breathe into that spot, making room for the discomfort. And I will realize that the discomfort was never actually caused by the vertical video; it was caused by my reaction to the vertical video. This is how I deal with things that upset me now. 

But seriously, folks, let’s try to remember the orientation of human eyes and the horizontally oriented plane of human eyesight when we record video, okay? Thanks! 

Red Pants 

I’ve got this pair of red pants now. I happen to be wearing them as I write this. I bought them while I was visiting San Francisco last month. They were on clearance at Macy’s for, like, eight dollars. And they’re good pants. Levi’s. 

I think a lot about how my fashion choices don’t actually reflect the person I am on the inside. I want to change that. These red pants may be the key to cracking the code of my boring-ass wardrobe. I still think I need a cool hat, though. I’ll keep working on it. 

Breakfast 

Every morning I make the same breakfast for Annie and me. And it’s amazing. It’s hard to imagine getting sick of it, it’s so good. 

Basically, it’s a bowl of bacon, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale and fried eggs. Every once in a while regular potatoes make it in there, too. It’s seasoned with salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Sometimes there’s garlic salt and-or that awesome “everything but the bagel” seasoning you can buy at Trader Joe’s. We top our bowls off with some Valentina hot sauce. Delicious! I call it the Mattito. Lately we’ve been eating it with buttered toast, but that’s a decadent outlier of a treat for us. 

I used to not like savory, “traditional” breakfast foods like bacon, eggs, sausage and stuff like that. I was all about the sweet stuff. Breakfast was granola bars and Ovaltine for a while. Then I got into oatmeal with raisins and bananas. For most of my life I didn’t even like bacon. Hated eggs. It’s amazing how much my diet has changed. 

Which brings me full circle. Diet and exercise. We’re going to make dinner soon. Something healthy and compliant with the strictures of the Whole Life Challenge, which begins again in a few days. So that’s going to feel good, especially after eating frozen mini tacos and pizzas last night. I walked to the library today, as well. Two miles. So things are starting to turn around. Maybe I’ll go for a run this week. And then maybe I’ll join the gym next week. Stuff like that. 

I will keep you posted. 

Care to Comment? 

What’s on your mind lately? What do you like to have for breakfast? Any cool TV shows you’ve been watching? Anything else? 

Leave me a comment or hit me up on social media. I’d love to hear from you!

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