Status Update

Hello, all. I’ve just finished reading Don Quixote, and I have to say, damn, that was a long book. I started reading it after watching some of The Expanse (I’ve since finished watching it), and in the time it has taken me to finish the book, I’ve also started and finished The Witcher. All of these have been entertaining ways to pass the time. For Don Quixote, I have to say that it was less entertaining (and much longer-winded) than I’d hoped, but it did have a number of laugh-out-loud moments, mostly from the prolonged, hyperbolic frivolity of the story. I will say one thing for it, too: if my memory were worth anything, I’d have substantially improved my vocabulary. Words like “equanimity” and “moulder” I  particularly enjoyed, among dozens of others that I wish I could remember. The Witcher also taught me “sennight”, for which I hope to find employment soon.

And damn, but the poetry. I’ve been thinking and dreaming in iambic what-have-you (tetrameter, pentameter, and so forth). It will be nice not to be dreaming that way anymore.

So, that’s been the extent of my literary pursuits of late. In other news, I am meeting with an architect on Tuesday to begin drafting plans for the house. I’ve decided upon building a small house on one end of the garage, with the barn and big house on the other end. If all goes well, I hope to begin construction by the beginning of March, which should put move-in sometime around September, give or take. Now I need to hear back from the bank regarding its willingness to loan me the money for a small house, but assuming that goes well (which I very much hope it does—so many of my plans for getting out of this camper have been thwarted throughout my residency here that I worry that this is yet another dead-end), 2020 may finally see the terminus of my tenure here and the turning of an exciting new chapter.

Work-wise, work sucks, but that is nothing new. My hope is that once I have moved into the new place, I will finally be able to seek more meaningful employment. Until then, I’m finding myself forced to reduce the number of hours I work from the expected 45 to something less—even as few as 30—as project timing allows. On one hand, the variability in pay could not have come at a worse time as I stand once more on the precipice of freeing myself from this self-imposed prison, but on the other, working through New Year’s and generally despising the work I have to do have left me feeling dispassionate and, dare I say, indolent. The latter frustrates me; while I know I have never had the level of work ethic my parents possess, I hate to think that I’m getting complacent and blithe (minus the cheer) about what I do. More on that in a bit.

In other—but related—news, I found myself pulled over twice on Thursday last, both for speed-related offenses. While I am grateful that neither resulted in a ticket—as the second officer said, “today’s your lucky day”—this has served as a form of wake-up call to me, though I’m not sure what the call demands of me. The obvious answer is “slow down”, but of course, the speeding is merely a symptom of a deeper-seated root cause. Again, the obvious answer is, “I hate driving”, which has been true nearly since the day I started. Yet there are those who can do it blithely (yes, I like that word), just as there are those who can go to work blithely and still make a good living, though what they do isn’t particularly meaningful or productive. I can’t help but wonder whether there is something to that, whether there is a way to achieve if not satisfaction, then at least not dissatisfaction in doing a task that is at once mindless and yet requiring of attention—like driving or my day job.

I haven’t been a fan of new-year’s resolutions in general. I find that the impetus for achieving them drops off with the inverse of the days since the new year while the nagging irritation of having not achieved it lingers, cajoling without inciting, much like dull low-back pain: it hurts and distracts but does not urge one to immediately seek its correction. All of that said, I wonder if there is something to trying to live more blithely, to know that there are certain aspects of the day that are—and always will be—boring and requiring of attention, yet not feeling downcast, depressed, or indolent about them. I have to confess, the idea is foreign to me: how can I be cheerful about something that is boring other than by ignoring it? Yet how can I ignore something that requires my attention? A mere distraction here is not sufficient; the distraction robs me of the attentiveness required to perform the task, and even more so with work than with driving, the task will not perform itself. Maybe the difference is in attitude, and while in the past I’ve believed that the amount of satisfaction in a job and the willingness to perform it are inextricably linked, maybe there’s a way to completely (or mostly) ignore job satisfaction, think about something else when contemplating my energy level, and blindly pushing forward without a care in the world. I have always hated that expression, “it all pays the same” since it clearly fails to account for job satisfaction, fails to consider that if someone does a task he enjoys and gets paid for it, then there is a demonstrable—though hard to quantify—premium paid to that person than if that same person performs a task he hates and gets paid the same salary. But, I wonder if the statement is less of a statement of fact and more of an ideal to strive for: maybe it’s not as blind a statement as it seems that says what it says at face value, but rather, it urges someone to ignore the emotional aspect of a task and to focus only on those things that can be easily quantified, specifically, salary. They say that Buddhist monks and others who devote themselves to meditation and a life of austerity truly can be if not happy, then at least content in their endeavors. If that’s the case, then shouldn’t I be able to find some form of contentment if not beatitude in driving or in my day job? Certainly Don Quixote had a harder life—eating very little, sleeping less, and at most times beset by the elements—and if he—mad as he was—could find it in himself to endure without complaining, then why can’t I? So, maybe not as a resolution—since I’m not sure how long this curiosity or desire for a less-frustrated life will last—but as a point of curiosity (for science!), I will practice actively seeking contentment in situations that have heretofore made me impatient, bored, and indolent.

Writing-wise, I have done very little; I have my one ongoing commission, and that’s about it for now. Parts of me want to start writing my novel, but if I’m being honest, I don’t have the motivation to sit down and plan it out properly, let alone start fleshing it out. Mostly, my nights are filled with reading or watching something (though, having completed the aforementioned book and series, I might actually have time to pursue other things), redesigning the house, or eating. My gosh, I have been eating a lot. It’s as if my appetite is tied to my boredom. I feel my clothes getting tighter, yet I seem powerless to stop myself from eating, even when I’m uncomfortably full. I need to get this house done, and soon: even if it doesn’t curb the appetite, the ability to work out should hopefully at least let me start putting those extra calories to better use. It’s all self-control, and as getting pulled over twice in the same day, eating when I’m full, and failing to go to bed when I’m tired have all demonstrated, I’m running low on it. 2020, you must needs be the year of the house; my health—physical and mental—depends on it.

As something of a post-scriptum (despite my seldom if ever signing these things)—or perhaps more accurately stated as “an afterthought”, one thing I will say about Don Quixote is that I thought of a former friend many times while reading it. The way Don Quixote presents himself, how he is quick to anger and quick to cool, and even his coherence in most matters but utter madness in others reminded me very much of this person. While I don’t think it excuses the actions that led to our going separate ways, it does help to understand them a bit better. I’m curious whether said former friend has read the novel and if so, what his thoughts would be, whether he sees as much of himself in Don Quixote as I do or whether he fails to see the similarity at all.

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