Resolution: Regain and Retain Attention

~ Lifebook #19 ~

Like many, I consume a lot of media. Be it social media, websites, research, daily & weekly podcasts, television, music, books and comic books — altogether it’s too much. Something’s got to give because I need my own damn attention back. I need my focus. I need to make a change, like pronto. Of course it won’t be books and certainly not music that I eliminate. However, I’ve already cut back on my weekly/monthly comic book/graphic novel reading. Over the recent years my television consumption has increased quite a bit because we are in a new golden age of television after all (although I’m still under the national average, at only 2-3 hours per day). Yet, still it’s too much. I could probably cut back on a few podcasts, but really those lovely things get me through my workday while I do very repetitive and monotonous work at the Day Job. That means the obvious place to make a drastic change in consumption (read: time suckage) is in social media and, well, the Internet in general. And what perfect time to make that behavioral adjustment than the New Year? Getting the damn phone out of my hand more and replacing that physical activity with even more books and more writing. It is precious time that could be better spend writing, say, daily microfiction like 100-word drabbles and 50-word dribbles, or jotting down the half-dozen story ideas that percolate through my brain daily. These are activities that I wish I could simply do on my phone with ease, instead of scrolling Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — however, the soft keyboards on smartphones are very aggravating interfaces for writing.

But I digress. The point is, WE ALL need to regain and retain our attention so that we may focus on more creative and productive things in our daily lives. In short . . . we need to PUT DOWN THE DAMNED PHONES!

One way of looking at it is: anything that is great . . . anything that is worth a damn hardly ever comes easy.

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Early last year I presented this article by Craig ModĀ (via Backchannel and Wired) as a guest blog where he writes about his determination to snatch back his attention. It’s worth a read.

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2018: What Will Be, Will Be

~ Lifebook #18 ~

So I exited 2017/entered 2018 in a rather foul mood and before turning in for the evening (which was not long after midnight because apparently I’m an old man), I wrote this rather sour New Year’s Resolution.


Usually I go into a New Year with a positive outlook and attitude. I go in with a plan and mindset to do new things, better things and simply be better at everyday life.

Well, this year I’m not doing that. For 2018 I’m going into it with a negative attitude for once. I’m embracing a certain realistic cynicism where usually there’s an idealistic optimism. In its place is a fatalistic realism?

I’m done trying to make things be what they should be — or what I believe they should be. I’m done trying to make things right that don’t want to be right.

The one exception might be my heath. I’ll do what I can (as a diabetic) to make that better, I suppose.

But everything else?

What will be, will be.

Or something like that.


I did mention that I was in a foul mood when I wrote that, right?

Sour notes aside, still, what will be, will be.

What will not be, won’t be.

P.S.: I did wake up in a much better mood and with a better attitude on this fine first day of the new year . . .

In Full Swing in Spring (it seems)

~ Lifebook #17 ~

Spring always brings turbulent weather and this year’s season of renewal has been no exception. A monsoon season in both April and May? C’mon, now, that’s going a bit overboard. May is usually my favorite month of the year because of a few reasons, such as it being a period of time (usually) beyond extreme weather, a time of moderate temperatures (usually), the flowers are in full bloom and the NBA Playoffs areĀ happening. It’s arguable that May, along with October, is the most beautiful month of the year. I do like beautiful things.

This Spring brings things that seem to represent my getting back into the swing of things. To wit:

  • Started a new job recently, effectively returning me to the mortgage business. The new position comes with my highest salary yet. That’s kind of the idea as you progress through your working life, whether transitioningĀ to a new industry or remaining in the same one. It’s rare that your cost of living decreases over time in this society, so continued growth in earnings is just what the accountant ordered. Now . . . if I could just get used to working 8-to-5, meaning having to go to bed no later than 1 AM . . .

  • Recently rekindled my burgeoning creativeĀ partnership with my old writer friend Jennifer Macaire. We’ve been kicking around the idea of co-writing a book or small series of books (likely a trilogy) the past two years and that’s still the plan. After presenting her with an idea for a different approach to a collaborative novel experiment, she has tasked me with the initial conception of our project, which, funnily, was the opposite of what I wanted to do. But I’m glad she did because I got started on it (tentative codename: Project Seven) right away that Friday and have conceived what I think could be a very interesting YA urban fantasy series. The brainstorming sessions I had last weekend also got my creative juices finally flowing on an older idea (codename: Project Arcana)Ā that I’ve kicked around in my noggin probably since Moses reportedly parted the Red Sea. So it’s good to be back in a creative and productive state of mind and I can’t thank Jennifer “Sneezy J” Macaire enough for indulging and inspiring me to get the ball rolling.

  • The band has been about as active this year so far as we were in all of 2016. Ā A month or so ago we put the finishing touches on our initial 5-song EP (although we still need to mix it, master it and release it). There are rumblings of finally returning to the stage by this summer, but as I’ve learned in the 2.5 years of this band’s existence, I need to curb my expectations, if not my goals for it altogether. We’ve only played one show (in January 2016) and written eight songs in all that time. Yes, we are men in our 40s, all four of us married, three of us with kids and jobs, soĀ naturally a band at this point in our lives is going to be a part-time venture. One would be foolish to think that what we did in our youth and 20-something years as musicians could ever be replicated now. The dedication of time, hell, the availability of time for guys not far from middle-age just isn’t there. It can’t be. And that’s a hard, inconvenient truth I had to come to grips with in 2016. For now I’m happy to ride the wave as it comes (and goes).

 

In Lieu of Flowers on Valentine’s Day

~ Lifebook #16 ~

Some guys go for the flowers and chocolates. Me, I get my wife, who is an avid reader, books on the major holidays. The reasons are obvious, but also because they last longer than candy and flowers. Healthier too. The permanence of books can represent the longevity and permanence of a relationship. Remember that, fellas. And you’re welcome šŸ™‚

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P.S. Of course you later follow it up with a nice dinner out and some fun and games at Dave and Busters šŸ˜‰

I Nearly Died a Year Ago Today

~ Lifebook #15 ~

Well, not quite (however, June 1st, 2013 was a different story), but, let’s just say I was lucky to survive this event relatively unscathed a year ago today.

So I was involved in a car wreck on my way home around 6:30 PM on February 2nd, 2016. The 2014 Kia Forte EX sedan I’d been riving at the timeĀ was rear-ended by an elderly fella who seemed a bit out of it (onset of dementia, I suspect). I was at a stop light, perhaps 4 cars back when BAM! My world was jolted, jostled, rattled, rocked ā€“ whatever synonym you want to use. I was unharmed, miraculously, I suppose because he obviously wasnā€™t going too fast, but unfortunately/fortunately the rear of the car took the brunt of the impact and the collisionĀ forced my car into the SUV ahead of me, hardly even damaging it, yet crunching the frontend of my car pretty good. Long ordeal short, my car wound up being totaled (the estimator got up to $10k in damage and knew another $5k was likely and thus I got a call fromĀ anĀ adjuster and was happy toā€™ve had GAP insurance as well).

Here’s a look at that smashed backend.

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However,Ā this unfortunate event eventually lead to the acquisition of the car I drive now, the black 2016 Honda Civic EX sedan on the right. Third new black car in a row. I wanted dark gray but they could not find me one with dark interior.

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I often complain about my having bad luck (it’s probably not as bad as I’d like to think), but this is a situation where bad luck had a direct through-line to good luck. Not the stuff you can quite capture in a bottle or duplicate, but I am grateful for the random occurrences when they arrive.

 

Lifebook 14 | Goodbye, Grandma

My maternal grandma, my last living biological grandparent, is gone. She died yesterday, January 12, 2017, in her sleep. It was a good life at nearly 95 years, despite all the hurdles she’d faced pretty much her entire life. Now she can rest in peaces, forever without worry.

Lifebook 13 | 2016 X-Mas Gifts

A few notable X-Mas gifts I receivedĀ this year.


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Drink coasters, presumably for my office/study/man cave! I have three desks in my house so I’ve got at least one on each.


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This hefty, heavy coffee table tome documents the making-of, while also commemorating the 30th anniversary of Master of Puppets, one of the most influential musical masterpieces by Metallica, which is one of the most influential and favorite bands of mine. Over 250 pages of rare photos, exclusively-written content and great testimonies of the legendary tour. Naturally also serves as a memento of late bassist Cliff Burton as this was his last recording.


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One of the best reviewed and most successful videogames of the year. I’m a crime fiction fiend, so it should be great fun. My plan is to dive into it on New Year’s Day.


I absolutely must get my remaining kids at home, ages 16.11 and 11.9, into the greatness of Star Wars. They’re highly resistant to things, despite my pass success rate of exposing them to things they like. As great as they are, Episodes IV – VI are ancient in their eyes, and as for the dreaded prequels, I refuse to fully acknowledge them, nor would I subject them to my children. I think the perfect gateway is The Force Awakens, given that it is contemporary at just a year old, and also features a female lead. Wish me luck on this arduous task.


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One of two Marvel Studios films I’ve yet to see (the other being The Incredible Hulk). The plan is not only to see all the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but also to own them all. I have a few more to add to my shelf. Aside from the Hulk, the only other one I missed seeing in the theater was Thor: The Dark World, and I think my viewing experience suffered from not having seen it on the big screen. I hope that’s not the case for Ant-Man, as I’ve been told by a few friends thatĀ it’s one of the favorites of the bunch.


Yes, it should be evident by now that I am a big, geeky kid!

I hope you all had a safe, warm, tasty, satisfying, fun and family-and-friends-filled holiday season.

Best,

-BLRĀ image_for_christmas_gift_clip_art