The majority of this week has been spent with an old coworker and his family in Fayetteville, AR, just hanging out. It’s the last leg of my vacation before I head back to Lenoir. As such, here’s a quick list of some stuff I’ve done:
- Ate a bunch of tasty food. Fayetteville has totally respectable Thai and Vietnamese, an excellent grilled cheese shop, and not one but two good frozen custard/concrete shops. Yum.
- Played a lot of Diablo III with said coworker via couch co-op on the PS4. It’s good, mindless fun.
- …not a whole lot of anything else. A bit of puzzling, a bit of reading, even a game of Concordia, but for the most part it’s been a nice, quiet, low-key visit. Which I’ve very much enjoyed.
As mentioned before, I plan on being back in Lenoir early next week, and hope to resume a more regular posting schedule then. See you soon!
(P.S. Still not bored.)
Just a quick note that I made it to Arkansas safe and sound yesterday and am enjoying myself quite a bit in the company of old friends and new acquaintances. Other than the obligatory Friday post, I likely won’t be resuming the more-regular posting schedule until I make it back to Lenoir sometime early next week.
As the number above creeps into the double digits, I’m still in Louisiana, planning to head to Arkansas this coming Tuesday. I’m very much still taking it easy, so enjoy this (relatively) shorter synopsis.
- Binged the first two series of Broadchurch with my mom; we’re about halfway through the third. The first was still the best, but it’s an excellent show.
- Finished my reread of the Culture series and decided, against my better judgment, to start reading the Wheel of Time; I have a combined eBook of all of the books in the series from when it was up for the Hugo. My Kindle hasn’t moved from 1% on the progress bar. It’s intimidating.
- Took a couple of hours to reread two of my own novels, both science fiction. They both had some clever bits, and the writing itself was actually quite a bit better than I remembered, but they’re also both woefully incomplete.
- Ate at a local Vietnamese restaurant not once but twice. It was the first time my mother had ever had such cuisine, and I think she’s hooked. If you’re ever in Baton Rouge, check out Dang’s. Their spring rolls and pho are both amazing.
- Taught my older cousin how to solve both sudoku (at her insistence) and fill-ins (because I could). She seemed to really like the latter. It felt good.
- The usual free-to-play videogame grind.
- Managed to play card and board games with the neighbors; I’ve already played Concordia four times on this trip, which is more than any given previous six-month period in my life. It’s so good.
Now to get some sleep. The weather’s been amazing the entire time I’ve been here, cool and not too humid, but tomorrow’s going to be a total mess with thunderstorms. I knew it had to happen before I left. I’m glad it waited so long.
Being back home has been very nice.
Part of it is that my obligations here are pretty low-key, bordering on nonexistent. I’ve had several meals with friends and family, played some board games with my neighbors, and watched some movies with my mother. But I’ve also played quite a bit of Let It Die, solved a ton of puzzles, continued reading the Culture series (I’m up to the last one, The Hydrogen Sonata), and watched plenty of Twitch. These last are, essentially, the same things I fill my days with back at my house in Lenoir.
In earlier years, I would have felt a little guilty about that. I used to cram as many different restaurants as possible into every visit, coordinate visits with the maximum number of old friends and acquaintances, spend as much time as possible with family. But now? I know I’ll be back for the holidays, and then again sometime later next year. And when I visit I know I won’t be time constrained. So why force it?
Because of that, I’ve been enjoying it a lot more. It was always nice to visit, but there was always an undercurrent of maximizing the efficiency of my visit–even of some of that was “spending as much time as possible watching the new season of Black Mirror with Mom”–that made it all more exhausting than it should’ve been. Not so much this time.
I’ll be leaving Baton Rouge to visit a friend (and fellow early retiree) in Arkansas early next week. I expect that trip to be a little more packed, a little more stressful… and that’s fine, because it’s not home. Home should be easy.
And, for the first time in a long time, it really is.
A quick one this week, being not at home and all.
- Watched several movies with Mom, a few that I had seen already (Get Out, Hidden Figures) and a few I hadn’t (John Wick 2: The Legend of Curly’s Gold, Lincoln).
- Finished up Matter, which came close to crashing my Kindle thanks to the weird table at the end. (Great book, though.) Next up is Surface Detail.
- Lots of puzzles. I even got my mother an introductory book for sudoku, which came in today, and I plan on showing her how it works this afternoon.
- Several meals with family at yummy local restaurants, because if you’re in south Louisiana and you’re not eating out on the regs, you’re doing it wrong. Also, y’know, family.
- I brought Concordia with me from North Carolina and managed to get a game of it in on Monday. I hope to make it happen at least one more time before I leave.
- Not a lot of videogaming, although I’ve managed a bit more Let It Die than usual.
- Being allergy free is awesome. And the weather’s great too. But it’s a short-lived period here in Louisiana, this spring, and I got lucky with my timing.
Sorry for the lack of updates. I made it back to Baton Rouge safe and sound after a very, very long day of driving Saturday, and I’ve been choosing to spend my time elsewhere rather than staying at the computer so much.
Normally, when I come back home–and while I do think of Louisiana as “back home”, I think of my house in Lenoir as home, which is an interesting distinction I hadn’t really realized I made until recently–I try to pack in as many restaurants and as many visits with old friends as possible. Not so much this time around. I haven’t even made it to my favorite restaurant in the world; quelle horreur! Normally it’s the first stop when my mother picks me up from the airport, before we even go home to drop off the luggage.
Part of it is that I really want to take it easier than I usually do. Now that I’m retired, I suspect I’ll be coming back home twice a year rather than just once, and those stays are likely to be longer. So there’s less of a need to pack it all in, to make the experience the most time-efficient thing possible, to ensure maximum value.
Part of it is that I’ve also decided to take a more passive role this time; normally I do a lot of coordination to make visits and meals and all that jazz happen. I’m not doing that this year. I’ve let everyone know that I’m in town and available for meals; if they choose not to follow up on that, well, I’m just as content eating at home and solving some puzzles or watching a movie with Mom. I hung out with one of my old friends all day Monday, and will be doing so again this coming Saturday, interspersed with the usual family visits. If people really want to see me, they can put in some minimal effort to make it happen. I’m not going to force the issue.
So far it’s been an extremely pleasant trip. My timing was always meant to make sure I caught the tail end of the cool season, when it’s not too wet yet but the days aren’t face-meltingly hot either. It worked perfectly. I spent most of yesterday reading on a swing on the porch, a cool breeze sweeping through the whole time, and today is genuinely chilly. A month from now and Louisiana is going to be hot and sticky. No thanks.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a book to read.
I’m writing this right before crashing out early for tomorrow’s trip; I plan on getting up at 5:30am and hitting the road by 6am so that I can get into Baton Rouge at something resembling a reasonable hour. We’ll see how well I manage.
- In preparation for the aforementioned trip, I picked up a Samsung Chromebook 3 from Amazon this week. My full assessment will have to wait until I’m back, but so far I’m pretty impressed. It even natively supports Colemak, which came as a pleasant surprise.
- Speaking of which, my wrists are behaving quite a bit better… or, at least, they were, until I was lazy last night and didn’t put them on before going to bed. Sigh. I plan on wearing them for at least most of the day tomorrow, which should help some, but I’ve got to stop doing that. It’s not doing me any favors.
- Not a lot of gaming this week, other than the usual little stabs at the various free-to-play games you’ve gotta do every day to keep up with the grind.
- Well, that’s not entirely true. I had a couple of old coworkers/friends over on a whim yesterday afternoon, and we had a blast playing video pinball (both Pinball FX 3 and The Pinball Arcade) along with the perennial Towerfall Ascension.
- I went to a farewell dinner for one of my old teammates; they’re moving to Raleigh, which makes me sad to see them go, but I suspect they’re going to be a lot happier there from a social perspective. It’s rather too quiet here for most people.
- (Re)read some more of the Culture series, watched a few more episodes of The Punisher, solved more puzzles. Steady state, in other words.
Now to try and get some sleep. I usually have a lot of trouble sleeping the night before traveling, but I hope that won’t be the case this evening, particularly given how much less stressed I am about this trip than, uh, any other one in living memory. I guess it’s time to find out!
Now that I’ve gone and decided that I’m taking a trip back to Louisiana this weekend, I’m stressed out.
Unlike, well, just about any trip I can ever remember taking, though, it’s not the stress of the unknown, the stress of uncertainty; I’ve written about that before, and it’s definitely a huge problem for me, but no. This is the stress of already wanting to be there. To set out as early as possible tomorrow morning, not waiting until Saturday, and booking it hard back home.
That’s the wrong thing to do; for one, it puts me in Friday traffic in Atlanta, and I’m pretty sure I’d rather punch myself in the face repeatedly than deal with that utter mess. And my mail hold doesn’t start until Saturday, and I still need to pack, and and and… but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m antsy.
As irritating as this is, it’s actually a really good thing. I literally can’t remember ever being rarin’ to go on a trip. Even the one that took me here to North Carolina, five-and-some years ago, was mostly filled with apprehension; I thought that getting the job was some sort of huge mistake on the company’s part, and that I’d be found out as a fraud immediately, and have to return hat in hand to LSU in six months’ time. (Turns out it took them five years or so to figure that out.) And every trip since, whether it was for business (usually) or for personal reasons (rarely), made me stress out about all the ways it could go wrong.
And there’s nothing saying that my newly-fixed-up car won’t break down on Saturday as I head across five states, to be sure. But I’m not worried about it. And that’s a new, exciting feeling.
Now that I’ve got my car all fixed up and my taxes paid, I can do the one “big” thing I planned to do this spring: take a road trip back to Louisiana to visit family, with a stop in Arkansas to hang out with a friend for a few days. My loose plans to do this became decidedly more concrete this weekend after conversations with both that friend and my mother, and I’ll be heading out Easter Saturday so that I can be back in Baton Rouge for Sunday.
For the first time in a long time, rather than feeling apprehensive about travel, I’m actually looking forward to it. That despite the fact that it’s a 13ish-hour drive from where I live to my mother’s house; Saturday’s gonna be a long day. But I’m not filled with the slowly growing feeling of worry and stress that usually accompanies any sort of travel that I do, and that’s exciting.
That’s not to say that I don’t have to make preparations. (Ugh. Double negatives. I’m going to leave that the way it is, but now I can see why grade school English was so down on the form.) I no longer have a work laptop, and I suspect I’ll want to check my email at least once or twice while I’m gone, so I ordered a cheap Chromebook last night; opinions on the device forthcoming once I take the trip. I don’t have a car charger for my phone either, which uses USB C. That was another late night Amazon order. I didn’t actually go to bed until almost 5am last night as I kept thinking of things I needed to do.
But it’s a good busy, not a bad one, and I find myself actually anxious to go rather than anxious about going. Maybe I’ll actually be able to do some semi-regular traveling now that I’m retired, if this turns out well. That’d be a pleasant surprise discovery, that I actually like tooling around in my car and visiting people and places at the (relatively) leisurely pace that unemployment affords. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I’m still finding out things about myself, this many years into my life, and yet here we are.
Now to figure out how many changes of clothes to bring…
This post is a day late and, given taxes and the recent stock market behavior, decidedly more than a dollar short. It was an intentionally light week, though, so I’ll keep it brief-ish.
- Mostly, I read. I finished rereading Excession at 2am this morning. I think it’s still the Culture novel I’m most impressed with, although The Player of Games will always be my sentimental favorite.
- When I wasn’t reading I was doing puzzles. I’ve started working on a magazine full of multi-Sudoku, which adds a lot of variety to what can become a very samey solve process with regular Sudoku. I also (after several years) finished the last interesting and doable puzzle in a particular issue of Nikoli Puzzle Communication; there are some puzzles left in the magazine, but they’re either Japanese word puzzles, have rules too inscrutable for me to decipher, or are Number Links, one of the very few puzzle types I just can’t stand.
- Speaking of puzzles, I picked up Everett Kaser’s newest game, Mycroft’s Map, which I helped beta-test. It’s as good as all of his other games. I need to write an article about them someday…
- I finished the fourth season of Transparent, which was good but not amazing; I’d be perfectly content if they never produce another episode of the show. I also caught up on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which went back on the air a month or so ago. I need to watch The Punisher so I can watch season two of Jessica Jones, but I can’t quite bring myself to be excited about the first show. Sigh.
- We played Power Grid at Fercott Fermentables on Tuesday. It was good.
- I had dinner out a couple of times during the week, once at someone’s house, once at a nearby restaurant; in both cases, it was a good catching-up session with old friends and coworkers.
Now to curl up with Inversions, the next book in the series. Reading: it’s awesome.