Weekly status update [0021/????]

It was a relatively uneventful week, other than a pair of delicious meals that effectively bookended the working chunk.  I was confused enough on Monday to think it was Saturday, though, so it goes to show you that days of the week start becoming a bit nebulous once they don’t actually affect your life very much.  Or I’m just very forgetful.

Or both.  Why not both?

  • The first meal, on Tuesday, was a going-away dinner for one of my old coworkers.  I was pleasantly surprised to be invited, and had a good time chatting with all of my old teammates.  The steak wasn’t bad either.  (It was delicious.)
  • The second meal, on Friday, was at the local Tex Mex place I frequent.  I got a platter full of meat with caramelized onions, avocado, and all the taste.  It was also delicious.
  • In the middle, along with last weekend?  So much Planetside 2.  So much.  According to this page, I started playing this past Sunday or Monday (the graph is a bit unclear) and have already put 61 hours into the game.  That’s… a lot of game.  It also doesn’t count the several hours I’ve spent on alternate characters.  I wrote about it here.  Yesterday I could feel the game starting to get a bit stale… but then I convinced one of my old coworkers to play Friday evening, and we both had a great time together, and that renewed my excitement.  We’ll see how long it lasts.
  • Alongside the videogames (well, mostly the one), I finished reading John Kessel’s The Moon and the Other.  I should write a “Here’s a Book Thing” about it, and I may, so I’ll just say that I enjoyed it quite a bit.  What on the surface looks in some ways like a reaction to The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t, really.  Also, those two books one after the other was a bit of a weird coincidence, given their exploration of gender roles… but I picked up the Kessel almost entirely based on the cover.
  • I suspect my back is just going to hurt me a bit every morning from here on out, but at least it’s not the acute pain I was experiencing the last few weeks any more.  Small blessings and all that.

Lastly, this is not really something specific that happened, but: every time I left the house, I realized how little I leave the house now.  I am definitely not an errand-a-day sort of guy; if anything, I bundle them up and do them all at once, then stay home for two or three days before venturing out again.  This was helped by the fact that I didn’t get a rotisserie chicken from Walmart even once this week, which usually puts me on the road for a couple of minutes every morning.  It seems a little strange, as someone who spent at least some time in the car every weekday since I was sixteen or so.  It’s a small but significant change to the rhythm of my life.

Half-remembered creaks

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 worldquelle 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.

That common child’s refrain

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.

Preparations for launch

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…

Weekly status update [0005/????]

Hey, I adulted this week!  Just a bit, but still.

Things:

  • Nearly a thousand dollars of work on my car–four new tires, new front brakes, further brake work–but hopefully that’s all it’ll need for the next couple of years.  I’ve been driving my Scion xD now for a decade and it’s never had a single actual mechanical problem, knock on wood.  Let’s keep that trend going.
  • More Transparent and The Expanse, although I’m almost done with the latter.  I’m delighted that they finished the adaptation of the first book halfway through the second season; they let the material breathe more with those extra episodes, and it paid off.
  • Still playing way, way too much Let It Die.  I need to beat it so I can put it aside.
  • I’m over 60wpm with Colemak.  Improvements are much slower now, but I’m already a faster typist than the majority of the world, so I’ll take it.
  • Turns out that montelukast (brand name Singulair) actually works when Claritin doesn’t, so I have a sense of taste again.  That’s nice.
  • Watching a lot of Twitch.  Mostly Landail and catsonurhead still, but also one of my old coworkers who streams Spelunky on Thursday nights, and…
  • …various folks streaming Prismata.  I backed it on Kickstarter years ago, and it finally hit Steam Early Access yesterday.  Several biggish streamers have been sponsored to play it; those streams are generally awful, with lots of people whining about the streamer not playing Gwent or Hearthstone or whatever.  What’s been much better are the random small streamers jumping in and having fun.  It’s been neat to see this from the side of someone already very familiar with the game.

I’m overdue for a longer form retrospective, given that I’m five weeks in.  I’ll try to write one this coming week, along with a bit more besides.  I still haven’t figured out a review-discuss format I’m happy with, which is stymieing my writing some, and as I’ve mentioned before my life isn’t exactly action-packed, so it’s hard to come up with topics that won’t bore most of you out of your skull.  I’ll work on it, though.

Procrasti nation

I have a confession to make: I’m really good at procrastinating.

Cue a wide array of shocked faces.  What?  No shocked faces.  Oh, well then.

I still haven’t taken my car in for the tires-oil change-inspection combo deal.  I haven’t started searching for a tax prep person either; normally I do them myself, but with me selling a ton of company stock last year I think the right thing to do is to get someone else to handle it this one time.  (Speaking of which: any of you Western North Carolinians have a good recommendation for tax prep?)  And I finally called the ENT today to try and get a refill on my Singulair prescription, to find out that I have to schedule an appointment to get it renewed.  I hung up rather than dealing with that this morning.

Ugh.

Wait But Why has an excellent pair of articles on procrastination that I can’t really add much to, other than to talk about what triggers it for me.  And that’s uncertainty.

I don’t handle uncertainty well.  I delayed early retirement for two years because I was scared of the changes it would bring, the level of turmoil to my finances and daily routine and “what do I do if something horrible happens and my cush tech safety net isn’t there” and and and

It’s a big part of why I hate traveling as well.  What if I don’t make it to the airport on time?  Or if I do but I’m delayed at security?  Or if the flight is delayed?  Or or or?  I can’t sleep well the night before any travelling because my head is spinning with all of the ways everything can go wrong.  It even makes me feel a bit physically ill.

So procrastination is my coping mechanism, in the grand tradition of mythical (but not real) ostriches, is to bury my head in the sand.  As long as I’m not actively doing A Thing, that thing can’t twist around on me, can’t be a source of new uncertainty, and that makes it easier.

That’s all wrong, of course.  There’s nothing to say that my car won’t break down tomorrow, or that my allergies won’t get worse.  But my brain is more easily satisfied by doing as little as possible, by keeping the active uncertainty down, even if that means just a different level of uncertainty.

It’s annoying, and frustrating, and putting voice to it and being aware of it hasn’t done much to make it easier for me over time.  But, hey: I’m on the phone with the Toyota dealership in Hickory right now, trying to schedule all the maintenance I need.  That’s a start, right?

Weekly status update [0003/????]

I continued to make a good go of minimizing the amount of adulting this week.  In fact, I was rewarded for doing so; I got the notice in for getting my car inspected so that I can update its registration. This means that the maintenance procrastination I’ve engaged in for the last month and a half retroactively became time-saving genius.  Good job, me!

I’m up to 42 words per minute of typing with Colemak.  Median typing speed according to Google is 41, so in less than a week of using a completely new keyboard layout I’m already at a functional level.  It’s a painfully slow and error-ridden functional level, mind.  I’m actually at an ugly point where I’m still not great at all with the New Thing, and my ability to do the Old Thing is much worse due to overwriting those synapses in my brain.  I’ve taken to doing a few QWERTY typing tests every day just to make sure I don’t become a hunt-and-peck typist when I sit down at any keyboard that isn’t mine.  Thankfully the keyboard that is mine supports changing layouts on the fly in the hardware, so I don’t have to mess with operating system jankiness when I bounce back and forth.  I haven’t had to do that much either; it’s just long passwords that are more muscle memory of patterns than actual characters I remember that send me scurrying back to QWERTY.

Other than that, I’ve:

  • taken to watching both catsonurhead and Landail on the regular on Twitch; the former is a super-friendly speedrunner and the latter is on an insane quest to play through every console RPG ever;
  • started streaming on Twitch myself at http://twitch.tv/sunfalltoennien, mostly Let It Die but also some random other stuff that no one watches;
  • finished the fifth season of The Americans and the second season of Transparent, both of which were amazing;
  • gone to dinner twice with old coworkers at the same restaurant, because it has bacon wrapped cheese stuffed jalapeños and is therefore automatically the best restaurant in town;
  • used the whole slow typing thing to push off coding and writing yet another week.

I also played some board games early in the week, which I already wrote about here.  I both do and don’t look forward to giving gaming in a public space another try.

Lastly, bored status: still definitely no.