Butterfly in my eye

I just finished reading the first book of my retirement, Version Control by Dexter Palmer.  It was complicated.  Very good, but complicated, a mix of literary and science fiction that took me a while to find the rhythm of; once I did, though, it made me stay up until 2am last night and then power through the rest today.

I don’t read nearly as much as I used to, though.

One reason is that I actually find it physically difficult; since I’ve developed allergies, my eyes water a lot, and extended reading sessions are a sure way to have me weeping constantly.  I put up with it when the reading’s good, but if it’s merely “okay” it’s easy to make excuses and just do something else that won’t entail me wiping my eyes every few minutes.

Another is a sort of cyclical issue that I find myself dealing with at almost all times.  Biorhythms are complete and total nonsense, but I find that my tastes for “things what I do with leisure time” follow these sort of boom-bust cycles that last days, weeks, or months.  I’ll go three months without turning my PS4 on, then (like right now) find myself having to sleep with wrist braces because I’m spending so much time playing vidja.  I won’t touch a puzzle book for a few weeks, then power through half of one in three days.  And I’ve been in a long, long drought of can-be-arsed energy when it comes to reading fiction, particularly novels I haven’t read already.

That distinction is important.  Right now I really, really want to reread the entire Culture series by Iain Banks for the… fourth? fifth? time, even though there’s a stack of unread novels sitting on my kitchen island.  The only reason Version Control happened is because it’s a library book and I already had to renew it once.  Now that I finished it, I may allow myself to dive back into that world of dry wit and unparalleled futuristic utopia as a bit of an escape.  But it’ll only take me a couple of weeks to reread all nine books, and then I’ll be right back where I started.

I wonder if it’s at least partly a move away from passive entertainment.  I don’t watch many movies or TV shows either, and limit myself to a single episode per day even when I’m in the middle of an excellent show, like The Expanse right now or Altered Carbon a couple of weeks ago.  Reading is more pleasurable, the mindscape always more powerful and expressive than a moving picture, but it’s still linear consumption of someone else’s work.

I’m not sure.  What I do know is that I want to write more, and to write well I need to read more, even if that means upsetting my own… mediarhythms, let’s say.  We’ll see if forcibly pushing myself out of that lack of desire works, or if it just makes things worse.

Weekly status update [0001/????]

My first week of retirement draws to a close, and I’ve gotta say: it feels good.  Real good.

Of course I miss the hell out of a lot of people; some have kept in touch, whether via email or Hangouts (and even a few via comments here on the blog–hi, Beth, Chris, and Derrick!), but we all know how much easier it is to just not communicate.  Staying in contact with others is work, real work, and life in the modern era is easy to fill with so much other stuff that unnecessary communication falls by the wayside.  As someone with free time now, it’s incumbent on me to keep those channels open as best I can.  And I’m going to try.

Work, though?  I’d be lying if I said I missed having a job.  Maybe I will, as time goes on.  Right now, not so much.

The only Real Adulting I did this week involved picking up some prescription glasses I procured on the cheap thanks to my ex-employer’s excellent benefits; I now have what amounts to eight different pairs of glasses with the same prescription.  You know, Just In Case.  In life as I did at work, I plan for catastrophic failure.

Definitely Not Adulting things I did this week:

  • Watched a non-trivial amount of serialized stuff via the magic of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.  Strong recommendations: Altered CarbonThe AmericansTransparent.  Less strong, but still enjoyable as a not-quite-as-good Black MirrorPhilip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams.  Altered Carbon is on Netflix and the others are on Prime Video if you want to follow along at home.
  • Played a tremendous amount of Let It Die, Suda51’s most recent weird-ass video game.  It’s free-to-play, but in a way that you could easily never pay a penny and enjoy the game completely.  I’m actually in danger of burning out on it due to putting so many hours in–I’m somewhere north of 70 right now and less than halfway through the game–so I’ve intentionally backed off some in the last few days to give the game some room to breathe.
  • Got back into solving pencil-and-paper puzzles.  I have a Japanese sudoku magazine that has less than ten puzzles left before I’ve completed it from cover to cover.  I can’t remember the last time I completed every single puzzle in a puzzle book.  Of course the ones left are the hardest, but that’s part of the fun.  After I finish it, I plan on moving onto Djape’s first Trigons book.  Trigons are fascinating and pretty brutally hard, so I’m going to have my work cut out for me.
  • Ate a bunch of junk food that I shouldn’t have.  Malt-o-Meal’s Chocolate Marshmallow Mateys are maybe the best sugar cereal I’ve ever had, and my newfound love for them terrifies me.

Things I didn’t do but plan on maybe kinda sorta looking at next week, you know, if I feel up to it or whatever:

  • Getting back into leisure programming.  Probably something simple at first, like some code cleanup on Giles.  Like many things in my life, I have lots of grandiose plans, but now I also have way less in the way of excuses to not actually execute on those.
  • I should probably, like, look at Rewind (AKA the novella I always talk about as being “actually pretty good”) or something?  And, uh, think about how the hell I’m going to expand it to a novel?  Yeah, this almost certainly isn’t happening next week, because it’s big and scary and I need to work up to it.

This entry is already too long, so I’ll leave you with a question: what would you, the reader, like to see here?  I’ve tentatively settled on a few-times-a-week schedule, but I’m open to feedback as to what sorts of things I should be writing.  Personal reviews of games and movies and stuff?  Musings on game design?  More slice-of-life bits?  Feel free to either reply to this blog entry or send me Philback.  There’s no point in writing this stuff if no one wants to read it; I already have entire novels that are never going to see the light of day and I’m not sure I need to add to that volume.