What’s Up? (6/18/2018)

Greenfield Glide 5K
It’s already been two weeks since I ran my first 5K on Sunday, June 3rd — the Greenfield Glide — which was somewhat familiar as a good half-mile was on park trails that I run on regularly. The big takeaways for me was, first of all, that I’m capable of running 3.1 miles in at least 35 minutes (probably less, if I hustled more) and two: that running a 5K with hundreds of people is FUN and gives you motivation. So that being said, no surprised that I’ve signed up to run another one this Sunday, June 24 — the Stride for Pride.

Yoga
Another recent first for me — this past Sunday, June 17 I attended my first Yoga class, a 75-minute Vinyasa Flow session in a 85-degree room that was dripping with humidity. It kicked my ass, in a good way. Not the same workout as a run, but different in a valuable way, as parts of my body got a workout that wouldn’t have been worked out otherwise. I also learned a lot from the amateur mistakes I was making as a first-timer, and I look forward to improving my Yoga game in future classes.

Lucifer
Lucfier is a weird show that refuses to die, and I can’t help but appreciate that. The buddy-cop procedural crime show about the LITERAL devil getting paired up with a homicide detective to solve murders got renewed for an okay Season Two and then somehow, a Season Three (which was pretty disastrous, even alienating the few fans that stuck around that long). After getting the axe from Fox, #SaveLucifer became a trending topic, however forced by the desperation of the Lucifer community, who never quite got what they wanted out of the show. I mocked the Save Lucifer movement, and yet, and yet, the show got picked up for a Season Four by Netflix.

Back in 2016 I wrote “With any luck the show’s writers will spend less time in Season Two reminding us that the devil likes to fuck, and more time bringing these two [Lucifer and Chloe] closer together and giving Chloe definitive proof that she’s working with the real devil.” While Season Two continued to develop Lucifer’s whole “Ladykiller In Love” trope, as a man-child playboy with a fixation on his partner, Chloe Decker, it continued to flip-flop on the will-they won’t-they story. As TV Tropes puts it: “Lucifer, who has charmed and slept with possibly thousands of women, realizes in Season Two’s “Homewrecker” that he’s in love with Chloe.”

Season Two’s cliffhanger ending had Lucifer on the verge of confessing his love for Chloe before being mysteriously interrupted, and then Season Three only further taunted fans by teasing out their relationship even more by turning it into a love triangle, and ending the show with the most tantalizing cliffhanger the fans could imagine — Chloe finding out that her partner, Lucifer, is ACTUALLY the devil.

After an awful Season Three, even by Lucifer’s cringe-worthy standards, I can’t help but admit that I am totally here for Netflix’s Season Four, and I hope the show can go out on a nice 10-episode swan song. And then please, let this show die. Or reach 100 episodes. I don’t know.

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What’s Up? (1/31/2018)

2018 Resolutions

I don’t like to go too long without journaling here. The act of putting internal reflection into words, and publishing that, publically, can be pretty cathartic. Early January, when people are executing on New Year’s Resolutions, is both a great and dangerous time to commit thoughts to paper. Sometimes people come up with loft resolutions with no plan of execution — heck, I’ve been there. I’ve probably, definitely, declared a resolution on this blog that I’ve never followed through on, but I like to think I’ve learned how to come up with achievable goals.

For instance: Let’s say I want to work on my running. Running more miles this year vs. last year is an unknowable goal. I can only guess how many miles that would be, and putting a number on it needlessly complicates things.  But I do know that I ran downtown three times last year, so, running downtown five times this year would be a measurable goal and realistic, if low, goal.

If I want to lose some kinda weight, that takes even more work to measure. For instance, last year I believe I said “I want to weigh less than 170 lbs at least once” – and there were occasions where I weighed myself and got in at 169, which I’ll take as a win. If I want to improve on last year’s goal and say “I want to weigh less than 170 lbs for a week” I’ll have to keep track of my weight over time. Not only that, but it’d take significantly more work — I couldn’t just hit 169 once and call it a day, I’d probably have to get down to 165 to account for normal fluctuation.

Do you see how much trouble a resolution like that could cause? I’d much rather just run downtown five times a year, and maybe lose weight in the process, but in the end that doesn’t matter as much to me.

Pick Up Guitar

One of my resolutions this year is to simply pick up the guitar again. I have three guitars; one acoustic slide, one acoustic, and one electric. They could all use a little work before I get back into the hobby. The acoustic slide just needs a little tuning and we should be good, the regular ol acoustic needs to be brought to a local shop and repaired, but it will be worth it to get that up and running. And then there’s the electric guitar, which probably needs a full-on factory repair, because the pickups aren’t working.

I feel like I have a funny relationship with guitar. Yes I have 7-8 years of experience with it, but I’m probably still no better than your average intermediate student. I spent a lot of time messing around, improvising, learning this song and that song, but I seriously lack practice in some of the basic fundamentals. Not that I’m looking to change that this year — that may be too lofty a resolution — no, I’m just looking to pick it back up and start playing once a week.

Learn Dutch

So get this. In 2016 I stumble on an ASMR video that is a basic lesson in Dutch, teaching the colors, rood, oranj, geel, etc. I find it kinda cute (because ASMR) but also satisfying to repeat. The J’s and G’s feel particularly nice.

So on June 30, 2016 I downloaded Duolingo and, on a whim, just started some Dutch lessons and never looked back. So what started as an experiment is now something I’d like to finish in 2018. I feel like, with enough time and effort, I should be able to finish all of the Duolingo lessons in the Dutch language. This might be the most demanding of my 2018 resolutions.  

Travel West

This resolution is incredibly short and simple: I think I’d like to travel west of Pittsburgh for something, sometime this year. Probably a concert. This isn’t a matter of improving something in my life, or bettering myself, it’s just a thing I think would be fun to do.

Get A Tattoo (Design)

This resolution is more “unfinished business” than anything else. In the summer of 2014 I commissioned a design for a tattoo that I never got. On some level, I’m glad I didn’t go through with the original idea, and I had time to think about it. In 2015 me and the artist re-aligned on a new idea that also never came to fruition. I don’t think I’ve been ripped off as a much as he’s simply busy or has completely forgotten, but I’ve also had no luck in hearing back from him, which is a little scary. If I can at least get the commission drawing in my hands by this summer, than this four-year-long journey will be over, and the journey of actually getting a tattoo can begin.

Pair Down My Cocktail Bar

Oh geez, this will probably be my longest entry in a long, long time… but another thing I want to do in 2018 is trim down some of the excess liquor in my kitchen. There are a lot of bottles in my posession that were purchased and rarely touched. When you get into cocktail culture, I think it’s easy to buy things thinking you *need* them in your bar, or you *need* them to make this particular drink. When you get to where I am, I think you start to realize what you like and what you don’t, and you can start focusing on having ingredients solely for your favorite drinks rather than having a little bit of everything.

For my sake, there’s probably only two categories of drinks that I want to be ready to make at a moment’s notice: classic Gin cocktails, and tiki drinks. For me, pairing down my cocktail bar doesn’t mean throwing out the liquor I don’t want, but rather, testing myself to use unwanted liquor to make good “farewell” drinks. Excess vodka can be used for mules, Cherry Herring for Singapore Slings, etc. Once living with a well-stocked but “minimal” bar, I shouldn’t be tempted to pick up random bottles anymore — I should only replace the necessities once they’ve been used up.

The irony that my first goals were all about being healthy and running, and that my last goal was about being a more efficient connoisseur of alcohol, is not lost on me. Believe me, I’m aware how polar-opposite some of my favorite things are, but that’s just life.

What’s Up? (2/6/17)

January 2017
I’ve been away for a month, but I’ve had things in order so I guess there wasn’t much to talk about. Coming into 2017 there were just a few things on my to-do list, and all of January was spent focusing on those things. 1) Any weight gained during the holidays has been lost, 2) I went and saw the movies I was meaning to see, La La Land, and Rogue One, and 3) I started putting myself out there again, trying to be and outward social presence.

Gaming
I’m more physically active than ever before, I’m trying to be more social as well — so explain why “Gaming” is the headline here. Well, I suppose, given that I have lost weight, and that I’m making friends outside of the “Pitt Alumni” group, it helps to have something fun and concurrent to do at home alone. Though I haven’t owned a home gaming console in years, and have stuck to a modest laptop for the better part of 5 years, I have recommitted myself to enjoying the hobby of video games more regularly. I’ve been listening to, and watching, nearly 10 hours of Giant Bomb content a week, since 2008, so I never really left the world of video games, even if I stopped playing them as much. Though that being said, I feel like I could probably go for writing a review of Pokemon Sun (2016).

KonMari
I did something very drastic this weekend. I tidied my apartment with the help of Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” Now, typical home tidying would have me finding new ways to hide clutter (shove this there, hide this in the closet, kick this under the couch). I exaggerate a little, but typically that’s how I’d “clean.” With the help of a little audiobook, I discarded most of my clutter, rather than hiding it. What’s more, she helped me redefine many of my possessions as clutter.

Shirts that were going unused, or that had no longer brought me joy, were in my closet for no reason. They were clutter. I’d say my apartment has about 30% fewer clothes in it now, than it did on Friday. I have not completed my work, though you’re supposed to do it all in one fell swoop. The hardest thing to do, would be to let go of some of these books. If a book does not make me happy, then why keep it? I know this will be the hardest step, because I think having a full book shelf is what makes me happy to have a bookshelf at all.

Dry Month
There’s a theme here; less is more. Less clutter, more happiness. Less weight, more movement. Less boredom, more fun. So something I’ve been meaning to try for a while is a dry, alcohol-free, sober month. Why do that? I love cocktails, I like inebriation, I like the social aspects of it!

Well, because less is more? And to an extent, I think drinking a little less, or none at all for a whole month, will give me greater appreciation for it, and greater clarity for how I handle things like stress, and what to do when I’m bored on a weekend. It’s too late to make February my dry month, but I’m eyeballing March. 31 Days of sobriety should also lead to a massive drop in calories consumed. I’m not committing to it yet, but when I do I have to make it public; making it public makes it harder to back down from it.

That could be part of why I keep a public blog like this. A private diary has no stakes. You can confess and make promises, but it’s private, so your confessions and promises only matter as much as you care about yourself? If I tell you, anonymous internet, that I’m going to stop drinking for a month, then I’d be lying if I didn’t follow through. Here’s another public promise: This February I will be reviewing Neon Indian’s “VEGA Intl. Night School” (2015) and La Roux’s “Trouble in Paradise” (2014).

What’s Up? (8/30/16)

Next Level 
I feel like I’ve recently taken my running routine to the next level. I used to run and walk to the park, then run all the way down the Panther Hollow lower trail, and finally I’d walk home. All in all, it accounted for basically 1 mile of running, 2 miles of walking.

Now, I can run all the way to the park, and run more of the Panther Hollow lower trail – where I used to stop at a stone bridge, I now run over it to another landmark. All told, that’s only another 30 seconds of running but crossing that threshold made me realize how much more I could run. Though, running the Pittsburgh Grand Prix circuit also made me realize how much running I was capable of.

So the good news is that, most days, I can just pop on some Future Funk and Vaporwave and just run. I can run from my front door to the edge of Oakland, and then I need a break. After that though, I can even run back uphill to my house again. I’m shy of running 3 miles, but I am definitely clocking in 2 miles of running some days.

Tenchi
The other big thing in August I feel I have to talk about is… Tenchi Muyo? I should be watching Stranger Things, but some nostalgia found its way into my life in the form of Tenchi Muyo — an anime that I half-watched growing up on Toonami. It’s really hard to recommend Tenchi Muyo; if you like harem anime… well first I guess it depends why you like harem anime right? But it’s not like this show is good for shippers, there’s like no romantic tension, and this show’s not great for people who are looking for sexual tension either and what are you doing looking for that? Oh, who am I to judge? 

Okay, then why did I watch a whole bunch of Tenchi Muyo this month? Well, to satisfy a nostalgic craving, for one thing. Tenchi was a show I watched when it came on, or when a friend would put it on when I went to his house, but I never put together the story. I remembered that it was a story about a boy who lived with, like, 6 female aliens – that’s all. As a kid, it turns out I was watching Tenchi Universe, a remake of Tenchi Muyo. Over a decade later, I’m watching the original and, the reason I’m seeing it through is the story and the characters.

I think that’s what I kind of like about harems; Negima, Tenchi, Ouran, all have cringe-worthy parts in them, but they all have characters you can grow to love, and stories that develop around them. In Tenchi Muyo’s case, it’s this huge space opera more or less, even if it all takes place on Earth. Does that make sense? We have aliens and demigods who live for millennia settling scores and looking for “ultimate power,” people from “The Galactic Academy” and the “Galaxy Police,”  and they all converge on this tiny cast of characters who spend a lot of time sweeping the yard in front of a Japanese shrine.

Gosh this show is so hard to recommend. So I’m actively not recommending it. Tenchi Muyo is boring as hell, the actions of characters are largely predictable, and yet — at the end of each OVA when bad guys are introduced and things start happening, it’s all worth it. All the time spent watching this characters sweep floors, do chores, and fight over Tenchi, comes to a head when everything you learned about them in the last 4 episodes suddenly matters in the fight against the next big bad. I look forward to watching Tenchi Universe, and most everything Tenchi-related I can get my hands on so I can get this out of my system and get back to watching Sailor Moon.

What’s Up? (12/1/15)

Thanksgiving

I’m thankful that this Thanksgiving was a real uneventful, pleasant, just eat awesome food with your friends and family kind of Thanksgiving. It’s what I missed. Good food, warm conversations. Wine. Best friends. Really went all out for four nights there, if only to return to frozen food and pasta in Pittsburgh. But hey, that’s okay. I can make time if I want to cook, especially on the weekends. It’s just the pace of things usually leaves me wanting to do as little as possible when I get home.

Taking Care of the Inside 

There was an eight-day lapse where basically no exercise was done, and a lot of good food was consumed. I wouldn’t say just because I got back to Pittsburgh that I’ve fallen into a healthy routine again. If anything, I’m kind of focusing on some internal things right now. A few cups of tea to brighten up the day. A movie in the evening to entertain. Sitting back and enjoying Fargo Season Two while not on the back of a stationary bike.

I haven’t forgotten the sacred rule…

“Everyday, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan for it, don’t wait for it, just let it happen.” – FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper

It’s just, these last two days, I’ve needed more presents than self-improvement physical activity. Long as I live I’ll never forget to do things that keep me happy. I guess one of the things that’s keeping me happy right now is the prospect of not exercising right now. I know it’d be good for me, but in a way, so would pizza, Netflix, and a long nap.

What’s Up? (11/23/15)

Exercise Calendar

Exercise 

The days highlighted in blue show the days where I’ve done at least 40 minutes on the bicycle. Good job, me. Before October 19th I bet the blue spaces were few and far between. Or, further apart from one another. I probably haven’t gone whole weeks without a little bit of exercise for a while. I don’t have much to say on this except, I’m going to keep at it.

Lawrenceville Hipster

On Friday (11/20/15) I was making cocktails for someone, describing work, and my daily routine and whatnot — and she asked if I had become a “L-Ville Hipster” or Lawrenceville Hipster. Well, I didn’t know. I have a coffee place where I’m a regular who orders the same two things without fail. I shopped at H&M so I’d have a few new items to distinguish my look from my Oakland days. But otherwise… Whatever components make up a “hipster” I’m pretty sure I don’t have them. I think I’ve probably changed, grown, or feel significantly different since coming to Lawrenceville regularly but it’s not like I’m adopting a fake style, I’m just using the neighborhood to let myself be more… me?

This cardigan for example. I’ve been wearing it for hours. I love the thing. I love the way it meets at my neck. I love how it looks slim, or feels slim. The extra long sleeves are cool. Something about it inspires a great deal of confidence for me, the same way infinity scarves do. And I only ended up in H&M because of Lawrenceville, working there, and hearing about the H&M in South Side. So, by extension, Lawrenceville helped me find a piece of clothing that makes me feel really good. So am I some fake as hell hipster in Lawrenceville? Nah. I’m a real as fuck member of the neighborhood, and I love it.

What’s Up? (11/11/15)

Exercise
One way to keep myself on track is to force myself to write about this regularly. I guess one way of looking at it is that I’ve been doing way more exercise than blogging as of late. (Four posts in all of October is not particularly impressive. But maybe I just have fewer things to say nowadays?) Anyways the exercise regiments are going well. I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me, but I know I ruined a streak this morning. I did 20 minutes Monday and Tuesday morning after waking up at 6:45 AM, but this morning I absolutely lacked the will to get out of bed, let alone do exercise. On the whole, I think I’m getting better and better at my little routine. I petal faster and with less effort than I used to, I know what kind of music keeps me at pace, and I’m hitting calories-burnt milestones in less time than I used to.

It’s not like I’m weighing myself, or I’m on a weight loss mission, but feeling like I’m in better shape as a human being makes me feel a lot better. One way I’ve thought about it recently is, I’ve spent 22 years or so improving and making my brain pretty great, so I can spend a little time every day to make sure my body is just as sharp and useful.

Q and the Cell Phone
So, something interesting happened on the bus Monday. Young black male, who I only know as Q, turns to the white man sitting in front of him and asks to borrow his cellphone–says he left his at home, and wants to call his girlfriend to tell her to bring his phone to work. White man says “sorry, my phone’s not on” or something to that effect. “The phone’s for work only so I only turn it on when I get to work.” Q then turns to me and asks for my phone. Q makes a phone call using my phone, and it doesn’t go through so he hands it back. I ask Q if he could text his girlfriend. Q gives me the phone number, I send the text, she responds “Yes” as in, “yes I can bring you your phone” and then I return to listening to my podcast.

And the story could end there, except the original white guy (not me) starts using his phone. To which Q points out “I thought your phone wasn’t on.” “I just don’t let other people use my phone. It’s a policy.” And that’s when I decide that my podcast is less interesting than what’s going on in this bus, so I pause the podcast as eavesdrop on the whole thing. It never gets heated, Q just stands on the fact that the man was judgmental–he never uses the word racist, just judgmental. Even when the white guy exits the bus and it’s just me and Q talking, Q never throws the other guy under the bus for anything other than being judgmental. “He saw me, the way I’m dressed or something, and decided he wouldn’t let me borrow his phone.” It was interesting, I’ll probably say no more except I didn’t do anything special, I did something pretty normal, it just felt extraordinary in contrast to the blatant lies of someone else.

Better Me
I could probably come up with a venn diagram of things that are making me feel like a better person. 1) Eating different things 2) Having work 3) Exercising 4) Going out and dancing 5) Coffee?

Alright, I don’t know what I’d put for a fifth thing, but when you overlay those things, the center of the diagram is me feeling good about myself. I worked a little bit on my short story, I started a new GlitchFox project, I’ve got new furniture, I’ve got new records to listen to, Grimes has a new album–stuff is going on and I feel good and wow! I can’t say I remember what I shared last, but it was kind of a bummer right?

The thing I’m thinking is; living in an isolated state is really only unbearable when you can’t bear yourself. If you like yourself, if there’s things you can improve about yourself, and you enjoy that type of thing–self help, self improvement, then being isolated isn’t too bad at all really.