A short post to note a personal accomplishment.
I’ve meditated for 5,000 minutes with Headspace. Another way to think about it: that’s 3 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes spent focusing on my breath with my eyes closed.
A short post to note a personal accomplishment.
I’ve meditated for 5,000 minutes with Headspace. Another way to think about it: that’s 3 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes spent focusing on my breath with my eyes closed.
I forgot about Bandcamp Friday. Here are the (admittedly) few albums I purchased today:
Now to actually listen to all this music. Good times ahead.
The friendly competition between my friend and me is ongoing, and she has been kicking my ass all week. Today, I decided to change that by doing 30 minutes of yoga in the morning, then a 20 minute strength workout followed by a 20 minute HIIT workout in the afternoon. I’m now kicking her ass, but at what cost?
Here are some notes from today, this 2nd day of December, 2022:
God or whoever decided to take a cold dump on us yesterday. Tis the season and all that.
I’ve been telling my friends that it’s hibernating in my cave time, but they’re having none of it. I was invited to a friend’s house tomorrow, and I told her I’d be there. Who am I?
I am shutting down my social channels, because that I can control.
My feeds will be auto-posting to Mastodon but I won’t be checking it for anything for an indeterminate amount of time. Maybe once the sun comes out again?
I want to focus on my work and health this season. Part of that work involves writing my novel again.
I tried ChatGPT today, and, of course, because my mind was on my novel, I started my conversation with that. Let me just say, I was very impressed! I can totally see Google or whoever using this technology to power their search engine, and instead of a list of links, we could all one day be having a conversation with ChatGPT or what(who?)ever to find the information we’re looking for. I’m curious to see where this goes.
I’m writing a novel about the origins of human mythology—gods and demons and the story we tell ourselves about the world we see. What are some good books to get me started on my research?
There are many great books that explore the origins of human mythology and religion. Some of the classics in the field include “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell, “The Power of Myth” by Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers, and “The Golden Bough” by Sir James Frazer. These books offer insight into the common themes and motifs found in myths and religious stories from around the world. Additionally, books like “Gods, Demons, and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia” by Jeremy Black and “The Ancient Gods Speak” by Donald B. Redford offer more specific insights into the mythology of ancient cultures.
Could you tell me more about what “The Golden Bough” by Sir James Frazer is about?
Certainly! “The Golden Bough” is a classic work of comparative mythology and religion by Sir James Frazer. The book is a wide-ranging exploration of the beliefs, customs, and institutions of various cultures from around the world, with a focus on the role of magic and religion in shaping human society. One of the central ideas of the book is the concept of the “sacred king,” a figure who is believed to possess divine power and who serves as the link between the human and spiritual worlds. The book also explores the rituals and practices associated with the sacred king, including the concept of the “golden bough,” a symbol of his power and authority. Overall, “The Golden Bough” offers a fascinating look at the beliefs and practices of different cultures and is a valuable resource for anyone interested in the origins of human mythology and religion.
What have others said about James Frazer’s idea of the “sacred king”?
Frazer’s concept of the “sacred king” has been both highly influential and highly controversial. Some have praised the book for its comprehensive approach to the study of mythology and religion, as well as its innovative ideas about the role of magic and ritual in shaping human societies. Others, however, have criticized the book for its outdated and overly broad approach to the subject, as well as its lack of focus on the specific beliefs and practices of individual cultures. Some have also questioned the validity of Frazer’s ideas, arguing that they are based on outdated and flawed assumptions about the nature of religion and myth. Despite these criticisms, “The Golden Bough” remains an important and widely read work in the field of comparative mythology and religion.
What other books did “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” inspire?
“The Hero with a Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell is a highly influential work in the field of comparative mythology and religion. In the book, Campbell explores the common themes and motifs found in myths and folktales from around the world, and argues that these stories can be seen as part of a universal “monomyth” or hero’s journey. Campbell’s ideas have had a profound impact on a wide range of fields, including literature, psychology, and film.
One of the most notable books influenced by “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” is “The Power of Myth,” a book that grew out of a series of conversations between Campbell and journalist Bill Moyers. In the book, Campbell expands on many of the ideas from “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” discussing the role of myth and religion in shaping human culture and experience.
Other books that have been influenced by “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” include “The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers” by Christopher Vogler, which applies Campbell’s ideas to the field of screenwriting, and “The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: Metaphor as Myth and as Religion” by Joseph Campbell, which explores the role of myth and metaphor in shaping human understanding of the world. Overall, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” has had a significant impact on the study of mythology and religion, and continues to inspire new ideas and approaches in these fields.
When I came up with my story idea, the first book I thought of was The Hero with a Thousand Faces. I read that over a decade ago, so it’s been on my list of books to re-read. Earlier this year, I watched The Power of Myth, and it was incredible. I immediately bought the book, and it’s on my “to read” shelf as I write this. I’m amazed ChatGPT started off with these two works, and the other books it mentioned blew my mind. I had never heard of The Golden Bough by Sir James Frazer, but I am definitely intrigued. If anything, it gave me a reading list to checkout:
I have to say, this is really cool technology, and I am intrigued to see where this goes.
Remember Ping, Apple’s failed social network built into iTunes? I remember being interested in it when I watched Steve Jobs announce it, and I did try it for a few weeks after it launched. I followed some celebrities on there and watched as the feed showed that so and so just bought the new White Stripes album or whatever. I liked it, but then yeah, the spam, the fake accounts…
But in that similar spirit, here are some albums I bought this week:
I finished buying Björk’s discography, which makes me happy. Not having Deep Cuts by the Knife was an oversight on my part, so I needed to rectify that ASAP. I had been a fan of Sudan Archives since I discovered her over the summer, so I’ve been enjoying her two albums. SZA has not been on my radar at all, but I sometimes like to buy albums I know nothing about but that have received good reviews just to expand my musical tastes. So far, I’m loving her. Really good.
Yesterday, I also subscribed to Last.fm Pro. I’ve been “scrobbling since 15 Jan 2022,” and I enjoy it. Considering I’d rather buy my music than stream it, I am curious to see what kind of trends I’ve had this year, similar to Spotify’s Wrapped or Apple Music’s Replay. You can find me on Last.fm over here.
In the end, NaBloPoMo was a blast, and I’m going to miss it.
“What could go wrong?” I asked in my introductory post. Thirty posts later, and I can safely say that I loved every minute I blogged in November, and goddammit, I’m going to keep blogging, aren’t I? Fuck’s sake.
In the last month, I wrote over 16,000 words, for an average about 500 words a post. Do I have a favorite? In a way, they’re all my favorite (laaaame), but I see them all connected as the stuff I wrote in “November.” These are my “November” posts, and they all tell a story of how I lived this month.
Okay, if I had to choose, my post, On Spider-Man, a Friend, and a Broken Heart, was my favorite because of how personal it was and how I was able to weave a video game review into it. I didn’t think I could do that, but I think I pulled it off. You be the judge. This was also my longest post, and the one that took the most out of me, in a good way. Something to think about for the future.
Will I do this again next year? I hope not because—goddammit—I think I’m going to keep going. Maybe not daily (I’m definitely taking tomorrow off), but more regularly for sure. I want to continue writing my weekly notes on Fridays, and I think I’d like to continue my Sunday Appreciation posts, too. The latter might be once or twice a month, not sure yet.
All in all, I had lots of fun, and I hope to keep going. So let’s keep going!
“In another lifetime, I used to be an EMT,” I told the 8th grade student on our way to the gym. She giggled and continued walking. “Back when I was a firefighter. Me and the principal used to be EMTs, actually. Once upon a time.”
“Wait, for real? I thought you were joking.”
“What? I never joke,” I deadpanned. She laughed again. “So tell me again what happened.” She did, and I started to walk faster.
We walked through the lobby doors, and she led me toward the basketball courts. A small group of middle school students were huddled around the boy. The PE teacher held him up from behind while her husband lied on the ground next to the boy’s left leg. The teacher held tight to the boy and winced. The boy groaned in pain.
“There,” her husband said.
He popped the boy’s dislocated knee back into place. The boy’s face was whiter than the fresh snow that fell overnight, but he was fine.
“You popped it back in?” I asked the husband, another teacher on staff. He said yes, and I, motioning to the student who fetched me, said, “She made it sound worse than it was.”
“It looked really bad,” the PE teacher and wife of the kneecap magician said. “It really looked like the bone was going to cut right through the skin. I panicked, so that’s why I sent her to get you, but then I remembered my husband was just in the other building, so I had another student fetch him.”
The husband and another student helped the boy to his feet. He couldn’t put any pressure on his leg, but he looked relieved to have his kneecap facing the right direction. I looked the boy over, made sure he was okay, and I helped him to the locker room. He sat down on the bench and stretched his leg out. I looked at his knee, and sure enough, everything looked to be in working order.
Another teacher prepared a bag of ice and gave it to me. After I gave it to the boy, I left the locker room and called the principal. I gave him the details, and he told me the boy’s father was on his way. “He’s an hour away, though.”
I told to the boy to rest and to keep the knee iced. “The swelling needs to go down,” I told him.
I talked to the PE teacher and she told me that her husband, a former football coach, had vast experience popping arms back into their shoulders, but he had never done knees before.
“Joints are joints,” I said.
We talked some more, and I checked on the boy again before I left and walked back to the main office. A few minutes before the end of school, the boy, helped by another student, walked to the front office with all his stuff. We sat him down and grabbed a chair for him to rest his leg on.
“The fact that you could walk all the way over here with very little help is a good thing,” the Superintendent said.
“Yeah,” the boy agreed.
Once the bell rang, I grabbed my stuff and left the building. My EMT license expired two years ago, but every now and then, I think about renewing it again. Today was a good example why.
I love seeing children in pain.
No, I’m joking. I like helping people, I like action, and I like solving problems. Being an EMT had all of that, but I let my license lapse right before COVID shut the world down. Every now and then I think about renewing it, but—I don’t know—I feel like that part of my life has ended.
Time marches forward and all that.
I was hoping to see a mangled kneecap, in all honesty. Next time.
This morning, my phone reminded me that I was very lazy over holiday break.
I averaged 3,190 steps over the previous five days, which is accurate. I spent my break living like a lazy person, and I enjoyed every second of it. But I knew that type of life wouldn’t last forever, so today I returned to work: I both clocked into my job, and I pulled out my workout mat and burned some calories.
I’m understating it when I say I’m tired. My resting heart rate for the past hour has been in the 70s, up from a yearly average of 49bpm. After my workout, I texted my friend, “🤮🤮🤮.”
She replied by challenging me to a 7-day competition on our Apple Watches.
“Friendly competition,” she said.
Toward the end of October, I added Headspace back to my morning routine.
I first heard about the app from this 2015 article in The New Yorker. At the time, I had used Insight Timer to help me meditate, an app I loved for its simplicity and the fact that it was free. But Headspace appeared interesting, so I tried it. I used it briefly, but I missed Insight Timer, so I returned to it and moved on from Headspace. A few years later, I learned that Headspace offered free lifetime access for educators, so I applied and upgraded my account, and I began to use it again to meditate. Like before, I used it for a few months, tried their new meditation courses, but for some reason, I couldn’t stick with it. Around that time, I had learned that Calm also offered lifetime access for educators, so I applied and used that app for a while. I liked this one more because they had a nice daily meditation, so I stuck with Calm.
Sometime last year, I stopped meditating. I think I had hit a plateau, and I no longer felt like meditating was bringing my life any value. So I stopped, and I didn’t miss it. At least, it wasn’t something I craved. All those years of meditating didn’t mean much to me anymore, and I felt like I was okay with that. As you might be able to guess, I wasn’t okay with that. Over time, I had started to feel on edge more and more. It’s remarkable sometimes how something could affect your life so much, but you only realize by how much when it’s gone. I had lost something when I stopped meditating, and the only way to get it back was to meditate again.
So—toward the end of October, I added Headspace back to my morning routine.
And I love it.
I setup Headspace to send me a reminder every day at 8:15am, and every day at around that time, I open the app and start my day with The Wake Up, then I follow it with that day’s meditation. Sometimes they include nature videos, videos of animals in the jungle or the sea or the desert, and these ten minute videos have been a joy to watch in the afternoon and evening. At the moment, I’m only meditating for ten minutes every morning, but I am planning to add another meditation later in the day.
My current streak stands at 39 days, and I’ve been meditating everywhere, at home, at work, and in different times throughout the day. I feel like I’ve regained a piece of whatever it was I was missing—some mental edge I had lost over the last year. Will I ever quit again? Honestly—probably. I’m human, after all. At the moment, though, I’m appreciating what this app has done for my life and for my mental health.
I started blogging because of a girl. This was back in 2014, a genuine lifetime ago. I had moved to Montana a few years before, and this girl became my first real Montana friend. Friends is all we were, though I did want it to be more than that. Unrequited love and all that. We met at work—we both worked together—and I asked her out by using this cheesy McDonald’s pickup line: If you were a burger at McDonald’s, you’d be the McHottie.
Yeah, I really used that line. And it worked!
We had dinner together at her place. She cooked dinner, and we hung out and talked for hours. We could always spend hours talking to each other, and she was one of the few friends I’ve ever made in my life who I could carry a conversation that long with. We talked about anything and everything. We teased each other. She teased me over how I pronounced caramel (care-uh-male, obviously), and I teased her on how she held her coffee (with both hands, even with small cups—I don’t know, I found it funny). We could always find the time to hang out, and man, where did that skill go?
We stopped being friends two years later, two years after it seemed we were inseparable. I thought we would be inseparable. I dreamt about it. I told her about it, my dreams of marrying her, of having kids, of building a life with her here in Montana. And then it ended, our friendship, and I don’t think I’ve fully recovered. I’ve moved on, but I don’t think I’ve recovered.
A week ago, I began to play Spider-Man: Miles Morales, a game I chose to play because I knew it wouldn’t take very long to beat, and it was a game I knew I’d enjoy. I had played the main Spider-Man game years ago, and I loved it, and I hoped for more of the same. Once I started swinging through New York City again, I felt like I was back home after being gone for a few years. [Warning: Spoilers here on out.] Fighting Rhino was fun and challenging, and I sincerely felt worried when Rhino knocked out Spider-Man. But then Miles discovered he had this bio-electric ability (“Venom Power”) that he could use to defeat Rhino, which he did. Afterward, Pete told Miles that he will join Mary Jane overseas on a journalism assignment and that Miles will be the only Spider-Man in New York City for a while. And off the story goes.
During his adventures, Miles has a run-in with a group called the Underground, led by someone called the Tinkerer. The Underground are after this experimental power source developed by the Roxxon Corporation called Nuform. Spider-Man, of course, wants to stop this from happening. During Christmas dinner, Miles finds that his friend Ganke invited Phin Mason, a childhood friend of Miles and someone he hadn’t seen for a while. While they chat and reconnect, Miles had this feeling that something seemed off with Phin. Later, during one of the campaigns, Miles learned that the Tinkerer, the leader of the Underground, was, in fact, Phin, his childhood friend. Miles has this idea to infiltrate the Underground as Miles, with Phin as his way in. Once inside their headquarters, Miles changes into Spider-Man, and during this campaign, he goes up again Phin as the Tinkerer. During this fight, the Tinkerer kicks Spider-Man’s ass, but before she could finish him off, Spider-Man takes off his mask and reveals his identity to her.
Phin, of course, is angry at Miles for having kept this secret from her. She leaves him, all bloodied and beat-up. Later, Miles calls Phin’s phone, but he gets her voicemail. He leaves a message, but the operator tells him that his message was too long. He tries again, but the operator tells him that Phin’s number isn’t accepting voicemails. He tries one more time, and he learns that Phin blocked his number. I felt for Miles because my friend—my former friend—blocked my number, too. I’m not proud of what led to that, but it happened, and it’s part of my identity and history now.
For the rest of the game, I was reminded over and over of my former friend, of her anger, her laughter, our shared memories. There’s a moment toward the end where the game enters a flashback. Miles and Phin are teenagers, and they’re walking around the Oscorp Science Center. They had entered a science competition, and they were on their way to see it. As they’re walking around, they’re checking out different exhibits, and during it, they’re goofing off, teasing each other, and chatting about life. It was here where my memories of my friend were strongest. I haven’t really had a friend like her since, and every day I think about what I don’t have anymore. Is that selfish? Self-centered? I’m not sure. I’m the one that hurt her, after all. Do I deserve anything good?
At the end of the game, Miles absorbs the energy from a nuclear reactor using his Venom Powers, but the energy is too much for him. Phin, seeing that her actions put millions of people’s lives in danger, realizes that she screwed up and that her friend Miles needs help. She sees Miles trying to get away from everyone before he releases all that energy he absorbed. She grabs him and flies him up high above the city, and during this sequence, they both understand what is about to happen. For a brief moment, they become friends again, and they’re these two nerdy goobers again. But then Miles releases all that energy…
This game hit me hard, harder than I expected a game to ever hit me. That ending shook me so hard that that night, I dreamt about my former friend for the first time in a long time. It was a simple dream. It was just us together, smiling, laughing, like the good old days. I woke up that morning sad, sad that I wasn’t still dreaming, that I wasn’t in that world with my friend anymore. What we had was great, but it was temporary. Those moments will never exist again, and that just breaks my heart all over again.
I’ve moved on, but I haven’t recovered. I don’t know how one can recover from this. I started to blog again because of this girl in an attempt to be better, to never fuck up like that again. It’s been eight years, and I don’t know if I’ve made progress, but I do know that I haven’t had a friendship like hers since, I haven’t had moments like those moments I’ve had with her since, and I haven’t truly been as happy as I was when I was with her since.
Maybe I deserve this, being alone. Maybe I don’t. I don’t know. What I do know is that I have been alone for a long, long time. I spent Thanksgiving alone, and I will probably spend Christmas alone. The last time I celebrated my birthday with anyone was in 2014, and that was when she took me to the hot springs. I’ve tried letting other people in, but I’ve trapped myself behind these walls, walls I’ve made progress in breaking down this year, but walls that I still have up. Just today a friend texted me, “[Montana is] a good place for you if you stay social and not a recluse!”
I know this sounds lame, but I have to be like Spider-Man. Spider-Man, and heroes in general, sacrifice so much but they still get back up and keep going. I have to keep going, and I have to keep living. Maybe I didn’t deserve happiness soon after our friendship ended, but it’s been eight years… I think I deserve some happiness now, right? I have a hard time accepting that, but I have to. I miss those moments I had with her, but I also know I can have them again with someone else. So I have to keep marching forward and hope that I can find happiness again.
And fucking Spider-Man helped me realize that. What the hell. Anyways, four out of five stars, highly recommended.
I’ve done lots of sleeping and not enough reading this week, so this edition of my Notes (original name, huh?) will be shortish. Yeah, that’s the excuse I’m going with… Anyways! Here are some notes from today, this 25th day of November, 2022:
My new XF16-55mm lens arrived today. First impressions:
That’s it because I haven’t really had a chance to play with it yet. Because Montana is very cold right now and because UPS doesn’t heat their trucks, my lens was ice cold as soon as I unpacked it. When I went to use it, condensation fogged up the lens, so I couldn’t really use it on anything. That’s fine because I wasn’t going to go out to shoot anything today anyway. Maybe this weekend?
How many people were ridiculously spammed today by emails from wish.com? Anyways, I setup a rule to automatically mark them all as spam, and my inbox has been quiet ever since.
I took advantage of some sales, many of which I did not really have my eye on, but when I saw them, I was like, why not? That’s how they get you. Well, me, at least.
Here are some of the deals I took advantage of:
I finished Spider-Man: Miles Morales yesterday, and my goodness. I have so many thoughts about this game, thoughts I hope to write soon. This game hit me hard.
Once I finished it, I still wanted to play video games, so I started Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, another game I purchased a year or two ago and never played. I’ve been playing since yesterday, and I’m enjoying it! I love the Uncharted universe, and this game is hitting all the right spots.
Okay, I did do some reading. I read this post by Tom Critchlow on generating agency through blogging, and this part jumped out to me:
It’s common to think of blogging as “building an audience”, but this can sound negative, self-serving, sleazy and promotional. Instead we can think of blogging as “finding your people”, which sounds much more wholesome, generative and positive.
Finding your people. That sounds nice, doesn’t it? I’ve found some people through blogging, and having them in my life has made my life that much more fun. I think when I first started blogging, building an audience was something I cared about, but when the focus turned to that, I cared more about them and not on my writing, and that only made me hate blogging, so I quit. When I returned, I did not focus on building an audience, and because of that, I’ve enjoyed writing again.
I wonder if people can notice that. I really have no clue how many people are reading me because I don’t have analytics on my site, nor do I care to add them. The odd email here and there from a reader is more than enough for me.
Again, thank you for reading. I really appreciate it.
I used to keep a gratitude journal. Every night I would write three things I was grateful for, and in the beginning, I felt like it helped me appreciate life and being alive more. At some point, though, this exercise began to feel like a task to check off as quickly as possible, and once that happened, I stopped and I never returned to it.
I like Thanksgiving season because it reminds me to slow down and appreciate what I have, many of which I take for granted. Things like sleep and good friends are top of mind because of how tangible they are on a daily basis, but I’m also grateful for the little things that when I notice them, I appreciate the value they bring me. Things like:
And of course, anyone reading these words. Thank you.
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