Gone ‘Til November

Earlier this week, my wife invited me to a news blackout on Election Day, and I accepted. To help in that endeavor, I also am taking vacation days on Monday and Tuesday that week. And now since I already have voted, and I don’t need or want to hear anything more on the election, I have decided to extend the news blackout backwards to start tomorrow. Along with that, I’m signing off here on the blog and on Instagram for the rest of the month until after the election.

So what will I be doing if I’m not thinking about the election or the news?

On the literary front, I have choices with plenty of books I already own on Kindle from which to choose and a few books I’ve checked out from the library, including Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden and the third, fourth and fifth books in the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells.

On the cinematic front, I am thinking about a rewatch of the sixth season of Schitt’s Creek and continuing to watch the best episodes of Cold Case on The Roku Channel before the show expires at the end of the month. I miss Drunk History, but I’ll drown my sorrows with Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax movies.

On the musical front, I am hoping that Lana Del Rey drops her new album Chemtrails over the Country Club before the end of the month and if not, I’ll continue to listen to Taylor Swift’s latest album folklore over and over again as I pretty much have been doing since it was released in late July.

I also will be continuing an online six-week introductory course for Christian Meditation that is being hosted by a group in Houston, Texas and to which I was invited by Deb Nance of the blog, Readerbuzz, and host of the weekly Sunday Salon. The group is part of The World Community for Christian Meditation. I admit that on the night of the election, I will be skipping as (my wife and) I will be “meditating” over a big bottle of wine or other alcohol-based libation.

…after the election (when hopefully we won’t have to move to Celine’s country).

Celebrating World Mental Health Day with mindfulness & self-compassion

While updating apps on my phone, I learned via Google Play that today is World Mental Health Day. Appropriate then that I already had started the day with continuing a course I started earlier in the week, “Coping With Anxiety in Times of Coronavirus” with Dr. Lillian Nejad on the Insight Timer app.  I also have been reading Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn and plan on continuing that today.

I thought throughout the day, I’d share highlights from each, starting with Dr. Nejad’s course:

Mindfulness does not remove the stresses and demands of your job or life. It does not change your difficult circumstances. It does change how difficulties, challenges, failures, and painful experiences affect you and how you respond to these experiences. Ultimately mindfulness changes your relationship to the realities of life so you can live it how it really is right now.


Here is what I’m listening to as I start my day:


I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that in addition to starting Dr. Nejad’s course on Tuesday morning, that I started another course on Tuesday night, an online six-week introductory course for Christian Meditation that is being hosted by a group in Houston, Texas and to which I was invited by Deb Nance of the blog, Readerbuzz, and host of the weekly Sunday Salon. The group is part of The World Community for Christian Meditation. The first week was on what Christian meditation is, with the course continuing for five more weeks. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was with a group of about 30 people, including Deb, on Zoom.

While I thought it was good, as it was after work and dinner, I was distracted primarily by myself, not realizing the hour would include a 20-minute meditation on a mantra, in this case, “Maranatha” (an Aramaic word meaning, “Come Lord Jesus”).  I also was distracted to a lesser degree by the group leader, whom it sounded like had a baseball game on the radio in the background. Luckily, during the meditation portion of the course, he had his sound muted, but I still had a hard time focusing as I still was distracting myself. I did let the host know about the background sound issue, so hopefully next time, it will be corrected. As for me distracting myself, I’ll work on that.


It is now early evening and I haven’t read as much as I’d like, thanks to distractions and a nap. The distractions included my wife stepping on my glasses, that I accidentally left on the floor, my getting an eyeglass repair kit at Rite Aid, and then trying to fix them. However, we couldn’t get a screw out so I’ll have to take it Monday to the optician to repair. In the meantime, I popped the glass on the right side in enough to hold for the weekend.

Now after the nap, I had dinner with Kim before she goes to work and am beginning to read again. Here is one of the highlights so far tonight from my reading in Wherever You Go, There You Are:

We have precious few occasions nowadays for the mind to settle itself in stillness by a fire. Instead, we watch television at the end of the day, a pale electronic fire energy, and pale in comparison. We submit ourselves to constant bombardment by sounds and images that come from minds other than our own, that fill our heads with information and trivia, other people’s adventures and excitement and desires. Watching television leaves even less room in the day for experiencing stillness. It soaks up time, space, and silence, a soporific, lulling us into mindless passivity. “Bubble gum for the eyes,” Steve Allen called it. Newspapers do much the same. They are not bad in themselves, but we frequently conspire to use them to rob ourselves of many precious moments in which we might be living more fully.

This explains fairly well why since mid-May this year, I have been taking a break every Sunday (and some Saturdays too like this weekend) from news and work to focus on reading, journaling, listening to music, and watching TV in what I have called “My Own Personal Sabbath,” of which this post is a part.  As for what I’m listening to tonight, it’s mostly disco-themed, with Róisín Murphy and Tracey Thorn.


It is 10:48 p.m. and I have finished Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Overall, I liked the book, although I admit I found myself skimming some as I really couldn’t relate or I didn’t find some of it applicable.

Update, Sunday morning, 9:30 a.m.: Initially, I had planned to celebrate World Mental Health Day on just one day, then changed my mind to celebrate both Saturday and Sunday. I was going to include reading the book, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Dr. Kristin Neff. This morning, I changed my mind back to only celebrating it for one day, yesterday, and gave myself compassion to not think I “had to” extend it for two days for you or anyone else.

My Own Personal Sabbath #22

Every Sunday since mid-May 2020, I have been taking my own personal Sabbath, where I tune out of the news and social media and turn off my ringer and all notifications on my phone. This past weekend, I tuned out for two days and participated in a readathon on Instagram, #october8in2, to read 8 hours in two days. What follows is what I read for the readathon:

I only finished one book: Cocaine Blues, the first Phryne Fisher mystery, by Kerry Greenwood. But I started a second, Flying Too High, the second Phryne Fisher mystery, also by Greenwood, and continued another, Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn. By the end of Sunday, I was about halfway through the former and I am about two-thirds through the latter, which I started last week.


I tried restarting where I left off this morning in Flying Too High and decided to parachute out of it after I decided I didn’t care for the flight path it was taking.

It was time for Phryne to call in the debts that were owed her after the affair of the Cocaine Blues.

That opening sentence at the beginning of Chapter 8 was the place I finally decided to deploy the parachute,o since nowhere in the previous book did any of the characters refer to the case as “the Cocaine Blues.” I even did a search on the ebook to see if the phrase appeared anywhere beyond titles or an epigraph, and it didn’t. To me, that is laziness by the author referring to the title she gave the case.

The first one held my interest mainly because I recognized characters from the TV series as they were introduced. In both books, I didn’t like the way Greenwood was jumping back and forth between two cases that were unrelated. I just want one case and didn’t, and don’t, appreciate the distraction of a minor case.

I had a lot of other issues with the second one, but since I am moving on to read something else, I don’t feel like hashing over those issues. I’d rather just move on to another book and not waste any more thoughts on a series I won’t be continuing.


A series that I wish I could continue is Cold Case, which has been available for free with commercials on The Roku Channel. I only learned yesterday that the show from the 2000s will no longer be available on the channel after the end of the month. Earlier this year, I just rediscovered it after not having seen it in years. I’m only in the third season and with seven seasons and more than 100 episodes left to watch, I’m not going to make it through them by the end of the month.

Instead, I’ve decided I’ll try to watch most of the episodes with higher than a rating of 8 on IMDb. It still leaves a lot, but I also have searched on Reddit and found lists of favorite episodes by other fans to help me narrow down what I choose to watch. Unfortunately, because the show used a lot of popular music, it never has come out on DVD because of licensing issues and probably never will.

Aside: I wish other shows like Northern Exposure were available on DVD with the original soundtrack too. Years ago, we bought a collection only to discover the music, which was a huge part of the show was missing.


I’ll leave you with a song from the recently released Super Deluxe Edition of Sign o’ The Times by Prince, which I just am beginning to delve into:

Pushing Forward Back September/October 2020

Read

  • The Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham
  • The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
  • The Moving Target by Ross Macdonald
  • Cadillac Beach by Tim Dorsey
  • Last Bus To Woodstock by Colin Dexter

Watched

  • Endeavour, Series 3 and Series 4
  • Eureka, part of Season 3
  • Mystery Road, Series One
  • The Song Remains The Same
  • The Train (1964)

Listened To

  • Gold Record by Bill Callahan
  • Comma by Sam Prekop
  • Shore by Fleet Foxes
  • Untitled (Rise) by Sault
  • Whole New Mess by Angel Olsen

Highlights of the Past Month

  • In bold in the lists above are my picks of the month as must-read, must-watch and must-listen-to, with the corresponding photos above each category. In the music category, it was close with Angel Olsen’s and Fleet Foxes’ new albums also more than worth a listen.
  • On a personal level, the big highlight of the month was the resolution of a dispute between the hospital and our insurance company from my knee surgery last year for a bill for $11,000. The short version is that after several months, we now owe nothing.
  • Other highlights included getting a light therapy lamp to help with Seasonal Affective Disorder, getting a meditation app called Insight Timer to help me be more mindful at work and at home, and getting rid of an old air conditioner and loveseat. Unfortunately in the case of the latter, while moving the loveseat out of the house, I dropped it on one of my barefoot toes (I know, really smart), which looks pretty gnarly. I’m going to see my primary on Friday to see if she thinks I need to get an X-ray.

Ahead to October

However, it’s not all bad or potentially bad for me for the month of October. I’m beginning the month continuing to read The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens and Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn, both of which I started this past weekend and both of which I’m enjoying. My wife and I also are looking forward to rewatching Season 6 of Schitt’s Creek, which drops Oct. 7 on Netflix. Of course, as I am writing this, I remember that we already own the sixth season on Prime because we couldn’t wait for it to come out on Netflix and bought it earlier this year so we actually can watch it again whenever. We also are awaiting the release of the new album, Chemtrails Over The Country Club, by Lana Del Rey that originally was supposed to drop in September, but hopefully will drop this coming month.

On a personal note, hopefully, thanks to the light therapy, I will be able to wake up earlier to journal, to walk and…well…just to be awake before going to work.

I’ll leave you with a taste of Lana with Matt Maeson:

How was your month of September? Read any good books, seen any good movies and/or TV shows, listened to any good music? What was the highlight of your month? What are you most looking forward to in October? Share in the comments.

Update, Friday, Oct. 2: My doctor said the top part of my toe was broken, even without having me getting an X-ray. She taped it together with the nearest toe and told me to take Tylenol or ibuprofen for the swelling and pain. She estimated it could take up to 12 weeks to heal. But that I might still be feeling pain in it for up to six months. If it looks bad after a couple of weeks, she said that I could call and she’d prescribe an antibiotic if infected.

Further update, Saturday, Oct. 3: After a little research, I ordered some toe wraps and a special shoe for the broken toe (middle toe on the left foot) on Amazon, all for under $50. I figured it couldn’t hurt to try to see if they help with the healing and, in the case of the shoe, keeping in mind while walking around the house to watch that I don’t bang into anything else with the broken toe.