Going on vacation

At 2:30 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, I’m going on vacation until next Thursday morning at 10 a.m. when I return to work. Initially, I decided to take the time off, just because I don’t like my vacation hours to build up at the end of the year when I have to “use them or lose them.”

AND THEN…

Last month, I got an appointment for my first covid vaccination shot on Saturday in a nearby town (about an hour away), then a couple of weeks ago, another appointment for my first covid vaccination shot last night, which I took because it was in my hometown. My second is scheduled for Thursday, April 1. No fooling 😉.

SO NOW…

I am celebrating that, of course, which just happened also to be on the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring the world was in a pandemic.

AND THIS…

It is almost exactly one year from when the pandemic began for me too as the last day the library where I work was open was Saturday, March 14, and we closed Sunday, March 15, for several months before reopening.

My vacation begins appropriately right around the same time, as on March 14, I’ll already be into my vacation since Saturday afternoon. It will be almost a year to the day of when I went into isolation and have been slowly remerging since, both personally and professionally.

Now that you know the why, what is my plan for those 4 days and 19 hours?

THE ITINERARY

Over the first four nights, we’re going to northern England, Italy, Spain, Greece, Ireland and Boston. First through the lens of The Trip, the British TV/film series with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, that started in 2010 and ended last year. The duo first toured the north of England in the TV series that was then made into a feature film, then went to Italy, Spain, and Greece in subsequent series that also were made into feature films.

So, we’ll be going with them and adding Ireland, but of course, with a concert with Flogging Molly and then Boston with another concert, Dropkick Murphys, on the tail end of our tour. Along the way, we’ll eat meals, drink drinks (well, I will be every day but as Kim has to work Saturday and Sunday nights, she won’t be imbibing on those days) and watch other movies too (at least semi) representative of each country:

  1. Saturday, March 13, The Trip (northern England),followed by movie to be determined, fish and chips, Pimm’s.
  2. Sunday, March 14, The Trip to Italy, followed by Godfather: Part 3, Coda, ziti, amaretto, sambuca.
  3. Monday, March 15: The Trip to Spain, followed by a movie to be determined, paella, Sangria.
  4. Tuesday, March 16: The Trip to Greece, followed by My Big Fat Greek Wedding – during day sometime, Staged Season 2, spanakopita, ouzo.
  5. Wednesday, March 17: Two virtual concerts, Flogging Molly at 3 p.m. and Dropkick Murphys at 7 p.m., food to be determined, whiskey.

Oops, I almost forgot that naturally I plan on reading during my vacation, but I’m staying in one country: Italy with Inspector Montalbano and Andrea Camilleri as next up is The Wings of The Sphinx, the 11th in the series.

Sunday morning update: For my second English movie, I watched the first Paddington movie, although the second one is my favorite. I started the second one, but didn’t finish it. Maybe later today. Also I realized last night that I might be painting “this picture” as all sunshine and unicorns (with rainbows coming out of their butts?), and I wanted to add that this vacation is also a time for reflection me personally. Let’s face it, this has been one hell of a year for all of us, but I’m trying to find hope wherever I can and hopefully, can help you find some too, even if it’s just a sliver of sunshine in what can be a dark world.

My Own Personal Sabbath #31

Almost every Sunday since mid-May 2020 with a few exceptions, 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. Throughout the day and/or sometimes the next day, I share what I am reading, listening to or watching during my Sabbath.

Tomorrow, the plan is simple: recharge, read, and rest.

Recharge after energy depletion from doomscrolling and what Kim and I call “our daily five minutes of anger” after looking at the news usually at the end of the day. Unfortunately, sometimes it is longer than five minutes and even if only is five minutes, it sours the rest of the night. What has helped, though, is we have been watching a show on Netflix with meditation exercises.

So I plan to start tomorrow with meditation as modeled by the late John Main, reciting the word “Maranatha” for 20 minutes.

Read after not taking the time out to read all week. Instead, we watched lots of episodes of The Simpsons and Hamilton since we subscribed to Disney Plus. We finally caved when we saw the five seasons of the original The Muppet Show is coming to the channel later this month.

I’ll be continuing with the Inspector Montalbano mysteries that I started last month. So far, I have read the sixth, seventh, and eighth in the series, The Smell of the Night, Rounding the Mark, and The Patience of the Spider. I already the ninth and 10th in the series, The Paper Moon and August Heat checked out on ebook from the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Rest after, at times, a mentally stressful week. My mother had to get a test for covid, which turned out to be negative (but she’s still not feeling well). At work, I’m navigating through miscommunication, sometimes perceived vs. real, with coworkers. And then there’s the aforementioned doomscrolling. Rest will involve most likely a nap…and music…and TV or movie watching.

I’ll check in later tomorrow to let you know how it went.

Sunday Update:

9 a.m. I’ve been up for about an hour and didn’t start the day with meditation, but I’ll be getting to that this morning. After eating first breakfast, I started reading The Paper Moon and appropriately it began with a passage about waking up that fit the day. The passage is too long to quote here, but the gist of it is like in the movie Dead Poets Society: Carpe diem (in a whisper). So I’m going to seize the day and do what I want right now, which is reading this book.

Noon: So…I’ve read one chapter so far of The Paper Moon. Most of the morning, I’ve been on the phone: checking in with my mom and dad (twice, actually, after seeing a blog post that reminded me of something I wanted to tell my dad) and our landlord about a few minor issues at our house. Now it’s after noon here and I still haven’t “meditated.” So I guess that’s next. Update on my mom: She’s still not feeling great, but maybe slightly better. If it doesn’t clear up by mid-week, she’ll get a doctor’s appointment.

4 p.m.: So…I’ve read one chapter so far of The Paper Moon. Pete and Repete were sitting on a wall. Pete fell off. Who was left?…But it’s true. I ended up meditating finally, then after falling asleep in my recliner, I took a short nap. Now here I am.

9 p.m.: So…I’ve now read three chapters in the book. Kim goes to work at 7:30 for a 12-hour shift, so before then, we had dinner and watched a few of The Simpsons. Now I’m ending the night with trying WandaVision. So far, I’m not sold on the laugh track, but I’m soldiering through with the assistance of wine and cheese.

What are you up to this weekend? Reading, watching, listening to anything good this weekend? Share in the comments.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this film from deejay My Friend Dario to which I was introduced during last weekend’s edition of The Chill Out Tent:


I’m officially back!

After taking a short break for most of January, I’m officially back! I was unofficially back yesterday for a short musical interlude, but now I’m really back. So here’s what I have been up to the last few weeks.

I’ve been continuing to read the Inspector Montalbano series by Andrea Camilleri. In January I read the sixth, seventh, and eighth in the series, The Smell of the Night, Rounding the Mark, and The Patience of the Spider.

We got a new chair (electric, even with a USB port so I can charge my phone) for me and a new cat tree for our two cats (their first!).

A coworker also had some extra prints of photos from the western part of the U.S. that he wanted to give away to us for free. These are the ones I selected:

We caved (more accurately, I caved) to finally getting Disney Plus. I saw that The Muppets, the TV series, is coming later this month and it was too enticing for me to pass up. Plus I knew Kim would like to see The Simpsons. We also wanted to see Hamilton, but weren’t going to get the platform just for that. Now that we have it, we’ll watch it, but of course. Last night, the first thing I watched was Toy Story 2, my favorite Toy Story, especially for this scene, which has me in tears every single time:

Last night was no different as I bawled, from the first note. That’s all it took.

Today, I have zero plans beyond this. I don’t go back to work until tomorrow. We might watch Hamilton later today. We might not. It’s wide open. Usually on Feb. 2, we watch Groundhog Day, but this year maybe we won’t since we’ve already been living it for the last year.

Oops, added this in later: I forgot to include we watched the 1980s cult classic They Live. Kim had seen it, I had not, but when a mutual friend of ours mentioned it in conversation, we knew we had to watch it. It was over the top, but fun.

So what have you been up to since I’ve been gone? Reading, watching, listening to anything good? Share in the comments.

My Top 5 TV Shows of 2020

This month I’ve been joining Kim and Tanya of Girlxoxo.com for their annual event A Month of Faves, at least for a few topics and throwing in a few of my own. At the beginning of the month, I posted “My End of Year Bookish Plans.” Two weeks ago, I posted “These are a few of my favorite moments in 2020“, “These are a few of my favorite things (at home) in 2020,” and “These are a few of my favorite (Christmas) things.” Last week, I posted my favorite fiction books read this year and then my favorite nonfiction books read this year. In between those two posts, I threw in my own topic “The Series That Didn’t Stick For Me In 2020,” with series either I read the first one or abandoned in the middle of the first or sometimes second one. Now I finish up with my top 5 TV shows from this year.

This year, five shows stuck out for me, either ones we returned to again and again or ones that were “one-offs” and just fit the mood at the time. My first pick at No. 5 was one of those…

5. Teenage Bounty Hunters, Season 1

Sadly the show has been canceled by Netflix but the first season is worth a watch.

4. Staged, Season 1

This is one of the few shows shot during, and peripherally, about the pandemic that actually was good. And a second season is coming out next week. It also had great cameos as evidenced below (just be warned, it is uncensored).

3. The Last Dance

As a huge Chicago Bulls fan, I looked forwarded to this ESPN documentary when it came out on Netflix and it didn’t disappoint. It also didn’t shy away from a less than flattering portrayal of Michael Jordan, which made it all the more real. Yes, there were some glaring omissions, but all in all, it was worth the watch. I even got my wife, who isn’t into “sportsin'” as she calls it, to watch a few episodes.

2. Schitt’s Creek, Season 6

I won’t lie. I was a latecomer to this show, but once my wife showed me the last episode of the second season, I was all in.

1. What We Do in the Shadows, Season 2

My wife and I both loved the movie, but a TV show based on the movie? YES! That is the answer, especially after this second season, which has seen the vampires, shall I say it? yes, I shall, soar to new heights. Watch the movie and stick with the series.

So what are your favorite shows from this year or ones that you discovered this year? Please share in the comments.