There and back again

We have returned from our voyage to the northern wilds of Michigan. I have officially missed Parent/Teacher conferences, and in accordance with prophecy I am exhausted. I do actually have a couple of things worth talking about, but … yeah, that bit about prophecy. They can wait until tomorrow or the day after.

Meanwhile, I do believe I promised you a picture. This is even relevant to one of those future posts! Consider it a teaser.

On the continuing contraction of my social media

My Facebook and Instagram accounts have been closed for some time now, and while I occasionally miss Instagram a little bit, I find I haven’t missed Facebook at all, and I think at this point it’s probably fair to say that I’m not going to be reactivating that account ever again. And I find myself looking around at the rest of my accounts and trying to figure out what could go next.

I gotta be honest; I’m starting to think about losing Twitter and TikTok. I’ve pretty much stopped posting on TikTok; maybe a video a week at most, and the site mostly exists as a time sink for me now. I could, I suppose, completely rework how I use it– the good thing about TikTok is the way the site celebrates enthusiasm of all kinds, so if I went through and made sure I was just following the woodworking and bookmaking and cooking and BookTok and other maker types of accounts, I could probably keep it up for longer, but right now it’s not really doing anything for me other than giving me something to stare at, and the way the site’s moderation works even without any regular posting it’s only a matter of time before they decide to ban me for no fucking reason at all.

And Twitter … man, I’m really split on Twitter. On the one hand, it’s my main source of news, and one of the really big ways I discover new books nowadays. On the other hand, it’s my main source of news, and the news is constantly horrible all the time and evil has won. I have a number of people I interact with over there who I really like, but they’re all parasocial relationships with people who probably wouldn’t actually miss me much if I disappeared from the site and a fair number of them show up here or on YouTube anyway. (YouTube is not currently in danger, for the record.)

But … God, I need to get the despair under control lately, and I really am starting to think that Twitter is an overall drag on my mental health. But it has some utility to me beyond just being a time sink, and for that reason I’m not nearly as likely to decide to get rid of it. I just need to find a way to get the horror aspects of the site under control, as it’s become perfectly clear lately that I am never going to be able to block my way out of the bullshit. My blocklist is in the mid-five-figures right now and there’s still just an endless torrent of bullshit every single day. Just today alone I found out that Joyce Carol Oates, Letitia Wright, and Tim Burton were massive assholes, and, like, I don’t need this shit.

(Also up for debate: is Twitter what’s causing a decline in my mental health, or is it the state of the fucking world, and it’s just Twitter taking the brunt of that? Or both? There’s no reason it can’t be both.)

(Like, it’s not Twitter’s fault that the Republicans are literally going to tank the world economy less than a month after I decided to take retirement investments seriously. But Twitter is how I’m hearing about all this shit so it’s taking the blame.)

I dunno. I’m not doing anything anytime soon, but I’m starting to think about it in a more serious fashion than I have in the past.

Some quick notes

I went to McDonald’s the other day, as I am still occasionally wont to do, and the gentleman in the first window was wearing a shirt I’d not seen before: Baby Yoda, holding a Big Mac, with the McDonald’s logo floating behind him. I laughed and told him I liked the shirt, at which point he revealed that it wasn’t actually an official McDonald’s shirt– he’d found it on eBay, and apparently the day after he got his shirt the shop that was selling it got shut down. Now, I’m aware that I’m saying this as someone who owns a Wu-Tang Clan Baby Yoda shirt, but pissing off Disney and McDonald’s with a single shirt design is an impressively ballsy business move. Or an impressively stupid one; I’m not sure there’s much of a difference.


I finished Isabel Allende’s Island Beneath the Sea yesterday, and I’m issuing it a qualified, but strong recommendation: I was never quite able to shake the feeling that a story about an enslaved person in Saint Domingue before Toussaint L’Overture’s rebellion and in New Orleans right around the time of the handover to the United States was quite Allende’s story to tell, and the book ends on a really strange, incest-is-super type of note, but if you’re able to get past that, it’s a hell of a read. I’m not sure how much of it is based in history and how much is made up– the broad strokes are historical, of course, but I’m not sure if any of the main characters or families are real people– but this is the second of Allende’s books I’ve read and there will be more.


Damn. Ten minutes ago I had a parenting thing to put here too, and it’s gone. Shit. I’ll put it back if I remember later.

In which I gain levels in Adult, Responsible and Financial Independence

…and then ruin them by relating them to Dungeons and Dragons.

Folks, as of today, technically, and definitely as of Saturday when the payment will officially go through, I have no credit card debt. This has not been true at any point since I was in college– probably since my freshman year, in fact. Said credit card debt was at one point north of thirty thousand dollars and it is now gone. Now, I’m not free of debt itself by any means– there is a mortgage, and a car loan, and my student loans, and another installment loan at a very low APR that I used to make a large chunk of that credit card debt not credit card debt any more. But this is still a Goddamn milestone; I don’t owe any money to actual credit cards any longer, and every debt I have is on an installment plan where I can point at a date on a calendar and say “This is when that will be repaid.”

Except not really, because now that I’ve got the money I’ve been using to aggressively pay down credit card debt back in my pocket, I’m going to start working on the car. I think I can actually afford to make my car payment twice a month now and still come out ahead from what I was putting into credit cards. That’ll have that paid off in a little over a year, I think. After that, assuming I don’t lose my job or have some other shit life event, things are going to seriously change. I will be moving into Actual Discretionary Income territory, which … well, I know it probably seems like I already spend money whenever I want to, and yes, I’m saving up for a criminally expensive lightsaber as a Paid Off My Credit Cards award, but … this is still a big Goddamned deal, y’all.

I just gotta remember to spend the rest of my life not being stupid now.

Some realizations

  • First, that it is 7:30 PM, and I probably ought to blog today;
  • Second, that I am officially closer to retirement than I am to college, even assuming I wait to 65 to retire;
  • Third, that my student loans are due to be paid off four years prior to said 65th birthday, which should be a crime;
  • Fourth, that even if the notion of living another 20 years much less teaching for that long is difficult to wrap my head around, I probably ought to take this retirement thing seriously since I have, y’know, a wife and child in the mix now.

In case you can’t tell, I met with a retirement … dude, of some sort, at work on Friday, and several mortality-confronty sorts of things were discussed, and then this weekend I managed to keep my shit together long enough to dig through the folder that I throw anything even vaguely investment-related into and find not one but two different investment-related accounts that appear to no longer be receiving active contributions; I did some strategic scanning and sent them off to The Dude with a note attached that basically said I don’t know any of the money words, please help and we will see if anything happens. I have never really believed in retirement, to be honest; not in the sense that I don’t want to eventually quit working– I want to quit working now— but in the sense that I suspect any money I “invest” in my “future” will be stolen or siphoned off somehow before I’m able to actually benefit from any of it.

Today also included mowing, putting all my laundered clothes away like a big boy, finishing a book, starting another one, getting my grading done, writing a number of important emails, and a couple of videos recorded for The YouTubes. All in all, not bad for a Sunday.