On optimism

I am fairly certain that I have described each of the last four years as the worst year of my life. Looking back on it now, 2020 does certainly seem to have won the battle royal– losing my mom is going to do a pretty good job of catapulting the year over the rest of them, even before the global pandemic enters the chat– but if I want to be a bit more specific, April 2019 to April 2020 is probably right about where the break points are. Maybe July 2020, if I want to include losing my cat, who I’d had for 22 years.

All I really want out of 2021 is for it to be better than the last four years. I don’t need it to be great. I don’t even need good. I just need better. My 40s in general have been an utter horror show– recall that I turned 40 in 2016– and I’m more than ready to be done with that.

There have been some vague signs that maybe things are starting to turn. I am, despite the pandemic, happier as a teacher this year than I have been in a very long time. Financially, I’m in the best shape of my life, both personally and jointly with my wife. The vaccine isn’t in ready supply yet, and I haven’t gotten my shots yet, but it exists. My family isn’t experiencing any acute health crises right now; my father-in-law isn’t in great shape, but he’s holding up, and we’re not hugely concerned about anyone else at the moment. And I’ll be an uncle in a few months.

Now all I need is for a couple of elections in a state I’ve never set foot in to go my way today, and to make it through the next fifteen days without a nuclear war starting or some other sort of nightmare scenario being unleashed on the world. I (and I’m sure I’m not alone in this) have gotten very, very gun-shy about anything that feels like good news over the last four years, and I don’t trust anything resembling optimism any longer. I feel like if it seems like things are turning around a little bit that’s just so that when they all go to hell again it will hurt worse.

Hell, I just want to make it through tomorrow without riots. I would like it if the worst people in America manage to make it through the day without killing anyone.

…at this point, I took about a 20-minute break from writing this, because the despair started kicking in again. There are at least a handful of reasons for actual optimism about this upcoming year. There are reasons to set goals for this year, and not just assume that there’s no chance I will achieve any of them.

I haven’t released a new book in forever. Hell, I haven’t written more than a handful of pages of fiction since Click became available to my Patreon subscribers– and that was mostly a rewrite and re-edit, not an actual new book. I’d like to say I want to get another book out this year, but it’s entirely possible that I’m just done with that. I’d like to be more creative in general this year, to make things, and I’m already looking at the whole idea of creativity and just exhausted by it.

I need a reason to be hopeful that doesn’t wash away a day or an hour or a few minutes after I happen upon it.

I need this year to be better.

In which I lack skills

I’ve been in this weird place for a couple of weeks– months? Hell, who knows, time has no meaning– where I want to get into woodworking. You may have seen the turning videos I’ve posted. That’s what people in the know call it, you see.

I’m not going to get into woodworking. I have nowhere to work wood, no tools for woodworking, and no one to instruct me in woodworkery, and I suspect this is not really something that one teaches oneself from videos on the internet. I have also considered getting into spin painting recently. You may recall a Teach Myself to Draw project a couple of years (?) ago if you’ve been around a while; that fizzled when I realized that while I did want to be good at drawing things, there wasn’t any particular thing I wanted to draw, and that’s … kind of important?

That ukulele is still around, too. Never gonna learn to play it. (I am, and I swear this is a coincidence, listening to Eddie Vedder’s ukulele album right now.)

What creative thing would you be good at if you actually wanted to put in the effort to get there?

Hmm let’s see

Feeling kind of bullet-pointy today, so let’s do a bits and bobs post rather than trying to construct some sort of coherent narrative:

  • After discovering at least one other teacher was doing this, I’ve decided to just go ahead and record my e-learning lessons for the rest of the year and get them all posted as fast as possible. I’m already done with the rest of this week and so I only have three more to do; they’ll probably all be finished tomorrow.
  • In theory, the kids are done on May 20, although they have until the 27th to turn in their work, and the district appears to think that we’re going to be doing trainings until school would have actually ended in June, but they haven’t actually given us any details on how that would work. I’m sure I’ll be super psyched about it once I know.
  • If you live in South Bend, you should have requested your primary ballot by now, dammit. I’d appreciate it if you’d vote yes on the referendum questions that are on the ballot so that my job can afford to keep paying me and we can invest in roofs and drinkable water and such in our buildings.
  • The usual gang of dipshits has discovered our dastardly plan to raise tax money and then spend it in such a way that it has a chance to benefit brown children, so naturally there’s a Vote No movement. I’ve only actually seen two signs about town but every time I do I have to forcibly restrain the urge to either steal the sign or drive up into people’s lawns to destroy them.
  • It is possible that the whole home-isolation thing is affecting my generally genial and go-along-to-get-along personality, I’m not sure.
  • I think Mike Pence probably has tested positive for coronavirus, because there was an announcement today that they were isolating him from that other person. I do not think that there is a single chance in hell that the White House would tell the truth about either of them being infected. Hell, I’d trust North Korean media about Kim Jong Un before I’d trust this White House to tell me the truth, and that’s kind of scary.
  • I am Back on My Shit in a number of ways recently, and in my idle moments today have been researching larger monitors for my computer (utterly unnecessary, as my iMac is already the largest possible size and I sit no more than two feet away from it, plus I already have a secondary monitor) as well as bikes for fat guys (they exist, and as far as I can tell America’s fat men have already bought them all, because none are in stock anywhere) and green screens for my office, which will become much less necessary tomorrow, when I’m done recording e-learning lessons for at least the next few months.
  • I have not been on a bike in over 30 years, as I basically learned how to ride one because my brother wanted to learn and then never did it again. If it is possible to forget how to ride a bike, I have done so. This is an exceptionally poor idea, especially given how much any bike robust enough to support my fat ass would cost.
  • I am wearing shorts. It’s not warm outside or anything like that, but it’s fucking mid-May and I’m wearing shorts because fuck you, mid-May.
  • We just ordered a new refrigerator for our garage, because I need a place to store my many beverages that will keep them cold. I do not actually drink alcohol, so yes, I’m actually envisioning an entire refrigerator filled with Pepsi, tea, Mountain Dew, and Gatorade.
  • Additional Back-On-My-Shittery: I’m back on oh man I really want to do a podcast I should buy a bunch of equipment for podcasting pay no attention to the fact that I still don’t have the vaguest idea what my podcast would be about I just wanna buy shit.
  • That said, my Blue Yeti desk microphone has finally earned back the money I spent on it over the last couple of months, as it really does sound a lot better in my videos than the internal mic on my computer. It’s also not entirely impossible that I’ll let myself invest in a better webcam than the one that’s built in, but I shouldn’t.
  • Lurking in the back of my head is the certainty that we will absolutely be needing to teach from home again this fall. That will probably be what ends up getting me to pull the trigger on the greenscreen, at least.
  • I also spent a few minutes yesterday looking into an online Ed.D, which … nah.
  • I’m listening to Post Malone right now, and this track he does with Ozzy Osbourne is amazing.
  • 3:42 PM, Tuesday May 12: 1,358,901 confirmed cases and 81,650 American deaths.

In which we build, ctd.

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Something happened today that, somehow, hasn’t happened yet, despite the fact that the boy is in first grade: he woke up feeling sick, and I decided to call in myself and keep him home for the day.  By noon my plan had been shown to be less than wise; a headache so bad that it had him swaying in the morning had given way to, well, nothing, and I’m finding myself fighting off a slightly delayed case of con crud.  I think it’ll run its course today and be done tomorrow, but I’m definitely low on spoons, if you know what I mean.

We spent the morning in Minecraft again, and I added a floating cabin, complete with waterfall and a manmade lake underneath, plus the totally-made-up flaming magic rocks that help it float– the floor in the house is actually made of glass covered in carpet because glass won’t burn and nothing else I was putting down was keeping the fires from getting through.  All of this is across the river from yesterday’s efforts.

In the background there is another floating fountain made of emerald.  Yes, there’s apparently a theme in this world; much like IT, everything floats down here.

Less mangled children, though, I suppose.

I’ll try and write something that isn’t about Minecraft tomorrow.  If nothing else, I have a book review or two to write.

In which we build

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I had plans for a post tonight, but instead the boy declared it was going to be Minecraft Night, so we each sprawled on the couch with an iPad in hand and made stuff.  I decided to go with an elemental shrine theme, building a pool with an infinite waterfall, a fire shrine, a nature garden (which was as close to “earth” as I could come up with) and a glass house in the sky only reachable by flying but providing an awesome double-slime-diving-board down to the lake below.

The boy only went with one element, shamelessly stealing my glass sky house idea, but then did it twelve thousand times as interesting as mine, so I think he wins.

So yeah.  I didn’t manage much of a post but I think I spent my evening pretty damn well.