Book reviews will be on hold for a little while; consumerism versus creativity.

Officially starting today I changed positions at my job. I am no longer what is called the “operations supervisor.” Instead I have a new or rare position in the company called something like “Freight Area Supervisor.” In other words, I oversee the freight flow process for the store, working with the early morning stock crew as well as coordinating with management and maintaining the receiving area blah blah blah let’s be honest I took the job because it’s a lot more money. And from my understanding the vice president of the company invented the position because of how good I am in working the back room. At least, that’s the story I heard. In any case, it’s a rare position and management wanted me back there because I’m damn good at it.

What does that have to do with book reviews? I’m still getting used to the position. Even though it officially started today I began work trying to clean up the back room this past Thursday, ultimately working a 14 hour shift. I got sore in muscles that I forgot I had. I ended up only going for three hours the next day. I had got a book to read this past weekend but I spent more time vegging in front of my computer watching Babylon 5 while I tried to recover. Then, of course chores around the apartment started backing up and I had a ton of stuff to do. Even as I write this, I have several dirty dishes piled up in my kitchen that need addressing.

On top of it all I’m scheduled to go into work earlier than I have been, and in fact scheduled ten hours overtime for the week. We’ll see how that pans out, but the main point is that I’m getting used to my new job. I want to go back to book reviews, but I don’t want to make promises as to when.

Besides, I have other things that I want to do, or rather, get back into doing outside of work. Yesterday, when I was feeling a little better, I drove out to a beach near me and walked out to one of my favorite spots when I need to clean my head, a specific rock down by the water away from the beach itself. I went there with the intent to think through a dilemma I had built for myself. I won’t bother detailing that or my conclusions on it here as they aren’t relevant but another, important thought occurred to me. I knew that I’ve been slacking off for a long time now. As you can see I haven’t been blogging much over the past several months aside from book reviews and the occasional, boring thought. I haven’t done any serious writing in a while. Other habits have gone by the wayside such as jogging or practicing guitar.

I have tried to better myself through podcasts covering current events, science and culture, reading more “intellectual” material and watching more “artistic” and culturally relevant movies.But was I really becoming a better person as a result? I thought back to a YouTube video that I watched recently by The Count of the Belfry Network and the Goth talk podcast Cemetery Confessions. During his discussion on “What is Goth?” he brought up the point of how we have become a consumer culture, where we consume more than we create. Being aware of the world is all well and good, but what is the point of consuming knowledge without doing anything with it?

I felt that I was at a crossroads—yes, I know, cliché and melodramatic, but that’s how I felt nonetheless. Was I going to give in and give up on writing and to a lesser degree, music, and just become a consumer? Would I become the type of person who would come home from work, crack open a beer, and watch television until bedtime? Or would I be come a creator? Would I return to writing and this time, in full force? Would I eschew some of my pastimes in favor of more disciplined work, despite the extra work I’m taking on at my full-time job?

I’m not placing a value judgement on either choice. I know that the latter option sounds more “respectable” but I honestly wouldn’t have a problem with going either way. What it boils down to is which type of person am I? The endless consumer or the desperate creator?

I would like to think that by this point, over seven hundred words into this blog post, the answer has become obvious. I don’t feel guilty over “slacking” off over the past year. It may have just been something that I needed. And sure, I may need to relax sometimes. But I need to create.

Although, first, I really need to do those dishes. There’s little insects crawling around on my kitchen counter.

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In other thoughts….

If somebody tries to kill him- or herself by jumping in front of a moving ambulance, do the first responders in the ambulance have to call in another ambulance? Would the answer change depending on whether or not the person actually got killed? This is of course assuming that there was not significant damage to the vehicle, in which case they would have to stay there anyway. But I imagine that the people in the ambulance would have to stick around for paperwork.

In other thoughts, I was recently at a local brewery that has its own brewpub with the intent on getting dinner. While I was there I discovered that when they changed their menu, they no longer offer vegetarian entrees. I had one beer and left. While I was leaving I was perplexed by the fact that there were about two dozen portable toilets in the parking lot. I had to wonder if the two issues were connected. No, I’m not thinking of people’s digestion when related to all of the meat. I imagine a more Sweeney Todd-like scenario. Perhaps all of those portable toilets are actually traps. You go in, the floor drops beneath you and you drop into a machine with buzz saws and meat grinders.

In other thoughts, the word “owl” is pronounced one way, but then if you add the letter “b” in the front of it, “bowl” is pronounced another. By adding that “b” we suddenly get the long “o” sound. Why isn’t it pronounced like “bowel?” Think about that the next time you use the word “bowl” in a sentence: “I like to eat out of my favorite soup bowel.” Yes, I realize that this last bit works better when spoken out loud but a.that would involve me actually interacting with somebody in person, and b.I had to write something for today’s blog post.

Do podcasts count as part of the Internet?

Does a podcast in of itself count as a portion of the Internet? I decided recently that I’m only going to go online during the morning before I go to work (at least as far as weekdays are concerned). I came to terms with the fact that I could have been getting addicted to surfing the net when I should have been trying to live something of a life—or at least get something productive done. I was spending too many hours after work watching videos online of other people playing video games or reviewing action figures from the eighties and none enough getting caught up on my reading, writing or actually getting outside. So came the decision to limit my Internet time to the hour or so I’m getting ready for work in the morning.

Then there’s things that I use the Internet to download. I’m still trying to catch up on back issues of magazine subscriptions. But I don’t tend to think of reading those as reading the Internet, regardless of whether or not my Kindle is online. Those magazines are getting written anyway for both print and electronic versions. The Internet is simply the tool I use to obtain the latter.

So why raise the question about podcasts? Isn’t it the same principle? When I think it through, yes. If I allow for one then there’s no reason I shouldn’t allow for the other. But as I was trying to play catch up on my podcasts yesterday (I’ve gotten behind on those as well) the thought crossed my mind that this might be cheating, listening to podcasts that I downloaded later. It still feels like I’m online. Podcasts could be thought of as the successors to radio. But they’re made for Internet users. Except for radio shows that were recorded and released online after they’ve aired, podcasts are made with digital distribution in mind. I don’t know how much this might affect the content—that would be the subject of a study bigger than my ranty little blog posts. It reminds me of David Byrne’s How Music Works. I suppose the same idea would apply.

By the way, I should point out that I’m not listening to podcasts on my phone like so many people do nowadays. I find it’s much easier to do it via an older method of downloading podcast episodes and then transferring them to my iPod, which is an older model that doesn’t have any Internet connection on its own.

Whatever I decide as to how I feel about the issue, it’s not going to affect my listening habits. If anything, I would come to the conclusion that my podcast addiction is separate from my YouTube addiction. But so far listening to podcasts on my way to and from work is a less obstructive habit than wasting time in front of a computer screen when I have too much real life to do.

I identify as the writer of this blog post.

Since when did the phrase “identify as” become synonymous with the label that follows it? (Don’t worry, I’m not going into a diatribe about identity politics, just some of the terminology used.) Why say “I identify as a man” when you could use the stronger “I am a man” despite what you were biologically born as? I’m not making any judgement call about anybody’s alternative lifestyle. I just don’t see the need for the extra words. They feel like a way to soften the blow to others, or even for the person using it—as they’re still nervous about announcing said identity to the world.

I only use the term when I refer to identifying something that I’m not. I’m asexual, but for many years I identified as heterosexual by mistake. (For those keep track for whatever reason, I still haven’t fully realized my romantic orientation, nor am I likely to in the near future.) I’m not saying that I believe that anybody who uses the term “identify as” is using it as a mistake. But in my case, if I use it for the mistake it feels like it weakens the statement about what I am if I use it in that case as well.

There are cases when the phrase is useful. I was just reading an article in The New Yorker about a female lawyer who fought for women’s rights, and about two-thirds of the way through the article mentioned that she “identified as a man.” That’s fine—it was intended to show the contrast between her fight for women’s rights and her biological sex with her identity. In that case, the phrase is almost clinical. I only take umbrage with the way that the phrase gets tossed around a bit too freely.

Don’t mind me. I’m just in a picky mood this morning. “Identify as” could be nothing more than a quirk of contemporary language such as “that’s a thing” or those of use who slip the word “like” into sentences where it doesn’t belong (I’m still working on it, I swear).

[Delayed post] In town for “Metal Night.”

Portland, ME 5/12/17 4:43 PM

I’m in Portland on a Friday yet again to head to the weekly Goth/Industrial night at a nightclub in town. I skipped last week but I had to make this one out of curiosity. Once in a while they have a sort of theme night (as if the usual dark music wasn’t enough). Tonight is “Metal Night.” I find this to be a bizarre one. I spent the better part of a decade identifying as a metalhead—some longtime readers may remember that once upon a time I was a frequent concert-goer and would post concert and album reviews. In recent years, however, I have been transitioning from a metalhead to a Goth, or at least I’ve been embracing my Gothic side more. I haven’t quite made it to the point in which I feel comfortable applying the term to myself. Anyway, tonight feels like a sort of nostalgic bridge for me.

The other curious aspect of tonight’s theme is that the theme is happening in the first place. When you already put together an evening once a week dedicated to one type of music, why would you take one week to play something else? Granted, the promoter of Plague doesn’t promote it so much “Goth/industrial” as much as “dark alternative dance.” Still, it seems weird to cater to a crossover crowd. The night sounds fun, but wouldn’t it only appeal to a limited crowd?

Clearly I’m one of those people. I’m also taking advantage of the fact that I can come to Portland right after work in a band t-shirt and my work jeans instead of stopping at home to clean up, change my clothes and put on make-up. Plus, it’s a nice day and it will be nice to wander around downtown for a while. Aside from bars and restaurants, most places around here close after seven. Plague doesn’t start until nine. The art museum is free on Fridays between five and eight. maybe I’ll stop in there. of course, on the other nights that I get here after they close I’m more appropriately dressed for it.

Am I just wasting my time?

It seems like the only time I have inspiration to write for this blog anymore is when I have a book review. Am I totally devoid of ideas now? Has the well dried up? Is this just a temporary slump? Or am I just getting lazy?

Some regular readers of mine may remember that a few weeks ago I became very ill with food poisoning. I spent much of that weekend in bed, not to mention returning to it after coming home from work for several days afterwards. During that time I did very little productively, aside from writing one blog post as to why I wasn’t writing for a while. I watched television but very little else. I didn’t even bother catching up on podcasts—I instead unsubscribed several of the more “intellectual” ones that I was up to that point listening to on a regular basis.

I realized that there was a lot of more “intellectual” activities of mine… or at least, things that I deemed as such—that felt more like work than pleasure. It wouldn’t be so bad if I felt like I was getting anything out of them. Have I hit some sort of brick wall in my life when I don’t care to expand my horizons anymore? I still keep my toe in the water, as it were, with some podcasts I listen to and some news sites and blogs that I read. But I feel like I’m getting to the point in my life when I would rather enjoy myself through entertainment than learn some trivial thing that I won’t ever use.

I know that looks. You might be thinking that I never know when I might put some of this knowledge to use, especially if I ever do get a job along the lines of my degree (an ever decreasing possibility at this point), start selling screenplays or go back for my master’s degree. I might just be getting lazy and that I’m looking for entertainment than intelligence in the things that I do.

You might be right. But then, is that so bad? Should I stop trying? Should I give up—or perhaps, depending on how you look at it, give in? My writing certainly has improved over the years that I kept up this blog, especially when I kept at it regularly. But in the last few months I fell into a sort of slump. Is this a sign that I’m no longer viable?

Then again, it could just be a sign that I needed to take a break. Perhaps I was overexerting myself. And in any case, that could be true. I could dedicate this blog to just one or two book reviews a week for a while (I don’t want to give up entirely). Then, after a month or two I see if I feel like I want to continue with writing in general, or at least this blog. I know that I’ve already been inactive for a few weeks now, and before that my postings were erratic. But I think I need some sort of change.

This has been a hard issue for me to face. It could be part of that whole “self-discovery” kick I started back in August. I didn’t want to feel like a lazy loser. Then again, I don’t want to feel like a charlatan who’s wasting his own time lying to himself. A few years ago I need a month off after completing an album for the RPM Challenge. Maybe it’s time I do that again.

It’s annoying how much food poisoning prevents you from doing.

I had borrowed two books to read for this week’s book review. I should have been able to read them on Saturday so I could post the review today. I also planned on writing other posts this weekend to make up for the fact that I didn’t get around to any for the past week. Unfortunately, on Friday night I contracted a serious case of food poisoning from which I’m still recovering.

I was up until four in the morning constantly going to the bathroom and spent all day Saturday bed-ridden. Reading was the last thing on my mind. I had my laptop in bed with me to watch an old show on Netflix but I couldn’t really focus on the screen for any great length at a time. On Sunday I felt a bit better but it was Easter and while I’m not religious my family does get together at my father’s place (which is only just down the street) for lunch. I still spent most of the time there sprawled out on the couch.

I went to work today against my better judgement, so I didn’t have any time to read those books. I’ll get around to them next week. In the meantime, I hope I don’t end up having to see somebody about this. The worst part is that I don’t even know what it was that made me sick.