And it’s the first update of 2020. I hope you had pleasant and safe New Year celebration. Jen and I were fortunate to have a few friends over and play some Jackbox games before watching the ball drop at midnight. When we lived in California, we could just watch the ball drop live in Times Square three hours ahead, and be in bed by 9:30. This was the first proper NYE party we were apart of in a few years (I believe the last one we attended was NYE 2016). 2017 we were in fact in Manhattan, but just to catch a movie with relatives (The Post). After that we took a nearly empty train back to New Jersey, walked back to my uncle’s house from the train station, and walked in the door at about midnight. 2018 we visited friends in Dallas and spent much of the day exploring the city, grabbing drinks in Fort Worth before returning home sometime around 10. Fun times, but it felt good to do something with friends again, and in our new home.
In my last post, I mentioned that among all of the things that happened, we “started new jobs”. We moved to Charlottesville so Jenoa could be a College Minister with Christ Episcopal Church, while I continued working with W+R Studios. On Monday, however, I’ll begin a new job as an Engineer with Everactive, and industrial IoT startup. I’ll be a member the cloud team, and am excited for the new challenges I’ll get to work on. I mentioned in a previous post that I had been learning Go; this job was the reason. It’s a complete departure from Ruby-land, and a major change, but I’m excited for this opportunity to grow.
I’ve always been kinda cynical about new year’s resolutions. That proclivity probably stems from an annoyance with what I perceive to be American culture’s widespread and near-religious zeal for optimization and self-improvement (what my friend David Zahl calls Seculosity).
That said, I’ve been wanting to make a few changes in my life, and the start of 2020 seemed an appropriate time to do them. At high level, they are:
Improve my flexibility. I can’t touch my toes, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve been unable to sit cross-legged for any length of time without my feet falling asleep. I’m doing some basic stretches and yoga postures upon waking every morning, and I’m planning to start taking a weekly yoga class.
Live less compulsively. I realized that I frequently operate from a sense that I must do something, rather than wanting to do it. Obviously, discipline is good, and sometimes I ought to do something regardless of my desire in that moment. But I do have compulsive tendencies — something I’m especially prone to because of my anxiety.
One change I made in this area was to stop journaling every morning. While I still journal occasionally, I removed it from my daily routine. I found that the ritual was becoming a source of anxiety rather than a treatment for it.
Another was to delete my Goodreads account. Reading, arguably my favorite hobby, felt like it was becoming a chore, and I was slogging my way through books that I didn’t necessarily enjoy. The book wouldn’t necessarily be bad, and I might even like it on another day, but it just wouldn’t be for me at the moment. I know many people have resolutions to read more; if so, I commend to you Austin Kleon’s thoughts on reading. I think that if I enjoy what I’m reading, I’ll want to read it more.
As far as Goodreads is concerned, I think its main value is as a “to-read” list; I already keep a separate journal of books read. I now keep a to-read list as a text file in Bear, where a link can sit quietly without an app beckoning me to engage.
Writing about an app “beckoning" sound ridiculous to me, but the truth is that I have limited willpower, and there’s a whole team of well-paid professionals on the other end whose job is figuring out how to undermine it. If I already have compulsive tendencies, that makes me especially vulnerable.
- Consume more mindfully. This point dovetails nicely with the previous one. I’ve mostly disappeared from social media. I have no Facebook. I removed the Instagram and Twitter apps from my phone. While I still maintain accounts there, they are mostly dormant, and it’s been weeks, if not months, since I’ve last logged in. I’m toying with exporting my photos from Instagram and setting up a separate photos feed here, so I can shut down my account entirely. I’m not even sure why I still maintain Twitter — I originally created it to syndicate links from this blog, something I haven’t done since last February.
All that to say, despite my blogging, I’m probably not among the “very online”. Nonetheless, it’s still possible to feel inundated when you’re only subscribed to RSS feeds and newsletters. So, I’m limiting myself to reading two articles in Pocket per day, and periodically archiving all unread articles.
Again, it feels ridiculous to write these things out — who cares whether or not I make my way through some nebulous digital “backlog”? But, for someone like me whose default behavior is to mindlessly consume, these deliberate decisions feel like a pretty big deal.
The 2010s was a very online decade for many of us. Maybe, as Alan Jacobs hopes, the 2020s will be less online. I’d like more signal and less noise from my internet, and maybe that means turning down the volume considerably.
Wow, that was way more than I originally planned to write. I didn’t even mention how I want to extend “consuming more mindfully” to food and other areas of life, but I suppose it’s not necessary. If you want to tune me out of your internet, I won’t hold it against you. Much.
Onto our regularly scheduled programming.
I’m taking a break from Fall. I desperately want to know how it ends, and while some parts of the book are fascinating, others are just a slog. I read Anthony Horowitz’s new James Bond novel Forever and a Day. Currently enjoying Samantha Harvey’s The Western Wind.
Jen and I have been watching a number of movies. Recently, we viewed Psycho, The Postman, Rosemary’s Baby, Austin Powers, and The Little Hours.
Nothing exciting this week unfortunately.
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