One of the lists

There are many things I’m interested in. A bunch of them come across here on the blog. The vast majority of them in fact.

In trying to sort through the stuff I’ve accumulated, and my finances vs. my debts, and my time management obligations, and my work and gig schedule, and everything else that I do or plan to do – mostly it ends up in my pocket Moleskine at some point.

So what am I interested in? My list is partially in response to this article on building your own personal library.

I recall having a conversation with someone who at the time was helping me through a very rough patch of life. I was looking at a book, Akashic Records for Dummies, and of course, I didn’t need it. But I told her I’d planned on leaving a library of books after me. When I died. She said that any meaningful library left behind probably wouldn’t have a collection of For Dummies books. She tended to say smart things like that.

So here are my interests, more or less, of topics which may or may not appear on the blog, and which are listed here in no particular order:

  • Travel
  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy
  • Esoteric Studies
  • Work (How to work better, smarter, and for more money)
  • Finance & Investing
  • History
  • Japan, and to a lesser degree other Asian countries (focus on history, philosophy, language, and culture)
  • Art (Theatre, Visual Arts, Other Performing Arts)
  • Arts Management
  • Self-Help
  • Fiction (Fantasy, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Action, Literary)
  • Writing Studies
  • Videography and Photography
  • Memoirs, Biographies, and Autobiographies
  • Mythology

In looking at this, I realized how broad it all seemed. There are so many facets that can fit into each topic; some that overlap topics. I write this out now as I work on honing in onto what this blog will look like – especially over the next six months while I’m in Alaska.

Anyway, I’ll keep posting. And maybe someone will read it. And that’s about all anyone can do.

Weekly Rundown

The week that was, Dec. 20th. More work; started making end-of-year plans; brainstorming goals for 2020. The next ten days will be pretty crammed full. But I had some good highlights this week.

What I’m reading: Light the Dark: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process edited by Joe Fassler. Oddly enough, I first started reading this a year ago, December 2018. I did not finish it, but something made me pick it up this week. I have the Kindle edition, and with reading on my iPad I sometimes find it less intrusive when I don’t continue reading. The unfinished book stays on my nightstand, screaming at me to pick it up again. The iPad doesn’t say much at all. But led to Jack Gilbert while reading this, so I’m curious to see what other gems may come out of it.

What I’m listening to: Not impeachment proceedings, and only some Christmas music. This week I bounced mostly from podcasts to trying to pick the next audiobook I want to dive into. I’ve got several in the queue, but I haven’t been quite ready to pull the trigger on one. I’m hoping inspiration strikes.

What I’m spending time with: This week it’s a quote – “If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down, we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.” I hadn’t read Jack Gilbert before. I may have read that bit in Light the Dark last year, but I didn’t feel it like I feel it now. Another quote which has some meaning to me comes from another Jack, this one named Kerouac. “I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted.

Other things of interest this week:

 

Friday lists

What I’m reading: Letting Go. David Hawkins writes about freedom from attachment, and what that might look like in the modern age. “The mind, with its thoughts, is driven by feelings. Each feeling is the cumulative derivative of many thousands of thoughts. Because most people throughout their lives repress, suppress, and try to escape from their feelings, the suppressed energy accumulates and seeks expression through psychosomatic distress, bodily disorders, emotional illnesses, and disordered behavior in interpersonal relationships.”

What I’m watching: A lot of nothing. I’ve flitted from Lost Girl to a few other supernatural tv shows. A bit of NHK network, the Japanese news channel with travel and language programming. I’m gearing up for the Halloween season, and I want to do some research on horror and mythos.

What I’m listening to: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, narrated by Christian Rummel. I’d not read much by Bradbury. Fahrenheit 451 is really the only one I remember. I know I owned two short story collections, but I don’t recall what I had read from it. But I had a dream a few nights back – partially induced by sleep aids and Benadryl. It involved a traveling circus, and I was reminded of Something Wicked, so I figured I’d give it a go.

Other things that caught my eye:

 

What I’ve Read

Time frame…?

Books Bought:

  • Plato: Complete Works – Edited by John M. Cooper
  • NORTH: Finding Place in Alaska – Julie Decker, editor
  • Raven Steals the Light – Bill Reid & Robert Bringhurst
  • Travels in Alaska – John Muir
  • Nature Writing – John Muir (Library of America edition)
  • 100 Tough Questions for Japan – Itasaka Gen

Books Read:

  • Tools of Titans – Tim Ferriss (unfinished)
  • Wilderness Essays – John Muir (unfinished)
  • How to Watch a Movie – David Thomson (unfinished)
  • On National Parks – John Muir (unfinished)
  • Lycanthia; or The Children of Wolves  – Tanith Lee (unfinished)
  • The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz
  • The Eye Never Sleeps: Striking to the Heart of Zen – Dennis Genpo Merzel
  • Emerson: Essays and Lectures – Ralph Waldo Emerson (unfinished)
  • The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco

Well, who knows. It seems like April was the last time I wrote about my book purchases and reading. So… Here’s a list. It is probably incomplete. I look at a lot of books.

During the months of May-July, my work was highly demanding. But not the real work. Just the work for a paycheck. And the pay wasn’t even that good. Sometimes it’s about trying things – picking them up, seeing if you like them. If not, you put it down and walk away.

Highlights – Alaska was the big one. I purchased two books in Alaska: Raven and NORTH. The latter was published by collaboration with the Anchorage Museum and University of Washington Press. It includes works of art in the museum collection and essays about the Last Frontier.

To say that I was moved by Alaska would be an understatement. It was magnificent, and I cannot wait to go back.

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I like to pick up books when I travel. They’re not the lightest souvenir, but I’ve always had a connection with books. In Ireland, I purchased a used copy of On the Road. In Germany, a Lutheran hymnal. While in Prague, I got a handmade notebook.

Raven Steals the Light is a collection of Native myths from the Haida people. The Raven is a trickster, and a spirit, and a god. “The Raven, who of course existed at that time, because he had always existed and always would…” It recounts many native tales of the beginnings of things, and reasons for things.

I had a lot of false starts with books. Oscar Wao, for one. I tried, but couldn’t quite bring myself to read it. Same with Emerson. Same with Lycanthia. With Muir and Thomson. I just could not bring myself to read much.

Partly I think it’s owed to my having a lot on my mind. Hence I’ve been reworking my routines. I have now been reading each night before bed, settling into Name of the Rose for about 30-45 minutes a night. Sometimes less, if I’m really tired. Umberto Eco is interesting. I remember trying to read this book shortly after graduating high school, while sitting in a wing backed cushioned chair at Barnes & Noble. I didn’t get all that far into it.

It throws you Latin, and Italian, and maybe a splattering of French. Monastic terms I’m only vaguely familiar with, and some that I’ve never heard. Under all of that though, there is mystery and intrigue. A young monk has died mysteriously. If suicide, how did the window close behind him? If murder, is the assailant man (and thereby monk?), or something infernal? The Sherlockian monk William of Baskerville will use all his reasoning to get to the bottom of it.

It led me to discover the Italian mini-series, so I’m trying to find somewhere to watch that – with subtitles, preferably.

I added the two Muir books to my collection – I had been reading some essays by him before going to Alaska. I hope to finish at least one collection of his this year. Also the writings of Plato. I found this book used, and the fact that it was edited by Edith Hamilton caught my attention. I had done some myth research two years, reading over Hamilton as well as Joseph Campbell, and I wanted to see what sort of commentary was included in this book. I haven’t gotten around to opening it though.

I did just pop open Tools of Titans. I had picked it up on sale in December, and was just reading about Ferriss’s compulsion to record data.

I’m a compulsive note-taker. To wit, I have recorded nearly every workout since age 18 or so. Roughly 8 feet of shelf space in my home is occupied by spine upon spine of notebook upon notebook. That, mind you, is one subject. It extend to dozens. Some people would call this OCD, and many would consider it a manic wild goose chase. I view it simply: It is the collection of my life’s recipes.

I too take many notes, and have amassed a pile of notebooks. Not like Ferriss – not to that extent – but I’ve been jotting things down since I was in high school, and I’ve got notebooks with varying degrees of use on my shelves, in the garage, and in storage. If I had my way, this is what my house would look like:

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Maybe my next house…

Week’s highlights

Inspired by Tim Ferris’s five-bullet Friday, and having a little time at many points during the week to browse and peruse, here are things that I across which you may like:

Be More Chill original cast recording. Check out the animatic version, which rocketed the failing musical to new popularity.

Alex Strohl’s methods for defeating burnout. As a creative and recovering busy-person, I’ve experienced burnout more than a handful of times. Leading a board, raising money, and creating original work all left me feeling spent from time to time. Strohl’s routines may not be for everybody, but I like to take suggestions from those I new face the same challenges I do.

Fundrise. For a minimum deposit of $500, get into the real estate business with this Real Estate Investment Trust. Great dashboard and communication with their DC headquarters makes this an appealing addition to my portfolio.

Japan’s Sea of Trees, Aokigahara. It’s on my list for visiting in 2020, along with other areas of Japan. Following my friend’s wedding in the Philippines, I’m planning on visiting Japan, India, and Thailand.

Japan

My first introduction to Japanese culture was an anime my brother gave me to watch when I was around thirteen. I still remember watching it. Ninja Scroll, a little film about a traveling samurai, and I remember being amazed by both the culture depicted as well as the entirely new style of animation that I was seeing. It was captivating, and I was absolutely hooked.

Shortly thereafter, after making some friends in high school who shared my love of all things Japanese, we discovered that one of our teachers had lived in Japan, and spoke fluent Japanese. We decided that, as freshman, our school needed a Japanese class. We set about creating the petition, getting the signatures, and convincing him to teach the class. He accepted, and then in sophomore year, we started Japanese 1.

It still ranks as one of my two favorite classes that I’ve ever taken. (The other was a choir class that I took.) I learned more Japanese language (hiragana, katakana, and a decent amount of kanji) in that first year than I did in any subsequent class or tutoring session. We also delved into culture, issues of politeness and honor. Our instructor was also an Eastern medicine practitioner, and he did a live demonstration of acupuncture on another teacher during our class. He made the language a fun and exciting proposition for us – learn Japanese, explore the world.

Unfortunately, our beloved Japanese instructor moved on to bigger and better things, though many of us have kept in touch with him over the years. The incoming teacher was of a more traditional countenance, and suddenly the joy that inhabited the class was lessened.

Since then I spent much of my time in vocal or acting training, and spent several years working as a professional actor in Central Florida. I received my bachelor’s in business administration, considering running my own theatre someday. Upon hearing of the closing of the Kabuki-za theatre, I had wanted to travel to Japan then and see a performance. Regrettably I was unable to make the trip at that time.

It had long been my dream to travel, but the common everyday things made it impossible, or so I thought. In 2016, following the end of a three-year relationship, I decided to travel to Europe. So, in just over a month I booked airline tickets, a couple of nights in a hostel, and bought some gear. From the decision made in the second week of February to travel, and at the end of March when I actually left, I had just five weeks to prepare.

Then, last year, another month in Europe. Still, Japan has been calling to me the entire time. My Dad and Step-Mom are even getting over there in two months, before I have the chance to.

That then is my intention for this year. To make it to Japan. Possibly a few other places (Nepal, Bhutan, China and Thailand, perhaps).

Hopefully something will work out, in the way it always seems to do.

Sayonara!