New Year, New Goals

Happy new year everybody! I know a lot of people out there like to say the phrase, “new year, new me”, meaning that this new year is going to bring about changes in yourself that will significantly (you hope) improve your life, but I like to have a more realistic set of expectations going into the new year, so my philosophy is “new year, new excuses”, meaning I’m not going to change, but I will come up with some new excuses as to why I don’t, so maybe I can fool you into thinking that I’m not just as lazy and undetermined as I appear to be. That being said, I do have some resolutions for 2018, things that I will work to accomplish so this year doesn’t seem like a complete waste, and that’s what I want to share with you today. It is my resolution in 2018, to watch the new iPhone commercial featuring Big Boi’s song “All Night”, at least once a week. Not only is it a great song that is incredibly catchy, but the iPhone commercial featuring bobbing animal emoji heads just makes this one of the greatest videos I’ve ever seen, and watching it once a week will lift my spirits, going a long way in making my 2018 a happy year overall.

The second thing I’m going to do to improve my 2018 year as a whole is to only drink Riptide Rush Gatorade. I don’t mean that I’m only going to be drinking that delicious liquid this year, but when it comes to Gatorade, which I like to indulge in from time to time, I’m only going to have the Riptide Rush Flavor. Don’t ask me what it tastes like, because honestly I don’t know, I can’t explain it, but what I do know is that it is, along with Glacier Freeze, the best tasting Gatorade your money can buy. It may seem like an arbitrary goal to hang may hat on this year, but there’s no denying that drinking that kind of Gatorade makes me happy, and that’s really what I’m going for this year.

Lastly, my third and final goal or resolution for 2018 is this; I’m going to learn something new. I have a guitar that I don’t know how to play, and I’ve always wanted to learn a knew language, so by the end of this year, maybe I will either I will know how to play my instrument or will be able to communicate effectively in a foreign country. Or maybe I’ll just be watching TV one night, and an infomercial will come on for a product I’ve never heard of, and somewhere in the course of the commercial, and actor will say something that I’d never realized before about regular pillows and how bad they are for your neck. It may come about unexpectedly, but it will be something newly learned nonetheless, so that too would count as reaching my goal for the year. I think it’s important to have goals, trying to aspire to something that may not be easy, so whether your goals are simple ones, or incredibly difficult like mine, I wish you good luck in the coming year. Let’s make 2018 a great one!

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Happy Birthday to the Blog!

August 31st will always be a special day for me. I can’t believe it’s been a year already, but I guess it’s true what they say, “time flies when you’re having fun.” And it has been fun, for the most part. Sure there were times when it seemed like the process was more work than play, a monotonous chore rather than an exciting endeavor like I had hoped it would be when it was first conceived, but that’s life, full of ups and downs, good times and bad, and the most important thing is how you end up. Of course the long journey is really only just beginning, so I have no idea how things will turn out in the end, but at the end of the first year, I’m very happy with what has been accomplished, although I’m nowhere near satisfied, and truth be told, I don’t know if I ever will be. Over the last twelve months the blog has gotten over ten thousand page views, 10,287 to be exact, something that seemed incredibly unlikely once upon a time when I wasn’t even cracking double digit page views on any given day. At times it was discouraging, after having particularly good weeks to have a massive falloff the next, but still I kept writing, and eventually things bounced back. I have mixed emotions every day when I write the blog, ranging emotions that pull me back and forth and leave my mind in a constant state of turmoil. Usually while I’m writing, the thought pops into my head, questioning why anybody would want to read this any way, and then when I post it and see the subsequent views it receives I wonder why more people aren’t reading it, a complete contradiction to my first line of thinking. Then finally, third, after the new blog post has had time to marinate overnight, I wake up feeling excited and humbled that anybody would take time out of their day to read what I write. It’s that which keeps me going, the thought that there are people in the world who actually enjoy reading my words, that and the desire to fulfill my dream of being a writer, to finish the book that has lived in my head for years and have an audience that wants to read it upon its completion.

From getting talked about on ESPN radio, to a book review being read and acknowledged by a well known author, the blog really has had some unexpected surprises, little things that seem to happen out of nowhere that give me a boost of encouragement and the belief that maybe I can actually do this after all. Even and especially when I share personal stories, when there is no lightheartedness or joking around, the outpouring of support from everyone is incredible and encouraging, something I am so very thankful for. To all my readers out there, thank you so much for everything, for sticking with me through the first year of this journey. Hopefully it will be the first of many, but even if it ends today, I am happy knowing that we made it through a whole year of writing a blog every single day. I often have the ambition but lack the follow through to actually accomplish what I set out to do, but this thing was different, and I look forward to continuing to prove to myself and everyone else that I can do this. I’m hoping year two can be much bigger than year one, so if you like what I’m writing, please share it with your friends, via social media, email, or even printing it out and tacking it to a bulletin board if that’s how you roll, that way more readers can be reached. I never would have gotten this far without you, and it’s ultimately up to you, the readers as how to far I will actually be able to go, so if you wouldn’t mind putting in a good word for me I would really appreciate it. I think it’s only fitting that we end today’s blog with a song, so if you’re completely alone, or just don’t care what people think, please join me in singing.

Happy Birthday to You!
Happy Birthday to You!
Happy Birthday Dear Blah Blah Blog!
Happy Birthday to You!

My Tumultuous Relationship With the Public Library

The relationship between myself and the public library has been a somewhat tumultuous one over the years, with many more negatives than positives, although this has been entirely my fault, and like a bad couple who seem to keep breaking up and getting back together, so it is with me and the library, thinking each new time will be different, but so far that has never been the case. There was the Little Rock Public library, the one I grew up visiting, a relationship that started off great as I spent summers throughout childhood checking out as many books as they would allow and returning back countless times for more, but as I got older things changed. I would check out books that seemed interesting at the time and then more often than not I would get distracted with something else and end up not reading them, which wouldn’t have been a problem at all had I remembered to return the books. By the time I left Arkansas to go to college in Minnesota I had racked up over seventy dollars in fees from the library, but my mom bailed me out, giving me a fresh start when I decided to venture into the world of checking out books again.

I stayed away from the library for a few years until I moved to Florida, but the allure of unlimited books drew me back in and I fell into my old habits once again. I didn’t accrue as many fines for not returning books, the total being less than five dollars, and I really did intend on doing the right and responsible thing of paying for my transgressions, but as it turned out, the Fort Pierce library didn’t accept debit cards, they were cash only, which posed a problem for me as I have never been one in adulthood to carry cash on me. A kind stranger overheard the dilemma as I stood at the counter explaining to the librarian that I would have to return to pay my fines after visiting an ATM, and the stranger intervened saying she would pay the fine for me. I had hit rock bottom. I tried to dissuade the generous woman from freeing me from my debt, but she wouldn’t hear of it, no matter how much I pleaded, and eventually, against my will, paid my fine. It was at that moment that I decided I was done with the public library system, preferring instead to purchase books so that I could read what I wanted on my own time, building a personal library that would allow me to choose whatever book interested me as soon as I was ready to read something new. Then I moved to Memphis and the library bug bit me again.

Within the first month of living here I got a library card, you know, just to have one, but I stuck to my guns and for more than a year I didn’t check out a single book. I had all but forgotten about my library card, that is until today. The bank I work at can be pretty slow in the middle of the week with the higher traffic days being Monday and Friday, so to pass the time I will often read until a customer enters the branch, which is what I was doing today, but unfortunately I finished my current book with more than five hours left in my shift, and the temptation to check out a book became to much to resist, so on my lunch break I walked across the parking lot to the library and began browsing the infinite selection of books. I did check out a book, but at least it was only one, telling myself that I would read it, then immediately return it before checking out another. Hopefully this time around I’ll be more responsible and my relationship with the public library will be better than ever before. Only time will tell.

March Goals

March has come and gone and with the passing of another month it’s time for my obligatory blog post about how I did last month in sticking to the goals I made on New Year’s day. The easiest one has still been writing a blog every day, although I’m not really in the mood to write one at the moment. It’s been a long week and I have to work tomorrow and just want to relax and watch the Grizzlies basketball or Cardinals baseball game, which I’m sure I’ll do as soon as I finish doing what I have to do. In writing daily sometimes I feel like I have nothing to say and other times I feel like I can’t stop talking, so hopefully going forward I will have more of the latter than the former.

In the first month of the year I was a stud (or a nerd) when it came to reading and I read ten books, easily surpassing my goal of reading one per week, however I fell off in February and didn’t finish a single book. In March I did a little better, finishing two books, and although I didn’t read a book every week, I am still on pace to average a book per week throughout the year so I guess that’s good. The first book I read was “Room” by Emma Donoghue and it was definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year. I dedicated a whole blog to it earlier last month so feel free to check it out if you want. I definitely would highly recommend you checking that one out. The other book I read in March was “Pet Semetary” by Stephen King. I hadn’t read any King novels before last year because I was kind of turned off by a short story of his I read years earlier, but in an attempt to see if a book could actually scare me I decided to read “The Shining.” It didn’t scare me in the least but it was pretty good, so this year I read my second Stephen King novel.

I enjoyed “Pet Semetary” more than I did “The Shining” but I wouldn’t recommend it. It was good, but it’s not like a life changing book or anything, it’s just a good story that takes a while to read. I place the full blame of not reading more than two books last month solely on the back of “Pet Semetary” the five hundred plus page novel that took me a couple of weeks to get through. My other goal that I’m still trying to stick with is working on writing my book every day, and for the first time since I made the goal, I’m proud to say that I’m actually doing it. I’ve got into a nice routine of writing my book, which I think might have something to do with me not being as enthusiastic about writing the blog all the time, because in all honesty I’ve found the story that I’m writing to be so much more fun than the blog. In terms of sticking to my goals, March has by far been my best so far, but I’m not all that confident that I can keep it up. Check back next month to see if I’ve gone back to being a failure, and check back every day to find an original blog, written by me, that may or may not entertain you.

Another Month, Another Failure

At the very beginning of this year, January 1st to be exact, I publicly made four resolutions here on the blog, and I promised at the end of each month to give an update on home I’m doing, in theory to hold myself accountable and to keep me motivated, but as it turns out it hasn’t really worked out. At the end of January I had already failed two of my four goals in a pretty spectacular fashion, but I thought the two I’d still kept up with would be the easiest moving forward, but unfortunately it is with utter regret that I tell you that another of my resolutions has fallen victim to my lazy nonchalance. Last month I wrote a blog all about the books I read in January; my goal was to read one a week, but I managed to read ten, the overachiever that I am, and I waltzed into February, confident that I would keep my good pace going forward, but then for a myriad of reasons which I will give in the form of excuses, prevented me from reaching my goal of reading four books last month.

I guess the most obvious excuse for my lack of reading in February would be the Playstation 4 that I got early in the month. I think I’ve played it every single day since I got it, so it was a good investment, but terrible for my productivity. It’s so much easier and requires very little thought to play a video game rather than to read a novel and exercise your mind, which is unfortunately the trap I have fallen into. I had this same problem last year with television where I would turn on the tv at night rather than reading a book, but I cut way back on that at the beginning of the year and found that I actually feel happier and more fulfilled when I am reading more often. The other reason I failed my goal this month is because of a book called “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh”, written by Michael Chabon. I picked up a copy at a used bookstore in January and was really looking forward to reading what was called a prolific novel written by an acclaimed author, the perfect start to February. The only problem is that the book just wasn’t all that good in my opinion. It wasn’t downright terrible or anything, but it was just okay, which is why that is the only book I read last month and I didn’t even finish it. I wish it would have been terrible, then I could’ve given up on it weeks ago, but since it was just okay I stuck around, not even mildly curious about what was going to happen next. Guess what, when you don’t care what happens next, if a book doesn’t draw you in and compel you to keep turning the pages, yearning for answers, you in turn won’t be compelled to open the book in the first place.

The other goal I had kept was writing a blog every single day, and today I almost failed that one too. Sometimes I get the feeling that my writing the blog is useless, more trouble than it’s worth. Some blogs that I write and feel absolutely great about once I’m finished, get very few views, and I know I shouldn’t care about that, but it does bother me sometimes. It is a lot to expect of readers to come to my site and read what I’ve written every day of the week, but I’ve had whole weeks that have been way down in traffic and today I really thought about not writing anything, but fortunately for the three people that click on this blog, you have something to read today and I truly hope you enjoy it. Since I read ten books last month I’m still on pace to hit my 52 for the year, and I think I might shelve Chabon’s book for now and sink my teeth into something more fulfilling, and as for the blog, I think I can commit to another month of writing daily. Thanks for reading.

My Biggest Failure of the Year…So Far

So it’s the first day of February, one month has gone by in 2017 and as promised I am here to reflect on my new year’s resolutions to help hold myself accountable. I had four goals coming into the new year and I have stuck with two of them, and failed rather spectacularly on the other two. They may sound terrible but I honestly don’t know a year where I’ve kept any of my resolutions for more than a month, so I feel good about where I’m at now. Let’s start off positive, with the things I have done so far before we get into my failures. I said that I was going to write a blog every single day this year, and so far I have. I’ve been doing this for a little more than five months now so you may think it has become pretty easy for me to do, and while that is the case on some days, on others it’s incredibly challenging, and I can’t think of anything at all to write about. You may be thinking to yourself that perhaps this is why I’m writing a post reflecting on my resolutions but I assure you this was the plan all along.

The second goal that I’ve stuck with to this point is reading at least one book every week. I’ve actually been averaging about two and it’s been a lot of fun. I find that I enjoy my evenings more when I am reading rather than sitting in front of the TV, plus I’ve read some incredible stories that I was definitely missing out on by not having read them. I’m not going to re-list everything I’ve read this month but you can go back and find my list along with some recommendations on the blog from three days ago. So far, reading more has been the most fulfilling of the two resolutions I stuck with.

Let’s move on to where I failed, shall we? Okay I said I was going to write 1,000 words in my book every single day and guess how many days that lasted? Two. It was far too ambitious of a goal and while I haven’t completely given up on it, I am revamping it starting tomorrow and will be writing 500 words per day, Monday thru Friday. I get an hour lunch break at work, which is unnecessarily long given I usually don’t go anywhere, so I figured I could use the back half of my break to do my writing, something I’ve already done a few times already. If you think that sticking with this resolution for only two days was my biggest failure of the year so far, then you are sadly mistaken. I vowed to only drink water, tea, and coffee this year. January 2nd I bought a soda and haven’t looked back. I now drink a Sprite zero every day at lunch, and while I’m giving up on the resolution to completely cut out soda, I am drinking it more moderately. If messing up this resolution on January 2nd is my biggest failure of the year, 2017 is going to be pretty awesome.

Gone Girl

It was late at night, in the early months of last year, and I was flipping through channels on TV, unable to sleep and looking for something to occupy me until I felt tired enough for bed, when I came across a movie that looked interesting on HBO. It was called “Gone Girl” and was just about to start, so I decided to check it out. It was one of the most suspenseful and thrilling movies that I’d ever seen, and when it was over I felt a sense of disappointment even though it was great, because that’s when I realized that it was based on a book. I hate seeing movies before I read the book because it distorts my imagination and takes away the surprise and suspense that comes from experiencing a story for the first time. I made the mistake with “The DaVinci Code” and now I’d done the same thing with “Gone Girl.” I’m such an idiot.

I finally read the book last week and despite knowing the story already, “Gone Girl” captivated me in a way that few books have before. Every spare moment I had was spent reading the book and I finished it in three days, not bad for four hundred plus pages. It was so suspenseful that I literally did not want to put the book down because I NEEDED to see what would happen next. It’s the story of a married couple that begins on their five year anniversary. The wife disappears and the search is on to figure out what happened to her in this high profile news story. The story is told from two different perspectives, each chapter alternating between the husband writing in the present and the wife’s diary entries of the past. This is one of the only books I’ve ever read that left me feeling a little bit frightened when I turned the lights off at night, an incredibly eerie feeling that doesn’t often come from reading words on a page, but a feeling that I really enjoyed.

I recommend “Gone Girl” very highly, more so than other books I’ve written about on the blog, because while the other books were good, this one was elevated to another level by the suspense and mystery contained within the pages. Gillian Flynn has previously written a couple other books that I have added to my reading list and am looking forward to checking out as I eagerly await the possibility of a new novel, one that I will read before the movie comes out. I’m giving “Gone Girl” a 5 out of 5 rating, a must read for anyone who enjoys great writing and a thrilling story. For the past year and a half, “Disclaimer”, by Rennee Knight has been my go-to book recommendation when anyone asks, but I’m going to replace it with “Gone Girl.” It’s only the second week in January which means you can still amend your New Year’s Resolutions (you have until the 21st), so do yourself a favor and add “Read Gone Girl” to your list of goals, and I promise you won’t be disappointed.