It’s hard to believe the first quarter of 2021 is already over. It felt like those three months zoomed right by us. Tomorrow, my wife and I will be getting our second COVID vaccine shot. We’re both ready to brace for what might be a rough ride for the following couple of days. But that’s fine if it means our chances of having severe symptoms are significantly reduced. From what my research on the vaccine has been, it’s not that it keeps you from contracting or even spreading COVID (though newer research is showing that may be happening), but it will make the symptoms markedly less severe if you do acquire it. Since the pandemic started, I’ve never been someone who balked at wearing masks. I plan on continuing to wear them even after they tell us the pandemic has passed. I didn’t get sick once this last winter, and neither did my wife. We attribute this to both continuing to shelter in place 90% of the time and wearing masks when we went out. Honestly, I get sort of annoyed with people who go on and on about not getting to see strangers’ smiles. No stranger owes you a smile, weirdo.
Here’s the Spotify playlist for the week:
I started recording for the next episode of the podcast this last weekend. Without planning it, the show has a very book-centric theme. I’m hoping for some listener feedback, but I know that it takes time and building an audience. As of this writing, the last episode of the podcast has had 10 listeners, which is pretty awesome, in my opinion. I hope they are enjoying it. I’ve really enjoyed making the segments with my wife, and she’s getting to pick the Top 5 theme for episode three.
I’ve wanted to read a lot more than I did over the first year of the pandemic. You would think being cooped inside a person could tear through some books. However, the anxiety & depression just ruins your brain from having that level of focus needed to engage with a text. I read a decent amount of non-fiction during the last year, and I have intentionally been taking my time with Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. I read one chapter at a time and sort of ruminate on it. My goal now is to pick up more literary fiction, especially authors I’ve been aware of but haven’t explored before.
When I was a sophomore in college, I came across the newly published The Salon.com Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Authors. That book, which I still own my copy of, opened my eyes to so many new writers. Through that volume, I learned about Paul Auster and Raymond Carver, who I read voraciously during college. They are very different writers in their styles, but both have had a significant influence on me. I dipped my toes in the work of people like Tim O’Brien and Patrick McGrath after learning about them there. When I look at the type of writing my own work is becoming, I notice it is very much in that literary style. I don’t know how to explain it, but I don’t see genre tropes of any kind coming up, just that very psychological, character-centric, everyday people thing. I do have ideas for stranger pieces, and I am a huge fan of some horror authors, Laird Barron chief among them.
The most intimidating thing for me in this writing process is not letting the ideas carry me away and learning how to develop them one at a time. But I am learning to appreciate being in the moment so much more. As I get older, I feel a sense on occasion that my time is limited. I’ll be 40 in June, and I realized that marks about the middle of my life, maybe a little just before the middle. When I think about how quickly the last 20 years went compared to the first, it can be a little frightening. I wonder what the next 20 years will feel like, and I hope they move at a slow enough pace that I can appreciate them. Our move will be to a place where there isn’t such a frenzied rat race to work until you are exhausted & burnt out. I want to take advantage of that feeling. I’d like to continue enjoying having time for my wife and me and that the majority of my life isn’t spent running on a wheel.