Diary, 12/30/18 to 1/1/19 & Free Book Offer

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

{12/30/18}  Weight 219.0.

Having set up my Skype app yesterday, today I’m all atwitter with possibilities of “worldwide Hemlock Club” meetings.  The HC meets today at 10:00; it’s now 6:30 am.

Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)

Reading Janet Malcolm:  The Silent Woman:  Sylvia Plath & Ted Hughes, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1994, hc.  This is a book that I had taken to Dagny’s as a donation, never having read it (though I might have started it), then, on a later day, I retrieved it.  It’s peculiar, as much about the writing of the book as it is about Plath & Hughes.  Correction:  about the researching, nothing about writing.  Now, halfway through, I quite like it, and last night I even read three of Plath’s poems, the first three of Ariel.  Her poems are like tea leaves, you can read into them pretty much whatever you like.  I don’t generally like poems that are so obscure, and I’m thinking that my enjoyment of those three was as much of my own making as of Plath’s.

Page 65 is interesting.  I had copied something from that page and wanted to see it in context:  “I see you have a concentration camp in your mind, too.”  A quote reported to have been spoken by Plath to George MacBeth, a Scottish poet.  Without more, this is just a good tease.


{12/31/18}  Weight 218.4.

4:45 am.  Been up for two hours plus.  How tiresome.

Five hour conversation at Dagny’s yesterday, the Hemlock Club.  I’m thinking that I should start taking notes, because when I try to remember what we talked about, it’s not easy.  We talked about ourselves, of course, but also Sylvia Plath, the quote from Philosophy in the Twentieth Century about muddle-headed versus simple-minded philosophers, “the ocean within”—these three were subjects that I introduced.  J talked for twenty minutes or so about the ineptitude or malfeasance of psychologists, “warning” me about mine, not knowing a thing about it.  D talked again about his battle with cancer, and something about a daughter.  Pablo talked for a while also, about what I cannot recall.  The rest is probably in my memory somewhere, but trying to dig it up is tiresome.

Ah, one other thing without effort:  J talked about “jīva,” which I need to look up, something from Hinduism.  I had written down the word, or it would almost certainly have become unrecoverable.

Had a brief DM exchange this morning with Z about Skype.  We’ll perhaps be able to connect at the next Hemlock Club meeting.  I’m kind of glad it didn’t happen this time, since the conversation was so lively and her video presence would have inevitably become the focus of all eyes for quite some time—assuming that the linkup would have been at all satisfactory.

So, end of the year.  I’ll think about that after more sleep.


{1/1/19}  Weight 219.0.

6:00 am.  Been up since 3:00, so now I’m going back to bed.

9:20 am.  I have written what so far is called, “The Bleak Philosophy:  A Preliminary Sketch.”  I hope to turn it into a book.  I add and rewrite throughout the day.

After much time on twitter, watching an old miniseries of Sense and Sensibility (a disappointment after the recent, brilliant, Pride and Prejudice that I watched), late breakfast and a long nap, it’s now 6:00.  The nap was too long; I will not sleep well tonight.  [The P&P was the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle miniseries, really excellent on all counts, but the Mr. Collins and Mrs. Bennett were so annoying that I had to mute them sometimes.  Since I have it on DVD, I’ve seen it before.]

A thought about writing:  it is essential to keep track of the referents of your pronouns, preferably as you compose, if you can do so without interfering with the flow.  Especially important with loose pronouns, indicators, and connectors like “this,” as in “This means that…”  Pronouns loosely used are an excellent means of confusing your readers.  Or listeners, in the case of speech.  This is hardly news, yet I feel it strongly at the moment.

A new year.  I don’t want to review the year, but I think it’s been a very good one in many ways.  It has been a serious year, with serious accomplishments in building my followers on social media, in diary writing, and in the Kick Me revision process.  I have made resolutions (announced and ignored on twitter) to ride my tricycle (a faux resolution) and to replace evening burgers with grilled cheese or peanut butter sandwiches, twice a week, primarily as a sop toward environmental responsibility.  Perhaps it is worth mentioning that I sometimes “make a dinner” of two slices of toast, when I have overindulged my “midday snack.”  These shouldn’t count towards the commitment of 2; which may seem excessively nitpicky, but if I don’t explore and decide these details, I will fudge them in practice, and so end up deciding them later.  I have found that vague goals, like “exercise more,” are worthless.

The next year will be different, at least for a while, in that I am dropping my annoying home Wi-fi account [it’s 5G, but sometimes amazingly slow; connection speed, it seems, isn’t everything]—I will be relying on free access at Valley Plaza, restaurants (notably Dagny’s), and libraries.  So I will be spending less time at home, and more time exercising (traveling).  A major accomplishment will be when I can cycle to and from Valley Plaza.  It might even become economically worthwhile at that point to stop buying monthly bus passes, switching over to day passes only.  I am anticipating great health benefits from this new exercise thing, though I may be disappointed.

New friendships are developing from the Hemlock Club.  These will grow or wither in the normal course of things.  Friction is developing among the members, mostly between J and the other regulars, but also between me and Pablo.  It would be foolish to try to predict.  I am certainly rethinking the unrealistic “euphoria” that I felt two weeks ago, specifically, see the 12/16/18 entry.

The Writers Writing meetup has gone nowhere, but I will keep at it as long as I can, because it motivates work on KM that has otherwise eluded me.  Two or more hours a week is better than no hours a week.  The Bleak Philosophy (hereafter “BP”) project would be more difficult to work on at Dagny’s, at least sometimes, because in part it involves typing in quotes from books.

This would be a good time to commit to, or drop altogether, the art meetup.  I signed on as a member perhaps a month ago, but have gone to no meetings, and the emails are annoying.  I don’t doubt that actually attending meetings would be opening a door to possibilities, both in generating actual artworks to “enrich my environment,” and to potential friendships.  It could also increase my skills in art, but I don’t really care about that right now, as I have no ambitions other than to produce some book jackets and possibly something to hang on the wall.

Had a long visit (two hours?) yesterday from J.  Regarding my landlords, it was sort of “my worst nightmare” because, not only did he bring along a shopping cart to carry his stuff, he also called me from the front office.  The conversation itself was somewhat tedious because he is wordy.  He told me that after Pablo and I left Dagny’s on Sunday, he had stayed behind and apparently got a talking to from David, and later Pablo joined in, about how J had acted during the meeting, specifically relating to how he had treated me.  I had no issue with his behavior; he had gotten a bit loud, and he had inappropriately criticized my relationship with Pastafazool (about whom he knows nothing) on the basis of his feelings and experiences with shrinks.  At the meeting I had said little about it, except to wait until he was done and then to say he was off the mark.  Apparently D felt that I had been “abused,” and since I didn’t react strongly, he felt moved to defend me.  Inappropriately.

“Pastafazool,” a joke pseudonym

Also, the purpose of the club was questioned, and decided upon by D at least, as “not to be about personal issues.”  Not my preference, necessarily; but the behavior in question was definitely inappropriate for a public setting because, although I had mentioned Pastafazool, I had not sought advice, nor even said very much about her and my “treatment.”  It was essentially an offhand remark that he picked up and ran away with, in the wrong direction.  I let him ramble on, not wanting to try to stop him, because, like Pablo, once he gets going, there’s usually no good way to change it.

After I explained to J that she is not a shrink, and clarified her role, he admitted that he’d been out of line.  He says that he’s most obstreperous when he’s feeling good, that is, happy.  My intention [next Sunday] is to address the issue of “the purpose of the club,” leaving open the possibility of personal issues, in the sense that I want members to feel free to raise issues that are troubling to them—this is one of the things that friends do together.  But Dagny’s is a poor setting for such a discussion, because it’s too public.

We talked about other things as well, not worth recording.

The bedbug situation is apparently under control.  I have acquired some additional wardrobe.  I still have too many books, but I’m buying fewer, so it seems reasonably manageable.  I am working on things I want to work on.

Thus, 2019.

[A comment to my blog followers:  I am getting rid of perfectly serviceable books, mostly nonfiction.  If you’d like me to mail you a package, please email me or comment here, letting me know your needs and/or preferences.  Some of these will be library discards, thus not salable, but most would be salable to bookstores or online.  I’d just prefer to give them to one or more of you, rather than dump them into a library sale.  And Dagny’s is overstocked.]


Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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