Diary, 12/12 to 12/20/19

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

Egg Nog Truffles
As you can See, egg nog truffles

{12/12/19}  Weight 216.4.  Instead of this slight gain, I was foolishly expecting a slight loss.  I say “foolishly” because of my visit to See’s yesterday “for lunch.”  I had four pieces—unfortunately, they had egg nog truffles, which I’m guessing were responsible for the extreme gas pains I suffered through for about ten minutes.  Dinner was two pieces of toast with just peanut butter.

It looks like I’ll need to cut into my standard breakfast if I’m to make it to 215 this month.  So:  two eggs and one piece of toast today (instead of 3 and 2), plus banana and orange juice?  It seems clear to me that my body is making more efficient use of the food I eat, which means I need to eat even less if I’m to continue the downward trend.  I’m not sure this is wise for the long term, however.  Staying at the reduced intake I’ve been practicing, rather than reducing it further, is the alternative.  Perhaps my goal of 215 was unrealistic—not because it was unattainable, but perhaps because it was unattainable without causing some kind of starvation mode in response?  I just don’t know enough to say.

Given that this is not just a diet, but a willpower challenge, I am determined to reach 215 this month.  I was running 219-220 at the start of November.  A five pound loss over two months doesn’t seem like an extreme diet, but perhaps I need to listen to my body more closely, not only because of the trend of not losing despite reduced intake, but also because I’ve been feeling real hunger over the last several days.  Well, let’s consider this both an educational experiment as well as a willpower challenge; if I need to readjust what I consider reasonable next month, that’s okay.  I’m in this for the long haul.  Given the ease of my initial losses, I had begun to expect that I could continue to lose without feeling much hunger, and I think that would be a good sign that I’m “doing it right.”  Well, I just don’t know enough yet.

Got my Cognitive Neuroscience book yesterday and read a few pages last night.  I had forgotten that I’d gone ahead and taken the plunge of buying this $50 book.  It’s a price that I had considered “surprisingly low” because I was contemplating going as high as $150, which I think is the price of the current edition of Purves’s Neuroscience.

Three hundred pages of diary this year.  Last year’s document (which actually covers about fourteen months) was barely 200 pages.

Everywhere I turn today, it’s horrifying.  I mean the news, Twitter, and Z Magazine.  I’m finding it difficult to be specific, but the sense of dread regarding the 2020 election is pretty overwhelming, and the recent new projections of global warming are devastating.  The ignorance and befuddlement of the American people, fueled by religion, Russia, Trump repuglikkkans, corporate media, billionaires, and, above all, Fox News, will destroy our democracy and the world.  There’s no stopping this doom.  Even if Bernie Sanders wins in 2020, and the Democrats take the Congress, it just won’t be enough.  The only question is how bad it will be, and how soon.  The whole world also seems to be embracing its own destruction.

I have largely recovered from this mood, which was worst when I was reading Z Magazine on the way home from Dagny’s.  Getting three packages in the mail helped a lot.  The “singing bowl” that I “bought for Zena” turns out to be a great toy.  I’m keeping it, I’ll buy her another one (about $40).  At first I had trouble getting it to work at all, but the more I experimented, the better it got, until I finally learned to get three very different sounds from it—basically a high tone, a low tone, and the two together.  The “singing” is more subtle than it sounds at first.

I also got highlighters, ear plugs, printable business cards, and the soundtrack for The Last Samurai (Hans Zimmer).  I’m also expecting a recording of Alexander Nevsky.  That may be everything.

{12/13/19}  Weight 216.0.  Well, I feel poised to push again.

In the British election obscenity I see a foreshadowing of our own 2020 horror:  a progressive candidate will not win because the big money will not permit it.  If Trump is reelected (i.e., steals another one), I will turn my back on the United States and humanity—an empty gesture.  This outcome is all too likely because the Democratic party is in the grip of the billionaires even now.  My only hope is that I am being pessimistic, not realistic.  It’s a desperate hope.

The nauseating truth is that it won’t change our doom even if Warren or Sanders wins.  I have always believed that “the truth will out”; it’s clear that this is a lie.  People cling to the comforting lie because the truth is so terrifying.

The 2020 election is likely to produce unprecedented violence, unprecedented since the Civil War, that is.  Admittedly, I am ignorant of history while knowing much more than anyone under thirty except history majors.  Which is empty boasting, hence stupid, but I do expect violence.

Heroic Greta Thunberg is named Person of the Year by Time while the COP25 fails humanity, because the rich are doing what rich people do, shortsightedly following Smith’s “vile maxim.”

The future holds only horror, injustice, and death; I find no comfort anywhere, least of all in the mirror.

{12/14/19}  Weight 217.0.  “Are you shittin’ me?” was my reaction.

{12/15/19}  Weight 218.0.  No, I haven’t been bingeing.  If my understanding is correct, I’ve put on two pounds in two days because I began eating chips, and so, increased my sodium intake substantially (like 300 mg/day), and so have retained water.  Presumably, if I stop eating chips, the water will go down, and so will my weight.  I have no idea how long that will take—hopefully, days rather than weeks.  Anyway, an educational mistake.

In other news, I recognized last night (after watching The Dark Knight for the hundredth time) that I’m frittering away my time, and so, my life.  Now, it’s a great movie.  And that “hundredth” is a gross exaggeration—I’d say that I’ve seen it about a dozen times, less than I’ve seen Lord of the Rings:  The Fellowship of the Ring or even Land of the Pharaohs or The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad.  I could add a few others.  But the point is, I need to get more serious about how I spend my days.  Why?  Because, not only do I not like the feeling of “frittering,” but because I hope that I will enjoy the feeling of accomp­lish­ment that will follow giving serious attention to KM and cartooning.  And taking a more studious approach to my reading of Cognitive Neuroscience.  Or, as a minimum, stopping this habit of watching multiple trashy movies each day that I spend at home.

It’s curious and curiouser.  Watching Noam Chomsky On the World:  The Chomsky Sessions last night, I turned it off about halfway through, even though I was finding it educational and somewhat entertaining.  Within fifteen minutes (I think), I had put on Dark Knight.  I think I was finding Chomsky depressing, perhaps in his description of the repression by our government of Eugene V. Debs and Bertrand Russell and others.  Another thing was disgust at finding that Chomsky is not listed in the Merriam-Webster Biographical Dictionary, though George Jessel is there.  Chomsky’s work in linguistics clearly should have earned him a place, and his many political books and other activities equally so.  I don’t know whether to call that an oversight, or a deliberate, politically-motivated choice, but how many people have been called “the most important intellectual alive” by The New York Times?  (According to the DVD case.)

So, having low spirits, I turned to the reliably mind-numbing Knight, which is a disparagement that I should have eschewed, because it is actually rather thought-provoking at times—for an action movie.  But I could have done better.  I wouldn’t make such a big deal about it if I hadn’t been doing the same thing for two weeks—or is it two months?  Somewhere in there I stopped working on KM except for Thursday mornings.  And somewhere in there I stopped reading philosophy.  I’m not at all sure of these conclusions, however.  It might be more accurate to just call it depression, and…I don’t know what.  Which is just pasting a label on, an act that is essentially meaningless.

Calling it “meaningless” is a rush to judgment:  the label might indeed have consequences, either in causing me to stop thinking (which is belied by these very words), or in changing my thinking to:  “I’ve been depressed before, how did I handle it?”  In fact, I didn’t “handle it.”  I don’t have a cure or even a palliative.

As I see it this morning, my “depression” has two “causes”:  loneliness, and the world situation (“our doom”).  I could name others, about as intractable as our doom:  the absences of J and N from my life over the past few weeks, and?  I don’t know.  Despite last Thursday’s milestone re KM—I finished my pass through the written copy, essentially a major stage of a second or third revision—an accomplishment that I haven’t celebrated at all, rather, that I’ve discounted as being nothing much, perhaps because it doesn’t seem like a lot of work because I’ve been lackadaisical about it.

Maybe the conclusion is:  no conclusion.  I don’t know why I’m depressed, nor what to do about it; that is, I know I’m feeling lonely, having “only Pablo,” and having passed up chance after chance to “move Maureen to the next level,” and the thing to do is to act on the latter.

The terrifying thing is, moving Maureen to the next level inescapably involves “the reveal.”  Since involvement with any woman will involve that too, I should just go ahead and blunder through it and see what happens.  Because the alternative is to face the rest of my life alone.  The unforgiving me says, “That’s exactly what you deserve.”  The forgiving me says the opposite.  It’s a moral choice, and I am incompetent to make it.

Taking a second look at Pankaj Mishra:  Age of Anger:  A History of the Present.  This time, after fifteen or twenty minutes of reading and browsing, I wrote this on the title page:  “The style lacks sobriety, and so, clarity.  I read this in 2017 and liked it.  In 2019 I’m finding it overwrought and perhaps duplicitous.  Too black and white.”  So I guess I can get rid of it.

{12/16/19}  Weight 217.6.  Looks like that “water weight gain” is going to take a while to remove.

The thing with Maureen or anyone is, if I never get to the point of needing to make “the reveal,” that’s equivalent to making the reveal and getting shunned thereafter.  So, go ahead and take the chance, I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

I should be feeling less depressed today, if loneliness is the cause, because N was at the HC yesterday and we talked for four hours.  What did we talk about?  The Bhagavad Gita, karma, and I forget the rest.  Walden, a little.  He did most of the talking, of course.  I had nothing urgent to say, and when I did offer something, it often ended inconclusively because I lost the connection to where I’d wanted to go.  That was unusual.  He had a lot to say about water, bottled and otherwise, some of which made sense.

I am not, however, less depressed today than yesterday.

I tried to say something about herbs and cognition (because of the sidebar in Cognitive Neuroscience), but didn’t quite get there; the book’s conclusion was that it might be helpful to use herbs like rosemary and sage in your food, but it recommended not taking mass quantities of St. John’s wort and so on.  Some of these things have been used for hundreds of years, which is encouraging; but that doesn’t necessarily apply to modern formulations of high potency, or so my caution suggests.

{12/17/19}  Weight 216.0.  Ha!  Back in the hunt.

Last night I watched the first disk of Lord of the Rings:  The Fellowship of the Ring, in the extended version.  I enjoyed it so much that I then watched most of the commentary with the actors, cutting it short because it was eleven o’clock.  I was quite depressed yesterday, which is the only excuse for such frivolity.

Something I cut from Kick Me Notes:

“After a certain age, my brother always gave expensive, and sometimes spectacular, presents.  And sometimes he would be an ass and say to me, ‘That’s too good for you.’  He had bought something for me that he wanted himself.

“He’s a rather strange person; he would spend an hour driving to a store rather than let his ‘fingers do the walking.’  And if I was the ‘frozen man,’ he was more like ‘petrified wood’ that was beyond thawing.  As I analyze it now, he spent big on presents because he had no other way to show his love for us.”

Well, today I spent several hours editing Kick Me.  At home, even, and when I didn’t have to.  I have finished this edit/revision.  This is very encouraging.  Alas, much remains to be done, and I’m thinking that the next step is to reread the whole thing again and make notes.  Though first I should go back and read the comments I made during this lengthy edit, lest I regret printing too early.

Watching the second half of Fellowship.  The passage through Moria seems to me a fantasy sequence that is never likely to be equalled in another movie.  Avatar is also brilliant, of course, and Terminator 2.  But, fine as those movies are, and galling as some of the staginess and dumb dialog of Fellowship may be, for class, imagination, and attention to detail, what can compare?  Perhaps the music is the deciding factor.  It’s a tremendous pity that Jackson, or the producers, didn’t trust the story or the audience enough to eschew the Hollywoody crap, because another production of the trilogy on this scale is not going to happen in my lifetime, and would almost certainly be inferior.  The remainder of the trilogy is diminished for multi-repeat watching by the odious Gollum and the lifeless romance between Aragorn and Galadriel.

Well, Avatar evokes more tears, and Terminator 2 more adrenaline, and Alien more sheer terror.  And, of course, an afterthought:  Marvel movies are more fun.  Maybe I should just delete all this, since I hadn’t even considered Marvel while writing it.

Whither Marvel?  I understand that another Captain Marvel and another Doctor Strange are planned and presumably underway, and I think a Black Panther, too, and I eagerly await them, but it’s really hard to see how they can do as well again as they have done to date.

I’m not expecting much from DC, since they haven’t delivered much to date; their products are always inferior to Marvel’s.  Though the Dark Knight trilogy is damn good and better than a lot of the lesser Marvels.  Is the difference Stan Lee?

{12/18/19}  Weight 215.8.  Ha!  I shall not claim success until I reach 215.0, but this is gratifying.  On 11/17 I was excited about reaching 218.0.

Up at 4:40 am, and wishing I were asleep.

Printed the new version of Kick Me.  The next step is another read-through/edit.  This also is gratifying.  I intend to not stress over minor details, but to focus on the chronological structure.

And if these things aren’t enough for a celebration, I also fixed the lid of my food cabinet, with wood putty in the screw holes and drilling and replacing the screws.  So Pablo and I are going to Sizzler.

{12/19/19}  Weight 216.0.  I expected a larger gain, though I “did my best” to avoid it by getting a minimalist dinner at Sizzler—salmon and a plain potato (though I indulged in the cheese toast, which was quite salty).  My weight goal has been refined to 215.0 by the end of the year.  But I intend to relax a bit on the downward pressure for a day or two, perhaps allowing myself a burger for dinner tonight, or maybe breakfast at Macdonald’s.  It’s a good thing I’m not a “foodie”—I’m content with the simplest foods, though with a sweet tooth.

I’ve been reading I To Myself, which is selections from Thoreau’s Journal.  The general dullness of this book makes me realize that it would be a mistake to spend the big bucks necessary to buy the full Journal.  I simply wouldn’t read it.  The other big purchase I’ve never forgotten, van Gogh’s letters in the super-illustrated six volume edition, might be equally a mistake, but at least it would fit more easily on the shelf.

But:  where to turn for exciting reading?  Or exciting life?

I read the “Preface” to KM last night and was appalled by its pretension and dullness.  A better approach might be to rewrite the preface and retitle it, “What kind of book is this?”  The present chapter titles are thoughtless, but were meant for my convenience, so a creative approach there would help.  And, of course, the cartoons:  I’ve been thinking of having marginal “reaction shots” of my old-man-face, possibly in addition to illustrative scenic drawings.  But I don’t have forever, eh?

Eight hours of sleep with one interruption last night, which seems to be about the best I can hope for in my seventy-second year of my so-called life.

Here’s another “cute” chapter title:  “What was I thinking?  Oh, wait, I was six.”  I like this approach very much, though I don’t want to take the easy way out and just repeat that title for chapter after chapter, changing only “my age.”  Blah-blah knows, there’s little enough scope for being funny in this grim book.  I need to keep my eyes on the prize:  honesty, not laughs.  But I can and should have both.  Possible book title:  “The worst of my life.”  Or maybe “The bad without the good.”  “What was I thinking?” would work.  Chapter:  “Boys will be assholes”?

In looking through a notebook I used in prison, I find a weight record where I was at 213.0, which includes boots and clothing.  I was also as high as 244.

{12/20/19}  Weight 216.0 at 4:50 am.

Yesterday I asked, where to turn for exciting reading?  I answered my own question by reading this diary, from February to May.  I didn’t read all of that, because some parts were well remembered and not interesting, but most of it was very entertaining.  Not quite so fascinating to my blog readers, it seems.

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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