Diary, 2/9 to 2/15/20

Knightley Pride Prejudice
Keira Knightley and some guy in Pride and Prejudice

Copyright 2020 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

{2/9/20}  Weight 211.8.

{2/10/20}  Weight 212.2.

{2/11/20}  Weight 211.2.  Cherry pie diet.

I dreamt that I was telling my cousin Barbara that I was having a difficult time coping after prison.  I was riding uphill on a motor scooter, which I’ve never done, and I think someone was walking with me, when I saw her ahead and spoke to her.

A few days ago I was writing about how much guilt I was carrying.  But when I ask myself, guilt about what?  I am somewhat at a loss to specify it.  Clearly, my main source of guilt is the fact that I went to prison when I wanted to be a parent to my son.  But that’s not the problem.  I am frustrated about my lack of progress on my book, but that doesn’t arouse guilt so much as baffled annoyance—at least, so it seems at the moment.  As for the other gaffes and horrors of my life, I don’t know.

I think my problem is less guilt than disappointment with myself over lack of effort.  Perhaps that is, in fact, guilt:  not guilt over past misdeeds, but over past frivolity and time-wasting, not trying to pursue my stated goals.  In particular, because I am feeling bad much of the time, I indulge my escapism, watching DVDs, movies on cable, and episodes of The Simpsons, which FXX is broadcasting for several hours a day, five days a week.  When I get started watching, it’s hard to stop.  Sometimes The Simpsons is hilarious, but more often it’s not, and then it bothers me that I’ll keep watching in the hope that it will be hilarious again.

In the past few days I’ve watched a DVD set of five trashy horror movies, not one of which gave me any pleasure.  I’ve been buying these sets because they’re cheap from Hamilton Booksellers—this latest was $3.95 plus postage.  I’ve been thinking that DVDs that cost less than a dollar a movie are worth buying on speculation; that clearly has not been true of these horror sets, nor, indeed, of the big collections, like 50 Drive-In Classics and so on.  I have saved none of these sets.  But the point is, it’s not just a waste of money, it’s an even bigger waste of time, and it feeds into my low mood.  It’s apparently self-defeating to attempt to get out of a low mood by self-indulgence.  I’d do better to put on a CD and read, if I’m feeling a need for “self care” or a better mood.

I am doing well on some of my stated goals:  weight loss in particular, but also in saving money and keeping my dishes washed.  As for writing, cartooning, housecleaning, and so on, I’ve done nothing worth mentioning.

On 10/5/19, when I weighed 222.2, I wrote:  “Much of McGonigal’s book urges reflection on goals, short-term versus long-term.  When I channel surf or otherwise kill time with TV, I am neglecting superior alternatives.  Now, I don’t want to read or write all the time, but I have a number of projects on hold that should be pursued sometimes:  learning German, hanging pictures, sketching or painting, and winnowing my books, not to mention housework.  Pursuing these would also help with “my depression,” which comes and goes and never gets serious—in other words, my usual moods.  Decades ago I heard Ray Bradbury say on the radio, “Get busy and it will stop those moods you’re having”—which may not be completely accurate—and I think of it often.  In any case, I don’t hope to change my sedentary nature “at this late date,” though it might be wise to make gestures, at least, in that direction.  And perhaps even wiser to give it a try, i.e., learn to refuse to sit still.  Um…ain’t gonna happen.”

So those were my goals four months ago, and it might be worth noting that I did hang the pictures I wanted to hang, and I have winnowed many books, like maybe six full shopping bags worth.  The idea was to make my eventual move easier, but I haven’t really done much in this line toward that goal.  Perhaps I’ve gotten rid of 10% of my books.  I’m not sure how much further I want to go with that project; I don’t want to get rid of books that I’ll immediately want to replace.  I suppose I could lose the eight or so Dickens volumes without much grief, since I no longer really hope to read them “someday.”

I disposed of a few science textbooks because they’re huge and they are easy to find at library book sales, and, while I want them on the shelf, I just don’t read them.  I’m thinking biology, invertebrate zoology, and chemistry.

My lack of exercise is looking, again, like the grossest stupidity.  I feel like I’m getting feebler and feebler, and this is alarming.  What’s still unclear is what to do about this, aside from the obvious “I need more exercise.”  Specifically, what can I hope to stick with for, essentially, forever?  The dumbbells, that I gave up on more than a month ago?  I suppose I can try attaching a rule…

Something interesting from Abraham Maslow by way of Muriel Schiffman:  Gestalt Self Therapy:  “What part does self discipline play in the life of a healthy man?  No part at all, if we use Maslow’s definition…”  Self Therapy Press, Menlo Park, CA, 1971, p. 54.  She’s referring, I think, to the crudest form of willpower—“forcing” oneself to do unpleasant things and so on.  The theory is that the truly healthy person does whatever is right without really even mentally discussing it, just automatically.  I don’t know that I aspire to such health.  It seems sorta creepy.

I’m looking into the Schiffman book because the “fuckton of guilt” that I mentioned a few days back looks unjustified and unhealthy; and while it’s not what I would call a considered opinion, still, the impulse is there, waiting for an opportunity to clobber my mood and/or self-esteem.  I don’t know that Schiffman has anything that I can use—the basic technique seems to be to argue with yourself, and I already do plenty of that without going into the role playing.  I’m resistant to going there, but I’m still reading, so “stay tuned…”

I talked to Dr. Holder today about my guilt entries, then got onto my son and my marriage and so on (major sources of my guilt), so nothing was accomplished other than giving her some background.

I have $60 to get me through two weeks; looks like I’ll be dipping into my savings, or at least be unable to add to the $200 I was ahead last month.  If that happens, I can probably make up the hundred by increasing what I set aside in the next two months.

{2/12/20}  Weight 212.0.  Drat!  A week ago I was in the 210s.

This morning in bed I was reliving my most outraged moment in contract bridge, over and over again.  Annoying.

Saw Parasite with Pablo and S.  I didn’t like it much—at first I felt uninvolved and critical of the characters presented, all of them, wondering who I was supposed to root for; then I felt some sympathy with all the characters; then I was unpleasantly surprised by the sudden, extreme violence; finally I was saying, “Well, that was weird.”  Also, the plot seemed rather loose, in that major events (a flood, the reading of a diary) had no real consequences.  So, I was feeling meh about the whole thing, despite all the awards.

After the movie (one showing at 10:35 am) we went to Dewar’s for ice cream, where I had rather too much and S three times put spoonfuls of her “triple chocolate” in my dish without asking permission.  Then she said that she cooks, and had lots of food, and kept trying to find something I would want to eat, despite my raising objections.  Then she said she wanted to see another movie, which I declined because money, though I did want to see Birds of Prey.  In a word, she was trying hard to please me, entirely too hard, and it made me uncomfortable:  I sensed a con at work, but perhaps that’s just her way, pushy.

The Bloatus has weaponized the Justice Department, pushing it rapidly towards becoming our version of Hitler’s SS.  All I want to do is to take a nap while Nero burns our democracy.  Actually, that’s not what I want to do, but what I will do, in effect.  Rachel Maddow’s show tonight was grim.

{2/13/20}  Weight 212.2.

I went to Shut Up and Write this morning, but I’m skipping the chess club this evening.  Unfortunately, I have discovered a strong reluctance to repeat my previous performance; but I must remember that the point is not to play chess, but to make friends.  The chess club is probably my best chance to do that, aside from the Hemlock Club.  So.

I had a two-hour nap, if not longer, starting around one o’clock.  Since then I’ve been eating a lot, though nothing after 5:30.  It’s now 7:15 and I’m at a loss to fill the time before bed.

Spring has started, at least according to the weather this week.  70° high today.  Seems like this happened last year, too.  And it looks like I’ll be stuck here through another June, with only a swamp cooler instead of AC.

{2/14/20}  Weight 211.8.

Watched the Mia Wasikowska Jane Eyre again.  I think it is the best of the many versions.  Videohound gives it a ridiculous 2½ bones.

{2/15/20}  Weight ?

Watched the Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice again.  Miss Knightley is radiant and brilliant, and it’s very much her movie—I could happily watch her for two hours doing her nails; but the whole is exceedingly satisfying and I can hardly imagine a better version.  The ridiculousness of Mrs. Bennett and Mr. Collins are toned down, thankfully, but Lady Katherine (Judi Dench) is thoroughly unpleasant and I much prefer the others I have seen.  Many scenes are quite wonderful, but the one in which Lizzie rejects Darcy in the rain is stunning.  The music was rather too minimal to please me (lots of solo piano), but that’s okay because the cinematography was excellent.

I am very dull these days, and the diary reflects that.

Copyright 2020 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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