Cleaning Up

So here it is, the third day of February, and I’m writing my first blog post of the year. Anyway…

At the end of 2019, I had decided to make some changes once 2020 rolled around and once it did, you bet I started and am continuing to stick with them. So here they are, in no particular order.

I Started Reading. For those who know me really well, they understand why this is a big deal and pretty surprising. Why, you ask? Because my job requires me to read All. Day. Long. and the last thing I want to do when I get home is read some more.

The main reason I did so was because I discovered that there is an iOS app for Google Books where, as an Android user year ago, I amassed a decent collection of e-books. And I started to read some of them but because my Samsung tablet had such poor battery life and awful performance, I stopped. I wiped the tablet clean and tried again and nope, it was still slow. But once I installed the Books app on my iPad and realized how many I had, I thought that it would be a good time to start all over.

I did at the beginning of January with The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Zen Living and, much to my surprise, finished it yesterday. A whole book. All 300+ pages. That’s something, and I’m not done yet. I’m going to take a break and focus on something else this month and start on my next book in March.

Being Clutter-Free. One of the things mentioned in said book is the removal of clutter from your living space in order to keep your mind focused, and ridding yourself of material goods as a means of sticking to one of Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths: attachment is the root of all suffering (and it really is). For me, it went beyond that silly made-for-television “Does it spark joy?” mantra by someone the world has since forgotten about; it was a matter of “When was the last time I used this shit?”

And if I couldn’t remember, it got thrown out. I started in the den by cleaning out the cabinets around my TV where I found so many useless things I had collected over the years. But if they had been in there for this long and not used, away they went. There’s still work to be done but it was a real test to take on this task and see exactly how badly I might be attached to any of this stuff. I got my answer.

This also continued in the garage where we applied the same philosophy. If not for my rarely used drum set in the back, we’d have more space but I keep it because it’s fun to bang on now and then. But wait! There’s even more room in there now because…

I Sold My Motorcycle. I bought a 2015 Yamaha YZF-R3 back in February 2016 because, after two years of riding my scooter, I wanted something a little faster and sportier. Here she is, showroom-fresh just before I started the paperwork:

IMG_3992

Was it fun to ride? Yes. Economical? Of course. But once I was in my scooter accident in October 2016, I swore off riding and returned to being a “cager,” a not-so-endearing term that riders use to describe people who drive cars.

So basically the motorcycle sat in the garage from then until this weekend when I sold it to a local dealer. I had tried to sell it there in the past but because I owed so much on it then (the dreaded “negative equity”), they wouldn’t buy it because there was no money to be made. When I got my last statement I decided to research its value and realized it was now worth more than I owed. So I rode it over and pretty much said I want to get rid of it and they made me an offer which I happily accepted because selling a motorcycle privately is a bit more difficult than a car. I didn’t make a lot of money on the deal because it needed some maintenance but I didn’t care. It’s gone, there’s room in the garage, and I’m saving over $150 a month from the payments I no longer have to make, plus insurance I no longer have to pay. I loved riding but with the Big 51 coming in a few weeks, nah, I can’t take anymore chances.

I’m Fasting. I had heard about intermittent fasting as 2019 was wrapping up and decided to give it a try to see the benefits. While you can simply set timers and alarms on your phone to notify you when you need to start and stop your fast, I’m using an app called Zero that keeps track of all of your fasts and lets you add journal entries and emojis to record how you felt each day. There are several fasts you can try or you can personalize your own: mine is currently a nightly fast of 12 hours. It’s by no means easy – I often find myself wanting to snack once I’ve started but that’s something you have to resist along with drinking lots of water. The app has lots of useful tips if you’re just getting started.

Have I felt any different? After the first week, I went for my walk/run and did more running than I had in a long time. The energy was definitely there and I felt great. Then, of course, I got sick with a cold for about a week, took a few days off work and didn’t exercise for a week.

Tip: I would not recommend the Zero Apple Watch app. It will drain your battery since it will be running the entire time of your fast.

So the literal and proverbial cleaning will continue for as long as it takes to get things in order.

Change is hard. But change is also very, very good.

Bookmobile Arrives

pigeonMy company is one of the sponsors for Bess the Book Bus, a small organization that promotes literacy by seeking book donations for underprivileged children. For about the past month, we’ve been collecting books for the kiddies while Bess made her circuitous path from Florida to her final destination, sunny southern California. Our incentive to donate: those that gave at least 10 books received a yellow SuperGuarantee cape, suitable for…something, most likely office bragging rights by hanging outside your cubicle (if you are lucky enough to have one).

I had told The Kid the last time we cleaned his room that if there were any books he didn’t want to let me know so that I could give them to the kids that couldn’t afford any. The Kid came through with a bagful of books, and I’m proud of him for being so willing to donate them.

Well, today Bess finally arrived at work to collect the books. Here are a few phone-cam shots:

Bess gets loaded--with books

Bess gets loaded--with books.

The back of the bus. Note the Florida license plate.

The back of the bus. Note the Florida license plate.

The pigeon finally drove the bus!

The pigeon finally drove the bus!

That last picture is what really got me laughing. You see, there’s this series of books by Mo Willems that center around a pigeon and his adventures that include wanting a puppy, finding a hot dog and as seen here, driving a bus. The books are genuinely funny in that the pigeon does everything he can to convince (the child) reader to let him get his way, a funny way of giving kids a taste of their own medicine.

At any rate, The Kid loves the books and I thought he would get a kick out seeing the pigeon finally “driving” the bus. Oh boy, did he ever.

It was great to see Bess finally arrive at work gather the books up, knowing that they will end up in the hands of children that most definitely need them more than we did. And yes, in case you’re wondering, I earned my cape with what The Kid had generously donated for the cause.

And no, I’m not wearing it when I start riding my bike to work again 🙂

—————-
Now playing: Elvis Costello – Everyday I Write the Book
via FoxyTunes


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Me and Uncle Lou

I had the pleasure of attending my Uncle Pete’s wedding today at a historical residence in my hometown of Wilmington, CA. (That’s another blog entry, believe me.) Not only was it great to be in a residence with so much history, I enjoyed catching up with relatives I hadn’t seen in years.

The man you see me with above is one of them. Uncle Lupe, or Lou as he likes to be called these days, has always been the one person in the family with a reputation for being a little different. For example, he’ll just show up at your door unannounced. That’s not unusual until you consider that he lives in northern California, exact location unknown, and we’re in southern California. That’s just how he rolls and everybody in the family knows it.

Until he could no longer handle the physical and mental strain it placed upon him, he sailed often. In fact for his final adventure, he told me that he sailed to the Galapagos Islands in the middle of hurricane season. As he feverishly took notes on his laptop computer, it was then that he got the inspiration for his new book, due in June. (At the time he had no intentions of writing a book; only documenting his trip was his priority.)

Uncle Lou’s owned a surfboard shop in San Diego, has worked for the aerospace industry, and is also the author of Cut Flowers. Our family photo album is chock full of pictures of him doing various activities like scuba diving and anything involving the ocean. He’s always been sort of secretive about things he’s done, and that only added to his mystique. In short, you could say he’s the original version of The Most Interesting Man in the World. And being that I hadn’t seen him in years I felt compelled to speak with him about writing and everything that goes along with it.

We laughed, we discussed writing, we embraced and shook hands since, well, who knows when we’ll meet again. I learned enough from him in our brief time together to become inspired to do great things with the written word, and to never lose focus on the one thing, that one “push” as he called it, when it finally hits me.

And after hearing some of the stories my mom was telling me about growing up with Uncle Lou, I came to the realization that for better or worse, I have much more in common with him than previously thought. The mind of a writer definitely does not work on the same frequency as that of the mathematician, which could explain why the two of us had so much to speak about.

Meeting up with Uncle Lou has given me a new outlook on writing something beyond a blog, and that’s something I truly needed to hear. And Ann has his instructions to kick my rear into doing it.

He’s promised to send me a signed copy of Cut Flowers when he gets back home. When it arrives I am going to print a copy of the image you see above and place it inside for inspiration.

Thanks, Uncle Lou. You truly made my day.