Onward and Upward: 2022

Yep. Here we are.

Pretty jacked up on caffeine from this morning. Haven’t really eaten squat, couple handfuls of cashews. Smoking a Nicaraguan Camacho. Nice. Nothing special. But it’ll do.

Keeping it at 3 or less visits a week and less than $30 a visit here. Last year I was absolutely ridiculous with the amount of cash and time I spent here, which is not to say that didn’t bear fruit.

So what’s up for this year?

Well, a lot.

I’ve made a bunch of decisions and have a lot of other things kicking around in the fog just outside my consciousness:

  • Smokey Cigar

I started coming here frequently a year and a half ago, August/September 2020. I realized that if I showed up here on an empty stomach, smoked a really stout cigar, caffeinated myself and nipped on a diet doctor pepper that two things happened:

1) I was able to write pretty fluidly
2) I didn’t have an appetite to speak of.

That led to me losing 50 pounds between then and about April 2021 and getting hundreds of thousands of words written and posted. Hell, some of them even didn’t suck.

Well, since then I’ve gotten a bit lax, both about the “empty stomach” part and the rest of things, so as much as I hate to admit it, I’m back up by 15. A bit of that was from heading up to New York over Christmas, so I’m not really running myself down about that as much as I would if I just let my emotions carry me away. Just time to take things a bit more seriously again and stop riding on credit for something that clearly ended eight fucking months ago. That starts sounding like glory day shit.

The downside to that success was that I spent a truly breathtaking amount of money here last year. It got to the point where I was here four to five days a week and, for most of the year, smoked upwards of five cigars a visit. Well, you do the math on a median $12 cigar.

So this year I’m committing to at most three visits here per week, and spending less than $30 each time I’m here. That’s a trivial goal to manage I think. Though I’m going to have to get my friends on board with my new restrictions. They’re gonna kinda whine about it I’m sure.

  • Home

Enough. It’s been more than a year and a half and I don’t have any damned furniture to speak of.

Indeed, one of the reasons I DO come down here to the cigar lounge to write is that I don’t really have a place in my own home where I feel comfortable writing. I’ve written the everloving shit out of that problem, so I’ll belabor it no further.

I’m going to try to take a room a month and work on it. I’m afraid of the actual expense involved. But that’s another issue. The first four are:

  • Bedroom
  • Kitchen
  • Library
  • Office
  • Bathroom

I’m not sure in which order I should tackle them. The office is the easiest because it’s mostly furnished already. I’ve just got to deal with the crap.

The cost of furniture is fucking prohibitive to me really. I need a new bed, a writing desk, a dresser or armoire of some kind. And let’s not even get started on the kitchen, which really does need to be completely redone.

The bathroom needs the kind of work I don’t yet know how to do. Caulking and tiling, cabinet and fixture replacement. That kind of thing. I don’t know how (or if) I’m going to tackle that myself.

Which brings me to:

  • Side Hustle / Money making.

And herein lies the rub. I’d do all of the remodeling of my house in one month if I could afford to have someone just come in and fucking do it all. But I can’t. Not really. It’d probably cost me about $100k to get everything I want done done. And that’s just not happening. Not with my finances the way they are now.

So it’s time for me to stop “start thinking about” making money through some other pursuit and actually get off my ass.

I could start trading again, see how that goes. I’m sure if I dove headfirst into it that I’d be able to do it. It’s probably the biggest bang for the educational buck.

The twitter “side hustle” guys tend to focus on sales on drop-ship or electronic products. That has some promise. I’m pretty sure I could write well enough if I were to get myself to focus.

Thing about those two ideas is that they scale pretty well. Drop-ship sales notsomuch really. Though trading more than electronic product creation and sales. Though the latter I’m already bootstrapped pretty well on, all things considered.

I also very much want to create things in the workshop and set up an etsy store or something similar.

  • Workshop

A couple/few weeks ago I finally got off my ass and built a cross-cut sled for me goofy little table saw. It was a missing piece of a fixture that’s really required to do a lot of the kind of work I want to do.

  • Hobby Pursuits

Anyone who knows me at all knows I have a truly obnoxious affinity for taking up new hobbies, as if I’m literally interested in everything. So I’ve decided that, aside from the couple/few hobbies I stick with, I’m going to introduce a churn of candidate pursuits. It’s going to go roughly like this:

Pick an idea, whatever the hell it is.

Give myself a cap of cash I can spend on it and a minimum amount of time to work on it to see if I’m interested.

If, at the end of such time, I’m still interested enough to continue, great. If not I’m not going to give myself a bunch of shit about it. I’ll just move on, hopefully getting rid of the kit I bought myself to give it a try.

This should allow me to keep moving forward, learning things and possibly creating a couple interesting pieces.

The first one, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, is stained glass. I ordered myself a bunch of required stuff that’s still going to be coming in over the next couple days. I’ve got to hit Hobby Lobby for the actual glass I want to use for my first couple projects, which hopefully aren’t TOO far outside the reach of the beginner.

  • Tech

I’m a nerd. Always have been. Always will be. But the dilution of my attention over the last year has caused me to let a lot of my home projects (Huge Honkin’ Console anybody?) atrophy something fierce. Enough is enough of that. I did some development work yesterday and today, but it’s really something I have to stop letting slide like that. Of all the goals I’ve got, soft or hard, this is the one I expect to be the most trivial to maintain.

  • Intellectual Pursuits

I’ve been slacking the fuck off. With the exception of Bible Study (an utterly unpredictable development of 2021) I’ve not really fed my brain very much over the past year, if not more.

“I’m going to read an hour a day” is one of those declarations that will last about four minutes, I’m sure. But a focused program of chewing on a bunch of books and actually doing some maintenance on a real Commonplace Book is going to be time well spent that I’m actually excited about.

  • Social life

2021’s really been an absolute boon to me socially.

BUT I also feel an absolute hunger for the kind of social life I had when I lived in a city, NYC or Nashville. There’s something about living way the fuck out here in the middle of noplace that has caused me to get socially lazy. I hang out at Smokey or Johnathan’s and that’s not “just about” it. It’s abSOLUTELY it. I need a greater influx of social experience than that.

Imagine the “High in Openness” trait that causes almost any field I examine to be something I find interesting over time. It usually takes about 20 minutes. Well, the same thing is true of people. So I need a churn of “Interesting People” to abrade my mind against.

To a certain kind of person that probably seems overly Machiavellian. But that don’ offend me none, long as I get my rent by Friday.

The plan there is to join The Red Phonebooth and head down there for a couple drinks at least twice a month. THAT will force me to dress like a grown up, rather than constantly wearing jeans and t-shirts. THAT, in turn helps a lot of things.

  • Dating

Yeah. Enough of this nonsense. It’s time to get back in the game. And yes, it’s a game.

  • Play

I have tremendous trouble relaxing, giving myself permission to recharge. I don’t really know what to do about that. Things like video games and hanging out with friends (to pick a couple ‘low hanging fruit’ examples) serve that purpose SOMEtimes. But when I spend too much time playing games it just becomes mind numbing and soul crushing. When I spend too much time with other people I can’t tolerate my own mind and need to head home for a few days and not see another person.

  • Rewards

What constitutes a reward for achieved goals? For instance I promised myself I’d buy myself something nice when I got down below 200 pounds. I did, then I didn’t. I couldn’t decide. Any single thing I could name brought forth a wave of guilt. And they weren’t things that were frivolities. A new grinder for knifemaking. A new laptop. A milling machine. Every time I thought about spending that much money on something I caught myself in a wave of stomach dropping guilt.

On one hand I’ve always said “The reward for being good can never be permission to be bad.” And I stand by that, hard. But I think that in so saying I’ve fallen prey to the “always be grinding” mindset by taking it too far. Now, I just typed and erased “I have to think about that” because I don’t think my thinking about that has done me a lot of good, certainly not for lack of energy spend in such thought. My thinking is wrong. I know my thinking is wrong. But that’s not a magical gateway to right thinking. It is simply that I can see my thoughts bound up in what I only know to call an “emotionally based misunderstanding.”

I don’t know what to do about that. More focused thinking about how I’ve been thinking about it comes to mind. But that starts sounding like turtles turtles turtles. Though it may not be so. I can only use the tools at my disposal.

So…that’s a lot. It’s not even everything, not at the top level. There’s fitness and health, physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual.

What do I want to work on cutting down?

  • Gaming. I don’t mind getting absorbed in video games. But to do it as a kind of default action when I can’t think of anything else to do leads into a deep trap.
  • Idling on social media. This shit slays me. I spend a couple hours every morning on twitter and reddit, with the occasional bounce into facebook. It’s just so damned EASY to get a dopamine hit by invoking responses through something clever, funny, or snarky. It’s not a reasonable way to spend that much time.

Plus, now that I’m about 2000 words in to this I can’t help but wonder about things that haven’t made the list. Granted, this was just me typing as I was thinking. So the staying power of these things as priorities is going to be a little flimsy and I’ve got to work through a lot of this.

I didn’t put anything down about writing, (graphic) art, or music. I’m not going to think myself to death about those missing pieces here. But it is notable.

Am I going to achieve significant progress in all those fields? Probably not. But maybe. If I took all of those things and distilled them down to their essence, the general principles, there really ISN’T so much there.

Be mindful of your space. Be mindful of your life. “Live in the moment” is almost right. But taking that at face value can lead you into a dopamine loop from hell.

So there’s a lot of work to be done on the amount of work to be done in addition to the work to be done. I’m excited about 2022, world on fire notwithstanding.

I’m going to break these up and give myself tasks and goals, timelines and deadlines, or at least checkpoints. I’ll probably share more of that than is strictly healthy. But hey, if you’re reading this and don’t know what you’re in for then I really can’t help you.

Onward and upward!