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Epic Weekend for the Middle-Aged.

So I’ve historically reserved Sunday evenings stressing out about the soul-crushing week of work ahead. This is obviously the worst way to end the weekend, so I thought I’d look back instead.

As I approach middle age, what constitutes an “epic weekend” has become more sedate; traveling, music, partying, the overconsumption of regulated substances, etc. need not be thrown in. This weekend sure qualified as one, though certainly aided by unexpected presents (for Father’s Day!), and a visit from my daughter.

Smaller pleasures all, though no less satisfying:

  • a healthy home-cooked meal (turkey meatloaf, tofu and spinach, mashed potatoes — and bibingka made with brie, which kind of cancels the healthy part but I’m not complaining)
  • Google Hangouts with my dad and the rest of the family (it’s also his birthday in a couple of days)
  • several rounds of Love Letter with Izzy, who roundly defeated me
  • the roasted corn pizza at The Forge, made even better by the fact that we hardly ever go out anymore
  • 2500-odd words into a story about a guardian / mechanic of sorts and her relationship to her inventor mother and a machine — the closest I’ve gotten to sci-fi lately — and I’m a little frustrated because all I have are the characters and the setting and two detailed scenes but there’s zero plot, then I stop writing, and then I take a yoga class, then a shower, then BOOM the pieces suddenly fit.
  • And did I mention a great yoga class? Man I could barely do a downward dog a month ago. (Obviously Darlene had a lot to do with it.)

(Lastly, True freakin’ Detective is back? But I’m going to do exactly what I did with the first season and watch it all in one marathon sitting, so shhhhh.)

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Weekend Reads, Mid-April Roundup.

  • This is the second Jenny Xie story I’ve read, and I’ll be looking for more. “If You’re Reading This” (Devil’s Lake)
  • John Joseph Adams has a new anthology of military fantasy entitled Operation Arcana — not the sort of thing I read at all, but these three stories below are pretty damn entertaining:
  • Kevin Barry’s City of Bohane, an outlandish and exuberant gangster novel of sorts set in a gritty, wharf rat-ridden dystopian future, was my favorite read of 2011. There isn’t much in common with his story “Wifey Redux” (Electric Literature), from his short story collection Dark Lies the Island, except that they’re both hilariously crude and similarly drunk on words.
  • “To MFA is to bathe in Eskinol,” and other disobedient thoughts. Barbara Jane Reyes, “Ibagsak! Or, This Pinay’s Epistemology” (barbarajanereyes.com)
  • I uploaded a photograph of my daughter in a dry riverbed in Austin to word.camera, and this is what I got.
  • My life for the past few months: “An Emotional Guide to Your Submittable Status” (The Masters Review)
  • An 2013 essay by Michael Robbins, whose poetry is both ridiculous and sublime: “A Poem for President Drone” (Los Angeles Review of Books)
  • And I would be remiss not to link to this profile of my dad by Clarissa David, “A Scientist’s Primer to Benito Vergara, National Scientist” (International Journal of Philippine Science and Technology)
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Weekend Reads, First Week of April Edition.

So the thing about these “Weekend Reads” — and mind you, I read through a lot of stuff all through the week, and these are already the gems — is that being able to read them wouldn’t be possible if I hadn’t done two things: a) go on a strict social media diet, and b) uninstall all my games from my phone. At some point last year I finally figured out that writing time was a precious, precious commodity, and that I would sneak it in any chance I could.

Easier said than done, of course. But waking up way earlier, choosing a commute that actually optimizes writing time (the bus takes longer, but it’s more convenient,  I have a seat, which lets me type), etc. has worked well. It also lets me read. Distilling my personal leisure time — in contrast to leisure time with family and friends, that is — to the binary options of reading and writing feels satisfyingly primal. I’m cool with that right now.

I found it terribly easy, actually, to limit logging on to Facebook to once on the weekends, and just enough for a couple of vertical swipes, maybe three. (Twitter I abandoned long ago.) It’s a huge contrast to the former way I would refresh my News Feed hourly. You might say it was an addiction. I would see the same Buzzfeed links posted over and over, the endless photos of food, and so on, and somehow they never registered as noise. That recalibration of my priorities exposed them for what they were.

That said, I do miss that plunge into the quotidian, that quick peek at what my friends are up to, to see photos of my nephew and nieces. That out there births and deaths and celebrations and complaints and dinners and oversharing are happening, an endless scrolling flow of events and non-events — but there’s nothing wrong with finding out about them only once a week.

  • Games, on the other hand, are another story, and one I’ll leave for another post. But here are a couple of smart pieces on games: Byron Alexander Campbell, “The Allure of Allegory; or, a Case for Cardboard.” (Entropy)
  • And an appreciation of Will Wright’s SimCity, by Ian Bogost, “Video Games Are Better Without Characters.” (The Atlantic)
  • I love this story, and even though during my first read I wasn’t quite sure if the lab monkey aspect really worked, I began to appreciate how the constantly interrupting voice of the writing teacher functioned as the voice of the State, and God, and the Parent all at once, and what I thought was merely a clever but weak metaphor (the lab monkey) was now burnished with sadness. Angela Woodward, “Clarity.” (The Collagist)
  • “It is all dirt; it is a useless exercise!” Jim Melrose, “Mister Lucas’ Punishment” (Solstice)
  • “In this moment, the confusion of my whole life has receded. No one will ask me if I am white or Asian. No one will ask me if I am a man or a woman. No one will ask me why I love men.” Alexander Chee, “Girl” (Guernica)
  • Not a read, exactly: Kindle Cover Disasters
  • I’m linking to this piece with some amusement because I don’t necessarily sympathize with these poor, poor folks stuck at home. (Though I should add that my snark is tempered by the fact that it’s great that companies offer telecommute privileges, and so these folks may actually love being at home, as I would too because it frees up my weekend to do something other than the laundry, but one may also argue that temporary contractors aren’t even given office space and are expected to get their work done at some cafe with wifi, which stinks, etc.) But I do wish the article could have dug a little deeper about the lives of the delivery and cleaning people.  Lauren Smiley, “The Shut-In Economy” (Matter)
  • Here’s an excerpt from a forthcoming novel by Hari Kunzru and it looks pretty darn great; it reminds me of Ian MacDonald’s fantastic novel River of Gods. “Drone” (Granta)

 

 

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Weekend Reads.

  • Nominated for the 2014 Nebula Award for Best Novelette, Kai Ashante Wilson’s fantastic “The Devil in America” (Tor.com)
  • “Justice in Ferguson is not a matter of ‘racism without racists,’ but racism with racists so secure, so proud, so brazen that they used their government emails to flaunt it.” From Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “The Gangsters of Ferguson” (The Atlantic)
  • “How a handful of pacifists and nuns exposed the vulnerability of America’s nuclear-weapons sites.” Eric Schlosser, “Break-in at Y-12” (The New Yorker)
  • And finally, Jennifer Boeder with “a cheat sheet to which you can refer any time you’re confronted with a Hall & Oates hater,” in “The Maneater Manifesto: Ten Reasons Why Hall & Oates Win” (Cuepoint)
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A Few of My Favorite Things, 2014 Edition.

Man where did the time go. It’s almost 2015 and I’m a year older.

It’s been a good year. I spent the last third of the year angry and anxious, though I’m feeling a lot better now. The other two-thirds were a blur. Changed my job and moved to another department. Celebrated my dad’s 80th. Celebrated my daughter’s 13th. Made some headway in my Project Management classes. Lost weight. Got into an awesome writing workshop with awesome writers. Ate a lot of homemade lunches and dinners. Started the year by meditating daily but that didn’t work. Besides, my asawa and dog kept me sane.