In this post:
This year has been really remarkable in a lot of ways. It seems like a bunch of small changes in my life conspired to make a big one. I’m sleeping more and more regularly, I have been waking up earlier and using the time to read, I’m having fewer (but not no) headaches, and overall functioning level has increased significantly. Let me give you an example: I am traveling currently, and yesterday when I checked into my hotel, the first thing I did was unpack my bag, hang up my clothes, and organize my belongings. Who does that? Mentally healthy people, I guess. It’s not that I have everything together. It’s just that I’m finding it way easier to have things together and I’m moving in the right direction. What changed?
Oh yeah. Less social media.
Seriously though, that piece went way wider than I expected. It was on Kottke.org. It made Estonian media. My Google Alerts for my name used to fill me with dread. Now I’m just curious when I receive them.
Surely enough, not long after that post hit, Meta’s consent wall went live on my account in Germany. Oh well—less Facebook and Instagram scrolling, more time for happiness.
This timing is fortuitous because my job has been intense these last few weeks. I’ve stepped into a pan-European leadership role. I now run Data & AI for Thoughtworks Europe, and I’ve been getting up to speed on our activities in all of our European countries, getting to know people better, and building a team. It’s a fun and new challenge… and also probably why my headaches aren’t zero. We’ll get there.
One of my habit changes has been to spend my mornings reading (physical books) and reconnecting with music, putting on an entire album and listening to it while I read and sip coffee at 6 AM. I try to use social media to share this to the world—some of my best writing lately is analyzing albums that are 30, 40, almost 50 years old. It brings my true joy to share this. I try alternating between something I get off Apple Music and something from my MP3 collection—a couple months ago I finally took the effort to set up a media server and resurrect my old music collection. (All legal, of course). I stopped building my MP3 library after my now-wife got me a Pandora subscription sometime around 2011 or so. This was my main source of music until I moved to Europe, then I used Spotify for a couple years before getting rid of it the February before last. I missed a lot of that music.
Speaking of my wife, Happy Birthday, wifer! I love you!
I had a frenectomy (content warning) a couple weeks ago to increase my tongue mobility so I could roll my R’s. It’s healing nicely and I’m able to do so sometimes!! My speech has actually improved in a way I defintely notice. It’s only this week that the swelling is really gone down.
What I’m reading
On my travels, I finished E. M. Forester’s A Room with a View. This was a delightful tale of love overcoming class boundaries and was a prescient social critique from a gay man in Edwardian England. As #79 on the Modern Library list, it marks the twelfth entry on the list that I’ve finished this year. I’m onto #69, Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. I fucked up buying this book. Initially, I thought I was being clever by buying a three-volume set with this and one of her other listed books in it. But that broke my organization, so I made the mistake of buying a copy off Amazon. Turned out, it’s a print-on-demand title (since the book is in the public domain) and it feels dirty. I don’t want to support Amazon’s shady third-party book business.
I’m also working through Misha Glenny’s The Balkans: Nationalism, War, and the Great Powers, 1804-2012. I’ve been traveling the Balkans these last couple of years and they’re absolutely beautiful, but I know nothing about their history or culture. This is one way to fix that.
My pleasure/bathroom reading (ahem) has been Book 2 of The Expanse: Caliban’s War. I’m learning the series was pretty true to the books, and now I’m sad again that it’s over. But that’s what books are for.
What I’m listening to
Recently, my albums of the day have been around Radical Face’s The Family Tree project. It’s such an earnest, beautiful, bold project. I love this. We don’t tell stories anymore. We’re afraid of honesty and naked feelings. This project is that in spades. My current obsession: “The Ship in Port”.
Art and culture
A few months ago, I bought a Jahreskarte for the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, but had neglected to use it yet. I’m intending to see all 19 of the Museumsgebäude in the coming months. This past weekend, I visted the Alte Nationalgalerie. They have a great collection of Romantic works, including the German great, Caspar David Friedrich. I find these paintings exceptionally moving, as they reflect a Europe that no longer exists (or maybe never did). They remind me of the settings of fantasy stories. I’m simultaneously inspired and saddened. I’ll definitely go back and study them some more. I bought a German-language coffee table book on Friedrich.
Travel and exploration
I’m traveling and in an undisclosed location presently—I’ll post my travelogue when I’m back. I’ve enjoyed the longest stretch home in Berlin all year these past few weeks and took that opportunity to catch up on some life tasks.
What I’m learning
I’m back to pushing for C1 German by taking courses with Lingoda. My goal is to pass the test by May. I need to be speaking a lot more to get there. It’s so frustrating, though.
What I’m playing
Modern Warfare III landed this week. I hadn’t finished the camo grind from MW2, but thankfully the weapons carry forward. But the new game is a solid grind, and while it’s a nice passtime, it’s not a game I’ll be in love with like God of War or Horizon. I’m looking for my next game to blow my mind.
My dent in the universe
I’m mostly posting on Bluesky these days. If you’re not there, then you’re definitely missing the connection I made regarding a neo-fascist former US Marine who was quickly kicked out of the service despite the Marines knowing about his extremist ties. Last year, he ran for Constable in District 4 of Bullitt County, Kentucky as a Republican, narrowly losing by 4% of the vote.
Well, per court records available on PACER (content warning), a man named Thomas Cade Martin fitting his description, with a former Facebook page called “Cade for Constable” was arrested on allegations of sex with a minor and trafficking in child sexual abuse material. His alleged victim was a 15 year old boy.
I’m supposed to be retired from activism. But the sick fucking world of neo-Nazis never really gives me a break, does it.
In happier news, I published book reports for Modern Library #99, The Ginger Man (not worth your time) and #89, Loving (I did not understand it).