Saturday, January 04, 2014

A New Year

I'm, overall, pleased with how 2014 has started out for me. I think how I spend New Year's Eve tends to set the tone for the upcoming year; this year, I spent the Eve not drinking a thing (despite having a bottle of cheap champagne waiting in the fridge) and reading the first 100 pages or so of Toby Wilkinson's "The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt." Book's epigraph from Shelley's wise "Ozymandias": "'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:/Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'/Nothing beside remains. Round the decay/Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,/The lone and level sands stretch far away." Which some might find depressing, but I've always found comforting and rather peaceful, as in: "NOTHING MATTERS: we're all going to end up dust anyway!" :)  (As I've mentioned before, I also like going to graveyards.)

I've spent way too much time over the past years on the Internet, and being offline New Year's Eve reading and thinking felt good and mentally/spiritually nourishing. Nothing wrong with the Internet; it can also be stimulating. It's just that the stimulation is more shallow, like eating a ton of candy or watching a Bravo "Housewives" marathon -- it feels good at the time, but afterwards you feel kind of nauseous.

I've always overdone the Internet; instead of, say, 6 hours a weeknight working on my Joan website and then trawling around on social media sites trying to find ANYTHING to stimulate me mentally/ameliorate feelings of isolation, I need to work on moderation --- I think 3 hours a night would be much more reasonable. Maybe off the Internet by 10pm, then the next couple of hours in bed with a good book? Much healthier, much less drinking/smoking, much better feelings (both physical and mental) the next day.

p.s. Turned low in the background during my New Year's Eve reading, and also on New Year's Day: A 24-hour "Twilight Zone" marathon running on the SyFy channel. When the thousands of years of Egyptian civilization got too much, I could always take a breather with the TV and still THINK a bit about the nature of existence! Plus it was fun to see so many familiar faces of TV's heyday -- Shatner, Savalas, for instance -- in early roles, as well as getting to judge the episodes from a current perspective: Did they still stand up to what I remembered from first seeing them as re-runs in the 70s? For the most part, yes. The Talking Tina doll (with its subtext of an abusive stepfather), the evil child (Billy Mumy) forcing his family/neighbors to tell him how loved he was for fear of being put "under the cornfield," the woman whose mother's murderer comes back to visit her 20 years later after a visitation by her 8-year-old self, the townspeople turning on each other with accusations of being an alien, the townspeople fighting to get into a neighbor's bomb shelter, Shatner's already emotionally disturbed man on the airplane seeing a creature on the wing and not being believed, Inger Stevens' lost motorist seemingly terrorized by a hitchhiker who keeps turning up (only to find out she is already dead)... Oh, and the funny "To Serve Mankind" episode: "It's a COOKBOOK!" I was constantly being "fed" by this excellent, psychologically astute television! (The only episode I was extremely disappointed by was one written by Earl Hamner, Jr., of "Waltons" fame, about kids of divorcing parents who kept diving through their swimming pool to find a much more pleasant world -- heavy-handedly mean parents, false writing for the usually subtle show.)

Post-Egypt/Twilight Zone: I went to the dentist on the 2nd for the first time in over 7 years! Sans insurance, I'd asked my mom for a cleaning for Christmas. Surprised to learn that what I remember costing $50 seven years ago has now ballooned to $169! And pleasantly surprised to learn that no, my teeth weren't rotting away! The "chips" falling out of my mouth 6 or so months ago (that I, freaking out, taped to a post-it note to show someone when I got the chance) weren't from TEETH, just chunks of tartar! And today, the 4th, a fresh haircut for the New Year...

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