I Have Returned.

I am Grand Admiral Thrawn. I have been away, but now I have returned. I know some of what has occurred. You will fill in the details of the rest when I come aboard. Rejoice, Captain, for the Empire will rise again.

–Grand Admiral Thrawn, from the story A Grand Admiral Returns

Yes, dear readers, it is true: I have returned. I’ve been away from blogging for a while—over a month, by my count—and I was questioning whether I wanted to continue writing this blog. You see, there have been certain events taking place in my life over the past month or so that really threw me for a loop. These events are ongoing, by the way, so unfortunately there is no resolution (yet). Due to this, I’ve been having trouble doing anything I enjoy lately, aside from reading.

Since I wasn’t doing other things I like—writing, knitting, playing violin—I’ve been reading. A lot. I’m on track to read over a hundred books this year. So much for getting a lot of writing done like I planned. To look on the bright side, though, I’ve had the chance to read a ton of random books I may not have picked up. I read a Star Wars trilogy, which isn’t something I ever thought I’d do! I’m not a hardcore Star Wars fan—I’ve seen one of the movies, know the basic premise of a few others, and that’s about it. I do like science fiction a lot, though, so the books I read (Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy) were right up my alley and I enjoyed them immensely. I haven’t read the story from which I took the quote at the beginning of this post, though. I’d love to read it, but it’s a short story, not a novel, and I can’t seem to get my hands on the book in which it was published.

What else is new? I’ve been trying to study Russian more. I feel like I’ve gradually gotten away from Russian and I don’t want that to happen, so I’ve been making a conscious effort to incorporate more Russian into my life. (And just so you know, you can never have too much Russian in your life.) I’ve been listening to some audiobooks and knitting—doing two things at once is amazing, especially when they’re two things you like. And I’ve been going to work, of course, since I need money to fund my reading and knitting.

One thing I have not been doing is writing fiction. The certain events that are taking place made me so upset I couldn’t write. I became especially upset at the novel I was working on—I can’t even look at the thing right now. (To be fair, I had been getting rather frustrated with that book long before the events started taking place. I have a bit of a history with that manuscript and I’m beginning to think it’s time to just let that idea go and work on something else.) I’ve started brainstorming for a new book I’ve wanted to write for years. It’s historical fiction that takes place in Soviet Russia. I also have a manuscript I need to sit down and edit, but I haven’t done that yet, either.

I am back, though. I don’t want to give up blogging. I don’t want to give up Russian. I don’t want to give up writing fiction. I’ve missed having them in my life. It’s late enough right now that I’m going to bed soon—but I will work on some writing tomorrow, even if it’s just editing a few sentences in my manuscript for fifteen minutes.

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Decluttering

Fear not, dear readers, I am still here! The past couple of weeks have been busy for me—we’re trying to wrap up the first stage of a project at work—and so I’ve been working and reading and working on a bit of fiction writing.

I’ve also been decluttering. Now, I don’t think I have that much stuff. Compared to a lot of my friends, I’m very decluttered indeed. But there are a fair amount of things I have that I’m not so sure I need anymore. (Did I ever need them in the first place? That is a good question.) As of late, my focus has been on decluttering papers. My papers are stacked in various places throughout my apartment. There are the financial papers on a shelf I use for office supplies and other stuff. There are the old notes I have in a cabinet. And there are the completely old and random papers in my closet.

A couple weeks ago, I found a bunch of old papers from high school in my closet. High school, you guys! I didn’t like high school and so I have no idea why I was even hanging onto these. I put them in the stack to be disposed of, along with some other things from my college graduation (I’ve saved some materials from that event, but I didn’t need three copies of the same exact document). I also found old sheet music I never play anymore, along with a few old music articles that I have no use for.

The biggest thing I decided to declutter, though, are my class notes. Longtime readers will know I was a history major back in the day. I loved my major. In fact, I think you would be hard-pressed to find a person who loved that major more than I did. I planned on teaching history and ended up saving a lot of my notes from various history classes.

Except then I left the field and found something else to do. Don’t get me wrong—I still love history. I read history books, both nonfiction and fiction, and would like to write some historical fiction of my own someday. But it’s been over five years since I last took a formal history class. Did I really need a bunch of old history class notes hanging around? For ages, I’ve thought the answer to that was yes, but today I realized the answer is probably no, so the old notes are in the to-be-disposed-of pile right now. I saved a few papers I wrote that made me happy, but that’s it. There’s no point in keeping some notes around that I haven’t read in nearly ten years.

This goes for electronic version of notes as well. During my freshman year in college, I typed all my notes. I switched to handwritten notes during sophomore year, but I still had old Word documents from freshman year sitting on my hard drive. Those are now in the trash on my computer. I hadn’t opened those since 2008 or 2009. Did I really need that? Obviously, the answer is no.

What I didn’t expect is how good I feel after deciding to get rid of all these papers (and computer files). I feel like a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I didn’t even realize how much they were dragging me down until they, well, weren’t anymore. Seriously, the cathartic and therapeutic value of decluttering is seriously underrated. If you want a quick pick-me-up, go declutter something. It doesn’t have to take hours. I do it in fifteen to thirty minute spurts and I always feel great afterwards.

A Labor Day Weekend in Bullet Points

  • I don’t feel like writing a traditional, proper posts with paragraphs because I’m tired, so I thought I’d use bullet points instead. I didn’t sleep well last night, so I’ve been tired all day.
  • I didn’t really do anything for Labor Day Weekend and it was kind of glorious. I mainly lounged around and read. In fact, I binge-read a Michael Crichton book (Sphere) because I basically could not put it down. I also needed to vacuum but I didn’t get around to that, but it’s no big loss. 😉
  • The weather here has been gorgeous for the past several days. Very low humidity, which is amazing. I’m always surprised at how much humidity can ruin an otherwise nice day.
  • I went on a trip to Arizona recently (last weekend, including Monday and Tuesday as well, making it a long weekend). I was so tired that I slept for eleven hours on Friday night. I will post pictures at some point—I haven’t even gone through all the ones I took on my phone! But rest assured I plan to create a photo gallery.
  • I haven’t been writing fiction very much lately, so I’m going to go work on a novel after I type this post. I also have an idea for a historical fiction detective story that I’m eager to brainstorm and write. I always brainstorm with a pen and paper—because I’m old-fashioned like that—and it can be really relaxing to just sit and handwrite.

The Dark Ages

You guys, the unthinkable has happened: my microwave broke. It’s a GE, so that’s no surprise. A part in the door cracked and the door rattled when I closed it. Then I opened it and closed it and the entire door broke. The glass front part of the door slipped down and the door won’t shut.

The good news is my apartment complex is going to replace it for free. The bad news is they don’t have any in storage, so they’ll have to order one and that’ll take several days to come in.

Sigh. I’m stuck back in the dark ages now, everyone. I have to use my stove or the oven to heat up things. The horror! 😉

The Eclipse! An Update.

Okay, people, I’ve just got to say that the eclipse was a big fat disappointment, at least in my town! It barely even got dark! Actually, it didn’t get dark at all. The sun was noticeably dimmer, so I guess I had my experience of what it would be like to live on a different planet further away from the sun (which is pretty cool, since living on different planets is a common theme in science fiction). But as I said, it wasn’t even dark!

I did get a cool picture of the shadows of leaves as the eclipse was taking place.

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Apparently that crescent shape only happens during an eclipse. I didn’t even realize it at the time—I just thought it looked cool.

And no, I did not look up at the sun. A lot of my coworkers had those eclipse glasses, but, like I said before, I just didn’t trust them. (The glasses, I mean, not my coworkers.) The only way I would look directly at an eclipse is if I had access to a telescope in an astronomy department of a university. I’d trust that to be properly shielded.

Meanwhile, my best friend went to a town that was in the path of the total eclipse. This is what she saw.

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Now that I think about it, it was still a pretty cool experience. Practically everyone working in the part of town where my office is turned out to see it and that was neat.

I’m Back!

Dear readers, I’m back! I took a vacation during the first week in August—my mom came to visit me and we shopped, went to to the movies, ate, and took pictures of flowers (see below for floral evidence). I went back to work last week, which wasn’t as hard as I expected, but still difficult, and I didn’t know what to blog about.

Black-eyed Susans at a house near where I live.

Anyway, another thing I did during my vacation was set up my mom’s new computer. Her old one—and it was quite old in technology years—decided to fail. I rescued the data before a catastrophic loss could occur and put the data on her new computer. (I couldn’t use Migration Assistant from the old computer because I could not load any applications after logging in to her account. I ended up extracting everything via Recovery Mode. Thank goodness I have a ton of little USB flash drives sitting around.)

Anyway, the new computer is a MacBook Pro, 13-inch, no Touch Bar, with an i7 processor and 16 GB of RAM. It is a thing of beauty, my friends. I was tempted to kidnap (Mac-nap?) it. Unfortunately for me, that definitely wasn’t going to happen! As annoyed as I am that I’ll have to buy a bazillion dongles to connect all of my stuff to my next computer, I couldn’t help but admire the new ones. They’re just so fast. Maybe if you upgrade more frequently, the speed increases are less drastic. My mom’s old computer was a late 2008 MacBook Pro and I’m still rocking a mid-2010 MacBook Pro.

And before you laugh at me, consider this: my current computer cost about $2,000. Since I’ve been using it for this amount of time, that means I’ve paid about $285 a year to use it. Windows computers may be cheaper, but I’d like to see one that actually functions after that amount of time. My Mac spins up its fans like a jet engine any time I try to watch a video online, but it works better after seven years than the average Windows laptop does after two or three. 😉

Discombobulated, Again

Remember how I forgot to blog a little while ago? Well, I didn’t forget to blog last week—I just got all thrown off a little (okay, a lot) due to an unpleasant and unexpected event.

Last Monday a vicious storm sprung up out of nowhere and pounded the area I live in. At work, we got a little thunder and lightning and not much rain, but at home, there was wind galore. That meant downed trees and power lines, which obviously means no electricity. We’ve had a few power outages this year. The prior two were annoying, but the power came back on within four hours. This latest one was different. It took a good seven hours for it to come back on, so that meant the demise of the delicious homemade soup I’d made the night before (and had only eaten once). Basically, that threw me off all of last week. I don’t think anyone was expecting that.

So, rest assured, I am here and planning to schedule some posts. I don’t want to have yet another week without much blogging! This evening I’ll be working on writing of different kinds, which will include blog posts and fiction writing.

Also of note is the fact that I played my violin today. Hallelujah! I haven’t played in a while and it was good to play again. Unfortunately, my fingers became weak and uncalloused, so right now they’re a bit sensitive. 🎻