A Rainy Weekend

It’s been a dreadfully rainy weekend here u Natashi (at Natasha’s), which means outside activity (i.e. walking) has been impossible. Therefore, I’ve mainly been inside reading, writing, and making macaroni and cheese.

The reading material has consisted mainly of nonfiction. In fact, I’ve read nonfiction almost exclusively this year thus far, but more on that in a later post. The most recent book I finished was Albert Speer’s Spandau: The Secret Diaries.

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read that book. I think I read it a few in high school, but it’s been over ten years since I read it. I think I remembered the book as better than it actually is. Don’t be me wrong, it’s fascinating as a historical document, but I’d forgotten how miserable and depressed Speer was at times, which makes those sections difficult to read.

As for writing, I didn’t write at all yesterday, but I’ve done 2,000 words so far today. My book is rapidly approaching the end, so things are getting very exciting and dramatic. I love writing epic confrontation scenes between characters and my poor protagonist is about to have the biggest confrontation of her life. (Granted, she’s only seventeen, so she hasn’t exactly had that many confrontations before, but there are some nasty surprises awaiting her.)

I have to work tomorrow, but I wish I had another day off to write fiction and write more blog entries… and to spend some time walking since I couldn’t go on a walk this weekend. Too bad I couldn’t have worked today during all the rain so that I could have tomorrow, which is supposed to be nice and sunny, off!

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Where Does The Weekend Go?!

If there’s one complaint I have about most weekends, it’s that they’re too short. Seriously, I have so much to blog about, but no time to do it. It’s not like I was sitting around wasting time online this weekend (that’s definitely something I have been known to do…). I was out and about, running errands, walking around in the freezing cold (for exercise, not the errands), and listening to my audiobook. And now it’s Sunday night and I feel like I didn’t get anything done! Well, I did make a ton of progress on my photos organization project today, so that’s a good thing. But I didn’t blog or write fiction or even read very much.

When are three-day weekends going to become a thing?! I, for one, eagerly await such a development.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone! Shortly after I wrote my prior post,* I went to the Balmy Tropics. It… wasn’t the best trip to the Balmy Tropics. The weather was great but the certain events continue. At least my mom and I went shopping and out to eat multiple times when I was there.

I wanted to start the year off right, so I wrote over a thousand words today. I still need to post my 2017 writing report—it probably will be lackluster, but I’m just trying to push forward and keep working on my writing. I’m planning to finish the draft I’ve been working on and I have a couple of short stories to edit.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a good New Year’s Day. It’s back to work tomorrow, which I’m not looking forward to because I haven’t gone to work in over a week! It’s going to be a rude awakening tomorrow…

*In my prior post, I mentioned a book I’m excited for later this year. In fact, I’m so excited that I put a countdown in the sidebar of this blog! It’ll be in the sidebar or at the bottom of the page, depending on what device you’re using to read this blog. If you’re reading via RSS or email, I think you have to click through to the blog.

Why I Canceled My Free Hulu Trial

The last time my mom visited me, I signed up for a free trial with Hulu. I wanted to watch the BBC adaptation of War and Peace, which came out in early 2016 when I was at the tail end of the job search that brought me to my current job. Needless to say, I was a bit preoccupied back then, so I missed all the news of this adaptation. I created an account on Hulu, provided my credit card, and had a free month to watch whatever I wanted—with no commercials.

Two weeks into my free trial, I canceled it.

Russians? I think not!

Why did I cancel it, you ask? First off all, I didn’t like the War and Peace adaptation. Before I started watching it, I never considered that I wouldn’t like it—it’s a costume drama based on great Russian literature, so what could I not like?!—but I didn’t. My mom watched it with me and when we finished the first episode, we both agreed that it just wasn’t that good. We couldn’t picture the actors actually being these Russian characters. The acting, at least to me, seemed very flat.

Since we were so unmoved by War and Peace, we tried 12 Monkeys, which, as you may have guessed, left us equally unmoved. We watched the recent Star Trek movie (Star Trek Beyond) and enjoyed it, but that was the only movie we found that we wanted to watch. There were some other decent movies on Hulu, but I’d seen them all already. The remaining movies were just plain bad.

So there you have it. There was no point to keeping my Hulu trial—I didn’t want to forget to cancel and then owe $11.99 for something I didn’t like anyway. I’m still baffled at how many people watch TV. I know a lot of people with Hulu and I thought I was missing something, but apparently not. For now, I’ll stick to my Russian news clips and shows—and books when I don’t feel like watching something because in general, reading beats watching TV any time.

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.

When To Quit Reading A Book

At what point when you’re reading a book and not enjoying it do you call it quits?

When I was younger, I never quit books. Even if I despised them, I kept reading and stuck it through to the bitter end. This was pre-Goodreads days, so I didn’t even get to do any cathartic venting online when I didn’t like something.

After I started working and had limited time to read, I started being more picky about what I read through to the end. Plus, I enjoyed the freedom of not being in school anymore. In school, I had to read a lot of books, many of which I didn’t like. But they were required for class, so not reading them wasn’t really an option. (Unless I wanted a bad grade, which obviously I didn’t.)

Suddenly, after I started working, I realized there were a lot of books I just didn’t want to read. Moreover, I realized it wasn’t a bad thing that I didn’t want to read them. If I started something and just couldn’t get into it, I would dump it.

I still do this. My local library has a fantastic ebook collection and I’ve started many books that I didn’t end up finishing. It’s actually liberating because it means I have more time to read what I want. This doesn’t mean that I don’t force myself to read difficult books. I’m slowly working my way through Jane Austen’s works. I think they’re difficult reads, but I still enjoy reading them.

At least the cover is cool?

No, the type of books I’m talking about quitting are ones like Red Queen. Years ago, everyone was talking about this book. I decided to read it last year—only to put it down in disgust after a few chapters. I just couldn’t get into it. I figured it wasn’t for me.

Earlier this year, one of my coworkers said her sister recommended it to her. My coworker hasn’t read it, but said her sister loved it. I decided to try it again. I made it a bit further than last time, but I still didn’t get very far.

Last week, I saw that the library had the audiobook version of Red Queen available. I’ve been somewhat getting into audiobooks lately, so I thought I’d give this book yet another try. Third time’s the charm, right?

You’ve got to give me some credit: I made it over halfway through this time. I still ended up abandoning this book, though. I just don’t care for it. I think the plot is dumb and the characters are like cardboard. I know it sold well, so obviously I’m missing something here. I guess it’s just not my kind of book. And that’s okay because I will spend time reading books that are my kind of books.

When do you quit reading a book if you don’t like it? Have you read Red Queen? If you have and you liked it, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts. When I look at good reviews of it online, I feel like everyone who wrote a good review read a different book than the one I did!