what we do when we are not doing anything

Couch to 5K Report: I'm definitely feeling more comfortable running distances of a quarter mile now. The shooting pains in my shins are receding. I've made the possible mistake of looking ahead in the program, and I'm starting to see how the upcoming workouts are going to be manageable. Whoever came up with this whole Couch to 5K routine really knew what they were doing. I have this weird idiosyncratic tick about having to chew gum while running. I'm wondering if this is just a thing with me, or if a lot of distance runners chew gum? Maybe gnawing on something helps when I'm really starting to suffer, or maybe it has something to do with my breathing patterns, but whenever I run without gum I feel horribly awkward. Maybe I'm having some kind of latent oral fixation? Is that a thing? It sounds kind of dirty...

...moving on.

As an avid podcast listener, I really wish I could shake the habit of having to listen to hard driving rock and roll, or electronic music when I run. I'd love to be able to listen to This American Life or RadioLab when I'm running, because it's hard to find time during the day to listen to these shows. I'm currently subscribed to 11 podcasts (not to mention the two or three podcasts that I stumble upon ever week) that all put out an episode either once a week or bimonthly, and finding the time to listen to all of them is like juggling a bunch lubed up bowling pins. Maybe my brain just can't handle running, chewing gum, and trying to keep up with conversation at the same time. This is definitely something I want to work on in the next couple of weeks. Yay, sub-goals!

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After doing a lot of menial labor today, then working out, I just don't have the energy to really dig into particularly exciting topic. I have been making a list of subjects I'd like to get to at some point this year, and it's great having this place as a avenue for expressing my feeling on issues I care about, but I just don't have my "A Game" going right now.

It's on days like today that I like to make a cup of Earl Grey,  listen to a couple albums , do a little reading, or maybe play a game that I love. These are my comfort habits. These days if I'm playing a video game it's either because the game is pushing forward the medium artistically, mechanically, or from a story standpoint - or I'm something that basically serves as a visual backdrop while I catch up on all those blasted podcasts I mentioned above. Can you believe at one point I was subscribed to over 20 podcasts? It was madness.

I think it's important to have things you can fall back on when your mind and body are completely exhausted. As much as I abhor the avalanche of reality television that is on every night every night of the week, I completely understand how people can get caught up in it. There's no cognitive effort required to watch Orange County House wives shop, or to watch rednecks do... whatever it is they do on all those shows. I'm not being any more productive listening to Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain for the 500th time.

I'd like to think that reading is probably the best use of my leisure time, but some night's I just don't have the energy to pick up David Foster Wallace or Dostoevsky. One of my Facebook friends picked up Infinite Jest and expressed some doubts about being able to finish the novel. Boy, oh boy, could I empathize with her there. I told her that it was worth it, and it absolutely is, but it's a lot of work. When I finished Infinite Jest last year it took me the better part of a month to finish, and that was when I was unemployed, wasn't writing that much, and could devote 6-8 hours a days strictly to reading. The fact that there are those of us brave/crazy enough to tackle really difficult novels warms my heart. I truly believe that being well read makes a person more empathetic. It's like strength training for the heart and soul.

When I'm in a social situation that involves talking to a group of strangers for the first time, I'm always more interested in what people enjoy doing in their spare time then what they do for work. I think it's cool to know where people's true interest lie. I have a friend who is taking an open course on Game Theory over the internet. I know someone else who was in a club that builds trebuchets. Not too mention the scores of people I've met who have done things like backpacked through Europe, learned a different language, play instruments, etc, etc - I envy you all so much. It's always disheartening when all someone is interested in besides their job is sports, television, or something like bowling.

Of course some people have incredibly intellectually stimulating jobs that do not leave time for a whole lot of personal growth outside of the office. To have a job that is personally transformative and challenging - that is rare. God knows that's the kind of job I'm looking for. If you have kids and are rolling your eyes while reading this, just know that I'm not including you in when I talk about people who are dullards! I'd imagine having a night to just stare at a TV screen for a couple of uninterrupted hours sounds like complete bliss. Parents are superheroes, and their superpower is patience. I'm truly in awe of all parents who can properly raise their children and still do things like go to school, have a job, or have any kind of social life.

I'm not worthy. I'm not worthy.

Until the day comes where I'm overwhelmed with work, and/or children I'll have to fall back on writing, reading, music, movies, TV, and the occasional Yale course to keep my brain stimulated. I'm always pushing myself to do things that will make me a more interesting person. There isn't a particular reason for doing so, it's not like there is some great, celebrity filled gala that I plan on attending anytime soon. As an aspiring writer I think there is a benefit to filling my head with cool stuff. I'm always thrilled to meet and converse with people who take the effort to keep learning, and keep experiencing new things as they get older. There's a great big world out there, how do you experience it in your free time?