the exercise of daily writing
Friday, October 23 2020
Last night after I'd gone to sleep, Sarah the Vegan ended up staying until midnight and Jeff & Alana stayed untl 1:00am. Alana ended up drinking most of the bottle of port that Sarah had brought, so Jeff was definitely the designated driver. By this morning, nearly all of the backpack load of white pine I'd gathered yesterday had been burned up. I'm glad I've been just-in-timing the fire pit fuel so as not to burn through all our high-quality oak heating fuel before the winter even starts.
In the late morning, Powerful fried up some Beyond Buger patties for himself, Gretchen, and me. He also deep-fried some potato wedges, making for a complete American-style luncheon, complete with all the requisite grease.
It was another beautiful, warm humid day, and for some reason the workday passed more slowly than usual, perhaps because of a mild hangover from the rapid drinking of scotch I'd been doing during last night's debate. I've been finding kratom tea is a good hangover cure, but one has to know when to stop, because past a certain point it induces acid reflux and sometimes anxiety.
This evening I made another pine-salvaging foray just west of the Farm Road to obtain the fuel for another evening of socially-distanced firepit socializing.
The evening was so warm that Gretchen, Powerful, and I were able to dine yet again out on the east deck, eating a meal mostly of leftover (and improved) dishes Powerful had made earlier in the week. He's usually a good cook, but this had been a week mostly of misses for him. Fortunately, most of the problems with the food were easy to remedy, though flavor of liquid smoke pervaded everything. All week I'd been quoting Ralph Wiggums, "It smells like hot dogs!"
At 7:30pm, the time Gretchen always selects when she doesn't want to also have to prepare dinner, our evening firepit guests arrived. They were my boss Alex and his wife Celia. Celia had had a rough day of professional Zoom calls, and she wanted a beer instead of the hot chocolate that Gretchen normally offers. We spent a fair amount of time talking about the diaries of Samuel Pepys, which Celia has been reading of late (and which I remember reading in Mudd Library at Oberlin back when I was in my early 20s). Pepys was famous for his frank, earthly, and surprisingly self-aware take on events and would make as a good model for any diarist. Our conversation turned to diary-keeping as a general subject, and I of course confessed to having kept diaries in various forms for much of my life (at this point, more than 60% of the days I've been alive — more than thirty years — have been written about, either in a hand-written journal or published online). I said that I thought keeping a diary had been helpful for my understanding of my life and for my memory of events, since the act of writing about something forces one to process and think about things in a more rigorous way than simply ruminating over them. I was the only one at the fire pit to have committed myself so completely to daily journaling. Celia said she forces herself to write 100 words "per week," which sounded pretty thin. But it's something. For her part, Gretchen said she'd only kept diaries when she was lonely, but she agreed that forcing ones self to write on a regular basis is a great exercise.
Our telling about our recent trip to Washington, DC reminded Alex & Celia about the two years they'd live in the District. That was back in the 1980s, and Alex described the kinds of jobs he'd had back them: painting a mural on a building until he asked for a raise (due to the danger of being up on a scaffold) and was fired. After that, he said, he got a job doing high-end picture framing.
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