Tag: journaling

My commute is killing me, maybe

Literally, according to any health article from the early 00s through 2010s. We all are sitting too much due to the transfer of our work from moving to sitting. We work longer hours and drive farther to reach those jobs. And since sitting is the new smoking, and I quit smoking (nearly six years now), then all of that was for naught since I’m driving an hour each way to campus.

To be fair, I enjoy this time, this relaxing death drive into oblivion (apparently). I listen to podcasts or Kpop. Sometimes I play one of the lo-fi hip hop channels as I drive under the canopy of trees that line the back roads. Many times I don’t listen to anything at all and just ride to school or to home in silence.

Well, that’s not exactly true.

I wrote a couple of poems on the way home one day. I pulled over in a church parking lot to dictate them into my phone. This happens a lot when I don’t listen to anything in the car. Writing is something that my brain does automatically, sort of. I always have a part of my mind that’s narrating what I’m doing, what I’m feeling, shuffling around what I’m thinking. I’ve noticed in all the times I’ve had long commutes, that the writing part of my brain really lights up when the muscle memory kicks in and the ride is smooth.

This is one of the best parts about my commute and I know where all the safe places to pull over are in every stretch of road.

But those silences are also potential pitfalls. I’m not sure if it’s the ADHD, or the only child, but I talk to myself. Not just muttering, but full on conversations with, well, no one. If you could listen in, it would sound like I was talking to someone, because I pause and react and laugh and the invisible person in my passenger seat.

I know what you’re thinking (maybe), but it’s not an exercise in rehashing conversations, or arguing where I’m always right. I am often wrong. I am wrong a lot. In fact, it’s kind of weird how often I discover I’m wrong when the only person I’m talking to is me.

What I am is basically doing is journaling. I’m doing the “writing is thinking” without being able to use my hands. If I could trust my phone not too lock half way through a monologue, I would record my voice with the intention of transcribing when I got home.

I would never transcribe it though.

Exhibit A

It’s best that some of these conversations stay in the stale-coffee smell of Big Red (my car.) Some of those are big releases of frustration and some of them are vile, mean, mostly focused at myself. I know that I am purging negative thoughts this way before I come into contact with anyone else, but I think that sometimes the release isn’t 100% complete.

There is residue, like old crumbs woven into the seat upholstery. Those feelings I don’t write down, not with any depth linger, and I wonder if I need to pull off into that church parking lot and disgorge.

A note: I have done this kind of talking to myself for as long as I have memory. I have heard anecdotes of my imaginary friend (David from Sesame Street, if you need to know) and my conversations in my childhood room. This is one of the ways I process the world. It has always felt a bit strange, but also a bit real. My mind feels realer in these moments than when I’m being a proper person.

Anyway, I don’t think that too much introspection is good for us. I think there are benefits to being a bit unaware of yourself. Self-awareness should always be powered on when you realize you’re being hurtful, or negative, or if you feel that the universe has it out for you (it does not, sorry.) But I think switching that awareness off is best when you’re with (good) friends, or enjoying your hobbies, or laughing. Never be aware of your laughter. Projectile laugh all over the place.

When I originally came up with this idea for a post, I think I had a different plan. I think I wanted to talk about the time that it takes away from my responsibilities, or the fact that taking a walking break halfway is logistically hard to do, since it just adds time to my commute. I don’t really remember what blog I wanted to write. But this is the one I wanted to write now.

The plight of the digital hoarder

Reading Charlie Warzel’s latest article in The Atlantic brought up one of those situations that I’ve had in the back of my mind. You know the one that sometimes rears up and says “halloo” and you’re like, “Yes, that’s something I should do something about, or consider more thoughtfully,” right before you’re distracted with taxes or cats or something much more important to the present moment.

My digital inventory is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. I have so many files saved in so many places, it really is a roadmap to my 30+ years online. I have a couple of external hard drives and all of the computers I’ve owned since 2002, just waiting to be scavenged. I can’t tell you what I’ve got saved there, and that’s the problem.

I have my entire thesis, notes, PDFs, and versions saved on Google Drive. My dissertation is moving into the folder next door. I have a ton of audiobooks saved on a red Western Digital Passbook that doesn’t like to keep ahold of its cord. There’s an old laptop that may have some embarrassing chat logs saved on it (not embarrassing to me, but still). And a host of other cloud accounts that have pieces of me scattered through the Intarwebs.

This is the first step to having a functioning teleporter: the atomizing of a human life, one jpeg at a time.

My life runs on a semester schedule, so there may be some time available this summer (while dissertation writing) to make a start on curating and culling this unwieldy collection. I think it would be interesting to go through every file, every photo, every stray bit and byte that makes up a good chunk of who I’ve built myself to be. So many little corners of the internet hold the me-equivalent of that stray 2×4, a half-full can of primer, and some brass bracket from the 1950s. I may need that GIF one day.

Without children to burden with my digital legacy (my nephew would be the only one I’d trust, and I like him too much to make him go through my “SORT THIS SHIT” folders), I often wonder who am I saving all of this stuff for? Did that snippet of a poem from 2011 really mean something to me, or is it just one step on the path to becoming a mediocre writer? I have twenty photos of a stapler from my old writing center because I thought it would be funny to give it its own Facebook page. (It was funny, for a while, but then I forgot about it.)

If I really think about it, I’ve saved all of this, every last byte, for me and for right now. Perhaps, instead of waiting for circumstance to bring the borders of my life into clearer view, I should take this opportunity to “sort this shit” now and keep only what is a reflection of who I was, and who I aim to become. Perhaps, I will make a multimodal journal of my life so far.

I just thought of this now, writing this post (because writing is thinking, friends) and this could be a nice project for this blog.