go postle.

pardon my dust. i'm turning it into glitter.

Hi, I'm Chris. If you subscribe to the MBTI, I'm an INFJ. I put myself through school for a seemingly useless English/Creative Writing degree, but writing is my passion and that's what I want to do when I grow up. Still figuring out what comes next, and pretty much everything else, so I'm feeling kinda adventurous. And yes, that's exactly how my OkCupid profile starts out. Why mess with a good thing, eh?

The site's a work in progress. I'll be adding content over time, and hopefully eventually it'll evolve into something halfway interesting. I'm glad you're still reading, though. Usually by this point I have to show a little skin to keep 'em interested.

Filtering by Category: rambling

Mid-Life Crisis?

       So I've been doing math all day. Yeah, that's been fun. Those who know me at all will probably wonder what the heck is wrong, but before you dial 911, which would otherwise be the appropriate response to such an admission, please rest assured that this activity has been planned in accordance with rational and healthy brain function. Well, more or less. 

       No, I am torturing myself thusly in preparation for the GRE. I have decided to try to take advantage of the tuition reimbursement program that I've been sitting on for the last two years and apply to UNC's online MPA program. While the idea has been brewing for ages, I made the final decision yesterday, at which time I discovered that I would have approximately one month to study for and take the GRE in time for scores to be available by the fall application deadline in June.

       While I think I'll have a pretty good handle on the verbal and analytical portions of the exam (but still won't make the mistake of not studying for them), my immediate focus has been, as stated, the maths. Yes, I'm doing my best not to make it the four-letter word that it deserves to be. As it has been six years since I've been in school and approximately ten years since I've had any math classes, the quantitative practice tests I've taken have thoroughly kicked my ass. As in, I couldn't even remember how to add fractions. Yeah. Fucking math. I have, however, found quite an amazing resource in The Khan Academy, which has already been a better math teacher than I've ever had.

       But yeah. An MPA. We'll see if that actually happens. I've always had my eye on not-for-profit work, though, and an MPA would create a whole host of opportunities there and in other public-sector gigs. Like I said -- we'll see. This may all be the product (fucking math) of a mid-life crisis, but for the moment at least it's giving me something to do... even if it is math... ok, maybe you should be a little worried.

And for my next trick...

Community title card, used under fair use for identification and critical commentary.

       So lately I have been quasi-obsessively binge-watching television shows on Netflix (etc.). The most recent has been Community which, after watching all five seasons in the last week and a half, could very well be my new favorite sitcom. It has been a somewhat tragic experience since I knew all along that there were only five seasons, but just now as I was writing this post I looked it up on Wikipedia and discovered that Yahoo! Screen (of all things) has picked it up for a sixth season (#sixseasonsandamovie). A modicum of faith in humanity restored.

       What I'm getting at, though, is that my escapist nature has been at its finest. Writing? Resolutions for 2014? No idea what you're talking about. Heck, even my most attainable resolution, getting my passport, has been actively deferred. I mean if I'm going to have to carry around that picture for ten years I want it to look damn good! I kept thinking -- just a little more time at the gym. Almost there. Nope, my cheeks are still too chubby -- one more month. So now I've spent way too much on Christmas and this new computer that I'm currently building, and the extra hundred bucks to get a passport is both daunting and a relief (one more month!...).

       To be fair, I have been writing some. Not nearly as much as I want to or should do if I ever want to write my way out of here, but I was able to take off work for my annual writing holiday (October 24th -- it's too nerdy of an explanation) and I've made some solid progress on this damn outline for novel that I've been working on for, oh, about TEN YEARS. Grrr.

       Nothing happening on the whole quest to not die alone. Well, mostly nothing. There is a super-faint spark of hope on the horizon, but it's flickering like crazy lately and he seems hell-bent on this pseudo-self-destructive path of letting it die out in favor of -- I don't know what -- video games? Surely it's not my fault. I'm wonderful.

       And I've just remembered why I don't blog anymore.

I'll show you my nerd if you show me yours.

       Have I mentioned before that I have a certain... fondness, shall we say? -- for the Harry Potter series? Well, I do. I'm on the downhill slope of finishing another re-read (nearing the end of Phoenix), and I've noticed that this time through, not unlike the times preceding, my appreciation for it has deepened considerably. My coworker today called me "obsessed", which is a fair description, but not having read them herself, she of course cannot understand. She probably reads more than I do, too, so I've made her promise to read them. She'll see soon enough. Oh yes, she'll see. Like the many times I've read it before, I'm struck by what a nepenthe it is. My boring little life fades away for a while, and I come through at the end feeling stronger, somehow.

       One fun little quirk of this read-through is that this is the first time that I've read the books on my lovely Kindle, and it seems that these versions, while the title of the first novel remains horribly mutilated by silly American publishers (the same publishers I hope to one day woo -- love you guys!), have retained much of the original British-English. There have been a few words (largely slang) that I've had to stop and look up because I had no idea what they meant, which has been quite fun, although a notable (and strange) remnant of the Americanization remained with "soccer". I mean, of all the words I've had to look up, I think I would have known what was meant if "football" was left intact.

       In other news, it's time for me to start thinking about a new computer. I know, right? I feel like I just bought this one, but it's been 4 years already, I've so far never been able to get more than 5 years out of a laptop, and I can feel this one starting to bitch and moan about how old it's getting. So I started looking around for different builds, keeping an open mind about desktops as well, and none of them seemed to have exactly what I needed... so I've decided to build my own. Kinda scary, but my little brother did it about a year ago with great success, and you can build a crazy powerful machine for about the same money that you'd spend on a decent laptop. The research for it has been fun, and I've more or less decided on my parts list, much of which can be seen here. That, by the way, is the permanent link to my Amazon wish list. I already have the motherboard and will be getting the rest bit by bit as I can afford it. And my birthday is coming up........... :)

       Oh, and... while I'm being unabashedly nerdy, I've also started a Minecraft Realm (server) and am accepting applications if you're interested. Vanilla survival, if that means anything to you. It's been fun. If you're completely lost, it's like Legos on the computer, with silly zombies thrown in for good measure. It helps my woefully underused creative side.

       And enough rambling. Later taters.

Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix
By J. K. Rowling, J.K. Rowling

Persuasion.

       Jane Austen's final completed novel has always been the one that broke my heart the most, and is among my very favorites. Tonight I made the mistake of watching the 2007 BBC adaptation, which is the first time I've seen any of the "Persuasion" films. I had sort of avoided it before, but my boss, knowing how stressed I've been with our big annual event (which went quite well today), sent me home after with a stack of DVDs and instructions to take a couple days, get drunk, and watch the lot. She didn't have to tell me twice.

       We had discovered our mutual adoration of all things Jane during a work conference we attended about a month ago in DC, so most of the stack is comprised of BBC adaptations. "Persuasion" was the first I watched -- I've only just finished -- and it may have ruined me for the others. It didn't quite turn me into a blubbering idiot, but almost. It's far too easy to identify with both of them, really, but probably Captain Wentworth all the more. Perhaps all I have to do now is get rich...

       It's easy to believe that Austen may have tried to live through her novels, with all those happy endings to the stories of broken hearts. And it's a cold reminder that reality is often very different from the happy endings we imagine or hope for, when Austen herself died an "old maid".

       I thoroughly enjoyed this adaptation, with the exception of the meaningful looks that Anne Elliott would sometimes give the audience by looking directly into the camera. They were disconcerting and incongruous. Apparently I'll not learn from my mistakes tonight, though -- on to the next!

Optimi...what?

       Thought I should post something before it officially becomes two months that I miss. It's been a busy two months. Writing? Not so much. Apparently being hyper-aware of time has devolved from a motivational tool to a trigger for depression by which I'm acutely aware of how little I work toward my goals while being reminded constantly of how much time I waste. I've also discovered that time spent at work has a statistically significant negative correlation with my overall mood.

       Probably the most useful thing about this app (so far) was that instead of making up my time sheet at the end of each week I could log accurately based on GPS data. Turns out I was spending a lot more time at work than I thought. Nipped that one in the bud. Kinda. I"m still there a lot. Now I'm getting paid for it.

       In other news, I really need to stop falling for guys hundreds of miles away. That's also depressing.

       Big event this weekend. Spending more than my annual salary on it. Wish me luck!

Optimization.

My day so far...

       As of today, I have lived 11,111 days. Average life expectancy of a human being living in the United States is 28,703. That gives me, barring any unfortunate circumstances, approximately 17,592 days to live. Given my fitness level, more or less healthy diet, family history, etc., I'll probably have a few more than that, but this is all for illustration purposes.

       Yesterday I was surfing a news reader app called "DuckDuckGo" which pulls interesting stories from various news agencies, reddit, lifehacker, etc., which I love but really don't have the time to explore individually, and I stumbled upon (yes, I love that one too) an article from lifehacker touting the benefits of an iPhone app that basically invades your life and destroys your privacy. So of course I downloaded it.

        I'm on day 1 of using "OptimizeMe", and the first thing I've noticed is that it makes me acutely aware of the passage of time. Today I slept from 12a to 9a, fed the cat, took a shower, and did some groggy grooming until 9:24a, cooked and ate breakfast (this exact one here, except with whole wheat toast instead of sourdough -- so freaking good) while watching an HBO documentary "The Out List" until 9:55a, continued watching the documentary intermittently while doing some laundry and cleaning up, brushing my teeth, etc., until 11:38a, at which time I sat down to start writing this post. I have now been working on it (including a break to continue the laundry) for 32 minutes and 36 seconds.

       It kind of sounds like a nightmare, logging all of these activities, but the app makes it relatively simple. And the reason I'm doing all of this? I'm kind of terrible with my own personal time management. At work I'm on point and I get my stuff done, but after 9 hours of focus, another ±1.5 at the gym, I get home and things tend to fall apart. I've already failed that "3 hours a week of writing" goal that I set for myself earlier this month, so this is an attempt to reclaim that. The app breaks everything down into 4 categories: health, creativity, routine, and pleasure, with the goal of finding balance and optimizing behaviors to become more effective and improve your mood. It lets you set clear goals and gives you insights into how to improve. Basically: I'm excited. I'll let you know how it goes.

Pumpkin & Puddles

       Looks like I'm so far reverting to the once a month format of my previous blog. Considering the amount I paid for it, you'd think I'd post slightly more regularly. And the thought just struck me that I'm one of those self-published writers. You know who I mean -- the ones who write something that no one will buy so they pay crazy amounts of money for some hack publisher to print so they can give them away to friends and family. Oh lawdy.

       It's one of those nights where I need to sit down and watch Amélie with a healthy dose of the pumpkin vodka that just finished getting all yummy and pretend that things like that could happen to girls like me. You know that scene in the diner where the guy comes in and she literally turns into a puddle on the floor? Yeah, that's been happening to me with this guy at the gym. I've started seeing him around town too, though admittedly at first it took me a while to recognize him with his clothes on. Well, ok, actually I wasn't sure it was him until I saw him again at the gym. Not exactly love, but it does make me think (again) about how I've spent half my life alone and how tired I'm getting of that. And yes, I mean half since I don't plan to live past 60 because, let's face it, at that point there's not even a small hope of ever being hot again. Unless you're Patrick Stewart. Why do you think I drink Earl and/or Lady Grey Tea every day?

       I've been loving the fall, though. North Carolina has just enough of it to make me happy, even if not quite what I'm used to. On Halloween I went with a couple co-workers, Martha and James, to this nice little restaurant in Chapel Hill called Weathervane to celebrate Martha's birthday. It was a cool day and the breeze was blowing the leaves around and it was the sort of day where you'd want to sit outside and write. It was perfect. Then this week was the first that I've been able to wear a sweater to work. Except it's been nearly 70 the last couple days. Grrr. I want the cold back.

        I leave you, though, with this seemingly random sonnet that has been my favorite since I first read it ~15 years ago, and which continues to open itself up to me as I get older, Mr. Shakespeare's 29th:

When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

As good as it gets?

       I have been trying for forever (or at least since the post before last) to write a review of John Green's "The Fault in Our Stars", but am failing miserably. Any other topic that occurred to me was waved off by my one-track mind, so the result was another month of silence. Fortunately this one wasn't the crazy kind, or at least no more than usual. Another reason for the lack of writing is that work has been quite busy. Otherwise a prime writing time, we're currently in our recruitment phase, which this year involves all four of our fellowship and residency programs, so I've been trying to stay on top of the insane amounts of email from people saying "pick me!" But that should start to slow as people realize that they didn't get an invitation. Thursday I sent out a mass email for the first round of residency invites and had about 30 responses in 10 minutes. Blew me away.

       Something a coworker said the other day is driving me a little crazy, though. We were having lunch with some hotel sales reps hoping to get our business from all of the events we plan. I don't really remember what led to the topic exactly -- just some scrap of small talk that these southerners are so fond of -- but I made the remark that I'm still not sure what I'm going to do when I grow up. It's a lighthearted pseudo-joke that always gets a few polite chuckles, but my smart-ass friend, with her signature belly-laugh, came back with "Honey, I'm sorry to be the one to break it to you, but you're doing it!"

       It was just a flippant response, not intended to injure, but she hit a rather raw nerve. That has been a fear of mine since I moved to North Carolina, and so far she's exactly right. The best thing I've written today? A review on a pair of shoes over on Amazon. They are some rather lovely shoes. Working my way up the Amazon.com top reviewers list. Now ranked at 64,252! Because the small victories give you the completely sensible hope that the big ones are possible.

       Or something like that.

The Best Weight-Loss System Ever.

       Need to lose a few pounds? Exercise is overrated! When it comes to taking the weight off, nothing, and I mean nothing, has worked faster for me than illness combined with overcautious doctors and extreme antibiotics. 

        A couple weeks ago I came down with flu-like symptoms and a pretty impressive fever. When they diminished but didn't seem to be going away after a week I decided to make a trip to the Urgent Care (I had intended to see a doc for a routine check anyway). Thinking it was a virus, but not really sure what it was, he put me on doxycycline. I later found out that this uber-crazy drug is what they give to soldiers in the field who have had limbs blown off or guts exposed in order to prevent infection from the open wound. My fever broke the next day, but being the good boy I am I kept taking the antibiotics because I don't like germs.

       That shit tore me up. Slowly, the side-effects became worse than the original bug. At one point I couldn't straighten up because my stomach was cramping so much. Taking some probiotics helped a little. Yes, the germophobe was consuming 50 billion germs daily in capsule form, But I still couldn't eat much. Breakfast usually consisted of half a piece of toast. Lunch was an apple. Dinner was a few spoonfuls of soup, a couple bites of chicken if I was lucky. I got a sunburn sitting inside near an open window but not in direct sunlight.

       Fortunately a doctor friend saved me, giving me permission to come off the drugs a little early. Now I'm 3 days AD (After Doxy) and still feeling the effects, but they're not nearly as bad. Yesterday I dared to eat a grilled chicken salad and a yogurt for lunch. I felt like I ate an elephant, but it was soo good.

       On the plus side I lost 5 pounds, my skin is super clear right now, and I was able to watch the first two seasons of So You Think You Can Dance in the down-time. :) And in the end the experience furthered my believe gained first through working with doctors that you should never trust your doctor. There really is a reason why they call it "practice."

Dirty Thirty.

“Thirty -- the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning brief-case of enthusiasm, thinning hair.”    

       As a good friend promised, it really wasn't a difficult thing to do after all -- at least not physically difficult. I woke up one morning and it had already happened. I didn't die in my sleep, my face didn't suddenly become a web of wrinkles. I had turned thirty, and there was nothing I could do about it.

       As you probably didn't notice because no one reads this blog anyway, the gap between the last post and this was there for a very good reason. That last post could serve as a slight hint at that reason -- I went a bit nuts. Now, going a bit nuts for someone who's already a bit nuts means I was getting close to the "squirrel poo" category of nuts, which is the category just before republicanism (bat shit). In other words, you're welcome.

        Turning 30 (or turning anything else) is, like most other things per John Green's The Fault In Our Stars, a side-effect of dying. That light across the bay still calls but doesn't seem any closer. Yes, I'm mixing my references. But of course that's the scary part, isn't it? Not the dying, necessarily -- that thought, while well understood, still has an abstract quality that mitigates the fear. Instead, the effect of death is that we have a typically unknowable and hopelessly finite amount of time to live.

        Rereading Gatsby has had such a different effect on me than it did almost 20 years ago. I now have a past, for one -- things to look back on that didn't quite happen as hoped. And dreams remain unrealized. They seem simultaneously impossible, little lights at the other end of a huge span of water, and possible, with tools literally in hand to reach them.

 “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

The Great Gatsby
By F. Scott Fitzgerald

A Secret Life.

       There's a strange feeling of elation and bitterness that comes with the revelation that a story idea that's been circling your head for a decade is about to be turned into a movie. Elation from, of course, seeing your thoughts and fantasies come to life, bitterness from the crushing realization that you had nothing to do with it and, inevitably, someone else had your idea first.

       I say "inevitably" because the concept that there are no original stories to tell is ever-present on the mind of a writer. The hope is to tell a story in as original a way as possible, adding your own experience and perspective to perhaps improve the old tale. Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet" is a favorite example, based on Ovid's "Pyramus & Thisbe". We modernize and adapt, hoping that something in it will pass for originality.

       The story that I was hoping to tell was about a librarian with a rather monotonous existence who entertains himself and satiates his need for something resembling a life through fantasy. It was inspired largely by experience (ha) and a favorite quote from Harry Potter: "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live." While my story takes it a bit further, little did I know that something extremely similar had been written back in 1939 by James Thurber, now being turned into the Ben Stiller film "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," which I desperately want to see.

       It's eternally frustrating because good ideas come so rarely to me, and it's kind of obvious that this was a very good idea. Mine might be different enough to avoid calling it dead on arrival, but obviously it's already being mourned, as my ideas often are. And it's not helping this developing feeling of being stuck.  So, for now, back to staring in The Mirror.

Call me crazy.

Not me. 

       Boy crazy, that is. I saw one of the most beautiful men I've ever laid eyes on today. Perfect muscular body, not too big, not too skinny, just the right amount of body hair in all the best places. He was riding by on his bike, shirtless, of course, and stopped about twenty feet away ostensibly to make a phone call, but I know he was just teasing me. I tried my best to stare as much as possible. I was very close to asking him for a picture, he was just that gorgeous. The bitch.

       I'm getting back to that point in my own fitness where I'm close to maxing out half the machines at the gym again. And it pisses me off when the 6-foot-2 Adonis next to me is struggling with about half the weight. I mean I've accepted the fact that my 170cm frame just won't do some of the things that theirs will. I say 170cm because it sounds so much better than 5'6.9". Yes, that .9 is extremely important because then I can officially round up to 5'7" and avoid the "pocket gay" status of the 5'6"ers. But there I am, a (barely) 20-something Average Joe who could probably kick the panties off the Greek gods.

       Beauty is such a funny thing in this big gay world of ours, though. How much time and energy and money and tears do we spend on trying to make ourselves look better? Does it even matter? Don't they always say that it's what's on the inside that counts? Funny that it's often the ugly people who say that while the beautiful are getting everything they could dream of.

       Perhaps that's why I prefer to dream and forget to live.

       It can sometimes be very difficult to believe in yourself if you're not typically counted among the wealthy or beautiful or highly intelligent. Perhaps that's why we watch those who are thusly gifted, hoping to experience some of their greatness for a moment, perhaps even wishing that some of their je ne sais quoi will rub off on us. If anyone finds out how this works, let me know.

       But when the world seems to crumble around us from greed, bigotry, incompetence, shady government surveillance, etc., at least enjoying something beautiful can make the ride to hell a little less ugly.

 

Drive.

       Two weeks ago I drove for the first time in about a year and a half. I had the department mini-van for the weekend because of a few activities I managed that required a lot of back-and-forth that just wouldn't have been feasible with a taxi. It was kinda bizarre. Like riding a bike, yes, but I could tell I was anxious about it. I've been on the roads of my neighborhood a thousand times, but they were much different when I had to worry about other cars or even stop lights. And the other drivers were predictably crazy. It was stressful, and it reminded me of one of the many reasons I continue to choose to be a pedestrian.

       When I first lost my car in a head-on collision with a big construction truck I was freaking out about what I was going to do and how I was going to get around. For about a month my mind was going non-stop coming up with different options -- some terrifying, some attractive. I seriously considered moving to New York (even went so far as pricing the move), but in any of my previous plans I had been moving there from a place of strength -- a place I was very far from -- and I definitely didn't want to make such a big change prematurely. Ever since then I have been quietly and occasionally lamenting my fate, but it wasn't until that brief, hectic weekend behind the wheel and the reversion to public transportation thereafter that I began to find the beauty in my situation:

       The first thing that happened when dealing with the aftermath of the wreck was that I was forced to slow down. Initially it was from physical pain, but when that wore off it was because of a reliance on other people or public transportation for rides. If I didn't have someone to take me home from work the bus ride often took more than two hours. It was very frustrating for someone used to getting from point A to B as quickly as possible.

       The move from Raleigh to Durham cut my work commute down to 30 minutes, but even getting around Durham can take a significant chunk of time (which is often doubled on weekends because of poor bus service). My commute still begins and ends with a 5-10 minute walk (or the occasional sprint) to the bus stop. But I've noticed that I'm daydreaming again. During the bus rides I can read or listen to podcasts or sit and think. I've had more ideas for my stories even in the last six months than in the three years prior. When I drove, sure it was nice being able to load up on groceries and not have to carry them the quarter mile from bus stop to apartment, and yes, it was nice being able to go when I wanted instead of waiting on the bus schedule. But when it always seems like there's a lack of time and everyone's stressing out about getting everything done (like at work right now with the end of one year and the beginning of the next all at once), there's something very satisfying about adopting the lazy pace of the south now and then, going for a walk, forcing yourself to slow down, and enjoying the journey.

Copyright © 2019 Christopher Postlethwait