Free Write Week 22 (May 27 – June 3)

I feel like this week has been my best week in quite some time. I wouldn’t say a lot of goof things happened, but I think I’ve grown slightly better at handling all that life is throwing at us right now. I know this may not last, but I want to savour it while I can.

I have two interviews this upcoming week. I am hopeful one of these two jobs will work our for me.

I was thrilled to see Helio Castorneves win the Indy 500 last weekend. From what I watched it was a good race and its nice to see the old guys win. I’ve officially entered the part of my life where I root for the old guys who I watched in my teenage/twenties. There aren’t many around still, but those that are get cheered for by me, no matter what thr sport.

AEW Double or Nothing was arguably the best AEW pay per view yet. Sting actually wrestling and wrestling well was incredible to see. I’ve always been a Stinger and I’m so glad he’s going to be able to go out on his own terms and not be put to pasture like the WWE wanted.

I’m very excited to hear Una McCormack, one of my favorite Star Trek book writers, is working on a Firefly novel.

Thr SRX video game is quite fun Its very similar to the previous Tony Stewart games but handles well and is challenging. Its been about all I’ve played this week, what little that I played.

Movies Watched in May 2021

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) – This was a surprise. I’ll be honest, I struggle with alot of movies pre-1978. The pacing just kills me. But The Day the Earth Stood Still was great. It reminded me a lot of an episode of The Twilight Zone and overall it was a fantastic movie.

Grownups – I watched this film in 2020 and just felt like watching it again. I needed something mindless and fun and it was just what I wanted.

The Benchwarmers – After finishing up Grownups, I decided to give The Benchwarmers a shot. I have this mini goal to watch all of the Happy Madison films and this was one I hadn’t seen before. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Like Grownups, it was simple, stupid, but fun.

Zookeeper – Another Happy Madison film, this one was okay. Actually, the first half was pretty solid but it really started dragging by the end. Definitely not one I’d watch again.

Senseless – I loved this movie when I saw it back in the late 90’s, and when I saw it streaming on HBO I knew a revisit was in order. To my surprise, I loved it again. Like some of the other films I watched this month, this was a fun, goofy film with a great performance by Marlon Wayans.

Spontaneous – This film has been on my watch list for a while. It was written by the same guy who did The Babysitter, so I knew I’d appreciate the humor. To my surprise, the film is actually quite deep and sad. It’s this weird mixture of smart-ass nerd comedy with existential questions about what it means to live. It was not what I was expecting, but it was a solid flick and well worth my time.

Star Trek V – Welp… you probably saw my Year of Star Trek, and if not I’ll save ya some reading…. it sucked.

Days of Thunder – I’ve seen this film a couple dozen times and it never grows old. Always a classic.

A Year in Star Trek Movies: The Final Frontier

My History with the Film:
This is where my Star Trek movie memory begins to get fuzzy. I know I started this film, because I rented it at the same time as The Voyage Home, but I’m not sure if I ever completed it. I feel like I started watching it and fell asleep and maybe went back and finished it up. But I’m not sure, so viewing was like a first time watch for me.

What The Film is About (Non-Spoiler):
The Enterprise runs into Spock’s half brother who is attempting to locate God.

What I Liked About It:
-The opening scene looks like something out of a twisted Lawrence of Arabia and not Star Trek, but in a good way. It’s beautifully shot and is by far the most interesting shot of the film. Sadly, it’s all down hill from here.

What I Didn’t Like About It:
-Everything else.

I figured this film would be rough, I just didn’t realize it would be that rough. There’s basically nothing redeemable about this film. The characters are bland, the humor is bad, the tone, the pacing, the plot, hell even the special effects. I understand that this film had a very troubled production and I even read that the producers kept slashing the budget because of how difficult William Shatner was to work with and I’m not surprised. This film is by far the worse Star Trek movie I’ve seen and definitely up there with some of the worse films I’ve ever seen. Wow.

Movies Watched in April

Max Payne – I’ve been wanting to watch this film since it came out. I’m a huge Max Payne fan and I knew it wasn’t well received, but I’ve always been curious. I should have stayed curious. This was horrendous.

Evil Dead (1981) – This will go down as one of my favorite horror movie watching experiences. I watched Evil Dead on VHS for the first time in a very long time and I enjoyed the hell out of it. What a great film that still holds up and looks great on VHS.

Clerks – Once Kevin Smith was my favorite director and Clerks was one of my favorite films. I haven’t seen it in a very long time and I really enjoyed revisiting it. It made me laugh quite a bit despite knowing all the jokes.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage HomeSee my A Year in Star Trek review.

Frozen in Time: Dawson City – This documentary was fantastic and slow. It tells the story of the small Yukon town of Dawson City where silent films went to die. It was the last stop on the distribution ring and a ton of the films were buried in an old swimming pool hole. The permafrost preserved these treasures and tons of of lost films were found. This documentary is made like a silent movie and is very arthouse, but interesting.

Star Wars Episode One: Cloak of Deception (Phantom Menace Fan Edit)/Star Wars Episode Two: The Approaching Storm (Attack of the Clones Fan Edit)/Star Wars Episode Three: Labyrinth of Evil (Revenge of the Sith Fan Edit) – I wanted to watch some Star Wars and had heard good things about these fan edits. I gave them a shot and boy was I surprised at how much they improved the films. I was so impressed I almost want to buy a blu-ray burner just to preserve these as the definitive version of Star Wars for myself.

The Final Terror – A low budget 80’s horror film by the director Under Siege starring Daryl Hannah and Joe Pantoliano. It was slow and not worth the 83 minutes I spent on it.

Mortal Kombat – This wasn’t bad. I definitely wouldn’t say it was great either, but I felt like it was a good step in the right direction. I’m interested in seeing some sequels.

Thoughts Before the New Job

Today, I started my new job. As a matter of fact, I have this post scheduled to publish right as I should be beginning my first day. I’m writing this a couple days in advance, but I thought that it would be more meaningful if it actually posts one day one.

I’m not a career goal orientated guy. I’ve never really had a career nor a career path. I graduated high school early, took a few months off to work full-time, and decided to go back to school under the thought of possibly being a teacher. However, my passion was in film making, so secretly that is all I ever wanted to do.

I learned early on that life is not like the movies. There aren’t always happy endings, nor is there real closure. Sometimes something happens in the first act that throws the entire movie of your life off course, and that sort of thing usually happens out of the blue on some random day when you least expect it. At least, that’s how it happened to me.

The details themselves are not important. What is important is that my entire life got off track one random day thanks to some family drama. The path I had in my head was suddenly disrupted and despite my attempts, I was never able to truly get back to the place that I was at in my late teens/early twenties. Too much had happened, too many things had been broken, and I got a harsh dose of reality and that changed me. While, I feel like I will always be a storyteller at heart, and I hope one day to finally finish some sort of book or creative endeavor, I had to let that dream go.

I worked a year at GameStop after moving to North Carolina. Then I spent a few months looking for a new job and found one a movie theater. I spent seven years in that movie theater, surviving the recession, making a couple good friends, and just hanging on. That job was cut short for me and that coincided with me losing my apartment and a major disruption in my life. It took me several months to get back on track, and I found myself back in school and delivering produce boxes to people’s doors part-time. It was a miserable existence and thanks to North Carolina refusing some federal money, I made too little to qualify for the Affordable Healthcare Act, but not enough to actually pay for health insurance. That’s a problem when you are dealing with depression and just trying to survive.

It took a few months, but one day I got a call for two job interviews. I had recently gotten my Nursing Assistant Certification, and a nursing home called first basically wanting a male to move bodies. I’ll never forget the interview. It lasted maybe two minutes and a woman walked in and said, “Is this this guy?” She looked me up and down and said, “Yeah, he’ll do.” And that was it.

Thankfully, the second job interview was with a hospital. It was a part-time gig transporting for the radiology department and working weekends in the reading room. The reading room is where the radiologists sit in the dark and read x-rays, cat scans, MRIs, and the like. The training was full-time, and the job never let up. It quickly became a full-time job because one I started people starting quitting. We joked about rats leaving a sinking ship, but the turnover was massive. Even I got sick of the job within a few months and spent two days working at a butcher’s shop, before quitting that miserable place. It’s the only job where the job, duties, responsibilities, and pay was all fabricated beforehand. Absolutely the most unethical place I ever walked into.

When I put in my notice at the hospital, one of the supervisors who had recently left for a rival hospital called me and let me know if I ever wanted a job to give her a shout. So, I did and I had an interview with rival hospital. It went well and the job was mine, but while they were getting all the paperwork together, I got a call from the hospital I had just quit asking me to come back. They begged, promised to make some changes, and I decided to go back. My paperwork was never processed and the records don’t even show that I ever left.

I was at this hospital for almost six years. It was six of the most life changing years of my adult life. I went through a bad relationship and got into a good one. I moved multiple times, I lost a lot of weight and gained a lot back. I managed to find myself worth and fought through several bouts of depression. While all of this real life stuff was going on, I showed up forty hours a week and worked my job which had also gone through several changes.

Within a couple of months, they cut out the transporting patients. I found myself working the front desk of the radiology department most week days along with stints in the reading room. I helped with the mammo file room and watched everything completely go digital. I saw the influx of digital imaging sharing and the use of online portals. In those six short years, so much changed, and honestly, it wasn’t for the better. The hospital I worked at decided that payroll was the best way to keep costs down and jobs were eliminated and more work stacked up. Benefits were cut so bad, the health insurance provided this year isn’t accepted by anyone other than people within my hospital network. Promises were made and never kept and like so many other people, I watched a company that I once had faith in turn into the greedy, faceless, corporation that it truly was. The sweet commercials and fancy marketing were just that. The patients didn’t come first and they were far from family, and that wore on me.

I had hope going into the healthcare industry that I would be able to help people. I can think of no great service than of that to others. I thought I would be able to come home and feel good about myself knowing that everyday I was making a positive impact on this planet instead of worrying about upselling. But I got a reality check quickly by working in the hospital. I found out that doctors are far from nice and money truly does rule everything. The doctor who walks in and greets you and tells you they are on your side is the not the same person we see behind the scenes and its almost soul crushing to watch. In my experience, almost all of the doctors come from families of doctors. They are all well off and have never struggled for anything. They can’t relate to patients because they don’t live like most of the patients. I never met a doctor who didn’t have a nanny, maid, or gardener. I’m sure they exist, but I never met one.

The disappointment I felt working with healthcare was only made worse by the pathetic paycheck I received and horrible benefits. About a year and a half ago, I had a decent opportunity come up paying me around $12,000 more than what I made at the hospital. I asked the hospital to match it or do something. They talked to HR and within an hour agreed to a $0.32 raise pending approval by the radiology supervisor. I agreed to say, despite the money not coming even close for a few reasons, but I never got that $0.32. They strung me out and pushed me off every month when I asked about it for a year until finally I just stopped asking. That is why I felt absolutely nothing when leaving that job. They were far from honorable.

I met some good people while working at the hospital. I don’t know if I made in super long term friends, but I met people who seemed to care about my well-being and always offered a smile. For those people I’m grateful. It felt good feeling like I belonged in a place. I knew the job well and was respected in my role and I’m sure I’ll miss that some.

But enough about the past, let’s talk about today.

Today, I begin a government job. A job with great benefits, about $10,000 more than I made at the hospital, and a much different environment. I can’t say for sure what the future holds, but I have a good feeling about it. I’m hoping I can come home and say today was the best first day I’ve ever had a job.

Usually, the first two weeks of a job are terrifying for me. I don’t like not knowing what or how to do things, and I’ve never enjoyed being the new kid. I spent my childhood being the new kid, and trust me, it grows old. I see this opportunity as something I can sort of make a career out of or least get into the government system and move around some in the future. I’m not trying to put my cart before the horse, but it is nice knowing that there may be options. Those did not exist in my last role.

I think the most confusing thing for me is the emotional rollercoaster I’m on. I go from being ecstatic to being terrified within minutes. Change scares me and I guess I really don’t know what the future holds and I’m struggling to stay grounded. I think that is what led me to stay up late typing all this up. I hope by writing it all out, I’ll find a little balance, and can rest a bit easier.

So, I’m gonna end this here. Today, is the first day of my new job. A job that is probably closest to a career that I’ve ever had. I’m hoping this is the start of a fantastic new beginning and more stability in my life. Wish me luck!

Free Write Week 13 (Mar 26 – Apr 1)

Well, I almost missed this week’s entry and I was okay with it. It’s been one hell of a week, but I feel like I have some things worth sharing.

Normally, I update this post throughout the week whenever I run across something interesting or have something to say. It sorta serves a less instant Twitter account for me. But after Friday, I didn’t feel like writing and I definitely didn’t feel like sharing anything that was going on.

I mentioned last week we had some life changing stuff on the horizon, and well… it came. On Friday, my wife was laid off due to a lack of work prompted by the pandemic. Being laid off is never a fun ordeal, but her previous employer made it especially difficult by handling it with the care and organization of a three year on a sugar high. It was downright distasteful at times and that only made the situation that much worse.

I won’t go into all of the details, but the information was relayed that a meeting was coming on Monday of last week, scheduled for Wednesday, then rescheduled for Friday, then the time changed on Friday, but the layoff didn’t occur to Monday. So there was a lot of time to stew, worry, ponder, and just stress the hell out.

Once we managed to handle the event in itself, my father happened to come into town which is not a good thing for my stress level. My dad and I do not have the best relationship and he’s the only person who my mood changes almost instantly when I’m around. I had given him a heads up that the weekend was probably not going to be the best due to the pending layoff, but he still came and I felt the need to see him since it had been almost a year since I last saw him.

The visits with my father weren’t terrible, but with my work going so terrible the last few weeks, dealing with the layoff, and then him, it was just a lot. I was mentally wiped and exhausted. So my normal watching fun movies, doing nerdy stuff, and enjoying pop culture all had to take a back seat to me just trying to keep my sanity.

Thing began to boil over Wednesday, which was my day off. My father was still in town, I had a job interview to do, and I hadn’t felt like I had more than five minutes to just breathe since last week. So, I woke up at 10 AM and decided I should clear my schedule. Cancel this job interview (I had just done one the day before on my lunch break at work), tell my father I couldn’t meet him again, and just sit at home and relax. You can only scrap the bottom of the barrel so much before the barrel starts to break down.

As I sat on the couch with my wife, sipping my Coke Zero and wondering why the hell life had to suck so bad, my phone rang. I answered it and was delighted to hear the lady whom I interviewed with the previous day on the other line. Long story short: she offered me almost $10,000 more than I was expecting and almost $10,000 than I make now. Benefits are completely paid for and the job is about 1.5 miles from my home. The hours are good, the people were nice, and it was a dream come true. And honestly, most importantly, it gets me out of the hospital which has slowly turned into one of the most toxic and dysfunctional places I’ve ever worked.

So, after a very long week, my week ended on a high note. I don’t have any quirky pop culture references or opinions on any new movies, but I do have a little light at the end of this tunnel which is really all I need.

Movies Watched in March 

The Mummy (1999) – It’s been many years since I’ve watched The Mummy and I gotta say, it held up way better than I expected. The Mummy was one of my first DVDs and I watched it a lot when it was first released, but I never really felt compelled to since. Over the past six months, it’s been on my mind and I finally sat down and was blown away by how entertained I was. I was worried that the CGI would be too terrible, but surprisingly there is so many practical effects it’s easier to accept some dated CGI.

Beverly Hills Cop – Another film I haven’t seen in a very long time. I purchased a DVD set of all three films in the franchise on Black Friday last year and decided on a whim to watch this one. Wow, another movie that holds up quite well and was a blast to watch. I forgot how funny this film was and I had no idea that Jonthan Banks, best known for his work on Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul, played one of the main villains!

Hooking Up – This film has sat on my Hulu Watchlist for quite some time and I decided to give it a shot late one night. It was a surprisingly good road trip film that could arguably be called a rom com. The two leads were fantastic and this is one of those movies that went under the radar but is totally worth a watch.

Kid90 – This is one of the most disappointing films I’ve watched in a while. It’s a documentary about Soleil Moon Frye (Punky Brewster) and her friends in the 90’s. She took a video camera everywhere with her and has hours of voicemails and video footage of celebrity kids behind the scenes.

The problem with this film is it really doesn’t say anything. Its sorta glamorizes the drugs and partying that went on, but never correlates that with the death of so many of her peers. I couldn’t help but watch this documentary and think to myself, “This is a documentary made a by an out of touch celebrity with nothing to say.”

There is no reason for this movie to exist and I’d love to have my 112 minutes back. I should have trusted my gut and turned it off after the first twenty minutes.

Palm Springs – I finally watch this movie! I’ve been waiting for six months and I gotta say, it lived up to my expectations. It’s a fun, simple movie with a lot to say about the minutia of life.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) – I’ve loved this movie since I was a kid and I still love it. It was great to see it on the big screen.

House Arrest – This was one of those films I watched a ton as a kid. It seemed to always be on some movie channel and every time I ran across it I’d watch it. Surprisingly, it held up quite well. I found myself smiling and enjoying the hijinks of these kids as they lock their parents in the basement.

Ladybugs – After enjoying House Arrest, I decided I wanted to seek out some other films I tended to watch as a kid whenever they were on TV. Ladybugs was one of them. This simple, cute film isn’t a great film by any means but it was entertaining. I’m glad I got a chance to revisit it.

Keeping the Faith – I remember this film coming out while I was working at Blockbuster, but I never got a chance to watch it. It’s been on my list of movies to watch for years now and when I finally ran across a copy of it on DVD at Goodwill I snatched it up, brought it home, and watched it.

It’s a fun, cute movie with three great leads and a brave script that discusses religion in a three dimensional way.

Unhinged – This was the surprise of the month. I enjoyed the heck out of this thriller/horror film. It’s a simple concept and the cinematography was quite impressive at times.

Burn – This was the biggest disappointment of the month. I’ve been wanting to watch this movie for years now and after I finally got a chance to sit down and watch it I found it to be quite lacking. The first thirty-five minutes are great and reminded me a bit of May, but then it loses its focus and there just wasn’t enough substance to justify the run-time.

Tammy and the T-Rex – I’m not a fan of really bad films, but I had an urge to watch some Joe Bob Briggs so I started with his most recent special which began with this film. It was enjoyable for a terrible, low budget film.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock – See my upcoming review.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – This was the second Harry Potter film in our quest to watch them all this year. I enjoyed this film more than the first, despite a couple of plot holes, and a scene or two that just didn’t make much sense. I have a feeling the book fills in all these holes.

Free Write Week 12 (Mar 19 – Mar 25)

It’s not the name they call you that’s important, but the name you answer to.

-Madison Cowan

Last week, Syfy announced that it had renewed Resident Alien for a second season. The trailers look great and I’m a huge fan of Alan Tudyk, so it seemed natural that I’d watch this show right off the bat. But I was skeptical. The quality of entertainment Syfy puts out varies quite a bit, and they are quick to cancel a show just as it really seems to be hitting its stride. Nonethelesss, after a great recommendation by Michael and the second season renewal, I decided to dive in right and I’m so happy I did. I have a feeling that this will end up being my favorite show of the year. It’s quirky, fun, positive, and really speaks to my sense of humor. With that being said, it’s definitely not for everybody.

This weekend marks the first time that the NASCAR Cup teams have run a race on dirt since 1970 in Raleigh, North Carolina. I’m quite excited about it. It’s going to be quite unpredictable, plus they took Bristol, one of the better short tracks, and just covered it in dirt. The Trucks race on Saturday night and Cup on Sunday. I’ll definitely be tuning in for a bit of both time permitting.

In anticipation of my PS5 arriving, I bought an extra controller and picked up a copy of Overcooked: All You Can Eat. It’s funny, but that game is the reason I even bought a PS5. When I first started dating my wife, I bought her a copy of Overcooked 2 for her birthday. She wasn’t sure what to expect, but several hundred hours later (and total Overcooked exhaustion on my part) we had destroyed and four starred most of the game.

Overcooked: All You Can Eat is a remastered version of both Overcooked games in 4K with lots of bonuses. So, we will once again, be chopping, dicing, throwing, and cooking in and attempt to beat the clock and get out orders. This time with the new Playstation controllers which supposed are quite impressive.

There aren’t any PS5 exclusives that I’m really excited about right now. I am excited about faster loading times and hopefully a quieter system since my PS4 Pro sounds like a jet engine at times. I do have a few games that have free PS5 updates such as: Maneater, Control, Tony Hawk 1+2, and Mortal Kombat 11. I held off on playing Control since I heard it really pushed the limits of PS4, so it’ll be nice to dive into that on the PS5.

Until last year, I never really thought much about the mail service. It was just one of those silent operations that never affected me unless things went wrong. Now, every day is a struggle with USPS. Packages aren’t even close to delivered on time (despite being marked delivered), mails ending up in the wrong places, nothing is handled with care… it’s frustrating. Then when you add the good old porch pirates, it makes things worse. I’ve had to resort to sending any important packages not delivered by Amazon to my mom’s house.

I had a very rough work week. It seems that things are continuously getting worse and worse at work and I realize the writing is on the wall. I’ve upped my job hunting and am hopeful something will come up soon.

I re-subscribed to Shudder this week when I got an inkling to watch some Joe Bob Briggs. I decided to start with the most recent movie which was the R rated version of Tammy and the T-Rex starring Denise Richards and Paul Walker. Boy is it terrible. I’m not a huge fan of absolute trash movies, but Joe Bob makes them go down easier.

I gotta say, I am thankful that Shudder exists and they gave Joe Bob a platform to perform once again. There is just something so familiar and nostalgic about listening to his random rants and musings while watching a movie. I’m hoping to be a little better this year at watching his streams live. It’s just one of those little “event” sort of things that I know I would enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, I love that everything is on demand, but nothing feels special when it’s on demand.

I’m still struggling to get into a single book. I’m not sure why I can’t focus. I got halfway through my Nathan Lowell book and I hit a wall. I tried to start a couple other books and just couldn’t get going. I’m not sure if its stress or a lack of focus or what, but I really wish something would hold my attention.

I have a three day weekend starting today. There is going to be a pretty big life changing hurdle we are going to have to overcome sometime today, but maybe I’ll discuss that more next week. My only other plans this weekend are to watch a horror film called Burn that I bought on DVD. I heard about this film a few years ago and after waiting for what seemed like forever, I forgot it existed. Then six months ago I remembered and went hunting for it, and instead found a movie called Open 24 Hours which also features a quirky girl working overnight in a gas station. I assumed it was the same movie, but it wasn’t.

A few weeks ago, I ran across a DVD cover for Burn and realized I had watched the wrong movie. So I ordered a copy from Amazon and this weekend I’m finally going to close the book on my several yearlong quest to see this low budget thriller that probably wasn’t worth the trouble.

Also, I may try to finish up Resident Alien and maybe watch Star Trek III since I’m running out of time to get that in since next week is the end of the month.

Balance in Blogging

Last year, I started a blog called Dark Thoughts. It’s not one I share and it’s the closest thing I have to a true free write journal. It’s a place for me to write about whatever anonymously. 

I haven’t updated the site since December when I focused in on putting all my attention into re-booting this blog. Since then, my dark little spot on the web has been left to collect cobwebs. On it are various rants, complaints, and frustrations that seemed important at the time, but now looking back I realize they were mostly trivial.

Last night, I had trouble sleeping and I woke up not in the best of moods.  I let in a little negativity before bed and that led to an onslaught of negative emotions. I had so many thoughts frustrating me that I wanted to let them all out. So, this morning I started writing and I began to feel better. I purged some of that negativity and intended on posting it here, but I ultimately decided against it. It just doesn’t fit with the vibe of this site. There was nothing productive or all that interesting about what I wrote. It was just a man dealing with getting older and the frustrations and self-doubt that comes with that.

I decided it would fit better on my dark site, where all my negative thoughts and emotions go to exist. I don’t disregard them or pretend like they don’t exist, I just put them somewhere that has less of a spotlight than say here. It’s my way of processing them and something I need to use more.

I realized that I get frustrated at times when I journal because so much of it comes off negative. I really want balance in my writing. But today, I realized that I have that. I have two blogs that represent the good and the bad. I tend to share more of the good with the people I like and I keep the bad to myself, because let’s be honest, no one wants to read someone ranting. Nonetheless, I have an outlet for writing that fits either category and it’s nice that I spend more time and energy here on the good instead of the bad.

I didn’t set out to do it this way, but this is just what happened. I makes me think about the harmony of good and bad (or positive and negative) co-existing and how addressing it each one is necessary in order to feel whole. 

A Paralysis of Choice

Recently, I’ve been stuck. I’ve found myself struggling to get interested in just about anything. Movies, TV shows, video games, books, comics… you name it, I’m not enjoying it. I’ve started and stopped so many things the past few weeks it’s startling. It’s almost as if I’ve lost my focus and my drive to consume entertainment.

For some, this would not be a big deal, but for a guy like me who has always loved movies, books, and games, it brings up a lot of questions: When did I lose my love for the things that I enjoy and how did that happen? Is there something wrong with me? Did I grow out of all of these things? What do I replace them with?

I was discussing my frustration with my wife the other week and I told her I thought I might be suffering from a paralysis of choice. There are just so many things vying for my attention I think I just found myself struggling to fully commit to anything. Whenever I’d start a movie that I’ve already seen, I’d think about a movie I haven’t seen yet but would like. I think about the TV shows I want to catch up on so I can chat with my friends. I think about the games I want to revisit and the games I want to finally try out. I browse through hundreds of movies, over a hundred games and books and I just don’t know what to pick. I have way too choices at my fingertips. There is no friction between me and the entertainment and because of that it’s become almost valueless. I don’t hold it in my hands and it’s almost as if it doesn’t exist. It has no weight and is not tangible.

In contrast, when I think back to the early 2000’s, I think about how this was never a problem but boredom would sometimes creep in. I can’t not remember the last time I was bored. It’s been years.

Back then, I’d come home from work and maybe flip on the TV. If I didn’t find anything interesting, I’d browse my DVD shelf for a movie that I like. I’d re-watch one of these movies, or I’d explore the special features. I’d find new things to love about the film after hearing the director gush about the production on the commentary track. I’d find new actors that I liked based on their interviews and behind the scenes antics. I’d squeeze every DVD for every drop of entertainment and I’d enjoy every second of it.

If I didn’t want to watch something I already owned, I’d have to travel to the store to buy or rent something which was an adventure in itself. I’d be limited to the selection of a specific Blockbuster or Best Buy, but that was okay. I could always find something interesting to watch. I’d pay for a specific movie and by doing so enter a contract with myself to get value out of my dollar. I’d go home and give the movie and honest attempt at watching since this was all that I had. I’d give some movies more time to get going and sometimes I’d discover a hidden gem that just started out slow. Nowadays, I’ll turn a movie off in a heartbeat and just pick something else streaming. I always have a list of things to watch that I’m never going to catch up on.

You can substitute video game, book, magazine, etc. for the movie reference above. The point I’m trying to make is with limited choices I felt more empowered and the action seemed to have more value. I found myself getting excited about movies/games/books and really wanting to enjoy them. I didn’t look for the quick hit of entertainment because I wanted my enjoyment to last as long as possible. Nowadays I feel like I spend time rushing through things just so I can attack the next item on this never ending list of entertainment.

Part of my reasoning for wanting to have a clean slate to work from this year was to eliminate choices and streamline my thinking. I wanted to eliminate some of the noise and clutter. Being subscribed to several streaming services, having every song available on Spotify, having over 100 games available on my Playstation, and pretty much any book ever written a few clicks away has created a lot of noise. I don’t think the answer is to eliminate all my choices, but to really hone in on what I want to enjoy and focus solely on that. Take a sort of Hell Yes or Hell No approach to the media I consume. If I’m not super excited and would say Hell Yes to it, then I just need to let it go.

I’m going to try and utilize some self-control to help eliminate some of my choices. I’m going to attempt to focus on one video game at a time and play it until I’m completely done with it before moving onto something else. I’m going to remove all the ebooks from my Kobo and phone, except for the one book that I’m reading at any given point in time. I’m also going to try an embrace watching more movies. I enjoy TV but it feels very disposable to me. I find that I enjoy movies the most. It makes sense, that was what I always leaned towards growing up. I want to embrace my love of movies a bit more and really put some effort into finding that love and appreciation that I once had. I’m a movie guy, I just don’t think of myself as one. It’s time that I start embracing that and see movie watching as what it really is to me: a hobby.

I decided to start a new book from Nathan Lowell’s Smuggler Tales series since he’s arguably my favorite author. I’m working on my Spotify playlists. I’ve decided to focus on finishing up Super Mario World 3D with Brandy and I’m going to begin Mudrunner as the game I play on my own. I’m going to focus on writing a bit more and as my depression wavers, getting out of the house a bit more, even if it’s just to hit up thrift stores in search of movies. I’m also going to keep an eye open for a new hobby should I come across something interesting.