Pushing Sixty


Katie tries to dispute this, but I’m pushing sixty years old. She argues that 55-going-on-56 isn’t on the verge of 60. I make the case that, if you count from 50 to 60, my current age is a lot closer to 60 than it is to 50. In any case, I don’t think I look it, I don’t feel it, and I certainly don’t act it. Truth be told, it’s not something that I think about often. I’m too busy just living life and dealing with things day to day.

Yes, I have issues and yes, they’re affected by aging. They’re not caused by again, though. I’ve had arthritis for decades, and it affects the places where I’ve had injuries. My memory has issues, but thankfully it’s executive function disorder and not dementia. It’s directly traceable to my anxiety disorders.

Pushing Sixty

If you’re wondering what this has to do with living and Finland, well, I thought it was obvious. Given the state of health care in the United States, and the way older people are treated within American culture, I’d rather be here. I’m not afraid of aging in general, but the thought of growing old in America causes me stress. When I do think about aging, this is what I think about.

Where my age smacks me in the face unbidden is when I have to deal with younger people. Ageism is a thing that exists. A lot of it revolves around expectations. No, kid, I don’t listen to the same music you do, but I still have a basic awareness of pop culture. Technology does not baffle me, even if I don’t use the same apps you do. Boomers do in fact suck, and I have more sympathy for your generation getting screwed over than you give me credit for.

All in all, age isn’t something that matters to me. I just want to be treated as my own person, with my own needs, my own likes and dislikes, and my own problems. Pushing sixty is more about how other people see me and behave toward me than it does how I feel about myself.

Living and Finland


Because people have asked me to write more about Finland, I’m going to write more about Finland. The next month’s worth of missives from me will lean into what you, the reader, have asked for. Americans and others want to know what Finland is really like; Finns want to know what I think of their country. I’m not going to write a travelogue, though. What I’ll tell you about is my life, and how everyday living and Finland are intertwined.

After living here for five years, the concept of “living abroad” is no longer a romantic notion. It’s not that the bloom is off the rose. I love Finland. It’s more a matter of this being my life at the moment. This is less of an exciting adventure, more of the same working, paying bills, and mundane normality. Which is why I’ve resisted writing about it for so long, because it’s not so radically different from the beats of my day-to-day life in the United States.

Except when it is.

One of the reasons I’ve resisted writing about Finland is because, at any moment, I might have to leave. I’m an immigrant. I have to renew my residence periodically. As I’m writing this, I’m awaiting a decision from Migri, the Finnish Immigration Service. The shortest I’ve had to wait is three weeks. The longest was 7 months. If they decide that no, I can’t stay — and they can do this for any number of reasons — I’ve got 30 days to get out. That’s 30 days to wrap up my life here, pack up, and figure out where the hell we’d go in the United States. I could get that notification today, or three months from now, or I could have my extension approved again. Yes, that’s stressful.

Living and Finland

So I haven’t wanted to write about living in Finland, the things I love here, the comparisons and contrasts with life in America, because it hurts to even think about losing Finland. It throws me into a panic to contemplate the mad rush to move. We spent two years planning to move here. Katie and I have spent five years planning out career arcs predicated on staying here. While you might think it foolish, there is no Plan B. If we can’t stay, I legitimately don’t know what we’d do.

The reality, though, is that even if I had to leave tomorrow Finland will stick with me for the rest of my life. Just as the time I spend living in other places shaped me. The time I living in center city Philadelphia had a huge impact on me, and I was only there for two years. I once spent five weeks living in Utah for a job, and the things that happened there shaped my life and my views. If it’s reasonable to assume that I will carry Finland with me for the remainder of my days, then it’s not unreasonable that I would continue to have things to say even if I were no longer living here.

My Bullet Journal Variations

bullet journal

At the moment I keep two separate bullet journals. One is a fairly standard calendar-driven configuration that I use for personal and professional purposes. The other is strictly a business journal, made up mostly of collections and project-tracking spreads. I wanted to take a moment today to talk about bullet journal variations in my main book, the layouts I use, and what does and doesn’t work for me.

The main bujo has the stock future log and monthly logs, so where I deviate from the baseline is in my daily log. For a long time I used a weekly log, to further break down the tasks on my monthly log into more easily digestible pieces. The problem was that it required a lot of flipping back and forth, from the daily log to the weekly log. Yes, I migrated things from the weekly to the daily. When something came up that I needed to do tomorrow, I’d have to flip back to the weekly to rapid log it. If I finished up my planned daily tasks, I’d flip back to the weekly.

The weekly also didn’t help with ongoing tasks that I needed to touch daily. Those could be a lost on a weekly or monthly page, or on a tracker. Copying them over every single day, or remembering to go to the tracker page, was confusing. I would forget, or get turned around. It didn’t work for me. After a while I stopped doing a weekly log and just went from the monthly to the daily, but that started to get even more confusing.

My Bullet Journal Variations

What I do now is split the daily log pages horizontally. The left side of the page is a normal daily log. The right side of the left-hand page is for recurring tasks. Less of a tracker, more of a reminder. Every day I need to write a blog post, for example. The right side of the right-hand page is for open items that need to be dealt with this week. They might be unassigned because they’re not urgent, and can deal with them when a free moment avails itself. It could be things that are pending, like the “waiting” column on a Kanban board.

Honestly, I just this moment realized how much the way I use my bullet journal reflects my former use of Kanban. The future log and monthly logs are the “to-do”, and the daily log is the “doing”. Wow. It all makes sense now.

Anyway, this method keeps everything on a single two-page spread. That makes it a lot easier for me to process without becoming overwhelmed. When I fill that spread and move to the next two pages there’s some migration necessary, but it’s not as much redundancy and beyond initial setup no requirement for page-flipping.

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HUBRIS Volume 2 Issue 1 Now Available


HUBRIS Volume 2 Issue 1 collect articles originally appearing on my personal blog. In this issue I write about simply living, being productive, and enjoying life.

HUBRIS: A Commonplace Zine is now available on Amazon US UK

Categories include:

Arts and Culture: This topic includes for posts about books, music, film and television, and other forms of entertainment. It is also the place for visits to cultural events, trips to museums, and dining experiences. While it may contain opinions and recommendations, I wouldn’t classify any of these posts as reviews.

Bullet Journaling: This topic is covers how I use my bullet journal, planning, and general productivity. There will be elements of minimalism thrown in, because I’m all about simplicity. Posts may also cross over with self-care, since I also use my bujo to manage my executive function disorder.

Self-Care: This topic is about making time for yourself in a world filled with stress and unreasonable demands. Because I identify as a spoonie there will be posts related to that, managing mental health, and living a productive life in spite of physical limitations.

Writing: This topic is about writing and creativity. It’s a calling, a career, and a lifestyle, to be sure, and I’ve made a living as a writer for a few years now. You won’t find much advice here, because there’s plenty of that elsewhere. Instead I want to find connection with other writers, and the community, in this space.

Worldbuilding: This topic obliquely discusses the creation of tabletop roleplaying games and the work I do as Dancing Lights Press. It’s going to have more to do with my creative process and the use of the medium for self-expression than cliched nonsense about murder hobos and genre tropes.

HUBRIS: A Commonplace Zine is now available on Amazon US UK

The Talk Show That Tortures Its Guests

Arts and Culture

There shouldn’t be a need to talk about Hot Ones. Everyone should already know what it is. It’s the talk show that tortures its guests. The only reason I bring it up is because I recently did have to explain it to a few people people.

Hot Ones is on a food channel called First We Feast. The host, Sean Evans, has one guest per episode, and he’s a good interviewer. He doesn’t ask the same questions we’ve heard these people asked a hundred times before. Recent guests include Gordon Ramsay, Idris Elba, and Kristen Bell. This isn’t some guy’s YouTube channel where he interviews his friends and other YouTubers. This is quality content.

The Talk Show That Tortures Its Guests

The hook is that the host and the guest eat chicken wings throughout the interview. 10 questions, 10 wings. Eat a wing, answer a question. The twist is that the sauce on each wing gets progressively hotter. They show the Scoville units for each sauce on the screen.

It’s fun to see how far the guest go before they start to break. As the heat builds you can see them struggle to answer, and Sean never slows down or backs off. Some people do surprisingly well. Others try to act tough but break down before the halfway point. Everyone has their go-to method of dealing with the burn. There is always plenty of water and milk available, as well as napkins and the occasional bucket to throw up in.

It’s entertaining, and it’s different. The episodes are short, so it’s a fun way to kill a little bit of time when you need a break from the real world. In a world filled with mindless, cookie-cutter talk shows, this one’s creative. So far it’s managed to run for 9 seasons without getting stale, which is an achievement unto itself. All of the episodes, as I said, are on YouTube. Check it out.