Habits, to-do lists, charisma, distractions, self-help, self criticism and you!

Today I want to accomplish a lot. And I probably won’t get to everything I want to do.

This is a reoccurring theme for me. Not completing my to-dos.

On my to-do list today is:

  • a photography ride downtown (pack a camera or two and just go shoot).
  • blog (doing that now).
  • Work on/complete a video from our vacation at the beginning of the month
  • Go to the studio and fart around
  • workout
  • Organize my gear
  • Cook dinner
  • Read in my book
  • Study some French
  • Journal

I’ve already completed a few things on the list (journaling and reading) and I’m currently blogging.

So sweet:

  • blog
  • read
  • journal

Done-zo Washington! 

So that’s three things down. Kind of. I’m going to blog for a while.

I’ve been reading a book lately called Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin. It’s a self help book about forming habits for different personality types.

My wife Tina read it while back, and it seemed to really speak to her. She bought a copy of it to re-read it (she read the digital version the first time).


About a month ago, I powered through the first half of Better than Before. Then I put it down when we went on vacation in North Carolina. I didn’t pick it back up until this morning at least a month later.

I loved reading the book, but I felt like it became a chore to want to re-pick back up. Over the past two weeks, I walked around with it under one arm, never opening it for days. There was a stigma or something preventing me from re-opening it.

I finally did. And burned through 50 pages. 

Oddly enough, what I read this morning included a section on how a broken habit is hard to re-habitualize.

My book-reading game is suffering. I’ve broke out of a great habit that I had for years. I grew up in a book-reading family. I value(d) that a lot. I read books far less lately and it makes me feel guilty. Maybe it’s part rebellion or it’s some psychological issue floating around thanks to some familial obstacles I’m hurdling. Not reading isgetting on my nerves.

In comparison, though, I habitually read more news articles and blogs lately. Especially those revolving around the current presidential administration. This is a vacuous blackhole, as I imagine it is for others right now. Sometimes I find myself ravaging anything I can find about the train wreck that is this presidency.

Said and done, it’s a fucking distraction from creativity and productivity.

I find it’s as bad a habit as smoking or drinking. It’s just as damning, to say the least.

I read a variety of blogs and tend to stay away from news sites like CNN, MSNBC and I avoid HuffPo like the plague. But I admittedly love and listen to NPR every day.

I find myself flipping over to Apple news on my tablet in the mornings when I’m waiting for Tina to stir as if I’m one of those celebrity gossip junkies in need of a hour-long distraction fix. When something particularly large happens, I tend to type “drudge report” or even “breitbart” into my search engine to see what the loonies are up to.

This habit is starting to piss me off.

Drudge is a shithead of crap information and yellow journalism. So all I need is a glimpse of the front page and maybe one or two open tabs of stories he links to. Then I run away from the page as fast as I can.

But then the sad sad-masichist in me heads over to Breitbart.

Like men used to say, “I read Playboy for the articles.” I read Breitbart for the comment sections. The stories are what you’d expect, a dirty far-right stance on similar headlines you’d see in the news. I don’t understand how anyone could take Breitbart seriously. They load the front page with click bait for the gullible and the mindless, and they respond en force with rabid lack of anything that resembles intellectual fortitude.

And react they do.

Next to each story, there’s a number indicating how many comments there are to the linked articles.

I do my best to ignore the number of comments and just read the headlines. With almost clairvoyant accuracy, I can quickly determine what articles have the most responses. I try not to read the responses for too long, but sometimes it’s addictive. The obsession with conspiracy theories is as scary as it is entertaining. George Soros is paying liberals to be more liberal. Or he’s making protestors be more protest-y.

If there’s a post about religion, either anti Muslim or pro-Christian, BAM! Huge hits. Huge patriotic, only-true-Americans-are-evangelical-white Christians. It’s clockwork.

The MSM (main-stream-media) is the DEVIL.

To Breitbarters, Fox News is MSM and too far left. Far too left? And Bannon was a top influencer/counsel to Mr. Trump? Can you smell the conspiracy!?!

Breitbarters view Breitbart as the only source for viable, trustworthy information is fucking Brietbart … and maybe infowars.

Holy crap this country couldn’t be more unnecessarily divided. Even I can’t feel that the news I read is always trustworthy. Single source anything is about as dangerous as it gets when hoping to be well-read and rounded.

In the comments at Brietbart, it’s like reading what my 16-year old self wrote like … shit … it’s like reading what I would write like if I stayed on the trajectory of my 16-year-old self into adulthood.

I mean, I was taught about evil globalists in 1990-1994. Back then, my teachers referred to it as the New World Order, but it’s the same fucking thing. And even though establishing a globalist NWO would usher in the end times which would bring back Jesus and God would finally kill the devil, Breitbart readers can’t stand globalism and the New World Order. It’s nuts.

It’s like a Christian crying at a funeral. The dead ostensibly go to heaven to live with Jesus … the whole reason for suffering as a Christian for one’s entire life … I would imagine that a real Christian would Celebrate death as life!

On paper, they do. But they really don’t. It’s one of five hundred million grievances that drove me from belief.

I have friends who stayed on the trajectory that I was clearly on and proud of when I professed to be an evangelical Christian. They put stuff on Facebook that is so apocalyptic and depressing. Everything that doesn’t agree with their perspective is demonized. Patriotism is gold and oppositional thought is un-American and cannot be included into the fabric of their supposed beautiful worldview.

I have to stop myself, because being critical of it makes me out to be the demonizer of thoughts that do not match my own. I’m a culprit of creating division.

That’s not my point.

Not entirely anyway.

I, too, struggle with conspiracy theories. When I read comments at Breitbart, I wonder if their own editors feed the comments as to manipulate the conversation(s). To perpetuate certain ideas and phrases that the easily influenced pickup and repeat. I mean, it’s not unheard of. I’ve heard of blogs in which the writer signs in and comments as different personas to carry the conversation.

I catch myself wondering how much of this crazy in the news is orchestrated by Putin and the Russians in attempts to create chaos in America.

I struggle with whether I’m right or not about nearly everything. I’m often under the impression that I’m wrong rather than right, and fumbling through writing about this topic is my attempt to better flesh out the information.

Is the audience at Breitbart actually onto something bigger, better, more intellectual? Would it be better to white-en-ize America, criminalize Islam, left-ist ideas, atheism, all other faiths and religions?

I personally like diversity. That’s a big reason why I live in Chicago. There’s a part that’s scary, because there is so many kinds of people (bad guys and good guys). I’m paranoid of violence or someone breaking into my place.

But there’s so much culture and exposure to ideas. I can’t walk down the street without seeing a desolate dirty beggar sometimes with piss staining his pants as the most beautiful woman walks by as the most stylish dude traipses by as the oldest couple you’ve ever seen shuffle by hand in hand, in love, till death …

We have the overtly religious. From street preachers to just regular believers who use all kinds of religious jargon in every day conversation. Even beggars who ask for spare change respond with “God bless you. Have a good day,” after you walk by.

We must have non-believers, too. But they don’t wear non-belief on their sleeves like the religious.

I’m not a believer in a higher power, but I battle whether or not I should be. I often see the enormity of the universe, the beauty of nature, the complication of life and wonder that maybe there’s something behind the curtain. But the bible is a deterrent from accepting supreme being existence. If that’s proof or even part of the proof, the Bible will never be an ambassador for existence of a deity.

I’m cool with the end being the end. I’m cool with the idea that my destination in the afterlife could be hell. Because surely it’s not how it’s described in books and in pictures. No one’s ever been there so no one can ever tell me how it is and isn’t.

What are my own limits to my own beliefs?

What are the things that might change them? Can I change? I obviously have changed my beliefs before. Many times. They are constantly in flux.

I find myself wondering if I am being overly influenced by the MSM or if I’m using a set of critical thinking skills to better view the current administration or the narrative swirling around on the internets, whether pro or anti anything.

I don’t find these same sets of questioning a part of the comment sections on many websites I follow, neither from the left or the right. There’s a group mentality. A togetherness. Obsession in numbers. Group dynamics. I do not comment on blog posts. Or on news articles. And I try to stay off of threads on social media. But that’s sometimes a lesson in impossibility.

I’ve always felt like an outsider, and observing groups of any ilk shows me that while I prefer liberal perspectives, I hate its followers. I’m an atheist, but I happen to hate most other atheists. I’m a photographer, but I tend to hate other photographers. No matter what group I align with, when I get to know the practitioners of those ideas … man, I think they’re all losers.

I see how people love Trump. I get it. And I don’t. What’s not to love about Trump? He’s got that Hitler-esque charisma. He’s that drunk uncle at Thanksgiving who is laying into that family member we all think is a piece of shit. He’s entertainment gold.

All this “fake news” is going to completely ruin media for ages. Fake news will likely be the word combination of the year.

I heard one interviewer on NPR’s Fresh Air talk about how he interprets the fake news comments from Trump as him dealing with his daddy issues. His daddy loved the New York Times, so he loved the New York Times as a reader. He’s a New Yorker. He comes from New Yorkers.

Trump wants to be loved by his daddy or the idea of him. Therefore when he’s not loved and adored by the media, he writes it off in the way that only a narcissistic, megalomaniac, sociopath can, discredit it using little words that his followers love.

The guy is a WWF trained speaker. He loves truncating his message into sound bytes and repeatable quips … because his base loves things like repeatable phrases … It’s ingrained in biblical culture.

If you’re of a church culture, as soon as the paster reads, “For God so loved …” you can finish John 3:16 in your sleep. Catholics and Christians can finish any number of prompts in a heartbeat. I can still do any number of memorized bible verses. Tina can attend Catholic mass and repeat every memorized portion.

When you’re not in a church culture, finishing prompts takes much more mental work. I can’t take any information with a grain of salt. Most articles I read, I get lost down a white rabbit hole of googling and nuanced approaches to mundanity.

It makes ticking off my goddamn to-do list a lot harder, that’s for sure.

Oh yeah, I have a long to-do list today. Thanks for reminding me.


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