Donut Age: America's Donut Magazine

Flexion

My neglect of this poor old blog has been an ongoing source of shame for me. The meager trickle of new content over the past few years is one aspect of that neglect. There are multiple reasons for the lack of output, but I will save that discussion for another time. Nearly as embarrassing has been the state of the site’s plumbing, which was still largely based on the HTML templates I cobbled together back in aught-three. Table-based page layout may have been acceptable back then, but they’ve been a thorn in my side for a number of years now. I’ve tried, at various points, to move to a tableless layout, but all the solutions I could find either were hacky, or I couldn’t figure out how to adapt them for my needs.

Then CSS Flexbox came along, or more specifically, Philip Walton’s Solved By Flexbox demos came along and finally worked their way through the internet grapevine to somewhere I would actually hear about them (a few months ago). It took me some time to try out Walton’s methods and get confident about using them myself. It took a while more to get them to do more or less what I wanted them to do. And because I was going to be ripping out the guts of my templates anyway, I wandered down some side-paths about improving my typography and some other aspects of the design. Finally I had to dive into the templates themselves, remind myself how they all fit together, and brush up on my rather rusty Tinderbox skills. Altogether, I’ve spent about 3 weeks on the modernization project, but, with this post I can finally unveil my all-new, mobile-friendly, responsive blog layout. Huzzah!

To be sure, there are probably a few rough spots lurking in these pages. I’m still, at best, a mediocre typographer, and I suspect my choice of color scheme is deeply offensive to someone with a more refined visual palate than I’ll ever possess. But as far as I can tell, the new stuff basically works, and I at least don’t have to be ashamed of my janky old tables any more. It’s a start.

Musical interlude

I am acutely aware of the lack of activity here on Donut Age of late, but I’m not prepared to resume even my decidedly irregular posting frequency yet. So in lieu of real content, I will just share some music mixes I’ve created in the past few months.

Power animal

A long playlist (63 tracks) of barn-burners and blood-pumpers. Field tested during hours 11 and 12 of what was supposed to be a 10-hour drive and proven effective at combatting road madness and/or somnolence.

Testing the tensile strength of metaphors

It has become something of a tradition for me to make a Valentine’s Day mix. The 2015 edition explores some of the unlikely and/or tortured metaphors for love, lust and heartbreak.

Fimbulwinter

While Midlantis has not suffered as much as some other regions, this winter’s tenacity has been such as to put one in an apocalyptic frame of mind.

Happy listening.

Visualizing ennui

I know my blogging has never been exactly punctual or steady, but with my las post having been made in January of last year , I'm not sure I can even claim to have a blog any more. Oddly enough, at no point in the last 20+ months did I say to myself, "I'm going to quit blogging for a while." I've always had intentions, sometimes more vague than others, of getting back into the blogging swing; I've just kept finding excuses or distractions to stay away from it.

This lack of public communication has been mirrored by a rather extreme aversion to do any kind of serious introspection, which can be seen in my journalling habits over the past few years. I used to be, in my high school and college days, an fairly dedicated journal-keeper, but somewhere along the path of marriage, work, and children, I lost that habit, only resuming, very tentatively at first, as I was trying to pick up the pieces of my life following my divorce and return to New Jersey. By 2011, I was starting to journal somewhat regularly again, and 2012 saw me burning through 80-page Moleskine 'Cahiers' as fast as one a week for a few stretches. These journals make for some pretty tedious reading, as they largely consist of me turning in circles over the same old complaints about lacking motivation and direction, and enumerating anxieties I had about moving forward with my life. But at least they show that I was trying to make some kind of sense of my depression and looking for a way to take control of my life again.

Those efforts, at least as measured by my journal keeping, started slowing down in late 2012, were little more than a trickle by early spring 2013, and crashed entirely by the following fall. A couple days ago, I finally got to the last page of a journal I'd started over a year earlier, and that mostly by dint of a conscious push I've made in the past 6 weeks to try to resuscitate my journaling habit.

I think pictures tell this story as well as anything:

2011:

Roughly 6 journals (469 pages) filled. 2011: 6 journals

2012:

25 journals (1,965 pages) filled. 2012: 25 journals

2013-14:

4 journals (314 pages) filled, and counting. 2013-14: 4 journals (so far)

I'll leave for another time delving into why I turned away from journaling, except to note that my lack of interest in engaging with the world at large these past many months, has been matched, if not surpassed, by an aversion to engaging with myself, neither of which seem like healthy traits I have some hope that my recent resumption of journaling might signal the beginning of a broader turn for the better.

Annus versus

The calendar is not my friend.

Since my divorce, that familiar landscape of numbered months and days has been littered with emotional minefields. Some of these are conspicuously marked while others sneak up on me, not that it makes much difference; I have to march through all of them regardless.

Right up ahead is one of the biggest hazards: 6/28, the date of our wedding. It would have been our fifteenth anniversary, crystal, the point at which tradition ceases to view a single year together as being worth notice and begins bestowing its blessings only on quinquennia.

The other major obstacle lies at the opposite end of the year. It's not quite as precisely defined, but for simplicity's sake, let's call it Martin Luther King Day weekend, over which we became a couple some eighteen years ago, and the point when, 2½ years ago, it became clear that we no longer were one.

Scattered between these two poles are a host of other dates presenting varying degrees of danger: New Year's Eve (for sixteen of which we made sure we kissed at the stroke of midnight); Valentine's Day (dismissing it as a hollow, commercial event was a lot easier when I was in a relationship—as a divorcé, it smacks of sour grapes); Mother's and Father's Day (which can be doubly awkward depending on how the visitations fall); and any other holiday involving significant family gatherings (notably Thanksgiving and Christmas).

There are also less important dates that are still capable of tripping me up: an in-law's birthday, kept on the calendar for the children's sake, or that of a once-mutual friend who wound up in her column during the division of social assets. And then there are the ones that come completely out of the blue: distant acquaintances' and total strangers' weddings/anniversaries/birth announcements popping unexpected from my Twitter stream.

All of these dates are reminders of previous days spent together, as a couple, as a family, days now consigned to a past that increasingly feels like it belongs to someone else's life. They remind me that I once belonged to something bigger than myself, something that exists now only as wreckage: a failed marriage, a broken family, the shrapnel of ‘irreconcilable differences’.

Thus far, I have said almost nothing publicly about the reasons for our divorce, and I have no intention of elaborating on them now. What passed between us can remain between us. I have thought enough about ‘who's to blame’ to realize it is a futile and toxic line of thought. Sixteen years is plenty of time to amass grievances and accumulate regrets, to make second-guessable decisions and suffer from bad luck. On one level, I understand the many factors that contributed to the end of our marriage. Have I ‘accepted’ that ending? Have I ‘forgiven’ either of us for not being able to stave off that ending? No, and to be honest, it is still hard to imagine ever achieving that kind of equanimity. I try, however, to have faith in its possibility, and to work toward it.

In the meantime, I continue to tread as lightly as I can through the past's volatile debris and try to complete another circuit of the calendar more or less intact.