Chris Zombik


This is a now page inspired by Derek Sivers and others. I made it so that instead of reading my posts on social media you can read this page instead.

Last updated April 29, 2024.


I took an epic road trip with some college friends to view the eclipse. In an effort to maximize our chances of clear weather we made the unintuitive decision to drive from NYC to Dallas, stopping in D.C., Nashville, and New Orleans on the way.

New Orleans (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️) in particular is a stunning place, for the simple reason that the city is built for twice as many people as currently live there—as I learned, the population fell by fully 50% after Katrina and hasn’t recovered. It’s such a unique, weird place, nothing like anywhere else I’ve been in America. If I was more impulsive I would move there tomorrow.

On the morning of the eclipse, it was utterly overcast with clouds in the forecast all day. We stumbled sullenly to the park with our picnic in tow anyway, and about an hour before the eclipse began the sun poked through the clouds. It was basically perfectly clear by the time we reached totality (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️). A few hours later the clouds came back and it poured rain.

After the trip I took a separate jaunt down to Austin for a few days to see another friend. Austin (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️) is a heck of a place. The gleaming skyline very much reminds me of cities in China where all the skylines are basically new in the past 30 years, while the population seemed exclusively to comprise young attractive people wearing costly athleisure clothing or Airpods Pro Max. The Boston area is very tech-y and people here have a lot of money, but Austin basically felt like overflow parking for Silicon Valley—in the best possible way.

Texas in general was a pleasant surprise and gave me a lot to chew on as an ostensibly die-hard New Englander who looks down on “the South.”

Reflecting on this trip, I clearly see that spending all day every day with friends and having a mission from the moment I woke up was very mentally healthy. The challenge of returning home and resuming my usual habit of spending life stationary and alone on the computer has caused me to reflect on what exactly I’m even doing here.


We are now in the self-edit stage of the China memoir. It is harder than I expected, but much easier than creating a draft from nothing. For all its many difficulties, this project has been one of the most profound learning experiences of my life—not just in terms of the facts I learned about China, but in terms of the sheer experience of trying to understand in great detail the life story of someone totally different from myself, and faithfully tell that story in a voice that is at once my own and not my own at all. It’s not clear whether this has made me a better writer, but I feel confident it has made me a better human.

I finally finished compiling all the notes I created while drafting my novel and integrating them together with the notes from my editor so that I have more or less a clear and organized plan of attack for the upcoming self-edit. I am now returning to working directly the manuscript again for the first time in just over a year. This is very exciting and scary and awesome.

As in prior years I am working with a few Chinese and Chinese-emigrant students on college and grad school admissions essays. A year ago I was certain I wanted to quit this line of work. Now, I’ve made a lot of improvements to my workflow that have made the job less cumbersome and more rewarding, and I feel really grateful that I have such a flexible and satisfying gig to support my lifestyle and creative work.


Currently I’m reading The Name of the Rose. Though I’m only on the Second Day, it is extremely hype. Anything with a Jorge Luis Borges stand-in character is 👍👍👍 in my book. I just wish I could read this in the original Italian.

Before this, I read Aurora (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️) by Kim Stanley Robinson. Red Mars and the related Mars Trilogy were utterly formative in my youth and I’m always stoked to dip back into the KSR-verse and see how he is refining his vision of a centuries-hence human-colonized Solar System over time. Aurora is fascinating because it starts out pretty much exactly like Red Mars, then becomes something else entirely, then becomes something else entirely AGAIN, and then, just when you think it’s over, becomes SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY YET ONE MORE TIME. I’ve read a bunch of KSR and this is easily my favorite since 2312, and IMO his most compelling work since the Mars Trilogy itself. This is exactly what I want from my sci-fi—an obsession with real human problems that just happens to be facilitated by some futuristic tech.

A couple months back I read Hard Rain Falling (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️) by Don Carpenter, and if that book isn’t the embodiment of the great American novel I don’t know what is. I can’t even describe it to you. Just read it. It’s fairly short, extremely satisfying, and the prose goes down reeeeeal smooth.

Prior to that, I finished Menewood by Nicola Griffith. Hild, (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️) to which this is a sequel, might be the single most amazing book I’ve ever read. Menewood (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️) did not quite hit those same highs for me, though Griffith certainly swung for the fences. The world and its people were just as lively and beautifully rendered as in Hild, yet despite being 900+ pages the story felt rushed and rather like two books squished into one. Still worth a read, though.


Looking like it’s going to be a looooong season for my Boston Red Sox. At least the Bruins and Celtics are doing great.

I had honestly forgotten about Rick and Morty but realized Season 7 (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐) was out and started watching and… holy shit? It’s really great—like, the best the show has been in almost a decade. I think this is a beautiful case of going into something with no expectations and being very pleasantly surprised.

I really want to watch Shogun and Fallout and haven’t found time for either. If I do I’ll certainly let you know.

Oh, and I saw Dune: Part Two and it’s the best movie ever made.


There are too many good podcasts. I listen to as many as I can handle, usually resulting in headaches. To mitigate the headaches, I have been spending more time listening to music. But there are too many songs, I dislike most of them, and choosing the right song to listen to gives me anxiety, so I’m getting to the point where I think I’m just going to start doing more things in silence.


I tried Dark Souls 3 and got like halfway through and gave up because it was too frustrating. Now I’m doing a second playthrough of Elden Ring, aiming to make enough progress that I can jump into the DLC when it drops in June. But god damn is Elden Ring easier and more fun than DS3.

Somehow I am now running two D&D campaigns. My longer-running game is a homebrew 5E campaign called Castle Zania which is just a straight-ahead “Solve the mystery of this cursed castle” adventure. My newer game is called Cascadia Trail and has a pioneer/Western theme with an open-ended story in a vast world. You’ll just have to trust me when I say the accents are hysterical.

Each game has a party of three plus myself as DM. Four players feels to me like the magic number for D&D. You lose some of the chaotic fun of a bigger group, but the game just runs so smoothly. More importantly, each individual player gets the chance to make a bigger impact and consequently feel more awesome.