Monday, January 5, 2009

Hello 2009

It's a new year and I know, I know: I haven't been blogging much, but there has been a lot going on. It puzzles me why I cannot seem to blog when I am doing so much - even short updates - anymore. I remember a time when I posted on Livejournal daily, but I suppose since this is a much more public forum (my Livejournal was open to friends-only), I feel the need to tone down any personal stuff, venting and such. Equally, I also feel the need to write something that might incite new readers to continue reading.

I've been looking forward to a new year and also reflecting back on this year. All in all, I feel like it's been pretty good - not always perfect and often at my lowest is when I find myself writing, so I probably come off much less hopeful than I really am. I need to stop that and write more when I am feeling joy. Keeping with that idea, I offer my top five highlights of this year (not in any real order). I wanted to do a top ten, but as many great things as there were to rave about this year not all of them were as life-enhancing as I felt they needed to be to make that list. Without further ado:

1. Our trip to Tennessee: despite the narrow roads, steep hills and visions of fiery crashes, despite being attacked by a swarm of yellow-jackets and having to do what the majority wanted to do (as I had no way to get around otherwise) and despite the lack of a good night's sleep I got that whole week...wait, what I saying? Oh right. The Great Smokies were totally worth it - if only for Gatlinburg's resort-town feel, Dollywood, hiking the Sugarland nature trail and the amazing cabin. But I don't think that was all there was to it. I feel like I learned a little about me and what I need to be happy. It's not all good, but it's nothing to be ashamed of. I think that, mostly, it was a successful trip.

2. Speaking of things I surprised myself with being able to do this year, one of the big ones was our canoing trip in Rockford. The water was shallow, but it was still scary for me. I don't know why I was so afraid - if I fell out of the boat, I was unlikely to be terribly injured. Yet it was still terrifying for me. I did it anyway, though.

3. Pride month this year - it was just a good month. We attended Pridefest and a really cool reading down at Atmosphere in which the lights went out and left writer/performer/Neofuturist Sharon Greene reading the remainder of her story by the light of Bics, Zippos and the occasional cell phone. We even won a bottle of (probably cheap, but not terrible) wine via raffle. And of course, Women & Children First premiered their monthly series "Sappho's Salon" that month and we got to hear Shoes for Mabel play before they were Shoes for Mabel. All in all, a really great month.

4. Moving back to Chicago from the 'burbs. Period. Just a really good thing all around.

5. Participating in NANOWRIMO (gushing shall commence after these messages).

Honorable mentions: seeing Rilo Kiley in concert, seeing the play Fake Lake at the Welles Park pool. I'm sure there are more but they just aren't coming to me right now.

Among the things I've been thinking about, there is me trying to decide what I want this next year to look like for myself. I know I want to finish paying off my main debt (the one keeping me from furthering my education more) and start working toward another degree to get me where I want to be. And further, I know that I want to send out both my books to agents - while the second still needs a great deal of work done, the first may be at a point where I cannot take it further alone. On staff day, I mentioned this to one of my supervisors - the problem with my getting discouraged every time I look at it to tweak and edit it - and he said that at some point, you have to throw up your hands and decide you've done what you can and hope it's good enough for an editor to help with. To a degree, I think that may be true. I think I am going to have to just change the ending like I want it, write a proposal and get it out there. Then I'll just see what happens.

Besides these two "resolutions" for the new year - which are, of course, the biggies - I have some strong / smaller resolutions:

I know I want to be healthier in diet and exercise. I tend to worry more and more about my health lately - the fact that I tend to reach for the most convenient food in my busy day often means I eat much less healthy during the week, snacking on junk food. This is not only bad for my health in the long run, but it's bad for the digestive problems I have now. So in the new year, I want to cook more and prepare things that are healthy and filling to take to work with me.

The other thing that's been on my mind a lot is that I need a life outside work and relationship. In the new year I would like to be more social. I'm taking baby steps but it's important for me not to isolate myself so much anymore.

These have become goals due to the great deal of contemplation and several hours of conversations in therapy that I have dedicated to them. The social life goal has become more important to me than before because of the fact that (a) when I manage to talk to people I like and enjoy talking to, I feel happier (to an extent, of course) and (b) because it's come to my attention that I may lose what friends I have or never manage to become friends with current or future acquaintances if I don't stop avoiding social situations, no matter how scary.

These are not new epiphanies. I've known a portion of these things for...a long time. But as often happens when I get comfortable, I tend to ignore the reasons.

Honorable mentions for highlights of the year would probably include times that I've been out and somewhat more social. An update on some things I've done since that last post at November's end:

Clearly, I did Nanowrimo which was all about living in the moment itself. I cannot tell you how thankful I am that I participated. It was an eye-opening experience and I'd recommend it to anyone. While I initially just liked the idea of completing another book in so short a time period, it became much more than that. For one thing, the fact that editing while I was writing would have tripped me up in my progress, looking back was not an option. I just had to keep going, getting the story I wanted to tell out and worry about editing later. It's something that many books on writing will tell you that you should do, but it's a hard rule to follow. With NANOWRIMO, I had to follow it if I wanted to finish in the limited time I had. This was not just great for my writing but great for my life in general. The rules of writing became a metaphor for my life, too - the idea that looking back can trip up the story I'm living as well as the one I was writing came to me amidst the insanity of trying to write 2000 words every single day.

And of course, the experience let me know what I could do.

Once November ended, other things began to fill my time and I know I still need to get back to writing. But the last month has been nice, full of outings and events.

Staff Day at the library is something I look forward to yearly; last year was really cool but this year was nice, too. No Wii games, but just a whole day of hanging out at the library and spending time with a bunch of coworkers whose company I really enjoy. That was December 12th.

Kathy and I have also recently been to a couple of Neofuturist anniversary shows in December. It's something they do annually before they take a two week or so vacation from performing. We also attended The Very Neofuturist Christmas Carol, which was just brilliant. "Too Much Light..." is always fun, but I think their other shows are the best thing about frequenting the Neofuturarium. Their version of "A Christmas Carol" was more of a reflection of the way the story runs parallel to real lives and not a retelling of the story itself. Our NYE plans were also at the Neofuturarium. We attended their NYE party and performance of TMLMTBGB.

We've spent a lot of time in Andersonville lately, actually - we did most of our Christmas shopping there. The people at Kopi recognize us on the street now, too. It's pretty funny.

Christmas was nice. We actually celebrated Christmas Eve at Kathy's uncle's place, where we had dinner and exchanged gifts. Christmas Day it was just those of us who live here and Kathy's visiting cousin and we had dinner, then played board & card games.

I got a lot of really nice treats and treasures from everyone. My sister sent me a couple of hoodies, a Barnes & Noble gift card and a coffee mug with sample packs of coffee. Kathy gave me Mamma Mia! on DVD, exquisite chocolates from Bon Bon on Clark St., a wooden bookmark with Celtic designs. Her aunt gave me a gift card to Lush (woohoo!) and Kathy's brother and sister-in-law gave me this book, which is really cool. Her mom gave me great mittens (and Play-Doh and M&Ms - heh).

It's hard to think of everything, but that's most of what we've been doing. In our downtime, we're always watching stuff, cleaning, making plans. Next weekend we're going to trivia night at St. Ed's again with Kathy's aunt and uncle. Last year our team won the prize - I can't remember how much it was now, but we split it amongst ourselves. We have the same people on our team this year, so we hope to do as well.

And that's what the last month has been like and I guess that makes this a pretty full update. Here's to posting more often and enjoying another good (or even, maybe, great) year in 2009!

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