If you are a longtime reader of my blog, you know that this post always follows the same format, but this year I want to add a preface.
2005 was the worst year of my life. The. Worst. I would not wish my 2005 on anyone, not child molesters nor dogfight breeders nor E.L. James nor anyone else, ever. Simple math will tell you how many years have passed between then and now; 2015 has special significance to me, because it feels, finally, as if I have well and truly left 2005 behind. Its horribleness still informs how I live, because debt lasts a hell of a lot longer than you think it will and some wounds between people cannot be healed. But I hope a lot of today's informing has to do with wisdom, rather than bitterness or plain old suffering. Few of 2005's shockwaves are still rattling my life, and those noises are small. It is a year that still matters to me, but this year it's closer than ever to mattering in a good way.
So. Let's get down to business.
Every year, I post last year's New Year's resolutions with a short analysis of how well I think I succeeded at them, and then I post this year's. So, here are last year's (in greater detail here):
1. Remember how good accomplishment feels. Pretty significant fail. I still like eating goat cheese out of the wrapper on the couch in front of MST3K. I didn't remember this feeling very well at all. I'm in danger of disciplinary action, honestly.
2. Watch less MST3K. Oh my God, such a fail. I watched more than last year. Matt does not understand this resolution, because he cares less than anyone I've ever met whether his/our habits are "normal." I'm trying to come around, but I think I watch too much MST and that's all there is to it. Oh, well, maybe another year.
3. Fucking revise Highbinder already. Yay, success. But I don't think I really learned the lesson that was in this resolution, i.e. don't procrastinate something for a year just because you're unsure or frustrated. I hope to not do that in the future, but I suspect it'll be case-by-case.
4. Go on at least one adventure. Fail. :( The opportunity didn't present itself. Early in the year, I didn't know anyone I felt comfortable enough to ask to go on an adventure with me; later in the year, the timing never felt right; and money was a big problem this year. I hope I can go on an adventure in 2015, but now that I'm back to office work, outlook not so good.
5. Adjust expectations about writing projects. Success. I was blocked a lot this year, but I learned to avoid meltdowns, relax about being blocked, and know that the work would start again if I did the right things. I also learned to talk less about being blocked, because the more I agonized publicly, the less motivated I felt to get back to work.
6. Balance more toward writing than submitting. Success, I think. I don't have statistics, but it felt like I wrote a fuck of a lot this year and submitted only some.
7. Get better at setting boundaries. Success? I wasn't tested much on boundaries this year, and when I was, I think I did okay. A few times I had the opportunity to put into practice a resolution from 2013 about friendships. I phrased it as "roll with the punches better" and didn't go into much more detail, but in my mind it was about detaching from how people treat me, just being more chill about whether people are as committed to friendships with me as I am to them. It was about behavior (theirs) and disappointment (mine). Is this too vague? The point is, I had a LOT of uncertainty this year about whether other people gave a damn about me, per how they acted (or didn't), and I was able to let go of it pretty well. This issue seems like it's a cousin to boundaries, which is why I'm talking about it at all.
8. Re: school, slow and steady wins the race. Probably the most successful resolution on this list. I could have pushed things a lot harder this fall to get going on a graduate degree, and I didn't, and I'm so grateful I followed this guideline. I'm not sure how it's going to apply in the coming year, as there's a lot of frustration about this specific issue going into the spring semester, but for 2014, it worked out.
2015's resolutions came hard to me. I wanted to give myself a pass this year because of the 2005 thing, i.e. make the single resolution "Enjoy the fact that 2015 is not 2005" and let it go at that. But everyone can use a little improvement, and anyway my resolutions are generally things to think about rather than firm rules for change.
1. Your life is messy. Stop trying to neaten it for explanation or consumption. In general, I like to organize and be organized, but much about the way I live resists organization, so letting the proverbial papers scatter together instead of sitting in neat stacks may help me worry less about who I am and how I come across.
This blog is a great example of this problem. I try hard to make this blog as much about writing as I can, to keep it from sprawling all over like my anonymous blog did. Single-topic blogs get more readers than general-focus blogs unless the person is already famous, and I'm always hoping to add more readers. But the posts that are just about my life are no less popular than the ones specifically about writing (sometimes more so), and I think that means loosening the reins a bit will not hurt me. (My vision for this blog doesn't seem to be coming true, anyway, three years in.)
2. Cut back on complaint by 30%. In my early 20s, I got so sick of hearing myself complain that I stopped cold turkey. Just shut off my mouth when a complaint began to come out of it, even if it weirded people out that I stopped speaking midsentence. I discovered in quitting that constant complaint really is a tiresome way to go through life - I was far better off without it, not to mention more attractive to other humans - but over the past decade it's crept back in, and now I complain on a daily basis. I surround my complaints with apologies, but I still speak them, and I need to take them back a notch.
3. Make a serious start on the wikibook. 20,000 words at least. Preferably a decent draft of the first half, most preferably plotting and character sketches done on the second half.
4. Cook. For stretches of months at a time, since we moved to California, I've just bought pre-prepared meals from Trader Joe's and Fresh & Easy instead of planning a menu and buying groceries. Then I'll stop and actually cook for six months, and then I'll get tired of it and go back to pre-prepared. This sucks. A lot. (Budget-wise, the two options are pretty much the same.) I like cooking, with occasional loving and hating of it, and if I plan well enough, it doesn't have to be a strain on my personal resources, even though it feels like it will be when I'm in a phase of not cooking.
5. Stop constantly reviewing yourself. I spend so much time reading my own blog posts, looking at my own Facebook page, rereading my own critiques on other people's work, etc. So much time. I honestly don't know what I'm hoping to accomplish, but I'm pretty sure it's not just narcissism. I think it has something to do with making sure I come off well, making sure I appear consistent (yeesh, see #1), checking that I didn't miss anything, or looking for stuff I previously said or did that can loop in to whatever I'm saying or doing now - so if I repeat myself, it's intentional. 90% of this is wasted time and effort.
6. Read more poetry. The library doesn't have as ready a selection of poetry as it does fiction, but that's no excuse.
7. Maybe throw a party. I haven't hosted a party...um, ever in my adult life? I think? And in high school I didn't have a single birthday party, because my friends were too scattered in different social groups for me to feel good about inviting them all to a single place. I don't give a damn about that anymore (people will talk to each other if you get them together, I find), and I have a passel of interesting friends in L.A., so I want to have a party, but practical concerns have kept me from having one. I hope that changes this year.
Happy New Year, all. Triumph is ahead, along with tragedy - inevitably - but I hope you have more of the former than the latter. Oh, and remember, this is the year Marty McFly travels into the future/past to save us from Biff Tannen's version of Hill Valley. My advice to Marty for 2015 is not to let greed influence his actions. But I don't think he'll listen.