Friday, January 1, 2016

Resolute, 2015 Edition

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. Your life is messy. Stop trying to neaten it for explanation or consumption. The most successful of these resolutions. I posted whatever I wanted on Facebook. I made Yes videos with no consistency. I told people about the jobs I've had without worry that they might not believe me (because I've had a lot of weird jobs). I left the apartment a total disaster for weeks at a time. I really leaned into the messy life. This made me happy. And I think it was one of my great lessons for 2015: that nothing terrible happens when you admit your life is messy. Instead, the pressure lifts and you just are.

2. Cut back on complaint by 30%. Mmmm, not sure. I think I was more conscious of complaint in the first half of the year, but in the fall I lost awareness of it until I got tired of hearing myself complain about school, at which point I remembered this resolution and did better at shutting up. But...yeah, not accomplished ideally.

3. Make a serious start on the wikibook. No. Not in the least. In fact, I fell into kind of a significant illness because of the failure to do this. So it's OK with me that I did not fulfill this resolution. I wrote some things this year, but I also lowered and altered my expectations about writing, so this one is kind of mu.

4. Cook. Partial fail, because of the theory class that consumed my life from September to November. We ate a lot of Trader Joe's food this fall. But I cooked (a lot) for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I'm pretty sure I cooked the vast majority of the year's meals.

5. Stop constantly reviewing yourself. Fail. Fail fail fail. I noticed the habit a lot more, and it's astonishing how much time I waste doing this. I need to figure out how to stop.

6. Read more poetry. Fail. I have no excuse and no explanation. I don't know enough poets IRL, so I get a lot fewer recommendations for poetry than for novels. But still. Shame on me.

7. Maybe throw a party. Fail. I'll lean on the depression and the theory class as excuses. I could not have managed the party I wanted to throw in late October, not at all, but I wish I could've.

To be perfectly clear: there is no negative judgment in the word "fail" above. Just an assessment of whether I did these things or not. Objectively, I mostly did not. That's okay, because 2015 was not a normal year.

In the past, my resolutions have [unintentionally?] set the tone for the year. A lot of what I learn and go through - my interior life - tends to have something to do with what I planned to fix or meditate upon over the course of that year. In 2015, that was not true at all. I had to form all-new philosophies about friendship, feminism, education, my father, my future, love, the word deserve, yes and no, and power. I asked what am I meant to do more times this year than I have since I was a teenager. I coped with what amounts to a death in my immediate family. I cried and I despaired and I lost my way in a very dark forest, and I came through it convinced of the core of steel that's within me, and none of that had anything to do with these resolutions.

There was also greater joy than I can possibly communicate. There was bigger love, with more unconditionality, than I knew existed. There was writing, communion on the page, so deep that the ocean blushed. There was adventure and there was generosity and there was a goddamn new Star Wars movie.

I have no idea what's ahead in 2016. I almost don't want to make a list of things to fix or meditate upon, because the prior year's turned out so irrelevant that I'm afraid I'll look through this year's list in December and say wrong again, Kat. (Again, no judgment, but it would be nice if the list was helpful.)

Then again, I love making these resolutions. I love thinking of them as yearlong meditations rather than objectives to snap one's ruler on one's wrist about. So here are a few.

1. Don't get dead. I am revisiting an old resolution here, one that's served me really well. I quote it:
Keep reading. Keep watching movies. Keep going to operas. Keep writing notes to loved ones. Keep donating to Kickstarters. Keep going on dates with Matt. Keep loving California. Keep living. Don't get dead.
2. Throw things away. My pack-rattiness has started to creep back, three years after moving from a two-bedroom home into a wee one-bedroom apartment. There's too much stuff in here. I need to be more merciless about letting it go.

3. Spending and saving are both okay, but balancing them is even better. I've taken steps toward improved money management in the past year, and letting go of some of the feelings I have about money. But there's a long way to go. When to splurge and when to save, I still haven't mastered.

4. Get off the internet. Speaks for itself, I think.

5. Explore the middle. Something my therapist told me that I never previously realized is that I have a very black-and-white view of my own self. Not of other people - I'm quite willing to let others live in liminal spaces and be many things - but of myself. I either suck or I'm awesome. I'm overproductive or I'm hopelessly lazy. This goes for writing, too: I'm perplexed and frustrated by writing that's between fiction and nonfiction, because, in my mind, it's either true or not. The last thing I wrote for my workshop class lived in between, and I'm okay with that, and it amazes me to be okay with that. So I want to know more about the place in between extremes, how that place manifests in me.

6. Try writing every day. (Key word: try.) This semester I found myself once or twice having to write in half-hour chunks for a week or so in order to get going on a story before doing a marathon session on the subsequent weekend. I hated it, because writing for me is, as I've explained before, like getting immersed in another world. Going in there for such a short time But I started to feel this year as if writing was a mistress in another city. As if I only spent half or less of my time actually with her; time spent thinking about her, no matter how much, was hardly sufficient to maintain an actual relationship. So I want to try a half-hour every day, at least for a little while, and see what happens. It might turn into a half-hour every day except weekends, or a month of half-hours and then a month off, or something else. I don't know. I want to see what works, but I also want to get my volume of output up. I've finally learned my lesson about the virtue of producing a large volume of work and throwing most of it away, and the only thing to do with that lesson is to make more work.

7. Write it down. I lose so many ideas and observations by trying to hold them in my brain instead of putting them on paper. It's time to admit that my brain is not much better than a sieve and I need to start carrying a notebook. Like a beret-wearing Gauloises-smoking finger-popping beatnik. What's stopped me is the sense that most of what I write down will be stupid, or not actually helpful ("Oh, I don't need to write that down, I'll remember it / it's too petty"), but THIS IS WRONG and I need to really write things down, really. I lost what I remember as a pretty good idea only two nights ago because of this attitude.

8. A three-tiered goal resolution.

     First level: share some of the Ceremonials project either with my mentor professor or with a workshop class. I simply couldn't, this semester, but maybe next time.
     Second level: take writing (or perhaps yoga) workshops all four seasons. I have one for spring and one for fall, but that's two more to find, afford, and get to. One in June, one in December, ideally.
     Hardest level: teach a writing workshop. I have a good idea about what to teach, and I'm feeling like I'm ready to lead a room full of writers (or aspiring writers), but impostor syndrome is holding me back. What qualifications do I have to lead writing workshops? Who would come? Shouldn't I wait until I have my MA (in like 18 months, God willing)? Still, a little voice is whispering to me that I should try it and see what happens.

Doing all three of these would be amazing. But I won't beat myself up if I can't.

Happy New Year, everybody. Go fiercely into 2016. I trust you, so trust yourself. We're all hurtling through space at a million miles an hour, so really, what've you got to lose?

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