Sunday, January 1, 2017

Resolute, 2016 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. Don't get dead. Success. I really like this resolution. I like living my life by it. It does good things for me.

2. Throw things away. Fail. As I write this I'm looking at piles of boxes I still haven't unpacked after moving in September. They're all things I saved in our storage space from our life before a one-bedroom apartment. There's a lot in here I could throw away, and I haven't. I feel pretty well-balanced about this problem in general, but when I look around I know there's more I could do.

3. Spending and saving are both okay, but balancing them is even better. Faaaaaail so bad. I like buying things and I bought way too many things this year, thanks in no small part to discovering Small Press Distribution.

4. Get off the internet. Fail. I wish I'd remembered this better.

5. Explore the middle. Big success, and it helped define my year. I got better at seeing the space in between black and white in myself and in others. I learned a lot about that space, what's valuable about it.

6. Try writing every day. (Key word: try.) Fail, but honestly, the failure was more useful than the success would have been. I tried writing every day for a couple of months, and it truly did not work for me. What I produced was mediocre. I started looking at it like a chore. So I learned that I am not the writing-every-day type, and this was my first real college try at doing it, so now I'm able to say, to people who insist that this is the only way writing gets done, no, it isn't. Without feeling a rush of shame that I haven't really attempted it.

7. Write it down. Big success. I'm always carrying a notebook from here on out. It was useful in a hundred ways I didn't expect, and excellent work came out of the notes I jotted down.

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 shared it with a different professor than I had in mind, and I shared it with different people than I had in mind, but I'd call this an altered success.
     Second level: take writing (or perhaps yoga) workshops all four seasons. Let's see: I took one in the spring, one in September, one in late November. I didn't take one during the summer. C+.
     Hardest level: teach a writing workshop. Success! So overall, this resolution is in the plus column.

Since mid-September, I have been behind. I haven't done things on deadline in any way. I've started things later than I should, and ended them much later. I've been sending birthday cards a week or a month late (but I have sent them, usually), I've been leaving the laundry for another week, I've been letting this or that lapse for just another couple of days. This has been true at work, school, and home. This resolution post is a perfect example; usually, after revisiting it throughout the year to see how I'm doing at my goals, I work on this post for the last couple of weeks of December, honing it, considering what I want for the next year, before setting it to post at 6 AM on January 1st. This one, I'm writing it mid-morning on New Year's Day.

I haven't given my resolutions much thought. My life has become so scattered, so much about choosing which thing is most urgent and leaving behind all the stuff that can wait, until it's a faint shape in the distant past, that I haven't been able to consider what's ahead in any but the most practical ways.

I'm sad about this. I don't want to be one of those busy-busy-busy people. This happened because too much demanded my attention at once in September and I just...never caught up. I hoped to do some genuine catching up over the days between Christmas and New Year's, but I caught an ugly cold and spent that time dozing and coughing and reading instead. Maybe throughout January, before school starts, or...maybe in May, after school's done. I hate to think it could take that long to feel settled again.

So, with that in mind, here's the best I can do on resolutions.

1. Stay calm. Nothing good happens when I get wound up and panicky. A lot of people I know are "staying angry" about the politics of the year ahead, but that brings out the worst in me, not the best.

2. Get off Facebook. No, really, I mean it. I think it's crossed over into doing me more harm than good, and it so often makes me deeply sad, and yes I miss a lot when I don't go on there but once or twice a day will do, not constant awareness. It's hampering me from keeping my own counsel and from saving my best thoughts for my work.

3. Stay a healthy distance from smug. Smug has done no one any good in 2016. I want nothing to do with it in 2017.

4. Go toward the crazy, weird, awesome, instinctual. I tried doing this a few times this year: when I included a personal story in my introduction to Mulholland Drive, when I wrote a serious academic paper about Star Wars, when I decided to go on and pen a feminist manifesto even though I didn't feel like I'd read enough. Every time I met with support and success. I think I'm ready to shake off convention and do it my way - I think I've learned enough and lived enough not to make a muff of it - and now I just need to close up the fear.

Four is a lot fewer than I usually have, but former resolutions have continued to serve me well: don't get dead, cut back on complaint, stop rereading yourself, listen instead of talking. Also, it's mid-morning on New Year's Day and I have a cold and this post has got to go in the can, so this is what I've got. 

No matter how you lived in 2016, I'm willing to bet you're ready for 2017, so seize it. Paint it red. Make it your own. I'll be on the couch, dozing and reading poetry until I'm better. Happy New Year.

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