I am hyper-aware that new year’s resolutions don’t work. Still, each year, as resolutions are bandied about on Facebook and people profess to change, I usually throw out a few ideas and see if anything will stick, like, “eat more fruits and vegetables, but mostly vegetables.” This one has worked. It’s a bit intangible, but over the years, I have increasingly, slowly, but steadily, added more vegetables to my diet.
I’ve also used resolutions to cut sugar out of my diet with some success. Over the past few years, I’ve eaten less sugar than ever before. Sugar is sort of a problem for me. I have a massive sweet tooth and little self control. So, in order to cut back on sweets, I’ve had to implement strict rules. For example, I’ll set a goal to go a month without eating any sweets, with a few exceptions–like honey in my tea and a daily square of good, dark chocolate. I also have a rule of eating sweets if life hands me a sweet. For example, if I’m at a wedding, I’ll have a slice of cake, etc.
This year, I’ve felt incredibly warm and reflective about the closing of one year and the beginning of the next. In the past, a year was such an incredibly long time that I really couldn’t conceive of doing something for the entire period. This year–and I think this had changed with age–I have a better sense of a year. I also have more freedom than ever before, now that I’m not a student. So, I can really actively plan (and daydream) about the future and reflect on the past. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past few days, and I’ll probably keep it up for the next few days. And it’s been an incredibly enjoyable process.
The holidays were actually not bad. Sure, there were moments of stress and weirdness. But, mostly, they were good. I focused most of my energy on spending quality time with my nephew and that meant not really visiting other friends or family. Instead, my nephew and I snuggled, read books, colored together, went sledding, built a snowman, went sledding again, frosted sugar cookies, and basically had all of the compulsory Christmas vacation experiences. I was hoping to take my nephew on his first ski trip this year, but I got sick (again), and then Z got sick (again), and I lost one of my warm mittens for skiing, and we worried that the drive was too far, and so that basically just didn’t happen this year.
The view while enjoying a walk with my mom and her dog.
But, it was nice overall. In addition to trying to hug and kiss my nephew as much as possible, other highlights included baking in the kitchen with my mom, sitting around in the early morning and talking with her, and going for a long, brisk, incredibly clear morning walk on Christmas. Also, helping Dad feed cows and having a nice, long talk with him by the stove. And, going out to dinner with my brother. I also enjoyed spending time with my aunt and cousin and talking about the big things.
Now, I’m back in my own home, wandering around, putting away this Christmas gift and that. Missing my mom. Missing my nephew. Missing them all, and just generally thinking about the direction of my life.
For starters, I’m terrible at proofreading my own work. For example, there was a typo in the introduction of my dissertation for several months before someone finally pointed it out to me so that I could correct it before it was submitted. I had gone over it so many times. How could I have missed it?
I don’t go back and read my masters thesis or doctoral dissertation because I know there are typos. Of course there are! They were very long documents–the longest things I’d ever written. If I consistently find typos in my short Facebook status updates, then there are going to be errors in these much longer documents.
There are also errors in this blog. I can reread and reread and sometimes I just don’t see it. I’ll admit that I could do a lot more proofreading than I do. But, the purpose of this blog is to keep writing. When someone points out a typo on this blog, I sort of want to stop writing on here. It’s ridiculous, I know. But, that’s what it’s like to be a writer, or an artist of any kind, I think–to silence the criticism and just keep going.
There are so many ways in which people are told to shut up. There are extensive memes on social media about what *not* to do when posting an update. Nobody wants to be *that* person who is over sharing or being an nuisance. At the same time, if I followed every rule on those lists, I probably wouldn’t have much left to say. These memes silence people, and I hate that. I also dislike when people are made fun of for their laugh, their singing ability, or their sneeze. These are natural vocalizations, and they are unique and individual, and they should be celebrated and accepted and not stifled.
I’m a writer by nature. I’ll keep writing here and elsewhere because that’s what I do. Trust me, there are many voices in my head that are way too critical and make me want to stop, and there are outside influences that make me want to stop writing too. But, in the end, I have to keep writing, even in the face of criticism and uncertainty.
I recently finished another book by David Sedaris, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. As with all of his books, this one was well worth the read. I found myself having deep feelings of gratitude for the author as I laughed, and was moved by, his prose.
My favorite stories are the ones where he pokes fun at himself. I love the stories of his childhood. “Loggerheads” is wonderfully cringe-worthy and funny and sad. I love the stories of his early adulthood. For me, “Stand Still” covered the well-worn territory of parental expectations, masculinity vs. humanism, and adulthood vs. pettiness. I love the stories of his life now. His story “Rubbish” tackles the fine line between being a good human and the deep relationship with neuroses that such an endeavor might inspire.
Though I’m on board with his politics, the overtly political pieces were funny, yes, but less engaging on all counts. Still, it’s funny. And smart. And absolutely worth reading. Framed differently, perhaps in first person and expertly woven with his own life, they might be even better.
As I mentioned earlier, I had a strong feeling of gratitude as I read. I frequently hear stories of people “thanking” their favorite artists for their work. Sedaris is one whom I want to thank, and this sense of gratitude was with me throughout the entire book.
Last week was *difficult* on the relationship front. When we argue, Z and I always have some variation of the same argument. We both fall into bad habits: me bating him with probing questions about our relationship and he answering defensively.
It’s been my experience in relationships that a couple always has the same fight over and over again. Each relationship has it’s unique fight. (To be clear, these aren’t screamy fights ((I don’t really do those)), but they are disagreements, conflict, etc.) In my last relationship, it was a chronic lack of insensitivity. Frustratingly, we each continually hurt each other’s feels over and over again without realizing it.
When Z and I dated the first time, our argument was concern over compatibility. This time around, it’s pretty much the same argument. The odd thing is that I think we would both say that we’re really, really compatible. We are in love and share most of the same values. There are a few tangential points where we disagree. For the most part those feel minor–unless, of course, we’re arguing–in which those minor differences seem more…significant.
Because we get along smashingly 99% of the time, we both recognize that if we could just figure out how to have our one argument in a positive and productive way, or even figure out how to stop having it altogether, this relationship would be pretty much perfect. And, having to look at such a perfect couple would make you all want to puke. So, we probably won’t do that to you, dear reader, but we might get some good old-fashioned counseling to helps us navigate our relationship.
P.S. If I had my druthers, I would see one of those NYC-style psychoanalysts circa a 1970s era Woody Allen movie twice a month for the rest of my life.