I’ve never been inclined to greet the new year with resolutions. I often greet it with reflections, but I reflect constantly—likely too much.
I realized that in my too-constant reflection, I can’t recall anyone ever saying they hope the next year will be even better than the great one they just had. Everyone hopes the next year will be better, but the sentiment that one couldn’t wait for the last year to be over with is awfully common.
It could be that I just know a lot of mopey people. But we all wonder how our lives would be if we’d made different choices. We may be buffeted around by circumstances beyond our control, but it’s the stuff that is in our control that haunts us. I didn’t have to take that job I hate. I didn’t have to invest in that stock that tanked. I didn’t have to move to that city. And sometimes we just have a lingering notion we’d be happier if we’d done something differently. We’d have more money. We’d have a significant other. We’d be living where we want, doing what we want.
I’m starting 2009 with no job in an economy that’s short on work for the time being, and—because I’ve worked nearly exclusively on internal company projects for years—no portfolio in a field whose prospective employers like to see them. Even with unemployment insurance, I don’t have the savings to last out a year of no income.
But 2008 was a pretty good year for me. It was my first full year up here in Foster City, and being in the middle of the Peninsula is pretty cool. I enjoyed my job and it paid well enough that I have the savings to ride out some unemployment without incurring much new debt. I’ve learned new technologies. I’ve started writing again. I’ve made headway—not a lot, but more than zero—in finally restarting Claw & Quill.
I don’t know what job I’ll get next. I don’t even know where; a year from now I may be still living here, or have moved back to Florida, or be somewhere entirely new. All I can do is be open to possibilities, and hope I make good choices.
I’m going to try to do a few simple things for myself, the kind on every New Year’s list. Get up earlier. Do exercise—just five minutes of aerobics in the morning when I get up noticeably helps my energy. Cut simple carbs out of my diet as much as possible. Eat more vegetables and less meat.
I’m going to set writing goals. In 2009, I want to finish the Gift of Fire rewrite. I want to write a new “Narrow Road” story (the first appeared in New Fables #2). I want to write a sequel to “Going Concerns,” a Ranea story that hasn’t appeared anywhere yet. (I want to publish “Concerns,” too.) I want to write at least two other short stories in addition to those. I’d like to update this journal at least weekly this year again. And while this is a different kind of writing, I want to have a version of Claw & Quill up and running sooner rather than later—the second quarter of 2009.
I want to cook more. My goal is to eat in five nights a week most weeks, and eat lunch in most days when I’m working at home (particularly while I remain unemployed). To some of you it’ll sound incredible I don’t do that already. To those of you also in the “eating out is easier than eating in” culture of urban areas, though, it’ll sound unduly ambitious.
I’m going to try to manage my “connected time” better—to break my cycle of overloading, hiding, returning, and overloading again. Ninety percent of this might just be setting the instant messenger to “away”—or “offline”—when I’m busy. I need to trust friends I talk to on IM to understand.
And I need to quietly disconnect from some people. People who seemingly spend all their time looking for things to be bitter and righteously angry about. People who are constantly offended by my (admittedly too dry) sense of humor. People who repeatedly piss over things they know I like because, apparently, that’s their sense of humor. The qualities that attracted me to these friends are still there, but they either wind me up tightly or sap me of energy far too often.
While I use symbolism in my stories sometimes, I don’t subscribe to them in real life often. But for some reason this morning I thought about what coffee mug to use: the whimsical “Pessimist’s Mug” (with a line that reads “this glass is now half-empty”) dracosphynx gave me, or the mug from “Xero,” tacit’s long-gone eclectic magazine, or one from a bed and breakfast my mother and I went to in New Mexico years ago. Instead, I chose a smaller, simple coffee cup, part of the dish set that I got when I first moved into my own apartment, when everything was about looking forward.
Have a good year.