Saturday, January 18, 2014

Year 44

I don't really do New Year's Resolutions anymore. They're kind of a waste of time. I enjoy that on my demotivational calendar January 17 is the day when you're supposed to give up on your New Years Resolutions. When I decided to start losing weight nearly two years ago, it was in February, and not on January 1. But I do like the idea of a year in review and and to try and do a few aims. But since my birthday (which is now in its dying hours as I write this) is close enough to the start of the year, I do like the idea of looking back at the last year of my life, seeing how it was, and what plans I should make for the next circle around the sun.

So how was Year 43? Bit of a mixed bag. Not bad, just one significant hiccup that threw things off.

1. The highlight was certainly the trip to Sri Lanka, which I will remember to the end of my days. That was a great trip, I got to see a part of the world I never thought I would and, better still, got to see it with some of my best friends for a great occasion.

2. Got to go to a wedding in Sri Lanka and see the same guy get married again in Canada, but this time with a lot more friends around. I only see some of them every few years, so every occasion is a highlight, even if I tend to be depressed after I say my good-byes for several days.

3. The lowlight was certainly losing my job with a local organization that I though I would be spending years with, a loss that came out of the blue and not because I did anything wrong. I recovered from that, but I was deeply hurt by that action for a lot longer than I thought I would be.

4. But from that came another highlight, which was getting another job almost immediately that is the equal in virtually every way as the old one and better in many ways.

5. The weight loss was kind of a mixed bag. After making great strides in Year 42 and being able to lose 67 pounds, I flatlined for most of the year and then slipped in the fall, putting back on 12 pounds. I'm back at it and I've already lost three of those gained 12 pounds. I knew keeping the weight off was always going to be work, but I think I knew it intellectually. It required a slip to really physically hammer home the point.

And what did I learn?

1. See the above point about the weight loss.

2. I think I learned the value about not burning bridges. I have a former work colleague who had a saying I loved which was "I'll burn that bridge when I get to it." Not when I cross it. No. If that bridge was crossing the River Compromise, he would burn it, bomb it, launch missiles at it...rather than than doing something he disagreed with or dealing with people he didn't like or respect.

I have a certain admiration for the....purity, if not the practicality, of that belief system. Something happened a few years ago that I had every right to be upset by, but I didn't get mad about it, I didn't burn bridges over it because I knew who was to blame, and it wasn't the people giving me the bad news. They were good people having to deliver crap news to someone they liked. Hard to get mad over that. And that attitude paid off this year.

I'm not perfect at it...lord knows I was looking at the price of flamethrowers on the internet a few times and was set to light a few bridges on fire this year, but I tried to remain calm about it. Didn't work all the time, but I also didn't go thermonuclear, which I was certainly within my rights to do. So there's that.

3. I got a reminder of the value in friendship and loyalty. I learned to appreciate people who are willing to go through the wall for you because they think you're worth it. And if they think you're worth it, then perhaps when I'm being hardest on myself, it would be good to remember that others think I'm pretty ok. And really, why I should disagree with them on that, of all things?

3. I learned that I'm probably not going to be a writer. Still not 100% sure about that one, but there is a certain truthy feel to it. I'm quite fond of Tumblr, but more in a lurking sort of way. A lot of writers, both novelists and graphic novelists, that I like and respect, use it. And without fail the question they get the most is "How do I become a writer?"

The answers vary to degrees, but there is one constant...the good ones don't have a choice. They're driven by it, consumed by it. And if you're not, then it's probably not for you. There's no shame in that, but you have to recognize it. As always, Warren Ellis probably said it best. When asked what he does when he feels like giving up:

There is no such goddamn thing.  There is only getting up and doing it all over again, smarter and harder, until something ups and fucking kills you, because that’s the only thing big enough to stop you.This is The Great Work, and all you have to do is choose it, not look back and never fucking stop until you’re in your box, under the dirt and flowers are growing between your teeth.And that is why I’ll never be asked to do motivational speaking.  G’night.

I haven't felt that way in a very long time, if ever. I have a novel that's been 3/4 finished for seven years and simply can't find the will to go back and fix it. I have an excellent idea for a TV show that I simply haven't had the will to sit down and properly research and plot out. I have an idea for a second novel, but just can't find the right structure for it. I have this blog that I used to write for 300 times a year, and now can't be bothered to write a post about something so simple as the huge wind storm that hit us 10 days ago.

If I was a proper writer, I would do these things. But too many shiny things distract me. Plus, I like my comforts. So I don't know. I can write. I have the technical ability. I think when I put my mind to it and seriously work at it I'm not bad at it. But a Writer? Not so sure anymore.

4. Having said that, I increasingly learned the value of zen and trying to remain drama-free. Drama is just so goddamn exhausting and a waste of time. There was a time when I enjoyed a good drama and fight. Now all I can think is "I could be reading or do something useful instead of wasting time and brain power dealing with this foolishness." So here's to even less drama in Year 44.

So what's the plan for Year 44?

1. Better quality vacations. One of the sad realities with the change in job situation is that I no longer have as much time off (Nine weeks. sigh). So instead of long vacations, I think I just have to make sure they're awesome. If that means having to spend a bit more money to make them awesome, well, now that I don't have as much time off I have more money to spend on making them awesome. But yes, back to travelling. There's still so much of the world I want to see with Cathy.

2. Try and figure something out with the writing. As I said, I possess some skill, but so do a hell of a lot of people. I used to think being able to write was special. Everybody is online now and they're writing. Most of them are easily as good as I am, if not better. If I want to do this, what am I prepared to do?

3. Stick with the exercise, eating right and trying to stay healthy.

4. Drama-free. Ish.

5. Work on that whole "being a better husband" thing that Cathy seems to appreciate.

6. Try to be a better friend. I do miss and love those lunatics, even those bastards who call and sing me Happy Birthday like a funeral dirge and say I look great for 51 (ahahahaha, fuck you, Dups). But I hate phones and I suspect this might be the year where Facebook finally forces me to abandon it. So I need to do something.

7. And maybe try to get back into photography. We bought an Apple TV recently, and one of the features is that you can have photos scroll up the TV while music is playing. Seeing my pics that big reminded me that I used to be a pretty good photographer at one point. Just got out of the habit. Also, again, thanks to social media it seems like half the planet is a decent photographer.

8. Which reminds me, I have 10,000+ photos on my hard drive, in barely any kind of organization. I need to get them organized and delete the obviously crap one.

9. Keep building my Geek Room without shame. It is awesome and makes me happy.

10. And, you know, just try to keep being happy overall. It's not a bad life. Certainly not the one I would have predicted 20 years ago when I was gearing up to leave MUN and head to journalism school. But it's still a pretty good one. So when I'm feeling homicidal and frustrated, a deep breath and a mental reminder that I have it pretty good is a useful thing to remember.

Last Five
1. Where do you get off - Ron Hynes
2. Murder in the Southlands - Jenny Gear and the Whiskey Kittens*
3. Honeybear - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
4. Look after you - The Fray
5. Your algebra - The Shins


Matt, Kara, Hunter and Cavan said...

Nice year in review and great plans this year!

John, Canberra AU said...

You're always talking about how you've changed. I'll bet that's why you can't go back to your old novel ideas. You've changed too much. You probably couldn't continue them even if you wanted to, the "you" that worked on them is gone.

So start from scratch. Write what you know, which is different from what you knew. Your writing passion is in the present with you, not in the past with your old ideas. Stop looking so far for it, and I'm sure you'll find it again.

Best wishes in Year 44.

Hallett said...

I gave up on my blog ages ago, like everyone else. The fact that you still bother now and again is commendable.

I wonder if there is not a 1st person travelish narrative non-fiction book in you? 'Unlikely guy moves to strange place and comes to love it' is a staple of travel literature, but I don't think I've ever read one about moving to the Arctic.