Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Back to get me through December

I'm sure there are lots of songs written about the month of December.  I'm sure there are lots of songs written about any month of the year, or day of the week for that matter.  But I feel like every year, I keep coming back to Get Me Through December, sung by Alison Krauss.  It has such a beautiful melancholy ache to it.  But I've also been going through a Taylor Swift kick lately (for the past year, probably), and she also has a beautifully melancholy song - Back to December.  (Taylor, dear, if you're going to be inside in the snow like that, you should wear warmer clothes...)

I'm sick today, and it has my mood down.  I found myself craving a listen to a good melancholy song, and one of my absolute favorite melancholy songs is Whiskey Lullaby, which is probably the most serious I've ever seen Brad Paisley.  But that's beside the point.  Also, the music video only makes the song more depressing, but that is also beside the point.

I'm sick today, so this is going to be all over the place.  Protip: don't share silverware with sick people.

November was an interesting month.  I managed to write about 12,000 words of my NaNo novel, which isn't very close to the 50,000 that is required to win, but I don't really feel like I failed.  Why not?  Well, because I tried.  I got a lot done.  I still have a story that I love, it just isn't all written yet.  And also, Patrick Rothfuss.  And that's really all I have to say on that matter.

I remember back when I was in seventh grade (which was a remarkably long time ago), finding a quote: "many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends can leave footprints on your heart".  I had a thing back then for inspirational quotes.  Right now my feeling towards them, at least towards the short ones, is about the same as my feeling towards out of context Bible verses: they might temporarily comfort or chasten us, they ultimately provide little guidance about how to live our lives.  For that we need context.  Or blind, bumbling experience.

This line especially has been coming back to mind lately, and, as much as I loved it then, it's bothering me now.  Why?  Because it implies that the only people who shape who we are are the ones who really love us.  And, nevermind the poeticalness that's in my head right now, that's bullshit.  Almost everyone I know has been shaped by a painful situation in their past, be it a hurtful person or just tragic circumstances.  That's not necessarily a bad thing - painful circumstances can easily be what make us grow.  Hurtful people can teach us how to love.

It also upsets me the way this quote dismisses the effect that incidental people have on us.  The woman who sat next to me on the airplane, as I flew home to see my grandmother for the last time.  I wouldn't call her a true friend.  We talked for an hour and never spoke again.  I've occasionally considered reaching out to try to thank her for comforting me, but I don't even remember her name.

I was talking with a friend's dad recently, and something he said struck me: "life is too short to let people drive to the fringes of our lives with bad feelings".  There was context, of course, and in context it was guidance.  But I can't help but think now of the implication: everyone in our lives is important.  I don't want to say that everyone in our lives is here for a reason, because I'm not currently a fan of "everything happens for a reason".  However, the people around us have things to teach us, and the people around us are all people, just like us.  While cherishing them may be hurtful, the world is ultimately better off for the love we share.  (And because someone I know is dealing with a stalker right now, I'm going to insert a disclaimer that cherishing does not mean clinging, and it is sometimes more loving to let people go.)

As such, I'm giving myself a goal for December that is slightly wishy-washy (meaning it isn't very trackable) but is very important to me.  I want December to be about cherishing the people in my life - avoiding losing people to bad feelings, as it were.  I'm not sure what form that will take, but I'm going to go for it and see what happens.  I hope that some of you will too.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

To me, it isn't Halloween. It's the last day before November starts.

It's the last day of not writing a Novel.

People wear costumes to celebrate this day.  I am dressed as some sort of bohemian alien gypsy fairy thing.  It's pretty crazy.  But I'm pretty crazy.  Because November... what am I doing to myself?

I guess I did some things in October.  Mostly I started my job, and stopped doing other things as much. So I didn't read any of the adulting blog.  And I didn't manage to keep a journal going.  But I did do a lot of writing - I started writing a lot of letters.  And I have a lot more letters to write.  And I went to aerial circus twice, and am going tonight, so that's better than... not going.  (I found it incredibly difficult to be still awake at 8pm on Thursday my first two weeks of work).  So I did okay.

November has one goal: a 50,000 word novel.  I just also happened to sign up for a couple online classes, so I may not have time for anything this month.

The novel I will be writing is going to be The Mono Myth, about a girl who is rumored to have contracted mono and the social ramifications of this rumor.  The goals are to make it funny, actually have a plot of some form, and to not just write about my own life.  Also, to follow the monomyth obsessively.

If you want to read along with me, I'll be updating posting everything I write to this here Google Doc.  I even set it up so anyone can comment, so if you want tell me my writing is excellent or correct my run-on sentences or anything like that, you can do so in an easily accessible format and I'll have a nice and easy way to procrastinate on my writing when I don't quite want to write, because, face it, half of NaNoWriMo is how much you get done or don't get done when you're avoiding working on your novel.  At least in my experience.  (Woo, an 80 word sentence!)

That's all for now.  Happy Halloween, everyone, and happy writing to all my friends doing NaNo.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I guess its October now?

I think I always have this reaction to October.  Usually, it's like... wow, the first month of school went by quickly.  Now it's crazier, because I'm not in school... but I'm still having the same reaction to the new month.  My birthday?  I'm going to be 23?  But I still haven't figured out what to do with happy free confused and lonely at the same time!  (It's been kind of a Taylor Swift binge day.  Maybe later it'll be a Singing Bee binge day... maybe)

Anyways.  It's October.  Which means it's time for another one of these posts.  Maybe even time to actually do some things...

The only reason I'm a little apathetic about that is because Septembers goals feel a little forgotten right now.  This is probably because I spent the better part of the last week and a half out of town and therefore haven't done any work on most of them in that time period, but ... hey.

  1. Job!  I have one!  So that part succeeded.
  2. Sustainability blog!  It's started.  Only one post so far, and still needs a lot of work in the design department, but it's been made. for those of you who are interested.
  3. Coding!  I did a little bit.  I'm working my way through Google's Android Development tutorial right now.  I also just found an open-source app that I want to modify to do something relevant to me (it's currently an app that counts how many times you've skipped each class, I want to turn it into something useful for counting knitting rows).
  4. Reading!  I wanted to dig into my increasingly large stack of Economist and Scientific American Mind magazines, and my books.  I read one book that wasn't on the list at the start of September, and I finished a handful of Economists, but thanks to traveling, I'm behind again.  Whoops.
  5. Turning off the technology?  That was going really well until yesterday.  I think I can keep it up.
  6. Calling people?  Oh... right... I did get on the phone with a couple people, but didn't make a huge effort.
Maybe my birthday reminded me.  Maybe it was just time.  But over the past few days I've realized... this all sounds cliche, but I'm needing to step into adulthood, and really take care of myself, and maybe spend some time getting to know myself, and all that kind of stuff.  Fun stuff, right?  Ironically, the series at the young adults group right now is titled "Arrested Development" and is about... knowing and overcoming how your past affects your current and future self.

  1. Being an adult: so far, all 3 posts I've read at have been really good. I'm going to try to read more of them.
  2. Take care of myself: I think it's time to go back to Aerial Circus, since paddleboarding season seems to be over.  And go back to meditating.  And put a little effort into eating a little better.  But mostly circus.
  3. Get to know myself: I've always found the best way to process thoughts is journaling.  But if I just write, it usually just ends up a chronicle of my day - the "happy things" journal, while fantastic, was no exception.  What I want to do is more actual writing.  The kind of writing that I've seen on my own blog at times (I actually surprised myself, re-reading some of the things I've written on here.  I should write more often!)  So I've looked up some journal prompts and am going to try to write about one of them every day.  Ask some questions.  Answer them.  Maybe while I'm at it, take some questions from church or TED talks or books I'm reading as well.  Just get to writing about more than just what's happening in my life.  It should be helpful, and it should also be great practice for when NaNoWriMo comes around next month.  That's right.  I know what I'm doing in November already.  That one... that one will be fun.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

September Challenge

I was all ready to write this post up on the last day of August (nevermind even the first of September, I was so on top of things) and then this happened.  Not literally that, and that isn't really all that happened over the past few days, but I definitely spent all my computer time for a couple days reading through that entire webcomic.  While I love my roommate for sending this to me, I also... wouldn't mind getting my last few days back.

So... a few days late...

August's sugar reduction went okay.  I feel like I didn't actually make much effort aside from occasionally deciding not to have dessert... but I don't really want to do extreme diet changes until I'm living on my own and cooking for myself.

September is going to be a little crazier.  Feel free to tell me I'm overdoing it...
  1. Main goal for September is to get a job.  Not much needs saying there.  I'm ready to start my career, and I feel like now is a good time to really focus on that.
  2. Relevant to getting a job - I want to finally get my sustainability blog up and running this month.  Right now it exists, but nothing is written yet.  Hopefully I can spend some time changing that.  (You'll be able to find it at
  3. Also related to finding a job, but less so... I want to restore my CS confidence, and I know the only way to do that is by actually coding... so I'm going to try to take a little time each day to work on coding.  (This is my only concrete goal that I can actually say "yes, I did exactly that" about.)
The other half of my goals seem to be more focused on slowing down.  Which I guess is good, considering the first three will be mental effort enough.
  1. Reading!  My to-read pile is really insane right now (like... really...).  4 books, and that's just the books I actually have in my possession.  Also, several months worth of Economist magazines and a few other random things.  I'd like to chip away at that a bunch.  I also discovered on Sunday how nice it is to sit down and read the Sunday paper... on Sunday.  Instead of stretching it out all week.  So hopefully I can do that more often and that will help cut down on how much reading material I have left.  I'd like to take a little time each day to spend just reading, and maybe try to get through a book or two and bunch of the magazines over the course of the month.
  2. One way to help accomplish this will be turning off the technology.  I'm phrasing it exactly like that for a reason - I don't want to say "disconnect more" or "try not to be so obsessive about interacting with my computer" or whatever because usual ways of phrasing it focus on *not* doing something bad... and that just leads to failing to break a bad habit and feeling guilty about it.  However, having spent a week on Mt. Hood with only limited technological interaction at the same time that tech columnist Monica Guzman was taking a week off from technology altogether, I found my experience was a lot like hers - refreshing.  I also realized after the fact that the easiest way for me to avoid interacting with technology is the same as hers - by turning it off.  So instead of saying "less technology" I'm saying "turn off the computer when I'm done with it" and giving myself the chance to think twice before turning it back on.  New additional goal for this month: turning off my phone's internet connection a little earlier in the evening than I usually do, and replacing that last (generally fruitless) Facebook and email check with more reading.
  3. Finally, my favorite of the month's goals: calling people.  After my week on Mt. Hood truly connecting deeply with people, I realized that I miss the days when friends and I would call each other... to chat... without warning, and end up talking on the phone for a couple hours about whatever.  It seems like the only time random phone calls happen now is when we're really desperate for someone to talk to, and I don't want my friendships to be like that.  Also, I read recently in The Economist that a new study is out correlating Facebook use with dissatisfaction with life and person-to-person or telephone interaction with positive life satisfaction.  They didn't look into the correlation between facebook use and other kinds of interaction, but my guess is that this is partly because facebook and texting tend to replace other kinds of interaction (at least for me, they do).  Oh, and a bunch of other things happened too to make me realize this was a good idea.  Basically, this month I'm going to try to call people, just to chat.  I'm also going to make myself be open to phone calls, so... if you want to chat, call me.  If you don't have my phone number... I assume everyone reading this knows me and knows some method of getting a hold of me, so feel free to ask.  I'll try to answer anytime, but if not, just leave a message (or text me to call back) and I will call back as soon as I can.
Whew.  That's all.  If you actually read all that... thank you.  I hope it was worth it.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Not-So-Sweet August Challenge

So apparently I can't tell the difference between my two blogs.  They both have food names.  I spent a little longer than I should have trying to figure out which blog to post this on.  (And hopefully by the end of August I'll have a third going... so that'll make things even more interesting).


July went well.  I stopped walking in my hiking boots after I went camping and found them to be fairly well broken in.  That might be cheating, but... oh well.

I also haven't actually written anything in my happy journal in about a week (work is busy and I'm wiped out by the time I go to bed each night) but I feel like the process of the journal did really help improve my mood.  So I may try to keep it up.

For August, I'm going kind of on a whim.  I keep thinking I want to do something food-related, and I also keep thinking that I consume too much sugar.  That in mind, in August I'm going to be trying to cut sugar.  I'm not saying "no sugar" because... I'm not that committed.  But at least no sugar in my Cheerios in the morning.  And at least trying to find something else to eat when I'm in that mode of needing a snack.  So I guess no cinnamon toast for the month either.

We'll see how this goes...