I was rather fond of writing that “8,” you know. The two little circles, one atop the other: very satisfying.
That being said, I’m not going to be too sad to see 2008 go. Yes, there were some good things. I am quite happy about the results of the Presidential election. I am happy to have graduated from my certification program with my sanity intact, and to have been fortunate enough to have found a job that I really rather like.* I am happy to have seen R graduate from college. There were good things in 2008, but the chain of bad things is heavy, and I’m more than ready to cast it off. To borrow from a friend who borrowed from a friend, farewell to two-thousand-hate, and hello to two-thousand-mine.
(As if to sum itself up, 2008 crowned the holidays with a particularly unpleasant moment. On Christmas evening, R and I hit black ice on the highway off-ramp, going between 30-40 MPH, and came pretty darn close to smashing right into a power pole. R steered into the skid on, I think, two wheels, which at least gave the impression that we were going to fly off the off-ramp and roll into the middle of the freeway. Fortunately, he’s a good poor-weather driver, and we ended up in our own lane without so much as a scratch. There is nothing quite like almost dying on Christmas with scads of hurt feelings all over the place to make you feel straight out of a Capra movie.)
I have been married for about four and a half years now. Pairing up with someone inevitably causes you to change a bit. You grow to meet your partner, and condense in other places, and – sometimes – reorganize yourself completely. (Not a good idea, the latter – that sort of things is rarely permanent, nor healthy.) Now that I have these years of perspective, I think I am ready to stretch some of those condensed bits back out. I’m reverting back to Me a bit.
For one thing, when R and I started dating (and I don’t specify “seriously dating” because we went from zero to serious) we were both underweight, a situation which rapidly began to change on a steady diet of happiness and restaurant food. I gained a LOT of weight. From my lowest weight in the pre-R days, to my highest weight in the R Era, there was a swing of about fifty pounds. I’d tried to lose some of it, with limited results, until I started teaching in earnest. Suddenly the pounds started to melt away, and now I’m getting close to my target weight without having ever really done anything except work my butt off with limited time to eat.* For the first time in probably two years, I like the way my face looks again. At one point I told myself, God, the Self-Worth Fairies, or whomever was listening that if I could just get back to the right weight, I would never ever let myself gain weight like that again. Here’s hoping I can keep that promise. I’m not going to resolve to keep it, but I’m going to hope.
Another part of myself that I am wanting to restore is the part of me that is a writer and a pianist. These things actually go hand-in-hand – pun probably intended. I credit my fast typing speed with hours of finger agility exercises before the piano keyboard, and the ivories have always helped me sort out my brain almost as well as a hot shower or short walk. I haven’t really studied piano in about a decade, and I haven’t really played in at least half that time. I’m r-u-s-t-y, and I miss it. My psyche misses it. I always said, “Who needs therapy when you have a piano?” and, well, maybe I need therapy these days. I need to get my piano fixed and I need to start playing again.
And I need to start writing. I do not know if I have what it takes to be a writer. I am good at writing, but not at being a writer – y’know? I don’t have a lot of willpower in that area. It’s like, I never learned to play guitar because I didn’t have a class or someone standing over me with a metaphorical whip. If I don’t have something making me write, I tend to put it off. But I have SO MANY STORIES in my head that want to come out. Bearing that in mind, I have started writing again. It’s a story – well, it’s a setting and concept – that has been bouncing around in my noggin for over nearly fifteen years, and it is unnerving to put it on paper. One big aspect of that is that it is SO familiar to me that I almost feel like I’m plagiarizing something. And, let’s be honest: it’s hardly groundbreaking fiction. I think I am skirting the edge of it being derivative, but it is certainly – at this point – fairly traditional fantasy. The important thing for me, though, is that I am writing it at all….
Three parts of me that changed: physical attributes, piano-playing, and writing. Underlying these is a common cause, I think. Before I began hanging out with R, I didn’t watch television. I was the kid with the “KILL YOUR TELEVISION” sticker on her dorm room door. R likes TV, though, and it wasn’t long before I was thoroughly addicted. Once, I could name one show that I liked, and it had been off the air for a couple years. Now, there’s a long list of shows I feel bereft without. This, I do not like. Yes, I’m more culturally savvy, in what passes for culture in American society, but I am wasting my life! On poorly written garbage! And (egads) reality shows! The horror!
Part of R’s family folklore is the fact that, as a small child, he would stare at Sesame Street with a completely glazed-over expression, dead to the world except for the little Muppet-infested world on the screen before him. People don’t change that much as they grow up. But I don’t want to be like that. I guess that other people can spend their entire lives as spectators to the fictions on cable, but that isn’t a life I want for myself – and I’m going to start doing something about it, even if the only person I can affect is myself. Just because there is a television in the room does not mean that I have to be in that room, too.
A new year, and new goals.
- Get R hired – short-term for now, long-term for fall.
- Try to fix up the house so that it becomes a good place to be.
- Lose another five pounds if I can, and keep them all off.
- Finish my new NIP (novel-in-progress).
- Get back my piano-playing chops, and – if the opportunity presents itself – perform at the faculty talent show at school.
- Get through my second semester as a first-year teacher, and get rehired for the fall.
- Cut back my television viewing to an hour a day.
- Others, as well – some I haven’t determined yet, and some that I don’t need to share.
Borrowed from the same friend, who borrowed from the talented and twisted Tatsuya Ishida:
* A few well-intentioned people have said that they hope I get out of this “babysitting” job soon, meaning that they think – correctly – that on an intellectual level, I am better suited for older students. You can stop saying that now. This is WAY harder than babysitting. No babysitter in the world ever had to deal with this sort of situation. If teaching seventh grade is babysitting, then your average Las Vegas buffet serves nothing more than the occasional amuse-bouche.