2017 Resolutions In Review

1. Eliminate credit card debt.
Done. With a balance transfer about to start accruing interest, we decided the best thing we could do was use some of our savings to pay off the remaining debt.

2. Take action every week.
I kept this up for a couple of months, but like many, I lost steam.

3. Finish Brain Pickings book club list.
Good enough! We didn’t finish the list, but we kept the book club going all year, so I’m going to treat this one as a success.

4. Incorporate professional development into my schedule.
I managed the conferences, but didn’t manage much else. I have a couple of things that I want to work on this year, so maybe I’ll rededicate myself to this one in 2018.

5. Finish weaning.
Despite my sad post a couple of months ago, we’re still nursing pretty regularly. I broke out the pump last night, and that made me feel like I was ready to be DONE all over again.

6. PR at any distance.
DONE. I blew away my 5K time in Champaign in April. I had hoped to PR in the half, but considering how hard I’d run the night before, I was totally fine with just finishing.

7. More regular visits with family.
Done. The kid absolutely will not nap when we’re out in Rockford, so since he’s doing better with car naps (and in the car generally), we were able to make more day trips happen.

8. At least two blog posts/month.
Technically done. By the numbers, this was a success, though posting dropped off pretty significantly after the beginning of the year.

9. Try at least four new recipes/month.
Done, for sure.  The My New Roots cookbooks were my go-to source.

10. Make time for monthly dates.
Monthly dates didn’t happen, but we did manage some child-free time about every other month. In 2018, I would love for us to GET AWAY! OVERNIGHT! WITH NO CHILD! but that continues to be a tall order.

2017 Resolutions

1. Eliminate credit card debt.

Debt elimination has been a rolling goal for the last few years. I keep saying that this feels realistic, and then it keeps not happening. Last year I knocked out my student loan. This year the credit card debt has got to go.

2. Take action every week.

We all need to do all of the small and large things we can do to keep our country (or state or city or neighborhood) moving forward. I was stuck in terrible gridlock this morning (20 minutes to travel 20 miles), so I used the time to make (hands’ free!) calls to elected officials about House Republicans’ attempts to hobble the Office of Congressional Ethics.

3. Finish Brain Pickings book club list.

Along with a couple of friends, I’m making a book club out of the 2016 favorites list from Brain Pickings. First up: Hidden Figures.

4. Incorporate professional development into my schedule.

Attending a couple of conferences each year isn’t enough. I need to find ways to stretch and grow professionally every week.

5. Finish weaning.

I’m not in a hurry to do this – I’ve always said that I’ll be guided by the toddler’s needs and development – but it’s time to start the process.

6. PR at any distance.

I came really close to knocking out both a 5K and half PR in last year’s Illinois races. If I can make strength training and speedwork happen, I think this is feasible.

7. More regular visits with family.

It did my heart good to see the toddler interacting with his grandparents and cousins over the holidays and during our visit to Belgium in the fall. While we don’t expect to get to Belgium this year, we can get out to Rockford (and Michigan and Iowa) more often.

8. At least two blog posts/month.

This seems pretty straight forward.

9. Try at least four new recipes/month.

This should be relatively easy as well.

10. Make time for monthly dates.

This is hard but important, especially with a toddler! But we need to make it happen.

“And besides, feelings are totally full of shit.”

I woke up last Sunday adorned with the previous night’s glow sticks and feeling like someone had dropped a load of bricks on my chest. Such is the weight and effect of running into one’s own unhappiness.

The last two months have been endlessly stressful: holidays, moving to Chicago, moving out of our apartment, moving into my Unnamed Hippie House (which I’ve decided is its name, by the way), my uncle’s death, drunk people drama, sickness, job hunting, job interviews, the beginning of the semester, winding down a job, and living apart. It’s all fucking hard! Hard, hard, hard.

I’m a person who thrives in chaos, so times like these usually see me rising to the occasion. Five years ago, we launched Moodle at the beginning of the semester while I was also a full time doctoral student and a new gyne instructor – so I was essentially working two very demanding full-time jobs while taking on an emotionally and physically challenging part-time job while also maintaining a relationship and starting to focus on losing weight after four months away from the gym (and my bike) with a broken arm. Literally the day before Shane moved to DC, I had unexpected minor surgery after receiving scary lab results from an abnormal Pap and also got an estimate of $2400 to make the necessary repairs to my car so that I could move to join him – while also gearing up for the beginning of the semester and actively job-hunting. I’m not alone in my experience of shit stacking up in impossible ways, or of being able to put my head down and knock through it all to come out on the other side smarter and stronger.

But in and around the stress and stressors of the last two months, I’ve had a lot of time to think. The time and space and distance have allowed issues to rise to the surface that I’ve been ignoring or just haven’t been brave enough to face. And one of those is my unhappiness, a thread of pain through so many aspects of my life.

It’s no secret that I’ve been profoundly unhappy in my career in the last few years. In job interviews, I’ve spun it as “a series of right turns” – from instructional technology support at Illinois to reference librarianship at GW to web development at UM. From a position of authority and trust to the bottom rung of a soul-deadening bureaucracy to manual labor, working in a call center, finding ways of stretching 5-8 hours of work to fill 40, and then ending up in a position where I’m challenged and respected, but which is still tangential to any of the goals I can loosely define for myself.

I’ve been tremendously lonely in my relationships. I’ve focused my energies on my marriage to the detriment of my relationships with others – perhaps appropriately so, but still a stark thing to realize. I’ve been trying to change this in the last few months, but I know I have a long way to go.

I’ve tried to direct this loneliness and frustration into positive channels: running, the garden, cooking, blogging, teaching, and connecting with friends online. What I haven’t realized until recently is the extent to which my loneliness and frustration has been self-reinforcing. I’m lonely, so I go running alone. I like running alone, so I opt to continue with this solitary activity, even though it could be a great opportunity to meet other people and build relationships around running. Shane is often busy with hobbies or friends, and I respond by soaking up the much-desired solo time, which then leads me to support (rather than complain about) more time dedicated to hobbies, which then leads to more time alone.

Which leads me to this place: waking up on a Sunday morning feeling crippled by sadness. Grinding away on the track to meet a training goal but also to focus my mind on something other than the intractability of my feelings. Struggling to remember happiness, or to picture what happiness might look like. Knowing that the easy answer is more meds, or changing the meds, but being unwilling to accept that as an answer YET AGAIN.

I want to be happy.
I don’t know how to be happy.
I don’t know what has to change in my life for me to be happy.
I’m afraid of my own unhappiness.

2010 Resolutions and/or Action Items

  1. Focus on my relationships and be a more patient and loving partner and friend.  Also cat parent to Basil, who is adorable but drives me freakin’ nuts.
  2. Get married. This should be action item #1, but item #1 on this list is actually much more important.
  3. Save aggressively for a house and for overall financial stability.
  4. Go camping and generally explore our new state.
  5. Get over my fear of DPNs and knit the kittyville hat.
  6. Write two more issues of my zine.
  7. Run 500 miles. This works out to roughly 9.5 miles per week. Totally doable.
  8. Learn CSS. I mean really learn it. More than just troubleshooting and/or fixing things.
  9. Read 30 books. This works out to 2.5 books per month.
  10. Kitchen Diaries project, which should result in achieving the following sub-goals:
    1. focus on healthy, flavorful meals
    2. try several new recipes each month
    3. learn more about the camera + take better photos
    4. update my/our blogs more regularly

thoughts on stuff

A handful of things I’ve been meaning to post about:

  • The HPV vaccine: I’m pissed that I can’t get it. I’m encouraging my sister to get it. Illinois, among other states, is considering making the vaccine mandatory for school-aged girls. If you’re under 26 and your insurance will cover it, get it. If you’re under 26 and you don’t have insurance, public aid will cover it in some places. HPV (a group of virii, not just one virus) is the leading cause of cervical cancer, but it can also cause all kinds of gross things, like warts and lesions that have to be frozen off. The only sure fire way to avoid HPV is by never having sex with anyone. Aside from that, well, the vaccine certainly can’t hurt.
  • Lent: Last year I gave up chocolate. This year I decided to use the 40 days to take better care of myself. That was the plan, anyway, but I got into another bike accident a few hours ago, and am pretty banged up. On the bright side, I already have an arm brace!
  • Food: On a somewhat related note, a woman in the UK is giving up supermarkets for Lent. I think it’s a really interesting idea. I just finished reading Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen, which is full of information about the food industry, as well as recommendations (and meals) for things you can do to make your own habits more sustainable. This week we made mofongo with wild mushroom sauce, along with rosemary-chile mashed potatoes, using as many organic products as possible. It was good, but mainly made me long for the farmers’ market, where we’ll be able to get organic AND locally-grown things every week.
  • Plans: SB and I decided to renew our lease today. An online friend and her partner take each end-of-lease time as an opportunity to reevaluate their relationship, deciding whether to stay together while they decide whether to stay in their apartment in Brooklyn. (They renewed for two years, by the way.) I think that’s a reasonable, if not entirely romantic, way to approach relationships – as a work in process, an ongoing evaluation. It’s scary to think about what’s going to happen in the next few months – graduation, selling my/our car(s), new jobs and potential moves – but it’s good to know that we’re facing these challenges together!

Now, off to ice my arm. UHgain.

cause for celebration

Yesterday evening Shane and I had a fabulous dinner at Bacaro to celebrate two things: six months together, and signing a lease on the above place, nicknamed “Basil Estates”. We had shrimp bruschetta with red chiles and limoncello, a bottle of Italian something-something that resembled a Pinot Noir and complemented my lamb and Shane’s hake, a cheese plate with little bites of wonderful, and an amazing pot of French press coffee ($3! a steal).Am I nervous about the future? Of course. Grad school is such a transitional period, and there are no guarantees that either of us are going to be here (or able to leave) in a year. Am I nervous about this commitment? Of course. I’ve only lived with one other person, and that was my ex. Things are very different (in so many ways) than they were when I was 18, and in some ways this is a bigger decision because it’s one of the most serious commitments I can ever imagine making with/to another person.

Am I sure I want to do this? Yes, for a variety of reasons – personal and financial. Am I sure I want to do this with him? Yes, for a variety of reasons – personal and terribly romantic. Mainly I’m just terribly thankful for a beautiful apartment that I can share with a wonderful partner and a very funny cat.

morning comes anew

Last night was the night I needed a week ago. I did my runnings around, then he suggested coffee and reading. We went to the Espresso on Goodwin and sat with our coffee and our books for an hour or two. We came back to my apartment and he rested for a while with his head in my lap and my hands in his hair. We lay in my bed and laughed about video games and bad movie trilogies. I took him home late, and smiled the whole way back. After a week of worry and stupidity and miscommunication, I think things are getting back to normal. Well, not normal necessarily – but good. It just feels right, having him here. And he can’t be my center, but at the same time I can’t help the way I feel when he’s next to me – and I think that’s really OK.

We’re listening to David Gray in the spider hole this morning. I forgot my training manuals in the car, but it’s OK. I’m drinking coffee and longing for sunshine. There are a lot of things kicking around in my head these days – possibilities, work, dreams, school, frustrations, life. Some things I’m going to keep for myself for now.

I’ve always been an odd combination of private and open – if you don’t know me, I’m fairly unreadable – but if you do, my whole life is an open book. This blog is sort of the culmination of those two things – many of you don’t know me at all – yet you know all these intimate and private things about me that I wouldn’t – or couldn’t – tell a person face to face unless they really knew me. It’s been said too too often, but blogs create an artificial sense of intimacy and knowledge – you feel like you’re a part of a stranger’s life. I guess since I’m so retarded at interpersonal communication, this really is the ultimate medium for me. But not everything is for you, and I think you understand that. 🙂

It’s late-ish, and I’m awake. Maybe it’s the cold, maybe it’s the coffee, maybe it’s just the excessive sleep from the weekend – but here I am, when I should be asleep.

Ever have those moments when you question if you’re really a “grown-up”? I feel like I was more of an adult before – like I was doing more “grown up” things with my life in my old life, and I’m not sure why that is. Maybe I felt like I was on a more responsible track before – getting a real job, getting married, buying a house, planning for the future, etc. All of that changed when I moved out, when I moved here. I love my life and I’m making no complaints – I feel like I’m in a more adult relationship now, despite the inherent silliness, than I was before – I feel like I’m more in charge of my life than before – but sometimes I feel like I’m just a kid and I’m playing at an adult’s life, you know? Like this couldn’t possibly be real – but it totally is.

Shawn’s back after a weekend at home. I feel so lame missing him, but I don’t know what I can do about it. I know so many people in long distance relationships – or just out of them – and it makes me feel doubly lame when I think about my friend Michelle crying at work because she misses her husband who is in Iraq and will be there for at least another nine months. I guess I’m just spoiled. He’ll be gone for a month or so for the academy in June, and I’ll have to learn to be less lame, I guess.

Today was a decent day, all in all. I went to breakfast with Sarah and Hannah – soooooo tasty, though I was feeling a little wonky. Came home around noon and puttered around here most of the afternoon – did my laundry, cleaned my closet, put together some stuff for the Salvation Army, watched longingly as some boys grilled out in the park. I meant to play on the swings, but never got over there. I walked over to Shawn’s later, and he forced me to watch the god-awful Dreamcatcher, which was fascinating along the same lines as a train wreck. If I hadn’t fallen in love with the Dark Tower series, this movie might make me swear off Stephen King for life. Fortunately the evening was redeemed with reading, Law & Order, soup, and generally nice time spent with the boy. He brought me home an hour or so ago, and I’ve just been chilling (literally and figuratively) ever since. It should be a nice week – Ben Folds tomorrow, the seder dinner Wednesday, the Voice reading Thursday, then Friday off and Damien in Indy. Now, sleep.