Numbered Words: 2017

I’m back in Texas, which means I can share my “Books I Read in 2017” List. I’ll warn you: there’s no need to hold onto one’s hat.

1. The Handmaid’s Tale (Atwood)
2. The Lovely Bones (Sebold)
3. The Heavenly Table (Pollack)
4. Secondhand Souls (Moore)
5. Adulthood is a Myth (Andersen)
6. It (King)
7. Under the Banner of Heaven (Krakauer)
8. Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists and Other Sex Offenders (Salter)
9. Motherfucking Sharks (Carr)
10. The Ghost Box (Hingston & Olsen)
11. Heart and Brain (Seluk)
12. Point Your Face at This: Drawings (Martin)
13. The Evil That Men Do (Hazelwood)

I don’t feel proud of this list, but I am sharing it because I strive for authenticity. I don’t remember why I chose to keep a list. I can tell you that keeping this list has forced me (thankfully!) to evaluate how I spend my time. As I wrote in the previous entry, I do not do resolutions. What I do is self-care. The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to take care of myself and to devote time to those activities that feed my soul, those activities that truly bring me joy. I am looking forward to more reading in the coming year. Today, I have nearly finished reading 2018’s first book: Difficult Women (Gay).

If you kept a reading list in 2017 and read less than you hoped, please do not feel discouraged. I am a self-identified book worm. I love books. I want all of the books. For the first time, my checked bag was over 50# on the trip back to TX from NC. I moved my toiletry bag and a new book – problem solved. It’s a big book – a crime writing anthology edited by Harold Schechter – that I cannot wait to consume. But, I feel embarrassed by my 2017 list. It’s a new year. I will do better this year, and so will you, if you want.

2018

Hopeful Highlights for 2018

I’m starting school (again) in mid-January. I’m starting a Master’s program at ASU. I’m currently registered for 2 classes – one is online and the other is an evening class. I feel anxious. When I was last in school, the kids were still taking notes with pen and paper. Do they still do it this way? I don’t think I want to type my notes. I used to handwrite during lecture and type later. It helped me study. As it is, I’m planning to take my laptop with me and decide when I get there – when I get to the class. I have not attended an academic class in quite a while, folks. I got past my concern about my age before I applied. That was a significant hurdle for me. It’s going to be an adventure, folks.

I desperately want to write more this year. I hope the blog will be updated more regularly, and I hope I can provide more thoughtful, meaningful content. I am always hopeful for a larger audience and more feedback, both positive and constructive criticism. I have considered limiting my writing to certain topics. I have considered not writing as much personal content. However, at this time, that is what I know best. I feel that personal content is what I am most able to make creative and meaningful and maybe even entertaining. Considering I am going back to school, I may provide content about the adventure of returning to school as a 30-something who has been working FT for several years; the adventure of creating a home office; content about what I’m studying/researching. I just hope to write more and share more.

I hope to read more. I kept a list of all the books I finished during 2017, and while I do not know how many are on the list because I am currently in North Carolina and the list is in Texas (and it’s not complete because I finished a book after arriving in NC), I know I did not read enough. I keep telling Todd and whoever is within earshot that I did read It (Stephen King) this year and clocking in at 1,200 (approximate) pages, it should count as more than one book. In the end, I will only count it as one book – one huge accomplishment of a book. I will keep my list honest. In 2018, it will be a longer list.

I’m holding out for international travel in 2018. We have some plans made. Todd has made plans. I have just consistently reminded him that I will go almost anywhere, which has been not at all helpful to the planning. We have reservations for lodging, tickets to a symphony concert and tickets for a Lars von Trier play that will likely not be performed in English. The current plan is to visit Sweden and Denmark in the same trip.
I got a passport in 2015 with the possibility of visiting Canada during our PNW trip that December. We didn’t visit Canada. My passport is coming up on 3 years of age without having been used. I hope 2018 is the year I leave the country.

Todd and I are engaged. I don’t know who of the readership knows and who doesn’t. We’re not ones to make a big scene. This is something that occurred in 2017, but we’ll likely get married during 2018. Again, we’re not ones to make a big scene.

I would like to get to Ohio during 2018. I have not been there since Oct. 2016. There is a lot going on up there, and I avoided it during 2017. A lot of that avoidance was about self-care, and it still is. Additionally, with everything else I have going on that generally equates to building a life, a trip to Ohio isn’t affordable or even realistic. I feel a little guilty about admitting that, but it’s true. I live in Texas. It’s not cheap or easy to get to Ohio. Similarly, it’s not cheap or easy for my loved ones to travel to Texas from Ohio. Life is hard. It’s good (like, so good), but it’s not easy. Today, it’s my understanding that my loved ones are well and in good places (both figuratively and literally). This knowledge goes a long way.

I am planning to buy a planner for 2018. Last night, while waiting for midnight, I browsed online and wrote a brief blog entry about my experience with planners (an entry not likely to be shared). You can imagine that this experience has not been good because I am not an organized person. I don’t recall keeping a planner since I was in college – not my last stint at grad. school, but college. After writing this entry to this point, I feel more interested in having and keeping a planner. It seems like 2018 is going to be a busy year. I’m not making a resolution to get more organized because resolutions are too much pressure for me. I think I will try the planner route again. I will be open-minded and realistic. I will use the experience to exercise kindness toward myself, if nothing else.

So, at the end of this entry I am sitting in a ridiculously beautiful 3-story house in the Beech Mountain region of North Carolina with my partner and many members of his family, which will soon be my family as well. There is snow on the ground and the trees; snow like I have not seen in years. Picture perfect snow. Ever since we arrived here on 12.27.17, I have been overwhelmed by questioning, “How did I get here?” To be fair, I asked myself this exact same question throughout 2017 – in good times and in not-so-good times.

Flashback Entry: 7-29-17

7.29.17

Today I participated in hardcore self-care. I took the day off from work – a sick day. I woke up with the worst headache I can ever remember having. I was briefly awake when Todd left for work. I drank some water, took some Tylenol and went back to sleep. I woke up again when Todd was home in the afternoon. I stayed in bed; texting with friends, perusing social media, checking email. In bed. I stayed in the comfort of the sheets and all of the blankets (3) for so many hours. With Todd away, I also had all the pillows. It was soul-cleansing to just be still and quiet.

I finally got out of bed around 3:30pm. Then I only did the hygiene I truly wanted to do – shower, teeth brushing, hair brushing, deodorant. No shaving of any areas. No eyebrow tweezing. No perfume. No make-up. I pulled my bangs out of my eyes, but no hair-drying. I put on jeans and one of my new favorite t-shirts. When I leave the house later, I’ll slip on some Converse. Bare minimum.

Are you wondering about me leaving the house on a day like this? I had a plan that was made in advance. With the almost-but-not-quite-gone headache, I’ll keep my plan. But you took a sick day! I don’t see any way that I could have spent 8 hours in front of 2 computer monitors. I don’t see any way that I could have done my job effectively today, even with minimal computer use.

I feel extremely lucky to have been able to spend the day in bed being still. I know it’s a luxury not everyone has. A person who has dependents can’t stay in bed. A person who doesn’t have sick time at work would struggle with the decision to take a sick day and lose pay for that day. Gratitude is a part of self-care. Today, like every day, I am so grateful. Today, like every day, I am lucky.