Perpetually Unfinished
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
 
Okay. Here, slightly delayed, is my New Year's entry...

2004 was... an interesting year. A good year, all in all, although not the "shout it from the rooftops" kind of good. It's odd, because 2003 was such a dramatic, roller-coaster of a year, with tremendous highs and lows (mostly lows) and a lot of changes and personal growth. In contrast, when I think about 2004, I almost forget how many changes took place until I remind myself... oh, yeah, that's right. A year ago, I was a full-time college student living with two roommates and getting checks in the mail from my parents, just starting to date Alex. Today, I've got a degree, a full-time job that I've held for 9 months, and an income 10 times higher than ever previously, and I'm sharing a home with my boyfriend.

I guess it feels like even though my life has changed a lot in 2004, I haven't changed too much. I've been pretty low-energy all year long (which I'm discovering is actually pretty common for people entering the working world for the first time, although the almost complete lack of exercise until recently couldn't've helped), and I've been more preoccupied with getting the hang of everything that comes along with this new life-stage than with personal growth and self-improvement.

I think, though, that I've finally made it to the point where I have the basics under control of what it means to be a twenty-something college graduate and working woman, which means (hopefully!) that I'll be able to successfully move forward in the coming year. So, without further ado, here are my New Year's resolutions:

1. Keep exercising 30 minutes every day (brisk walking). Start doing additional higher-intensity workouts at least 1-2 times a week, hopefully more often over time.
2. Start volunteering somewhere on a weekly basis. Why the heck haven't I done this yet?
3. Renew my library card at the Evanston library, and start taking out books and reading on the El. There's no reason I should spend 40 minutes twice a day staring out the window.
4. Write more. More (and better) entries here, but also fiction. I've always wanted to try NaNoWriMo, and maybe I can do it this year, but there's no way I can pull it off if I'm as rusty at writing on November 1 as I am now. And if that's too ambitious, I can at least try to come up with some short pieces. Writing Protest articles is good, and I certainly write enough memos at work, but I want to be more expressive and more creative.
5. Do the dishes more often; at the very least, commit to making sure that the sink is completely dish-free by the end of every weekend.
6. Don't turn on the TV before 11pm on weekdays.
7. Make lunches at home. Yes, having $1 cup 'o' soups every day is cheaper than going out to eat, but if I bring actual lunches from home, it'll probably be cheaper, healthier, and more interesting.
8. Make more interesting and complicated meals, instead of the same endless rotation (spaghetti, potatoes, stir-fry, rice and beans, rinse and repeat). Try to make a new and/or challenging meal at least every weekend.
9. Work hard at making, improving, and maintaining friendships, even when it's awkward and difficult. Do what's necessary to spend time with people, instead of taking the lazy road and then moping about it.

Wish me luck!
 
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Saturday, January 01, 2005
 
So, what I've been meaning to say is that things have been pretty good over the last month, notwithstanding random emotional moments.

I've been pretty self-disciplined in the last few weeks, or at least, better than I was (not that that's hard). Really, it all comes down to getting the "Oooh, I'm being good, aren't I a terrific, strong person for accomplishing this?" vibes started, and then letting that be incentive to keep going. In the 3 weeks I was home between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I think I only missed getting a half-hour's exercise a day once or twice-- thanks in large part to my new strategy of spending the 15-30 minutes daily that that I'm stuck on El platforms briskly walking from one end to the other, non-stop. People stare, but I'm rather proud of myself for finding a way to get exercise in that doesn't involve much extra time a day. I've been a little worse about it while on vacation, but have managed to get some exercise in at least intermittently. And I have indeed had more energy, which is nice.

After being decidedly anti-social all fall, I managed within the course of one week-- the last week of fall quarter-- to get together with Lexi, with Peter, and go to a party at which I spent time with many people, including Kyle. That goes to show that I only need to put in a little effort and I can spend time with people, I guess. It was all somewhat awkward, and I'm tired of things being awkward, but I know it's a mistake for me to shy away from awkward things because that would mean avoiding pretty much every relationship in my life other than with Alex and my mom. I hate awkwardness, it makes me feel lousy and like I'm forcing my presence on people, but it is pretty much the defining characteristic of my life, and I know I need to grin and bear it if I don't want to spend the rest of my days as a hermit and only have the rare (non-existent?) friendships which unfold perfectly smoothly and comfortably. Which means committing to being more social and trying to make another round of get-togethers happen early on next quarter, and seeing what develops, I guess.

Speaking of friends, I got to see Rich last weekend for the first time in two years, and to finally meet the Morgan I've been hearing about for years, now his fiancee! It was just wonderful to see him again and talk and catch up, although when we stopped by his parents' house his mom was very chatty, and consequently we didn't get to talk as much as I'd hoped. And now I'm wondering how I let two years go by with only a few phone calls, and I'm trying to figure out how to get together with them again practically every time I'm back on the East Coast. Good friends are hard to come by in life, and even though we're horrid about keeping in touch, Rich is a good friend. I want to see him more, and I want to get to know Morgan better. I feel good about making that happen.

I've been having a really nice break. I took two whole weeks off work-- the longest time I've had off, by far, since I started 9 months ago-- and it's just been good to relax. I've been all over. Alex and I spent the weekend before Christmas up at a lodge in northern Wisconsin (I won it in a silent auction for charity; you should have seen the lightbulbs go off in my head when I realized that I could kill three birds with one stone: money to charity, a Christmas gift for Alex, and a nice vacation). It was beautiful, especially the amazing horse-drawn sleighride through woods filled with freshly-fallen snow, and hopefully I'll get some pictures up on here eventually. Then, of course, we got caught in a snowstorm on the way back and ended up spending 3 hours sitting in a McDonald's waiting for it to clear up enough to drive safely. Scary stuff.

I got to see Alex's dad and sister briefly after we got back, before I flew to Maryland on the 21st. We drove up to New York on Christmas morning to spend the day with my dad's side of the family (complete with adorable cousins, now 21 months and 5 years), and spent the night in our newly vacant house in New Jersey. (I slept on the floor in my old room, which was inhabited by a little girl and is now painted bright pink with pictures of Disney princesses on the walls.) After getting together with Rich and Morgan on Sunday, we met up with my grandparents (on my mom's side), stopped in to see my aunt and cousin (the seven year old), and after spending the night, took a 5-hour bus ride from NYC to DC on Monday night. Since then I've just been in Maryland at my parents' place. I went into the DC office for one day of work on Thursday, and I've knocked off a number of small-scale no-brainer errands, but it's mostly been general laziness. I do feel like I'm recharging my batteries somehow, though. Hopefully I'll see the benefits for at least a couple weeks when I get back to work.

And it's 2005 now. I'll find the time to write about the year that's passed and the year to come, but not tonight. Maybe tomorrow. We'll see.
 
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Nature attains perfection, but man never does. There is a perfect ant, a perfect bee, but man is perpetually unfinished. He is both an unfinished animal and an unfinished man. It is this incurable unfinishedness which sets man apart from other living things. For, in the attempt to finish himself, man becomes a creator. Moreover, the incurable unfinishedness keeps man perpetually immature, perpetually capable of learning and growing.
--Eric Hoffer





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