Perpetually Unfinished
Tuesday, December 27, 2005

2005 Chicago Marathon
Originally uploaded by brittgm.
I'll do the end-of-year wrapup and next year's resolutions shortly, but I figured I'd report back on last year's resolutions first.

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.
Pretty close. I don't walk 30 minutes every day, but the round-trip to and from work is 25 minutes combined. And I do a full aerobic workout almost every week, often 3 or 4 times a week. I want to hold myself to a higher standard next year, but I think that on the whole I accomplished what I intended for this year.

2. Start volunteering somewhere on a weekly basis. Why the heck haven't I done this yet?
I continue to kick myself about this. I am lame. I try to comfort myself with the thought that I spend a large percentage of my time on good-for-humanity stuff, even if it's not direct volunteering. But still, it's something I want to do, and I should be doing, and I've failed at it completely in 2005.

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.
Count this as at least one complete success.

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.
Another success, although I hope to do better still next year. I did NaNoWriMo, which I'm really proud of. And I did a pretty good amount of miscellaneous writing during the spring and summer, although none of it was actually completed pieces of short fiction. All told, a huge step forward.

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.
Yeah, no, this one's a failure. There've been good stretches and bad stretches, but on average, I don't think I did any better than the previous year.

6. Don't turn on the TV before 11pm on weekdays.
I gave up on this one pretty early in, after figuring out that TV itself wasn't the problem, it was overall time-management issues.

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.
Some progress, although hardly a full success. I've definitely brought lunch more often than I did last year, maybe twice a week on average, but that's still less than half the time.

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.
See the answer to #7. I'm doing better than last year, but it's hard to call it a full success.

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.
Ooh, this is a hard one to assess. I clearly had a better 2005 than 2004 on this front, although I let it slip a little towards the end of the year. But it was also a really stressful and crazy couple of months, so I'm not sure how much that should count against me. I certainly want to continue working on this, but I'm going to go ahead and call it a success.

So that gives me 4 successes, 3 failures, and 2 inbetween. Not too bad a record, I suppose, considering I aimed high with 9 resolutions. Look for some of these to resurface in my 2006 resolutions...
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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Holiday Cookies, December 2005
Originally uploaded by brittgm.
Just one more week. Seven more days. I don't know if I can make it, but I'll try. My brain is frazzled, I'm constantly on edge, and damn, I need this vacation.

I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but these past couple months have been crazy. I have spent at least part of 22 of the last 40 days away from home. I could handle the travel if that's all it was. But no. There's also the completely self-imposed stress of a November of novelling followed by a December of catch-up holiday baking and shopping and card-writing, so that for the last six weeks the imposing spectre of Being Behind on Things That Must Get Done has been looking over my shoulder at all times. (Like now. I totally should be writing holiday cards instead of this. I got half of them out on Monday, but I've still got 10 more to go, and I shouldn't send them any later than Saturday. Damn.) Then, of course, there's conveniently-timed extra work stress, some worrying stress around a health issue (thankfully positively resolved), and, of course, the stress of still not knowing what city Alex and/or I will be living in come January (yes, the January that's two weeks away).

So, yeah. I've not been exactly at the top of my game lately. I've been doing things like dropping the ball for weeks on returning e-mails, and spending hours at work trying to be productive but finding that the harder I try the more I end up staring blankly into space, and making stupid poorly-thought-out plans which probably have resulted in my painstakingly-made cookies being pulverized in the mail, and writing dull and whiny entries like this one. Yay!

Let's see. Is there anything redeeming I can tack on here? I could talk about the weather (gee, there's nothing like 10 degree days to make you feel like 30 degree days are practically tropical!), or the holiday presents I've picked out (I'm actually quite pleased with several of them, let's hope the recipients are too), or my writing and the ideas I have for my next endeavour (I have the sneaking suspicion I will go on and on about this at a later date, but not tonight).

Instead, why don't we end this while we're not too far behind, shall we? I blame the fact that my brain is melted and is dripping out my ears. Check in next time, and I promise, I'll be charming and witty or at least modestly interesting. For now, happy holidays!
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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

NaNoWriMo winner
Originally uploaded by brittgm.
Well, I did it. 50,000 words in 30 days. (50,091, actually.) Sorry for the lag in posting-- I've been recovering.

It was easier than I expected.

I'm not sure what I mean by that, exactly. It wasn't easy to sit down and write when I didn't feel like it. It wasn't easy to write well (and a lot of it wasn't written well).

But I did it. And the whole way through, I knew I could do it, and I knew I would do it. And that's pretty darn amazing. Partially because of the sheer willpower of it, which I wasn't sure I was capable of. But also because of the fact that I sat down and wrote thousands of words almost every day for a whole month. I've always liked to think of myself as a writer. But I generally haven't, well, written much.

I was actually thinking about this the other day. My NaNo novel is the first writing of any significant length that I've done in, really, almost a decade. (Has it really been almost a decade since I was fifteen? That's kind of crazy. But it's true; just short of nine years qualifies as "almost a decade," I think.)

Anyway, I've started and stopped on a lot of ideas over the years, but sadly (pathetically?), I've never gotten more than a few pages in, maybe a couple thousand words tops. So strangely enough, the best comparison for this year's work is the fantasy novel I thought I was writing back in 1996. The two sections I wrote on the computer total about 10,000 words, and the parts I scribbled in notebooks were probably another 10,000 or 15,000 more.

Ah, that was an interesting piece of work. It was largely unoriginal and ripped off all the fantasy books I was reading at that age, especially but not limited to Dennis McKiernan's "Caverns of Socrates." It was melodramatic, at least the parts I actually got around to writing-- lots of injuries and pain with the accompanying tender angst-filled sorrow of friends. (See Exhibit A, complete with a dead character conveniently brought back to life.) But that was nothing compared to the fact that the main characters were slightly altered versions of me and my classmates to fit a fantasy setting (actually, technically, the characters were us), which is really kind of weird.

Yet despite it all, skimming through it, it really isn't too bad. I mean, it's certainly not good, I don't think, but it's better than I remembered. Honestly, it kind of makes me wonder what my writing would be like now, if I'd kept it up on a more regular basis.

Well, I'm going to try that now. If I can write 50,000 words in one month-- and it could've been 60,000, really, if I hadn't had to travel so much-- then I can certainly write, say, 15,000 words every month. So I'll give that a shot, starting in January, and we'll see how it goes.

Wish me luck, and next time hopefully I'll manage to write about somethiing other than writing.

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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

Malavika (and the rest of The Quitters)

Official NaNoWriMo 2005 Participant


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