monthly updates

January Wrap-Up

The month was more exciting than I had hoped for as far as national news goes, but with any luck things will settle down going forward. Personally, the year is off to a good start.

Inspired by last year’s reread of The Happiness Project, I experimented with setting an intention: Use what you have. Although when I first sat down to review the month, I felt that I hadn’t done great with that, the more I considered, the happier I felt with the results. In no particular order:

  • Wrote 29,000 words of the first draft of a new book
  • Did well on running (until the deep cold arrived this week), and have been using my new weight set regularly
  • Learned how to knit mittens
  • Hit a 125-day streak on Duolingo
  • Went cold turkey on Diet Coke; soda consumption is down to a mini-can of Polar ginger ale (Coca-Cola Co. is literally the worst plastic polluter)
  • Picked up some cloth napkins for everyday sustainability
  • Read three of the books I received for Christmas
  • Got a new microwave/hood to replace the one that hasn’t worked for an embarrassingly long time
  • Bought paint for the kitchen
  • Replaced ratty bath towels, uncomfortable pillows, and broken wine glasses
  • Stayed involved with the mutual aid association, doing grocery shopping for housebound neighbors
  • Managed two weeks straight of daily sketching
  • Finished watching She-Ra and the Princesses of Power with the older teen (pure joy); middle kid very into Kung Fu Panda right now, so we’ve watched all three a couple of times lately

Not too shabby!

Which is not to say all has been wine and roses; pandemic blues and cabin fever are a recurring issue for everybody. I may be a homebody, but this is ridiculous. There have been some very draining days, and a lot of frustrated hours. It’s hard to focus sometimes, to go through yet another instance of routine.

I think the next month or so is going to be rough, as we close in one full year of this while simultaneously coping with the end of winter. I’m going to try to focus on writing the new book, painting the kitchen, and cooking my favorite cold-weather meals while the season is here. There will be a lot to look forward to in the spring; I already bought a bunch of seeds.

life, monthly updates

The Inevitable 2020 Summary Post

I kind of want to ruminate on the glimpses of domesticity we see in Beowulf, but maybe I’ll leave that cozy topic for the year’s final post.

On the one hand, what even can be said about 2020. On the other, I feel like we all deserve a badge, a “we did it!” symbol to commemorate having gotten through the deluge. Natural disasters, pandemic, politics, omnipresent and graphic illustrations of the fragility of our social systems–the ones that aren’t demonstrably broken–if you made it through, then well done.

Last January looks utterly unreal in its distance from the present day. More than once it felt like this year was never going to end at all. (I suppose that publishing this two weeks in advance is taking a certain risk.) Compared to a lot of people, we’ve been incredibly lucky this year, and even so, having gotten anything at all done feels like an astonishing accomplishment.

In Significant Life Events, two of my grandparents passed away early this year, although one I hadn’t seen since I was tiny, and the other wasn’t much of a surprise after years of steadily worse health. Looking at this now mostly occasions a sense of “that was THIS YEAR?” wonderment.

In the plus column, I got a new job. This has reduced my stress levels by a substantial amount, making everything else that little bit more bearable. It means that for at least the next year or so, I don’t need to put “re-skill for immanent career change” at the top of my priority list.

Writing-wise, I finally finished a project that had been sitting half-done for what, eight years?–and got it to the point of querying with a feeling of genuine satisfaction with the story (no results yet). And then I did NaNoWriMo again. I postponed another project to next year, and while I hated to do it, I think that was a good decision given this year’s emotional demands. I’m looking forward to working on it again with real anticipation and energy.

I spent a fair amount of time this year reflecting, crystallizing goals, coming up with my three-year plan, and starting to turn those goals into tasks. If I’m successful with that, you’ll be seeing a lot of action here in 2021.

And then there’s all of the other stuff, irregularly chronicled here–knitting, running, professional group organizing, community work, gardening, reading, learning, family life–all under the penumbra of pandemic this year, home and school and work and hobbies hopelessly smushed into one another.

It’s going to be a rough winter; the news this past week has made that painfully clear. The vaccine is less “the end is in sight” than “there are seabirds, so there’s gotta be land in that direction.” Let’s look out for one another, and prepare a better 2021.

monthly updates

November Wrap-Up

Survived the most uniquely stressful election of my life to date, and one that I hope goes unchallenged on that particular metric.

Went for 10 runs, adding a mile to my average distance over the course of the month, and 15 walks around the neighborhood.

Wrote 50,000 words, chalking up what the Web site says is my 8th finished NaNoWriMo. Got a couple of query rejections; sent out more queries.

Finished five French topics in Duolingo.

Sat down for 13 meditation sessions.

Donated blood once and went on two grocery shopping trips for neighbors, arranged through our local mutual aid society.

Knitted ~18″ of a scarf and a half dozen rows of the scrap blanket.

Watched S3 of the Tangled TV series, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and the first episode of the Animaniacs reboot with various of the family.

Cooked 27 dinners, including a perfectly adequate if smaller than usual Thanksgiving spread.

It’s been a rough one, honestly. The election brought a lot of anxiety, which has been slow to recede and probably won’t completely lift until January. The second half of the month has been damp and gray; it gets dark soon after 4 p.m. (I got out my full-spectrum lamps.) Going on nine months of COVID-19 homebound life, claustrophobia is taking a toll on my patience. Remote schooling continues to be challenging for the kids. It’s time to make my December goal sheets, and I’m not sure what to put on them. Maybe “get together my 2021 plans” will suffice.

knitting, life, monthly updates, writing

October Wrap-Up

Someday the time distortion effect will ease up, right? I’m looking at my calendar and thinking, There’s no way that was only three weeks ago, what the hell? But here we are, the last day of October (also a full moon, also Halloween of course), so it’s time to consider the month.

In terms of this blog’s focus, the most important thing about October is that I wrote 22k words of the new book. I have decided to try for another NaNo win, which if successful should get me through the bulk of the first draft, with the goal of finishing it by the end of the year. In purely physical terms, this is do-able; we’re not going anywhere this month, we’re not hosting any gatherings, I don’t have a commute right now, and my new job is not crushing me with tasks or boredom. I have the time; it’s down to whether I can muster the focus to keep putting words together.

No word yet from my first batch of queries. I’m going to give them another couple of weeks before I send out a few more. So much for the writing category. Should I be explicit about my goals here? The 2023 plan is all about concrete goals. I shorthand it as “writing” but the actual goal is “get paid for creative work.” Keeping that in mind is supposed to be a motivator.

In other areas, “save for a house” has taken a hit due to major progress in “don’t hate my living space” — this was expected, and worth it. However, being ten weeks into the plan and seeing no progress in that goal is frustrating. We do have a full month of budget information to work with based on my new paycheck now, so I have set myself some small, actionable targets for the month based around that.

My day job feels like it’s coasting right now, and that won’t do in the long term, but November is no time to plan any major activity in that zone. It’s only been two months; I lucked out beyond hope with this change; it’s okay to just enjoy that for a while. I am keeping an eye on my general satisfaction level there, and come December will put together some 2021 targets.

And then there’s the fifth zone, which still doesn’t have a name or a chart because it’s generally about being at home in my body and at peace in my mind. “Lose 20 pounds” is a goal, but it’s not the goal, and I don’t want to mix up forest and trees here; I don’t know whether or not losing weight will make a difference to how I feel day to day. Meditating does seem to be helpful, but it doesn’t have an end date. Maybe I could set “establish these habits” as a goal for a few months, see if that goes anywhere.

I’m still knitting, in between all of this other stuff.

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I finished both of these cowls in October. The top one is snug and warm and a very quick knit. The bottom one has been languishing since last winter, and I am very glad to see the back of it; its a finer yarn than I’ve ever worked with before and took forever. Loosely draped, it’s nice to wear indoors on a chilly day; doubled, it’s cozy for walking outside. I even put together a queue of projects that should get me through the winter.

It’s been a good month.

monthly updates

All Things Considered

I haven’t been updating lately, because, well, it feels like nothing is happening. The plants grow, the days trickle past, no one goes anywhere, and nothing seems to be getting done under the weight of all of this time. Things are too big and to much is still happening for me to really think about events. I am guilty at times of overusing the word liminal, but it may be the word to apply to our times. We are transitional, oscillating, unsettled. Although it may be possible in theory to observe both our position and our velocity right now, our practical ability to keep track of either one is being tested to the limit.

Today, however, despite all of this, because it’s the end of the month, I sat down automatically to do the April reflections for Unravel Your Year. I generally do this with my bullet journal next to me, because evidently I am one of Those People now, and as I flipped through the month I was forced to admit that all things considered, April wasn’t so bad (for me–I am aware of great good fortune in this).

I added 6,000 words to the novel–still a long way from done, as I stalled out partway into yet another Camp NaNo, but it’s not nothing. I did a lot of yoga, am just a couple of days away from finally finishing one of those 30 Days things on Youtube. I’ve never made it more than halfway into that before. The weather has been too gross to get out much, so this past week, I’ve started using DownDog’s free trial to experiment with HIIT, which is… fun? in a this is amazingly awful wow I am in worse shape than I thought sort of way.

I haven’t finished reading many books, but to be fair one of the books I haven’t finished is David Copperfield, which is on the long side and also hardly anything happens in the first half of it. I have continued drawing my weekly zine doodle/journal out of some vague obligation to chronicle Daily Life in These Times. I’ve had a few nice chats with people. The family is hanging in there, surfing the frustrations and moods of our confined lives. The teen and I have started watching Adventure Time, which I have always meant to get to one day.

I dealt with a lot of crap and work and didn’t scream at anyone, even a little. I finished a big knitting project, and cast on the next one with barely a pause (the yarn is so pretty, you’re going to get lots of pictures).

So… yeah, things could be worse for us. Hope you can say the same, and are staying safe. and healthy.