I've had a surprisingly delightful holiday pause, which has involved only the most restrained nod toward work (including many domestic chores on my list), but mostly lots of lounging and munching and thinking and writing. It's been good for my soul. I can always do a few loads of laundry tomorrow, when I must get back to work with a vengeance (but will be rewarded with a Boxing Day party in the evening, to which I will be bringing my newly acquired set of Cards Against Humanity, with the hope of finding some similarly horrible people to play with).
I know it's still a few days away, but some of that thinking has been about what I want from 2013, and beyond. The recurring lesson I've learned is that the expressway to Depressionville often starts at the Trapton exit (a one-way ramp). The sense that I'm out of options, that nothing can or will change for whatever reason, is the very definition of hopelessness.
Of course, it's all a mental state. What I've also learned (but often have trouble convincing myself of, or acting on) is that 90% of life isn't just showing up, as Woody Allen claimed, but having the right attitude. It's kind of amazing how very different the exact same situation can appear, just as a result of mood and framing. Not that getting into the right mental state is easy--I'd kinda prefer just having to show up.
So, in that spirit, I've started thinking about my wishes. Not the most abstract ones, like world peace, but the kinds of things I can reasonably achieve more or less on my own. At the same time, they're a little too contingent on various circumstances for me to really call them plans, and the whole list is far too long to be described as attainable goals. I'll just call them wishes, because to me a wish isn't just a passive desire. I mean, I can say that I wish Robert Downey, Jr. would knock on my door, but we all know that's an impossible fantasy. (Although hey, Robert, if you ever leave your wife and happen to be in the neighborhood, feel free to stop by!) A wish in the way I'm thinking of it is more like a letter of intent. Somewhere in between a promise, an obective, and a hope. An aspirational expression of what I'd like to become, in the most tricked-out, feature-laden version of myself, while acknowledging that it's unrealistic to think I'll manage to collect the whole set in the short term. Possibly ever, but let's not be defeatist.
Here, then, is my current Wishmas List. I may make this an annual tradition. (I've broken them into categories, because that's how I roll.)
Health & fitness
Assuming I get my health issues squared away (I'm not really willing to consider the alternative at the moment), start running again, working up to doing a couple of 5ks and maybe a 10k by the end of the year.
Last Spring, I started lifting, following the program in The New Rules of Lifting for Women. I loved it. Deadlifts, in particular, made me feel Wonder Woman-powerful. Once I started getting sick constantly, that fell by the wayside. I want to pick it up again (er, literally) as soon as I'm able.
Keep track of everything I eat (not just on "good" days). Not only is this a good way to keep the diet under control, but it can also be a useful record for tracking the progress of various malaises and the elimination thereof.
Take regular mental health breaks. It's not cheap, but even a few hours at a spa in the desert can be so rejuvenating, I think 3-4 times a year may be necessary.
It's up in the air whether it'll happen this year, but in the not-too-distant future I simply must get my hands on a new (at least new-to-me) motorcycle. I still miss my little Ninja like super crazy, and I know my quality of life would soar if I could hop on the bike and head out into the desert, or go on day trips with my women's riding group again.
Another summer plan I had to abandon was learning to play drums. When I was a kid, I learned to play a whole bunch of instruments, although I concentrated more on piano (which I loved) and clarinet (which I kind of hated). But I messed around with viola, and pretty much the whole range of woodwinds, plus guitar and banjo. In all that musicality, though, I never tackled a brass instrument, or percussion. While I think it would be kind of badass to play the trumpet, it's hard to do without a not-insignificant amount of money and commitment. Drums, on the other hand--for the level I care about--can be pared down to an electronic drumset (so my neighbors don't murder me in my sleep) and a bunch of instructional videos. By my calculations, strategic use of Craigslist should keep this whole cost around or below $300. Maybe this summer.
2012 was way too light on the improv, especially after the first few months. We did the festival in April, which was super awesome, but I can count on my fingers--maybe even the fingers of one hand--how many practices and shows I've managed to do with my troupe since mid-year. Meanwhile, a friend and I started working on a two person show about a year ago, and even though it's proceeded in fits and starts, we're about ready to take it onstage. So for next year I want to be more active in my regular troupe, and make the two-person show a regular thing.
I also want to, uh, write. For fun. Things that don't have to go through peer review, and that aren't just a bunch of navel-gazey scraps tossed at the Internet. I'm not a fantastic writer, but I enjoy the process; it works parts of my brain (and tickles parts of my fancy) that only improv gets close to, and that's a whole other thing (which is also hard to practice alone in the middle of the night, unlike writing). I'm never gonna be J.K. Rowling--or even E.L. James--but I don't want to just let that part of my soul wither and die completely. Maybe after a little practice, I can join a writing group or something to help improve my work and meet some interesting people.
I've been so caught up in rubbernecking at the car crash of various aspects of my life, that I've been a really terrible friend. I mean, worse than usual, which is saying a lot. So, I want to make a concerted effort to reach out more to my friends: call them, email, ask after them, be there for them when life is rough (or also, when it's awesome). I need to reverse the social withdrawal process, even though in a lot of ways it's comfortably familiar to me. It's bad for me, and bad for the people I care about.
I've already got some plans in place. In January a road trip to LA, a friend visiting for a few days in February, a penciled-in weekend in DC during my spring break to catch up with a bunch of people and see some great theatre. Maybe-possibly a gathering in Vegas this summer or fall. I want to add to this list. More experiences with awesome people: there is no lose.
It's time for me to put my time and effort where my mouth is. Maybe I'll write about the election in the next few days, but assuming I don't, the tl;dr is that although I still have a hard time staying sane when political tensions are high, I can't just sit around complaining and fretting anymore. I want to start getting involved in local politics in some fashion. I haven't yet decided whether that means looking to connect with city and other local aspects of government, or easing into the political party scene directly by going to meetings and stuff. The former is somehow less terrifying. Maybe.
I would really like to find a way to do some volunteer work, too, especially if it involves helping people with mental health issues. On the other hand, well, have you seen my list? And that's before we even get to what is perforce the biggest rock in the jar.
I don't want to go into a lot of detail about work plans and goals, for various reasons. Suffice it to say there is a whole lot to be done in this area. Meanwhile, I do have ideas for a book pawing at the fringes of my mind. I've taken some notes, jotted down some thoughts, and I'm pretty excited at the prospect. Not sure if it's feasible at the moment, but I'd like to keep playing with the notion over the next few months. It's fun to think about, anyway. (Probably more so than the actual writing which, if experience is any guide, is kind of excruciating, despite the whole "I enjoy writing" thing I mentioned above.)
I could add more here, for sure, but that's more than enough for now. As it is, I have a lot to look forward to, and plenty of changes to be made. And potentially very little sleep to be had. Wishmas isn't for the faint of heart.
On that note: Merry Wishmas to all, and to all a good night.