Sunday, January 3, 2010

2009 - Discretion, Reem, Discretion!

Happy Nude Year! Another year older, another year of more maturity, obviously. You see, I spent much of my New Year's Eve making fart noises with my friends in my living room. Good times!

So, for the last couple years, I've done a "Year in Review" blog entry, which pretty much ended up being a bunch of pictures and me linking to my own blog entries. Fun stuff. I thought about doing it again this year, but, I dunno. It's been a really full year, without a doubt the fullest of my entire life, and I guess I'm not sure how much of it I want to review so publicly. You see, a little over a year ago, I learned a very valuable lesson from my mother. Here's how it went:

I was making banana bread, waiting for my friend Genia to arrive at my parents' house in Illinois - she was going to visit for a couple of nights. She arrived, and I got all excited, but was still trying to make the banana bread, in a very unfocused way. As Genia and I talked a mile a minute, I forgot what I was doing and basically dumped an entire bag of walnuts into the batter without measuring or thinking about it. My mom looked over and exclaimed, "Discretion, Reem! Discretion!" And oh man, I listened. In one fell swoop, I stopped pouring walnuts and I stopped telling the whole world my business. It has paid off so much. Best advice I've received in quite a long time. Thanks, Mom!

So anyhow, I re-read my 2008 Year in Review, and decided I didn't need to do another boring survey. As I glimpsed through the survey, however, one thing did catch my mind. The last question of the whole thing was simply: Plans for 2009? Here is how I answered:

Stick with this whole less tumultuous, quieter thing I've got going on. Less drama. More of what I want. More of what I need. A big trip somewhere with Sarah to celebrate our 30th bdays. Keep eating right and cooking awesomely. Evaluate exactly what is keeping me in Madison. Buy a better Ipod. Book club! Keep writing, specifically my blog.

Well! Pretty good plans, eh? Let's review.

Better iPod: I got a new iPod (iPod Classic), and just in time too - 6 days before the end of the year! Just wait for a zillion awesome playlists, and a "shuffle" feature that will take you from Peter, Paul, and Mary to Tenacious D to Beethoven. It's sort of weird...

Keep writing: I kept writing! Yes, there was a good two month period in which I published literally nothing on this blog (sorry, babies!), but I was writing a ton - just not posting it here. It's the non-public sort of writing; not so much funny or entertaining or anybody's business, but, you know. Important. Necessary. Sanity-saving. Lovely. So, that was wonderful. And, I joined Miriam Hall's Contemplative Writing class, which helped me focus my writing and be more mindful about the actual process of writing, how I approach it, how I come out of it, and even what kinds of materials I use. As Tara and I talked about today, it is amazing and so rewarding to have structure in the approach to writing, to have even a measly two hours a week in which you do nothing but write (or meditate and write and share and listen). To dedicate a small piece of your life to writing, and having no other options or distractions during that time. That's a pretty great gift!

Book club: club did not last. Which is okay, because scheduling is hard and sometimes it feels like school, and I rebel. But I did read a lot this year. And I'm excited about reading again! I have to admit, I got seriously burnt out on reading during grad school. A postmodern theory-heavy curriculum combined with a steadily increasing level of anxiety and restlessness in my mind during that time did not make for a pleasant "outside reading" experience. I'd have to re-read paragraphs ten or more times in a row just to be able to pay attention to the words I was reading, not to mention my struggles to understand it all. Seriously, hours and hours spent on like ten pages. Barf. It probably goes without saying that I turned away from reading for fun for a long, long time. I'm so glad to be back. Favorite books read this year: Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison, The Shack by WIlliam P. Young, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, and In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. They've all changed my life, a little bit or a lot. Also enjoying bits and pieces of Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, but I haven't finished it yet. And...yes, I am supposed to start reading Twilight. I promised one of my coworkers I would. And I'll be able to relate to my teenage students better. And my sister...who's not a teenager, but enjoys vampires very much.

Evaluate what's keeping me in Madison: Well shoot! I can't say I really evaluated it consciously, but I definitely decided I'm happy and finally feel sure that I want to stay here. Yes, it's true. After a mere seven and a half years of living here in Madison, I'm finally ready to stay. I like it here. I'm happy here. I love my job and my friends and my home and my life. And I've stopped comparing Madison to other cities. And it has worked - I'ma stay here, folks! It's about time I decided this, eh?

Eating right and cooking awesomely. Well...I'd say this had to be one extreme or the other. For example, when I do it, I do it up real good. Or, somebody else does it up real good for me, which is always much appreciated. But...then I go on vacation and eat seventeen zillion of everything delicious. So...yeah, this one sort of happened. But whatever I did, I promise, I did it with gusto! Also, since Christopher changed my kitchen, I feel happier being in it...

A big trip somewhere with Sarah. Okay, so we didn't celebrate our 30th birthdays together. Although I had an absolutely marvelous birthday celebration this year (well, two of them), I knew Sarah and I had to get together at some other point. You know, so we wouldn't totally suck. So, we met in Michigan and had a crazy old time full of partying and wild her parents' house. And then we got to hang out again at Mark's wedding, taking a mini-road trip from Providence down to Long Island. I'd say those were big trips, and we're usually celebrating when we're together, so...done and done!

More of what I want/More of what I need: Check. Check plus. Check and mate. Check it out. I did it. It is done. And done.

Less drama: Again, check! Although, I wouldn't mind a bit more musical theater here and there. Yeah, I love musical theater. So what?

Stick with this whole less tumultuous, quieter thing I've got going on: If there is any advice even close to as good as the Mom-advised DISCRETION, it's that sentence right there. Quiet is good. Alone time is wonderful. Staying still is lovely, and I'm so happy to do it.

So, I'd say it worked out exceptionally well! I've never liked making resolutions because I think they're sort of stupid, but this whole "making plans" thing just might be for me. So, with 362 days from now in mind, here are my plans for 2010:

Keep writing: in any form, public or private, hilarious or personal, contemplative or messy.
Learn Spanish. I don't know why, but there's something telling me to.
Travel. As much as possible. Try to get out of the country at least once this year.
Do things that will result in hilarious or interesting stories (because the experience itself is inevitably awesome). I.e. The Onion Dog, being an extra in the Mustard Museum movie, winning a toilet in an internet contest, etc.
Yoga! I attended my first two classes this week, and have several more on the calender over the next few weeks. Absolutely fantastic.
Keep loving, keep my heart open.
Keep on. Keep up.

Smell you later, 2009! Smooches to all of you! xo


Susannah said...

So you'd recommend that writing class, then?

I know I is perfeshnul righter already, but I could so use some focus (okay, everywhere), particularly when it comes to not being so self-conscious about potential fiction or freelance writing.

Unknown said...

I love you! You are inspiring.

Cody said...

Awesome. Thanks for sharing. Discretion is good. I am learning that as well. I think it's awesome you've decided you like Madison and stop comparing it to other cities. I hope I get there. I'd love to grow roots somewhere and quit all this moving once a year bullshit. Yoga, Spanish, and travel are on my list too!

Sara Ashes said...

best title ever!!! I want to read Persepolis- isn't it a graphic novel?? i'm so proud of you sissy!!