January – What I’m Reading

Here’s what’s on the reading list right now:

Kevin Crossley-Holland The Norse Myths – in this introductory text on Norse Mythology, Crossley-Holland combines myth retellings with strong scholarship on the original texts for each myths. This book is extremely readable, and I love flipping back and forth between the myth retelling and the scholarly notes on each myth (which includes the original texts the myth is derived from, and any modifications that C-H made, as well as alternate ways of telling the myth).

Seanan McGuire Rosemary and Rue – Haven’t started this yet. This is the first book in the October Daye series. If it’s as good as her InCryptid series, I’ll be thrilled. I’ve been saving the second book of that series for later in the year.

Jim C Hines Libriomancer – Another book I’ve purchased but haven’t started. Magic and books, what could be better? Oh, also a fire spider. I am looking forward to the fire spider. This is the first in another series (the second book has been published already). I loved The Stepsister Scheme, so I’m hoping I will like this one as well.

J. K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – listening on audio book. This is month 4 of the Harry Potter re-read I’m doing with Tami and her blog readers. (I haven’t actually finished Prisoner of Azkaban yet, but I’m almost done)

Diana Paxson Tranceportation – a book on meditative trance. This was recommended to me when I mentioned that I do a lot of meditation and was looking for some different ways to approach it (since “blank mind” meditation is hard, especially with anxiety issues). I’m about two chapters in, and it’s interesting so far. Supposedly there are guided exercises later in the book.

Starting off 2013

I usually don’t make “New Year’s Resolutions”, simply because I don’t think this is always the best time of year to be starting new things. After the bustle of the holidays, winter sets in, and I’m up for a period of resting and recharging, not reorganizing my linen closet.

At least, that was my plan, but I’ve found myself setting up some mental goals in the last week anyway, maybe because so many other people are doing it. Instead of vague, unmeasurable goals though, I want to set up things that I can actually track. Maybe I will readjust my plans after a month or so, but at least I’d like to have some idea of whether I’ve stuck to these or not. As such, I’m not making goals for the whole year, just for the month of January. Ideally I can make some of these things into habits, and if I remember, I’ll revisit them in February. That seems more manageable to me.

So what are these goals?

Eat out only once per week.

My work schedule has changed from the 9-80 to a regular 40 hour, 5 day work week. This means I’m not getting up quite as early (6am instead of 4:45), which means I’m not going to bed quite as early, which means I have a little more flexibility in my evenings. SSH and I are both feeling like we could eat better, and the more cooking I do, the less I have to eat frozen gluten free meals for lunch (which are OK, but there are only about 4 options that I consider edible, and that gets old fast). If I limit our eating out, and cook more in the crock pot, I’ll have more leftovers for that, and we’ll both be eating much healthier.

Blog once per week.

Easier said than done. I miss writing about things, and I can access my wordpress login to this blog from work, so hopefully I’ll remember to keep things updated. If I keep up with my other goals, this one should be easy, since I’ll have something to talk about beyond work and sleep.

Walk at least 1 mile, three times per week.

After a pain flare, my schedule got the better of me again, and I quit walking (and biking). I’m still tracking the miles to Rivendell, and I’m ALMOST to Crickhollow. I will be trying to walk MORE than my minimum, but 3 miles a week is my minimum goal. It’s the best time of year for walking in Texas, since I don’t have to change clothes to walk right now. Hopefully I can set up a proper walking habit. This means changing my evening schedule slightly, since I’ve been showering as soon as I get home from work, and spending the evening in PJs, but I think now that I can stay up until 10, I can make it work.

Spend at least one night per week reading.

I realized that I think I only finished two books in 2012, and that makes me pretty sad. Especially given that I used to work at a frigging bookstore, so I have no shortage of books. So I’ve set a goal to FINISH at least book a month in 2013. You can find me on GoodReads if that’s your thing. I’ll be posting there as I finish books. I’m not going to make myself read all fiction though, since I’m apparently still too easily wrapped up in things. The last book I finished was very good, but I spent a whole weekend being sad after finishing it, which isn’t super fun. Re-reading counts too, but I’m going to limit my re-reads. I do want to get through Harry Potter again, once I finish Lord of the Rings.

Spend at least one evening per week doing a craft or hobby.

This will probably be spinning, since I have my new spinning wheel to learn! It might also be knitting or sewing, or writing letters. Or maybe doing canning projects. I feel like since I started my new job, all my hobbies except “putter around on the internet” have been largely abandoned. Hence the goal of doing them one night a week! This is allowed to be done while watching television, though we’re in the Long, Dark, Miserably Baseball-less Winter, so there’s not a lot I want to watch during the week.

Meditate at least 10 minutes, two days a week.

This can include seated meditation, walking meditation, mantra meditation, or stretching/yoga type meditation, just so that I don’t get bored. I’m allowed to combine this with the walking 3 times a week goal, but I have to actually concentrate on using the walk as a meditation, not just say “well I walked, that counts for two things.”

Unfuck my house at least once a week

Those not familiar with Unfuck Your Habitat may want to check out their tumblr, about page, tips, and welcome packet. It’s suited me better than FlyLady, which was becoming a constant source of anxiety instead of helping me keep my house clean. Working 12 hour days and needing at least 8 hours sleep apparently isn’t the ideal situation to feel like you have to spend at least an hour cleaning your house every day. I like the 20/10 system, and it’s helped me keep on top of the housework in a short time on weekends. Except for laundry, which still takes several hours, but there’s not much I can do about that. Anyway, I want to continue to keep on top of that, so this is really a “continuing” goal instead of a new one.

I am hoping I’m not biting off more than I can chew, but I think it’ll be a good experiment to do for a month. If any of these proves to be obnoxious, I will not hesitate to axe them from the list. Most of this list is about having more fun and being more well rounded, and if I’m miserably sitting in my living room spinning because it’s “official spinning day” and I’m hating every minute of it, that kind of defeats the point. So maybe these are more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules (thank you, Capt. Barbossa).

Feel free to help keep me accountable for this. I’m tired of doing nothing but work, putter on the computer, and sleep! Here’s to January!

1 jan 2010

My feedreader tells me that today means something.

It means a new beginning, a new year, a new end to the date on the checks I write every month, at least 17 of which I will screw up before March, and probably one more in June or something, when I’m not paying attention. In popular reckoning, it’s a new decade (thanks to our base-10 system) even if, to the people that make calendars and know things about math and whatever, the new decade doesn’t start until next year.

Quite honestly?

I’m not that into it.

I don’t typically make resolutions on New Years – there’s nothing special about Jan 1 that makes resolutions more likely to stick. In fact, in my experience, they’re /less/ likely to stick, since I come up with them arbitrarily to fulfill the need to have /something/ to say to the ubiquitous “so what’s your resolution for the new year?” question.

I refuse to make resolutions like “I will eat healthier” or “I will lose weight”. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with those kind of resolution, but promises to better myself made in January – when I am inevitably in a mental lull and usually struggling against cold/damp induced pain flares – just aren’t a good idea for me. And really? I eat very well, and am at a healthy weight. I’m not the buff 19 year old martial-arts freak I was in college… but I also didn’t have to worry about overdoing it and not being able to walk/function the next day back then (and I do eat a whole lot better now than I did then).

So I don’t really do the resolution thing.

I’m not the kind of person that can pick one thing and do it for an extended period of time and be happy. I “binge” on projects, for lack of a better term. I get REALLY into something, and then kinda fizzle out after a few months. If it’s going to stand the test of time, I’ll go back to it (like letter writing and pen collecting and making music and writing), but frequently I flit from project to project – and I’m usually pretty happy that way.

I could make resolutions about blogging more here (where my subject matter isn’t as limited), or about writing more – both collaborative and independently – or about keeping up with friends and finding new penpals and reading more books and not spending all my money on pens and paper, and drawing mandalas and keeping myself disciplined about spiritual and meditative things (and I think you get the idea) but… well, I don’t know that I’d keep any of them, and I don’t know that making them would do any good towards keeping them anyway.

As such, since it’s new years and apparently this is what I’m expected to do (even if I can rant about how new year’s resolutions kinda make me want to poke myself in the eye) I think I’ll make the following resolution:

I will do the things I love, focus on the people that matter, and spend my time on the things I know I will continue to be interested in.

It’s not about pens or writing or games or finding a job or writing a book or blogging or … really anything. But it works, I think, for one addled writer in Texas – or at least I hope it will.

And for everyone who reads this blog (or my other blog) I hope the following, in the words of Someone Famous, who has no idea who I am, but who has an undeniable way with words.

…I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you’ll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.

– Neil Gaiman

2 down, a lifetime to go

Two years ago today, I woke up in a hotel room in downtown Houston, opened the blinds up of my 18th floor room, and felt my heart sag just a little.  It was, in fact, pouring rain.

The kind of pouring that it does in Houston in January, where it’s foggy and windy, not really cold, but a driving, drenching, lasts all day kind of rain.

Normally that wouldn’t bother me so much, but two years ago today, I got married – and I wasn’t really looking forward to a white wedding dress in the rain and mud. But, I couldn’t exactly control the weather, and it wasn’t cold, so I couldn’t complain (just the weekend before it’d been 30 degrees, so complaining about 65 seemed rather silly, esp for January). I got up, got dressed, and went down to eat breakfast with my family before heading off to the whirlwind that is being the bride in a large family style church wedding in Texas.

At breakfast, I ran into my grandparents – my grandfather was the officiant in our wedding. Nobody had mentioned the weather – and there were probably 15 of us in the restaurant. It was, in a way, like the elephant nobody wanted to mention. Nobody, that is, except my PopPop, who has never had a shy moment in his life (I don’t think).  Anyway, he must’ve noticed the elephant and took it head on.

He looked over at me, as I’m three spoons deep into my oatmeal and yoghurt and fruit, and said “You know you’re not allowed to worry about the weather right?” I looked back, puzzled, at the grinning, white haired man who I’d call “impish” if he didn’t have quite so much presence when he wanted to (Italian grandpas are like that sometimes).

“Well, you see, I took it up with Management, and they’ve assured me that it will be sunny by 2 o’clock.” He pointed up at the ceiling, winking at me. We all laughed, but it warmed my overwhelmed heart to think of him having such a conversation with “Management” (his faith has always astounded me, but I suppose thats how ministers are) about the rain on his eldest granddaughter’s wedding day.

After breakfast, I started the whirlwind. Hair done, back up on the 18th floor my best friend’s little sister was doing our make up while we picked at some turkey sandwiches and sipped ginger ale through straws so we wouldn’t muss our lipstick. We had a big suite, my parents and I, with a large “meeting room” in between – it was really convenient, since there were never fewer than 12 people in the two rooms combined.  IN and out, in and out – who called the florist, did someone call the reception manager lady back about the cake, around and around.

And then – around 1:30, just as we were getting the last of our things together to make the short trip over to the church, someone else came in.

“You should open the curtains.”

I raised an eyebrow and opened them.  And sure enough, out over the Houston skyscape, drenched with the morning’s rain, the sun crept out.  Ok maybe crept is an understatement.  I squinted into the light, shading my eyes.

And from somewhere in one of the other rooms, my grandfather’s voice floated in, chuckling. “I told you, I took it up with Management.”

The weather eventually brightened so much that not only was the church bathed in multicolored light from the stained glass, but in the downtime between the ceremony and the reception, our photographer winged us a photoshoot in Hermann Park – and captured what would become my favorite pictures of the entire day. (Including one of me walking over traintracks in my chapel length train… with my dress held up about my knees and crinoline spewing out around everywhere.) The eventual high for the day was 74.  On the 27th of January.