Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Festivus!

Happy holidays, all. I've been an absolute ten-toed couch sloth over the last few days, and have loved every minute of it. Wednesday I'll kick into high gear with a bunch of work that needs getting caught up on, but for now I'm in full relaxation mode. Neither the LWI nor I is particularly Christian, so we're not doing anything churchy or caroly, but he's roasting a leg of lamb, I've built a nice fire in the fireplace, we've opened a lovely bottle of wine and are now snuggled up with the cats writing holiday cards. (Yeah, I know I'm a little late with the cards, but those of you who get cards from me in the next few days, know that I'm having a lovely evening thinking about you right now.)

Julian of Norwich says it best: All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

I hope all's well with all of you. It's been a pleasure having gotten to know you, virtually or otherwise, and I'm grateful for your presence. I wish you many good things in the new year.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Year in review

Things that were particularly nice about this last year:
  • Being active. Around this time last year I was so wiped out from the semester that I just crashed and went into a mild version of hibernation; it felt good for a few days but ended up making me feel terribly sluggish, which took weeks to shake off. (As did the ten pounds that came with it.) For the rest of the year I managed to exercise more regularly and in ways I really enjoy. The LWI and I play tennis every time the weather permits, and I managed to go the gym at least three times a week even during the busiest weeks in the semester. I could still stand to lose some weight, but at least I'm in good shape, which I enjoy.
  • Finances. We're not wealthy by any means, but after years of half-starving my way through graduate school, it feels wonderful finally to have a little savings socked away. (Yes, I've been out of grad school for eight years. It took a while to get caught up.) This last year has been particularly good in that regard. (knock on wood! Please, universe, I am *not* asking for trouble here. Just because we can afford to get a new roof doesn't mean I want any more shingles to blow off.)
  • Family. I've grown closer to both ArtSister and Awesome Sister-in-Law over the past year, and in some ways the death of Belle-Mere this summer made me more clearly part of the LWI's family, which I really value. I haven't kept up with StudlyBrother as much as I'd like, though; we used to have excellent end-of-year philosophical discussions, and I miss that.
  • Liverpool. The academic highlight of the year was the conference/workshop I went to in Liverpool; it was without question the most productive, friendly, and engaging academic discussion I've ever been part of. Unfortunately the topic was something I've published on but do not plan on continuing to develop, so I can't use those connections as much as I'd like. But it was just nice to have been part of something so exciting, and to see the best side of academia. There were no cliques; there were no jerks; nobody was overly obsessed with his or her own ego. One of the most telling signs of the workshop's success, I think, was that on the nights where we were all free to head out on our own for dinner, the entire group (20-25 people) chose to find somewhere to go together to continue the discussions we'd been having for the previous eight hours!

Things I'm looking forward to in 2008:

  • Friendship. I haven't done much to cultivate friendships over the past few years, and it's starting to wear on me. I enjoy time with my husband, but just as Maggie said in her end-of-the-year meme, "being married has made me rather lazy about maintaining my friendships." Yep. I also got a fortune cookie the other day that said "Seek friendship and you will find it," which is a nice reminder that I do have to do a little active seeking; people aren't likely to just show up and knock on my door. There are a couple of people around here I'd like to get to know better, and that seems like a good place to start.
  • Spirituality. I used to be a very spiritual person, and this is something else I've let slide lately. Several folks have written beautiful posts about the solstice, and I'm wishing I'd done more to celebrate it. I'm usually too exhausted by this time of the year to really plan anything, but perhaps that's all the more reason. Some kind of spiritual fulfillment is something else I need to seek out.
  • Conference. I'm in charge of organizing the annual conference for the (fiarly small) main professional organization in my field this spring, and I'm starting to feel pretty good about it. It works in my favor that last year's conference was a little messy; I think I will look good in comparison. (knocking on wood again)
  • Confidence. I have a lot of big projects in line for this year, and although I do regularly suffer moments of panic about each of them, overall I think I'm capable of handling them and that they're all going to go well. Let's hope.

What about you? What's going to be good about next year?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Space for the gods to find me

Billie wrote the other day about meeting a woman in Starbucks who came across at first as vaguely pesky, distracting her from her writing, but then unexpectedly gave her some excellent advice about her dissertation.

My brother used to describe those people as “spirit guides,” the ones that just show up out of nowhere and tell you things you need to hear. It’s not all up to them, of course; you have to be paying attention. Spirit guides never announce themselves or wear handy name tags, so it’s easy to brush them off. I fear I’ve probably missed several, when I was more committed to talking than listening, or when I assumed a person had nothing interesting to offer. But if you’re smart enough to notice, they can make a big difference indeed.

I haven’t heard from any in a while, or perhaps I just haven’t been listening; I’ve had my head bent down a lot lately, trudging along to get things done. But for the new year I’m going to try to take a few more risks, open myself up to a little modest adventure, and see if any of the spirit guides come around to let me know how I’m doing.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A belated list of seven

Kermit and Squadratomagico tagged me ages ago for the Seven Meme, which calls me to list seven random and/or weird things about myself. Here goes:

1. Something that should help explain my absence from the internets for the last few days: I am just the right combination of hermitish and lazy that if I have the chance to stay home and in my pajamas for several days straight, I embrace it with deep pleasure. I think this is okay for now, but I worry a little bit that it will work against me when I'm old and have no actual obligations that get me out of the house. I'm going to end up one of those people who dies of old age at home, and nobody will find me for months because they won't notice I'm gone.

2. I had serious reservations about getting married, because I value my independence and my alone time so much. To my great astonishment, my husband and I now work together (in the same department, and at home we share an office), we shop together, we go to the gym together, and I enjoy every minute of it. I never would have believed this would be possible.

3. Several years ago I developed an interest in recording my dreams. I had read that if you write your dreams down just when you wake up, in that brief few minutes when they're still in your head, you can train yourself to remember them more clearly. The problem is that it worked entirely too well. You know how there are sometimes moments in your day that will make you recall a dream? That started happening to me all the time; it was like having a little TV channel of dream-remembering going on in my head that I couldn't turn off. For a few days I was worried that I'd seriously shorted out something in my brain, until they finally faded away again. I've never messed with my dreams since.

4. Speaking of dreams, I once had a remarkably vivid dream - more akin to a hallucination - that Death, personified as a woman in a black cloak, was in my living room. She hadn't come to take me or anything; she was just sort of dropping by to say hello. I should write about that one sometime; it's worth a post to itself.

5. I am developing the possibly annoying habit of exclaiming YES!, in a Brain (of Pinky and the Brain) voice, when I find solutions or come up with good ideas.

6. I have almost no memories of my childhood. There are a few photograph-like images in my head of particular moments, and two memories from somewhere around kindergarten, but other than that, there's almost nothing I can recall in any detail until about the age of twelve.

7. The entertainments of my youth (junior high and high school) largely involved setting things on fire. My best friend RocketBoy and I spent endless hours putting together bombs, rockets, and flares, cleverly designed and patched together with ordinary household items and ingredients stolen from his father's lab (his dad was a college chemistry professor). No one seemed particularly alarmed by this, if they even noticed. One afternoon when school was out we were out in RocketBoy's driveway setting ourselves on fire (there's a trick with isopropyl alcohol that lets you set your whole hand on fire for a few seconds without suffering any damage), and one of the neighbors stepped out onto his back porch, saw us cackling gleefully and waving our flaming hands around, and just sighed "Summer's here."

The rules for this meme, of course, involve tagging other people. This one's been going around for a while, so I suspect everyone's had a chance at it; if not, I tag you!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Spanish spicy

This has an odd set of questions, but I'm quite charmed by the results (mine & those I've seen elsewhere).

Your Score: Saffron

You scored 75% intoxication, 25% hotness, 100% complexity, and 50% craziness!

You are Saffron! Those other spices have nothing on you! You're warm, smart, and you make people feel really good (and with no side-effects!). You can be difficult to get to know and require a lot of those who try, but you're so totally worth it. *Sigh*

Link: The Which Spice Are You Test written by jodiesattva

This is just blogfill for the moment - I'll be back soon with memes handed along from kermit, Squadrato and Wayfarer!