I’m not typically the kind who makes New Year’s Resolutions. It’s not really my style. That being said, the only resolution I can ever remember making was on the final day of 2005 when I let a friend make my resolution for me: I’d start carrying a purse and not just my keychain wallet. Sigh. Okay. I stuck to it too, and now it feels weird if I don’t have my purse (mostly because it’s full of the gum that I compulsively chew).
The theme of my 2010 seemed to be, coming off of a terrible 2009, that I was just trying to figure out what I want. I don’t know if I’ll ever totally figure that out, but as I’ve been sitting on these first couple of weeks of 2011, it’s occurred to me that there are a few things that I want to work on.
Do Not Let People Take Me For Granted/Walk All Over Me
I haven’t totally figured out how I manage to do it, but I have a tendency to let people walk all over me. I let them treat me badly, come around when it’s convenient for them, and operate friendships on their terms. I let them hurt me, and then when they come around again, I say it’s alright because I’m not interested in dissolving friendships. Still, I have to recognize toxic people and put some distance in there. In early 2010 I wrote a post about how I was tired of being taken for granted, and I think that still holds true. It bothers me that someone can think, “Well, I know where to find her and I know she’ll answer me right away because she’s incapable of ignoring people, so I’ll get to her when it’s a better time for me.” Do I think everyone I know operates like that? No. But I am not nearly so naive as to think that even the people closest to me will never hurt my feelings, let me down, or disappoint me in some way. I’m certain I do it to them too. That’s life, and those once-in-a-while things aren’t what’s bothering me. I’ve had some kind of surge of confidence lately which has made me, in turn, realize that I don’t need to deal with that crap. So I’m working now to not let these things happen, to keep my own distance from people if I think they’re taking me for granted, and to keep talking myself up to… me (I hear the Team Renee t-shirts will be out-selling Team Edward any day now).
Remember What I Read
I read a lot of books and most of the time, no matter how much I love a book, a few years pass and I cannot for the life of me remember what it was about. I’ve got this book on my shelf. I look at it every single day. I know that when I tore through it in 2006, I proclaimed that it was one of the best books I’d read. Now the only thing I can remember is that one of the characters had a dog named Empson for the literary critic William Empson. Even books about which I can recall some details, I don’t feel confident enough. I love reading a book and then discussing it with people. That becomes somewhat difficult if you get stories confused and forget major plotlines. This is why I’m re-reading the entire Harry Potter series. This is why I read my favorite book, The Great Gatsby, at least once a year. This is why I’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird no fewer than seven times. There’s a great open source program for Macs called, simply, Books. I neglected to back up the data from that program when my hard drive had to be wiped down over the summer, so I’m starting fresh. Every book I read, I’m entering it into Books (I’ve done this for every book I’ve read since November). There’s a section where I can write my own review, and that’s where I plan to cram as much detail as I can while it’s fresh in my mind. That way when someone says, “Hey, what did you think of Tim O’Brien’s book The Things They Carried?” I’ll be able to say more than “That book was amazing and I recommend it to everyone, but I can’t remember a lot of the details.” THE WHOLE BOOK IS ABOUT DETAILS. It’s amazing to me that I can remember the most trivial of details. I remember music videos from the 80s with more clarity than things I learned two years ago. I remember what I wore on the first day of pre-school, but I don’t remember books I read more than a year ago. Memory be damned, I’m writing these things down from now on.
Trust God More
This one is probably going to come as a shock to some people, so let me explain as briefly as I can. I was baptized Catholic and grew up attending CCD classes. I also went to Sunday School classes at my dad’s Methodist church until about 8th grade, so I already had an interesting perspective. Sometime after my Confirmation in 11th grade, I had a big falling out with religion and realized that I had a lot of issues with the Catholic church. I stopped going. I lost my metaphorical way. But I’ve been making a lot of changes lately and I’ve been growing up, I suppose. In the summer of 2009, I tried going back to the Catholic church, but it just didn’t sit well with me. I couldn’t really find myself in my dad’s church, either, so I just stopped going again. Fast forward to the spring of 2010 and all of the sudden I start asking myself a lot of really complex questions about life and why things happen the way they do. I start thinking about religion again. I’d attended a Lutheran-affiliated university, and while religion wasn’t stressed there, I got to know a lot of Lutherans. As it happened, one of my old roommates had become a Lutheran minister. I get in touch with her, we talk religion. I sit and I think about all of this for a little bit. Then one day I just decide that I’d like to go to the Lutheran church, so I went by myself and decided that I’d figure it out as I went along. As it turns out, something there clicked with me. I’m not sure what it is, but I know that it’s working because I feel off-balance if there’s a week that I don’t go to church. I love the sense of calm that I feel when I’m there and that it gives me something to think about in a structured way (my mind is a dangerous place when left to its own devices in the wrong conditions). I love that half my [elderly] neighborhood goes there and they go crazy when they see me. I love that on any given Saturday night, there’s at least a 75% chance that I will be the only person under 40 in the church. I LOVE the old ladies who sit by me in the back and smile and wave. The problem here is that I have a tendency to feel as though I need to understand everything in my life, and I’m just starting to realize that I don’t. Sometimes things just need to play out and I need to go along for the ride. It’s not always important that I understand why just yet; I just have to trust God. This is really difficult for me sometimes (refer to my first resolution, for instance, which already presents potential conflict), but I’m working on it.
Hey, if you’ve made it the whole way to the end, congratulations! It seems that my blog has taken on two themes: writing and life. This time I wanted to discuss life. Next week I’ll be back with something about writing. A bientot.