2016 Goals & Dreams

  1. Publish my book
  2. Record one cover song
  3. Record one original song
  4. Make one app
  5. Take photos
  6. Publish my second poetry book
  7. Don't spend money
  8. Love my neighbors
 All very simple...all much harder than they look on paper, I think.

What I did in 2015

I wish I could say I met all my personal and reading goals for 2015 - but I really didn't.  Personal issues threw me off course for the better part of the first six months, and it was summer before I came back to where I had, so optimistically, began.  It's ok: it's why I call them goals and dreams, not resolutions.  In the end, failure became a catalyst for achieving other things, which, in an odd way, turned out for the best.

Goals met:
  1. Quit my Tumblr habit -  I give this an 80% pass.  I still manage to idle away time on the internet, but I do so less these days, and spend relatively little time on Tumblr.
  2. Save money - I spent quite a bit of money, to buy a car and to build credit, but I managed to save quite a bit as well.
  3. Contribute to open-source projects - 50% for effort.  I put a little project on GitHub, which is a start.
  4. Finish The Infinite Now - In July I finished my book...my pride and joy and four years' labor of love.  :)  It's really not too much to say that it was life-changing, both writing it and finishing it.  If I'd done nothing else this year, this alone would make me happy.
Things done that were unplanned:
  1. Becoming vegetarian - At the end of March, I decided to go vegetarian.  I'd been thinking about it on and off, and finally felt like I'd better just do it and stop thinking about it. My goal, as it's evolved, is to not eat any meat for a year, then to reevaluate and decide whether to continue or stop.  Maybe in another post I'll talk about my motives and inspiration, but for now, I'm relieved I've made it through summer potlucks and holidays, nine months meatless!
  2. Cutting my hair - The same day I finished my book, I donated 12" of hair to Wigs for Kids.  It was not as heroic as it sounds...I have had medium-to-long hair for over a decade, and suddenly getting a bob was a bit shocking, far from the "yay! makeover!" as it's sometimes marketed.  However, like vegetarianism, it was something I felt compelled to do.  I haven't regretted it (though I miss my long hair).
  3. Mentoring - My dad and I became programming mentors at my brother's robotics club this past November.  It feels kind of scary...I don't consider myself particularly qualified...but they really needed more mentors, so I decided to give it a go.
  4. Surviving a year at my job - Getting acclimated to my first full-time job, I went through an enormous amount of pressure, panic, and despondency.  I was frustrated with tasks I felt I knew nothing about, frustrated with comparing myself to other new coworkers, and frustrated with feeling out of place (which I still do, but that's another quandary).  The good news is, I had my one-year review this month, and my boss thought I did fine.  I scored highest on interpersonal skills...which, as a former shy girl, made me want to weep for joy...no one has any idea how much pain it takes to be "natural" at communicating, unless you used to be very unnatural at it.  So I have changed.
This year, I grew up.  I've become old and tired and almost aromantic (little 'r'...I'll always be Romantic).  But growing up for me has been surprisingly good; at heart I am still "seven-and-a-half exactly," and in my head I'm all the combined wisdom and rubbish and pomposity of a twenty-something.  2015 was not quiet, nor very bookish, nor a "gap year" - it was what it was, and I'm grateful for a happy ending to it. 

December again

Suddenly, when little ironies show their hideous faces, and the little world twists madly on and around its weary axis, it's as if you can hear Jesus saying, "Am I not enough?"  In His Words, He promises, My grace is sufficient for you, and Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.  

I can think I am at equilibrium and sufficiently past time's early barriers, but when the tendrils of expectation enter my head, they weigh me down with the scent of deception and false deities.  I scramble in the dark for easy exits, forgetting there is no reason to run.

Emmanuel means God is with us - I want only to be always conscious of His omniscience.
A year ago I was (once again) at a very low point, overnight as it seemed.  Last night, confused and self-loathing and crying tired tears, I asked for help again.  Like this year was new, this morning was also new.  He doesn't look down on my ongoing battles: every time I look up He pulls me through. 

How do you be joyful again, when you remember past joys being undone by personal sorrows?  By probability, joy will never not be crushed again, but through Jesus, sadness and losses are conquerable.  New courage, when it is so perfect, is a miracle, and comes as quietly yet completely as only God can make happen.

My strangest journal

Of all my autobiographical writings, sometimes this one gets forgotten. It shouldn’t be.

Writing has always been a way for me to cope with things. From fall 2008 to winter 2009, I wrote a novella, more like a long short story, The S.M.T. Letters, set in 18081809 and written by a young scientist, S. M. Tallis. It is a traditional sea story and a short one at that - the main feature of it is that it’s based on real life, essentially a journal. I cast real settings and events into a pseudohistorical analogy, or at least the plot revolved around my perceptions of actual events at the time.  The date on each letter is the same as the date it was written, only two hundred years earlier.

It is not a well-written or interesting story, besides being painfully flowery at times. What brings me back to it today is the fact I cast one of my personal issues, an anxiety disorder, as a character. In the story, I wrote him as the main antagonist, and the narrator as the defenceless victim.  The antagonist's appearance in the plot comes as sudden, unforeseen, and unexplainable; that is, true to life.  He comes, goes, and returns again, over and over.
He turned, and I saw his countenance for a moment, awful and cruel. In an instant he raised one hand to hood himself, and with the other he struck me a blow, sending me backwards into the bulwarks. The waves were chopping and the ship rolled severely as I recovered my feet. The stranger was merciless in his attacks, and I thought his purpose was directed in getting me overboard, sending me helpless into the bleak green sea. I fought back, but I was weaker than he—at last, I was compelled to cry out, long and clear, for help.
It wasn't fiction.  These are sad, somewhat heartbreaking sentences to read in context. It would be four worsening years later before I accepted this fact; it was an apt analogy... “this antagonist is not me.  And I can’t save myself.” Only at that point, long after I finished this story, was I was truly and finally healed.  I had only ever needed to recognize that disorder as an illness, something only God could heal me from, and then stop trying to outthink it and just let Him save me.

This is as much as I’ve ever told anyone about that issue, and I’m not sure I’ll ever share the complete Letters. I guess what brings it up all of a sudden is I've been reading Poe and Verne again lately; they were two of many authors whose style made it possible for me to write this kind of journal and find comfort in it, as poorly written as it is. Not only that, but I want someone to know, to have some idea anyway.

This irrational fear and subconscious disbelief warped my sense of time.  It became a definitive part of my life, like a physical illness in that sense, but impossible to understand or explain (I never could).  Thankfully, my healing and recovery were so complete that now I often forget it ever existed. Although, to my regret, I sometimes take for granted these entire days that my mind is free of anxiety, especially that one which caused so much pain and depression.  No longer being too unhappy to cry, too confused to talk - it feels like I have come back to "the life I once loved."

It's Sunday morning, past 2:30 a.m.  Someday I will write about this in depth.  For now, it's just here to remind myself, and to talk about it aloud, for the first time.  Not for me, but because of Him.
You must think very badly of me, for I am always recording my grievances and continuously harping upon the same subject(s); but I think I might be granted pardon. After all, one must tell someone. Those thoughts which are pent up in one's mind seek an outlet, and, within these pages, they may find such a thing without feeling restricted (within reason and certain boundaries, of course!), and without being met with ridicule. The writer must write, but so must the solitary individual who has no other audience, or would in no ways else relate his thoughts.


Stuck in a rut and want to get out.

I always thought it would be nice to have weekends again, and it is, apart from the propensity to measure time by weekends.  Four months I've been at this job, and though I appreciate it even more than at the beginning, it seems to me I've grown lazy outside of work, and I hate that.

Lately I've wanted nothing more than to go to some foresty place and take a nice long walk.  That's really all I want to do.  The last time we went was in September, to a state park, and it was perfect.

(With the unusually warm weather, fall and winter and spring have all kind of blended together.  Probably it looks much the same right now as it did then.)

There's something I need to do, but I haven't yet figured out what it is.

Anyways, for now, I've been reading a bit.  Academia put a barrier (aka real life) between fiction and me, but nevertheless the reading list remains long.  I'm wading tediously through Dante's The Divine Comedy...for some reason thought there were only 12 cantos of "Hell" when there are actually 34.  Longfellow's is a nice translation, though.

It's Lent, and my goals are simple - think carefully, pray sincerely, and live without fear.  (Or, something intuitive along those lines, which can't be described in words.)  Anxiety as a habit is a very hard thing to detach from, and it is possible to catch it like you would a flu, suddenly and unguarded.  Spring makes it even harder for me.  That makes it the most important time to be "facing it, always facing it."