10 January 2010

January Haze

I've been spending quite a bit of time on facebook because I am "writing an essay and working on a presentation" which, these days, translates into five minutes of looking at something that is not academic work alternating with five minutes of looking at the academic work. The non-academic things are usually facebook and other people's blogs and my e-mail.

The start of this year has been marked by lassitude on my part and I was rather worried about it until I realised that this has been true of every early January I can think of going as far back as 1997. I think that at this point it would make sense for me to start expecting mental haziness in the New Year. The same goes for being disorganised. The same for New Year's resolutions.

Last year I resolved to lose all of the weight I'd gained while taking Seroquel, to graduate from college and to apply to grad school. I managed to keep each one of them, losing more than fifty pounds to be a healthy 140lbs (I'm 5'6"), graduated with honours and not only applied to grad school but gone to grad school. But I didn't get off to a good start with any of that during January - instead, I sat around spiritually if not physically, in my pajamas and read novels. I have been doing exactly the same thing this year. Now I just need to drag myself away from the duvet and hot water bottles and get back into real life. It will be a relief.

I have two resolutions for this year - one, to find a job that will let me stay here, which means it has to be a proper job (I've never had a proper job before - always art things that have a grand total of two or three women working for them except for the one time I worked retail at a local kitchen store with a grand total of twelve, including two men) and two, to make my life have more of the things I like in it. That is ill-expressed but I'm not quite sure how to put it.

For years now I have been concentrating on very immediate and necessary things, i.e. not killing myself, which moved on to making sure I slept and ate, then making sure that I got dressed every day, then making sure that I had enough social interaction, and then trying to help myself feel better than horrible, then trying to get to a point where I could say that I felt well instead of just 'not miserable'....and so on. That has been my focus since late February of 2007, which is when I started to lose my mind the most recent and most horrible time. By now, I have felt well without extraordinary interruption since September of 2008, I have my BA, I'll soon enough have an MSc and I feel like myself and likely to stay well for a significant period of time (for me, that means two or more years in the future.) The upshot of this is that I have started thinking more about what I want my life to be like because it seems worth trying to make myself happy rather than just trying to make sure I'm not miserable.

I am not a philosopher with an analytic bias for nothing, so I have been scratching out this train of thought in my journal and come to the conclusion that what I want out of life, what would make me happy to have in my life are more books, being around art (of any discipline) and people who make it (and also occasionally getting to help with it or make my own), public speaking (I don't know why I like it so much, it's a strange thing for a person as shy as I am, but I do), and love, in its many forms. Not all of these things can be forced, least of all the last on the list, but when I have to make a decision, I can try always to make the decision that most favours the possibility of these outcomes (and again, it's statements like these that make me realise that philosophy is always with me).

Oh bother. I meant this to be a shorter post because that essay and presentation I'm "working" on do actually have to be finished tonight. Anyhow, I was going to gracefully drag this back around to how I realised that I'm entirely out of it every New Year. I realised it while playing on facebook, of all things. I don't know how many of you that read this are on facebook but if you are then you are bound to have seen the application that will make a picture out of your status updates for the last year. Looking back at what I had up there (see pseudonymous but otherwise authentic version below), and looking back at the beginning of this blog* reminded me that I felt every bit as confused this time last year.

*This blog is now a year and seven days old! There will be a 'first year in review' at some point.


  1. I think you've nailed it with the resolve to pursue those things in life that please you and make you happy. It's the next stage from getting the basic funtions (cleaning, eating etc) in order. The 3rd (most difficult) project is to find a way of overcoming or managing the more difficult, unpleasant aspects of this life that one can't entirely remove or avoid. Facebook (for me) slots into the latter category although it's entirely avoidable (I know this since I deleted my account). Distractions aside, perhaps it doesn't bother you so much.
    I agree that this is a rubbish, dithering time of year but it will soon be over. Necessarily so.
    I hope the essay got written and that there was no sickening panic involved. I'm trying to remember what I did for distraction in my pre-internet student days (plus I didn't have TV). I seem to remember re-organising my pencils in various colour schemas rather a lot.That and visiting galleries or walking from one end of the city to the other in the middle of the night. Although I sometimes retrospectively envy the ready access to information now, I think in many respects, I had the better deal (facebook has the potential to have made my uni experience frequently miserable).

  2. I actually like facebook. It seems to bring trouble into many people's lives but it doesn't (so far) seem to do that for me. I suppose that's not quite true because I do sometimes get quite homesick seeing photos from church stuff in Asheville or old friends having a night out together in Asheville. However, I'm largely allergic to talking on the phone so facebook (and text messages) has been a great aid for me as far as staying in touch with people and organising social events. Of course, it'd be a lot less fun if I couldn't hide those people with whom it is a social necessity for me to remain friends with yet who have consistently annoying status updates. I just don't want to know that they've read the collected works of J.S. Mill before I've even cracked open 'On Utilitarianism' for this week's seminar.

    I did get my essay and presentation done without too much angst. My presentation was on my dissertation topic and I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that I know more about my topic than I thought. Nice when that happens.

  3. Ah yes - you had the 'right' kind of facebook friends. While I had maybe 3 - 4 of them - and they were largely inactive - I otherwise found myself being pelted with cacti or tequila, or nagged to join all manner of irritating campaigns and groups. Plus I'd also get a lot of invites to events which my situation prevented me from being able to attend.
    Well done with the presentation. You're right - it's nice when that happens (even if my self-effacing nature means I generally consider any surprising, previously unbeknown repository knowledge likely bullshit)!