resolutions half a year in


Since half the year has elapsed, I thought I would give myself leave to tamper with these resolutions a little bit. I thought I would take the opportunity to try and look at both my six-months-past and -future selves with kindness and clarity. Resolutions needn't be static. Here we go: 

- learn to make my own happiness (because it is not Tim's job, and because circumstances will not always be peachy)in particular,  1) develop strategies for managing anxiety attacks, 2) take myself on dates

- complete one wearable sewn garment (hello brown paisley dress) 

- master fair isle knitting (in order to make things such as this

- remove makeup every night (this has never, ever been a habit--now that flossing is down, it's time)

- reach goal weight once and for all (140 pounds)--or don't; keep lifting, keep cycling, keep learning to eat

- pay back money owed Tim (so very close); stop spending money that doesn't yet exist

- pay off student loan (not so close)--or don't; make dent in current loan, pay 2013/2014 tuition straight up

- repair book cubes (damaged in the move last spring)

- further improve backyard (especially firepit, but also hope for fruit trees, removal of gravel, chopping of hoary huge evergreen); also enjoy said backyard

- write something (anything) every day (this should be at the top of the list); or just fill two notebooks

- learn more about math and computing (calculus, number theory, Python)--finish A Transition to Advanced Mathematics and the online MIT computing course

- publish in at least one magazine (which means submitting)--acceptance counts too

- give excellent presents (better than last year); in particular, surprise Tim

- apply for at least one "real" job (something outside the service industry, something challenging, something that utilizes my skills)

- properly repair bathroom ceiling and baseboards (and begin to learn about renovating a house)

- play the violin again (Vivaldi's "Winter")

- learn more about baking bread (to begin: read the lovely book Laura got me for Christmas)

- get a tattoo (at last at last)--or don't if the money still doesn't exist

- put more of myself into relationships (especially that relationship with one Tim Put); in particular, 1) be kind, 2) write letters--every week

- use my nice things (and remember that I have many--especially tins of expensive tea)

- make and repair more, and buy better and less (I need a darning egg); in particular, 1)stop buying cheap clothes that need to be replaced every six months, 2) refashion unwearable clothes in closet

Resolutions in April and May (The Dress)


- learn to make my own happiness (because it is not Tim's job, and because circumstances will not always be peachy)
Can I just say that facing this issue head-on is difficult and painful and frustrating and frightening?

- complete one wearable sewn garment (hello brown paisley dress)
Done. Rousing success. Observe:

Please note that this is almost certainly the first you have ever seen of my legs. It's that summer, people.




- master fair isle knitting (in order to make things such as this)
Hazelhurst is almost done. 

- remove makeup every night (this has never, ever been a habit--now that flossing is down, it's time)

- reach goal weight once and for all (140 pounds)

- pay back money owed Tim (so very close)

- pay off student loan (not so close)

- repair book cubes (damaged in the move last spring)
They are patched. Painting has begun. 

- further improve backyard (especially firepit, but also hope for fruit trees, removal of gravel, chopping of hoary huge evergreen)
Tim built two more raised beds. We planted blueberry bushes. The firepit should be usable within the month. 

- write something (anything) every day (this should be at the top of the list)

- learn more about math and computing (calculus, number theory, Python)

- publish in at least one magazine (which means submitting)

- give excellent presents (better than last year)

- apply for at least one "real" job (something outside the service industry, something challenging, something that utilizes my skills)

- properly repair bathroom ceiling and baseboards (and begin to learn about renovating a house)

- play the violin again (Vivaldi's "Winter")

- learn more about baking bread (to begin: read the lovely book Laura got me for Christmas)
I have a new rye starter and should get back to the recipes.

- get a tattoo (at last at last)

- put more of myself into relationships (especially that relationship with one Tim Put)

- use my nice things (and remember that I have many)
Bicycle. Hand pruners. 

- make and repair more, and buy better and less (I need a darning egg)
Candle holder. Chest of drawers. Book cubes. Lamp shade.

resolute: repair

- make and repair more, and buy better and less (I need a darning egg)

When my mum and dad were first married, my dad broke a candle holder of my mum's and felt awful about it. Before Christmas that year, he carefully dissolved the substrate from the gemstones that had studded the holder, then re-set them in white plaster, using a glass jar as a base. He was always going down to the basement laundry room late at night and coming back up to my parents' apartment with stained hands. My mum thought her new husband had a burgeoning drug habit. 

The re-made candle holder sits on the piano for the entire month of December, every Christmas. Ros and I loved it. The Christmas I was 10 or 11, my dad made holders for the two of us. Ros's had mostly red gemstones and a few blue; mine had mostly blue gemstones and a few red. Until I moved out, we only lit them up on Christmas Eve and Christmas night--we were allowed to go to sleep with tealights lit in our bedroom and spots of colour projected on the wall. In my own apartments, my candle holder has always sat on the windowsill. I've probably posted half a dozen pictures of it. Two years ago, a cheap tealight (I think it was from Superstore--Ikea tealights are superior) leaked out of its aluminum casing and cracked the jar. One year ago, at Home Depot buying things for the new house, I bought a carton of plaster of Paris and decided I would do with my own candle holder what my dad had done with my mum's. Over Reading Week this past February, I finally started the repair. I'm pleased to say it's finished now. 


broken
baking to soften the old plaster
chipping out the gemstones

clean
trying to place the gemstones with double-sided tape (I had to use school glue in the end)

placed

first layer of plaster 
more plaster, plus verathane = finished
a bit knobblier than the original

Resolutions in March



- learn to make my own happiness (because it is not Tim's job, and because circumstances will not always be peachy)
This month, this has meant reading quite a lot on emotional eating, giving myself permission to stop eating food I'm not enjoying, buying a bracelet, sleeping when I'm tired, showering in the middle of the afternoon, baking myself a birthday cake, having little conversations with the Simps, buying tulips, starting Guns, Germs, and Steel in the middle of the semester. 




- complete one wearable sewn garment (hello brown paisley dress)

- master fair isle knitting (in order to make things such as this)
Finally! Progress. This is a Kate Davies cowl pattern called 'Hazelhurst'.







- remove makeup every night (this has never, ever been a habit--now that flossing is down, it's time)
I would say I'm at something like 60%?

- reach goal weight once and for all (140 pounds)
See first item above.

- pay back money owed Tim (so very close)

- pay off student loan (not so close)

- repair book cubes (damaged in the move last spring)

- further improve backyard (especially firepit, but also hope for fruit trees, removal of gravel, chopping of hoary huge evergreen)

- write something (anything) every day (this should be at the top of the list)

- learn more about math and computing (calculus, number theory, Python)

- publish in at least one magazine (which means submitting)
The Blue Hour came out with their first print edition, and were kind enough to include my poem from January.

- give excellent presents (better than last year)

- apply for at least one "real" job (something outside the service industry, something challenging, something that utilizes my skills)

- properly repair bathroom ceiling and baseboards (and begin to learn about renovating a house)
We have a plan. Now to buy supplies.

- play the violin again (Vivaldi's "Winter")

- learn more about baking bread (to begin: read the lovely book Laura got me for Christmas)
Rye sourdough is proving a challenge. I have a live starter, but my first two loaves did not rise well. I bought some whole rye flour, since I suspect that part of the problem is the dark rye I've been using. We'll have another go this weekend. 

- get a tattoo (at last at last)
Progress here too. Now to scrounge up several hundred dollars. Tips.

- put more of myself into relationships (especially that relationship with one Tim Put)

- use my nice things (and remember that I have many)
It was jam our friends made last summer (thanks Mel and Jessie!), my own chocolate mint tea, marzipan which had been sitting in the freezer for a year, cloth napkins from Emily, Christmas shower gel, a hand-wound clock unearthed from the "keepsake" box and set ticking.

- make and repair more, and buy better and less (I need a darning egg)
The keepsake box contained another clock, an Alice in Wonderland clock my parents gave me when I wasn't even a year old. The battery-powered mechanism wasn't working, so Tim ordered me another one, and new clock hands. They arrived today. Also, five years later, we ordered a  Blendtec.  No more semi-disposable 30-dollar affairs.

Quagmire Rules

That horrible season is already upon us, again. There are three weeks left in the semester proper, and nothing looks pretty--not me, not our apartment, not Edmonton, not our treacherous sidewalks. The late March blizzard  breaks me every year. After two weeks of sun (you forget that a ray of sun can feel warm) and rivulets, we have wind and over a foot of new snow.

It occurred to me last week that while my ordinary-time eating habits are actually quite good, the quality and quantity of food I consume during days or weeks of extraordinary stress is probably enough to account for at least half of the weight I would like to permanently lose. Also, no matter what I tell myself to the contrary in the woe and frenzy of the moment, drinking powdered hot chocolate and eating toast and cereal every two hours does nothing for my research essays. These end-of-the-semester bouts of emotional eating must stop. 

Here, then, are some Quagmire Rules. 

1. 1 L cold water first thing in the morning (before coffee, before breakfast) 
2. Black tea with milk and sugar = reviving treat, not default liquid
3. If not hungry for proper meal (vegetables, protein, nicely prepared), not hungry
4. Three meals + afternoon tea, not eaten in bed or at desk
5. Powdered hot chocolate will never taste like it did fifteen years ago (save the calories to make real cocoa)
6. General feeling-gross and depression better solved by shower or nap than sugar 
7. Eat off of a plate, drink out of a nice cup
8. Time does actually exist to cook supper and exercise
9. Save sweet things (ahem, banana muffins) for afternoon tea (not breakfast, not out of the pan)
10. Eating right before bed or to stay awake = not fun
11. Vitamins

ETA: I turned 22 last week. On my birthday morning, I was in the middle of a plank when I looked up and saw myself in the mirror. I looked strong. I looked attractive. I looked fine. I am reminded that I've come a long way since I spent my sixteenth birthday making myself vomit in the shower. I'm also reminded that some of the things I'm still dealing with are the residual effects of having had an eating disorder, and that I need to keep addressing these issues (at first I wrote 'working through this shit')--gently, but conscientiously. 


Resolutions in February


- learn to make my own happiness (because it is not Tim's job, and because circumstances will not always be peachy)
It was paying to get my hair cut. Painting my toenails. Walking in the cemetery. Making a good effort at work. Spending time with friends, in spite of that fear that I am socially awkward. Drinking beer while making supper. Singing--which I hadn't really done since moving in with Tim. 




- complete one wearable sewn garment (hello brown paisley dress)
I actually have all the cutting and marking done. 

- master fair isle knitting (in order to make things such as this)
This is for March.

- remove makeup every night (this has never, ever been a habit--now that flossing is down, it's time)
Something of a fail. Must get back to this simple thing.

- reach goal weight once and for all (140 pounds)
Indulge me while I digress for a moment. The more I think about this, the more I realize that what I want for my body is a hell of a lot more than a smaller number on the scale. I want to be really strong. I want to be able to run when I feel like it. I want to take a bike trip this summer. I want to feel good after eating. 

I am becoming attracted to the idea of more serious lifting. Since Christmas, with a lapse in the middle of February, I've been doing both strength training and short bouts of cardio. I feel amazing after lifting free weights, holding a long plank, actually feeling my chest touch the ground during a push-up. I adore my biceps. Today I squatted for the first time, holding one of the dumbbells Tim uses on his arms. 8 hours later, my whole body hurts in a very, very good way. 

- pay back money owed Tim (so very close)
Closer. Almost.

- pay off student loan (not so close)

- repair book cubes (damaged in the move last spring)

- further improve backyard (especially firepit, but also hope for fruit trees, removal of gravel, chopping of hoary huge evergreen)

- write something (anything) every day (this should be at the top of the list)
Like washing my face: so easy, so hard. I must, I must. And notes for poems too. 

- learn more about math and computing (calculus, number theory, Python)

- publish in at least one magazine (which means submitting)

- give excellent presents (better than last year)
My friend Amelia got married. I bought her this book. If that isn't a good present, I don't know what is. 

- apply for at least one "real" job (something outside the service industry, something challenging, something that utilizes my skills)

- properly repair bathroom ceiling and baseboards (and begin to learn about renovating a house)
I watched Tim repair a window frame, and watched Tim's Dad rip up three layers of lino and lay down tile. I have a lot to learn.

- play the violin again (Vivaldi's "Winter")

- learn more about baking bread (to begin: read the lovely book Laura got me for Christmas)
As you know, this is going well. I'm through the first chapter on basic doughs. I've started the sourdough chapter. 

- get a tattoo (at last at last)

- put more of myself into relationships (especially that relationship with one Tim Put)
It was continuing to talk. Trying very hard to nip passive aggression in the bud. Not spoiling Tim's birthday with impossible expectations, but leaving a miniature cherry pie at Transcend for him to find when he opened the cafe. Making friend dates.

- use my nice things (and remember that I have many)
It was yarn that had been "stashed" for a while, turned into a cowl and a sweater. Hoarded coconut milk turned into rice pudding, and saved butterscotch chips turned into cookies. A tiny handsewn notebook filled with grocery lists. A perfume bottle emptied. 




- make and repair more, and buy better and less (I need a darning egg)
Tim's sweater is done, after trials and tribulations. I'm in the middle of a mildly overwhelming repair/restoration that I hope to blog about this week. As mentioned, I repaired my rubber boots. 





starting and finishing

After I had to rip back the entire yoke on Tim's sweater (those blasted shoulders!), I wanted to knit something less heartbreaking. And so: the cotton candy running cowl.

Reading Week, so far. I am trying to do everything I ever put on hold in order to finish a paper or go to bed on time. The bread experiment progresses splendidly, and I am working on the brown paisley dress. Tim and I have been on a walk. I'm trying to root four little aloe vera cuttings; upstairs, my father-in-law is starting to paint the walls dove grey and lay porcelain tile. On Monday, mending a tear, we managed to superglue my fingertips to my yellow Tretorns. I walked to work in full light this morning.

Fourth recipe in Bread Matters--baps. 


resolute: baking bread

- learn more about baking bread (to begin: read the lovely book Laura got me for Christmas)

120 pages into this book, the recipe section commences. Having read every one of the warnings against industrial bread (some of which I found reasonable, some slightly hysterical), nodded along with the author's defense of the pleasures and advantages of baking bread at home, and closely attended to the sections on bowl material, types of flour, water temperature, and kneading techniques, I felt the only thing to do was to start with the first recipe. 

So I did. "Basic Bread" came out of the oven yesterday, and I have a page of notes on it, and a small knob of dough sitting in the fridge, waiting to be incorporated into the next recipe, for "Old Dough Bread".  I aim to pull a Julie Powell, and, by the end of the year, bake every recipe in the book. (Thereby, I will translate a vague, qualitative resolution into an accomplishable, concrete sort of resolution.) Tim likes this plan a lot.  

At the same time, experiments on my own with the already-established sourdough:


Also: do you see that sun?

There is nothing like pausing every couple of hours to dissolve yeast in warm water, measure flour, punch down a cushion of dough, preheat the oven, pat and shape the loaves, check on their proofing, peek into the oven. (I don't want instant food--I want to coax glue to turn into bread.)

Happy Monday you all! 

Resolutions in January

Thank you for the beautiful comments on Wednesday's post. I could not have asked for friendlier support, and I feel very lucky indeed for the friends and readers that I have. 

Much of January looked like this. I promise more pictures in February.

One month in, how are these looking? Still relevant, still doable? 

- learn to make my own happiness (because it is not Tim's job, and because circumstances will not always be peachy) 
Obviously this one is hard to quantify. What does "making my own happiness" look like, anyway? One of the most important things I did on this front was to start talking about my sexuality,  booting some of the guilt that I've never really lived without. 

- complete one wearable sewn garment (hello brown paisley dress)
I've made a sewing date with Laura and a promise to make some progress on the dress beforehand.

- master fair isle knitting (in order to make things such as this)

- remove makeup every night (this has never, ever been a habit--now that flossing is down, it's time)
I think I am currently managing this about 40 percent of the time, which is an improvement. 

- reach goal weight once and for all (140 pounds)
There is a slight problem with this goal, in that I haven't weighed myself in about six months. I've been going by clothing fit, muscles. By those rubrics, I am doing well. My once-impossibly-small-grey jeans tell me that I'm about as skinny as I've been since I was fourteen, and my biceps and abs tell me that the strength training is paying off. (Also, I can do better push-ups now, and I'm using 17.5-pound dumbbells instead of 10-pounders.) I'm not super happy about my cardio. I need to drink more water. I'm not super happy about my eating habits, though I have, somehow, gone two full months without eating pastries from the cafe, and feel better for it. 

- pay back money owed Tim (so very close)
Even closer. I have a very mere amount left to pay back.

- pay off student loan (not so close)

- repair book cubes (damaged in the move last spring)

- further improve backyard (especially firepit, but also hope for fruit trees, removal of gravel, chopping of hoary huge evergreen)

- write something (anything) every day (this should be at the top of the list)
I haven't written every day, but I have written more. There is plenty of room for improvement. 

- learn more about math and computing (calculus, number theory, Python)

- publish in at least one magazine (which means submitting)
I'm still holding out for a print journal, but I did have a poem accepted at The Blue Hour this month, which is an excellent start. 

- give excellent presents (better than last year)
Tim's birthday was yesterday. He got a radiant heater for the workshop, an enormous Pyrex measuring cup to use as a tea cup, and a Leapmotion, which was, for once, a surprise. I am almost finished his "Christmas" sweater. Yes friends, this one is going well. 

- apply for at least one "real" job (something outside the service industry, something challenging, something that utilizes my skills)

- properly repair bathroom ceiling and baseboards (and begin to learn about renovating a house)
Well, Tim fixed the shower door . . . 

- play the violin again (Vivaldi's "Winter")

- learn more about baking bread (to begin: read the lovely book Laura got me for Christmas)

- get a tattoo (at last at last)
Does haunting galleries of knitting tattoos count?

- put more of myself into relationships (especially that relationship with one Tim Put)
Prompted partly by Allison's journaling assignments, and the writing that followed, Tim and I have talked and listened more over the past three weeks than in the three years previous. I have apologized for shocking, old, ugly hypocrisy, callousness. I am exhausted, but our lives are raw material again. Hope springs. 

- use my nice things (and remember that I have many)
Ethiopian tea has been drunk, fountain pens have been drained, headphones have been listened through, the daunting dried porcini and black trumpets have been turned into soup, and nice writing paper has been turned into letters.

- make and repair more, and buy better and less (I need a darning egg)
Blue cardigan, black cardigan, makeup bag, orange camisol--check, check, check, check--by which I mean fixed.

resolutions

Everyone seems resolutely set against resolutions. I am not. I love them; as my friend Deanna said yesterday, "And I am always waiting for natural spaces to start things or change things, so I relish the thought of a fresh new year." I am starting with a long list:

- learn to make my own happiness (because it is not Tim's job, and because circumstances will not always be peachy)
- complete one wearable sewn garment (hello brown paisley dress)
- master fair isle knitting (in order to make things such as this)
- remove makeup every night (this has never, ever been a habit--now that flossing is down, it's time)
- reach goal weight once and for all (140 pounds)
- pay back money owed Tim (so very close)
- pay off student loan (not so close)
- repair book cubes (damaged in the move last spring)
- further improve backyard (especially firepit, but also hope for fruit trees, removal of gravel, chopping of hoary huge evergreen)
- write something (anything) every day (this should be at the top of the list)
- learn more about math and computing (calculus, number theory, Python)
- publish in at least one magazine (which means submitting)
- give excellent presents (better than last year)
- apply for at least one "real" job (something outside the service industry, something challenging, something that utilizes my skills)
- properly repair bathroom ceiling and baseboards (and begin to learn about renovating a house)
- play the violin again (Vivaldi's "Winter")
- learn more about baking bread (to begin: read the lovely book Laura got me for Christmas)
- get a tattoo (at last at last)
- put more of myself into relationships (especially that relationship with one Tim Put)
- use my nice things (and remember that I have many)
- make and repair more, and buy better and less (I need a darning egg)

Because, like all resolutions, they are mostly long-term, requiring sustained effort and the taking of many small steps, I am planning to recap on progress made at the end of every month this year. If 2012 lacked anything, it was pause. This year, I must have appointments to halt, think about what has happened and what should happen next. Who I am. What I want. What is right. Hopefully, you won't mind if I do some of my ruminating in this space. Thanks, ever so much, all of you, for listening and responding to my rambling. Happy New Year!

post-Christmas




Now the sun has started to strengthen. Full of hope and resolve, armed with, inspired by Nice Things--a fountain pen; a pleasing bottle of blue-black ink; Shakespeare's poems in two blue, small, Yale edition volumes; a Lifesaver book; a leather tassel for the zipper on a future garment; Colours of Shetland, Kate Davies's new book; a ceramic slip stone for sharpening my needles, scissors, and knives; the carol CD most prominent in my childhood, a box of Moroccan mint tea, new kitchen shears, money to make this most expensive month a little easier--I am quite ready to shed the old year.

I am thinking of next summer's garden. Tim and I will build more raised beds, will buy a real lawnmower, make the yard better than it was before. Next Christmas I will have jars of jam to give away again, next winter on a night like tonight, I will drink tea from mint that I grew and dried. Simpkin will be grown up, safe, sweet, no longer shivering miserably during thunderstorms.


In the meantime, I feel lucky to be weathering this cold, this smothering northern slowness and isolation with Tim. We had quite the year. We'll have to work hard through the rest of the winter. I go back to work at the cafe tomorrow and my classes start on Thursday. I will need to get up early and go to bed late, to save money to stave off the monstrous leech that is Student Loans, to try to keep reading and writing for myself. But I can do it. I have great plans.



2012 passed by in a bit of a daze. Uprooted in March, I seemed to stop growing. Of the goals I made last January, I can take credit only for flossing and growing a garden. But here at the end, I can add that I managed to get straight A's in my first semester back at uni. And we bought a house. I finally banished the acne that has been plaguing me since I was 19. I published poems in three magazines and got paid for my writing for the first time. We rescued a tiny, sad cat. I struggled through my first "real" job interview. I started learning about making my own clothes. I didn't succumb to seasonal depression. I worked while going to school. As always, I am loathe to say that it has been a Good Year. But it certainly could have been worse. I think I am better equipped for next year: I feel stronger and older.