It’s a new year, and with it the tradition of re-thinking a resolving to do things differently, better, more. Usually, I greet the new year without these resolutions. I change the batteries in the smoke detectors and I write a syllabus or two. A few years ago I started writing in this blog to kick off a sabbatical. In general, though, I don’t like the idea that there should be a societally imposed moment when we should rethink what we’re doing and begin anew.
But then, this year, maybe more than ever, I’m really fucked up. So, maybe some resolving wouldn’t be such a bad thing, societally imposed or not.
I’m always saying I should write more. Readers of my writing may beg to differ. I had a handful of things I imagined getting major starts on over the holiday, but I barely coughed on them. I’m pretty sure that I needed the break more than the writing, so I’m not too broken up about it. But, starting classes immediately after the holiday, on January 3rd, really kills any hope of doing anything else. At least it gives me an associate vice provost (who promotes these kinds of calendars) to blame for my own
More than anything, I should read more. More specifically, I should sit down, put other things aside, and really read things from beginning to end; and I should devote solid time to this. I have a pile of books I’ve started, a host of articles I’ve skimmed. A resolution I would really be proud to begin and maintain would be a routine where I actually worked, consistently, on reading ideas through from beginning to end. “No, I can’t meet then; it’s my reading time.” “I’m going to bed to finish my book,” I could say at 8:30 PM. “Give me 15 minutes, I need to finish this article.” I should deliberately carve out an hour a day for this, I think. And, the letters-to-the-editor over breakfast doesn’t count.
Then there’s exercise. I’ve gotten better at this, and worse, too. Instead of scrambling to the bus stop or hopping on my bike, I’m driving. It’s better — I can pick up daughters at dance class or piano lessons, and everyone’s better off. I’ve taken up running, something that I figured I could do if my glaucoma-plagued, nearsighted, back-injured spouse could manage and enjoy it. And, amazingly, I found that I like it too. I feel good about myself, my health, my heart, and there’s a chance to listen to music and be up in the mountains. But, currently, it’s 6 degrees Fahrenheit outside. I’m pretty sure that this isn’t just “an excuse,” but a legitimate reason not to go outside and run. So maybe I need to figure out how I can use that indoor track on campus — the one that I have free use of.
I need to worry less. In general, I worry little about the things I cannot control, but I worry a lot about the things that are totally in my control. I bitch about the clutter around my desk or the lack of planning going into a class or the small effort going towards that book. I am pretty sure that the amount of effort I put into wringing my hands over these things is detrimental to the amount of effort that I actually put into rectifying them.
I could be kinder and less judgmental. This isn’t a big problem for me, but I do badmouth accountants and administrators from time to time. I shouldn’t. The ways in which they make my life more difficult are, generally speaking, my own fault. I’ll still pass judgement on whoever it was that made our schedule so that I have to have my classes figured out in 34 hours. That person, truly, is an insensitive prick. But other people, even the person who cc’s seven others when they inform me of an overdraw on an account I wrote a grant for, don’t deserve my vitriol, even that which is under my breath.
I should turn off more light switches more often. Since I’m driving more often, it’s the least I could do.
I should practice scales more frequently.
I could eat better.
I shouldn’t make it a point to earn 3000 points on Wii Resort Wakeboarding purely out of the desire to do better than my 11-year-old daughter. Or, actually, maybe that isn’t such a bad thing.
I could do a better job of communicating with my spouse, with everything from the desire to read more often to the fact that I think I’ll be teaching a class at 4:30 PM in the fall. And, I could listen better.
I shouldn’t make fun of the girls’ cat.
I should spend less time on the computer.
I could grade faster.
I should give more to people who need it.
I could clean up the messes I make.
I should concentrate harder, focus more. That would help with the reading, and the writing, and the messes, and the computer.
I’d like to build a deck, finally. And finish the book. And listen better. And not repeat myself as much. But mostly, besides listening and communicating and concentrating, I should read more. And worry less. And change the batteries in the smoke detectors.