Mar 01 2009
Or: I keep having trouble with this idea of starting the year, and keep wanting to do it again properly
If the three years that I have been back in California — three years and five months, to be disturbingly precise — have taken on any meaning at all in the larger scheme of my life, each year (so fleeting!) seems to have a theme:
* 2005-2006: building community: as I made friends at work here and put everything I had into the 2nd Wikimania, which connected our larger community to itself, and connected me personally to people in the Foundation and to my Boston peeps. I can’t imagine not knowing my friends in Cambridge now, many of whom I have become very close to, rivaled only by my Seattle community. I am thankful to know such people.
*2006-2007: internationalism: I traveled a lot, starting in mid-2006 and continuing through 2007. With a couple of trips to Europe, a trip to Asia, and miscellaneous jaunts around the country, I started keeping my three-ounces-or-less toiletries ready-packed for trips so I could shove such things in my bag and go. I became a better traveler; saw places I have wanted to see, and learned how to buy the best possible ticket on short notice. I was happy in 2007 in large part because of this; too long at home and I become depressed, restless, cranky. Many of the people at work accrue so much vacation time that they start to lose it. Not me! I did a lot of new things at work this year, as well, learning to give talks and bootstrap wikis.
*2007-2008: the book: I started the book in 2007, but I finished it in 2008. Most of my waking, free hours were spent at home banging away on drafts, dealing with personnel problems, fighting mediawiki, talking to editors. It was rather traumatic, actually. But I did learn how to focus more intensely than I thought I was capable of, even more so than when I was in school. I am glad I achieved this thing; I am glad it is done. I also got more involved in Wikipedia itself, unsurprisingly, and for a while it seemed my entire life was taken over by this project. I had what felt like almost no human contact, but I did learn a lot about television this year.
*2008-2009 An open question, back to home: having finished the book and used up most of what I feel I can usefully contribute to conference planning efforts, what I would like for this year to focus on is local quality of life. It’s time to focus on the daily business of living, rather than so many projects — I need to be happier from day to day. I also want to focus in at work, learn more about being a librarian, do what I need to do as well as I can. In the last few months I’ve felt that I’ve both achieved a stable level of knowing-what-I’m-doing at work, and a certain level of burnout; I need to reassess my goals there.
What does this mean? The last part of 2008 that wasn’t spent at work was spent in relaxing, time with family: I could do worse. The first part of 2009, so far, has been spent sick — once again I have a cold this weekend. I am worn out. I need to be gentler on myself.
What quality of life might mean:
* more local connections: I have ignored or not put the time into making friends locally, because I am so focused on big projects that take all the time I have. This is lame.
* improving my home: I spend a lot of time at home. I would like to keep it neater, fix or upgrade some things, make it a more pleasant place to be.
* do things that I’ve put off for a long time: I have been meaning to work on my website for almost a year. I need to organize my finances. Stuff needs to be done to make everything else smoother and faster. I’ve been putting off things I don’t know how to do or that will take a lot of time, because, well, it’s timeconsuming. That is silly; everything can be done in pieces.
* it’s about me: I want to continue to exercise more, something I’ve actually made a pretty game start at this year despite all the illness. I want to buy better clothes. Get my hair cut. Get up earlier. I need to just do these things, piece at a time.
* travel: it really does make me happy. I need to just accept that and spend my extra money on tickets without hesitation; I won’t regret it. There’s a lot of people I would like to see among my far-flung friends. I’m already working on this: I have a trip planned every month until May.
What else? I don’t know. What improves quality of life? I’d like to start dating, but I am hamstrung by low self-esteem and a sense that I have to get all these other things done first; rather than argue with my own neuroses, I figure that well, if that’s the case, I’d just better get cracking.
I bought a toaster oven yesterday, to replace a long-dead one. A tiny purchase, but one I hadn’t gotten around to as it means finding a home on the counter for it, etc. etc. I found the model that I wanted online, but decided to go down to the local hardware store two blocks away to compare styles; my local shopping karma was rewarded, as they were having a 20% off sale. I managed to pick up the same oven for a couple of bucks less, plus supporting my local store and town. Huzzah!
This is a small thing, but it’s a step towards quality of life: I can make toast again, without that mild irritation in the back of my mind when I want to but have no toaster. There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?
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