Tagged: five year diary

Why I Love a New Year

The Christmas/New Year season is always a time of reflection and introspection for me, as I suspect it is for most people. This year has been no exception. Reflection and introspection are the main reasons why I love a new year.

Since Thanksgiving I’ve written very little, mainly because I’ve been incredibly busy. I’ve run a half marathon, traveled a little, cooked a lot, knitted some, and spent not nearly enough time with my children. Not writing became an activity in itself, even though snippets of future posts kept bubbling to the surface at odd hours of the day and night, begging to be written.

New Year’s Eve is one of my favorite days of the year. There’s such a sense of fulfillment that comes from having lived another year, and a feeling of anticipation for the year to come. This year the day coincided with my regular Saturday group long run, which is almost always culminated by breakfast at Fuzzy’s Tacos. Though different groups run different speeds, everyone always comes together afterwards to eat, visit, and talk about our run. A lot of Saturdays I enjoy breakfast much more than my run.

Being able to visit with so many great friends, old and new, on the very last day of the year made it that much more special. I had come full circle, running with friends who were with me when I began training for my first half marathon almost five years ago.

The older I get the more I realize: the relationships we build with others are truly what matter the most in life.

Even though it is “just another day,” the first day of a new year brings with it the idea of a new beginning, a chance to start again, a brand new, fresh, blank page. Ever since logging the morning’s temperature on January 1 each year in my little five year diary when I was a kid, I usually take some time to reflect and write something on New Year’s Day. I’ve always loved buying a new agenda for the year and filling it in with birthdays, future races, and vacations. This year, because of my son’s unexpectedly generous Christmas gift, I’m doing it all electronically on a brand new iPad2.

I’m not one for resolutions. They’re almost always forgotten within a few weeks, if not days. I usually prefer to think about what I want to do more or less of in the new year. I remember one year’s plan was to “find more joy.” I think I’ll always work on that. This year, my plan is to have less clutter in my life–and my house. I think I’ll always work on that as well.

Mostly, I want to get out and do more. Staying home doesn’t create memories. Adventures do.

I’ve always wanted to be somewhere else. Even when I’m on vacation in the most beautiful places in the world, I’m planning my next trip. Call it restlessness, call it dissatisfaction, call it nonacceptance . Whatever it is,  I’m still working on learning to accept that wherever I am is where I should be.

And it truly is about the journey, not the destination.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone! Here’s to a great year of adventure, acceptance, and a clutter-free life (and house).

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My Writing Life: From Big Chief to Computer

I’m old enough to remember the days before computers. Anything I wrote was by hand. Nowadays the only time I ever pick up a pen is to add something to the grocery list. I’m guess I’m old school that way.

My writing life started with a little five year diary with a lock and two keys I got for Christmas one year. Each January 1st, while watching the Macy’s Day Parade on TV, I’d record the time and temperature and a New Year’s Resolution. The rest of the pages may have been sparsely written on, but January 1st had an entry for all five years in a row. The little five year diary had entries such as “Played Monopoly with Cindy and WON!!!!!” (I always had to win), or “Sick. Stayed home from school. YEAH!!!!!” Life was pretty simple back then.

When I got a little older I upgraded to a Big Chief tablet. On trips to visit my grandparents in Oklahoma, my Big Chief was always waiting for me. I know you could buy them anywhere, but Oklahomans are especially proud of their Indian heritage. I never took it home with me back to Texas–it would have seemed out of place. My grandmother always kept it on the top of the shelf in her kitchen. I loved spending hours rereading plays, poems, and silly things I’d written from past trips. I would sit on the front porch in the big wooden rocking chair, look up at the huge tree that dropped leaves shaped like helicopter wings, and write informational plays about saving the environment.Yes, I was granola even then.

I ran across the Walton’s Thanksgiving special on TV over the holidays, and of course John Boy, ever the diarist, was writing it all down in a Big Chief tablet. No wonder I always had the biggest crush on him . . .

And I always wondered what happened to my Big Chief tablet.

When I got to be a teenager I kept writing, but I moved on to spiral notebooks. They were certainly cooler than the five year diary. I had volumes and volumes of spirals. Each page was covered in frantic writing, front and back. When it was full, nothing was better than picking out a new spiral at Skillerns. The color had to be just right, and the paper and lines had to be worthy of being written on. Yes, I was a big dork. Life was tough for a skinny, uncool, late blooming, Save the Whales and Earth Shoes kind of girl, even in the late 70’s.

After I graduated from high school I spent one lonely Saturday night rereading them all. I was disgusted and aghast at the realization that I had wasted that much energy anguishing over boys and the unfairness of life. I promptly drove to a dumpster at the apartment complex nearest to my house and threw them all in. Every single one. I’ve never regretted it. It was like hitting the reset button.

Somehow I made it through college as an English major with only an IBM Selectric typewriter. Every revised paper I wrote had to be retyped, page after page–and I revise a lot when I write. Typos meant sticking a little tab of white correction paper over the mistake, hoping it would cover it up, and hoping your fingers wouldn’t slip off the keys. I thought I had died and gone to heaven when they invented a self-correcting typing ribbon, but you could still see the mistake.

After a year of college, I worked as a secretary in Switzerland for a company that made turbine generators for nuclear power plants. After all those years of being a closet hippie, and after Three Mile Island, I had an unsettling feeling I was working for the enemy. They needed my English and my typing skills, though, and it had great benefits. Also, I got to work on both a telex machine and a real computer, an IBM Office System 6.

The telex was terrifying. The keys had huge spaces between them and my fingers were always slipping off the keys. Every letter you typed made little holes on a long piece of tape, so if you made a mistake you had to start all over again. Horrors. After you finished you took the tape to a room filled with women who fed the tape into machines that sent the encoded message somewhere else. The machines were loud and obnoxious.

The IBM OS-6 was a behemoth. It had its very own room. Everything was saved on huge floppy disks that were labeled and cataloged. We even had some type of ancient transfer system between my computer and the one in the New Jersey office. I would pull up the written proposal on my computer, call the States late in the afternoon, hit a button, and three times out of 10 it would be received on the New Jersey OS-6. At least parts of it would be received. Sometimes.

We’ve come a long way. I can’t imagine going back to the days of writing twenty page English papers without a memory mechanism. Writing is so much easier with memory. And I’ve always had the worst handwriting.

As much as I loved my Big Chief, I love my computer way more.