Wednesday, December 13, 2006


I'm one of those people who believes that writing thoughts down in a way solidifies them and makes them more real than if they merely rattled around in your head. It's more than "thoughts on paper": you've now taken that idea out of its original context and placed it in one of your own creation. It's more possible now, more tangible.

There is something deeply sublime about a pile of stones next to a river. No way that occurred "naturally." Someone had to pull each rock from the current and place it so that the whole stack would not tumble. And if it does, you restack them until the cairn is to your liking, and you keep restacking them until it achieves a certain aesthetic.

Thus with New Years resolutions. Organizing some thoughts and intentions, that's all really. I tend not to broadcast them too loudly. I don't want anyone calling me on it if I fail. I'm very much aware of my own failures, thanks, especially regarding these little deals I make with myself. When I quit smoking the first time years ago, no one felt the sting of disappointment when I started up again more sharply than me. Conversely, when I finally did quit cigs in May 2000, there was no big party or fanfare. Making too much of it, in my mind, could have jinxed it -- could have fooled me into thinking I'd won, when, at that point, I'd really just stopped doing something harmful and replaced it with less harmful habits. And, honestly, that's an ongoing project -- not with smoking per se but with life in general: Do good things for yourself. You don't have to suffer to prove your worth.

All right then. I was pretty successful on the Resolution Front this year. Looking back at my list, I can put a Checkmark of Success next to all but one, and I can rationalize that one away under the heading "I'm not ready."

Walk/hike more
Maintain weight
More music/reading
Publishing - submit work at least once a month (online or print)
Prep MFA application/take GRE
Yes, have sex!
Apply for Greer Grant (oops! not awarded again until 2007)
Be assertive -- PURSUE!

Short but sweet, and I think that gives me better chances of following through and of being able to focus on these as new aspects of myself rather than just abstract items on my brain's sleepy li'l pull-down menu. For the most part, I think these are Lifestyle Changes as much as they are Things I Want To Accomplish. And, like anything else, I didn't do it alone, in a bubble. Yeah, I was holed up for a while, still shaking off the ghost of Walden. But rejoining society and becoming a more active (more visible) member of my community spurred me on a good bit too. Thank you all, Community.

I don't know when I wrote up this list. I think I was still staying at V-ron's cottage, before the move to Arlington Road. That all seems a world away now, and that's a good feeling. I don't know when I'll write up this year's Plan For Me, probably before the end of the year, but you're not likely to see it, gentle reader. Not till later. Maybe. That's the deal.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Kickin' It Olde School

This is what I really like about my job, definitely one of the things I missed about it too: I often have to pull my head out of my ass away from my computer and do an all-paper "analog" project that does not involve a mouse, a keyboard, or a lot of zooming in and out. To wit:

We publish a series of variorum editions of John Donne. I'm not sure what volume number is coming up (we've been pubbing them out of order, for some reason) but we don't set them in-house. In fact, we never even receive e-files. The typesetter just sends camera-ready copy which the printer shoots and makes into printing plates. The previous typesetter retired, though, and the new one needs specs in order to set this puppy. (Why the project editor doesn't have anything on file, I don't know Do we have any on file we can send? As if! All I can find around here are some jacket specs; I can't even find original sample pages.

So, my task today: Xerox a bunch of pages from an existing volume, grab a pica stick, and start measuring and marking up the pages with rules and specs. Joy!