(opps! just getting around to posting this)
No more Christmas! Only white decorations that try to make the winter seem less dark.
I woke up yesterday to find that my mother had rid the house of everything red and green except the Christmas tree. Literally everything, as she said, that was "red and green." Even the Scandinavian decorations, such as a nice little apple wreath, that could be left out all year round, or at least during the winter, were gone. The tree was left up because she didn't want me to be too "traumatized." I suppose this is to be expected as everyone else has left and gone back to their real lives in St. Johns (well, not real life there), California, or on tour. We used to have our decorations up until the middle of the month at least, but no more. One day my mother will turn into her mother who doesn't put up a tree at all.
I also woke up with a sore throat that has since developed into a cold/flu/sickness, so this made the whole de-christmasing more depressing, but there is something freeing about being sick and giving up for a little while. No gym. No makeup on. No people around, hardly. No expectations. I've been doing little domestic things that have been in the back of my mind for a while but I never get around to. Like putting out a bird feeder, planting the paperwhite bulbs, quilting my quilt that I've been working on since fall 2009...hopefully I'll get some knitting done, but at the moment all I want to do is sit and eat cookies while mindlessly watching Top Chef.
I really need to get away from the TV/movie watching mentally that I developed during college wherein I basically drown my anxieties in any free time by watching TV shows etc. that require no thinking, and even no emotional involvement (ie. Top Chef)-- sometimes I don't even like what I'm watching but the point is to turn off. Since I am no longer IN college and have few tangible stresses*, I need to start doing the imaginative things that I used to do that brought me success in college in the first place, because I feel that I've used up my reserves. In 2011, I want to:
-Read a lot more for pleasure and keep a list. I probably read 40+ novels last year, not counting short stories, poems, non-fiction and criticism, but this isn't really good enough for me. I want to burn through and absorb all the books I've been collecting for the last few years and haven't got around to reading. I feel like they are experiences that have been on hold for a long time.
-Live with more...deliberation. I know it sounds cheesy and very Martha Stewart (who I love), but in the last two years I've found that there are a lot of little choices I can make to be happier like: organizing my clothes by utility and in stacks so I can see the texture of different materials; growing cut flowers and recycling seeds from the garden when the flowers are finished; arranging meals on a portmeirion tray; having a fun alarm clock (my siblings thought this was HILARIOUS at Christmas); living with the seasons; and generally being a museum-like caretaker with the things I already own in a deeply materialistic way that is also deeply satisfying. The goal is to synthesize what I do-- have to and want to-- into an aesthetically pleasing whole.
-Take care of myself so I don't feel, well, old. After the debacle that was Banana's bridesmaid dress last June, I started going to the gym five days a week and this makes me feel younger, lighter and stronger, more ready to be involved in life. I lost about twenty pounds-- or 15% of my body weight-- which is not bad at all. I love adventure/fantasy and it is harder to imagine that you're Galadriel (or someone) when you have jiggly bits.
-(at the same time) Bake more nice things that I read about in books. I've been dying to make bacon buns like in This Side of Paradise.
-Write! Arrive in a place where I again feel the rhythm of sentences and the combination of words in a way that compels me to write. Writing for me is more wordsmithing than storytelling but I'd also love to have a brilliant idea for a story. For whatever reason, I think of myself as a writer-- at the bottom of everything-- and I want to bring this out into my everyday life.
-Figure out my life. Ah, impossible, but necessary. I've put in a lot of graduate school applications but can't expect them to come to anything and need to start living in a way that I could continue on if they don't. At the same time, life looks pretty bleak in that direction: no one wants to hire me, and even if they do I'll have to move and live alone again. This is probably why I applied in the first place because I need something to distract me from this terrifying prospect wherein the uselessness of life is always in the forefront.
-Find a way to make vegetables taste like noodles.
-Go over my Russian textbooks to relearn everything I've forgotten. I'm finding this difficult because I can't do things unless I wholeheartedly commit to them and I tend to get really intense. For example, yesterday I machine quilted for eight hours straight, which didn't make me feel any less sick; small bottles of product that one needs to use copiously everyday are my pet peeve; I was hesitant to start exercising last year because I felt it was just going to be a drain on my energy that I couldn't sustain (good thinking, right?). I don't like the idea of expensive one-week vacations as they're so transient-- if I'm going to spend seven hours on a plane I better be staying somewhere for at least 2-3 months. Anyways, why bother trying to relearn Russian if, down the line, I'm just going to forget it all anyways? There are no Russian speakers in my area at all and chances are that I'll probably never have an opportunity to take more courses or even live in Russia...I need to stop thinking this way.
-Be slightly better with people, less misanthropic.
-Blog more. I don't live in the moment at all. I try, but it doesn't happen for me. Most of my enjoyment in life is from the before and after: reflecting on what has happened and anticipating what will happen. Blogging and photographing make me recognize that life is good and that I've reached my goals.
*Ha! How things have changed since I wrote this post. Life seems more stressful than ever now.
I've made cinnamon rolls twice this year. The first time, I used Alton Brown's overnight cinnamon roll recipe but it let me down-- they weren't fluffy or soft at all. I probably rolled the dough out too thin. The second time I made this recipe from Bella Eats with some alterations (cardamom in the cinnamon mixture and more cinnamon; vanilla and less orange extract in the glaze; princess flavoring in the dough) and they were DELICIOUS. These ones were put in the fridge for my mom to bake in the morning. I froze the rest. I adore sweet yeasted breads with citrus zest in them. Well, basically any baked thing with orange zest.