Writing Resolutions

December 14, 2015


It’s around that time of year when everyone starts to get a little self-reflective. The holiday season is here and when people aren’t completely forgetting about any sort of manners or decency by acting like savages in the name of giving, they’re thinking about the things and people they have in their lives (sometimes in the form of anger, as it tends to be with families, but we’ll focus on the softer, kinder side of the holidays for now). Moreover than that, the new year is quickly approaching and, even though the flip of the calendar (I suppose a purchase or gift of a new one makes more sense here, though it kills the flow of the metaphor, so just go with me on this one) means nothing more than the just natural order of things (assuming you believe time is real and not just a human construct because of the brain’s limited memory, size and processing capabilities), we attribute rebirth and renewal to the emergence of a new year, in a season that’s usually wrought with death and stagnation (on an unrelated note, how bout this weather we’ve been having, huh? If climate change means an infinite autumn, then sign me up!)

Ok, enough asides (we’ll see about that), what I’m getting to is that the time has come for looking back upon our personal successes and failures in the previous year, and how we plan to improve ourselves in the upcoming one. It’s hard for me to look back on 2015 with anything but starry eyes; I’ve done a lot. But why revel in happiness when you can dwell on disappointment? A lot of change happened in 2015. I moved out of my family’s house for the first time ever, I boarded a plane for the first time in my life, I traveled to another country, I got married (in another country).

So yeah, to say it outright: 2015 was a banner year for me.

Other minor things of note: I wrote a bunch of stuff. I got published (at least online) a bunch. That should make me happy too but, it doesn’t, really…

Because even though people liked my writing enough to give me a chance, a lot of that didn’t last. Articles written and published have somehow disappeared from the world wide web, leaving behind only unedited and unfinalized drafts to showcase. Computer glitches left a hard-worked submission to be revoked from consideration, yet the notes on it still remained. The notes were middling at best: some people pointed out flaws I knew of, while others highlighted strengths I didn’t expect. Yet another reviewer ripped it to shreds with no remorse (whatever happened with emphasize the positive first? Geez), while another focused on only the negative, though my essay was their top pick (were the others really that bad?). Personal projects creaked to a halt. Many essays and articles were written and left in the cold to die. Promised funds were not transferred over pieces that did see the light of day. And at least one article was rewritten to a point where it wasn’t even recognizable. I’ve also been publicly humiliated about how bad and unfunny my writing is BY a head editor (I’ll decline to comment on whether or not those last two instances were in any way related).

So, suffice to say, this latter part of my writing year has had me pretty down in the dumps. I keep wanting to pick up my pen once more and give it another go. I keep wanting to submit to another writing contest. To reach out again to the magazine who has always held me in a fairly high regard and who has consistently been extraordinarily kind and complimentary of me and my writing. I want to go back to those stories I’ve left behind, the ones that deserve that extra attention, those final few lines. But I feel stuck. So like the other losers, I assume that the new year will, for some reason, bathe me in new opportunities, new projects and, most importantly, a renewed interest in things I’ve soured on.

In reality, it’s all me. All of that bad writerly shit that happened doesn’t have to follow me around like a black cloud. I can be that change. And I can start now—because fuck people’s expectations of a new year. Change can start mid-December because—well, why not? If I want it to, then so it shall be.

Sure, I have my resolutions of being better both in finance and in health, but I can start my creative ones now. Like, right now. Ok maybe a little later in the evening, but in the figurative sense of the word “now.” I can take those pitfalls, challenges, critiques (especially the critiques) and use them to improve my writing. I can take my discouragement and turn it into something worth writing about. I can stop being quiet and actually use words to express my discontent, instead of letting it fester inside me until it bubbles into depression or unjust rage. I can be better. My writing CAN be better, but it doesn’t mean it was bad to begin with. It’s time to channel the negativity into something productive. Maybe not positive, but productive.

And that’s my resolution, to just keep going. Do what I love even when it doesn’t love me back. And you should do the same.

(Also, in my head there was a whole part of this blog post that involved a quote/life tip from Nick Offerman, but in the end it didn’t quite fit into this particular piece. But I left the image of him in here anyway because I mean, look at that beautiful man.)



Of course I had to start this off with a tasteless joke. It’s what I do best.

Sometime last week I decided that I’m going to make the most out of my time. I’m going to get up early work on personal projects, go to the gym, get energized, get to work early, and then have the night for myself. After finding it hard to wake up early, or even on time, I delayed this idea for about a week and a half. Then, after reading the wonderful words of Nevermore Collective, I decided it was time to stop making excuses and start making changes happen. So when my alarm clock rang at 6:45 AM this morning, I knew hitting the snooze wasn’t an option: hopping out of bed and getting my ass in gear was the only course of action.

Ok, so I still hit the snooze button once or twice and maybe laid in bed checking Instagram for a few minutes, but then I was up and at ’em. I reasoned that, as long as I get to the gym by 7:30 AM, I could still get up to a solid hour of gym time (though, realistically I usually cap out at 45 mins) and still have enough time to shower and get to work on time. So I finally get to my car at about 7:26 (the gym is only about a four minute drive away) and I’m ready to go… but my car isn’t. I have one of those nifty push-to-start FOB keys, and my car wasn’t detecting it. Dead battery? Weird Glitch? Who knows, but between debating whether I should forgo the gym altogether and instead walk around the neighborhood, make a stop off at my mom’s to grab my other FOB key and hope that it works, and then browsing through my driver’s manual and searching the internet until I FINALLY found an answer on a message board that informed me that apparently there’s a “charging station” for my key in the center console (thanks for the tip, KIA!) I was able to get my car up and running…10 minutes later. “Ok, so if I get to the gym at around 7:40, work out for 45 minutes, then it will be 8:25. If I take a quick 5 minute shower then it will be 8:30 which will still be enough time to get to work.” I rationalized with myself. I can do this. I’M GOING to do this.

I forgot that school bus traffic hell occurs every day at approximately 7:40 AM. Of course I forgot that, since I’ve been sleeping later every day I always miss it.

I finally got to the gym at 7:55. The parking lot was PACKED. Apparently, people get their gym time in at approximately 7:55 every day. After parking my car and getting out to get all of my stuff together, I glanced at the clock again/ 7:58. “If I get in there by 8:00 I can work out for 15-20 minutes and then…” I slammed the door and hopped back into the front seat. This morning was giving me every sign that gym wasn’t in the cards, so maybe just going to early and getting a head start on my projects would be for the best.

I got to work and got changed out of my gym clothes in the bathroom. I found a bag of earrings in my purse, with one missing a back. I managed to (miraculously) locate the back at the bottom of my bag. Then I dropped said-earring back onto the floor, where it vanished completely. ARG. I washed my hands and thought, “God, please don’t let this be one of those days.”

I got to my desk to find out we were nowhere near ready for our hard deadline that was approaching and I had more work piling up, making it difficult to finish the project I wanted to complete, nor get cracking on a personal project before the work day started. Double arg. I opened up my Facebook messenger to shoot my mom a quick “good morning” message, as per my usual morning routine, and let her know about the crap day I was having so far, when I noticed that she changed her profile picture to one of the American flag. “Oh, geez, what happened now?” I thought to myself, and then it finally hit me. It hadn’t even occurred to me what the date was since I was so in my own head. Then, I realized something else:

It was approximately 8:46 AM on September 11, and I was about to complain about what a terrible day I was having.

While I was busy pitying myself, I forgot about the fact that, for A LOT of people early in the morning of September 11th, it really was the worst— and for many, last— day of their lives.There’s nothing that snaps you back to reality more than realizing how much worse things could be. That day, for all those who lost and suffer thanks to the reminders every year, all of those who are still barely living, but suffer from health complications and PTSD from being there, for all those who have been targeted and hurt every day since because of the color of their skin— this day has a lot of different meanings to a lot of different people. But there’s one string that ties them all together: for everyone, the earth stood still the morning of September 11th. And every year when we have those moments of silence, the earth stands still again. And in that silence, we are one. And our problems— no matter what size— disappear, even for just a few moments.

I’m not going to recount where I was and what I was doing when it happened. I’ve already done that. But I want everyone instead to think about where they are now. What they’re doing. What they’re spending their time and exhausting their both physical and mental on. Think about the amount of time you spend worrying and stressing about things that, in the bigger picture, are insignificant. Budget your emotional time accordingly. Time is fleeting and can be taken from us in the blink of an eye. In a New York minute. Don’t waste it on beating yourself up over things that go wrong. Don’t waste them worrying about other people’s problems. Take a few moments of silence every now and then to focus on the good things out there. Because they are there, even if they’re hard to see.

Sure as time goes on we grow more bitter and cynical toward a lot of things: the meaning of patriotism, the actions of our government and law officials, the different questions that have arisen since, and sometimes we even channel the confusion and anger into humor, throwing around callous 9/11 jokes when we can (I’ll admit it, I’m guilty of it). But when the dust has settled but the fog is still overhead, don’t let it cloud your judgment. On this day, it’s always okay to stop and thank those who worked tirelessly and put their lives in harm’s way to help their fellow man. Not all of us can be that courageous, but there’s still things we can do. Be a little bit kinder to a stranger. Think of those around you. Get outside of your own head and just be one in the silence.