Tuesday, January 23, 2018

New Year's Things

I know, I know, I was going to retire the blog by now. But somehow, while I felt sure I was ready to move on back in November, now I think I might stick around a little longer. I still have things I want to tell you about, and the blog feature on my new website is just a little less user-friendly than this platform—it requires more steps to write and post a blog and I have less control over how it's formatted (and I can't figure out how to add a subscription option and I like my list of blogs I read running down the margin). SO! At the risk of appearing like one of those furniture stores that is perennially going out of business, I'm going to stick around for a little while now. If you go to my site and click on the "blog" link, it should bring you here, and if you click on any of the buttons to the right, they should take you to my website, so it's all neat and tidy.

Now, onto the subject at hand: 2018. This is a picture of my new calendar/journal, a SELF Journal, from BestSelf.com (I'm not an affiliate or anything), a 13-week, goal-oriented journal which is going to help me reach my impossible-seeming goal of finishing The Book by April 1. I'm down to mostly research with some revision (more of the latter as I go on, bulldozing the rubble toward the end of the book). It's slow going and doesn't always feel super productive, but the idea is that by telling myself every day I'll finish by April 1, it will happen. Wish me luck (and please, please tell me how to make research less painful!).

Other plans for 2018. Inspired by this post from my "friend"* Kate, who was inspired by this essay by Ann Patchett, I've decided to make 2018 another Buy Nothing Year. Exactly ten years ago, in 2008, I implemented a Buy Nothing Year for myself (and by extension, our household). I wrote several blog posts throughout the year about the challenges I faced and the solutions I came up and the perspective I gained while attempting to Buy Nothing all year.
Buy Nothing YearBuy Nothing Year Part IIMore Buy Nothing Birthday PresentsBuy Just One Book YearBirthday Month Wind-DownPotholdersBuy Nothing Back-to-School and Lunch Bag TutorialReduce, Reuse, Recycle, RepairHandmade Holiday, Part IHandmade Holiday, Part IIBuy Nothing Year Redux
In 2008 I allowed myself some exceptions (underwear and socks, used items, materials needed for making things, health and safety items, and car repairs). Ann Patchett allowed herself to buy books, because she is a writer and bookstore owner. I think I'll allow books as gifts for other people (because I don't plan to hand-make every present I give this year) but not for me (because I have A LOT of books in my "need to read" pile).

I've kind of modified the idea to Buy Nothing Frivolous. Which fits in with my original exemptions, and means that if something is really needed (e.g., underwear or socks) I can buy it. But it also means that I'm expanding Buy Nothing beyond consumer items to consumables like drinks and sandwiches and cookies. I can go out to lunch with a friend, or buy a vitamin-C enriched smoothie drink if I have a cold, but no more bagels when I'm roving around town or Kombuchas when I'm grocery shopping.

I've put the Buy Nothing Frivolous idea to the test already. Last week I felt I really NEEDED a file box to help organize things like bank statements and bills around my desk. Then I remembered I had a file box upstairs that held the drafts from my grad school short stories. Last time I organized I wasn't ready to get rid of those drafts (or even go through them), but I could put them into the filing cabinet in the basement and free up the file box. I cleared some junk out of a file drawer, dropped the stories in, and now I have a tidy little administration area near my desk—no trip to Target involved.

The second thing Kate mentions in her post is deleting her Facebook account. I'm not quite ready to do this, because there are a few people with whom that's my only point of contact, and I use it as a way to promote my own work (for what that's worth). I wish I could limit the posts I see to people's writing news, vacation photos, and new babies, but since there's no filter like that yet, I've mostly just stopped going there. I don't need the endless loop of bad news repeated and reiterated in different ways. I was not making the world a better place by reading, and reposting, more of the same The World is Coming to a Screeching Halt articles, so I've just withdrawn, mostly. I've also cut way back on news in general—NPR, online news venues, etc. It's just too discouraging and truly, reading ten different analyses of the same insane events doesn't really help anything and adds to my stress.

Looking back at the end of 2017, the two things I wished I had more of were time and money. Buying Nothing should help with the money department, somewhat, and cutting back on social media has already added to time.

*I put "friend" in quotes because Kate and I have only met in person for like 30 seconds, but we've been friends on social media for years and she only lives about 25 minutes away from me and is in the same graduate program I went to and we have at least one mutual friend and I'm sure if both our lives weren't so insanely busy, we'd be friends in real life too.

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