Sunday, January 15, 2006

the resolution revolution--or, resolve this!

The weather outside is frightful…all the snow has melted, and now it sleets, freezing rain hitting the window. The empty birches shake. Forgive me, reading nearly the entire novel Frankenstein in one weekend makes me a little susceptible to the language of the eerie and the ghost story. But it’s true: the weather is crappy out.

I’ve spent the weekend trying to combine one of my New Year’s resolutions (to be better to myself and not stress out over school or other obligations) with the fact that I have a fair lot of work to do. This means I can describe both, as was suggested in the Comments box of last post.

First, New Year’s resolutions: I don’t usually make them. There’s not a lot about my life that requires me to make such a resolution, because if there’s an issue that needs addressing I tend to do it at the moment. I don’t smoke; so have never had to quit. I’ve never felt that my modest belly and other deposits of fat needed trimming to the point that I’d start going to the gym immeadiately upon turning the calender page. Other people do this, and that’s fine for them, but I’ve always felt that my other habits are in the realm of moderation. Or at least until this New Year’s, when I decided that last semester’s frantic feelings, stirred up by not enough time to myself to balance all the schoolwork I was doing, were best left behind.

So, that’s one of the things I wrote on a piece of paper and subsequently burned. This is a small ritual that some friends of mine do, and this year I thought it would make a good little thing to do. I spent the night home by myself, resting and trying to get rid of a cold, and this sort of introspection made sense, especially on the last night of the year. I won’t say what I wrote on the other pieces of paper, because it’s personal, but some are things I want to leave behind and others are things I hope or wish for in the New Year.

Taking better care of myself means, mostly, listening to my body. Lately it’s sick, so that means getting enough sleep, feeding myself well, not drinking alcohol at parties, etc. It also means taking breaks from schoolwork, allowing myself the pleasures that make me a relaxed and happy human, like wandering in bookstores, making pictures out of charcoals, and lying in bed for a few extra minutes in the morning. We’ll see how it goes: I don’t want to be as stressed about school and being evaluated as I was last semester.

So this brings me to what I’m doing lately. For Philosophy, reading Dante’s Divine Comedy (the first part, Hell). This is really interesting because the professor, Barry Craig, is quite an expert on Dante, the levels of allegory, and the attendant philosophies. The poetry of it is lush and intriguing, too. For Sociology, there are no readings at the moment, just attending lectures, which is fine by me, since there is lots of other stuff to do. In English, we’re reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and I think the whole class forgot that we had to have it read by this week because I heard lots of people going, “Aw… was that even on the syllabus?” It’s a little dense but ultimately rewarding, as the story is quite interesting. Have any of you read it?

For my other class, Environmental Policy and Praxis, we’re immersed in a book called “The Politics of the Earth: Environmental Discourses”. This week is my group’s turn to write papers on what we’ve read; I have to have it written by Wednesday. We’re studying the various discourses used in environmental policy, the problems and good points of each one, and discussing all of this in a three-hour Seminar on Thursday nights. It sounds dry, and at points is, but is also invigorating, because the subject matter is so relevant to me. This is an area in which I could (and often do) yield to pessimism and feelings of doom and gloom, but by engaging in debate with similarly minded young people (and our prof) I feel things can change.

Other than that, I have two other projects for school I’m working on. Both are revisions to papers from last semester; one is from my Women Writers class, and I’m going to submit it to an essay competition. I get to work with my prof for it, and thus it’s both nerve-wracking and exciting. The other is a paper from my other English class, the study of literature, and I’m working on it with another prof to hopefully present at a research fair held at STU. It is, incongruously, about drag queens and Shakespeare. I feel quite lucky to be given the chance to do these projects, but the feeling of being evaluated and having to live up to expectations fills me with a mild kind of anxiety.

Filling the space around these endeavours, readings and projects is the usual: seeking out and preparing good, (usually) organic food, getting lots of sleep, keeping in touch with family and friends, washing (sometimes). Mat leaves tomorrow for Ireland, which is exciting. Meanwhile, I’ll keep puttering on, making sense of my life, scheduling things, and as always, doing readings readings readings. And hopefully, not getting too stressed out. After all, that clock's going to keep on turning, it's up to us to have fun in the time we're given.

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