New Year’s Thoughts

I’m sitting at my writing desk with my coffee and a couple of “Coppengrath Gewürz Spekulatins” spiced biscuits (cookies) from a package my German mother-in-law gave to my kid. Yes, I am eating his cookies. There are plenty in the bag. He doesn’t need all those cookies. He won’t miss a few.

It’s 11:26 a.m. at the moment, January 3rd. My writing time starts after breakfast and usually ends a quarter past noon. This morning, though, I needed to run some errands—retrieve my mail from the post office, and pick up contacts from my optometrist that came in two weeks ago while we were away.

I’m free-writing right now. I set the timer on my phone for twenty-five minutes to push myself to write as much as I can within this set amount of time, which is something I haven’t been able to do very well for some reason. My plan is to start, finish, and publish this blog post all on the same day, preferably within a couple of hours. I’ve never managed to do this before. We’ll see shortly if I’m able to do it.

I just returned from a trip visiting family and friends in Colorado. The plane (Frontier) touched down four minutes after midnight on New Year’s Day. We try to avoid traveling to Colorado during Christmas. We’ve lived in San Diego for over twenty years and have become SoCal wusses. We’re unaccustomed to snowstorms, freezing temperatures, icy wind gusts—the sort of crappy winter weather that complicates traveling. We’re not used to driving through snow. There are also few places to hang out that doesn’t require spending money, especially when you have children with you. We prefer having family visit us here in San Diego during Christmas, but that wasn’t an option this year.

Colorado winter wonderland. Pretty to look at, but makes traveling a pain.

My father-in-law is not well. Thanks to his lifelong smoking addiction, he’s suffering from severe COPD and needs extra oxygen to breathe. He has no appetite and has to be encouraged to eat. He’s down to 81 pounds (he was 86 pounds the last time we saw him six months ago). Nurses visit him four times a week for his in-home hospice care. He gets out of breath just walking across the living room. He will never get on another airplane again. He may not be around next Christmas. Because he can’t travel anymore, we flew out for Christmas—and got caught in the Southwest cancellations when it was time to return home.

It’s feels strange coming home on New Year’s Day when we weren’t planning on it. We’ve always used Southwest Airlines and had never experienced a problem before. We were supposed to fly back on the 29th, which would have given us a few days to relax and enjoy the end of the holiday season in our own home before starting up the grind of a regular routine again. But because our Southwest flight was canceled, we ended up staying a couple of extra days, which meant I got to spend more time with family.

Playing Harry Potter Clue with my nieces after Southwest extended my vacation.

Here’s an excerpt from my journal the day our flight got canceled, Tuesday, December 27:

So today was interesting. Last night we found out through that our flight, SW #2466, got canceled. [My husband’s] mental gears started cranking, while I just went to bed. Didn’t know what to do about it. So the next morning (early this morning), before the sun came up, [he] tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I was awake. He began looking for flights on other airlines early in the morning when I was still asleep. Nothing cheap was available for the day we were supposed to leave.

He ended up booking a flight with Frontier. If he didn’t, we’d probably still be in Colorado.

Our plane touched down four minutes after midnight on New Year’s Day. It feels like a bit of a time warp for me. When we left, there was still that anticipation of Christmas in the air. Now that we’re back, the holiday season has abruptly ended. It’s all over. I feel like I missed the post-Christmas denouement.

Unclaimed baggage at the San Diego airport on New Year’s Day.

A new year means new resolutions. Here are a few of mine:

  • Finish a polished final draft of my novel
  • Avoid social media and YouTube until the end of the day (because I suspect it’s messing with my creativity)
  • Be more efficient with my time in order to…
  • Get more projects on my to-do list done
  • Get back in shape
  • Blog more often

I miss my blog. My last real blog post (the November post announcing my short story doesn’t count) was published seven months ago. This post was a long excuse to myself to stop blogging. I’m sure Jane Friedman is right, that blogging regularly is probably not worth the time and effort it takes to keep up the routine. But I think forcing myself to maintain a regular blogging schedule helps me with my writing by pushing me to write quickly—get it down, get it done, and “publish” it, and not worry about perfection—and repeat this on a regular basis, regardless of whether I feel like it or not. It’s like when you quit exercising for too long, when you stop running for weeks. When you get out of shape, you feel out of shape, and you aren’t as motivated to go for a run when you haven’t been running for awhile. I feel the same way with writing. My writing muscles feel flabby.

I’ve always enjoyed keeping a journal. Blogging isn’t that much different. No, that’s not exactly right. Because my blog is visible to the world, I don’t feel the freedom to write whatever I want. I don’t want to post personal information about my family, including their names. I’m wary about expressing my opinions these days, given how easily offended people have become. I have to put a little more thought into my blog than in a private journal, and this of course takes more time.

(Hours later…)

My blog post is finished (yay). It’s not as polished as the others, not as focused, not perfect. But it’s good enough, and I got it done. It took me a little more time to get this on my website and upload photos to accompany it. At least I met my goal–it didn’t take me all day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.