Break on through to the other side

IMG_0519 - Version 3Sleep, you elusive creature you.

This is a new one: I fell asleep and was awoken a short time later by coyotes. It sounded like a lot of them, converging somewhere in the darkness outside my window and howling at whatever coyotes howl at. This isn’t happening in Manhattan, by the way. I’m in the Berkshires for the holidays, where this sort of behavior is perfectly  appropriate.

It’s been a very busy couple of weeks and now that I’m *still* I realize I have a great deal on my mind. Lots of projects to start, or to continue working on, or, God willing, to complete. I put many things on hold for the month of December, which means I’ve placed a fair amount of burden on January’s shoulders, but I’ll get through it. January – Janus – the two-faced god of beginnings and transitions. Bring it on.

I’ve avoided insomnia for a bit and hope this is temporary, because the things that are flooding my mind are things I can’t really act on at the moment.

Among many other goals and fantasies for the new year, I will go back to Paris in 2015. This is certain. Last year was the first in quite some time that I didn’t visit, and I’m craving it – craving sitting and looking out the window at the view above. I love that city for the many cliché reasons people love it, and for many more personal ones.

I’m trying to get through Man’s Search For Meaning, which is not a long book at all but is a lofty one – written by a psychiatrist who survived his time in the concentration camps and set out to understand why. It’s not light reading and so probably not the best thing for my sleep-deprived brain. But it’s important, and I learned about this book from someone who manages to combine spiritual and practical in a very productive way.

So much to be learned from the year that’s passed. It was such a strange one – extreme lows and relative highs – but a lot of good has come out of it. I’m better for it. I think I need to write about this when I’m firing with however many cylinders one fires with. That’ll teach me to attempt an automotive metaphor. Not my area of expertise.

The holiday season came fast and furious, as it does, but I managed to concern myself not just with its logistics this year, but with its loveliness, too. A couple of parties, meals with friends, some holiday music, even a strand of lights around my window.

I had many other things I’d intended to write here but, like sleep, they are not coming to me. However, in the interest of finishing what I start, I will post this mundane exercise. I’ve just finished a personal essay workshop and the instructor is a big advocate of this sort of thing (you know I’m not a fan of the bl– word) – this forum for writing. So one of my writing goals in 2015 is to be more diligent about this. The problem I run into is that I feel like if I don’t have anything brilliant or pithy or important to say I shouldn’t say anything at all. And maybe that’s true, but the less I write the less I come up with brilliant, pithy, and important things to say. As they say over there, l’appetit vient en mangeant: the appetite comes while eating. Applicable to so many situations.

I’m going to get out of my fitness slumber – I’ve been in a rut since August, and this needs to change. In a couple of hours this will begin to change. After another attempt at sleep and copious amounts of coffee.

Starting to see double. Good night. Don’t let the coyotes bite.

Hazy shade of winter

IMG_7169This rather ominous photo is supposed to represent a winter wonderland. Which means that it’s that most wonderful time of the year, once again – time for taking stock of everything we have and have not accomplished in the past 365 days, for making lofty and facile resolutions for the new year, and so on and so forth. And as I’ve mentioned many, many times, I have the added glory of turning another year older right in the middle of if all, in between Christmas and New Year’s. For some weird reason I don’t have the early-December anxiety that I usually do and I attribute this to many things, including but not limited to acupuncture, natural supplements (I will bore you with all of the details if you’re interested – I’m a convert), some interesting things going on in my world, and the font of wisdom I’ve gained in the past year.

This is the time that I contemplate all of the things, good, bad, and illegal, that I’ve done for the first time in the previous year. This year’s list may be a bit shorter than others’, but here are some of my firsts. I’ve:

  • visited Quebec
  • gone on a writing retreat
  • written 150 pages of my novel-in-progress
  • committed to and started working with Girls Write Now, a really great organization that pairs adult writing mentors with teenage girls in at-risk (their word) school districts
  • taken bike-riding lessons. Yep.
  • what else what else … I know there’ s more.
  • Cooked an entire meal without checking recipes – granted, I’d made the same meal a few days prior, but considering the fact that I read instructions on cereal boxes, this was an accomplishment.

There’s more – I have a few irons in the fire that may yield positive results in 2015, career-wise … things I can’t elaborate on until they come to fruition, but I’m optimistic. I love being optimistic.

I recently de-friended someone on that great arbiter of meaningful relationships, Facebook. This is someone I’d not seen since … kindergarten? First grade? … though of course I’ve now “watched” her daughter grow up and I “know” her husband and, unfortunately, her political beliefs. She posted a close-up photo of the face of a dead deer with the caption, “[REDACTED] shot his first six-pointer!”

Now, I eat meat and I wear leather – sometimes simultaneously – though if I really stopped and thought it through I could easily convince myself not to. But I can’t imagine ever reveling in the kill portion of the process, which may very well be hypocritical and myopic, but it’s the truth. This post was so alarmingly cruel and macabre that I decided I never needed to know anything else about this person. I have friends with different political and social beliefs than I have, but this was such a bold and ugly statement that I don’t want to find the common ground I might have with this person.

Don’t read this next part if you’re vegan:

My first boyfriend out of college went on a hunting trip and shot a deer. I did not listen to any of the gory details about what took place between the time he spotted said deer and the first night that I dined on venison. I do know that a little venison goes a long, long way, and that for weeks – months – I ate venison in every conceivable iteration, medallions, kebobs, venison omelettes, Sloppy Does … I just came up with that; if I had a time machine I’d zip back to 1992 for a cheap laugh …

I don’t know what my point is here – I guess I feel hypocritical having a moral stance on this virtual stranger’s post, but in my case, in 1992, the then-boyfriend did use as much of the deer as he could. Then again, he also used to say that the song “Behind Blue Eyes” reminded him of himself.

So much more to say, as usual, but I’ve other things to do at the moment … I will write more this month. In the meantime, enjoy your holiday season and strive for a happy, healthy, and productive 2015.