Monday, May 28, 2012

Decisions, Decisions

Bob and I are having one of those years in which it seems we are constantly bombarded with decisions that have to be made. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Some decisions are fun: a meeting we thought we had has been cancelled. Do we go out and see a movie or stay home and play board games? (Probably the latter.) Others just fun to consider: do we throttle that member of the church who's such a know-it-all and who does nothing but judge and whine? (No, it wouldn't be the Christian thing to do. Besides, I've always kind of hoped that if I ever made the headlines, it wouldn't be as a murderous minister and minister's wife.)

All kidding aside, though, we've also been faced with some tough decisions, and all this decision-making has left me feeling a bit decisioned-out. Nonetheless, I'm spending this Memorial Day weekend making some decisions. You see, earlier this year, I made some decisions that I've already begun to regret. And once you begin to regret a decision, it seems it becomes another decision that has to be made. Luckily, I'm not talking about any decisions that can't easily be undone, which is why I'm here today to discuss undoing some of the decisions I've made.

DECISION #1: Changing my blog.
At the beginning of the year, I decided that my blog needed resuscitating. I chose a new design template for it. This was a very wise decision. I still love the "new" look of my blog. It cheers me up every time I visit. I also decided to be more purposeful in my writing, alternating blog posts among my 3 passions: books, music, and food. This was the stupid decision. I'm writing less than ever now, and it seems it's just because I can't be bothered much to write about food and music, while I've become a slave to my plan, thinking "I can't write another post on books. It's been ages and ages since I wrote about food."
RE-DECISION #1: It seems this slave needs to run away (and take all her books with her). I'm leaving the overbearing plan. I'm back to writing mostly about books and whatever else strikes my fancy. We'll see if anymore blog posts about music and food appear.

DECISION #2: Joining 2 reading challenges (The Once Upon a Time Challenge and The Classics Challenge). I love both these challenges. Really, I do. But what was I thinking? I've never been good at completing any reading challenges, and I already belong to three book discussion groups, and now I'm on the One Book, One Community Committee, which means reading tons of books to help us decide which is going to be our community read in 2013. That's enough when it comes to reading assigned books by specific deadlines.
RE-DECISION #2: I will enjoy the two challenges vicariously, when I can, peeking at what others are reading and what they have to say, and I will continue to keep reading the books I planned to read, but I will read them on my own schedule. I may or may not write blog posts about them. You may have noticed I've replaced the beautiful buttons for both these challenges (a sad thing to do, but necessary to convince myself I've really dropped the two challenges) with new gadgets on my blog: "Album I'm Loving" (there. A little bit of music for you) and "Book I'm Loving."

DECISION #3: Making complicated monthly reading plans.
For a number of years I've been in the habit of planning what books I'm going to read each month. It's kind of fun. Around the end of each month, I begin browsing shelves and the pages of my TBR tome and draw up a list, which sometimes has to be changed when I discover that in order to read everything on it, I'll need to read 500 pages a day. This year, though, I decided to make my monthly plan far more complicated than I ever had. I had assigned categories I was trying to fill, like "contemporary fiction," "classic fiction", "children's/y.a.", "poetry". Talk about taking the joy out of reading (there must be some Puritan blood in me somewhere the way I'm able to take things I love and turn them into chores). Why on earth did I set up a plan that was basically the equivalent of revisiting the horror I call "high school English classes"?
RE-DECISION #3: No more complicated monthly plans. In fact, I'm considering just reading at will. I'm not sure it's something I can do. For some reason, I do like having some sort of a plan (probably why I'm so easily convinced to join challenges). A glimmer of hope is shining off in the distance, though: I have not yet drawn up any sort of list for June, and when I was at our annual library book sale last week and came across a pristine copy of Lonely Werewolf Girl, a book I've been wanting to read forever, I bought it, abandoned everything else I was reading (overdue library books be damned), and dove right in. I've gone back to reading other things while reading it (I will never be a one-book-at-a-time sort), but that's something I rarely ever do, buy a book and begin it the day I buy it.

DECISION #4: I'm going to eat one vegetarian, one vegan, and one anything goes meal a day (an idea I got from Mark Bittman when I read his Food Matters). This is a very hard thing to do when you're (for health reasons) also trying to eat more protein and to cut back on sugar, white flour, and gluten in your diet. My vegan meals often include bread or pasta. I've found gluten-free pasta that I love, but I have yet to find a gluten-free bread that I love. In fact, if you're trying to cut down on those three things. it seems the best diet to adopt is the paleo diet, which recommends eating some sort of lean meat at every meal (something I'm smart enough to know not to even pretend I'm going to try to do, especially since the diet also forbids dairy, and I love my raw milk, yogurt, and cheese).
RE-DECISION #4: Again, I will stop being a slave to the plan. I'm still trying to eat meat only occasionally and to eat more vegan meals, but I'm not trying so hard to stick to this one-one-one thing. First of all, it doesn't work too well if you love to eat leftovers (which I do) and find yourself with 3 vegetarian choices and 1 meat-based choice in your fridge but no vegan choices (unless all you're going to do is eat raw carrots and broccoli, which I'm not). And secondly, I'm tired of eating something, and then thinking, "Oh, wait a minute. That was supposed to be a vegan meal!"

DECISION #5: I'm going to go a year without buying any books.
Can we all just laugh at this one? I think I bought my first book within a week of making this decision ("Book discussion/OBOC books I can't get through our library system don't count.")
RE-DECISION #6: Stop pretending I'm not buying any books this year. I will, instead, make more of an effort to get rid of those I've read, will never read again, and that need to find new homes.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Six Years

Hmmm. Yesterday marked my six-year blogiversary. I find that pretty hard to believe, but here's the evidence. That first blog post is also proof that I really did begin this blog with the intent of writing about telecommuting and connecting with other telecommuters. Somehow, I ended up connecting with all kinds of great book lovers instead (probably a far more fun and lively crowd). Actually, I know perfectly well how that happened. I found very few fellow telecommuters who were out there blogging like I was, so I began reading blogs that interested me, which were those that focused on books, and I started commenting on them. Soon, people (much to my surprise) were led to my blog through my comments.

I need to complete the 7 x 7 award meme, for which litlove tagged me ages ago, and which I thought I'd save for my blogiversary, but, as you can see, I don't seem to be doing it to mark the occasion. In providing the two links I've thus far provided in this blog post, I'm reminded that when I first started blogging, I didn't know how to link. I also didn't know what a meme was. Funny, how I eventually became the Queen o' Memes, thus dubbed by Hobs, who became a real life friend, but who abandoned his blog long ago (way too prematurely, as far as I'm concerned, but he had better things to do, I suppose).

That's my problem with both the 7 x 7 meme and celebrating the fact that I've been blogging for six years now. It's all so bittersweet for me. On the one hand, I've loved meeting and getting to know the people I never would have known if I hadn't started blogging, but it's been sad to see some disappear from the blogosphere altogether. I've also loved getting to know real life friends better through their blogs. However, I get this sad sort of ache when I think back on the days when I first began. Think about it: I was still living in Connecticut. Bob had just graduated from seminary. His father was still alive. We had no idea where we might be headed. I was yet to be laid off from a job I loved (I was all into math, remember?). I was yet to take a job at another company only to be laid off again.  On the one hand, six years isn't all that long. On the other hand, it's been a lifetime.

When I'm in a particularly melancholic frame of mind, I like to go back and reread blog posts from the early days (and even from the middle days). I'm often amazed at how much I've forgotten (and at my -- periodic -- ability to write really, really well. That bit always surprises me). I'm really glad I have this record. Then again, there are days when I ask myself "why?" Why am I glad to have this record? To tell you the truth, I don't have an answer to that question, except to say that some days it's less sad and more fun to reminisce, and I'm glad to have a tool that helps me do so.

I blog so seldom these days. I started 2012 with all kinds of plans to spend more time here, but they haven't materialized. It isn't because I don't want to blog. It's just that so many other things I want to do get in the way. Ironically, just when you'd think I'd have more time to spend with my blog, would want to spend time online, since I can do what I want instead of what I'm getting paid to do, now that I no longer telecommute, spending hours and hours a day working at the computer, I find I'm less inclined to go online. I'm reading more. I'm writing offline. I'm taking better care of my home. I'm loving a part-time job at my local library, and I'm spending more time exploring this place where I live, not to mention spending more time doing things at Bob's church. It's not bad, I suppose, just different from where I was 6 years ago. And, really, I suppose I should be thankful that I've moved on from 6 years ago. That's what we all want to do as we travel this road called Life, right? Doesn't mean, though, that as happy as I might be now, it isn't sometimes a bit sad to wade through the old posts and remember where I once was.

What about you? How does it feel when you look back over your blogging life?