2016 was weird, but you already knew that
I have not been blogging. I have been going so hard at not blogging, in fact, that Silvrback's layout has changed entirely while I've spent six months clicking around on other people's blogs. Here would be a great place to make some "resolutions" about writing, about how I'm going to post every two weeks or once a month this coming year, like I've done before to no avail. It is a new year, after all. But I refuse this idea. I refuse it because one thing I recently learned about myself is that I hate resolutions for making me feel guilty about things I should be doing. And I hate feeling guilty; it's not motivating, it's demoralizing.
Another thing I will not feel guilty about? Making (or not making) a year-end album list. Music took a pretty big backseat this year while I tried to figure out how to actually do work at work, and it turns out the only thing that's actually conducive to working is playing the No Man's Sky sountrack and definitely not old AFI songs that I will inevitably mouth the words to. I liked more than a few albums released this year, but I reluctantly ate my words on a Thrice album that was Good but not Great (which might turn into another post about expectations after AFI's new album is released in late January), I fell short of falling in love with Pinegrove, I made it through approximately two spins of The Hotelier's Goodness, and Touche Amore's Stage Four proved too tear-inducing to be pegged as a favorite (though I find it completely brilliant).
In 2016, I voted for the first time and felt crushed by the aftermath but comforted knowing I wasn't alone. I took more yoga classes (>one a week) but fewer trips to my hometown (2 in total) than ever before. I lived in the same place for an entire calendar year, and I welcomed a new kitten into my home and heart. I ate an astronomical number of tacos, a likely similar number of donuts, and drank more Starbucks than I can stand to admit because of the new location that popped up across the street from my house. I spent the summer taking tons of walks in order to play Pokemon Go, and I spent the fall getting in 5 or more rides a week and taking my favorite horse to a big clinic and a weekend show at the National Equestrian center. I lamented my previous goal of making dinner at home twice a week when I did things like forget to buy cheese to put on my pizza, but all in all, we did make dinner at home a fair amount and nobody died from undercooked chicken (we also bought a meat thermometer we've yet to use). I made about 40 iterations of chili. I tried to stick to schedules and to-do lists and failed so miserably that I spent about six sessions with my therapist complaining that I've done "literally nothing" with my life, and then I started teaching in the fall and miraculously found myself busy again. In the meantime, I interviewed Duke applicants in an attempt to give back to the university community I have such mixed feelings about, and I watched those kids personify "wide-eyed wonder" as they discussed their lofty future goals while I silently prayed for this world to let them down softly.
We always make it a goal to travel more, and 2016 gave us a trip to New York to see the Loved Ones with Alex, to California to drive the Pacific Coast Highway and hang out with buddies in San Diego and San Francisco, to Denver to eat at the same neighborhood restaurant every night while experiencing my third Riot Fest and scheming about moving to Colorado, and to Kansas City where we tried two now-favorite donut shops. We attended six weddings: they took us to Nashville, Kansas, and Chicago; we regretted some outfit choices but never how much fun we had dancing to those shitty wedding playlists I always bitch about. I chased likes on Instagram with my vacation pictures, but ultimately a photo of my two cats sitting on a banister got more recognitition than any of my posts to date. (My ever-favorite pictures of live bands with captions made of trite lyrics performed poorly as always.)
So I know I should be thankful,but sometimes it's hard to remember amid the looming, growling "fuck you, 2016" sentiment floating around the internet these days. In 2017, I have a short to-do list rather than a weighty list of resolutions, in order to keep me feeling productive and fulfilled. It includes the following:
Record one thing every day that I'm thankful for
Eat at a new restaurant once a month (because if we don't live in St. Louis forever, I'll be sad about some of the great food I missed out on in favor of 2x/week trips to Mission Taco)
Ride as often as possible, any horse I'm offered, even if it means 2+ horses in one day and getting home alte (... but if there's a good reason not to, say no and don't feel bad about it)
Put money into things that improve my quality of life, especially experiences (not things that seem like a good idea for a moment but won't matter in a week)
Reserve judgment and release expectations when listening to music, including other people's opinions about things I haven't heard yet and my own preconceptions that keep me from enjoying things I otherwise would
Put more thoughts out of my head and onto paper, whether this takes the form of blogging, bullet journaling, or spilling nonsense into a word document
Be conscientious about how I'm spending my time (that is, idle time isn't something to feel guilty about, but it can be used to do feel-good activities: take a walk, play a game, read a book, listen to a podcast, paint nails, or write, rather than wasting it on my phone)
Graduate student taking a break from grants and manuscripts to wax poetic on music.