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Just a little over a month ago I closed on my condo. Since it's new construction, there were still some things that needed to be done. On the day of my closing they were finishing putting up the couple remaining shelves in the kitchen cabinets, putting up towel bars and toilet paper holders, taking care of some of the nicks and scratches on the baseboard. After going back and forth with the floor guy who was supposed to fix some of the nail holes and scratches the workers made on the floor but ended up making it worse, they refinished the whole hardwood floor (kitchen, dining room, living room and hallway). Though I didn't really have time to go there the day after it was done (I was having 11 family members descend on me at the old place), I went to check it out, and to my surprise it looked good. So now furniture has been ordered, more things are making their way there, and I'm planning on spending the night there on Monday (the day the furniture arrives). When I'm there, it feels like home, only with much less "stuff" around. I've moved over some dishes (and realized I need more of that style -- I only have setting for four), moved over 734 books so far, moved pillows and blankets and sheets, oh my! But it will really be home once I get Comcast to move the cable and internet service. That will come only after I watch the 91 hours or so of DVR'd shows I have to watch. But with a new season marching along, and the days getting shorter, I will make it my home. It's new, it's functional, it doesn't let me keep the things I don't really need. And this may be the best part of it all. All that excess baggage will be moving along, making way for a new me, a new start, a new home.
Change is all around us, everyday, everywhere. It's what we all dread, at times, but what we all do. Think about it. You're not the same person you were 10 years ago. You're not even the same person you were 5 years ago. You change your hair, you change your clothes style, you change your mode of transportation. Life is change.
And that change has found me. For quite a while now I've been "looking" at condos. "Looking," in this case, means surfing online, checking the newspaper, but not really looking. While I was in Florida this past May, something changed. Maybe I really needed to be ready. Maybe real change finds you when you are ready and really need it. I set up appointments to see some condos the week I got back. Two weeks and numerous units later, I found one that called to me and told me this could be home.
The first time I walked into the unit I got a good feeling. It helped also that that day, after seeing Wrigley from the outside and from a rooftop deck looking at the back of the scoreboard, and with the Cubs being down by 7 runs, they came from behind to win 10-9. It just screamed that this was right, that this condo was the one for me, that all was right with this decision, that I was finally ready for a change.
I went to see the condo a second time, and felt the same way. I took pictures and sent them to friends and family to get their opinion. They all liked it, too. And so I made the bid, signed the contract, paid the earnest money. This change is going to be real. And I've spent time measuring, and furniture looking, and deciding what I like and what I want and more importantly, what I don't want. Change is good.
Change is also difficult, however. What do I do with all this "stuff" that has accumulated throughout a lifetime? There are always things that cannot be left behind, and there are always things that are easy to part with when you realize you still have something you no longer want or need. It's those inbetween things that are difficult, that grey area between right and wrong, between stay and go, between here and there.
What makes up this grey area is our lives, the unsentimental pieces, the necessary parts, the difficult times and the good times. This is the point where change comes in and says, "what do you do with this?" Do I change? Do I stay the same? If I change too much, will I still be me? The decisions will not be easy, but the decisions will ultimately define me, for a while at least. As in most things, black and white is easy. How we respond to the grey areas of life "make" us who we are, "build" us into what we will become, and allow us to grow along the way.
A friend of mine posted in her Live Journal about a question a co-worker asked her. What did she want to be doing in five years. That question got me thinking. I read the responses to her post, and posted a response myself, but today I began to consider what "I" wanted to be doing in five years; heck, what I wanted to be doing in One year. I know that circumstances may change, my interests may change but still, I should try to be working toward something. I also watched Nova last night, which aired a program about regular people, young, old, overweight, medically questionable, all preparing, over a nine month period, to run the Boston Marathon. They knew what they were working toward. Not everyone accomplished their goal, but they all worked,, hard, focused, toward it. Shouldn't I be working toward something, too?
So where do I want to be in one year? What do I want to be doing? I know that I want to write. Isn't that why I created this blog? To write? To practice? To figure out what my voice is, what my view is, what I have to say that is so different from anyone else. To do that, I need to write. And write. So that's what I'm going to do. I've been harboring some story ideas and want to get those ideas down on paper. Two of the stories are fan fiction, one story is for a novel. No, I don't think this will be "The Great American Novel." I don't have expectations that high and mighty. But it's a story, a quest, that sits with me, and walks with me, and ponders with me as I go about my life. It's a story of friendship, of life, of finding your way with the grace and dignity, the knowledge and intuition it takes to not screw things up too much.
And so I'm going to write, maybe not every day, but most days. I'm not going to try for perfection, there's no such thing. I'm not even going to try for good, that can come later. That's what revision is for. But to revise, to get to that stage, there needs to be something there, something to revise. And that's where I am. And that's where I start, where I begin a one year journey toward writing. My goal in the year isn't to get published, but to get finished. To start the three stories I've got in my head now, to finish those stories. By finishing these stories I make a step toward being what I hope to someday be: a writer.
A short time ago I asked friends for some song recommendations. Some I had heard, some I hadn't. And that's where the fun comes in. To me, it seems as if we spend so much of our youth listening to music, having it be a very important part of our lives (who doesn't have memories that revolve around music?) and then have a time when it seems we separate from that part of ourselves for a brief time only to find it again. Perhaps it was "growing up" (whatever that term really means) when we go through a musical change.
I went through a stretch of time when music didn't hold much appeal, mostly I think because the radio stations in the place I was living were going through changes and played what seemed like weird music. Finding music again was a joy. And while I don't claim to be on top of the "latest" music today, I know I can ask people to give me some recommendations and I'll get music I haven't heard, some of which I'll like, and some not so much, but the newness is inspiring.
The constant changing, updating, next-new-thing keeps everyone somewhat unsettled, and yet music can be a unifying experience. As we grow we find our musical nitch, those songs, genres that speak to us, that we put on in the wee hours of the morning when we can't sleep, or when despair rears its ugly head. And yet new songs, new sounds find us, and take hold when we're not looking. Thank goodness for friends who say,"try this" or "here's a song you might like." I know I don't listen to the radio like I used to as a kid. I know the songs I like and am more likely to put on a cd, or listen to my iPod. But I've found new songs in ways I never used to before. Through this music, I've truly found the best days.
I guess I've always had an interest in history. I remember watching a repeat showing of Ken Burns' The Civil War back in 1991 at the same time the U.S. was bombing Bagdad at the beginning of Gulf War I. It provided a very unique view of the war we were just beginning, juxtaposed with a war from 130 years earlier.
During the just concluded quarter in my Writing and Intellectual Property in the Digital Age class, Shaun Slattery kept referring to a biography of Benjamin Franklin he was reading. He brought up the history of copyright, and the change in technology since Franklin's time.
Tonight, HBO is beginning a seven-part adaptation of David McCullough's John Adams. I watched a "Making of..." special they ran which discussed the authenticity the producers tried to bring to the production. They wanted people to know what it was really like in 1775, how difficult a choice rebellion was for the colonists.
I am currently reading Benedict Arnold's Navy by James L. Nelson and I just bought McCullough's book today. I need to read more history, learn more about our country's history, and world history, and understand how we got to where we are. I don't want to be one of those people who know more about popular culture than about what's going on in the world. I'm always horrified at the "man in the street" segments Jay Leno does, with the stupidity of people almost a badge of honor.
Can we afford not to be informed, whether it is current events or historical events? Is it true that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The historical perspective presents a vastly different view of an event, a period. Discovering our own history will give us a perspective on today's world and may help us better understand the world and times we live in.
Today is the first day of meteorological spring. and for once, it doesn't feel too bad. It's been a winter of snow, and cold, and ice, that has turned into a late winter of snow, and cold, and ice, and potholes. Maybe we've been spoiled. Maybe the last few years have been too nice. Maybe it's just that we had a rather nice fall (and that I was traveling out of the area quite a bit during the fall). Or, maybe it's just because this winter has been wetter, and snowier, and greyer than usual. Maybe it's because the temperatures have been running below normal. Maybe it's because we went through a stretch during which everyone's car was "white" with salt.
Even the newscasters, both television and radio, are getting fed up with this weather. One radio guy, when discussing when the snow would go away, said, "May, it'll be gone by May." I hope we don't have to wait that long. Yes, it's been staying light longer--a sure sign that spring is on its way. Yes, the sun has been rising higher in the sky. Still, I shovelled once again yesterday, and more snow is predicted for this coming week, though temperatures have been moderating. It's time for a change.
But we're not quite there yet. We are on the cusp of a change. It's spring training, the start of a new year, a time to challenge the old, try out the new, a safe time of trial and error. It's the time before the change, when you're struggling to get out of the old, and into the new, and feeling all the while as if it may never happen. Then one day, in the midst of a busy life, you look up. The sun is shining, the sky is clear, the trees are budding, the season has started.
I'm not missing this change this year. I'm here, I'm ready, I'm going to be a part, I'm going to play a role. Winter has seen its days, be gone! Spring training is here, and my spirit is ready for a fresh, clean, unpotholed start!
This past holiday season, the retail stores announced that they were having a bad season. People weren't buying. Sweaters sat on the tables, boots remained in stockrooms. It had been a mild autumn and people were not looking to buy "winter" items. Gas prices were over $3/per gallon, taking a bigger bite out of disposable income, businesses were continuing to downsize and offshore and consumers were being more cautious with their spending. By the end of the year, officials were beginning to talk of a slowdown in the economy. And there's the paradox.
Consumer spending drives our economy. The more we spend, the better the economy is. Yet, we keep hearing how we are being controlled by our "things," and HGTV has a show called Mission Organization for people with too much "stuff." Retail therapy is considered bad for people (yet apparently good for the economy).
Do our things really make us happier? Or is that all an illusion. How much stuff is too much. A friend of mine has roughly 3500 books, more than any one person could read. A PDA file is needed to keep track of the titles and authors to avoid duplication. Is it too much when you don't even know what you have?
I don't have the answers, but I know that I am working toward decluttering my life, getting rid of unnecessary things and making full use of the things I will keep. I don't believe you have to go the minimalist route in life, but having less isn't such a bad thing. Perhaps our economy needs to reinvent itself, become something more than a "thing" provider. We've entered a strange new world and it's going to be an interesting ride over the next several years.