I have traditions now. Which is strange to me, because the very idea of doing the same thing over and over again used to freak me out, be it from day to day or year to year. Literally every mental health professional you talk to will emphasize the value of routines in maintaining mental health. But the idea used to make me panic. It was like I’d channeled so much energy into making myself infinitely adaptable to handle the chaos in my life that I’d never learned how to function without chaos.
I also felt rebellious about the notion of routine/tradition/orderly time management because in my imagination it felt so much like submitting to the control of another person. Why? Leftover teenage hypersensitivity, I suppose. Gradually, it dawned on me that establishing some repetition in my life, along lines I was comfortable with, was actually a way of taking things back into my own control. Seems obvious enough, but you try reasoning with my panicky hindbrain some time.
I’m really proud of the things that I’ve managed to accomplish this year. Which is nice, because pride in myself is not something I’ve felt for a long time. I wrote about some of them in my recent Medium post, but apart from major life events like starting a freelancing career, I’m also proud that I kept a daily planner all year long, and made a 10 point to-do list nearly every day. When I close that planner for the last time tonight, I’ll be able to look back through it and see exactly what I did with my life over the last 365 days. I’ve never been able to do that before.
A lot of good things happened to me this year. I can tell, because for the last few months, I’ve been having trouble stuffing any more folded-up sticky notes in my Good Things Jar. When I first started keeping the Jar last year, I intentionally picked a tiny one. My life was a wreck, I reasoned, and my pathetically small quantities of goodness would seem less pathetic in a smaller jar.
I think I’m going to graduate to a larger jar in 2016. Maybe a Mason jar. We’ll see.
The Second Annual Reading of the Good Things Jar
January – 4 things
16th-18th, I go to New York for the first time, alone, on a bus, which is terrifying but makes me feel like a superhero. See some of my best people and go to a Welcome to Night Vale live show.
February – 2 things
23rd, I find the house I’m living in now, putting an end to months of living in situations with awful, mean people.
March – 3 things
24th, I catnap Philomena, Archduchess of Floof, from out on the street where my neighbor was feeding her.
April – 1 thing
1st, Mina and I learn to communicate, so to speak, and my angry street cat transforms into a darling lap cat.
May – 2 things
29th, I watch fireworks from my new rooftop deck.
June – 4 things
19th, I get health insurance and go to see a doctor for the first time in 11 years.
July – 2 things
20th, receive a compliment on writing as follows: “You write like birds sing.”
August – 4 things
17th-19th, I realize that I’m happy for the first time maybe ever. “At every moment we are volunteers.” (Quote from that GQ article on Stephen Colbert, which gave me a practically life-altering amount of feels.)
September – 7 things
14th, my friend Mary from college comes to visit! We bake apple honey cinnamon bread, drink orange almond tea, and listen to Beyond Belief.
(Special mention: Heard Hamilton for the first time on September 29th.)
October – 2 things
25th, “Books have been given back to me.” I couldn’t really read books for a few years because my concentration was poor, but I got my concentration back right around the same time the Welcome to Night Vale novel came out, and also when I started really supporting myself as a freelancer, which enabled me to buy a magnificent bright red book shelf from Ikea and about 10 new books. That bookshelf is pretty much the symbolic emblem of my happiness now.
November – 2 things
8th, read Villette. Did you know Villette is the best novel? It is the best novel.
December – 2 things
25th, just a really nice Christmas, with presents in the morning and a huge dinner, and company.
Whew, I actually got a bit teary doing that.
Last year, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with my notes after I’d taken them out of the jar, but this year, as I have my planner, I’m going to go through and stick each note on the day it belongs to. And then I will be ready to literally close the book on 2015, having known, for the first time ever, exactly what I was doing with my life that whole while.
My dear acquaintance! A Happy New Year.