Goals for 2020

First thing’s first, my daily sketch:

This was about a 20 minute sketch, done while my soup was simmering on the stove (White bean and kale, if you’re wondering).  I was very happy with the proportions, as that tends to be what I struggle with most (I’m not saying it’s perfect, but it’s much better than my usual attempts, especially given the time frame).  Again, I have trouble with matching the values; I don’t go as dark on the dark, and the lights tend to be glaringly so; I attribute that partly to lack of skill, sure, but also I feel like if I had softer, more rounded pencils, I’d be able to do more fluid gradients of shading.  As it is, I only have my mechanical pencil, which is generally fine because I usually prefer to ink or paint anyway.

Today was my first day back to reality in two weeks, and I take comfort in the fact that everyone at work seemed as dazed and confused as I was.  I barely slept last night, but I was up with my alarm by 5:20, and eased into the day by brewing a cup of coffee, having a shower, writing up some brief morning pages and a to-do list, and listening to a favorite episode of Worst Bestsellers (which, if you like bad books, is highly recommended.  The episode I was listening to was their crossover with I Don’t Even Own a Television, another “bad books” podcast which I very much recommend.  I also may have a bit of a crush on  J.W. Friedman, but that’s neither here nor there).  Work itself was productive but overall uneventful (which, rest assured, is a good thing), but I am selfishly glad that tomorrow is Friday already, because the day also felt like it lasted several.

Anyway, I mentioned yesterday that, in addition to my bucket list goals (a living list that grows sporadically), I have some 2020-specific goals that I want to cast out into to ether in the hopes that it will help hold me accountable.

  1.  Consume more media.  Which, honestly, probably sounds weird, but.  If I want to produce content — poetry, painting, short fiction — I need to be consuming content.  That’s reality.  I tend to get into ruts of “Comfort listening/watching/reading” things: endlessly watching the same show, or listening to the same album (or, worse, song) over and over, ad infinitum (and nowadays, a lot of that is media is also directed at and intended for five-year-olds).  I don’t intend to stop that, per se (that’s also kind of part and parcel of my neurodivergence, I think), but I do want to expand past that.  Watch new TV shows, stand-up specials (which used to be one of my favorite things to do), listen to new music and podcasts, read new books and poems.  Speaking off…
  2. Read 50 books in 2020.  I used to do that, easy, when I was in college — not so much because I was reading books for school, but more that I was reading books to avoid the books I had to read for school.  Also, I had long waits between classes and not exactly a ton of friends (okay, like five, basically).  Now, with the ADHD, the kid, a full-time job, and other creative pursuits, I’ve let this slip and I want to rectify that.  Today I started Natalie Goldberg’s The Great Springmostly because I’d been musing about meta-writing, and I’d loved her Writing Down the Bones when I was younger.
  3. Buy people more thoughtful presents.  I don’t love how commercial the holidays have become, but I do like buying people gifts.  I especially love buying themed gifts, or handmade gifts, or just unique gifts in general, but I tend not to do so as often as I’d like because November rolls around and I suddenly feel the time crunch because I know the holidays will be here any minute and I just need to get things done.  Throughout the year, I’d like to make it a point to pick things up for people whenever I see something I think they would genuinely love or that would bring them pleasure, instead of making a mad dash to the mall two weeks before the holiday.  I also want to buy more secondhand, or from small businesses or independent makers.
  4. Take more photos of my loved ones.  I have approximately five hundred thousand pictures of Bear.  I have maybe a dozen of my husband.  Fewer of my siblings, and almost none at all of my parents.  Even photos of friends haven’t really been a thing for a while now.  I try to enjoy things in the moment, and made a conscious effort, years ago, to not go camera-crazy, but now I feel like I have no momentos of so many instances and events in my life, that I really want to strike a healthy balance.
  5. Do something special for my husband for Valentine’s Day/our anniversary.  (I just realized that sounded like I’m conflating those two dates; they are not the same day.  Our anniversary is July 17th).  My husband always treats me and surprises me in little ways on special occasions, and I don’t feel like I’ve ever really returned to gesture adequately.  I’d like to either buy him something special or treat him to a meaningful experience.  Since this’ll be our 10th anniversary, it seems like as good of a time as any.
  6. Return to a regular gym routine/eat more nutritiously.  I don’t do diets, especially diets that outright exclude any particular food or food group, but I do think eating reasonable portions, drinking lots of water, regularly exercising, and eating more of the “good” stuff is generally pretty solid life advice, and I should follow it.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

New Year

I don’t want to burden Bear with the whole New Year’s Resolution trend just yet, but it’s hard to talk about the upcoming year with him without mentioning or bringing up particular goals.  He’s cottoned on to the idea that people make changes at the start of a new year; it’s in pop culture, on TV, and he unavoidably hears me and my friends talk about our own ambitions.

I asked him if he had any goals for the new year.  He thought about it for a minute before deciding his goal for 2020 would be “to listen to [his] grown-ups better,” which overall I think is actually a pretty great, self-aware goal.  I tried to suggest that maybe he’d want to consider “keeping [his] room clean” or “trying new food” as a goal, but then I thought, hmm, if I ask him to clean his room or eat his broccoli, wouldn’t his own resolution to listen to me better hold him to doing it?

Man, it’s so rare a loophole works to my benefit.

I mean, realistically, he’s likely going to recant literally the minute he’s actually asked to do something he doesn’t like, but still, at five I appreciate the self-awareness.  At least he knows it’s something he needs to work on.  I guess it’s still up to me to help strategize how that’s actually going to be accomplished.

My own resolution is a little more loosely framed this year than it had been in the past; basically I want to make measurable progress on at least five of my bucket list goals (the primary focus right now being returning to the gym, drinking more water, and eating more “real” food), and knock out the ones that are one-offs (i.e., buy a binder, get a tattoo, write five fan letters, etc.)

So much of what’s on the bucket list are creative goals — at some point during the summer I became obsessed with publishing a zine or a chapbook, and I still want to follow through on that, and I’m determined to host a limited run podcast, though I’m having a hell of a time finding someone to co-host with me (I have a number of different ideas for what I’d want to do, but again, having trouble finding a co-host).  Painting and writing are always top priority as well, though I feel like I made great strides in 2019 towards making them part of a semi-daily routine; in their case, it’s more carrying forward and continuing the momentum rather than forging a new habit from the ground up.  Oh, and if it hasn’t become apparent, I’m also trying my best to write something everyday — yes, even if it’s just a “what I did today” entry.  2019 was the surest proof that “branded” blogging is just not for me — I’m not good at it, I don’t enjoy it, and I don’t want to do it.  I just want to talk, damn it, and have a place to keep the things I make that I’m proudest of.

I hope I make a lot of things I’m proud of this year.

My bucket list, by the way, is a sort of living document, so I’m constantly updating it and adding new goals.  I encourage others to try it out in the new year — I did it back in 2011/2012 and actually had a lot of success!  This was back on LiveJournal, and the memory of it was actually one of the things that spurred me to return to personal blogging.  I found a community of like-minded folks that actually offered real support and feedback on my goals, my failures, and my successes, and it was probably the time of my life I felt most successful and productive.

If you have, or plan to make, a bucket list, please share it with me here.

Oh, and on the topic of bucket list goals, specifically “Produce one sketch every day,” here’s today’s (getting a head start):


The Big Clean, Pt. Uhh… the Last One

And… it is done.

Here is the last batch of Before & Afters (or, really, mostly Afters, because I woke up with a massive dehydration headache, and it took me a woefully long time to realize that’s what it was (here I was trying to ply it with yet more coffee), so I spent the better part of the morning in a brain fog).  Sorry if it seems like a lot all at once, but I never posted the pics of the living room yesterday, and neither the hallway/transitional spaces in the house nor the bathrooms really deserved their own post (rest assured the bathrooms got a good cleaning, but they are both too regularly maintained (out of necessity) to make especially interesting Before & Afters).

Living Room Before:


Living Room (and Bedroom) Afters:


I suppose the question now is, what next?  My home is under control, so let’s tick off the first check box under Getting My Life Together in 2020 — what’s the next list item?

Developing a routine, I guess, because my neurodivergent brain is a complete and utter Hot Mess.

Honestly though, I don’t think it’s something I have to develop, it’s just something I actually have to utilize.  My main issue is organization, both of my living space and my head space (ADHD is a bitch, let me tell you).  Sometimes a couple of years ago — maybe a few, at this point — I made myself a set of checklists and organizers, one for a Morning and Evening routine, and one for a cleaning routine.  Both had been printed out, laminated, stuck to the fridge, and… promptly forgotten about.  Which is a shame, because for the few weeks I actually followed them, they really set a wonderful tempo for my life.  The morning and evening routine one was especially, surprisingly effective.  Getting up at a set time, showering in the morning (I was never a Bathe in the Morning person, but wow, it make a difference in the way you face the day), starting the day with breakfast and a glass of water (augmenting, not replacing, my coffee — I need my caffeine, thank you very much), and an uplifting podcast or video?  It really did sort of set the tone for the whole day.

The evening routine was the same.  As soon as my son went to bed, I would wash up, change into pajamas, make some tea, get my inbox to zero, read my blogs and catch up on social media, then turn on a podcast and work on a hobby before getting ready for bed and doing my gratitude journal.  I did breakfast prep, packed my bag, and laid out my outfit the night before as well, which made the morning transition so much smoother.  It was a hugely effective system that I abandoned… why?  Probably, if I’m being honest, because something derailed me temporarily (I was sick, or travelling, or something) and I never quite got back on track.

That’s a huge issue for me.  Falling of the wagon isn’t such a big deal, everyone hits bumps along the way and gets thrown off sometimes.  Never managing to get back on; that’s a big problem.  One that I really would love to leave in 2019.

So I guess the next thing to do is to tweak and update my checklists.  Bear is older now, so a number of tasks on my cleaning checklist need to be updated (he no longer has A Bath Day, he takes baths every other night, and I have phone alarms set for them), and my evening routine no longer includes MyFitnessPal (I’m still working on health/weight loss as a goal this year, just not using MFP), but the integrity of the routine overall still stands.  If I can use and stick to this, I think I have the good basis for having a happier, less stressful new year.

…Oh my God, am I ready?  Am I ready for 2020??

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve; Bear is staying at my mother’s house, and Andy and I are going to a low key party at a friends, then probably coming back to do what we’ve done the last few years — eat chips in bed and watch old Bob’s Burgers episodes as the last minutes of the year tick down.

There are worse ways to ring in the next decade.

Also, have I mentioned how happy I am that I can stop blogging about nothing but cleaning for a little while?  And maybe, like… do some art?? Be creative?  Chat about literally anything else?

The Small Clean (Or: The Big Clean, Pt. 2.5)

My week. (Art by @nathanwpyle)

I’m on track…ish, for The Big Clean.  I have a few details to take care of in the living room — mostly carrying boxes up or downstairs, after packing away ephemera that had somehow made it’s way to the living room from other parts of the house, and vacuuming the couch before rearranging the pillows — but other than that, I’ve completed the living room!  Photographic evidence will be forthcoming, however, since I am a bit of a completionist, and I want to have the room in full working order before I show it off.

One of the things I did today that kept me from fully completing the task was I decided it was finally time to clean out the coffee table, which I suppose bears an explanation.

When we bought this house, one of the things I was excited about was that it had a partially finished basement.  It was neither nice enough nor spacious enough to really be of use for entertaining, but with the washer/dryer down there, it was a nice laundry room, and the built in shelving the previous owners had installed meant it also seemed like an awesome place to store our hobby supplies — board games, fannish collections, jewelry-findings, and most especially, art supplies.  We moved down all the aforementioned accouterments, refurbished an old desk, and thought that I’d finally have a craft room again.

Well, as it turns out, sharing space with the water heater means that our basement gets uncomfortably warm in the spring and summer, so for half the year, working down there wasn’t really on the docket.  Luckily we had, for totally different reasons (or maybe no reason besides a good price, since neither of us can now think what our original intention was) bought a storage coffee table.  That quickly because the home for all of my painting and art supplies, and man, let me tell you, it was not well organized.  Uh, it was actually not organized at all.  I had huge, unwrapped blocks of Sculpey tossed in beside empty Altoid containers (for altered boxes), dozens of magazine back-issues (for collage and decoupage), and brushes, palates, and art tools thrown everywhere.  It took me over an hour of concerted effort and a full garbage bag to clear it out, but dammit, I did it.  Given how one of my primary goals this year is to really focus on art, it seemed like now was the time to really get it done.

Look, you can actually see everything that’s in there!  And it all has a place!

That being said, I’m currently trying to decide what to do for the rest of the night.  I’m sort of itching to get started with art, but I also feel like I’m not in the proper headspace to start one of the “big” projects I’ve been ruminating on, so I’m currently torn between paging through magazines (I have a stack of mags from the entire last year that my mother passed on to me when she was done; it was never the top of my priority list, so I probably have about 36 magazines sitting by my couch, untouched!), or sifting through Pinterest for photo references for the projects I know I want to embark on.  I found a few useful ones for a series I’m doing using geometric shapes as framing devices (i.e., instead of drawing using the edges of the pages as boundaries, I want to work on vignettes confined to small square, circles, or other shapes).  I might continue on that path tonight, and bring a few magazines up to bed with me.

I am on track to finish by tomorrow night!  I’m very, very much looking forward to greeting the new year with a clean home, and will be ready to tackle a few more organizational quandaries tomorrow night (I hope).

The Big Clean, Pt. 2

I’ve been listening to this playlist the last few nights, when I’ve needed a bit of levity between mini-existential crises.

Today has been… rough.

Sometimes I feel like I’m being punished for wanting to live in a clean house.  My husband is a pretty “woke” guy in a lot of ways, but he still wears the blinders of a cishet white man, and cannot see the inherent discrepancy in our household workloads.  He is responsible for dishes, laundry, and finances (and honestly, I still often wind up doing the dishes, and his share of laundry is just the loading and unloading of the machine; I still gather, fold, and put away).

Literally everything else is on me.  Now, he’ll do a task if I ask him to, but he doesn’t seem to get why that shouldn’t be a thing — why my having to ask him implies that Literally Everything Else is My Responsibility by default.  Why asking him to help out suggests that he is doing me a favor, and not simply participating in the maintenance of his own goddamn household.

Argh, I don’t have the spoons to rehash all this right now.  I got done quite a bit, though not nearly what I had hoped to.  Part of that was a bad night, including an hour and a half of being kept awake by cramps, and then the general malaise that results from forcing yourself back to sleep when really, you’d completed a sleep cycle and probably would have felt better if you’d have just stayed up (even if it was 3:30 am).

As a result I got a late start.  Hopefully I get a better night’s sleep tonight and can start tomorrow closer to eight, which was the goal, instead of eleven, which was the reality.

Before and Afters for the kitchen (still have a few dishes to do, and the floor to wash):





Tomorrow is the living room and the downstairs bathroom (bathrooms are easy; they’re small and get very regular maintenance, especially with a little boy who, uh, is still trying to master consistently Peeing in the Potty).

In a gesture of peace, because he doesn’t want to undo any of my work in the kitchen, my husband is taking us out to dinner as soon as the menorah burns down.  Hopefully I can relax a bit and work on something for myself this evening.