On the sixth day of Christmas, I kind of thought a little bit about what I’d learned in 2011. In order to understand the significance of this quasi-navel-gazing, you have to understand that, while I freaking excel at navel-gazing, I really don’t ever use the end of a given year to look back on it and figure out where I am as compared to where I was when the year began. I find that process kind of depressing.
I suppose that means I’m doing it wrong.
Anyway, looking back has always seemed counter-productive to me. It’s why I don’t keep a journal or diary; every time I’ve written down a bunch of personal feelings and thoughts and re-read them months later, I’ve wanted to throw the stupid book across a room in disgust. Gah, me. You are so annoying sometimes. Plus, it’s just too much all at once. I prefer to do my soul-wrenching introspection in smaller, more random doses. My friend Joey does a lot of reflecting at the end of the year and also on his birthday, and sometimes those phone conversations are just agonizing. I wish he would just let himself off the hook and move forward.
So when I started suddenly wondering what I’d learned and putting some thoughts together, I felt rather surprised by the pull. Now, though, as I’m sitting here typing this, I’m feeling something more like dread. A roiling in my stomach. A definite threat that, at some point, I’m going to cry.
See why I don’t do this?
It’s not that I don’t think I’m in a good place as compared to where I was last year. Frankly, I’m not sure I’m in a different place at all, really, but that’s alright. Unlike Joey, I don’t feel the need to move mountains and leap tall buildings in the course of one year. What do you do the next year? You’re going to be miserably disappointed in yourself and calling me to whine about it. I know it. I’ve done some stuff. Moved past a couple things. Helped some people, I think. I’m good with that.
It doesn’t help that every website, aggregate, TV network and magazine is doing their year-ender pieces full of “looks back” at various categories of things deemed Best and Worst: political doings, celebrity habits, movies, news items, and, of course, the beloved Homage To Famous People Who Died This Year (my money’s on Etta James by the time the ball drops).
Yes, I’m twisted. You’re surprised by this? You must be new.
Anyway. Deep breath. Here goes.
Things I’ve Learned In 2011
Good fences make good neighbors. Ten miles’ distance make even better neighbors.
My taste has evolved quite a bit recently. I used to love candy. Now I find it too sweet. These days I far prefer for my sugar to be mixed with flour, butter and eggs.
It’s okay to just not care sometimes.
When feeling uninspired, it may be best to sit down and just make myself write something. And not infrequently, I will produce the worst crap I have ever written in my life.
Never buy a car with a cloth interior. It will pick up everything but men and money.
A clean home matters much less than a good friend. But a good friend is an excellent motivator to have a clean home. (So is a stupid faulty carbon monoxide detector.)
Do not get a smoke/carbon monoxide detector combo. It will tell you you’re about to die in the middle of the night when you’re totally not going to die. Or you might. Hard to say with those combos.
I will probably never separate reds from darks.
Sometimes it’s better just to not answer the phone when you know the conversation is going to go badly, be it because of your mood or theirs.
There is such a thing as a biceps femoralis. You don’t know about it, but it’s in your leg, and it will hurt you for days if you go roller skating past the age of 20. (I debated the age.)
Nothing beats the enthusiastic and happy-to-see-you hug of a child.
No matter how much I like to be a bum, I feel better if I’ve been productive. This will not, however, stop me from being a bum.
Don’t ask questions you don’t want to know the answers to. Do ask questions you should know the answers to… even if the answers hurt.
Sometimes my gut is an idiot.
The Learning Channel teaches me very little except that there are entire categories of people I did not know I can’t stand.
It is not hard to love someone. What is hard is to be secure in that love. What is harder still is to know whether it is foolish to love. And hardest of all is to know whether being foolish might be worth it.
I still hate English Baroque music. I will never grow to appreciate it. Not happening.
Trust what you know about yourself, but ask a question once in a while to be sure.
There is no longer nearly as much stigma to online dating as there used to be. I just watched an entire group of co-workers look over another co-worker’s shoulder at her eHarmony matches. The guys were so judgey!
Showing someone who seeks my counsel that I, too, am a complete neurotic mess is often more helpful to them than making them think I’m not.
It is bad to overdose on that over-the-counter stuff that makes UTIs stop hurting. Unless you want to see what day-glo vomit looks like.
Writing a blog has not exactly been what I hoped or expected. I have not done what I set out to do. But I have enjoyed what I have done, and I have found a wonderful bunch of writers and readers that I look forward to seeing every day on my screen.
Years of ordinary friendship add up to extraordinary support.
There is a difference between being loved and being liked. Sometimes it is hard to know which is best.
A compliment from a total stranger can make someone’s day. Be the stranger.
I was right. On the sixth day of Christmas, I did a little reflecting… and it made me cry a little. But it made me smile, too.
What have you learned this year?