Bonjour, nouvelle année

It’s week 4 of 2014 and I came to the realization recently that this is the first year in a while that I do not already have vacation plans set. Last year when 2013 started I had a flight to London firmly booked and plans in motion for the Eurotrip I did last fall. In 2012, my girl friends and I were set to go to Costa Rica. In 2011, well, I was just fresh off studying abroad so I didn’t necessarily have plans per se going into the year, but I ended up going to the Philippines for half a month in the summer so that was something. But nope, this year I have nothing. (Mind you, a long time ago I set the goal of going to Brazil for the World Cup this summer. Alas, I fear I do not have the funds nor the traveling companions to do so, so I’ve unfortunately let the plan go.) Strangely enough, I feel completely fine about it. It’s kind of a relief to go into a year with nothing major planned. No trips, no weddings to stand up in, nothing. I feel I’m free to spend my money now however which way I want to (which I guess means thinking of more spontaneous trips to go on! LOL). Or, rather, I can now take the time to rein my spending in and really figure out what to do with my big-girl money, because it’s been three years since graduating college and I should probably slow down on the “I’m young wild and free” mentality. Right?

So what have I been doing with my time? For one thing, I’ve been slowly putting up grown up decor around my room to make it seem less like a 12-year-old’s (my boyfriend had been making fun of me for having a poster of the Seven Dwarfs from the Disney movie hanging on my wall). I’ve now got a couple of souvenir prints of Barcelona and Paris up, and a calendar from Paris also hanging. Funny how much in love with Paris I am now, and how much I don’t really admit it to people. Everyone knows me as the Anglophile and that London is sometimes my favorite city in the whole world (it alternates with Chicago, of course). And everyone knows that Anglophiles are not into the romantic French thing like most girls are. For most of my life London was my ideal city, not Paris. I did not like French food, pop culture, the language, the history. And then I went there and secretly fell madly, deeply in love. It just truly is a magical city! I loved London and all last year, it was exactly what I thought it would be, but man oh man Paris just felt more alive when I was there. I blame this wholeheartedly on the fact that the Seine > the Thames. That has to be it.

I’ve also been catching up on my reading. Finally started on Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and I’m loving it so far. It’s really the first book I’ve read that truly intersects the multiple facets of race and immigration. It’s not just about black people and white people. There’s black Americans and blacks from the Caribbean and the “authentic” Africans. And it’s not just about immigrants in America. I love how it offers a comparison of immigrating to America versus to the U.K. All that good stuff.

Man, I should probably stop gushing and just finish reading the book.

Burying myself in distractions

The chest X-ray came back normal. So then why did I feel chest pains again tonight? Why does my breathing always feel so heavy and labored? What if my heart just fails on me and it’s because I had some deformity nobody thought to discover? (This is what happens when you work for a trade magazine for cardiologists, you get way too paranoid about your heart.) Why has my mood not improved yet? Why is it such a struggle to stay positive about anything anymore? When am I ever going to get out of this stupid little episode of misanthropic depression?

There are only a select few things that are keeping me sane right now:

  • NBA playoffs. I’m rooting for the San Antonio Spurs to go all the way. Seriously, just hand the trophy to them once they take care of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference finals. Nobody cares about Miami or Boston anymore.
  • White Sox. My boys in baseball won their ninth game in a row tonight. Lovin’ it, lovin’ it! Plus everybody’s still talking about Hawk Harrelson going off on Mark Wegner.
  • Re-reading White Teeth by Zadie Smith. First read this for a class in college, decided it was time to tackle it again. I’d forgotten how funny and witty Smith is. In fact, I’d forgotten how much I idolize her. White Teeth was one of my favorite books from my English major experience, and so far it’s still holding up as one of my favorite books ever.
  • The Big Bang Theory. My brother surprised me today with the third season of BBT. Being in the fragile emotional state that I am, the gesture sent me to tears. Granted, he had a Best Buy certificate that expired today that he wanted to use, but still I appreciated the pseudo-gift. (I also have seasons one and four, now all I need is the second!) I’m starting to wonder if my emotional/mental issues stem from the fact that I feel unappreciated and nobody ever thinks to do something nice for me for once? And when you work both full-time and part-time jobs and nobody seems to consider that and nobody else seems to make an effort for you when you’re constantly reaching out to others…yeah, maybe those are my problems.

Not gonna lie, I’m slightly going through a Facebook withdrawal. But I told myself I’d stay off for at least a week, and the week mark doesn’t strike until Monday, and for a week I shall do it!

I just want to be happy

“I could stand by the side and watch this life pass me by.” – Leona Lewis

I swore that I would never be one of those people to agonize over lists of New Year’s resolutions because I always thought those kinds of people were just crocks. So you want to improve your life, why is it you only take the time to evaluate and suggest improvements whenever the calendar year changes? Life resolutions should be made and implemented when you create them, when you feel that your life is due for some changes. And most of the time, New Year’s resolutions are all the same. They’re all attempts to repeat the failed resolutions of previous years. Lose weight, take better control of finances. Really, that’s it.

Well, now I guess I’m going to have to swallow what I just said because I’ve come to realize that I do indeed have my own set of resolutions to lay out for me to accomplish. They’re not all necessarily goals I quickly conceived just for this, but rather life propositions that have gradually come about that I shall continue to adhere to in an attempt to find that elusive happiness. Or even simple contentment, that’s all I’m looking for.

Love, cherish, and honor my family

This is something I think I’ve subconsciously set out to do in recent years. I’m straying away from my hostile adolescent ways and trying more to keep this household together. It’s not a role I think I chose or was dealt with. It is just something I have to do. I want my parents to be OK, I want my brothers to grow up and be happy, prosperous people. I’m finding that the more I’ve been getting older, the more dependent I become on the well-being of my family. I don’t know where I would be without them, and I don’t know how I could function if I knew they weren’t happy. I’m not sure if I’m even explaining this right, but all I know is that I’m learning (and really trying) to be less selfish. At least, I hope that’s what I’m doing.

Be a better writer

When I decided to become an English major, it was because I simply liked to read books. I have never nurtured a serious desire to write poetry or critically acclaimed works of literature. I lack the creative drive to try and inspire the world with my words of wit. I never wanted to become a high school English teacher. I just like getting lost in different worlds, transporting myself to a universe that was different from my own. I still think books — plain, sheets of paper bound together, an object those electronic devices could never replace — have such a unique, raw power to make me feel anything. While I’m not going to go so far as to say that my goal this year is to actually get on the grind and write a novel, I want to learn to better express myself. I want to be a better blogger and write more than just about how tired and cranky I am. I want to write more short stories and see if maybe there’s a creative spark somewhere in there.

If there’s one book that I read in 2009 that stood out to me the most, it was Zadie Smith’s White Teeth. I had to read it for one of my English classes last semester, and I was just floored at how this woman’s writing struck me. Everything we talked about from that novel was literally everything I have thought about and mused about. Every topic was something I had never dreamed of dissecting in a contemporary novel. And to think, she started writing that book when she was my age. This year, I want to develop my words. I want to learn to actually, profoundly, and seriously write.

Redefine all my notions of friendship

This is something that I have literally been struggling with my entire life. I’m not sure if I’m good at having friends. I don’t know who I can truly trust with my feelings and innermost thoughts. If I’m not being paid enough attention to, I hide away and channel my anger through some other means. This isn’t to say that I’m never surrounded by people I have fun with. I truly believe that I’m good at being friendly. I’ve always prided myself on being one of those people you could trust your darkest, deepest secrets with, because you know that I’ll always be listening. I guess, if anything, I feel as if I focus too much on being a good friend to others that I don’t know if I know how to have others be good friends to me. It is extremely difficult for me to open up to people, for me to place my trust in others. I’m not the type of person who calls someone up in the middle of the day so that I can vent for the next three hours. If you show no interest in my life, I won’t share it with you. I’m so self-conscious about others not caring to know what is going on in my life, that I never let them get a chance to. I’m almost certain that this is a large reason why I’ve never been in any kind of serious relationship before. I think this is the resolution that is going to be the hardest for me to even think about. I’ll be the first to admit it, I have this huge, gigantic solid wall surrounding me that I don’t know how to break down. And it is my hope that someday, in the future, I will discover how it can be taken down bit by bit.

Freeeeeeedom!

I’m rather annoyed at the moment because the stupid ComEd website is not working for me. My dad wants me to try and and see if I can pay the electric bills online since apparently they’re way overdue and they’re scheduled to shut off the power on Monday. Yikes. Why the fuck isn’t this website working?!

At any rate, my entire family is due to leave for Ohio in a few hours. I am incredibly, overly ecstatic. I have never ever been alone at home like this before (I don’t join them until Saturday). The idea of having the opportunity to go out and not worry about calling my parents every few hours to let them know what I’m up to is almost too good to be true. Both my parents have already come to my room to give me the “no-party” lecture, which I found amusing but I didn’t deny that I wasn’t planning something. 😉 I just asked my dad if it was okay to have a few people over, which he approved, but he vehemently repeated that I was not to have a lot of people over. Which, of course, I agreed to…I just didn’t really specify what us “people” would be doing.

I’ll admit it, though, I can feel the loneliness of the next two days already looming over me like an ominous cloud. Despite all the grief and stress my family gives me on a constant basis, I can already see my “social” bar (think The Sims) decreasing steadily over the next couple of days. Oh well.

On another note, I’m reading again. Not as much as I’d hoped, but I finally managed to get into Sex as a Second Language by Alisa Kwitney. I had bought the book months ago at a cheap bookstore, thinking it would make for an easy chick lit kind of read, but I couldn’t help but criticize every few pages of the first part. I swear, ever since becoming an English major, I find it harder and harder to read books without wanting to dissect every sentence and ponder upon its greater merit. But the book is turning out to be much craftier than I thought. So… yay!