Ah, December. Where are we. Our Christmas tree this year is a thing of beauty. It's taller than last year's, and Alice seems impressed by it. We have rituals during the day when we plug in the lights and turn the tree "on," after the fanfare of Alice's countdown (parents: "one..." Alice: "two...three!"), and she and I have a ritual at night of watering the tree (both of us kneeling on the ground, an incantatory "pour pour pour," following a similar counting exercise). We have taught her to treat the tree gingerly -- after a few early ornaments made the ultimate sacrifice -- and now Alice eyes it warily, an object of beauty stricken with risk.
I'm trying to compile my lists of my favorite songs of the year and the best books I read, so it's time to take stock of the year. When I look backwards I see a lot of great things. In chronological order: I took an amazing writing class; we went to Spain; we went to Rehoboth; I ran a marathon; we cooked Thanksgiving dinner. Throughout the year I felt good about my work professionally, and I've had a good semester with my students. Alice has brought an absurd, abundant measure of joy into our lives. We worry about money, but we sleep well most nights.
In some ways, though, I also feel like this year has been affected by an undercurrent of exhaustion, or compromise. There is never enough time or energy to do what I think I should be doing. Time spent pursuing my own endeavors -- exercise, running, writing -- often feels like time taken away from my family. After spending much of my work day staring at a computer and pinging back emails, I struggle to want to come home to write for pleasure, or to write the personal emails that I should be sending to maintain important ties. After a workweek spent sprinting through our precarious routines, I can't find it in myself to get up early for the gym on Sunday mornings. It just doesn't make sense right now. And yet there's always time for garbage television. But I'm trying to revise my internet consumption to get away from the things that don't really excite me -- no more Gawker, less Facebook. Less time wasted, hopefully.
I think as 2012 begins I want to try to be more purposeful about the decisions I make, how I decide to expend my time and energy. Because this was a good year, and I think a great one could be around the corner. It feels good to put words together. I want to do more of that.
More to come in the next few days.