January 1st, 2008

Starting 2008 Right

New Year’s! I love it!

For one thing, I’m the sort of person who far prefers beginnings to endings. The taste of possibility is like a drug for me. I could do anything this year! And I might! If 2007 is any guide, I’ll end up doing a lot of things I plan and a few things I had no idea I’d end up doing, and miss out on more than a few things that I now think I’ll do, but that’s okay - it’s all part of the fun.

Conversely, endings depress me. That’s why I go out of my way to have a terrific New Year’s Eve: otherwise I end up anxious and miserable about everything in the past year that I didn’t do as well as I would have liked.

This year’s New Year’s Eve, though, was one of our all-time best. I’m up in the Berkshires with nine of my closest friends (plus one fiancee I don’t know too well, but am excited about getting to know better!). Every year, we do a fancy dinner during an afternoon-of-the-31st LARP, followed by drinks and dessert, followed by our personal New Year’s ceremony, followed by games. Despite the very sad absence of some of our favorite people - two got blind-sided by life, one has a new boyfriend who requested a New Year’s Eve date, three arrived very late due to snow - we had a wonderful time.

This year’s LARP was a Victorian theme, originally meant to be an upstairs/downstairs LARP in the tradition of Gosford Park, but which turned into more of a comedy of manners after the aforementioned last-minute dropouts. Our fabulous chef friends prepared a period dinner, including a fish pie with the family crest on top (!!!). Marriages, card games, boorish Americans, and heart attacks ensued - very funny, and as I was playing the peppery dowager duchess, I had plenty of opportunities to be witty and troublesome. That’s more or less all I ask for in a character.

(Also my sister showed up halfway through and staged a “murder” with one of her friends. While I’d have preferred it if she’d, say, warned us in advance, it was really nice that she wanted to participate!)

We finished about 10pm, right on schedule, just in time for brandy and plum duff and, oh my god, what a lovely thing to eat as one’s last meal of 2007. By 11pm, all eleven of us were gathered in the sunroom, telling stories about our year. We each started by telling our best and worst experiences of 2007, but it quickly turned into us sharing stories about our lives. With a couple of new people there, this was great and really moving. One friend talked about how the death of a friend has made him want to reconnect with the people he cares about most. Another person talked about how, since getting married, her best and worst things are far more tied up with her husband than she’d expected.

Sometime around midnight - we decided to bring in the New Year when WE were ready - we had champagne, followed by lots of hugging and cheering. After that, we did two things I’m planning to adopt as new traditions. First, everyone shared what important things they had coming up in the New Year - qualifying exams, GREs, weddings, births in the family - and we cheered for each one. Then we broke up and made each other promises. The idea is that instead of having resolutions, we make promises to each other that we wouldn’t make otherwise. Doing things relationally is more fun!

I’ve got lots of resolutions, but I only made two promises, and I’m noting them here because I want to keep them.

I promised Chris that in 2008, we will make more things together. I don’t know what that means yet, though it certainly means I’ll be doing the thing-a-day project in February again. I’ll keep you guys posted as we figure this out!

I promised TW that I would reconnect with an old friend whom I miss terribly, and that I’d call him to get his help and support in doing this if I needed it.

I’m not even going to list my resolutions here, because that list could go on all day. Suffice it to say that I’m probably going to make a 101/1001 list (101 things you want to do in the next 1001 days) - but what really matters to me is the commitments I’m making to my community, which is in turn going to help support me in carrying them out.

It’s New Year’s morning. I turn 31 tomorrow. It’s snowing outside the window, and my partner is making our traditional New Year’s Day lunch - “leftovers chili.” My cat is purring on my lap and sleeping. I’m reading Lord of the Rings, like I do every New Year’s, and waiting for the people I love to wake up. This afternoon, I’m planning to do a little work, and a little storytelling, and a little singing, and play some games, and love my partner - all the things I like to do best, on the theory of filling my life, today, with all the things I want to bring into my future.

If I’m this happy through all of 2008, it’s going to be a good year.

Reading List 2007 (7/288?)

Sadly, I forgot to log my books before leaving New York last week, so I’ve got very little idea of what I actually read in the last week of the year. (Noooo!) I’ve got my best estimate - a couple of Sue Grafton, a very dark book of Holocaust-related short stories, The Hobbit - but honestly it’s only a guess. I suppose I’ll update more accurately when I get back to the city.

If you want to see my reading for the year, go take a look at my reading list category - you can see all the archived posts.

Looking back, I’ve read a lot of terrific things (and more than a few mediocre ones!). Sadly, I didn’t break 300 books this year - and I probably won’t for a couple of years to come, if I’m writing more and reading less. This is sad to me mostly because it means I’ll encounter fewer books that change and shape me, either narratively or intellectually or emotionally.

I did do a lovely thing this year: I had a hobbit birthday (celebrated a bit early, because some people are leaving) and gave all my friends presents of books that mattered to me. Making the selection made me think about my life as a reader, and how much books have shaped me. I gave away copies of everything from my early feminist reading, to my favorite fiction, to the books that have led me down my career path. It was a lovely and profound thing to share with my friends, and best of all, I get to hear about their experiences reading the books that have shaped me!

For the record, the hardest thing was keeping it down to the same number of gifts as people who came - I actually ended up having to put together “flights” of books that I thought related to each other, because I just couldn’t keep it to one book per person. Oops!

And I’m off to read Lord of the Rings - what I’ve started every New Year with since I was eight. Happy New Year, folks! See you in 2008!