I love yearend.
I love the physical act and the notion of tying a bow around a present. I love creating lists. I love checking things off of lists. I love reading about the worst movies or the books with the worst sex scenes that came out in the last 12 months and, of course, the best (but let’s all admit it, there’s more humor in failures than successes). I hate all things ceremonial, but activities surrounding New Year, from kissing at midnight to having resolutions that will inevitably flop, are in my mind the epitome of being ceremonial. Somehow I’m ok with them all and would willingly engage in some.
The absolute ending to a chapter and the beginning of another are what calmed me during my stress-filled years as a student. Classes would end in May. Projects had deadlines. The idea behind them was that no matter how horrible you were doing at the current moment, at a predicted point in the near future, you would have a do-over. The “C” on your transcript now, will be history then, becoming less relevant, so are the bad habits and consuming relationships that you seemingly cannot be rid of. They all have an ending point, and you will have a clean slate to start again.
I no longer have the privilege of neatly dividing my life into semesters (or trimesters or quarters), at the end of which I have excuses to pardon myself from the guilt and insufficiency I felt in the months prior. When things happen now, I feel as if I carry the repercussions of my decisions indefinitely, until they are substituted by newer repercussions of newer decisions. Before I left school, I predicted the lack of clear division in life being one of the hardest things about adulthood. Now, seven months after graduation, I can only think I was right.
With that, I hold on to the concept of yearend like it’s my last lifeline. And I guess this time of the year for me was never really about looking back. I’ve taken too much pride in believing “every step I take is a step forward.” Looking back means having to acknowledge the idiocy of the past, especially difficult when all I want is a fresh start.
So that’s what I will give myself: a fresh start. First thing I will do in 2017 is I will go home. The last time I did so was about two years ago, so it’s about time. I will crack open a new book on Jan. 1, more for the symbolism than anything else. I will have yet another transition in life in August/September 2017. I expect myself to give this transition enough thoughts before it takes place. I will relearn how to manage loneliness and build new relationships. And I will continue to grow, as I’ve always done in the past.
Some things I’m reading
There are several rabbit holes I went down this past week. Not all of them were pleasant, but nonetheless interesting.
- This one started with “kind of a fight”between Margaret Cho and Tilda Swinton. I got the necessary context from the linked NYT piece, but thought the annotations that were published with the emails a. hinted at things that don’t align with how I feel about this event and b. failed to provide a guide of understanding as it probably hoped it did. While listening to a recent episode of Another Round titled Citizen’s Arrest (I’ve yet to find this particular episode online. So if you can, drop a link in the comment), I found everything that NPR’s Code Switch host Gene Demby said being exactly what I wanted to say about this incident. Here’s a excerpt of his comment:
Another major point made in this podcast episode is when a minority group fights for visibly like this, it’s really a fight against influence from the past and what’s considered industrial norm, rather than a fight against a single actor, or individual, or a movie/TV show. I can see how it could easily be taken as personal attack. But it really shouldn’t be and really isn’t about that.
- I did not know of Paul Kalanithi, his life and his book until yesterday. And I regret having learned about him so late, a little too late maybe. I’ve so far read his writeup for his alma matar Stanford Med School and an excerpt of his memoir published by The New Yorker. I will start his book When Breath Becomes Air on Jan. 1.
- Fictions: I was reading a lot of non-fictions, most of which about Myanmar and Yangon, for the past several months. Last week, I finished two fictions, both very quick reads and not particularly worth recommending. But I realized I’ve forgotten what it’s like following a plot, feeling drawn to characters and immersing in a experience unlike my own, all attributes that make reading for fun so much easier.
Some things I’m watching
- After rounds of recommendations, I began watching the CCTV documentary called “Masters in Forbidden City 我在故宫修文物.” As opposed to the official English title, which if you watch the show you will instantly realize is a distortion of the humbling nature of this series, the direct translation of the Chinese title is “I fix antiques in Forbidden Palace.” Much better, right? Complete episodes (no English subtitles) can be found on YouTube.
Some things I’m listening to
- Another rabbit hole I went down: With NPR entertainment column’s yearend review on their favorite podcast episodes in 2016, I got to enlarge my personal library by about 20 percent, adding Sleepover, Why Oh Why, Making Oprah (and a few others here and there outside of this list) to my subscriptions.
Shoutout of the Week
- After using Google Art Project for my Chrome new tab image for the longest time, I recently switched to Momentum. I haven’t adopted the functions of the extension as much as merely enjoying the interface and picture whenever I open a new tab. With a new background image everyday, it looks something like it one:
- A green leaf plant on your office desk