Thursday, January 09, 2014

Resolutions 2014

A new year but with the same hopes

AOG, Madrid

My Christmas vacation started off with me flying to London a few days before and ended with me flying back to Madrid from Barcelona airport a couple of days ago.

In between both airports, as is customary since I relocated to Spain and met my other half, we spend part of the holiday season in the UK, both in London and in rural Oxfordshire, and part of it in northern Spain, mostly Bilbao and coastal Cantabria.

Then, once the family duties are done, we relocate to the Catalan coastal town of Sitges for a couple of days of rest before facing the year ahead. Yes, we both end up shattered and fatigued after all the travelling, the gifting, the emotional encounters with family, friends, each other, &c.

I left sunny Barcelona and landed in a cold and rainy Madrid thinking about the year ahead. About my career, my life, my plans. The challenges ahead, the things I’ve left behind.

I realised that, basically, since my 20s, I’ve been consciously trying to do the same thing, year after year: achieve something.

Achievement is, naturally, defined and applied to whatever new task happens to pop up in my life, and it is not always reached… though I have been known to surprise myself.

I was talking to a friend of mine just after I got back to Madrid and the subject came up: New Year Resolutions.

Only last year, and for the first time ever, I actually took out a piece of paper and wrote down a few lines.
I forgot, or redefined, or lost, most of them as the year landed squarely on my lap and brushed aside most of my good intentions.

But two in particular kept popping into my head throught the entire 12 months the year lasted.

First, writing.

My actual resolution was to write 12 short stories in one year. One per month. That did not happen.

I ended up writing about 3. But then I also co-wrote a script for a short film, and, back in November, I participated in NANOWRIMO.

No, I did not finish a 50K word novel in 30 days.

But something else happened. I took up an old, forgotten, sci fi novel I had started to write in my very early 20s.

Along the way, it has grown, changed, and been re-started a couple more times.

But, for the time being, it is incarnating itself semi successfully. I’m not sure about when I’ll finish it, but I want to continue writing it. This is an achievement in itself.

Unfortunately, those things which always get in the way of writing (you know, life, work, shit) are still there.

I had this idea that I could do some writing during the Christmas season. I even took my laptop all over the place in the off chance I would get some time to do a bit of writing. No such luck.

However, that thing I do when I write, think about the story, did went on. I kept thinking, and have kept thinking, about the story, the characters, the twist, throughout.

Then my partner told his 12 year old niece that I was writing a novel, and two days later she was asking me about it. She is the only person who actually knows what it is about, other than me. And the best compliment was when she told me she wanted to read it.

Of course, at the tender age of 12, she got a ‘doctored’ version of it. And She may have to reach 17 before she can actually read it. But I’m glad she was interested.

The other thing I wrote down has a lot to do with me personally.

I wrote down “Be more sociable”.

Not that I am not sociable. I love society. I love socialising. Meeting friends. Doing things. Going places.

But unfortunately, I am not always in the mood to do any of that. Usually because I am tired. Or not interested on what is being offered. Or unwell. Or whatever other cheap excuse I can think of to redeploy inside and stay home and not see anybody during daylight hours…

However, more and more, this past year I tried continuosly to put my initial distate for the things I dislike aside, and endeavored to concentrate instead on enjoying my friend’s company whenever it is offered -which is often.

Unfortunately for me, I’m still too stupidly shy, or coy, or reticent, or whatever the hell is wrong with me, to actually call friends up and seek them out.

Yes, that thing that normal people do on a regular basis I tend to find difficult. Not always. Not all the time. But now and again. Here and there.

But, throughout 2013, whenever somebody called me, whenever I saw their name on the phone’s screen, I did my best to just pick up and agree to meet, putting all of me aside and just doing it.

I can’t say that I did that all of the time. But I did do it. And certainly I did it more often than in 2012, or 2011.

Perhaps I take my cue from my mother. When we were kids, she was the eternal social butterfly (Gemini).
Her social calendar was always chock-a-block with dates, parties, dinner engagements, social events, etc.

But I also recall how she used to complain that she needed time off. I remember how people would call home and ask for her, and she would sometimes say in a low voice, or just mouthing the words, ‘I am not here’. 

And the message would be passed on.

It wasn’t that she wasn’t tired, she just wanted to be left alone for a short while. She needed some ‘me’ time.

These days she has become very much a hermit, and her social calendar is mostly devoid of dates, other than whenever my sister and I ask to see her.

Nevertheless, last year she told me very clearly she was not flying to Spain to see me on my birthday.

She had a long list of excuses, but basically, she is not where she was when she was in her 20s or 30s, or 40s.

She is aging. She is somewhere else.

But back to me.

Last year I was able to combine my social life, such as it was, with my writing. I would meet with friends from the writing group I belong to and agree to set up a writing time and date. Usually a Saturday afternoon, somewhere in one of the city’s cafés.

This allowed me to write, to create, and be social, at the same time.

Onwards to the new year.

So, this year, my resolutions have not been written down yet, but those two will certainly head the list.

1- Write. Finish the novel. Do the short stories. Continue going to the writer’s group once a week.

2- Be more sociable. Even more. And again. One more time.

And I’ll add a couple more.

Exercise some more.

Watch my weight.

Make more friends. One can never have enough of those.

Read. Yes, read. A writer writes. Also, a writer reads. And reads a lot.

By the author of this post. Ralph Lauren, Fall 2o13.



This one has been on my mind for a couple of months now.

I started doing some fashion illustration last year sometime in late September.

The drawing bug is within me once again. 

I’ve even thought about setting up a blog to upload the sketches. Maybe even invest some time in learning how to fully operate Photoshop, or even learn about Corel Draw.

Be healthy. Live healthy.

Improve my career. Move to Barcelona to be closer to my partner. These, in fact, go hand in hand.

Acting. Don’t give up on improv, in spite of all the problems and drawbacks concerning the course.

Join a choir and sing some.

Blog more in the abscence of all else.

I have even considered going back to University, although this last one belongs to late 2013.

I have to decide on whether I want to do a doctorate, which I do but have no time for.

Or start a new degree, which I do but have no time for. Psychology is always very appealing.

And it is only January!