Monday, January 2, 2012

Thoughts on the New Year

I got a brand new walk,
I got a brand new smile,
Since I met you, baby,
I got a brand new style.
"A Brand New Me," Dusty Springfield

I know that it’s true,
It’s gonna be a good year,
Out of the darkness,
And into the fire.
"In the New Year," The Walkmen

On the year that's gone:
2011, like any year, is hard to hold in your head all that well. As periods of time determined by the movements of heavenly bodies go, it's pretty long. That caveat aside, though, I wanted to share a few personal highlights.

1. Starting the year well: I entered 2011 at my friend's house in Minnesota. In 2010, he got married overseas, and he wanted to have a wedding celebration for his stateside friends and family. I took a Megabus up from Chicago, saw Minneapolis/St. Paul, ate good food, had good conversation, met good people, and built a bonfire on a frozen pond in a back yard. And then it was 2011, and the world was full of the promise of good things yet to come.
2. Romance & attendant lessons: A month or so later, I entered into a fruitful romantic relationship with a brilliant, beautiful young woman. We learned a lot about each other, and at least a little bit about ourselves. Though our relationship did not last out the year, my fond memories of it certainly have.
3. City Year concludes: My time in this AmeriCorps program lasted almost two years, and I finished my service in June with a wonderful, productive, healthy team in a great school. I remain proud of their efforts and accomplishments.
4. New place, same friends: I overcame my traditional hatred of moving just long enough to hunt through several score of apartments and finally, finally happen upon a friend vacating her wonderful three bedroom in Wicker Park/Bucktown. I'm very happy to be here now that all that is over. And I kept my roommates, which is great.
5. New jobs, new city: I didn't leave Chicago, but the change of neighborhood and occupation has resulted in a flurry of activity, exploring and enjoying the city as I never have before, accompanied by friends or striking out on my own, often with surprising results.

2011 was certainly a good time for me personally. The world as a whole, I'll admit, has me a bit concerned. It's a strange time to be an American: NDAA, SOPA, corporate personhood, the Occupy movement, and other matters have caught my attention, and I wonder where we are headed and whether there's anything I can really do to affect the situation. I feel more civically aware and less civically empowered than ever before.

On the year to come:
I'm not typically big into making New Year's resolutions, and neither are most folks I know. My friends and relatives don't tend to take the practice seriously, either not making any at all, or making ones that don't matter much one way or the other. The idea is this: people don't really change much, and if they do, it's not 'cause they said they would do something on a specific holiday. No one keeps New Year's resolutions past January, they seem to say. By and large, they're right.

That said, if there's some big change you've been wanting to make in your life, I think it's extraordinarily helpful if you have a date to commemorate, celebrate, and announce the change. Which is to say, my tendency to refrain from the practice aside, I'm in favor of such things.

Also, I'm going to make some. I've got two this year. Writing this blog is one. That was spur of the moment: I haven't been planning on writing a blog for a period of time, I was just told I ought to and thought it'd be healthy and fun. The other is this: I've decided to become a vegetarian.

And that's something I've been meaning to do for a while. I've long been aware of the relative benefits of meatlessness for health, finances, and the globe, and I haven't been able to come up with a particularly compelling reason why I should be eating meat. That's...about all there is to it. I have nothing more profound than that to say. I'm a vegetarian now, for the foreseeable future at least. Likely, I'll have more to say on it when I've done it for more than a couple days.


  1. I'm recently re-vegetarianized, too. We'll swap recipes. Lentils and black beans are your new best friend.

    Wishing you every good thing in the new year!

  2. This is exciting! To me, anyway - the benefits far outweigh any negatives you may encounter. And trust me, it's far easier being a vegetarian in Chicago than many other places (cough, Nebraska...)