Half the year is already gone. As I sat in the sunshine at my desk yesterday, comfortable breeze wafting the char of grilling burgers and the roar of lawnmowers and shrieks of kids (not together) through the open windows, that was the thought that came to mind. The tones of an English brass band playing "The Stars and Stripes Forever" kept me company as I caught up on some work work, some school work, some book work, and some planning for a Bahá’í gathering next Saturday.
Yes, I know it was the 4th of July. Yes, I know normal people were having fun with their families and friends. Yes, there are a million things I would rather have been doing with my day, most of which involved being outside and sunburned, or outside and viewing any legit fireworks display at all. Yes, if anyone had offered up an idea of something cheap and local to do, I would have jumped on it, despite my sense of responsibility to accomplish "stuff." And yes, I felt a bit sorry for myself and had to resist the urge to camp out on the living room floor with a platter of freezer tamales and full-day coverage of the Tour de France.
But. Most of my August will be taken up with grad school residency and prescheduled appointments, so I need to keep whittling away at the lists upon lists in whatever time is available through the end of this month. While saving as many pennies as possible for things like fuel, lodging, museum admission, and Atlantic Canada's finest dockside delicacies.
As I often do, I glanced at the piece of paper tacked up in my kitchen with this year's goals on it, while I was steaming a reasonable portion of freezer tamales for dinner. Perhaps part of my mid-year funk is related to a seeming inability to achieve the objectives I set for myself, even though they should all be within reach (a stretch, in a few cases, but within reach).
Thank goodness for my upcoming MFA residency. A good chat with my mentor of the last year is in order, preferably at Battered Fish, on the waterfront, over Maritime poutine. Lori (not to be confused with the equally terrific Lorri, my mentor for the upcoming semester) is likely to deliver the mix of kick in the tail, reassuring pep talk, and hilarity that I find myself lacking right now, all of which is better when accompanied by brown gravy.
Because, looking at my list, my progress is uninspiring on tonight's 5-tamale scale:
- Finish the first draft. That includes mentor revisions and first reviews. Let's be honest. I'm three chapter drafts behind where I want to be right now, and I feel like my research is tanking. In part because I am operating from outside a cultural and linguistic circle that is hard to penetrate. In part because navigating the redundant, not particularly insightful, frequently unverifiable information available on the interwebs makes me want to use my laptop as a projectile. And in part because a sane person would have stored up a travel budget and spent a year drinking tea in people's living rooms before even trying to write on this topic. Progress: 2 tamales
- Submit one article/month. On average is fine, commissioned or unsolicited both count. This is a total wash. I've written something like seven websites, four landing pages, and innumerable sales proposals, emails, strategic plans, and miscellaneous business bits this year, plus about 26 blog posts. But no articles. So no increase in my author street cred. Progress: 0 tamales
- Put aside 6 months’ expenses. Keep a $0 monthly balance on all credit cards and maximize school loan. The credit card and school loan part of this, I'm doing fairly well. Setting aside expenses? Not so much. The first quarter of the year was lean. The second quarter was fantastic. I'm on pins and needles about how the third and fourth quarters will roll out naturally, and what difference my planned actions will make. Progress: 2 tamales
- Run 2 5Ks. Complete at least one, no walking, before July 1. Well, crud. Nope. Haven't done one by now, nor will I do one in the next month. Based on my August plans, it will be October before I can make it happen. Thankfully, there are fall runs nearby, so I might still make my goal. And I am moving, enough that I upgraded from blister-inducing Nikes to different-blister-inducing ASICS. Progress: 1 tamale
- Wear the blue dress. Extra points if it’s to an event, with a guy. Since #4 hasn't been going so hot, this is also off the rails. It definitely won't happen by New Year's, although I expect significant progress by then. By graduation remains quite possible. As for a helpful meet-cute? Somewhere between no and I don't know. (My closet romantic spirit leans toward the latter, with a whisper of maybe. My voice of experience leans toward the former, with a shout of get real. Leaving me netted out at meh?) Progress: 1 tamale