What have I accomplished within the past year? What do I hope to do in the upcoming year?
It is, already and unfortunately, that time of the year when you have to look back and take stock.
Well, this is the story until now. The only thing I might say I did was that I learned. After all, this is what I did my entire life and perhaps this is what I do best. I spread myself out onto all sorts of fields. Not too narrow, but not too wide either. The trouble is, there is too little, if at all, that I give in return. What do I do with all the stuff I read? How do I connect it? Should I connect it at all? Do I have what it takes to make it interesting enough?
This is how I spend my days:
- I bookmark and save to Pocket and re-tweet and star articles in my feed reader. As if I were a sort of digital hoarder, I gather ideas for an indefinite future in which I intend to spend a considerable amount of time synthesizing them and coming up with texts and stories so absorbing that my potential readers might lose themselves in them. Right!
- I (sometimes) take (mental) notes. Usually when I run and listen to podcasts. I forget most of them by the time I get in the shower.
- I try out software. All sorts of software: from static sites generators to note taking apps, from time managing programs to server as a service. Everything that I think might be useful, that I find to be more streamlined, concise and efficient. Fire up a console and send one command after another. Not really knowing how to code, it is a bit like feeling your way in the dark. But I put up a couple of webpages this year, learned a bit of Git, kept a web server running, etc.
- I collect digital images. A few pictures and the odd gif. Just a few. Perhaps not even very good ones. I just need to see a million pictures, don’t I?
- I read (about) everything. Mostly headlines. And articles. And books. And short stories. And poems. And essays. I discover new authors and new ideas, I learn new names. And I am overwhelmed.
- I see movies and listen to new music. VPN (+) Netflix, MKVs and even AVIs. Deezer+similar artists+playlists. Old stuff, like The Village Stompers, Os Mutantes, Carmen Miranda, Rodriguez. And new.
- I try to imagine how it would be to live in Oliver Sacks’ world (when he was still alive). Somehow, chemistry eluded me in high-school and I never managed to understand it. For me, it is such a slippery domain, it is almost scary. I can understand physics, stuff dealing with relativity and quantum mechanics (though, I think it might need a bit of brushing up, with the newly discovered particles and all), but chemistry? Nope. It just isn’t there. Imagine though seeing the world in elements! That could be wonderful!
- I try to imagine what it’s like to be a refugee child. For a while, I should think it might be fun: no need to go to kindergarten, no things you have to do, you are always with your parents. But after a while it all comes down crushing your little soul, your little body, your little hands and feet and cheeks and your black hair and sad eyes. You have no idea how your next bed will look like, who are your friends or where they are or will be. All that as long as your boat will not capsize.
- I listen to writers talking about their books (and I almost fell in love with Luiselli’s voice).
Just heard Rushdie delivering a couple of funny lines:
- (Hindi accent, from his book - was it the latest?): “I heard in England you have a woman prime-minister, Ms. Torture!”
- (impersonating Kingsley Amis the night he received the Man Booker Prize, after he enjoyed a drink, or two): “I have never considered this price to mean anything. Tonight, I have just completely changed my mind!” And many, many, many more ideas and funny things and stories these people who live with words and by words and for words share with us.
- I run and run and run (and I am not really getting a lot better at it). I run late at night, which means several things: even if I am hungry, my dinner is always relatively frugal - running on a full stomach is not an enjoyable business (and I fill up when I get back, anyway); I am usually tired and I do not have the energy to push any boundaries - I am lucky if I can keep my pace for an hour or so; but it does bring me joy and the endogenous morphines’ nirvana keeps me going for another couple of hours where I can try to write something or read, after which I collapse into a rather deep and dreamless sleep.
- I stroll the streets with my toddler son and listen to his stories, almost invariably involving thieves, policemen, Lego figures, gold and precious stones, physical achievements, cartoon characters, huge, impossible numbers, Star Wars characters (he - as well as me - did not even see the movies) and ghosts.
- I am amazed how his drawings get better every day, more complex and detailed. The lines he makes on paper are clean and have a certain naturalness and spontaneity to them. His figures are easy to understand, as if he always manages to capture the very essence of things or people or objects. The three-dimensional space gets flattened but not bulky. The use of color is nuanced. Oh, the art critic in me!
- I worry about disappearing without leaving a trace. Just think about it: on the scale of things, the chances of me being remembered sometime in the future are less than minuscule, rather non-existent. Cultural relevance is still only a dream. Perhaps I do not have what it takes. Can this be changed? I guess so. With a lot of work, sleepless nights, worries and stress, one could achieve something. Would I be ready to give everything else up for this? Is it really worth it?
- I translate (texts and myself) and thus I try to keep my mother-tongue alive. My mother tongue and my mother’s tongue. A bit more than a story for each month of the year. The most difficult part is to find the right voice in which to set the story in Romanian, to avoid using the same thesaurus or word play. to hear the writer clearly.
- I write a little bit more often than usual, but still not often enough. I have to remind myself that I have to focus if I want to go ahead. And focusing is almost impossible. It’s nothing short of disaster. There is so much happening in the world, I surely need to know about all this, don’t I? At least the headlines… I only read the headlines… Please give me the headlines! And a fun thing or two… Just so… to relax a bit. To chill, or not to chill…
- I am slow. Very slow when it comes to writing. Certainly, a consequence of the lack of focus into which I seem to wallow every day. How can I learn to leave all distractions aside and narrow down my interests to just what I consider essential and then become better at it?
Work is not included here. But also not relevant, I should think. Work is just something I do. A routine. It has its highs and lows and moments of learning and sweating and swearing, of needing to keep a low profile and whatever else… But it is nothing that I cannot live without.