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One resolution at a time…

So far, I am behind on my New Year’s Resolutions. Are you?

On Facebook today, I saw that many people made a resolution to not make any resolutions. Why?

Are they afraid to? (Fear of failure? Fear of commitment?) Think it’s silly? Or have tried in the past with no luck, so why bother again? Or perhaps they are already meeting all their goals, so no need to reaffirm them or create new ones?

I am of the “afraid to” ilk – though, every year, I make them anyway. Although I have found greater success in calling them goals vs. resolutions, of making them monthly versus annually. Because, eventually, whether we like it or not, the months add up to a year. And who knows – by the end of it, perhaps we have met a lot of our ambitions. (Or maybe we just have to be more dedicated the next year.)

Even though I am trailing so far this year, I don’t think it’s too late to catch up.

I also believe, like anything requiring discipline, putting these goals down in writing helps – instead of tracking my daily caloric intake as though I were on a diet, I created a notebook to chart my daily progress of meeting (or not meeting) my aspirations. My New Year’s Diet. Even though I am not eliminating things so much as adding them. So we can say it’s My New Year’s Lifestyle? I plan to review it every night before bed.

Next to 01/01/12, “church” is the only mini-goal accomplished so far… I can surely reach the others though, right? And so can you!

Here are some of this month’s goals:

-Blog every day.

-Work on a piece of writing (book, short story, essay, script) every day.

-Continue to not text. (After three+ months of practice already, I am becoming an expert at this. Plus, I still won’t have a working phone until February, so…)

-See people in the flesh more (versus email or phone calls).

-Reconsolidate all dozen or so of my student loans at a lower interest rate.

-Continue to make student loan payments each month like I did for most of 2011.

-Pay off remaining debts to friends.

-Go to storage at least four times a month to get rid of more things I will never use & have happily lived without for over two years now!

-Volunteer at least once a week.

-Go to church every week. (This is a Repeat Resolution from 2011. I was pretty good in 2011, but then lapsed a bit.)

-Get closer to being able to attain an apartment/housing of my own again. However, until the student loan debt mentioned above gets lower, this is not likely anytime soon. (See my Money, Money, Money entry for more details on this.) (Also, I cannot imagine a non-couch-surfing life anymore!)

-Get at least one piece published by the end of the month. (Or get notification of publication by the end of the month. Knock on wood!)

-Do my TSL column twice a month.

-I think I am a pretty optimistic person almost all of the time… But when tempted not to be, to remember to focus on the positive in every situation/person/etc. instead of the negative.

So these are the goals for January… so far. Hopefully, they will be the same for February…

What are some of yours?

And if you don’t believe in making New Year’s Resolutions, why not?

Instead of Cyber Monday, Storage Sunday

I have too much stuff. I know – don’t we all?

I had to go to my storage unit yesterday – which reminds me of an extremely messy little studio or bachelor apartment, covered floor-to-ceiling with boxes (several overflowing from not being taped properly), the rest of the unit sprinkled with filled-to-the-brim garbage bags which took over when I ran out of boxes on moving day in 2009. Originally, the boxes had been labeled. But as my permanent marker lost its ink and I lost time to pack, more and more boxes went unmarked, not to mention the Hefty bags.

So going to storage is a constant game of Memory – was that box in the upper right the one with my winter sweaters, or was it the box in the lower right? Each visit to storage is a reminder to have more permanent markers and boxes (and time) when I move again.

Thus, I hate going to storage. The mere thought is overwhelming and I had postponed the trip the last several weeks. Okay, months. But with the colder weather looming, wearing flip flops won’t cut it in the L.A. forty-degree night weather, nor will they work in the Chicago winter. So I had no choice but to go dig out my winter clothes from my pack-rat-packed 8x8x8 bin. (Yes, I have thought about living there. No, the storage owners don’t allow it.)

Going to storage is like any other unpleasant task we must do: work out, diet, dishes… Once we start, it’s not so bad. Yesterday, once I started playing Memory and sometimes actually guessing correctly, storage was actually fun. I found all kinds of clothes I’d forgotten I had: a blue sweater dress suddenly in one hand, a pair of jeans with embroidered red and purple flowers in the other. It was like a fabulous garage/estate/rummage sale rolled into one, that would open and close whenever I decided to make the trek there, and was like shopping for free (if you don’t include the monthly fee I pay). Forget Cyber Monday; I had Storage Sunday.

Funny, I used to love going to storage. When I first started couch-surfing, I used to go about once a week. Often, I would not even trade out clothes but just visit my things as though they were display at some museum and I was the only one with access to The Natalia Collection. A few months in, I had decided that visiting inanimate objects was a little odd (not to mention not fuel-efficient for as sparse a city as L.A. and how far my storage unit seems to be from everywhere else), so I started to only go when I needed “new” clothes to couch-surf with, like exchanging a wool coat for a spring one, casual clothes for dress-up ones. As the months went on, I realized I was picking up more clothes at storage than I was leaving behind, my car becoming full of suitcases – and I could only wear one suitcase worth of clothes per week, right? After all, I was staying with a different person every week; how would they know what I’d worn the previous one?

So I started a logical clothing rotation, making sure to stick to one suitcase and that it would have a good week’s worth of clothes, with a few extra tee-shirts packed in for an emergency – a sudden stain or misplacement (at the beginning, I often tended to leave clothes behind on people’s couches).

I also started to bring along empty garbage bags with each trip to storage and made it a point to fill them with everything from clothes to curling irons for clothing drives, Goodwill, or friends.

Sometimes, however, the more I looked at my stuff, the more nostalgic and homesick I became for a home, my home, not just any home. At one point or another, in this old apartment or that one, each of these things encompassed a part of me in some way. When I spotted the handcarved wooden cross I’d gotten in Poland with my grandma when I was seventeen, I missed the wall it once hung on, in my old bedroom in L.A. in 2009, the one I had insisted on individualizing and painting four colors: red, fuscia, deep turquoise, and golden yellow, like Rainbow Bright had haphazardly tossed her paint pail up in the air, seeing where the colors would land. As loud as that room was, I loved it (even if I did have to sleep with an eyemask on if I dared take a nap in the daytime, the hues trying to keep me awake).

When I saw two red candle holders I’d gotten at a garage sale for a quarter, I thought about the dinner party I could have with them adorning the table — someday. As I cradled the Nutcracker Christmas tree ornament I had gotten in Germany once, I imagined it hanging from a tall, sturdy, Blue Spruce – somewhere. As I blew dust off a framed picture of me and a college boyfriend, I thought back to sometime.

I wondered about these somedays and somewheres and sometimes, when I would have a table, Christmas tree, and keepsake box to put all these things… I pictured how they would look in my future apartment, how I would look in it. Where would it be? What would it look like? Like the 2008/2009 version of me, would I want to paint the walls in Neon Crayola colors again?

Other times, I pictured getting rid of all of these things, starting fresh, clutter and pack-rat-free. If I have lived without these things for so long now, I obviously don’t need any of them (though a couple of sentimental things would be nice). (By the way, the 2009 me would never have written such a sentence!)

As I reached for a box in the upper right corner, which I mistook for Summer Clothes, a cotton avalanche of long underwear mixed with hats started to fall on me, my very own storage snowstorm. Not wanting to be buried alive under my possessions, I slithered away, grabbing a few pieces of winter garb hanging from my hair, then brushed the remaining clothing off of me and quickly shoved it inside the unit, slamming the door closed. Like any shopping spree or sale, there was a catch – trying to find one sweater often resulted in finding much, much more. As I locked the unit, though I was glad to have seen my stuff and to “find” my winter clothes, now I’m happy to leave it all behind again.

But for how long?

**

Do you have stuff stored away for someday, too?