No Year’s Resolutions 2019

by

JC Schildbach, LMHC

New Year’s morning, my wife roused me from a dream to tell me it was time to help set up the dining room for Osechi (Osechi Ryori:  Japanese traditional New Year’s Day food).

I mention the dream because it has stuck with me—or, rather, a portion of it has stuck with me—since then. A particular image from that dream has entered my thoughts multiple times daily since then—whether because I’m hanging onto it or struggling to forget it.  The image involves me surveying the damage from a shart (shart: what happens, as the saying goes, when one gambles on a fart and loses; a combination of sh*t and fart).

I don’t recall much of anything that happened in the dream before the shart occurred. But I do recall that I was wearing blue underwear and the aftermath was very much like a runny version of the gravy from almond chicken (almond chicken: a staple of American Chinese restaurant menus, where breaded, boneless, fried chicken is covered in a light brown American-style gravy –flour and fat— full of chopped almonds).

baby-new-year

Just what am I looking at?  And what does it mean?

I haven’t looked up any of the elements of the dream in any dream dictionaries, online or otherwise – not the blue, not the almonds, not the shart, not any of it.  So, if you’re into dream analysis and have a clear understanding of what these elements add up to – well, I probably don’t want to know. Keep it to yourself.

Perhaps this image has stuck with me because most dreams I (and I would guess most other people) have that involve, what I will call “bathroom stuff” are usually tied to bathroom functions that never come to fruition.  For example, a dream where one is running around looking for a place to pee, only to have each option for relief somehow thwarted.  One eventually wakes up and realizes that the dream was trying to push one to wake up and go take a piss in a completely ‘normal’, non-thwarted, perfectly relieving fashion.  I do not recall any of these previous dreams resulting in actually finding ‘release’ while in the dream, much less, having a ‘release’ with unintended consequences.

I’m happy to report that, in this particular instance, there was no corresponding pushing or expulsion activity married to the dream.  That is, despite a flash of anxiety on waking, there was no indication the dream had come true.

I bring all this up, in part, because for several years now, initially starting in an annual series of posts on Facebook, and later moving to my blog (and a few connected social media sites), I put out New Year’s resolutions.  These started out as lighthearted, silly jokes, usually concluding with one ‘positive’, ‘real’, but vague, resolution.  For instance, I would have three resolutions that suggested I was going to do spectacularly impossible things (establish the ultimate matrix for determining whether a ‘Men’s Rights’ Internet account or website is a parody account or actually intended to be serious);or completely bland, totally achievable goals, (resolving to actually trim my toenails regularly). Those would be followed by one resolution involving haircare, which would be followed by one that said I would live joyfully or some such sh*t.

Then, at the end of the year, I would write up a ‘year end review’, where I tracked my success in meeting the resolutions (silly and not-so), before I moved on to a new set.

In the process of doing the review of my 2-18 resolutions, I realized that maybe a bit too much seriousness had crept in, too much silliness leaked out. It had, at least to me, a darker tone about it than previous years.  Then again, in spite of numerous good things in 2018, the whole year had a darker tone to it.

2018 was a year of numerous things going to hell, and me struggling to reel them back in— none of which I will share here now.  All in all, things turned out okay, but not without a lingering, nasty aftertaste…or several different lingering, nasty aftertastes.

2018 also had some great moments of joy—specific moments of laughter and happiness I can vividly recall, also none of which I will share here now.

This far into 2019, it would be a bit strange to be making resolutions anyway, unless maybe I was claiming they were tied to a little procrastinating around the Lunar New Year. But, still, I’m abandoning the idea of resolutions, at least for 2019.  And I’m trying to learn to accept that much of life is way beyond my control, and that I’ll be okay…or I won’t…and that not being okay will probably be okay as well.

I tried to attach some meaning to the dream of the shart – that it was advising me not too push things too hard or they would become messy – or perhaps to push hard because even if the outcome was messy, it would still be fine—I’d wake up to a fantastic meal with some of the people I loved most, or a disgusting mess in my pants that really wouldn’t be that difficult to clean up.

At any rate, the (forced) meanings kept coming back to how I should or shouldn’t force things, how forcing things would turn out either good or bad.  And then it got all meta – about how I keep starting posts, only to abandon them because they seem too forced –and therefore too bland, like almond chicken –or too sloppy, poorly planned, and offensive, like a shart.

The whole concept of intentions –push to get a reaction, or hold back to make the right, polite points, merely led to almost every writing effort over the last year turning into either a dull essay, or a mean-spirited rant – with those efforts usually being abandoned to steer clear of that dullness, or to unload that spite on somebody in some pointless, online argument that added up to nothing beyond the sound of clacking keys and the fury of unanswered tantrums.  For the most part, the posts just didn’t get finished, or if the writing was more or less completed, did not get put out into the world…much like I’ve been struggling over the whole idea of posting a shart-centered missive, ostensibly connected to New Year’s resolutions.

Ultimately, I realize I’m attempting to assign meaning to this dream because 1) it occurred on the first day of the year; 2) I was woken out of the dream at the point of a particularly striking and unpleasant visual unlike anything I recalled from any previous dreams; and 3) I’m struggling with just how much energy and effort I can and ‘should’ be devoting to writing, especially pieces that feel obligatory/how much energy I can and ‘should’ be devoting to engaging in patterned behaviors in general/how much energy I can and ‘should’ be devoting to breaking old patterns of behavior.

Maybe it all just comes down to the message that I should sh*t or get on the pot…and sh*t…or get off the pot. At least don’t sh*t my pants unintentionally?

Or perhaps push it. Push it real good.  But with intention.  Although I’m pretty sure that wasn’t initially related to scatological…uh…actions.  But then again…

I know it’s gotta mean something about making sure you know what you intend to accomplish, or that you are making reasonable efforts to make sure you have some kind of control over the outcome of your actions, or…?

Anyway, Happy (belated?) (Lunar?) New Year!

 

 

 

 

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2018 Year in Review

by

JCS Bach, LMHC

father time, yo!Ok, time (well, a little late, but still time) for the obligatory review of last year’s resolutions and the pass/fail ratings.

  1. Finish the damn downstairs: Definite fail.  I made some progress, in the same kind of way that sitting up in bed is progress toward walking from Seattle to London.  Ok, maybe it was a little better than that…some framing happened.  And I moved a light fixture (yes, it’s fully functioning).  So that was good.  At this rate, only about 38 more years to completion.
  2. Every Day is Halloween: Pass!  Well, pass in the way that the horrible sh*t in your life drives you to do something to distract you from all that horrible sh*t.  I got started early with Halloween decorations (early June(?)) and knocked out a lot of new decorations that I’d been thinking about for years.  You can see the earlier posts.  I also actually came up with the perfect use for a big, old canvas and some other cast-off materials I have.  Unfortunately, once I figured out what I wanted to do, it got more and more ambitious, and I ultimately had to bail.  It will be done in time for Halloween 2019.  That’s not a resolution. That’s a promise.
  3.   Read/Write—don’t watch/scroll. Pass/Fail? Hmmmm…I did a lot of reading…but plenty was of the scrolling variety.  I read some excellent books, but didn’t really keep up the idea of bailing on pointless Internet foolishness in favor of reading enlightening books. As for the writing…well, you can scroll back just a smidge and see the sum total of the writing I did this year…well, not ALL of the writing I did this year, but about 80% of the writing I actually finished this year…well, the writing that extended beyond stupid Internet arguments.  I did have a record number of my Internet arguments shut down by moderators. I like to think that was (mostly) because the people I was arguing with started calling me names, but moderators don’t tend to explain themselves once they shut something down.
  4. No more hair resolutions. Well, if I can make it through my next post without resolving anything about my hair (assuming I’m going to do a post about my 2019 resolutions), I’m in business with this one.  Stay tuned. I’m sure the suspense is killing you.
  5. Be better to those closer. I’m a little conflicted on my success with this one.  I guess it needs some clarifying definitions—which I’m not going to supply right now.  Things got rough on a pretty constant basis. Plenty of my friends/family/colleagues of one stripe or another got into some major life changes/deep sh*t that took up a lot of my time, energy, and, in some cases, cash.  A lot of those occurrences also drained a lot of my patience—patience I could no longer spare on those who are peripheral and antagonistic. So, with that I give a hearty, ‘Much love and/or go f*ck yourself!’  If I’ve been at all close to my target with this resolution (and you actually know me) you know where on that spectrum you lie. For the rest of you, consider yourself square in the middle—and please consider that a good thing.

Happy more-or-less New Year, you beautiful sods!

New Year’s Resolutions, 2018

by

JC Schildbach, LMHC

Gettin’ down to it a few days into the New Year:

  1. Finish the damn downstairs. At least for the time being, I’m back on a four tens schedule (four days a week, ten hours a day), which leaves me three days off. For the last year, that’s not been the case (was working 5 8s in the evenings), and I’ve had difficulty getting any sizeable chunks of time I could devote to working on finishing renovations we started downstairs years ago when my MIL was planning to move in with us. Way back when, we put together a bedroom down there (walled off a room and framed in a closet, among other things). Then, when the MIL decided not to travel half a world away to torment herself and us, the remainder of the project lost its urgency. Numerous other things made the project less important, like the kid becoming an adult, and the assumption that she would move out. But now, it would be nice to have a clean, open space, with a really nice TV and toys, so I need to make this happen, if for no other reason than to keep one of the dogs from pooping down there amongst the rubble.
  2. Every Day is Halloween. Stealing the idea from a Ministry song, but it works, nonetheless. I do a big Halloween display each year, but mostly dedicate only a few weeks in October to making it all happen. Funny thing is, making the new decorations is one of the most fun times I have. So, I want to make sure I’m working on new decorations (and repairing old decorations) throughout the year, especially during the summer when I can be out in the workshop with an open door, and free-flowing air, rather than in the colder months when I have to run a heater, and frequently have to wander away to avoid succumbing to excessive dust and toxic fumes.New Year Martini baby
  3. Read/Write—don’t watch/scroll. Okay, in the course of writing this post, I’ve gone on Facebook twice, in part because they sent me notifications, but also because it’s become habit to bounce onto the Internet every 27 seconds, just because. In the past month (or less) I did a little experiment about picking up a book every time I’m tempted to log on or turn on the TV, and I’ve read a fair amount more than I’d become accustomed to (I mean, books, not Internet articles). Not sure how I’m going to work this one, since I keep breaking my personal promises to only go online for a short stint, but I think I can pay a little more attention and do a little more book reading than post-scanning.
  4. No more hair resolutions. Ok, I’ve had my fun with the hair jokes. But now that my hair is thinning for real, and…well…the joke is played out, this is the last hair-based resolution I’ll make (unless I can think of some more amusing ones in future).
  5. Be better to those closer. I talk a lot of sh*t at the people who are closest to me (the ones who live with me or interact with me out of friendship or family ties), while engaging a saintly amount of patience towards those who are more tenuously connected to me. This is not to say that I should abandon the patience I exercise toward those who are already the beneficiaries of my kindness, but that I should just plain be kinder to everybody…be it my immediate family, my extended family, my pets, my friends (who, I guess, are part of my extended family). You always hate the ones you love, or some such…

Happy New Year, Lovelies!!

2017 Resolutions, Year in Review

by

JC Schildbach, LMHC

I usually get this annual exercise out of the way on New Year’s Eve or before, but hey, you can’t properly review an entire year until it’s over, right? And besides, I didn’t get my New Year’s Resolutions posted until about two weeks into 2017 anyway. So, here we go. Last years resolutions and how well I did with them…

Father time

My first goal was to “Use real bookmarks, ffs.” I said I was starting with a “totally doable” goal, and this proved to be something I (mostly) stuck with. Occasionally, on starting a book, I would still grab the nearest scrap of paper, but that was usually only until I got up from where I was reading and went to find another one. I even bought a nifty magnetized bookmark while on vacation in Hawaii, and located most of my other favorite bookmarks. Currently, I have five different books going at varying degrees of involvement, and they all have honest-to-God bookmarks in them. I wasn’t going to comment about the sixth book I’m about halfway through, that M decided to read as well, and how she lost my place in that book and so I just took the bookmark out since I wasn’t going to get the book back for a long time anyway, but I guess I did.

My second goal was to “Be in the world…at least a little more.” It’s hard to judge this one all that clearly. Part of the reason I was planning on this was because I had moved off of an overnight schedule. So, simply by default and being more available, I got at least a little more time in with friends, and had somewhat regular forays out into the world. By dint of working during days (well, afternoons and evenings) I interacted with more people on a regular basis, and wasn’t constantly struggling to be awake during the day. I did take trips to the aforementioned Hawaii, and to California. I met a few new people, some of whom I actually see socially from time to time, and reconnected with some people I’d fallen out of touch with. Still, I went through the summer without getting out on a kayak, which I kept pestering M about, or without biking, which M kept pestering me about. And, because our days off didn’t sync up too well with when we had the energy to do things, M and I spent a lot of our time together watching movies and TV, or shopping, or just sitting in the same room reading or goofing off on the Internet. So, I’ll pronounce my progress on this one, “good enough.”

Goal three was to “Be in the world…like, beyond the personal.” The basic idea here was that I wanted to engage in more community involvement, beyond just making monetary donations to causes. Abject failure on this one. In part, I blame working in the evenings Sunday through Thursday. Not that it’s impossible to engage in community activities on Fridays and Saturdays, but a whole lot of organizations hold their meetings at other times, and, being that this was the first time in years that I was working an 8-hour/five-day-a-week schedule, I got a bit selfish with the two days I wasn’t obligated to be at work, and never quite worked out a sleep schedule that gave me much time, except late at night.

Because I have always included a hair-based goal, resolution four was to “Go full Bob’s Big Boy with the hair.” I got close a few times, because of laziness around getting a haircut, but never really committed. But, because I enjoyed it so much, I’m going to re-post the image that accompanied that resolution last year. You’re welcome.

don-bob-gor-hair

Finally, resolution five was to “Write more, write often, write regularly—or alternately—Less wasting time on social media…more clogging up my small corner of social media (as well as writing for reasons beyond social media).” I made a few stabs at this, but never really got it going, even to the point where midway through the year I made an amended resolution to try and get two posts done each week. That didn’t happen. There were entire months (including December, and I don’t want to check which others) where I didn’t do a single post, or really write a lick of anything, aside from documentation that’s required as a regular part of my job (and which I am barred from ever putting on social media by legal and ethical constraints). I spent (and continue to spend) an insane amount of time just scrolling through things on Facebook, and occasionally Twitter, and a few other sites. Still trying to figure out a good plan for cutting back. But, given my ongoing need for escapism, I’m not going to expect much on this front.

Anyway, 2017 is behind us. I don’t know that I’m ever happy to say a whole year has passed, even the ones that were particularly painful and/or stupid. But there you have it. 2018 resolutions to come shortly.

 

New Year’s Resolutions 2016

by

J.C. Schildbach, LMHC

In years past, I put my (mostly self-deprecating) resolutions out into the world via fairly constrained social media channels, with limited commentary, where those who encountered them would likely have some idea of what I was talking about. But, since plenty of the people reading this (or rather, the teeming tides of people who could potentially read this) don’t know me personally (unlike most of the tiny trickle of people who actually will read this) I figure some explanation is probably in order. Plus, a list of five short items, presented as a blog post, hardly qualifies as making an effort.

Baby New Year

Resolution 1: Be less informed.

This might not sound like a particularly noble goal. But given that we are under a constant barrage of information, I, like Donald Trump, feel the need to put up some walls. See, I don’t even have to explain that wall comment, because of the useless information we cannot avoid. Of course, knowing about Donald Trump’s litany of offensive statements is, I suppose, important, in that his stupidity is impacting the attitudes and behavior of like-minded idiots—and it’s usually good to be aware of the relative threat level posed by idiots. So, bad example, I guess.

Resolution 2: Take better care of my toenails.

I’m not entirely sure how I’ve made it this far in life without developing a better plan for addressing the menace that is my rapid-growth, super-strength toenails. Generally speaking, I don’t bother to cut them until I’ve, yet again, found myself having to carefully extract the threads of a frayed (by my toenails) sock from the gnarled, cracked, and dangerously sharp tangle of keratin protruding from the ends of my lower phalanges. It’s something of a wonder my wife hasn’t bled out in the middle of the night just from brushing against the things while sleeping.

Resolution 3: Read books, not Internet comments sections.

This is probably self-explanatory as a basic concept. But I’ve developed an unhealthy addiction to reading the comments sections following articles on the Internet—despite knowing exactly what those comments sections hold in store. It has gotten so bad that, even when websites have made it rather complicated to find the button to bring up the comments section, and take inordinate amounts of time to load the comments, I will squander precious minutes of my dwindling time here on Earth to gain access to those comments, even when much more rewarding reading material is immediately at hand. Heaven help me.

Resolution 4: Enjoy what I ingest.

I am extraordinarily blessed to have access to a wide variety of foods, from wonderful nearby restaurants, to farmers markets, specialty shops, and ‘international’ grocery stores, to fruits and vegetables we grow in our own yard. My wife, daughter, and I all know our way around a kitchen—or at least how to follow a recipe. Yet, a great deal of the time, I treat eating like an annoying task to get out of the way in order to avoid passing out in the middle of whatever else I’m doing. I will pause in front of the pantry to choke down a small stack of saltine crackers in order to stave off my hunger and save the time it would take me to microwave and eat last night’s leftovers. (Just now, I would’ve gone to the refrigerator and eaten a couple slices of deli ham if M hadn’t brought me a surprise platter of food). I’m not quite at the point where I think I need to count how many times I chew each bite–but that doesn’t sound like a bad ‘eating mindfully’ exercise for me.

And finally…

Resolution 5: More pretty bows?

It’s something of a tradition for me to include a hair-based resolution each year. Now, I could argue that that’s already been addressed (sort of) by that toenail resolution, given that hair and toenails are basically made up of the same thing—but I’m not sure if my adoring fans are willing to make that leap. I could go really basic, like resolving to get my hair cut at reasonable intervals. But that’s no fun. And anyway, I like the sound of “more pretty bows” as a kind of mission statement. I’m not sure exactly what I mean by that—take a little more time to pretty things up a bit? Imagine the world as if everyone had pretty bows in their hair? I’m not going to actually start wearing pretty bows in my hair, even though I have been known to sport a tiara in public. I guess I have a year to figure out just what I mean by this and to put it into action (or not).

new year me

Happy New Year!