I don't make New Year's resolutions. And like every other blogger who starts a post with those words, I'm about to tell you all of the things that I'm changing now that the new year has started. But they aren't resolutions. Oh, no. That would be too ... plan-ish. Resolutions require commitment and effort! Plus, one usually slacks on them by mid-February anyway, so what's the point? Screw that. I certainly don't need a special date on the calendar to flake on my promises -- I can do that any time.
But this year, the turn of the page coincides with a few changes that were happening organically anyway, so the time seemed right to suck it up, walk the walk, etcetera, and clean house. To, in the words of the poet Lawrence del Cable Guy, "git 'r done." Most notably in the area of my chosen career, which suffered this past year from what I can only describe as a miniature nervous work-related breakdown.
I won't bore you (or embarrass myself) with the details of why, exactly, I lost my shit so spectacularly this past year. But 2009 was a year for me in which, simultaneously, terrible, stressful things and amazing, life-changing things happened. My response was to spend as much time curled up in a ball as possible, riding out the storm and fulfilling the bare minimum of my responsibilities.
Writing became difficult. I stopped posting to my LiveJournal blog entirely, the novel on which I was working was shoved into a box untouched, and writing film reviews felt like I was building brick walls while wearing mittens and a blindfold. And trust me, underperforming did nothing to help my anxiety levels, which led to more curling-into-a-ball ... shampoo, rinse, repeat.
But that seems to be over. The clouds have parted, and I believe I see a glimmer of sun shining on the horizon. Oh, a sea bird has just flown over, landing just above my shoulder with a leafy twig captured in his beak! If he doesn't crap on my shoes, we can take this as a good sign.
In no particular order, here are a few things that this change in the weather brings:
A rebirth, and new look, for this blog. Cinema Sideshow was conceived as a clearing house for all of my film writing elsewhere, offered in one handy location. But I was haphazard about updating and, with the both underperformance and a lack of pride in what I was writing, the site lay fallow. You'll notice the last post was in August. Meanwhile, I've still held onto the domain, which seems rather silly if I don't intend to use it. So this will now be my primary blog, where you'll find links to my writing, updates on my weekly Ham-Fisted Radio podcast, and all sort of other effluvia that jumble out from my head onto the keyboard. Plus, it has a nifty, clean new theme that feels pretty spiffy. So there's that.
A better tracking of the movies I see throughout the year. This is probably of no interest to you whatsoever, but at the end of each year I envy the film critics who are anal enough to use a spreadsheet and chart all the movies they screen, because when they have to do their end-of-the-year lists they have all that data at their fingertips. My method, conversely, has been to surf other people's lists and go back over my filed reviews to try and remember what, exactly, I saw and what I thought about it, then cobble a list together in a typically half-assed manner. Inevitably, I end up forgetting something awesome (or horrible), and feeling like a failure. So this year, I'm keeping track. Unfortunately, I haven't the slightest idea how to create a spreadsheet and no desire to learn, and my Internet searches for the sort of thing I need comes up with a lot of Excel apps to catalog ones DVDs, but little else. The best I could find was some other guy's spreadsheet already filled out with movies, which I downloaded and can use if I go through and delete all 1800+ entries that are already logged there. Unsurprisingly, I haven't done that yet. But hey, it's the beginning of the year, and so far I've only seen one film in a theater. I have plenty of time to make a mess of this plan.
Better writing, with a stronger voice. Smarter, too. I came to a realization about why writing about movies had become difficult this past year. It was, I now understand, the end result of a long, long period in which my reviews were first whittled down by space restrictions, then dumbed down by editorial restrictions, and then required to be cute-funny-clever for entertainment purposes. At the risk of sounding waaaaay too full of myself, I was like one of those Sea World dolphins who get bored with balancing balls on their noses and jumping through hoops because they aren't getting enough intellectual stimulation ... but they still have to keep balancing and jumping anyway, so they do it listlessly, without any enthusiasm**. Add to that the Internet chorus of "you suck," and "fuck you," and "you have no business writing about movies" when I'd write about anything more challenging than casting news for the new Green Lantern movie, and I stopped feeling joy at tippy-typing away about film. The cure for this, I think, is to just not give a rat's ass what anyone thinks anymore, write whatever I like, and hope for the best. That may seem like the obvious solution to anyone who doesn't get paid to write for a living, but I've been balancing on other people's balls for so long that I've forgotten how to swim free on the high seas. And yes, you can giggle at the idea of my balancing on other people's ball. It would be hard not to, really.
So that's pretty much it. There are a few other things that I'm changing, like eating less sugar and wearing slippers more often, reading more and learning how to cook a wider variety of vegetables. But the important things are the work things. Everything else will probably take care of itself. But as the captain of this tugboat, I'm the only one who can steer it into the harbor. Which reminds me -- I'm also going to try and use fewer similes this year. I have a real problem with overusing them, I think.
** I almost went with a comparison to circus elephants who become enraged at being poked with sticks and forced to do stupid tricks, then ultimately go on a killing rampage and trample the people in the stands. But that would have been a bit overdramatic. Plus, I have body issues and don't want to compare myself to an elephant.