I know New Year’s is two weeks out, but I think — hope! — that people will begin drifting away from their computers over the next few days. I know I will.
At any rate, time for the one-word resolution challenge. I had a good one and — no joke, see name of this blog — I forgot it. It was a really good one, too. Well, maybe I’ll remember it in time for 2012. Meanwhile, I’ve found a substitute:
Remember when Bill Clinton famously said it depends on how you define “is”? It’s an easy line to mock and I don’t think his intentions were particularly pure, but he was onto something. Spanish, after all, has two verbs for being, ser and estar, one used for matters of permanence, the others for more transitory states of being. What do we mean by is? What does it mean to be? Does it mean never thinking about the future? If so, I’m hosed because I don’t see how a working novelist can’t be looking down the road a bit. Plus, if you’re always in the moment, how do you make to-do lists and if you don’t make to-do lists, how do you get anything done?
Still, I could be better at being and I’ve been getting some valuable lessons in how to do it. So I’m going to try to be. I think there is a second word implicit in that, that deciding to be is also deciding to be happy as much as possible. Or at least content. Or, perhaps, content but with the awareness that our country, our world have some very serious problems. Or perhaps — well, you can see that BE, easy as it sounds, is no slam dunk for me.
I realize in the past two months this blog has been much quieter, as has the website. A resolution to BE doesn’t bode well for either of them, although when I write for the blog I am very much in the moment. Earlier this year, I won a copy of Hamlet’s Blackberry from Hank Stuever (Washington Post television critic, blogger, author of Tinsel, a delightful social history of Christmas) and the book has been hugely influential in how I think about my use of technology. I have adapted the practice of “Internet Sabbath,” although I still check e-mail. I have cut way back on the blogs I read. Perversely, I am on Twitter, although completely cloaked — trust me, you can’t find me — and I use that to follow many writers, bloggers, etc. because I find that to be the best source of things I’m genuinely interested in reading. But I seldom tweet and when I do, they are in-jokes meant for an audience of one, Mr. Lippman.
2010 was the best year of my life to date. Some of the reasons for that are personal, too personal even for this gabby, seemingly confessional blog. Professionally, I haven’t been shy about parading the things that made the year fun — a book that reached #11 on the New York Times bestseller list, despite being up some pretty big guns of August; some really stellar reviews and even some best-of lists (including the Washington Post, Sarah Weinman, the Seattle Times, Amazon and Stephen King’s round-up for Entertainment Weekly; an appearance on Craig Ferguson’s show, where Mr. Lippman was thrilled to hear the host describe my look as “naughty librarian.”
And yet . . my husband’s longtime friend and off-and-on collaborator David Mills died suddenly. Then my father-in-law. Then David Thompson. There were other deaths, too, and bad news for good people (hang in there, Paul). It was, in short, another year in the life of a privileged middle-aged woman living in a First World country in the 21st century.
I am going to put this entry down and go back into the archives and find my father’s column, the one I ran last year. That should be a tradition, too. And I’ll check the Clinton quote, which I asterisked because I was relying on my imperfect memory. (How bad is my memory? Well, about three weeks ago, I signed for a package, which subsequently went missing, which raised questions of whether I had signed for the package at all. I found it eventually, but no matter how many details I accrued — the date, etc. — nothing could shake loose a memory of signing for that package. To paraphrase a critic whose name has just flown out of my head**, you can’t remember everything — where would you put it? Wait — Stephen Wright. I think.
Meanwhile, please share your own one-word resolutions, if you are so inclined.