I rang in the new year the same way I have done for the past three years or so: in my bed, sleeping. Though I did wake up at just a few minutes past midnight because I was thirsty, and I took the opportunity to change the calendar in the kitchen.
The holidays put serious stress on my self-imposed publishing schedule. I like to be alone when I write, but the holidays mean that there are a lot of people in my house who aren’t going anywhere, and who want to look over my shoulder and read out loud.
Somehow, though, I managed to get something out every day. And to figure out a way forward for the next few weeks. I insist on publishing fiction every week because I feel that writing is a muscle that needs to be exercised. A year and a half ago, when I resumed writing in earnest (at least partly to spite my boss), I was happy to put out five hundred words in an hour. Now I’m typically clocking in about two thousand words in that same amount of time. And the words themselves are, I think, getting better, or at least getting as good as I can get them more quickly.
I had intended to have this post describe my recent journey to the fabled Source of the Nile here in Uganda, accompanied by pictures that I hoped would be either beautiful or at least amusing. Instead my phone fell into the Nile, taking all of my pictures with it, and I never actually went down to the Source itself (which isn’t really the source anyway). I can go back, though: Jinja (the city at the bottom of the river) is only two hours away, is lovely, and has lots of really good food. So I’ll save my travelogue for that journey instead.
So instead of putting together pictures and words describing my friendly float down the world’s longest river, I spent the first two days of the new year organizing my house, which has allowed me to indulge the absolute nerdiest recesses of my soul. First, the bookshelves, which meant taking all of the books down and putting them back according to some obscure literary feng shui, letting the chi of literature flow through my living room, accented by a carefully curated selection of knick-knacks. This took my most of the day, and there are still a few random bits of mess on the floor in front of the shelves.
Today the focus was the kitchen and pantry, a much more ambitious undertaking. I don’t have a concept of culinary feng shui, so I was flying blind. I got the hang of it, though, and by the end my creation was practically baroque (the three drawers are “Things I use to cook,” “Things I rarely use,” and “Things that are similar in spirit to salad tongs”).
I found the whole exercise enormously satisfying.
And so I begin 2017, a year which promises upheaval throughout the world, a year without Bowie or L. Cohen, a year where all of my cookie-making accoutrement are on the same shelf and my poetry books are in chronological order from Dante to Elizabeth Wells.
I’ll cap it off with one of the first pictures I ever took, back when taking a picture meant using film and paying to get it developed and–more importantly–getting your parents to agree to let you spend that money. The decision for my parents was probably made easier by the fact that the camera only cost a few dollars and didn’t have a phone, small computer, and cashless payment system attached, but I digress.) I took this at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado in 1991 on a school trip. Happy new year, everyone.