Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. The concept is to use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead. The website provides 31 prompts to coincide with each day of December. I've been reading some pretty amazing blog entries based on Reverb 10 musings, so I decided I'd play along. Obviously, I'm several days late, so I'll get started with today's prompt:
"What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?"
1. I DON'T need boredom at work. It's partially my fault, as repetition is both comforting and safe. It's easy to use the same book, the same lesson plans, the same lectures, the same jokes inserted in those lectures until it begins to feel a bit like Groundhog Day. It's a matter of baby steps, though, in terms of getting rid of boredom. If I completely overhauled both classes, I'd be overwhelmed by a mountain of work (i.e. creating new lesson plans and all the accompanying paperwork). So I decided to change my English 101 class. I'm using Remix, a new book that spends less time explaining a type of essay and instead concentrates on modeling good writing.
2. I DON'T need inactivity. Every year, I struggle with "medicating" my stress by eating. And surprise! I gain weight. I need to get back to that feeling of exhileration I felt when I ran, lifted, and practiced yoga daily. Some of the people I admire the most make no excuses. Yes, they lead busy lives. They have jobs, families, an art practice, yet they manage to work exercise into their lives. My plan for correcting the activity is much the same that it is every year: start small. Make sure you walk the dog twice daily. Work on your abs and do pushups and basic stretching because you know that leads you to want to do more. I'd like to add the series of Zumba videotapes or P90X into my life because I know two things about myself: 1) I like to shake that ass, and 2) I respond well to boot-camp style structure in a workout. Likewise, there's that sweet connection between exercising and eating better. After all, once you've committed to working out, you don't want to sully the temple. I love that!
3. I DON'T need to put my foot in my mouth. Case in point: this morning, my boyfriend was holding the cat in such a way that she looked like she was doing a yoga move. It triggered me to talk about a calendar I saw at a local bookstore. I went on and on about how I had seen a ghastly calendar featuring cats in yoga poses. I like yoga. I like cats. But I don't think the two should be one, if you know what I mean. Being a writer and a fan of lively description, I went into a full-length analysis of it. I think "cheesy" was the icing on the descriptive cake. Well, my boyfriend fell silent, and then said "There's something I need to tell you." I got a terrible feeling in my gut. I knew what he was going to say. I had made fun of a Christmas present he had bought me. How terrible is that? He was totally thoughtful, having bought me something that incorporated two of my passions, and I had squashed it. In 2011, I want to minimize that feeling. I don't want to be the inflictor of wounds that need to be licked. I have some major making up to do, especially if I don't want coal in my stocking, or nothing at all--I wouldn't blame him.
4. I DON'T need to be such a consumer. Even though I don't shop in the conventional ways, even though I don't inhabit malls, I do make rounds at thrift stores and collect art supplies that never seem to get used. I have too much and get frustrated at not being able to find things. I need to resist the temptation of haunting those favorite places and recognize that it's as much about the social experience as it is the actual purchase.
5. I DON'T need to be as disorganized. My boyfriend once looked into my car and said it looked like a homeless person lived there. I got all "butt hurt" as he would say, but I knew he was right. I mean, it was November, a full month after farmer's market, and yet my farmer's market booth display was still in my car. That's nonsense. Likewise, there are Cooking Lightly magazines that a friend had given me. I never even looked at them. They need to go to the recycling center, yet I never seem to make it over there. The trunk is full: books, sheet music, ledger paper, and other ephemera. You'd think, based on all those supplies, that I spontaneously create art wherever I'm at, kind of like the circus clown who produces a balloon and twists it into a weiner dog on command. It's nonsense, I tell you.
6. I DON'T need to keep obligations based on some sort of perceived indebtedness to others. Sometimes it is okay to be selfish. I can't take responsibility for this insight. Ever-wise Mike once again gets the credit. He reminds me, "It's business." This philosophy is much needed, as I enter into situations where my intentions are good and find they simply aren't working for me. Such was the case with a business where I had my cards on consignment. The business owner allows vendors to work in lieu of paying a booth fee or taking a percentage of your profit. You work 3 days per month. So I worked 24 hours per month. And don't get me wrong. It's not back-breaking work. There are really no responsibilities other than ringing up the few customers who shop there. Otherwise, I used the time to grade papers or to work on my art. The problem was, if I was working a minimum-wage job, getting paid $58 a day, I would earn a total of $174 pre-tax per month. And that would be fine if I sold a maximum of $20 per month and a minimum of $2. I bitched and moaned about the unfairness. I vowed to create more goods to sell. And then Mike calmly said, "Quit." Epiphany! I can cut the cord, with maximum benefit to me, AND no one will think any less of me. AND who cares if they do think less? Fuck 'em.
7. I DON'T need a lot of mediocre, half-ass, case-specific, fair-weather friends. I need a handful of kick-ass true friends.
8. I DON'T need to get down about a world that doesn't function in the way I'd like it to. I spent much of this year feeling Bah Humbug-ish about the disappearance of morality. Does no one want a relationship with ONE person anymore? Does everyone long to munch the more verdant grass in a yard other than their own? Is sex with a bunch of strangers more important than romance and the possibility of longevity and security and love of a particular person? I ended up feeling much like Mr. Hand in Fast Times at Ridgmont High: "Everyone is on drugs!" And I don't mean that literally. Yes, I'm aware humans are the only species to choose monogamy. I'm aware that men have longings. I'm aware that spontaneity and newness trump the" same ol' same ol'," but I also think there are ways to keep a relationship fresh and exciting. I don't think straying has to be a given. It's a choice with consequences that reverberate in so many directions and that hurts more than the main players. It's okay for me to be old-fashioned. It doesn't make me square or lame. It makes me a solid choice for the kind of man who sees loyalty as a virtue and not a character flaw.
9. I DON'T need to be so sensitive. Sometimes I feel like a live wire. A casual comment is not a diss. It's not criticism. It's just an observation. I also needn't think that everyone is articulate or a poet. I'll give it to you hypothetically. Let's say a certain teacher normally wears perfume and make-up and typically wears a dress to teach, and she does on THIS particular day, but she spends EXTRA time getting ready one morning because she plans on going straight to the airport after her class to get her lover. She hasn't seen him in three weeks. She hasn't had sex in 3 weeks. She's abuzz with knowing the famine will soon be over. Soon she'll be satiated in every possible way. Full. She envisions one of those scenes they show in movies where separated lovers are reunited. It involves the two running open-armed to each other. It possibly involves being twirled in someone's arms, kissed, maybe a few tears shed. But the reality is an oxymoron--a mind-blowing combination of lovely and ouch. He says, "You look good....kind of like a snobby bum." Your cheeks grow hot, and you feel like you could bawl, but you say, "Thanks," This change will take time. It's all about context. He's a DUDE. He's tired. He's got an excruciating headache. Ninety-nine percent of the time, he speaks positively about you. His tongue is usually golden. Let it go. Chalk it up. It's an anomaly. Don't linger on it. Don't fret. Don't let it distract you from the truth: he's home, and you are what he wants. His kiss means more than a few misplaced words, when your fingers retrace the Braille of his body, they'll erase the sting of your insecurities.
10. I DON'T need let the behaviors of past lovers affect the fantastic thing I have going. I need to put the fears away. They hurt me, but he hasn't. I wasn't good enough for them, but he thinks I'm wonderful. Thankfully, I am a living video of this song by Orianthi.
11. I DON'T need to follow the rules. If Reverb 10 requests that I write 11 things I don't need, I can choose not to waste another hour of my day on this blog post and to write 10 instead.