Thirty more days to revitalize a life.
Preamble: What just happened?
I did it. Again. Another thirty days in the books. Sorry it took so long to recap, I’ll try to get better at that for the next challenge. This month both went fast and was a slog. But it was about the writing for me, which turned out to be the most important part. There’s a lot that felt much better than previous months’ challenges, as I liked my writing more than ever. But we’ll get to that in a minute. I saw a lot of failure this month in regards to the challenges I set up for myself, but I can’t look at any of them as a setback. It’s just what happened. A lot of good came along with it, as well as sincere growth, so is it really fair of me to say there was no success?
I don’t think I fully completed a single rule this month. But did I end up learning things anyway? Let’s take a look.
Rule 1: Return to form by writing every day.
I did write an entry here each day. I liked what I wrote more often than not, and if you’ve noticed, this entire blog has gotten a facelift of its own. It looks much better than I could have ever put together myself, which for the amount of money I’ve sunk into it, it better well should. I think my aesthetic choices are clear, and I hope the writing reflects that.
As I always seem to do, there were plenty of character-defining moments I took away this month. Now you know my feelings about LED lightbulbs. Or the decision to age gracefully. Or the notion that, at some point, I was actually loveable. Either way, I noticed a lot of feelings came up about my city this month. Realizations that, right now, all I have to combat the Progressive craziness are my words. So I need to choose them far more wisely instead of being a brusque, rude, typical New Yawker on Twitter. There’s a voice in these entries crying out for guidance, honoring what makes New York so special while wishing better things for it. I’m realizing this blog is becoming as much about Manhattan as it is myself.
Reading back on what I’ve written does give me a sense of pride, even though I told you how obnoxious I think it is when people say that. But I can’t say any of these entries were particularly “bad.” There are still some I like more than others, like it is with any month, but somewhere down the line these entries became the most important part of my day. I was planning ahead, coming up with a wealth of ideas in my chicken-scratch notes of what could be potential blog posts. Some days, those plans would change, especially when something significant would happen at work that I wanted to talk about instead. It all felt so important to get these entries out in the style both you and I are accustomed to, and I’m glad I made another June a success.
Unfortunately, sadly, it was my story that suffered the rest of the month.
I did not complete my goal of writing 750 words of my first draft a day. I should have had a total of 22,600 new words written, but ended up with something like 14,000. I’m disappointed I didn’t finish, considering how positive the first day of June began. I went right up to my roof deck after work and wrote all 750 words while baking in the sun. It’s like I got a boost of Vitamin D that pushed me over the edge to complete it in no time. I figured I could do this every day as long as the sun was out. Unfortunately, that did not prove to be the case, as I fell behind literally days later and just was unable, or unwilling, to catch up.
One June 22nd, I officially reached the 100,000 word milestone. And that was the end of it. I wrote a little more but I’ve hit a wall in the story. I know I’m far more than halfway through, somewhere between three-eighths and one-fourth left to go. I’m going to see it through, as I promised myself I’d finish it this year, and I still want to make that happen. I saw a tip on Tumblr that changing your writing font to Comic Sans MS could push you past writer’s block. While I haven’t written anything for days, I did go back and read what I wrote this month featuring the new font. Surprisingly, it’s better than I thought. There are spelling errors, grammatical issues, a lot of telling not showing, but the heart is there. The story is there. The dialogue is real. And I want to give these characters I created the sendoff they deserve. So while I didn’t finish an arbitrarily-decided rule for a month out of this year, I still have a story. No one might ever see this exact version of it, but once it’s done, it can’t be undone. I foresee endless possibilities on the way once I actually accomplish this goal. Who knows, perhaps what I get down might one day be worthy of publication after all.
Rule 2: Return to basics by only eating meat.
In the middle of May, I decided to count calories and work on eating better. I was able to drop a few pounds, and the first few weeks of June continued that streak, especially after switching to all-meat. This time around it felt much harder to get into the swing of things, as I became frustrated by not seeing the weight drop off as quick as it did last year. I’m now hovering between 196 and 198 pounds, which, all and all is about a ten pound loss since May. That’s not bad, but I know I can do better. I’ve certainly been sneaking here and there, and definitely broke the “no delivery” rule. However, considering New York’s new rule to usher in legal work for those not legally here (is my analysis of this decision), I may have to stop getting delivery altogether. It’s just far too expensive and inflation is still too high. But I can rest easy in not saying I’m far too fat to do anything here.
I have no idea if I’ll ever get my diet on track. While I didn’t “eat like a crazy person” like I was wont to do in the past, I know I could have done much better with the meat-only trick. I might keep going, especially with this new delivery service I’ve found that can provide me fresh, organic meat and even raw milk, which is illegal in New York State. Don’t care, fucking sue me. I make the choice of what to put in my body. And guess what? Tastes exactly the same as pasturized milk. Don’t come at me for that.
Either way, less weight on my body isn’t going to make me a better person per se, just a healthier one. But right now, there’s just no need to go crazy on my goals here. I’ll keep working at it to see where it takes me. Getting off the couch is always going to be my step one.
Rule 3: Return to clarity by eschewing the news.
This one felt impossible to stick to this month. I had to be a senior producer for a week while the actual senior was on vacation. Then she came back sick with the flu so I still had to senior while she was out. And then she took off two more vacation days and so I still had to senior. Plus, the afternoon senior was on vacation for a week so I had to put together the night note, which is sometimes an all-day affair. I can’t escape the news no matter what I do, it seems. Not until I never have to produce it ever again.
The friend I had lunch with at the end of the month used to work in news. I’m not going to tell her story exactly, but she got out of the industry. She said she has very little idea of what’s going on in the world and I couldn’t be be happier for her. It’s an admirable goal to feel disconnected from this constant barrage of bad news. I hope I can say the same one day. The entire face of this industry has changed. In many ways, I feel it’s on its way out. People consume news much differently than before. You can listen to a three hour podcast and get informed in ways a seven minute cable news interview cannot provide. It’s not anyone’s fault, really, all of it evolves in its own way. I’m also not worried about not having a job. I’m an Annunziato, we always land on our feet. But producing the news in this way does not feel like a long-term plan. Perhaps I need not wait around for some stunning news story to upend all this nonsense. Maybe just rolling with the punches and staying clear in my own ways is all I need. That way, one day, the only story I’ll ever need to report on is my own.
Rule 4: Return to self by seeing the sun.
This one hurt the most. I always think of June as a nice, warm month; The official start to summer where the weather is next to perfect most days. And that’s sure how it started. I actually got some color by just being outside for a half-hour that first day. I like when I’m tan. It brings out my freckles. But for some reason, this particular June felt like the sun just didn’t want to come out. Or perhaps more accurately, wasn’t allowed to.
Just a week into June, New York City was hit with fallout from the Canadian wildfires that just magically started but had apparently been burning since March. That horrible haze settled over Manhattan and much of the eastern seaboard, freaking out a city and making me question even more just what the hell goes on behind the scenes. When you have a federal government that is researching ways to pull a Mr. Burns and literally block out the sun, forgive me for getting all conspiracy-brained about ‘them’ wanting to take away all that is good for humanity. And for the rest of the month, the sun had a very hard time showing its face, leaving me paler than I’d like, and less full of Vitamin D.
I found a new spot to sit when I needed to hop outside, as my little park has been overtaken by deliveristas who sit and wait with their big, bulky bicycles for an order. I was outside more often than not, but there were many days it was simply too rainy to go out there. I can’t remember a June in recent memory that was this rainy. It all felt so purposeful, so mean, so incompatible to what I was trying to accomplish. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, as things seem to both never go my way yet always even out, but it would have been nicer to head outside more. This city still has many beautiful spots to sit, even as I lose faith in it day over day. But as long as I choose to live here and utilize the space, I won’t give up hope that the sun will rise again, for real this time.
I’m not going to sit here and say “writing is my passion.” I find that to be a tired phrase. All I know is that this is something I like to do, something I want to do, and something I’m going to keep doing until I can no longer type. I see the improvements in my writing, just as I feel each day that passes, I become more of exactly who I am. And with a little bit of luck, a lot of work, and a miracle or two, perhaps I’ll get close to exactly who I’m meant to be, too.