So, with 363 days left until I turn 50, where am I, on various fronts?
Professionally, I feel pretty good. The promotion meant a lot to me, as you probably know; having gotten it, I've relaxed a bit about productivity in the abstract, although I'm still doing more editing and less writing than I'd like. Over the coming year I'd like to shift that ratio somewhat, by working on my romance book: first the Susan Elizabeth Phillips piece, this winter and spring, and then the Mary Bly / Eloisa James one in the summer. I'd also like to systematize my work on the Popular Romance Project, so that it doesn't feel quite so scattered. The product, I'm happy with; it's the process that needs work.
One professional goal I do have is to invest a bit more in my teaching. It's suffered, in the last couple of years, as I've focused on getting my publication record up to snuff. I'm less connected with my students than I'd like, and also with the courses themselves--often I feel like I'm flailing, unsure of what to teach and why I'm teaching it. So some reflection on all that seems in order, in the year to come.
The other is to improve my mind through extensive reading. I feel like I've grown a bit stale, both in terms of the primary texts I know (in romance and even more so in poetry) and in terms of the secondary reading and ideas I work with, day to day. Going back on Facebook immediately cut into my blog reading, I've noticed, so I'm going to need to push back against that, not least because, where romance is concerned, blogs are often where the scholarly action is, well before it reaches print. (They're also prime recruiting ground for the Popular Romance Project.)
Overall, though, the anxieties that beset me, professionally, not long ago seem to be melting away as the reality of the promotion sets in. As the year ends, it's more like: "Professional life? Check!
Family life? Things looking good on this front, too. Wonderful marriage, wonderful children: the joys of my life. Plans for this year? Just to try and make things a little nicer for my wife by switching offices--hers has been in the basement since we moved into the house, and mine in a spare bedroom--and for my son by helping him repaint and refurnish his room. He'll be off to college soon, and wants, he says, to "leave the room better than he found it." Me, I want to enjoy this last year and a half at home with him as much as I can--not sure what that will entail, practically speaking, but I'll keep my eyes open.
Not sure if this counts as "family life," but I'm very excited about starting jazz guitar lessons this January, also. I've been trying to switch from thinking in terms of acquiring instruments to thinking about acquiring skills on the ones I have: what are the songs I want to play, really? What do I want to be able to sit down and do? One of my biggest successes from the summer was learning the chords to "Summer Samba," which I play with great pleasure all the time; I'm currently working on some changes to various torch songs ("In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning"; "One for my Baby and One More for the Road") and really enjoying the process. Much more interested in playing such songs or taking on bossa nova than in learning rock riffs or licks, and with five months of lessons lined up, I'm quite hopeful for the coming year.
What else do I want to use as a baseline, so that I can measure how the year plays out?
I'm holding level at about 155 pounds, more or less. (The home scale isn't terribly accurate, so that might be a pound or two off, but I can use it for comparison's sake.) I can drop and do 60 push-ups in a single set, no problem. (Just checked: yup, 60.) That number has been higher in the recent past--I've hit 100 a couple of summers in a row--but only at the end of steady workout regimes. Let's call 60 the baseline as the year begins. I can also do one pull-up, unassisted, and I think those will be my new fitness focus, if I can keep the push-ups going, too. More metrics: according to my friends at RescueTime, I'm spending about 3 hours a week on social networking, and anywhere between 30 minutes and...can this be right? 3 hours on "shopping," which is the category that includes all of my instrument browsing on line.
Wow. So there's something to work on: paring that down. I've managed to do so with "News and Opinion," on which I never seem to spend more than an hour, week by week, and usually less. (Blogs count as "reference and learning." Let's see if we can get that number up, shall we?)
OK--if I were going full-on Bridget Jones here I'd start noting alcohol units and such, but I think this is enough to get me started on the new year.
Off to Home Depot for primer and paint--my son's room awaits!