As seen on the Chronicle of Higher Education (side note: I really like ProfHacker) and the Alaska Library Association’s Facebook page, there’s a challenge called “reverb10.” (Twitter tag: #reverb10.) Goal: write 750 words every day in December, as an exercise in reflection on the year that’s ending and in setting goals for the year that’s beginning. I’m a day late starting, so this may be longer than the standard post; I’ll make some attempt to address both of the prompts they have up so far. A note, though: I don’t believe in blogging just to blog. That’s never been “my thing.” (I have enough trouble blogging when I have something to say, for one—I have two posts started and unfinished, right now—and I admit I have unsubscribed to RSS feeds when I’ve sensed that kind of behavior from authors I’ve otherwise liked, in the past.) So if there’s a prompt that really doesn’t speak to me, I’ll acknowledge it on Twitter, maybe, but I won’t waste your time, or mine, with a pointless blog post.
December 1: The first prompt asks me to give one word for 2010, then to imagine myself a year from now—what word would I like to apply to 2011? I’ve looked over my calendar, just to refresh my memory on what has happened this year. As is often the case in December, I find myself floored by how much has happened: I got [legally] married, my husband completed his half of our staggered move and joined me in Alaska, he got a job, we met some very cool people, I planned most of the technology (and a fair number of non-technical details) for our state library conference, I got on a health kick and lost more than 10 percent of my body mass (with more to go), I wrote an implementation plan for my library’s social media presence and got enough people on board to make it happen, I completed my first year in the state and at my library, I picked up a couple of new hobbies (cross-stitch and cooking), I attended a leadership retreat and pretty much immediately came home and volunteered to run for office in both of my favorite library organizations, and here I am, living through my second winter in Alaska—it’s looking like it’ll be a cold one, too!
Taking all of that into account, I think the word that comes to mind—maybe I’ve been primed by looking at discovery solutions all week—is “normalization.” I’m trying to get comfortable in my first librarian job—which will (I assume!) be the first [non-graduate-assistantship] job I will ever have had last more than two years, as embarrassing as that is. (But you’ve gotta love that verb tense.) I’m trying to get used to living so far away from everything and everyone I’ve ever known, in this rather strange state. I have a new-to-me social group—several, really—and am still trying to see where, or even if, I fit within them. Ditto coworkers, though the option of not fitting in isn’t really there, unless I want to leave Anchorage. I’m trying to stretch my leadership wings a bit, both within my library and in the field at large. Closer to home, although it’s really just an issue of semantics and credit scores, I have to acknowledge that there’s some change inherent in being legally married. On top of all that, I’m just generally running my life a little differently, by trying to cook at home more often, making exercise a regular part of my schedule for the first time since high school, and trying to save money so we can [one day] buy a house. All of this together, at once, is like relearning how to live my entire life, in a lot of ways. I’m readjusting my approach to so many things and trying to fit into a different mold than I ever have before. I’ve been shifting my comfort zones, maybe more this year than any year before it. In short, I’d say I’m trying to normalize.
With luck and effort, that process will continue and probably go through a few iterations and maybe taper off to some kind of stability in 2011. So what do I want next year to be about? I have a combination of hopes and plans—I really hope I win one of my elections (winning both would be more of a stretch on my time, of course), but, win or lose, I will definitely continue to get more involved in my professional organizations; I will learn Photoshop; I hope to, with the help of my Web Development Team, make drastic improvements to my library’s website, including possibly a large-scale redesign; I will train for (and I hope to complete) my first triathlon; my husband and I will publicly exchange vows (so the marriage isn’t just legal :)), which I hope is a meaningful and fun day for everyone involved; I will present at my second library conference (the first was fewer than 20 people, though, so this feels bigger); I will probably run my first solo instruction session; I plan to bike to work all summer and maybe even some of the winter; I will break a record for time spent working for one employer; I hope to finish driving the Alaskan Highway (I’m just short of Tok through Fairbanks, and then I’m done); I will celebrate a milestone birthday. You know, marriage, big birthday, several other big goals. I think “milestone” is my word for 2011.
December 2: Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?
I don’t consider myself a writer. At least not primarily. So I would say a large portion of my day is spent on activities that do not contribute to my writing: I answer help desk tickets to fix database and ejournal issues; I poke around with PHP and HTML (less often than I’d like, actually); I attend meetings; I write agendas and meeting minutes for my committees; I make or buy coffee/tea; I go to the gym (or at least for a walk, time which I could, but usually do not, use for writing ideas); and I cook (ditto), just as a quick list. On the bright side, in making that list, I thought of a number of things I do that probably contribute to my writing, or should contribute to my writing, at least a little bit: I monitor social media and RSS feeds; I staff the reference desk; I read books and articles on usability; I email (oh god do I email); I fiddle with various technical things; I chat with colleagues… and so on. There’s plenty to write about. I just don’t make time for it. Hence this exercise, perhaps. (Am I in it for the writing practice, or for the introspection? Both, I guess.)
I’m giving this one short shrift, I guess, but that’s all I really want to say about it. It’s late, and I have bread to bake for our holiday potluck. Thanks for bearing with me through such a long post. The rest will be shorter. Significantly. ;)