This photo was taken recently in the rotating restaurant at the CN Tower, 360°. It was not a birthday or anniversary dinner, but rather an event hosted by Death Ray’s (very generous) employers. That smear of blue behind me is the view of Lake Ontario from over three hundred metres in the air.
This year, I:
- defended a Master’s thesis
- started design school
- signed with an agent
- drafted a novel (and survived the workshop critique!)
- attended my first Worldcon
- wore a sari (hush; it’s harder than it looks!)
- completed the research component of a major project on K-dorama fansubs
- was accepted into the year’s most anticipated anthology, and got some good reviews
- began blogging for Tor
- did my first reading of a whole story with an actual Q&A session afterward
Looking at that list, it seems like I accomplished a lot. But the truth is that I could have done a lot more, if I were a little less lazy. But even writing those words, I know I’m subtly sabotaging myself. One interesting thing that I learned about myself this year was how much time I allow feelings like that to take from me. For Lent, Dave challenged me (teasingly) to give up guilt. At first I thought of it as a joke, but then I started taking it seriously. When I noticed myself spiraling into thoughts of what a lacklustre person I am, I tried to lift the needle off the record and stop listening. My guilt would always be there, I told myself. It wasn’t going anywhere. I could come back to it, when the forty days were up. Surprisingly, I reaped hours of productivity from this process, because I wasn’t spending that time berating myself with abstract value judgments of my own character. (This was another thing I noticed: I spend a lot of time blaming myself for adjectives, not verbs. As much as I hold to the idea that existence precedes essence, it may be important for me to remember, on occasion, that making a bad decision and being a bad person can in fact be different.) I could focus on the next task because I didn’t have to take the time to tell myself how much I’d screwed everything up.
Of course, the event that dominated the latter third of my twenty-sixth year was SquidGate. At Christmas, I said that in lieu of gifts, I wanted money for Peter’s defence. Despite the quality of that defence, he was found guilty. So now for my birthday, I’m hoping that his judge shows clemency and hands down a light sentence. And I’m hoping for the peace, grace, and strength to handle it, even if he doesn’t. I’m spending today at home, trying to establish some sense of calm. If I can dismiss my sense of Catholic guilt, then maybe I can do the same for my anxiety. I know that how I feel about this situation doesn’t change the situation itself, but it can make me a more supportive friend and that’s what I need to be.