New Year’s Resolutions

I love projects. Most recently finished was this ceiling fix, which may be proof as to why home improvement should not (or perhaps should) be left to an artsy person (NB: painting the ceiling is a lot harder than I expected. Neck cramps everywhere).

Next I plan to make “the very first brownie” using the recipe comissioned by Bertha Palmer for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and maybe use the excess gelatin to make bioplastic. I also have a painting in the works, sprouting onions waiting to go in the dirt and of course, the last book in the Merman trilogy to write (stay posted for updates), not to mention year three of electrical engineering.

Life gets busy when you’re committed to pulling every last thing you imagine into the real world (in some way or another). I think it goes back to when I was a child. My first dream job, decided at the very mature age of four, was to be a waitress.

At first glance, pretending to be a waitress might not seem the most imaginative scenario that could have been invented by a novelist-turned-painter of avian emergency exits. It was, however, very useful, because it allowed me to practice formulating plans on how I could make something like that happen. My family dined in restaurants often when I grew up; I had a general idea of the expectations involved with waitressing and could think of ways to achieve them. I took pretending very seriously as a child. It was practice for growing up.

As the years went by, my world expanded and so did the possibilities I saw for myself. I’m far more imaginative now than I was then in most respects, but the fundamental technique of “practical pretending” remains the same. I had to learn how to sit comfortably with [increasingly unusual and crazy] ideas long enough to make them doable. In the end, the implemented version may not look like it was first imagined, but I’ve found most fantasies can exist in the real world in some way, if you’re brave enough to let them.

In that sense, “new year’s resolutions” pop up all the time. I never really related them to the first of the year until a few days ago. An argument over cheese blintzes led to yet another project being added to my list, this time right at the start of January. It was an aha moment for me. A lot of times I’m very focused on getting to the end result as fast as I can, but not so with the new year. Though I probably wouldn’t mind more of a celebration, historically new year’s day mostly just marks the beginning of three months of wrongly written and then corrected dates on papers for me. The year itself, surprisingly enough, is the big to-do.

Perhaps it’s like these stairs in the Rookery, my favorite Chicago building (coincidentally designed by the same architect who masterminded the Columbian Exposition… Daniel Burnham was a rock star and is worth a lookup, but back to the stairs). Getting to the top of the Rookery stairs really just marks the beginning of another journey. Their beauty is seen best when you’re climbing.