A Decade of New Years

I’ve written a New Year’s Eve journal entry every year for the past decade. Whether on paper or on the computer, whether written before midnight or after, it’s been the one constant in my journal-keeping for the past ten years. There’s something about wrapping up the year and putting it down in writing that appeals to me, I guess. There’s something about looking back, even if I write about nothing more than what I did on that particular day, that helps ease me into the next year.

I woke up early and Stephanie woke up late. In the in-between time, I roamed the Internet, looking at Sims 2 sites, finding out all sorts of interesting things you can do in the game. When she got up, we futzed around for a bit, but eventually decided to spend the afternoon watching the extended version of The Return of the King. It was fantabulous and I was once again mortified at how incomplete the theatrical release of a LOTR movie feels compared to the more definitive version.

Once we got off our keesters and each took a shower, we headed over to Mom and Dad’s for the evening. We visited with John for a while, before he took off, and Grandma as well, and it was just a nice, pleasant evening for the most part. We did have a little discusson about unemployment that got me down, but they did a good job of picking me back up and all was fine again.

I got to thinking about which version of me I like better—the 1994 version or the 2004 version. A lot of me thinks that the 1994, seventeen year old that I was, was a much more together guy than the twenty-seven year old I am now. But, then again, I think that’s probably just a grass is always greener type of thing, or just the years dulling what an idiot I was.

It’s just really strange to look back on a decade. I’ve always considered 94 a cornerstone in my personal development. How far have I come since then? Some days I feel light-years away from the person I was, some days I feel like I haven’t changed at all.

Surrounded by the Spiral

I didn’t think it was possible that any of the very cool presents I plucked out from underneath the Christmas tree this year would be any cooler than The Sims 2 has been. This afternoon, while I was eating lunch, I found out I was wrong. I took a listen to the Dolby 5.1 Surround mix of Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral and I was absolutely blown away.

There so much stuff going on sonically in the piece that you’ve never heard before. They are the same songs, the same tracks, but with the extra speakers involved, you get to experience it in a whole new way.

Truth be told, there were some moments where I thought the levels on the satellite speakers were a bit loud, but generally I just thought the whole thing was phenomenal. “Closer” was fabulous, “A Warm Place” was sadder and more gorgeous than ever, and I think “The Becoming” got the best treatment. It just feels machine-like at the end, degrading into noise. The whole thing was a real trip.

I also got my requisite Sims 2 fix in and I just finished my first read-through of all the manuscripts we’ll be workshopping at my residency beginning a week from today, but it was listening to The Downward Spiral that really did it for me today. If you’re a fan at all, you should check it out. Or, you should come visit and I’ll play it for you.

Slacker

I spent nearly the entire day in front of the computer playing The Sims 2. This means that I got nothing done on my website, nothing done on my novel, and next to nothing done on my schoolwork. But right now I really don’t care. I had a blast playing the game, the most fun I’ve had wasting time in a good, long while, and I’m not about to sit here and feel guilty about it.

The game is addictive—there’s no denying that. It’s also pretty to look at, offers endless variations in the gameplay, and just really damn interesting. I mean, I’m not a big video game guy. There are only a couple of games that hold my interest. This one I could play for a couple days straight and not get tired of it.

I did run into some troubles with my video card early on, which necessitated downloading a new driver, but then it was smooth sailing. I played a few of the pre-made families and then started a single-character family of my own, because I found that the easier way to get your head around the gameplay during the first game.

The Sim I created and spent most of my time playing was Samantha Sinn. Her lifetime aspirations are for romance and she’s already made out with two different townsfolk (one male and one female). She’s quickly advancing up the “Slacker” career ladder.

I mean, come on: how cool is it that you can advance along a career path titled, Slacker?

Mr. Incredible

One of the presents I got for Christmas that I wasn’t expecting was a Mr. Incredible t-shirt. I still haven’t seen The Incredibles, but that’s a whole other story. Anyway, when I put on the shirt after my shower this afternoon I was feeling like Mr. Incredible. Today I managed to do some substantial work on the webpage, I managed to get a fair bit of reading done and a fair bit of writing, and I even had time to finally install The Sims 2 and give it a whirl.

Of course, when Stephanie got home with news about work, I didn’t feel so incredible anymore.

It turns out that her job was expecting her to be out of there as of Thursday. She’d been forthcoming with them about her desire to find a job more closely related to arts and education once she was done with school, but they took that to mean that she was definitely leaving, new job or not, at the end of the year.

So, they’re going to keep her on for a while, but we ended up kicking her job search into high-gear tonight and we both ended up fighting off bouts of depression about our situation before we finally sucked it up and moved on.

It does seem to me that we never get a break, that there’s always some obstacle standing in the way of our contentedness, but I’m trying not to think of it that way. What I’m trying to think of instead is how cool The Sims 2 was and how awesome it was to be writing again, for the second day in a row.

That’s what I’m trying to think about. Wish me luck in succeeding in that endeavor.

Productive Monday

I had a fairly productive Monday. I read four of the ten manuscripts I need to read for the residency, I got some work done on the web page, and, most importantly, I started writing again. I only got about three pages of material down for Chapter 8 of my novel, but they were three good pages and that’s, well, good.

I even took some time out to visit with Dad and John, as I had to return John’s camera and a suitcase I borrowed from my parents but didn’t end up using for the New Orleans trip. I didn’t stay long, as I wanted to get back here and get more work done and for a while I felt guilty about that, about not having spent more time hanging out with my brother, but then I kicked myself and I was better.

Stef came home and we watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, one of the plethora of DVDs we got for Christmas. I still marvel at how the third film is leaps and bounds ahead of the first in terms of story, direction, and acting. I really dig where the film series is going and I hope they’re able to pull off making all seven of them eventually.