Site Meter Peculiar Susceptibility: settling

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


I have a bit of a fraught relationship to New Year resolutions. As a young girl, I would resolve to be more kind (a totally unnecessary goal) or to work harder at school (again, I was already earnest enough as to render this completely silly). By the time I started taking Latin (I was ten), I would mutter things like - "New Year resolutions are irrelevant - they're based on the Julian calendar, which is arbitrary and impirialistic." I spent much of high school not eating, thereby making extraneous any kind of resolution about dieting.

[When I imagine my earnestness as a child, I sound something like Marjane Satrapi imagines she sounded:]

Last year, I decided to revisit the idea of resolving myself to something. I went against my character, though, and decided to resolve to do something that would make my life more joyful: it was to see more live music. [Some quick highlights: Santogold, Neko Case, Aa, Wolf Parade, Band of Horses, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Cat Power, Shearwater, Grizzly Bear, Okkervil River, The National, Feist, Richard Thompson, Carl Blau, Ian Thomas, Camera Obscura, Duran/Schloss/Mitri, Yo La Tengo, Bill Callahan, Sir Richard Bishop, Richard Buckner, Damien Jurado, Ladybug Mecca, the Mountain Goats, Vic Spills, Burnt Sugar, Modest Mouse, The Winterpills, Mates of State, the Drones, Saul Williams, et al, et al, et al.] For what it's worth, it worked. It made my life feel more full; it created a context in which I found myself able to revel about beauty and creativity.

I thought I would continue the practice of making a resolution that would result in the sense that I lead a more complete life. I had been making all kinds of grand proclamations over the past two weeks not settling in 2008.

settling clerks, clearing deposits with systematic zeal

I thought to myself, and I may have repeated to others, that in 2008 I will not settle for acquaintances that are unsatisfactory. I will not settle - or pay a rent in - a city in which I don't want to live. I will not put myself into situations that are not fulfilling (and certainly not into situations that are derogatory). I will not be complacent in the face of my own mediocrity.

But it dawned on me, as I was looking at the etymology of "settle" for this entry. I haven't reconciled myself in 2007. To wit:
- I wanted to be a more active poet, so I created a writing group, I started a blog, I made a couple dozen submissions, I attended every reading I could schedule in, I talked with writers every chance I got, I read voraciously, I drafted a book. I DRAFTED A BOOK.
- I was uncertain about the career path I am taking and so I made arrangements to teach college courses, I have actively researched other possibilities, and I have found other aspects of my life around which to center my identity.
- I felt incomplete and underdeveloped returning to Connecticut. [Stalling, here, for time before an embarrassing confession...] Looking around my house, which I have inhabited for just shy of a year, I notice that I have not settled. Not in the least. I have neglected to get the two or three additional bookshelves I require. I haven't reupholstered the couch. I have art and mirrors leaning against the walls on which they would look best hung. (Truly, they're placed exactly below where they ought to hang; all it would require is a hammer and some nails - I've got those; I even know where they are.)

What, then, to do but to build off this restlessness, this reluctance to set false roots.

And so: 2008 is the year of (still) not settling. Not, at least, until I find that with which I can reconcile myself, content.



betsy q. bramble said...

i wish I had known you like Neko Case...she's performing at the Calvin in Northampton on Feb. 2. I managed to get tickets for me and Faith, second row center..quite like how we saw Yo La Tengo. Only this time I'm assuming there won't be a girl sitting in front of us that we will eventually enjoy drinking coffee with. Although I shouldn't automatically count that out.

In 2008, Faith and I will also be leaving Connecticut. We aren't sure to where yet, but we certainly share in your resolution to stop paying rent in a city we don't want to live in. Time to get out. Any ideas for your destination?

Meghan Maguire Dahn said...

That is going to be an amazing concert. She's so great in smaller venues. I'll be in New York that week and weekend for the AWP conference, but I will be thinking of you guys, there.

I'm not positive where I'm heading, yet, either. New York is a front-runner, but I'm not counting out Chicago, DC, or Philadelphia, yet. I'm just trying to stay open about it.

Let's have coffee and talk about relocating. Soon.