Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: Year In Review

To manage my day-to-day affairs, dealings, connections, and errands, I keep a planner - an honest-to-god, pen-and-paper planner. Nothing digital. I began keeping one two years ago to the day, in the hopes of better managing my time, and in the hopes of feeling more accomplished at the end of the day as I reviewed what I had finished. It is rather bulky, to be sure, too large to fit in my coat or my pocket; and, sometimes, it appears to be more trouble than it's worth. There are times where I see my colleagues with their Blackberries and PDAs, and I wonder how it would be to have one of those; to be able to sit on the bus next to someone who is supposedly your girlfriend, and idly hold their hand while you surf the web with the other hand, searching for slick deals on the next issue of Humungo Garbanzo BOLD Responses, while your distracted odalisque does the same with her unheld hand, the limp connection of flesh between you serving as a kind of dull wire carrying a weak current.

Not that I criticize; this is an efficient use of available resources, as what else is a man to do with his free hand? The impulse to hold a neighboring limb should be thought of as the fulfillment of some nameless urge, such as Edmund Hillary's reason for scaling Mount Everest - because it was there. The only danger is that this most basic form of human contact should divert your attention from browsing  Humungo Garbanzo; after all, there is the distinct possibility that concentrating on the held hand would lead to an unnecessary focus on details one would otherwise ignore, such as lightly caressing the ensheathed tendons - strong as hawsers, yet soft and yielding; or maybe the almost imperceptible beads of sweat budding along her palm and absorbed into yours; or perhaps even the faint buzz of excitement as you wrap the sensitive tips of your digits around the heel of her hand, feeling the delicately cambered hills of her knuckles.

But I digress; the important point is that I use a paper planner, if for no other reason than that there is nothing like the satisfaction of placing a nice fat checkmark next to a recently completed errand, or being able to go back, flipping through the pages, and seeing what has been done, what has been left undone, and what has simply been scotched and crossed out, either due to negligence or in favor or something more important. In honor of the end of the year, from my planner I have chosen one entry per week for the year of 2012; I hope it is illuminating as to how I spend my time and my thoughts.

  1. Friday, January 6th: Test E-Prime 2.0 drivers
  2. Tuesday, January 10th: Write Attitudes paper (scratched out; I dropped the class that week)
  3. Thursday, January 19th: Read Chpt. 4 Clinical Neuroanatomy
  4. Friday, January 27th: Return Beethoven sonatas
  5. Saturday, February 4th: Grade remaining P433 papers; celebrate with some Keystone Light. Make sure it is flat and warm, just how you like it.
  6. Wednesday, February 8th: Put in E-bay bid for whiskey decanter shaped liked human skull
  7. Tuesday, February 14th: Do taxes. Get at that money.
  8. Wednesday, February 23rd: Work on CNS poster; replace 'S' in name with dollar sign
  9. Monday, February 27th: 11:15am, proctor P433 class. Note to self: check whether the words "Proctor" and "Proctologist" are related.
  10. Friday, March 9th: Do atanh (?) on new params. (Looking back on this, I'm still not sure what it means.)
  11. Monday, March 12th: Surface maps of MO2. Try to let people know you are cool and connected.
  12. Thursday, March 22nd: Psych yourself up enough to put a nine-volt battery on your tongue. Do NOT faint like you did the last time.
  13. Tuesday, March 27th: AFNI bootcamp; schmooze with the AFNI crew. Laugh at their jokes.
  14. Thursday, April 6th: You coward. Try the battery thing again.
  15. Saturday, April 14th: Get up the nerve to ask out the cute waitress who works at Smokin' Jack's Rib Shack.
  16. Thursday, April 19th: Coward!
  17. Wednesday, April 25th: Carpet-bomb friends with emails begging them to do your study.
  18. Thursday, May 3rd: Begin writing quals exams
  19. Sunday, May 13th: Call mom; ask for more money. Also, wish her a happy Mother's Day
  20. Saturday, May 19th: Order The Magic Mountain / Lolita
  21. Wednesday, May 23rd: Send FIR results to A-Team
  22. Saturday, June 2nd: Call Carl's Carpet Cleaning (motto: A carpet stain, ain't no thang)
  23. Saturday, June 9th: Go to wedding; share hotel room with girl who has ambiguous relationship status. Also, find a store that sells salad spinners.
  24. Saturday, June 16th: Run Grandma's Marathon
  25. Wednesday, June 20th: Work on quals
  26. Thursday, June 28th: Work on quals
  27. Friday, July 6th: Work on quals
  28. Wednesday, July 11th: Work on quals
  29. Tuesday, July 17th: Pick up plant (aka, Chick Magnet) for living room. Also, work on quals.
  30. Friday, July 27th: Work on quals
  31. Friday, August 3rd: Quals defense. Remember to make flattering comment about Josh's new haircut. Squeezy peasy lemon easy.
  32. Wednesday, August 8th: Visit grandparents
  33. Friday, August 17th: Prepare for semester 
  34. Saturday, August 25th: (Only one word here: "Subscribe". Probably will remain a mystery for the rest of my life.)
  35. Wednesday, August 29th: Purchase Barry Manilow tix
  36. Friday, September 7th: Pick up whiskey skull decanter
  37. Thursday, September 13th: Make potato battery
  38. Friday, September 21st: Attend performance of Don Giovanni
  39. Wednesday, September 26th: Memorize Porphyria's Lover
  40. Sunday, October 7th: Milwaukee Marathon. (Remember not to run the first half too fast, lest you blow up and look like a fool for the last hour)
  41. Saturday, October 13th: Review student papers
  42. Wednesday, October 17th: Send birthday wishes to the Grandpas
  43. Friday, October 26th: Contact that really smart Iranian kid for help with computational neuroscience homework
  44. Monday, October 29th: Send Debussy fingerings to piano student
  45. Tuesday, November 6th: Vote for the right person
  46. Friday, November 16th: JAGS
  47. Saturday, November 24th: Buy eyedrops
  48. Saturday, December 1st: Accompany for Ryan's senior recital; play at John Cage Centenary
  49. Sunday, December 9th: Write Carleton Reunion Committee
  50. Thursday, December 13th: Lunch with Ale. Be a man and demand that she pay.
  51. Thursday, December 20th: Observe old lady back van into train station and obliterate it. (This actually happened)
  52. Sunday, December 30th: Reflect on life

Well, that about does it; as you can see, I have a full life. And this by no means captures everything that goes on; for example, last week I drank sixty beers, finished a novel I began back in July, and had my flu shot. I walked to a grocery store three miles from my apartment, and skipped two miles on the way back home. I made a payment on my student loans, pounded a jar of Nutella within forty-eight hours, and read the preamble of the U.S. Constitution. One day I actually put on sunscreen, and didn't even directly look at the sun. I washed the dishes - twice - and organized the clothes in my closet according to color. I used a high-tech machine to analyze the chemical composition of the sticky stuff they put on lint rollers, and read a Wikipedia entry on Hector Berlioz. And to top it off, I accidentally got high sniffing a box of Clorox wipes and recorded my vision into a screenplay which, I am told by a reliable source, has a good chance of success at the box office. And my parents always told me that I would turn out to be a good-for-nothing bum. Well, look at me now!

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