By the Numbers: January 2014

Let it be known, for the record, that 2014 and I did not get off to a good start. I almost don’t even want to recap January, because January and I didn’t get along so well. Needless to say, I’m really glad that January is over, and I’m hoping for a New Year “re-boot” with the Lunar New Year.

Books

Total read so far this year: 3
(target = 36 total in 2014)

I didn’t write a long blog post about books this month. I haven’t felt much like writing anything (more on that in the next section). I did read three books, even though, for a while there, I thought I wouldn’t get through any books this month. I kept picking up books, starting them, getting bored, and putting them down.

The first book I finished (but not the first I started) was The Circle by Dave Eggers. I read it for a book club at work, but then didn’t get to go to the book club because I was sick. The book is about “the horrors” of living in a world with social media. The company in the book appears to be a poorly disguised version of Google. And, the entire thing comes off like a luddite hipster rant about the evils of technology. I have a lot of thoughts on that one, but they probably deserve their own post… one that I should have written when I didn’t go to that book club.

The next book I finished was Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue by Hugh Howey. I’d started this shortly after the New Year, but got bogged down in the middle. I still haven’t read the series he’s become famous for (Wool). Eventually I will, but when I found out that his first series was a space opera featuring a sassy heroine who gets kicked out of her space fleet military academy, I knew I had to read that first. The story and the writing are a little rough, but overall I enjoyed it enough that I’ll probably pick up the others in the series. I think this was his first novel, so I imagine the writing gets better…

And then, last weekend, I finally finished Dare Me by Megan Abbott. I started this on New Year’s Eve and thought it would be a quick, fun read. Nope. This book just dragged on and on for me. Her descriptions of teenage girls are vivid and realistic. Her ability to get into the mind of these high school cheerleaders and write believably from their perspective is impressive. Still… something just didn’t click for me. I don’t think I ever really cared about the characters or their story. Or maybe I’m just not a fan of contemporary / realistic YA.

Overall, January was a disappointing reading month for me, if only because I didn’t read anything I really LOVED this month. It’s like I keep sampling all the chocolates in the box and, even though they’re chocolate, and what’s not to like about chocolate, they just aren’t satisfying my sweet tooth. I just can’t find my favorite flavor combination.

This last week I started craving real, paper books. I still love my Kindle, but I think I’m going to change it up and read some paperback books in February. I have a bunch in my TBR pile on the bookcase. So, maybe I’ll give my Kindle a rest this month…

Writing

Gah! I am embarrassed to say that I think I went backwards this month. I did almost no writing, and then, when I did squeeze in some writing time, I decided to pull an entire section of my draft out because it felt like a massive backstory dump. And then I got hung up in the middle of my story and completely stalled for weeks because I just didn’t know what needed to happen to bridge from point A to point B in the plot. In the end, I think I had a net increase of about 1000 words. Pitiful.

I keep asking myself if I just want to ditch this story and move on, but I still think there’s something there. I just need to finish this first (really bad) draft so I can start getting to work on fixing it. The problem is, I want to write it perfect the first time (impossible), which causes me to stall when I am unsure of the exact, perfect way forward. Sigh.

Swimming

This month I swam:

  • 12 of 31 days (target was ~18 days)
  • 24.3 miles (target was ~36 miles)

I couldn’t swim for the first 10 days of January because I got an ear infection on New Year’s Eve and had to take the anti-bacteria drops for the full cycle to get rid of the funk. Oddly enough, it didn’t really hurt at all. But apparently I had some serious junk up in there.

My first day back in the pool this year was the Santa Rosa Flower Power Swim Meet. I had signed up to swim all the 200s except 200 back. I ended up dropping time on my 200 free (my first race of the day), but swam horribly in all my other events. I tried hard to tell myself it didn’t matter, and it was completely understandable because I’d been out of the water for two weeks. But I couldn’t make myself listen.

Then, after that first race and about a week of training, I came down with a cold that kept me out of the water for several days leading up to my second meet of the year, the Fog City Quadrathon. After having been out of the pool for most of the week, I got one practice in the day before the race. Somehow I managed to beat all my seed times and swim personal bests in all four of the freestyle events in the meet, even though I was still congested. This renewed some of my hope for this racing season.

I’ve had too few practices this month, and most of them felt slow and crummy. The last two have felt really good, though. Today’s practice (technically a February swim) was particularly good, though I had to cut it short before I was really ready to get out of the pool.

Next weekend I have my third meet of the year, and my first chance to drop some time in my 100 breaststroke. At this point, I’m just hoping I can stay healthy and keep swimming strong practices through the rest of the season.

Pop Culture of the Month

I bought two new albums at the tail end of December, one of which I’ve been listening to almost every time I have a chance this month: My Head is an Animal by Of Monsters and Men. I’m not sure why I like it so much. The story teller in me especially loves this video:

We watched five good but not great movies, and two fabulous, lovable, perfect episodes of BBC’s Sherlock, Season 3. I’m excited and sad to watch the final episode of this season tomorrow. I hate the long wait between new seasons of Sherlock!

So there you have it. January. Done. Here’s to the Year of the Horse!

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