(Ir)resolution

After a somewhat unplanned hiatus, I’m trying to get back in the blog habit.  Visiting family and attending MLA disrupted many of my usual web rituals more than I expected, and I’ve spent much of New Years Day simply revisiting blogs I haven’t read in a couple of weeks while a number of college football bowl games play in the background–the overly insistent pageantry ringing a somewhat false tone in an ear of economic difficulty.  I’m in the process of composing at least two posts, an update on my planning for my upcoming graduate seminar and a review of some of my favorite films, TV shows, videos, etc. from 2008.  But I’d like to use the space of the blog to look back a little bit on 2008 and look ahead to some new goals for 2009.

Like many bloggers, I’m well aware that 2008 has been a difficult year.  As Filmbarin notes in his top ten film list, many of us have lost jobs this year.  Others have lost homes or faced difficulties paying off debts.  We’ve also seen the repercussions of poor environmental stewardship and of combative foreign policies. Certainly the economy was one of the most frequent topics at this year’s Modern Language Association conference (as discussed in this solid LA Times article), as many of my colleagues and I worried about a tightening job market.  Knowing that Barack Obama will be taking over in three weeks is some consolation, even if his choice to invite Rick Warren to lead a prayer at the inauguration is disheartening.

But in the midst of all of these problems, some thing have gone well for me.  Thanks to some long hours this summer and countless pots of coffee, my book has moved much closer to publication.  I’ve also produced quite a bit of work on viral political videos, including one essay already in print with Popular Communication (I also talked about these issues on a New Hampshire NPR show, “Word of Mouth”).  I also completed two half marathons this year, running them only about two weeks apart, something I never really thought I would do, so naturally I’m pretty happy with all of those accomplishments.

That being said, 2008 feels like something of a “lost” year.  In trying to think about favorite movies, books, videos, or TV shows, my mind remains a bit of a blur.  As Filmbrain implies, a weaker slate of films might be partially to blame, and living in North Carolina does provide me with less access to some of the high-profile Oscar-bait films (Frost/Nixon, The Wrestler, etc).  But even if I had access, I’m not sure how many I would have seen, in part because I’ve been preoccupied by other things this year.  To be sure, the book has occupied quite a bit of emotional, mental, and even physical energy, but I also found myself reading political news blogs far more often–thankfully I was able to turn that into a research interest–and like many people, I felt almost as if my life was on hold for much of October and early November as I awaited election results that seemed like they would never come.

I mention all of this to say that I’ve only made one significant resolution this year, and that is to relax and reassess, to sort out where I’ve been and where I’d like to go next.  When I joked to my friends at a New Years party last night that I was planning “to be more of a slacker this year,” I wasn’t entirely serious, but I do want to spend more time doing the things that led to the completion of my first book: reading blogs and other writing on film and media, watching movies and TV shows, and providing myself with at least a little space for new ideas to emerge.

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