Even if "home" is a new apartment -- piled high with boxes to unpack...
We've essentially been on the road for six months. And if you count the fact that we were in a furnished apartment (temporary housing through my husband's job) for the year-and-a-half that we were in Switzerland before, that makes two years since we've been settled. It's been a real nostalgia trip to see all of our old stuff again that was in storage.
I've never been big on making "resolutions" just for the sake of New Year's, but this time it's different. This whole past year has been about re-assessing my goals and trying to figure out what I want out of life. My life's strategy thus far has essentially been "follow your nose" -- just grab whatever opportunities present themselves. And my nose has led me to some interesting places: to a Ph.D. in Mathematics, to learning French and moving to Europe, to writing three Java books and a novel, to marriage and a couple of adorable kids, and to this fabulous Internet hobby! Yet I feel like a little tweaking is in order, and maybe even -- now that I'm approaching the mid-life crisis point -- it's time to have a plan.
I've isolated three main categories of goals where I need to put in some effort: (1) career, (2) German, and (3) arts (writing/blogging).
1. Naturally I can't go into too much detail on the Internet about work. I'll just say that I'd never spent much time worrying about what my career goals are, and when I landed in Switzerland, I didn't do a proper job search since I was offered something right away through some professional contacts I'd made while working in France. It wasn't much like what I was doing before, but I'm always happy to try new things. I'm glad to have expanded my tech range (so to speak), but I'm not totally happy with the direction my career was going.
This time I have a plan! I can't promise it's a good plan, but who knows? Maybe I'll find something promising...
2. When I was wandering around Zürich -- about a week before we left for the U.S. -- I was suddenly struck by how much I miss France. Those seven years in Bordeaux, I felt more at home than I've ever felt anywhere else. But looking around at these charming city streets, the shops, the public transportation system that I adore, it became clear that it's not Zürich that's the problem -- it's me.
I had invested so much time and effort -- so much of my heart -- in being a part of France. Here, even though everyone is willing and able to switch to English for me, I hate being the clueless American who has no idea what the hell is going on all the time and whom everyone has to make accommodations for. I hate it! I feel like all those years I spent integrating myself into French culture have suddenly been flushed down the toilet, and I'm back to square one as the bumpkin who just flew in from Cluelessville.
So, I'm done with just musing "ah, I really ought to learn German -- too bad it's such a bother." Now I'm going to actually do it. As I mentioned earlier, I finally finished one complete German (self-learning) course. (I'm kind of irritated to see how little I've understood of the ambient German since I've been back here, but it's a lot more than I understood when I left Zürich six months ago...) And now that I'm back here, I'm finally going to take a real German class. I'll make a point to negotiate the time off with my new employer. (When/if I find a job, that is -- see #1).
3. Long-time readers may or not have noticed how this blog has evolved over the past two years, but there's been a pretty big (gradual) change. Basically, I totally let go of obsessing over my blog stats: who's linking to me and how many people are reading. It cost me too much time and stress. Ironically, it also hurt the quality of the blog because it was hard for me to set aside time for any other artistic/creative projects if all my free time (after work and family) is eaten up by the Internet. I've gone down to a rate of posting slightly less than once per week, but it's more of a pleasure.
One of my side projects has been to learn more about how to create artwork on the computer. The cartoon illustrations I did for Exmormon were fun, but I think I can do better if I learn more techniques.
I've already taken a few baby steps, as you can see in the illustrations of past posts. In dream house I experimented with some silly effects:
And I drew my Thanksgiving Humbug entirely with Scalable Vector Graphics -- a technique I learned for my real job, as you can see here. In a nutshell, it's easier to do line drawings on the computer using SVG than it is to draw freehand and then scan them and color them on the computer (as I was doing before).
I also have some big plans for Exmormon this year, but they're a surprise. ;^)
By the end of 2010, I plan to have a new masthead (and maybe a whole new look) for this blog. There'll be no more "living in