Pity the poor month, January. It has such a Big Act to follow and so much that needs to be accomplished!
We’re now just two weeks past Christmas. Twelfth Night has gone, and the holiday decorations are either put away or in transit. The stacks of treats have dwindled; the refrigerator is emptying itself of eggnog. Calendars are being recycled, doctor’s appointments being scheduled, performance reviews due. In my office days, end-of-year recaps and summaries were routine, but we don’t tend to do them for ourselves. We should. Newspaper articles publish their end-of-year advice too soon, before New Year’s, when we’re still making merry. Now is when we should pay attention.
January has a useful function: take stock and clean house. If you’re reading this, odds are you’re a writer. If you’re a blogger, you know what to clean! Spruce up the website, try a new theme, or just take down pages that you know people don’t read. Remove those plug-ins that seemed important two years ago. Update your Bio. You can change at least a word, can’t you?
If you’re not a writer, there’s still stuff to do. Schedule the re-roofing. It might not be until April, but you can look at the calendar. Sweep out a few cobwebs while you’re putting away the ornaments. Update your resume; it’s easier to do a little every year than to let the changes pile up over a decade.
It’s January; channel your inner Janus. He was the God of Doors, which seems perfectly appropriate as we close the door on 2022 and open the door on 2023.
“Why is my phone telling me the weather in Seattle? I didn’t ask for that!”
My long-suffering spouse looks at me, sighing, and says, “That’s Google Assistant.”
“I didn’t turn on Google Assistant. I didn’t give it permission. Why is it doing this?”
She shouts towards my phone, “Hey Google….” Nothing happens. “It must not recognize me.”
“Why would it recognize you? It’s not on.” Ignoring my own retort, I bark at my phone. “Hey, you Google…”
Nothing, of course, happens, other than a cheery notification that tells me what the baseball scores are from games that happened seven hours ago. The baseball games which I had already watched and could already tell you who scored what when with runners on base over which pitch count.
Off the Grid Is Impossible
I do not Hey Google. I respect you if you do, but I don’t believe in talking to objects. I don’t believe we should have robots listening throughout the house to our every activity. I don’t have seeing eyes peering out the front door to spy on mischievous-looking passers-by nor do I have glowing orbs in my bedroom, blinking to notify me that there might be a lost dog three miles away.
I have Norton Juster to thank for a smidgeon of inspiration for today’s post because it’s in his landmark book, The Phantom Tollbooth, where our hero Miles encounters The Doldrums.
Beware the Terrible Trivium
If you haven’t read this masterpiece (or recently re-read your dog-eared copy), I highly recommend it. It’s a kid’s book–or YA as it might be categorized today–but really it’s full of metaphors, so think of it like a more approachable Pilgrim’s Progress. Miles takes a series of journeys through an odd country, encountering strange allegorical creatures like the Spelling Bee and the Humbug. He becomes embroiled in a war between letters and numbers, King Azaz and the Mathemagician, and must battle monsters to rescue the princesses, Rhyme and Reason. I found the Terrible Trivium demon, the dapper man with no face, who sets Miles to tasks like draining a lake with an eye-dropper, to be particularly disturbing.