Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Every Christmas I make a mix CD. It’s a list of what’s been keeping my head above water all year, as music is my life blood. I try and include a handful of classics and a strong showing of new releases. I also try and include quite a few Australian artists, especially given that I send the yearly effort to quite a few people overseas. (I don’t know why that is so important to me, but it’s the policy of my favourite radio station to play 40% Australian music. We can get kind of parochial here.)

There are some rules. I can’t use artists or bands I have used previously, but side and solo projects are OK. And I try and add some new people to the list of those receiving it every year. That’s basically it. But it’s a list that I start compiling in January. I’m not saying I write anything down but it’s something I think about a lot. Usually at work while doing something mindless or on a long train trip. (I take a lot of long train trips, I’ll be talking about that at some point. Oh, you say, I can’t wait for that effort.) I get excited about a song that helps me get through the day and I derive pleasure from the idea that someone else will hear it because I sent it to them. And maybe it will help them get through a bad day too.

These are the two lists I think about, every now and again, all year:  what’s on the CD and who’ll be getting it. Most people write lists for the store, for what they want to get done over the weekend, for what they’re packing to take on vacation. I don’t do that. I work from memory 99% of the time. The only reason I have a calendar is to keep track of the weddings for which I am booked and nothing else. I swear this doesn’t mean that I forget social or work commitments or neglect to do things – I don’t. I just find it works for me.

I’ve always had a fantastically good memory and most of the time it’s great because it has allowed me to skate academically and get away with stuff at various jobs. But it creeps people out sometimes, that I remember personal plans and details; occasionally I have to pretend to forget stuff, particularly early on in friendships or other relationships. It’s as though we are wary of anyone actually paying attention to what we are saying and remembering it.

This is a time of year when a lot of people make lists. And certainly several of my favourite bloggers have talked about lists a lot this year. Some of them embrace them wholeheartedly and others reject them as being frightening and limiting. I don’t have a life list and I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions. I’m the sort of person who wants to start over almost every day so making a list once a year doesn’t really suit me.

But I’ve talked already about this coming year and what it means to me. This is the year I want to find out what I can do intellectually and I want to develop a work ethic where my studies are concerned. It doesn’t help that the academic year here is the same as the calendar year, there are bigger and yet fewer chances for us to talk ourselves into things at which we will fail a couple of weeks into January. I am dreaming big for myself for the first time in a very long time.

So if I was making a list, it would be a very short one. I want to work harder and I want to be more adventurous. It’s as simple as that.

I’m not very good at venturing outside my comfort zone. I’m someone who gets attached to places and people and even to just ordering the same thing off the menu at my favourite couple of places. You’d think that someone who clearly loves ‘the same’ would have a better work routine when it comes to study but I am an appalling procrastinator of the worst variety. I will leave it as late as I possibly can and then put it off some more. The problem is that this is a really terrible thing when combined with my illness and my anxiety, an untenable situation for me when taking on such a confronting and difficult study schedule. And I want to rise to the challenge.  

I am finding that if I work a few hours every day I can keep the panic at bay, or mostly at bay. This probably comes as no surprise to just about anybody else the world over but it comes as one to me. Work consistently and the rewards will follow. The excitement I feel at researching and writing this incredible project is still there, and I hope it stays with me until October, I’m going to need it. I guess what I’m saying is that this year is a balance of being adventurous and being a hard worker. Just two things on the (mental) list for what comes next.

Lists. I guess I haz them after all.

P. S. - The Phoenix song from which this post derives its name. It's also on the 2009 CD, the best one I think I've ever put together. 


  1. Ooh any chance you'd want to send me a copy? Or the song list? I'm terrible at finding new music and end up listening to the same damn stuff on my iPod for YEARS at a time.

    And yeah, I hear you on the procrastination. I'm terrible at it too. Writing is one of the worst for me but when I was working on my thesis I forced myself to just write a few hours a day. Not full days, because that was not possible, but sit and plug away for a chunk each day. And suddenly I had a thesis and I was honestly a little surprised!

  2. Hey! If you tweet message your address I will send you one. That's basically what I am planning. A few hours, every day, that's the plan. I'm already ahead of the game by working over the summer. The two seminar classes I am taking in first semester will take up most of my time from March until very late June, so the work on my thesis takes a back seat during those months.

    So yeah. Work a little, work every day is the plan. I guess like exercise :)


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