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So, after my strong(ish) performance in NaBloPoMo, I’ve been MIA for a bit… But here we are, at the new year, and I hope to be around these parts a bit more regularly…

I went on my big road trip, which was awesome–stories and pics to come. Had a great holiday with the fam, got a lot of work done, and am getting ready to do more. YAY!

Reflecting on last year’s resolutions, I didn’t do so well. I didn’t make 50 books, though I’ll finish the book journals for all the books I’ve finished in 2007 and count them up soon and report. I did ok–but not 50. I got a library card, and other than that, not so much. Sigh.

But I won’t let that get me down. I won’t give up on the endless cycle of self-improvement. In that spirit, I’m embarking on the 101 in 1001 project. I will accomplish 101 things in 1001 days, between January 1, 2008 (today) and September 28, 2010. The website for the general 101 in 1001 project is here, and there’s also an LJ community devoted to those starting today.

So, why do I think I can do this? Well, first, there’s a support group. Then, there’s a longer time period. And I’ve been very careful to do things that are only within my control. (ie, no “get a boyfriend” items on my list.) Plus, I’ve got my never-ending belief that good things happen, that the good guys win the game, that the life I imagine is always possible.

In addition, I realized that a lot of times, I make resolutions that require discipline, a removal of things I like or that make me happy. It’s time to reframe that. Kristy, one of my favorite bloggers, talked about No Joy 07 last year… And that’s the way I often thought of resolutions. So, I’m changing it to ALL JOY 08. Some of the end results are the same, but I had to think about, ultimately, what would make me happy. These 101 things will, at least momentarily.

Ok, friends, that’s it… I’ll upload the big list in a few more minutes!

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I have been trying to read Freddy and Fredricka by Mark Helprin for like, forever. At least six weeks, anyway. I was really looking forward to reading it—I’ve heard a ton of reviews that said it was hilarious. All my friends who have read it think it is really awesome. But I think it is incredibly boring. And I think I may have to give up.

I can’t remember the last time I gave up on a book. Sometimes I’ve had a hard time reading a book, and I’ve put it away for a while, read a few other books, and then went back to it later. But I rarely actually give up on finishing a book. So I tried that with this book. When it was due back at the library, I renewed it. And then I renewed it again. It’s sitting on my nightstand, and every time I look at it, I am filled with dread. If I don’t have another book to read, I just don’t read, rather than try to read it. I just keep pretending that one night I’m finally going to be interested in it. But I really don’t think it’s going to happen.

I love reading, and so it’s hard for me to admit that I can’t finish this book. I was an English major, and I had to read Moby Dick over SPRING BREAK! (Tell me that professor wasn’t pure evil.) But I sat on the beach in Florida, with my Pina Colada, and I did what I had to do. I should be able to finish this book!

On the other hand, I read for fun. I’m not doing this for a class, so I should enjoy the things I read. I shouldn’t let it bother me or hurt my pride when I don’t finish a book. I finish plenty of others. And yet I feel guilty. Why?

Regardless of how guilty I feel, the book is due back at the library this week. And I refuse to renew it again. So you win, Freddy and Fredricka. I give up!

Title: Digging to America
Author: Anne Tyler
# of pages: 288
Date Started: 1/1/07
Date Finished: 1/5/07
Thoughts: In general, I really liked this book. But there is one little tiny thing that keeps digging in to the back of my skull and keeps me from fully enjoying it. Just a quick synopsis for those who don’t know much about this book… It’s about two little girls who are adopted from Korea. They arrive on the same flight and are delivered to different families, whose lives become intertwined for the rest of the story. It begins in 1997 and continues through the early-to-mid 2000s. (If I counted correctly, at least 2003, possibly 2004.) One of the adopting families is Iranian. But Tyler never really talks about September 11th. Once, when they all go to the airport, they complain about not being able to wait at the gate anymore, and another time, some of the extended Iranian family makes a joke about “flying Muslim.” That’s it. I’m sorry, but it is unbelievable to me that a story that focuses so much on immigration, international adoption, Iranian traditions, and the isolation or integration of immigrants wouldn’t be impacted by September 11th. (I know that it is Ms. Tyler’s style to leave out major world events and focus solely on the family.  I’m not saying she should have described the day, just the impact it would have had on the rest of the story.)  In my work with college freshmen before and after Sept. 11th, I have seen the huge (and sometimes startling) impact on that group, and it’s naive to think that an Iranian family and a super-privileged American-born family would continue their friendship without some bumps along the way. If anything, the Iranians become less annoyed by the American-born family after September 11th. Prior to 2001, the Iranian dad gets into a physical fight with the American-born dad, and entertains his less-assimilated relatives by mocking the American-born family when they’re not around. After 9/11, his treatment of them becomes much more tender, and they become real friends. Now, since the book mainly focuses on the anniversary of the girls’ arrival each year (which is in August), it’s possible that in the intervening year, something happened and their friendship would have been solidified by it. I just wish Ms. Tyler had put it in! Other than this one issue, she really renders human emotions beautifully, and it’s an interesting read. I just feel that if she’d attended to the 9/11 thing, she could have taken it to another level and created something truly amazing.

In order to help me achieve #1a*, I have ordered one of the new (2nd generation) iPod shuffles. And because I totally heart technology**, I am very impatient about receiving my new toy. So I’ve been obsessively checking the USPS package tracker on Amazon. (Good thing I didn’t list “stop obsessing over little things” as one of my resolutions.)

Apparently, my order left Greensboro, NC on December 31, and the estimated arrival is January 10. Ok, people. I live in Durham, NC. So you’re telling me that it takes 10 days to transport .55 oz of pure joy 55 miles? Seriously? I finished a marathon in 7:28. I could walk to Greensboro and back before January 10.

Though calling it “.55 oz of pure joy” made me start thinking of what to name it when it finally gets here. I think I’m going to have to rename my other iPod, too. It’s one of the original click-wheel only varieties, so it’s a big ‘un. I’m thinking of Big Mama or maybe even Large Marge (to pay homage to OMGthebesteffingmovieever). Ok, I just decided. Large Marge it is. But for the new baby? I was originally thinking “Mini-Me” but that seemed too obvious. Then I thought, what about “Little Piece of Techno Perfection”? It’s been a long time since I named something like that.***

Well, we’ll see. Apparently, I’ve got 6 more days to ponder. Ooh, it’s after five. I think I’ll go hit “refresh.”

*********************

*And with the help of a handful of Amazon gift certificates from the relatives–thanks Aunt S and the Northern Ls!

**I love technology, but not as much as you, you see, but I still love technology…

***The others being “My Little Piece of Polish Perfection“**** and “My Little Piece of Freckled Perfection.” Yeah, I’ve got issues. I know.

****Incidentally, I got caught staring at My Little Piece of Polish Perfection’s ass while in Cameron back in November. I’m not even a little bit embarrassed about that. Again, issues. I know.

I don’t normally make New Year’s Resolutions. Every so often, I set goals for the next big milestone in my life. For example, in January 2000, I said I would run a marathon before I turned or while I was 25. (I ran the Austin Marathon in February 2003, 2 months before I turned 26. Just squeaked in.) In January 2004, I resolved to skydive and climb Kilimanjaro before I turned or while I was 30. Sadly, it looks like neither will happen by that deadline. (I could go skydiving tomorrow, really, but right now it seems silly to shell out that kind of cash when I have so many other things I want to do and so little money with which to do it.) I haven’t given up on either, I just don’t think they’ll happen by the time I turn 31.

So, this year I actually made a list of resolutions. Mostly, they’re “bigger” goals, with a few specific steps for each one. So, here goes:

1. Be healthier–physically:
a. Run a 5K in 30 minutes or less by my 30th birthday (in April).
b. Do 30 “boy-style” push-ups in 1 minute or less by 1.1.08.

2. Be healthier–emotionally:
a. Find an organization that does good work in this area and start volunteering with it.
b. Take classes, join groups, even try Match.com if that’s what it takes to meet new people.

3. Be healthier–intellectually:
a. Read 50 books by 1.1.08. See the book list here.
b. Explore options for grad school. Maybe even take a public policy course in the fall.

4. Be committed to writing:
a. Make at least 1 submission to a writing contest.
b. Hit at list 50K in one of my novels-in-progress.
c. Post here at least 3 times a week (including book journal posts).

5. Be less of a consumer (that’s the only way I can think to put it):
a. Cut down on fast food.
b. Get a library card, especially considering #3a.
c. Shop locally, when possible.

Ok, I think that’s it for now.

Happy New Year!!