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Looking backward, looking forward

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I was reading something recently that cited a study that could “predict” aggression levels in people while they’re drinking, and I’m going to attempt to extrapolate these findings to non-boozy settings. Sounds like Real Science, right?

Everyone lives his or her life preoccupied with some combination of the past, present, and future. Too much of any single one of these can lead to some serious periods of funk (and not in a fun, dance-y P-Funk sense), and I’m hoping that I’m coming ever closer to striking the balance that’s right for me. I was never much for focusing solely on the past– where’s the fun in that?— and have always preferred to have a fairly active imaginary/dream-life in which I envision all the different paths that I can take– pretty much like a Choose Your Own Adventure, but with actual life…where you don’t get to mark your place in the book, just in case you want to go back. In the past couple years, I’ve made more of an effort to appreciate the present moment, which has led to richer memories and a still-satisfying view of the future. The difference, I think, has been that I’ve found myself in moments in which I think, “I can’t believe this is actually happening.” (See: walking the streets of Tokyo in September, for example.)

In 2011, I made a set of resolutions. They were (in case you missed the dozen or so update posts):

  • Take more (and better) pictures
  • Read 40 books
  • Meet a blogger in real life
  • Try 30 new recipes
  • Regularly practice some form of exercise
  • Dinner at the table at least twice a week

Having achieved at least a moderate level of success in most of these, I feel comfortable establishing some new goals for 2012. Sure, I have the 30 Before 30 to work on, but what’s a few additional goals between me and the internets? In 2012, I want to…

  • Read 45 books
  • Host friends for dinner monthly
  • No computer/internetting (in the case of a possible smartphone acquisition) after 8 p.m.
  • Establish and stick to a personal spending budget
  • Eat mindfully (less booze and caffeine, more water, less fast/junk food, more produce)
  • Be active (either join a new gym or commit to moving my body regularly)

Happy New Year, internet! May you raise your glasses at midnight in joy, and find everything you hope for in 2012.

2011 resolution check-in, day 347 of 365

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Oh, lordy, the lists! I know. And I’ve been doing exciting things, too, things that I want to tell you about! But first…the penultimate entry in my 2011 resolution series. Tracking all these things that I’d said I’d do at the beginning of the year has helped me to feel like I’m progressing toward something. Even if that something is just the last day on a calendar, or a check mark next to a number, it helps when I get that feeling that nothing is getting accomplished around here. (I like to balance my more manic bouts with supreme hopelessness. It’s super fun.) So, here’s where we are:

Take more and better pictures
I took eleventy katrillion pictures in Japan, and will be (of course) documenting the trip out to New York for Christmas. We’ll look at Flickr for final judgement, but I think I’ve been doing fairly well at this.

Get a grownup, non-intern job
I still have it, they still like me, it only makes me crazy about 15% of the time. We should all be so lucky, right?

Read 40 books
36 of 40 so far, and multiple in progress. Maybe next year I’ll get all crazy and go for 50?

Meet a blogger in real life
So, all right, here’s the deal: either I don’t live in an area rich with bloggers, or I’m unfortunately friends with lovely bloggers who happen to live rather far away from me. Maybe both? I did head to a ‘pinup in October, which was a cool exercise in Meeting Strangers From the Internet, and ended with a few new friends and some (real!) bottled Coke in a Mission taqueria. Close, enough, I say!

Try 30 new recipes
31. Awww yeah. AND! We had a cocktail party last weekend, and…you know how I am good at Making Way Too Much Food? Yes, that. Also, n.b. about parties, particularly around the holidays: when you tell people it’s ok to bring things, they will invariably bring sweets. (Or wine, which we also have a ton of.) So, when you’re planning your party, it’s ok to lean toward the savory end of the spectrum. Either that, or just get excited for the dozens and dozens of cookies that will be left in your house, and which do not interest your husband in the least.

Regularly practice some form of exercise
You guys. My gym closed. While this, of course, sucks…it’s pushing me to be more creative about how I’m getting myself moving. This usually means walking like a maniac, but I do miss the structure of the gym. Maybe I’ll join the Y with all the other resolutioneers in January?

Dinner at the living room (like people) at least twice a week
GP is pretty great at keeping me on track with this one– it’s nice to feel a little more like grownups when we have a proper dinner setup, I think.

2011 resolution check-in, day 163 of 365

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Whoa, hey June. It’s finally decided to act a little more like summer around here, so of course I’m working on my annual list of Summer Resolutions, a fun little corollary to the regular resolutions. What can I say, I’m an inveterate list-maker. Here’s where I am on my regularly scheduled resolutions:

Take more and better pictures
I’ll give myself a B+ on this. We went to Yosemite about a month ago, and I did my best to capture the ridiculous nature that surrounded us. I was thwarted only by the heavy mist on (who would have guessed it) the Mist Trail, and did manage to successfully balance the camera on a couple steady-ish surfaces for some passable pictures of me and GP on our hikes.

Get a grownup, non-intern job
The best part, as I’ve mentioned before, of getting my new job at the beginning of the year is that I know I’ll be able to talk about at least one success every time I write about these resolutions. Yes, I have a grownup job, even though the word “assistant” is still in the title. I’m doing interesting (and, I think, important) work that has only once resulted in being the recipient of a shouted, “Megan, you fine!” shout from across a middle school playground. Yeah, I’ve still got it.

Read 40 books
I’m well on my way– 22 so far! I just finished Wicked today (after having owned it for…oh, four years?) and am getting started on My Fair Lazy. I’ve also got a couple saved up on the Kindle for the trips we’ll be making this summer (yay for not having to pack books!).

Meet a blogger in real life
No dice just yet. I suppose this one is the least under my control, but here’s something: I’ll be in DC for a couple days next week! Anyone want to have lunch?

Try 30 new recipes
I’m up to 20! Made these for breakfast yesterday, and just about died at the bliss of melted butter and cinnamon sugar. You have to make these, friends!

Regularly practice some form of exercise
I’m attempting to be as “regular” as possible with my gym-going, as it is on the way home from work– seriously, I have to pass it on the way to the freeway. On the advice of the nicer-than-I-expected trainer that I met with for a free “fitness assessment” (result: marginal), I’ve started with a little pre-weights cardio and then gone on to weights and my friend, the elliptical (easy on the knees, yo). Yes, this is sort of boring, but it’s working! I’m about twenty pounds below my heaviest, and I’d like to lose ten to fifteen more, but the most important (and, seriously, best?) part is that I feel better. Stronger, healthier, more capable of doing things with my body. (Like climbing mountains in Yosemite. BAM.).

Dinner at the living room (like people) at least twice a week
I’ve sort of stopped keeping track of this, but we’re probably hovering around the twice-a-week mark. What with my later returns from the gym and the beginning of GP’s work-intramural softball season, it’s a little trickier to get all two of us at the table, but I can usually count on the cat to be my dining companion. (Yes, he sits politely in a chair. Yes, I am a weirdo.)

Resolution check-in, day 67 of 365

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I know, I know…I posted on my “progress” about two months ago and disappeared. But I’ve been busy, I swear! Here’s where I am with the Official Goals for 2011.

Take more and better pictures
Still working on this. While I did take the Big Camera on a recent trip up to Tahoe (pictures will be on Flickr soon, really!), most of the shots were not mine. As I am a “stay inside and read” person, I lent the camera to an active friend and was rewarded with some pretty great images of snowy mountains and GP risking his life on them. Good times! Maybe when the weather improves (I know, it’s California, I should shut up) I’ll be more motivated to get out and photograph well and plentifully.

Get a grownup, non-intern job
Done! Well, this has been done for a while. But I like the idea of being able to report success on at least one of these goals every so often. It’s like putting something on a to-do list that you’ve just completed: sometimes you need a win to get the other things moving.

Read 40 books
I’m a quarter of the way there! See what I’ve read so far and suggest more here.

Meet a blogger in real life
Nope. Not yet. Anyone in the Bay Area? I’m totally fun, I promise. And only crazy in the ways that should be apparent through my writing.

Try 30 new recipes
I’ve slacked a little, but not much– check out my progress, and let me know what’s been gracing your oven, stove, and dinner table recently!

Regularly practice some form of exercise
So, I joined the gym near work. It’s ridiculously convenient, to the point where I have to drive past it to get to the highway that takes me home. On days where we have nothing else planned in the evening (Sharks game, heading out of town, or something else in our terribly pressing lives), I can be found spending 50 minutes on the elliptical (easy on the knees, yo) and busting out some sweet sets on a few weight machines. This, I would say, absolutely counts as “some form of exercise.” I’m thrilled to be at the point where I actually feel better after I’ve worked out, and not just because I’ve checked something off the to-do list. There’s that, but let’s not discount the whole “being a healthy person who wants to live a long life” thing, ok?

Dinner at the dining room table (like people) twice a week
Sometimes this slides because of my gym-going– eating like a person isn’t always the most attractive option when I’ve come home, jumped into the shower, and am compiling whatever salad or amalgamation of leftovers comprises our evening meal. However! I’m getting better at doing little shortcut-y things in the morning and right after the gym that get the meal on the (dining room, not coffee) table at a reasonable time. Who wants to eat dinner at 9 p.m. on a weeknight? I’m too old for that, friends.

Oh, and given that today’s Fat Tuesday and I’m (clearly) always up for a personal challenge, let’s talk Lenten sacrifices. While I am in no way a practicing…anything, I like the idea of having the bond of a challenge with other people (sorry, zombie Jesus). Rather than giving something up this year (previous years have seen me give up cheese– torture– and meat– not so bad, but I filled that void with cheese), I’ve decided to take something on: for the next forty days or so, I’ll be trying to get as close to the recommended eight servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Don’t act like you’re surprised that it’s food-related (again)! I’m “piloting” my faux-sacrifice today, and let me tell you, it is hard to fit all those servings in, even when you like fruits and vegetables.

Resolution check-in, day 4 of 365

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It will likely not shock you that I haven’t met a blogger yet (though a grand total of two offers have been made! That probably reads as sarcasm, but I promise it’s not), and should probably come as no surprise that I have yet to have any degree of exercise (I walked to lunch today, so that must count for something). However! I bring exciting news…

Both on the recipe front and the eating-at-the-table-like-people front. Behold!


Jamie Oliver’s English Onion Soup with Sage and Cheddar, a leftover from when the in-laws were visiting over Christmas (so, fine, I won’t count it toward the “30 recipes” goal), along with ye olde Kindle (I finished rereading Anne of Green Gables a couple days ago!) and a New Belgium 2 Below ale (like Fat Tire, too hoppy for GP– but that means there’s more for me!).


Real Simple’s pork scaloppine (word to the pork-haters out there, this can totally be done just as deliciously with chicken or veal) with egg noodles and roasted zucchini. (I think the wine was a BV pinot grigio– nothing remarkable, but it is what I used in the sauce.)


Real Simple’s pork fajitas with black beans and rice. Look, sometimes salsa has to count as a vegetable. And yay for New Belgium beer!

I’m starting to think that 30 recipes is too easy a goal for an entire year, but then again it’s only been a week. Let’s see where I am at the end of the month…

Anticipation

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Christmas has come and gone– a Christmas Eve complete with a nephew that I got to meet for the first time (and had to convince myself not to steal…hello, he is adorable), a Christmas morning spent with family and popovers that I wish were a more regular fixture of my breakfasts, and a dinner with a third wave of gifts, dad, and in-laws, who stayed around for about a week so that we could have a few adventures (a trip up to the city, a gluttonous fondue extravaganza, and a fairly humiliating– for the team, anyway– NHL game). I’m loving my week off between Christmas and New Year’s, but am excited to get back to work because, oh, did I mention? I got a new job! It’s at the same place my internship has been, but is in a different department, and will put my librarian skillz to good use as I help researchers go about their business. I was mostly joking when I tweeted that all I wanted for Christmas was a job (right before the interview), but when they called me before break to give me the offer, I had to try pretty hard not to squeal right into the phone. Looks like I’ve got a good start on my “2011 goals” (not resolutions, for some reason that makes a difference to me, semantically), so here are the rest:

Take more (and better) pictures. I know myself too well to try and commit to a photo-a-day project (but who knows, maybe I’ll give it an unofficial try), but now that I have my fancypants camera (well, have had for some months now), it only seems right to know actual things about photographic composition.

Read 40 books. I mentioned this one to GP yesterday after I finished my first official Kindle book (I’m not counting A Christmas Carol, both because I generally dislike Dickens and because it’s more of a novella, right?), and he said it seemed low, given the velocity of my reading, but I only got around to 24 this year (which will likely be recapped later, because who doesn’t love talking about books?). But I’m done with school and armed with the Kindle, so 40 seems doable– and there’s nothing like blowing a goal out of the water, right?

Meet a blogger in real life. There is a 50/50 chance that I will go to BlogHer this year– it’s in San Diego, which is a lovely place, but I am…um…awkward. With strangers. Even strangers about whom I know very much. So, you know, start slowly. Anyone want to hang out with me?

Try 30 new recipes. Whereas 40 books seems like a stretch compared with what I’ve gotten through this year, 30 recipes seems nearly scanty. We’ve got to eat, right? Here’s hoping that some of these make it into the regular rotation.

Regularly practice some form of exercise. Look, I am the worst at exercising/being active. I hate it. It is boring, and sweaty, and often involves something at which I do not immediately excel. All of these add up to me being the person who would much rather greatly restrict her diet as a means of weight control/loss than take a single step even toward a gym. But! I do like Zumba (yes, it is humiliating, but we’re all doing the same gyrations) and I have a few yoga Groupons that I need to cash in. All I want is for something to stick, so that I’m not brittle or diabetic when I’m an old lady.

Dinner at the dining room table (“like people”) twice a week. When we lived in the apartment (yes, a year ago), it was easier just to sit at the coffee table and eat dinner in front of the tv– our kitchen table and chairs were from Ikea, and were not exactly comfortable or luxurious. Now, though? We have nearly no excuse for eating like college students/bachelors. If I’m making dinner, I’d like to eat at an actual table, like grownups.

I’m hoping for a (relatively) low-key New Year’s Eve, which will likely involve a fair amount of drinking and a bit of liar’s dice (a given, when we’re at my parents’ house), and then the annual New Year’s Day huevos rancheros– a perfect hangover cure. What are you up to tonight and next year, internets?