Continue the pursuit of minimalism and eschewing clutter in my approach to our home and my wardrobe, specifically. This is a continual pursuit, but I feel pretty happy with what I accomplished, by way of throwing things out and taking care of what I have.
Invest in higher-quality and ethically made clothes and shoes. Stop buying cheap crap. Jump off the fast-fashion train. I also feel like I’ve done this; I am no longer tempted by Target T-shirts and Old Navy sweaters.
Style myself like a French woman, as much as it is within my power. Maybe? I’m going to say yes. I don’t wear bright colors anymore, and stripes are the only pattern I don.
Take either a Japanese or a French class, for credit. Maybe both, if I’m feeling extra-ambitious. Fail. I still want to do this, though.
Eat healthier lunches. Maybe. I am very lazy about this still.
Figure out how to read the Bible for pleasure. Not really, but we are in a Bible study now, and that has been enjoyable.
Practice morning prayer/meditation/timid yoga sessions at home on weekdays. Nope, but I am taking a yoga class once a week, which is a big deal for me.
Continue the pursuit of minimalism at home.
Achieve and practice some basic conversational French before we leave for London. Keep up with my Duolingo practice; take some pronunciation lessons with friends who are French PhD candidates; watch an abundance of French film in the Criterion Collection.
Read through and translate the entire book of Japanese short stories. Keep listening to the audio of it while driving. Keep making your brain sweat and weep for all that it has forgotten over the years.
Be a better dog owner and housekeeper; mainly, groom them once a week and wipe their paws every day; keep working on their leash reactivity; train them more thoroughly. Figure out how to keep your floors clean so that you do not live in domestic misery.
Write that thing that’s been rattling around in my brain for years. Share it with a select few for editing and criticism.
Keep doing yoga, even though I hate it; get stronger, more flexible.
After tracking what I’ve read from the various lists from the Pulitzer, the Man Booker, the Book Critics Circle, I’ve realized that I tend to like what the National Book Award picks best, so, why not read them all?
The National Book Award started in 1950, so I have some catching up to do. Let the NBA Challenge begin!
Thus, here are the books I still need to read, in chronological order:
1950: The Man with the Golden Arm by Nelson Algren
1951: The Collected Stories of William Faulkner by William Faulkner
1952: From Here to Eternity by James Jones
1955: A Fable by William Faulkner
1956: Ten North Frederick by John O’Hara
1957: The Field of Vision by Wright Morris
1958: The Wapshot Chronicle by John Cheever
1959: The Magic Barrel by Bernard Malamud
1960: Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth
1961: The Waters of Kronos by Conrad Richter
1962: The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
1963: Morte D’Urban by J. F. Powers
1964: The Centaur by John Updike
1965: Herzog by Saul Bellow
1966: The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter by Katherine Anne Porter
1967: The Fixer by Bernard Malamud
1968: The Eighth Day by Thornton Wilder
1969: Steps by Jerzy Kosinski
1973: Augustus by John Williams
1973: Chimera by John Barth
1974: A Crown of Feathers and Other Stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer
1974: Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
1975: Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone
1975: The Hair of Harold Roux by Thomas Williams
1976: JR by William Gaddis
1977: The Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner
1978: Blood Tie by Mary Lee Settle
1979: Going After Cacciato by Tim O’Brien
1980: The World According to Garp by John Irving
1981: Plains Song by Wright Morris
1981: The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever
1982: Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike
1982: So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell
1984: Victory over Japan: A Book of Stories by Ellen Gilchrist
1985: White Noise by Don DeLillo
1986: World’s Fair by E. L. Doctorow
1987: Paco’s Story by Larry Heinemann
1988: Paris Trout by Pete Dexter
1989: Spartina by John Casey
1990: Middle Passage by Charles Johnson
1994: A Frolic of His Own by William Gaddis
1995: Sabbath’s Theater by Philip Roth
1996: Ship Fever and Other Stories by Andrea Barrett
1997: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
1998: Charming Billy by Alice McDermott
2000: In America, Susan Sontag
2002: Three Junes by Julia Glass
2003: The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard
2004: The News from Paraguay by Lily Tuck
2005: Europe Central by William T. Vollmann
2006: The Echo Maker by Richard Powers
2007: Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson
2008: Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen
2009: Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
2010: Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon
2012: The Round House by Louise Erdrich
2013: The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
I’m going to start with Herzog, because that’s up next in my book club queue, so it’s perfect timing.
The downside is that there are books on here that I’m not looking forward to, and this is a very man-heavy list. I’ve also done my best to avoid all of Updike and most of Roth thus far, le sigh. And so many war novels get so many prizes! But I’m committed.
Any advice from this list on what I should tackle after Herzog?
It’s goal-setting time! I approach these resolutions loosely, as you can see from last year’s goals, with commentary in italics:
Read 100 books.Read 167.
Read through the Bible in a year. Nope.
Make exercise a regular part of my life. (Even if I can only walk for 30 minutes a day, do SOMETHING.) I don’t know about “regular,” but I spent more time walking and I felt better, having converted to a standing desk at work… does that count?
Get strong. Do some kind of strength training? Hahahahaha.
Buy a bike and use it to run errands around town or to get to work. No. I still should get a bike, though.
Eat meat only once a week. (Excluding fish.)We didn’t do this faithfully every week, but I think we got pretty close.
Keep a tidy, peaceful home.More or less, I think I accomplished this.
Read at least three-fourths of each New Yorker issue I receive. Often.
Be a better businesswoman, regarding my calligraphy studio.There are still many things to do to improve my business, but I felt like 2014 was a good year for Bluestocking Calligraphy.
Continue weeding colors out of and cultivating a minimalistic wardrobe.I’ve made a lot of progress on this front, and I’m happy about how my wardrobe looks now. I don’t feel like I truly need anything. Except for those Everlane loafers…
This year, here are some simple things on my mind.
Read 120 books.
Continue the pursuit of minimalism and eschewing clutter in my approach to our home and my wardrobe, specifically. I stumbled on the website Into Mind a few weeks ago, and I feel so radicalized by it.
Invest in higher-quality and ethically made clothes and shoes. Stop buying cheap crap. Jump off the fast-fashion train.
Take either a Japanese or a French class, for credit. Maybe both, if I’m feeling extra-ambitious.
Eat healthier lunches. I am wary of leftovers and I’m fundamentally lazy, so this means I’m usually eating Trader Joe’s frozen pasta lunches every other day. Which is pretty terrible. What do you health mavens eat for lunch?
Figure out how to read the Bible for pleasure. In a related gesture, think more about the meaning of freedom in Christ.
Practice morning prayer/meditation/timid yoga sessions at home on weekdays. I have the time to do this; I just don’t. Because, as I mentioned before, I am profoundly lazy. I’d like to spend more time in the Book of Common Prayer at home. And to pray with more sincerity/regularity.
Read fewer books at a time; dare to re-read some things; concentrate on worthwhile tomes. I think so; I re-read several notable books and spent my time with hefty tomes.
Accordingly, read Infinite Jest.
Also, finish Proust. Goodbye, my love! It’s been a great six years.
Take an adult ballet class, even if it kills me. I took two! I was terrible!
Take a personal finance class. Nope.
Take the Claritas investment fundamentals exam and don’t fail. I think I will fail. I didn’t fail!
Read the Bible every week. This didn’t reliably happen.
Train Pyrrha to be more comfortable around small children. (Accordingly, here are Pyrrha’s 2013 goals.) This alsodidn’t happen. You can’t exactly walk up to a parent of a toddler and say, “Hey, my German shepherd is scared of kids. Can she interact with your baby?” We need to figure this one out. May consult our trainer for more advanced help.
Wear pants less often. Maybe? I didn’t really wear any pants all summer.
And now for this year. Here’s what I’d like to accomplish:
Read 100 books.
Read through the Bible in a year.
Make exercise a regular part of my life. (Even if I can only walk for 30 minutes a day, do SOMETHING.)
Get strong. Do some kind of strength training?
Buy a bike and use it to run errands around town or to get to work.
Eat meat only once a week. (Excluding fish.)
Keep a tidy, peaceful home.
Read at least three-fourths of each New Yorker issue I receive.
Be a better businesswoman, regarding my calligraphy studio.
Continue weeding colors out of and cultivating a minimalistic wardrobe.
“Like” and “like” and “like”—but what is the thing that lies beneath the semblance of the thing?
— Virginia Woolf, The Waves
It is easy for me to forget that God cares about little things. I’m a little thing, after all.
Even though I very much hope one of the candidates loses, if I am really being honest with myself, I don’t think much will change at all, regardless of the victor. Such is the nature of the American political machine. It has made me an unapologetic cynic with regard to all politicians everywhere. Machiavelli was the one to convince me not to become a political science major during my freshman year and I still think of him when I watch the debates or muddle through social media posts; it’s all a farce, all a dirty game.
I miss my family.
I need to read some lighthearted, dreamy fiction. Flannery O’Connor and Jesmyn Ward and Samuel Beckett all back-to-back = Violent, dark times. I need some fluttering, social web-spinning, 19th-century British ladywriters, STAT.
Lately, I have been so thankful for my job and for the work that I do. I am grateful for my coworkers, for the camaraderie that we have, for the rarity of our very happy workplace coexistence. I love being an editor. I’m so glad I found this profession.
New Life Goal: Read 100 books a year for the rest of my life.
After tonight’s Ash Wednesday service, Lent begins. It is a season I look forward to, even though it is one of somberness and reflection. I look forward to it for several reasons: Learning the beauty of the liturgical calendar as a recovering non-denominational, cultivating a spirit of anticipation alongside nature, and recognizing our daily need for God, even in the most mundane things.
For Lent last year, I resolved to not eat any synthetic sugar, to pray and meditate daily, and to memorize a poem and a psalm with Guion. The last two didn’t really happen and the first one should just be a life resolution, but I did focus more on that one.
This year, these are my Lenten aspirations:
Per my previously announced desire to commune more with nature, I am going to spend at least 20 minutes a day outside. That sounds like a pitifully small amount, but I believe that it will actually be hard on weeknights. That’s my goal, though. I feel closest to God when I am outside and yet I don’t spend a lot of time outdoors. This is something I seriously want to change and Lent is the ideal season in which to start. I’ll be watching and waiting along with the earth.
Memorize Psalm 16. For REAL this time.
Stop my bad conversational habits: Gossiping and interrupting people. These ought to be year-round aspirations, but I like the boundaries of Lent for its focus on these specific surrenders.
Stop reading snarky/mean-spirited blogs.
We are establishing a mutual goal of not being online when we’re home together. I’m also very excited about this.
These aren’t ambitious goals; in fact, they are things that I should be doing constantly. As Liz E. reminded me, though, we’re not seeking Lent surrenders to brag or to highlight how spiritually ambitious we are. Rather, we observe Lent to say: Here I am, waiting. Make me more like you.
Yes, I like to make my new year’s resolutions very early. In fact, one could say that I am in a perpetual state of making new year’s resolutions. Continuous goal-making is a blessing/curse we inherited from our mother. (Grace has the worst case of it, but then again, she’s the most accomplished of us all, so maybe there is something to this mania for making resolutions.)
Things I Want To Do in 2012
Get a dog, which I don’t have to tell you. I already have. Like, a hundred times.
Take a graduate-level English class at UVA.
Take the GRE.
Go hiking more often.
Read 75 books (down from this year’s goal of 100, because I think I’ll be cutting down on my dog reading).
Take a beginner’s ballet class.
Try to take my writing more seriously; publish something, somewhere. (How’s that for ambiguity?)