2016 goals

Early Christmas camellia
My tiny camellia in the front yard.

Mom instilled in us the annual tradition of goal-setting, and although we tend to approach it more loosely now, I still feel like I can’t start a new year without some vague ambitions.

Assessment of last year’s goals:

  1. Read 120 books. Read 152.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Eat healthier lunches. Maybe. I am very lazy about this still.
  7. Figure out how to read the Bible for pleasure. Not really, but we are in a Bible study now, and that has been enjoyable.
  8. 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.

2016 Goals

  1. Continue the pursuit of minimalism at home.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Write that thing that’s been rattling around in my brain for years. Share it with a select few for editing and criticism.
  6. Keep doing yoga, even though I hate it; get stronger, more flexible.

What are your goals for the new year?

 

New reading goal: National Book Award for Fiction

New goal, starting today: Read all the winners of the National Book Award for Fiction between now and next April.

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!

Of the books that have received this award so far, I have read 15 to date.

Thus, here are the books I still need to read, in chronological order:

  1. 1950: The Man with the Golden Arm by Nelson Algren
  2. 1951: The Collected Stories of William Faulkner by William Faulkner
  3. 1952: From Here to Eternity by James Jones
  4. 1955: A Fable by William Faulkner
  5. 1956: Ten North Frederick by John O’Hara
  6. 1957: The Field of Vision by Wright Morris
  7. 1958: The Wapshot Chronicle by John Cheever
  8. 1959: The Magic Barrel by Bernard Malamud
  9. 1960: Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth
  10. 1961: The Waters of Kronos by Conrad Richter
  11. 1962: The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
  12. 1963: Morte D’Urban by J. F. Powers
  13. 1964: The Centaur by John Updike
  14. 1965: Herzog by Saul Bellow
  15. 1966: The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter by Katherine Anne Porter
  16. 1967: The Fixer by Bernard Malamud
  17. 1968: The Eighth Day by Thornton Wilder
  18. 1969: Steps by Jerzy Kosinski
  19. 1973: Augustus by John Williams
  20. 1973: Chimera by John Barth
  21. 1974: A Crown of Feathers and Other Stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer
  22. 1974: Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
  23. 1975: Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone
  24. 1975: The Hair of Harold Roux by Thomas Williams
  25. 1976: JR by William Gaddis
  26. 1977: The Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner
  27. 1978: Blood Tie by Mary Lee Settle
  28. 1979: Going After Cacciato by Tim O’Brien
  29. 1980: The World According to Garp by John Irving
  30. 1981: Plains Song by Wright Morris
  31. 1981: The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever
  32. 1982: Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike
  33. 1982: So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell
  34. 1984: Victory over Japan: A Book of Stories by Ellen Gilchrist
  35. 1985: White Noise by Don DeLillo
  36. 1986: World’s Fair by E. L. Doctorow
  37. 1987: Paco’s Story by Larry Heinemann
  38. 1988: Paris Trout by Pete Dexter
  39. 1989: Spartina by John Casey
  40. 1990: Middle Passage by Charles Johnson
  41. 1994: A Frolic of His Own by William Gaddis
  42. 1995: Sabbath’s Theater by Philip Roth
  43. 1996: Ship Fever and Other Stories by Andrea Barrett
  44. 1997: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
  45. 1998: Charming Billy by Alice McDermott
  46. 2000: In America, Susan Sontag
  47. 2002: Three Junes by Julia Glass
  48. 2003: The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard
  49. 2004: The News from Paraguay by Lily Tuck
  50. 2005: Europe Central by William T. Vollmann
  51. 2006: The Echo Maker by Richard Powers
  52. 2007: Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson
  53. 2008: Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen
  54. 2009: Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
  55. 2010: Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon
  56. 2012: The Round House by Louise Erdrich
  57. 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?

2015 goals

Back in the saddle again. Happy new year! #calligraphy #moderncalligraphy #minimalism

It’s goal-setting time! I approach these resolutions loosely, as you can see from last year’s goals, with commentary in italics:

2014 Goals

  1. Read 100 books. Read 167.
  2. Read through the Bible in a year. Nope.
  3. 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?
  4. Get strong. Do some kind of strength training? Hahahahaha.
  5. Buy a bike and use it to run errands around town or to get to work. No. I still should get a bike, though.
  6. Eat meat only once a week. (Excluding fish.) We didn’t do this faithfully every week, but I think we got pretty close.
  7. Keep a tidy, peaceful home. More or less, I think I accomplished this.
  8. Read at least three-fourths of each New Yorker issue I receive. Often.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

2015 Goals

  1. Read 120 books.
  2. 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.
  3. Invest in higher-quality and ethically made clothes and shoes. Stop buying cheap crap. Jump off the fast-fashion train.
  4. Style myself like a French woman, as much as it is within my power.
  5. Take either a Japanese or a French class, for credit. Maybe both, if I’m feeling extra-ambitious.
  6. 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?
  7. Figure out how to read the Bible for pleasure. In a related gesture, think more about the meaning of freedom in Christ.
  8. 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.

What would you like to do in 2015?

2014 goals

Clear skies finally. Sunset on Pantops.
Clear skies ahead.

How did I do on my 2013 goals?

2013 Goals

  1. Read 75 books. Check. Read 123.
  2. 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.
  3. Accordingly, read Infinite Jest.
  4. Also, finish Proust. Goodbye, my love! It’s been a great six years.
  5. Take an adult ballet class, even if it kills me. I took two! I was terrible!
  6. Take a personal finance class. Nope.
  7. Take the Claritas investment fundamentals exam and don’t fail. I think I will fail. I didn’t fail!
  8. Read the Bible every week. This didn’t reliably happen.
  9. Train Pyrrha to be more comfortable around small children. (Accordingly, here are Pyrrha’s 2013 goals.) This also didn’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.
  10. Wear pants less often. Maybe? I didn’t really wear any pants all summer.

Christmas in Norwood

And now for this year. Here’s what I’d like to accomplish:

2014 Goals

  1. Read 100 books.
  2. Read through the Bible in a year.
  3. Make exercise a regular part of my life. (Even if I can only walk for 30 minutes a day, do SOMETHING.)
  4. Get strong. Do some kind of strength training?
  5. Buy a bike and use it to run errands around town or to get to work.
  6. Eat meat only once a week. (Excluding fish.)
  7. Keep a tidy, peaceful home.
  8. Read at least three-fourths of each New Yorker issue I receive.
  9. Be a better businesswoman, regarding my calligraphy studio.
  10. Continue weeding colors out of and cultivating a minimalistic wardrobe.

What are your resolutions for the coming year?

Entering Lent

Kitchen table

Lent begins this week, and Guion and I have been discussing our aspirations for this season of reflection and anticipation. These are our goals for Lent:

  • Do not eat any meat.
  • Take more walks with Pyrrha.
  • Watch TV only one night a week.
  • Pray together more often.

And for me:

  • Teach Pyrrha some new cues.
  • Practice daily stretches to improve strength and flexibility.

More peace, more grace!

2013 goals

Self, how did you do with your 2012 goals? I’d say… meh.

  1. Adopt, raise, and train a healthy and happy dog. (Done!)
  2. Keep running, even though I hate it. (Not really. I ran the 10-miler and that was IT.)
  3. Read 75 books. (Yesh. Read 142 books in 2012.)
  4. Stop interrupting people when they are talking. (Maybe? I have at least been more cognizant of this bad habit of mine.)
  5. Take the GRE. Start thinking more seriously about whether to go to grad school. (Nope.)
  6. Go hiking more often. (Not really.)
  7. Make books of all received letters; get them out of those musty shoeboxes. (Done!)
  8. Dress better; stop schlepping around in frumpy clothes. (Maybe?)
  9. Memorize scripture. (Didn’t.)
  10. Call my family more often. (Maybe.)
  11. Read that book of Japanese short stories in Japanese. (I read one of them?)
  12. Take a graduate-level English class at UVA, if feasible. (Nope.)
  13. Improve my calligraphy skills with the flexible nib. (Maybe.)
  14. Spend more time with women. (Yes!)

On that dismal note, here are my goals for the coming year.

2013 Goals

  1. Read 75 books.
  2. Read fewer books at a time; dare to re-read some things; concentrate on worthwhile tomes.
  3. Accordingly, read Infinite Jest.
  4. Also, finish Proust.
  5. Take an adult ballet class, even if it kills me.
  6. Take a personal finance class.
  7. Take the Claritas investment fundamentals exam and don’t fail. I think I will fail.
  8. Read the Bible every week.
  9. Train Pyrrha to be more comfortable around small children. (Accordingly, here are Pyrrha’s 2013 goals.)
  10. Wear pants less often.

What are some of your resolutions for the coming year?

Wednesday thoughts

Flowers from Angela

Piecemeal thoughts on a Wednesday:

“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.

Lenten aspirations

Click for source.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Memorize Psalm 16. For REAL this time.
  3. 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.
  4. Stop reading snarky/mean-spirited blogs.
  5. 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.

2012 Resolutions

Click for source.

In 2012, I resolve to:

  1. Adopt, raise, and train a healthy and happy dog.
  2. Keep running, even though I hate it.
  3. Read 75 books. (Down from last year, because I need to be less competitive with myself about my reading goals. I read like a maniac this year.)
  4. Stop interrupting people when they are talking.
  5. Take the GRE. Start thinking more seriously about whether to go to grad school.
  6. Go hiking more often.
  7. Make books of all received letters; get them out of those musty shoeboxes.
  8. Dress better; stop schlepping around in frumpy clothes.
  9. Memorize scripture.
  10. Call my family more often.
  11. Read that book of Japanese short stories in Japanese.
  12. Take a graduate-level English class at UVA, if feasible.
  13. Improve my calligraphy skills with the flexible nib.
  14. Spend more time with women.

How about you? Figured out any of your new year’s resolutions yet?

Things I want to do in 2012

Me, next year. Click for source.

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

  1. Get a dog, which I don’t have to tell you. I already have. Like, a hundred times.
  2. Take a graduate-level English class at UVA.
  3. Take the GRE.
  4. Go hiking more often.
  5. Read 75 books (down from this year’s goal of 100, because I think I’ll be cutting down on my dog reading).
  6. Take a beginner’s ballet class.
  7. Try to take my writing more seriously; publish something, somewhere. (How’s that for ambiguity?)
  8. Improve calligraphy business; hone skills with flexible nib.
  9. Finish reading the remainder of Shakespeare’s plays (I think I have 19 more to go. Eek).
  10. Decide what I’m going to do with my life.

Do you have any goals for next year already? Am I the only one?