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A New Year

I know it’s late for New Year’s resolutions, but I’ve been trying to write this post for two weeks. The first attempt was New Year’s Eve Eve. I brought two cups of green lentils to a simmer on the stove and sat down in the living room with my computer. It was time to reflect on my resolutions from the previous year and look to the year ahead, an annual tradition that started eight years ago.

I didn’t know what to say.

Many people move from year to year like walking through a doorway. They take a breath and pass through, their path unbroken and never slowed. As I passed from 2011 to 2012, I think my foot got caught on the threshold and sent me tumbling down an endless flight of stairs, my body never coming to a full stop. It was a year of sickness and unimaginable loss, of superstorms, and of grand and minor personal upheavals. 2012 was the year that showed me how delicate and temporary our existence can be.

Now, two weeks in, I don’t want to look back. Let’s all assume I didn’t bring my lunch to work or do enough writing to meet my goals. I also don’t have any formal resolutions for 2013, save for one:

Make it count.

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New Year’s Resolutions 2011

I’ve posted my New Year’s Resolutions online since 2005.  As I explain every year, it’s an exercise in personal motivation. If I tell the world (or the small handful of people that visit this site) that I’m going to do something, then hell, I may just do it.

2010 Resolution Review:
1. Continue to increase creative output, and if enough suitable work is ready, submit to at least two publications per month. Writing-wise, I kept this up for the first few months of 2010. I wrote a bit more, submitted to a few journals (nothing published), but I lost momentum as projects at work bled into my evening hours. Art-wise, I took a watercolor class and produced about eight paintings. Overall, not a total success.
2. Maintain a daily journal. Also kept a journal up for a little while in 2010, but ultimately stopped.
3. Increase the balance in my savings account. Well, I do have a savings account, but those funds are wedding-only.
4. Take care of myself, both physically and mentally. This means regular check-ups at the doctor and maintaining a healthy work/life balance. I now have a primary care physician and dentist. I also had my wisdom teeth removed after years of putting it off. The health work/life balance was lost mid-year, but has recently been regained.
5. Attend more cultural events in New York. Overall, this was a success. The average was probably 2-3 events or excursions per month. (The Spider-Man musical counts, right?)
6. Go on a culinary adventure at least once a month. Not accomplished. There were adventures, but not on a monthly basis.
7. Cook dinner or have leftovers four days a week. Related: Bring lunch to work four days a week. I met the cooking requirement almost every week, but rarely brought my lunch to work. Lunch usually consisted of a cheap salads from the glorified bodega by the office, and on stressful days (see: most of last year), a box of junior mints.
8. Post here at least twice a week, ideally three times a week. Oh, definitely not.
9. Redesign my personal website. Done.
10. Go on weekend adventures. Montreal? Jersey? Boston? Anything’s game. Accomplished. A few weekend adventures included trips to Thomas Edison’s house, Teddy Roosevelt’s house, apple picking, the Jersey Shore, and more.

Resolutions for 2011
1. Finish planning the wedding and maintain my sanity.
2. Stick to a strict budget to save for aforementioned wedding. No credit card debt.
3. Related to three: Cook four nights a week. Bring lunch at least four days a week. (This starts next week with the arrival of my ridiculous bento-style lunchbox from Amazon. I may have also purchased a backup set of red inserts with my Christmas gift cads, because god forbid I carry/wear/eat out of anything that isn’t red and/or black.)
4. Post on Apartment Dining at least twice a week.
5. Read fifty books. I’ll be tracking my progress on GoodReads. (This one is inspired by my friend Alison’s quest to read 100 books in 2011. Check out her list of favorite books from 2010.)
6. Learn how to draw.
7. As finances allow, attend more cultural events in New York.
8. Document more. The next year is going to be fun, stressful, crazed, and momentous.
9. Maintain a work/life balance. Work in the evenings when it’s needed, but devote more time to creative pursuits.

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New Year’s Resolutions

NYE Cheer

I have posted my New Year’s resolutions on the web since 2005, believing that if I post them in a public forum and revisit them at the end of the year, I am more likely to follow through. I’ve never accomplished every single one, but I believe I’ve completed more of them as a result.

Before I launch into a review of last year’s resolutions and provide the new list for 2010, I have to say that 2009 was the most difficult in my quarter century of existence, with months of unemployment and fighting to find freelance work taking its toll. I felt crippled creatively, devoting all of my energy to job hunting and stressing about finances, but cooking and this blog provided a welcome relief.  When I put on my headphones and entered the kitchen to cook dinner or bake, everything else fell away.

Despite its hardships, I ended 2009 in a good place (particularly with the holidays). I’m employed full time and doing work that I enjoy, my love life is back on track, and I also love where I live. Things can only go up from here.

2009 Resolution Review:
1. Find a job in this lovely financial meltdown: Done. Both freelance work and my current full time employment.
2. Post on Apartment Dining once every two days, post on my personal blog once a week: Well, I posted here three times a week for a good stretch, but definitely not on my personal blog. I wrote four posts there all year.

3. Finally send out some work to publications. I really have no excuse at this point: Submitted to a handful of publications, but nothing was accepted.

4. Be more conscious of spending and increase balance in my savings account: I was very conscious of spending, but didn’t have much left over to put in my savings account.

5. Once finances stabilize, take another writing class and make sure it’s an actual workshop, not reading work aloud once a week: Finances didn’t stabilize (and still haven’t completely).

6. Related to #5: take a cooking class: Again, no stable finances.

7. Increase overall creative output: Done.

8. Read more, both fiction and food writing: Done.

9. Explore more of Brooklyn: Well, I moved to another part of Brooklyn, so mission accomplished.
10. If finances improve, take a real vacation: Again with the finances. I was so optimistic last January.

Resolutions for 2010
1. Continue to increase creative output, and if enough suitable work is ready, submit to at least two publications per month.
2. Maintain a daily journal.
3. Increase the balance in my savings account.
4. Take care of myself, both physically and mentally. This means regular check-ups at the doctor and maintaining a healthy work/life balance.
5. Attend more cultural events in New York.
6. Go on a culinary adventure at least once a month.
7. Cook dinner or have leftovers four days a week. Related: Bring lunch to work four days a week.
8. Post here at least twice a week, ideally three times a week.
9. Redesign my personal website.
10. Go on weekend adventures. Montreal? Jersey? Boston? Anything’s game.

To help ring in the New Year, I’ve posted a few of my favorite photos from the holidays after the jump. You can see the full album in my Flickr set. Continue Reading →