Resolutions, goals, hopes, aspirations?

I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions; why taunt myself with thinking I can achieve the unattainable?  Rob has always been a fan of constructing quantifiable goals for himself all year long, which he meticulously tracks using objective dependent measures.  Even though I love this strategy, I find that I am way too lazy to actually keep track of my goals.  And if I’m too lazy to track my goals, then I am also probably too lazy to work on the goals themselves.  

While 2008 was a great year and a memorable one for reasons both personal and historical, it has also been a year of goals deferred.  A lot of the deferment was a consequence of the non-stop feeding and baby care that I continue to do.  And some of the deferment was due to the fact that I have yet to re-align my current lifestyle with expectations, priorities and timelines that are realistic, sane, and above all, flexible.  My Dad has always said “no one gets ahead in this life alone.”  Thus, I think it will be instructive to invite my readers to comment on my aspirations for the coming year.  I call them “aspirations” rather than “resolutions” because resolving to do something does not have the fluidity that my current lifestyle requires.  Having “resolve” connotes immutable boundaries, or something that imparts permanence.  A goal is a worthy thing to have, but I don’t have the discipline to formulate something so circumscribed and quantifiable.  A hope is too flimsy—but aspiration…’s grander than hope, less boring than a goal, and not as committal as a resolution.  

Here are my 2009 aspirations, in no particular order.  Feel free to comment on them below:

  1. Learn something new.  I don’t care what I learn.  It doesn’t matter whether I read about something new or learn a new skill.  The only thing I care about is that I am learning something interesting and fun.  One contender on my list includes tackling the ever-elusive and seemingly endless knitting project that I began 2.5 years ago.  Another thing on my list is less fun (but still interesting) and involves reading books on the history of collective bargaining and trade unions in the United States.  I know that sounds boring as hell, but gee, do I have some compelling future posts to write regarding some personal negative experiences with a teacher’s union that will make everyone’s blood boil.  Trust me, I am capable of making the most boring shit at least moderately entertaining.  A third item on my list is rock climbing.  Rob has been encouraging me for some time to give it a try.  I’m almost ready to give in.
  2. Keep up with the literature.  I hate this aspiration.  It’s not fun and I feel less and less like doing it.  I always had a hard time keeping up as a graduate student and now I am really behind.  I need some kind of system to keep me on track.  I really need suggestions on this—Jaylyn??  Amanda??  Any ideas?  I am just awful at carving out time to do this, and I’m even worse at picking the most relevant articles.  There are so many things I need to know out there and I get stymied every time I think about it.  Grr.
  3. Continue to do things that I am already doing well.  This is the “don’t-mind-if-I-pat-myself-on-the-back” aspiration for 2009.  There are some things I do effortlessly in my life.  One of these is to eat and cook healthy foods and do this on a budget.  I have mastered this.  I will continue to do this (hopefully effortlessly).  And now that I am home all the time, I have lots of time on my hands to make sure that we eat well.  This was harder when I was working full-time, so I’m trying to figure out how I can keep up the good work for once I have a job again.  In the meantime, I’m experimenting with a fun website called Recipe Zaar that allows you to post and view recipes, create shopping lists and menus, etc.  I’m still learning the ropes, but it looks like it is a system that could work for me when my life gets complicated with gainful employment once again.
  4. Get a job.  I’ve been working hard on this one since September.  I have applied for seven jobs.  Now I must wait.  It is my hope that I will be able to give a job talk in January or February and have a job secured by March.  If that doesn’t happen, I will need to re-evaluate and probably will be forced to quit science out of necessity—and do something that will help with those pesky bills.
  5. Move.  One could argue that this aspiration is inextricably linked to aspiration #4 above.  But it’s not so.  Come hell or high water, we WILL move in 2009.  I don’t care if it’s to a cardboard box, if I’m not sharing walls with some other asshole, I am a happy camper.  To expound further upon the bullshit that we routinely dodge round these parts, I will tell you a little story about what happened this afternoon.  Rob and I are eating lunch at our kitchen table.  Some guy we’ve never seen before is knocking at our door.  We get up, open the door, and he introduces himself as someone who lives below us.  OK, fourth or fifth roommate for our neighbor in 2.5 years, but whatever.  He wants to know whether we can keep the basement door shut to keep the heat contained below their unit because heat is expensive.  He phrases this request in a less than elegant way because I am sure he had taken no fewer than 10 bong hits before coming upstairs to talk to us.  We explain that it’s not a good idea to keep the basement door closed because our common hallway is unheated, and any heat generated from our individual laundry rooms in the basement needs to waft upstairs into the common areas so the pipes don’t freeze and burst (an unfortunate calamity that happened to us in 2002 when we first moved to VT).  He said he didn’t realize there wasn’t heat in the common areas (?) and then muttered something about the heat generated by the furnace that made me conclude that he actually believes that the FURNACE ITSELF radiates heat.  Um, OK.  I’m sure that our neighbor’s parents will be contacting us with an impassioned plea to keep the basement door open.  Maybe they’ll send us a note along with the monthly condo association fee that they pay on their 32-year-old daughter’s behalf.  And maybe I’ll write them back and tell them the stench of pot smoke has really been bothering us, and they should really consider sending their daughter back to rehab because it obviously didn’t work.
  6. Exercise.  Nothing compares to the indignity one feels when a video game system tells you that you are overweight and that your balance is so impaired that you probably trip all the time when walking.  Two scales have independently confirmed that I have lost ONE pound since August.  ONE.  I am still 17 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight.  I find this hard to understand since my clothes fit again.  I’ve started doing cardio kickboxing in our living room each morning, but never manage to fit in more than 20 minutes of exercise before Holden wakes up.  He just doesn’t nap for very long periods of time, so my exercises must be fast, cheap, and something I can do at home.  I’m open for suggestions here.
  7. Volunteer/Service.  I want to commit to one community service or volunteer activity each year.  This is something I want Holden to value as he grows older, so I need to make it a point to start modeling this behavior early.  My activity for this year is donating breast milk, which seems kind of lame, but hey…it’s what I can do right now.  I’d love to hear about the sorts of service my readers do!
  8. Be more present.  I have been so consumed with job searching, job applying, and self-loathing this year that I feel like I have not been truly present for Holden.  This must change.
  9. Have more fun.  Related to #8 above.  This aspiration is a real beaut.  It can be accomplished a myriad of ways.  Read W-I-N-E:)
  10. Keep the house cleaner Care less about the state of my house.  ’Nuff said.

Upon looking at this list. I am now realizing that this coming year is more about aspiring to do less than about doing more.  As my dad always says, “When things get crazy, just stand still and let it blow by you.”


    December 30th, 2008 7:39 pm
    jen owino
    December 30th, 2008 11:48 pm

    oh my goodness, donating breast milk is NOT lame. it is like the coolest thing a woman can do. the ultimate gift of oneself to a child. you should be proud of yourself- i am!

    i, too, missed service as a part of my life since having benta. this year i decided to sponsor a war-victim woman through Women for Women International. i highly recommend checking them out… it seems a perfect way for a busy mom to give back.

    December 31st, 2008 9:34 am

    @ jetgirl: Hottie is right! And articulate to boot! Can’t wait to meet him one day, he seems really interesting….

    @ jen: I have been horrible with community service since high school (hangs head in shame). I checked out the Women for Women Int’l website and WOW…what an incredible idea!!! I would love to do something like that next year, thank you for the tip! I’d love to hear about your correspondence with the woman you are sponsoring!

    January 4th, 2009 8:31 am

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    January 4th, 2009 9:17 am

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