This year, for some reason, I didn’t make any new year’s resolutions. I don’t know why. I think at the time I felt like I was coming up on 40, and that I would make a list to go along with a milestone birthday. And then my birthday came and went, and I still hadn’t made a list, and so I decided I would just give myself another year to finish all the fun things I had set out for myself last year. And then life changed so dramatically that aspiring to finish that list became impractical, if not unimaginable.
So now what? We’re a quarter of the way through a year that has already felt like a decade – though I hear that for some, time feels like its speeding up rather than slowing down – but at a juncture where writing down anything beyond an intention for the day feels like an exercise in frustration.
We are far from the point when After might come into view, but despite that, I have started to make – not quite a list, perhaps more like notes for a more hopeful time:
- Rainbow Cone, still on my bucket list, with my friends Alisa or Ashley or both.
- Coffee made by someone other than me, consumed from a ceramic cup, preferably somewhere pleasant and outdoors.
- Smelling other people, which, while not always pleasant, currently feels incredibly novel when it happens in passing.
In the interest of thinking about Something Else, here are a few things to read, and one thing to eat:
A bunch of mostly small things have happened in my world this month, and that is my excuse for why it is January 31 and I have yet to talk about my aspirations for the year, much less anything else. We were all ferociously sick for a few days, and then it was so cold that the kid was literally climbing the walls, and then I accidentally bought sickly-sweet strawberry fizzy water at the Polish grocery store because I was overwhelmed. I turned 38 and failed to obtain timely birthday ramen but did have this completely absurd taste adventure:
We started rewatching Battlestar Galactica, and I’m afraid to say that all of the new TV we’ve tried pales in comparison. I finished a book and two podcast series that challenged me in pretty significant ways (that I hope to talk about here). Two important cats died (not ours – she’s as fat and funny as ever). A faculty member at my institution thought it was a good idea to invite a noted white nationalist to campus, so I attended my first organizing meeting. I made Ottolenghi’s sabih and read a lot of Frog and Toad. I got a standing desk.
I’ve made a tradition of sharing my resolutions in this space, and of posting semi-regular updates measuring my progress toward and/or commitment to these goals. This year it took quite a big longer than normal to settle on my hopes for the next year, in part due to moving pieces that hadn’t quite sorted themselves out. Many of the things on my list look more like intentions than easily measurable goals.
So, for me: acceptance and mindfulness. Reading more books.
For my family: focusing on connection and patience. Reducing consumption.
For my relationship: encouraging and listening. Making time for us.
For my loved ones: expressing pride and gratitude. Connecting with family, especially my 99 year old grandma.
For my work: reasonable expectations. Saying no.
For the world: center marginalized voices. Find sustainable ways to take action.
This week, here and there:
- The Parents’ Guide to Affairs with Esther Perel – The Longest Shortest Time – holy cow, all the feels throughout this incredibly insightful and compassionate conversation about infidelity and the importance of choosing and defining the relationship you want, not just making the best of the relationship you find yourself in. (Despite the headline, this episode is not in favor of infidelity. I also think it could have been improved by eliminating the section on non-monogamy, but that’s a whole other topic.)
- What Does it Mean to Die – The New Yorker – a fascinating and devastating article about one family’s struggle to challenge their daughter’s diagnosis as legally dead, and a deeper dive into how ‘death’ is and has been defined (and by whom).
- How Carob Traumatized a Generation – The New Yorker – we were literally just talking about carob after a bulk foods PLU mix-up. Now I’m worried that we might traumatize our kid with our food choices.