2016 Resolutions

1. More letters. I’m aiming for a letter each week.

2. More books. 16 sounds like a nice round number. I’m on track to finish my first this weekend.

3. More miles. Barring injury, I’m aiming for 750 running and 2000 biking. I also really want this to be my marathon year, but I’ve said that before…

4. More movies. We saw a grand total of 6 last year. 12 seems possible.

5. Less meat. I’m not ready (or interested, really) in going back to being vegetarian, but I am interested in expanding my repertoire of¬†meat-free meals, particularly since Nicolas has been pescatarian for nearly a year.

6. Less debt. We’re on track to pay off all of my debt by the end of the year. I really want to make that happen.

7. Less complaining. This might be the hardest resolution on this list.

8. Less guilt and regret. This one is hardest to quantify, but I’m pretty over beating myself up about things I can’t control, or things that aren’t mine to begin with.

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A Good Mail Month

One of my resolutions for this year was to write more letters – at least one per week. If my spreadsheet is correct, I’ve actually written more than 150 letters and postcards so far this year, far exceeding my goal, and in doing so hopefully cementing new relationships, epistolary and otherwise. This was spurred along by a challenge issued in October by the South Side Letter Writing Club: 31 postcards in 31 days.

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=122138

So over the last month, I zipped off postcards to various points around the world. I sent postcards to strangers in my city, and to old friends in the midst of deployment. I sent birthday postcards and and RSVP postcards and playlist postcards and thank you postcards. I tamed my handwriting in order to fit a full-length letter onto the face of a small card. While I certainly sent more than I received, it was a fun project.

I was out of town for the last week, and came home yesterday to a GIANT PILE OF MAIL. A lot of it was junk, of course, but  amidst the political flyers and the open enrollment materials were the following:

  1. A giant package from Dubai containing a letter, random beauty products, a mix CD, yarn, and an absurd assortment of snacks.
  2. A smaller package from California containing a letter, random beauty products, and a sampling of odd Halloween candy (candy corn M&Ms!).
  3. Two postcards: “DC is the same – as douchey as ever. Be glad you left.”
  4. Two letters, one from a long time correspondent on the other side of the world, another from a new correspondent on the other side of the city.

So today I’m thankful for the mail, and for all the wonderful people who make my life happier by taking the time to put pen to paper.

Ernest Hemingway on Letter-Writing

I picked up the first volume of The Letters of Ernest Hemingway after reading a fascinating piece in Vanity Fair about the challenges and sneakiness involved in retrieving Hemingway’s correspondence from his estate in Cuba. Depending on who you ask, at the time of his suicide either the Hemingway estate was given to the Cuban government, or the Cuban government seized the estate – either way, the net effect was that for the last fifty years, most people, including scholars, have had no idea what all was still there. This volume of previously unpublished letters is the first in a series of 15 that will be published over the next 20 years. I haven’t yet made it past the introduction, and already I’m in love:

In a 1950 letter to [F. Scott] Fitzgerald’s biographer, Hemingway recalled Ford Madox Ford’s advice that “a man should always write a letter thinking of how it would read to posterity.” He remarked, “This made such a bad impression on met that I burned every letter in the flat includeing Ford’s.” He continued:

Should you save the hulls a .50 cal shucks out for posterity? Save them. o.k. But they should be written or fired not for posterity but for the day and the hour and posterity will always look after herself . . . . I write letters because it is fun to get letters back. But not for posterity. What the hell is posterity anyway? It sounds as though it meant you were on your ass.

Worth reading: The Hunt for Hemingway – Vanity Fair, October 2011