What’s Up? (1/31/2018)

2018 Resolutions

I don’t like to go too long without journaling here. The act of putting internal reflection into words, and publishing that, publically, can be pretty cathartic. Early January, when people are executing on New Year’s Resolutions, is both a great and dangerous time to commit thoughts to paper. Sometimes people come up with loft resolutions with no plan of execution — heck, I’ve been there. I’ve probably, definitely, declared a resolution on this blog that I’ve never followed through on, but I like to think I’ve learned how to come up with achievable goals.

For instance: Let’s say I want to work on my running. Running more miles this year vs. last year is an unknowable goal. I can only guess how many miles that would be, and putting a number on it needlessly complicates things.  But I do know that I ran downtown three times last year, so, running downtown five times this year would be a measurable goal and realistic, if low, goal.

If I want to lose some kinda weight, that takes even more work to measure. For instance, last year I believe I said “I want to weigh less than 170 lbs at least once” – and there were occasions where I weighed myself and got in at 169, which I’ll take as a win. If I want to improve on last year’s goal and say “I want to weigh less than 170 lbs for a week” I’ll have to keep track of my weight over time. Not only that, but it’d take significantly more work — I couldn’t just hit 169 once and call it a day, I’d probably have to get down to 165 to account for normal fluctuation.

Do you see how much trouble a resolution like that could cause? I’d much rather just run downtown five times a year, and maybe lose weight in the process, but in the end that doesn’t matter as much to me.

Pick Up Guitar

One of my resolutions this year is to simply pick up the guitar again. I have three guitars; one acoustic slide, one acoustic, and one electric. They could all use a little work before I get back into the hobby. The acoustic slide just needs a little tuning and we should be good, the regular ol acoustic needs to be brought to a local shop and repaired, but it will be worth it to get that up and running. And then there’s the electric guitar, which probably needs a full-on factory repair, because the pickups aren’t working.

I feel like I have a funny relationship with guitar. Yes I have 7-8 years of experience with it, but I’m probably still no better than your average intermediate student. I spent a lot of time messing around, improvising, learning this song and that song, but I seriously lack practice in some of the basic fundamentals. Not that I’m looking to change that this year — that may be too lofty a resolution — no, I’m just looking to pick it back up and start playing once a week.

Learn Dutch

So get this. In 2016 I stumble on an ASMR video that is a basic lesson in Dutch, teaching the colors, rood, oranj, geel, etc. I find it kinda cute (because ASMR) but also satisfying to repeat. The J’s and G’s feel particularly nice.

So on June 30, 2016 I downloaded Duolingo and, on a whim, just started some Dutch lessons and never looked back. So what started as an experiment is now something I’d like to finish in 2018. I feel like, with enough time and effort, I should be able to finish all of the Duolingo lessons in the Dutch language. This might be the most demanding of my 2018 resolutions.  

Travel West

This resolution is incredibly short and simple: I think I’d like to travel west of Pittsburgh for something, sometime this year. Probably a concert. This isn’t a matter of improving something in my life, or bettering myself, it’s just a thing I think would be fun to do.

Get A Tattoo (Design)

This resolution is more “unfinished business” than anything else. In the summer of 2014 I commissioned a design for a tattoo that I never got. On some level, I’m glad I didn’t go through with the original idea, and I had time to think about it. In 2015 me and the artist re-aligned on a new idea that also never came to fruition. I don’t think I’ve been ripped off as a much as he’s simply busy or has completely forgotten, but I’ve also had no luck in hearing back from him, which is a little scary. If I can at least get the commission drawing in my hands by this summer, than this four-year-long journey will be over, and the journey of actually getting a tattoo can begin.

Pair Down My Cocktail Bar

Oh geez, this will probably be my longest entry in a long, long time… but another thing I want to do in 2018 is trim down some of the excess liquor in my kitchen. There are a lot of bottles in my posession that were purchased and rarely touched. When you get into cocktail culture, I think it’s easy to buy things thinking you *need* them in your bar, or you *need* them to make this particular drink. When you get to where I am, I think you start to realize what you like and what you don’t, and you can start focusing on having ingredients solely for your favorite drinks rather than having a little bit of everything.

For my sake, there’s probably only two categories of drinks that I want to be ready to make at a moment’s notice: classic Gin cocktails, and tiki drinks. For me, pairing down my cocktail bar doesn’t mean throwing out the liquor I don’t want, but rather, testing myself to use unwanted liquor to make good “farewell” drinks. Excess vodka can be used for mules, Cherry Herring for Singapore Slings, etc. Once living with a well-stocked but “minimal” bar, I shouldn’t be tempted to pick up random bottles anymore — I should only replace the necessities once they’ve been used up.

The irony that my first goals were all about being healthy and running, and that my last goal was about being a more efficient connoisseur of alcohol, is not lost on me. Believe me, I’m aware how polar-opposite some of my favorite things are, but that’s just life.


Whats Up? (1/6/14)

There’s an important source of guidance in my life who suggested meditation; which is something I have tried on my own a few times before, but considering that we’re in the swing of the year for resolutions and reinventions, I decided to try meditation by-the-book this time. I tried to eliminate distractions, I lit a candle in my room to look at, and I focused on my breathing. I didn’t get quite there yet, but it felt good, I didn’t regret the time spent, and I didn’t feel frustrated. The source I got these tips from suggested meditating in the morning, which I’ll try to do in the future, and committing to a meditation schedule, which I’ll have to figure out over the course of this semester.

I came up with a few other resolution-ish ideas today, though I get nervous at the thought of calling them resolutions. I feel like resolutions don’t work. They’re non-committal things you only do because it’s January. I need to do things for myself, make changes, and if they happen to occur during January, then so be it.

I’m going to start looking for ways to better express my character through clothing. That may seem like a shallow thing to start with, but hear me out. There was a floral woman’s cardigan on Threadless that I really liked. I’ve never worn a cardigan before, so I was a little apprehensive, but what really killed it for me was that none of the woman’s sizes would fit me. Now, I love the t-shirts I have, don’t get me wrong, but I think in a way I might have been tricking myself into thinking that they were expressing my character. They’re unique sure, some of them odd, some of them not very masculine – but they’re still all just t-shirts. I want something more dainty, floral-print shirts or dress-shirts, infinity scarves; something that says something different than “this guy has an interesting choice in t-shirts.”

The other change I’m trying out today, besides meditation, is salad. Not dieting. Salad. It will be a cold day in hell when the month comes that I don’t eat pizza, or any number of unhealthy but delicious foods. That being said, I’m hoping that I find the delicious side of salads; which I’ve always found boring. It’s 10PM right now, and I first ate, and last ate, at 2PM. I’m freaking starving, and a bag of Dole Spring Salad, a Granny Smith Apple, and a Sunkist Orange are going to have to settle for dinner. I’m hoping that this turns out to be a tasty, and filling combination of fruits and veggies.

And if all of these fail, I can go back to being content with the way I’ve been living life for the last two decades.