Last January, I adopted my friend’s practice of writing “Intentions” instead of “Resolutions.” I like the change in the wording. Rereading what I wrote in January, I’m a bit surprised that I accomplished 15 of the 20 that I set out for in 2018. I won’t share all of my Intentions because they are deeply personal, but I want to take a minute to reflect on a few here.
Somehow I have looked up and there are now two weeks left in the year–June somehow turned into December very quickly this year in ways that frighten me. I often quote Bob Dylan’s lyric “Time is a jet plane” and this year Time was a space-bound rocket. I’ve just had a very magical week personally and professionally, so before I meet up with some friends to ride bikes, I want to take a pause here and reflect on these 2018 Intentions intentionally. Here.
Read 52 Books
Nope. One book a week is super hard right now. I had a lot of time between classes as an adjunct, so I could pull this off no problem back then. I miss very little about those days, but I do struggle to make time for reading. As of today, I have read 39 of my 52 goal and maybe I’ll get two or three read by the end of the year. My top three favorites are Less by Andrew Sean Greer, The Tao of Bill Murray: Real-Life Stories of Joy, Enlightenment, and Party Crashing, and Walking the Dog by Elizabeth Swados. I question whether Less deserves the Pulitzer (they forgot to ask me to be on the committee), but I loved how the story moved through different locations. I’m a fangirl of interesting dialogue and landscape metaphors.
Gavin Edwards could have done so much more with the material of Bill Murray’s life, but this is on my list because I laughed really hard on a plane by myself when I read a few anecdotes from the Lost in Translation era. Like I really lost it. Like I had tears in my eyes from laughing. Like I laughed hysterically. Alone. Pretty sure several people wondered how I made it through TSA. Or if I was on something. I got side-eyed by more than one person about the noise I was making laughing. Exhaustion makes me silly. I won’t write the quotes here, but pay close attention to the anecdotes about the useful Japanese he learned while they were filming Lost In Translation. I laugh just thinking about it.
And then lastly, Walking the Dog may be my favorite book of 2018. I just picked this book up from a library display, and just fell in love with it. The narrator has this haunting way of telling the story in the present and the past simultaneously. I was so depressed to learn that Swados is dead and that she won’t be writing any new books. What an artist.
I’m going to round out the year with three more books Some Trick by Helen DeWitt, Michael Pollan’s latest book, and Small Pleasures by The School of Life. So you know, ten books away from goal. Not too bad.
Learn To Surf
YES! I stood up and rode that giant beginner board on my first attempt during my lesson. I loved that day of surfing so much that I’m relieved I discovered skiing in my 20s rather than surfing. Had I found my way to that life, I’d probably still be cocktail waitress living for the next tasty wave, but you never know. I met some locals in Maui who shared that they all had to come back to mainland after 911 because nobody was flying. Restaurants and hotels laid people off in droves. I started graduate school (the first time) that year, so you know, it all worked out. I can’t bring myself to learn how to surf in the PNW because the water is cold. When I see those surfers in their full body wetsuits, I’m like, NOPE. They look like human-shaped seals. Total shark bait. Freezing.
Ride My Road Bike More
Yes! I fell back in love with my road bike. The danger of cars is real, and I pedal in terror sometimes, but I love it again. I think I fell out of love with the road bike because it’s the one bike I own that doesn’t whisper that I’m out of shape, it screams like YOU ARE CHUBBY, INDRUNAS. It’s also my cheapest bike to maintain because I haven’t upgraded anything on it in years because I’m dedicated to the idea that if I want a lighter bike, I could just lose five pounds off my ass. Overall, it’s a great bike, and the road rides I’ve done this year made me really happy. Despite how hard it is to pedal uphill.
Paint Our Chalet
Nope. I like to call our condo a chalet because it feels like we should be able to snowboard right out our backdoor. We eventually want to have a house, but this was the best we English majors could afford, and we love it. It’s a pretty sweet little place, really. We put in new flooring in our garage and the mister created a bike shop for his art, and it’s the nicest “room” we have. The rest of the place needs to be painted and the flooring needs an update. Not this year. 2019 is the Year of Chalet Remodeling. We haz da plans.
Kiss Elroy Everyday
Yes! My little pupper is turning 14 in 2019, and when I’m home, I kiss him everyday. I didn’t really have to create an Intention to do this, but I wanted to record how special it is that he’s still kicking it. He’ll walk 2.5 miles like a boss, and he’s still up for playing. I’m not sure how well he can hear and see these days, but he’s still the same as he’s always been. Just grayer. Just less muscular. Just with stinkier breath. Like me.
Cut Back on The Twitterz
Yep. I’ve really scaled back on the Twitter. I go through waves but I’ve had to dial it back. It’s such a pretty hate machine thanks to our current president. Twitter helps express rage in bite-sized chunks that can be refreshing. Therapeutic. I get that. I do it. There’s something that has changed in the current political climate that has ruined Twitter for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still interact with that medium, but I’ve scaled it way back. When a swarm of like-minded people get themselves all riled up around an idea, I have a hard time seeing the value of Twitter these days. Remember when people used to share what they were reading? Or quotes from blogs they’ve read? Now it’s become a stream of privilege and power that deeply disturbs me. There have been a few times when I’ve seen personal attacks launched by the dozens and it’s so uncivilized. Just petty in the grand scheme of life. I’ve made a deal with myself that the minute I’m annoyed by what I see in my stream, I close it down. Just walk away. Or I check my favorite accounts like The Cat Rapper, Awkward Animals, Cher, WeRateDogs, and Black Metal Cats. Or I just look at Bike Twitter.
Keep Drafting My Book
Yes. I finally have an outline that will work, and I’m pretty excited about it. I’ve been talking about it for years, and it’s all started to come together. I’ll share more about that in the upcoming year. Truth be told, the only book I want to see finished in this household in the upcoming year is the Mister’s dissertation. And damn, I’m throwing a big fucking party when that happens.
Nope. I wrote a short piece for a bike zine this year, and I’ve done a pretty decent job of blogging. Given all of the other things. All the other things. My piece in the bike zine doesn’t have an author attribution, the editor totally changed my words in ways that I love, and it’s one of my favorite accomplishments of the year. Magic.
So. How to conclude this? Of all the special things that happened this week, here’s one.
I boarded a plane to Portland from Seattle with the members of Death Cab for Cutie. They obviously have higher status with Alaska Airlines than me, but you know, I was two rows back from the band. At the airport, I was in a work meeting tryna be professional and I locked eyes with Ben Gibbard. Or maybe I just imagined it. I have a sticker on my laptop that shows some love for Bellingham. So maybe he was looking at that–those guys were a college band in my town. They’ve written lovely songs about my town. Hey, there’s Ben Gibbard!
Then I saw the rest of the band. I didn’t say anything to them as I boarded the plane, but I have gone back and listened to all of their albums since then. I haven’t liked most of what they’ve put out since Chris Walla left the band, but Something About Airplanes, We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes, and The Photo Album have a tiny special place in my heart.
I can remember those years intentionally song by song. I’m thankful. I’m grateful. Intentionally.
39 books read is pretty damn awesome and so are you! I’ll look for Walking the Dog—and I now have “kiss Pabu every day” on my list of intentions. 😃
I somehow missed that you did a reading at Village Books, Bethany! I saw the poster after the fact. Hope it went well! I wish you a productive holiday season with Pabu smooches and writing. Would love to hear your thoughts on Swado’s book too. Thanks for reading!