No, there’s no dirty joke here. It’s seriously meatloaf, from the Coronado Cafe, which thanks to its Best-of-Phoenix status fits #18 on my Life List. Since last year’s attempt at new year’s resolutions fell apart so quickly that all one can do is laugh nervously and change the subject, I thought this year, it might make sense to focus on paving the way for making progress on goals I already know I want to achieve.
First, though, let’s check into the highlights and lowlights of my adventures since starting work on the Life List in November.
Preening on Purposeful Progress (or Not)
Number 18 (try a new winner from the Phoenix New Times “Best of” every month) turned out to be a major happiness generator, as it led to discovering a good indie alt-rock station, multiple restaurants, and the public library’s free online courses, which in turn generated #48 (take a different online class every month for a year). My first online course is on feng shui, on the theory that maybe the closet can be persuaded to clean itself. Not doing so hot is #17 (see a different local band every month), due to inclement weather, work overload, and holiday commitments.
Number 5 (cook a dish from each of the 50 states) quickly turned into the 50 Dishes/50 Bands/50 States project, which has conquered as far as Delaware so far. In the process, I’ve cured my own salmon, tackled sweet potato pie, made candy sushi, heard a lot of shoegaze indie bands, and been motivated to start finding a broader range of music sources. Giant Guy Cat particularly appreciates the Alaska band’s “I write too many songs about cats” ditty.
Stalled and Stalleder
While I accomplished #16 (check out Las Vegas architecture), a lot of goals seem to be in a stall. Some are so simple that I don’t know what the hold-up is (#11 – grow my own herbs). Others require long-term work that’s only happening sporadically. For instance, achieving #1 (designer-quality sewing) really kind of requires digging out the sewing machine more than once in two months. It’d also be great if I cracked open the music theory book, got to the gym more than twice a week, started the research for research projects, and did some hiking prior to the trek up Camelback Mountain (#8).
On the up side, rainy nights motivated me to tackle most of my year-end updates to my music industry facts-and-figures wiki, which counts as progress toward #9.
On the down side, while I wasn’t paying attention, a few goals slipped out of the range of the possible in Phoenix. Number 23 (learn to belly dance) required attending a free class at Bookman’s… which turned its community room into a children’s section so it could expand its musical instrument section. Oops.
Making It All Possible
Aside from my hypothetical fairy godmother waving a wand and making me independently wealthy, what can I do to pave the way to progress?
1. Less Time Online
On the one hand, I deeply love how online databases have reduced research time — I can literally do in 20 minutes what used to take two days — and how the internet has made it possible to find compatible people with similarly quirky interests. On the other hand, the omnipresent potential for online interaction turns into a time suck, in which the illusion that I’m accomplishing something chases out actual accomplishments.
2. More Focus on Existing Projects
One of the first things I’m doing this new year is going through my paperwork basket and resolving old stuff. I tend to scatter off after new ideas, leaving old ones unfinished. Up side: I come up with some fun things I’d never have planned to tackle. Down side: three-quarters finished projects take up more space (both physically and emotionally) than finished projects.
3. A Clean House Is a Productive House
More gets done when my house is superficially clean and organized: I can find things; I can switch gears to different projects; I feel good about taking lunch out on the patio and relaxing. There’s a real link between “let’s go hide on the internet” and “that allows me to pretend I’m doing something productive because I don’t want to take the half hour to clean.” Lesson learned. I hope. It can’t be that difficult to hang up a sweater rather than tossing it over the back of a chair.
What Do I Hope to Have Accomplished a Year from Now?
The monthly projects are the easy ones, and they tend to generate other goodies. 50 Dishes/50 States/50 Bands will probably even be done.
–Knock off two or three of the one-shot goals that don’t require prep work (the less expensive “go there and do this” items).
–Be able to sew a simple dress. If I can get there, I have summer in Phoenix conquered.
–Have at least one major writing project truly written and looking for a home. Some require a weekend or two of research, and then I could write. I’ve done this before. It’s not that difficult. (In this vein, I finally ordered on eBay a set of Ranch Romances pursuant to #29, as $25 including shipping is a lot cheaper than taking time off to go to Denver to work on the public library’s collection there. I can go to Denver some other time. The resulting project may be fiction rather than lit crit, but at least it’s started.)
–Practice keyboards enough that I’m not apologizing when I sit down to play the parents’ Steinway baby grand. (I hate the touch on electronic keyboards but lack space or budget for a piano, which I do enjoy immensely.)
–Make the effort to multi-task. It is not that hard to have paint from one project drying on the patio while I cook, sew, research, write, or even go out and do things.
–Try to combine goals, where possible. There are community workshops on sewing. I could go to one, thus making progress on #1 while laying the groundwork for #24, #34, #47, and #41.