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2014 Goals: What I Did

At the beginning of 2014, I sat down and made a list of 50 things I’d (hypothetically) like to do with my year. I have not accomplished all of them, or maybe even half of them, but made some significant progress on so many that I don’t feel like I wasted too much opportunity. Here, with commentary, are the things I did:

  1. Swim in Forked Lake – Nailed it, despite that it was fairly chilly both times I was there. Forked Lake remains one of the Top Two Lakes.
  2. Learn how to make at least one new kind of candy – Yes. I have perfected peanut butter fudge, though I may abandon it. I think my chocolate covered cherries were great. I was pleased with the courting hazelnuts. The apple cider salted caramels were great. “Jordan” almonds were not something I ever need to repeat, and my divinity is still a work in progress. That all said, I think a goal for next year may be making less candy, or at least not undertaking it while simultaneously focusing on a time-intensive gift.
  3. Watch at least two of the following TV shows: Orphan Black, Masters of Sex, the Americans – Mostly. I am not all caught up on Orphan Black and need to pursue the Americans more on my own time, but I have seen enough of both to know that I really like them. JUST AS I SUSPECTED.
  4. Cross country ski at least three times: Really could not have done better at this one. I am really not sure how many times we cross country skied last winter, but I know it was at least five. I love it.
  5. Go for at least one bike ride in the country: Definitely did this, and loved it. However, I need to get my bike fixed so I can go for rides a) in Albany and b) on a bike that won’t try to kill me via gear issues.
  6. Try three new-to-me restaurants in Albany: Though I don’t have a running list, I am pretty sure I must have done this. Between the short-lived Burmese place, Parivar Indian street food, the opening of Rain, the opening of the Brakes Coffeehouse and Provisions, Stacks, the Gastropub, and so on . . . definitely did fine with this one.
  7. Run at least two 5Ks: Only ran the OK5K, so this may be another goal for another year.
  8. Go on a Maine canoe trip: Moose River Bow Trip, with Ben, Rachel, Ed, Peter the Beaver, and Brianna. Lovely and beautiful, with the best campsite in the world, two moose, a great horned owl, and too many bald eagles to count.
  9. Complete at least three levels of Rosetta Stone Spanish: Not exactly. But I did start most mornings with Duolingo, which accomplishes the same basic goal, and have made quite a bit of progress there within.
  10. Hike at least five high peaks: Not exactly, but again, I think I fulfilled the spirit of the goal if not the letter. I hiked Esther, Whiteface, Marcy, and Tabletop, and most of Fansipan in Vietnam. And perhaps most importantly of all, I’ve learned that I just don’t want to be someone who focuses on extreme hiking. Middling hiking: fine. Hiking in any sort of inclement weather conditions and/or steep/sheer cliff conditions: a definite no thank you.
  11. Take my wife out to a fancy meal: Again, the spirit if not the letter. She took me to Yono’s for my birthday, which was fancy, and we went out again for our anniversary to New World Bistro. Add in our meals in Vietnam and Cambodia (but particularly Vietnam) and our trip to Gramercy Tavern with my parents, and there was no deficit of fancy/exciting restaurant experiences in 2014.
  12. Go to Vietnam (or someplace equally exciting): Yes. Vietnam and Cambodia are both exciting, though perhaps not equally so.
  13. Learn to excel at playing at least one new board game: Yes. Not sure if the Resistance was this year, but if so, that should count; 7 Wonders was a late entry but again should do the trick. Basically, we played a lot of games, some of them new, so: yes.
  14. Host a dinner party here for some of our family: I held a Mother’s Day brunch, which I think should count.
  15. Improve my paddling skills: Yes, at least some. I would still like to improve them, along with my whitewater confidence/ability. But you can’t spend four days paddling on a river and not improve your skills at least a bit.
  16. Attend a show at Tangelwood: Did it twice, even. Yo Yo Ma and Emmanuel Ax, and the Last Southern Gentlemen. Both perfectly Tangelwoody.
  17. Stand on our balance board for at least five minutes without falling: Yes. It gets boring after awhile, though.
  18. Make at least one cake from the cake bible: Not exactly, but I did make the hazelnut crepe cake from Smitten Kitchen, which is basically the same thing. So delicious.
  19. By the end of 2014, have at least three houseplants on hand that I can keep alive: Sort of? I killed my croton plant by forgetting to ask someone to watch it while we were in Vietnam, and my terrarium via general ignorance, but am trying again with both, and have successfully kept a spider plant and its baby alive . . . so far.
  20. Fix the zipper on my goddamn sleeping bag like a goddamn grownup: Nailed it. I can now sleep in warmth, though I should maybe also just invest in a new sleeping bag.
  21. Attend a cultural event at a cool local venue, not including Tangelwood: We went and saw Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. It was great. We also went to DeFazio’s that night, which was ALSO great.
  22. Host a dinner party here for some of our friends: Not really sure where to count this, but we fed so many people so many things this year that it seems unfair to myself to not include it. So I am.
  23. Pare down my wardrobe, jewelry collection, shoe collection, and so on so that I only own things I actually like and wear: This is a work in progress. I’ve done the best on the shoes and jewelry. Wardrobe is coming along.
  24. Figure out a better system for organizing my saved blog posts: I tried, and I just don’t think the technology is there yet. So I think I get credit for my effort, even if the result is not what I was hoping for.

Things I didn’t get done:

  1. Swim in Lake’s Pond: I was only at camp once this year, and I didn’t have the leisure time I’d want available to swim properly. This summer for sure.
  2. Learn how to make mussels at home: No. I did do anchovies though, and will be trying chicken soon!
  3. Go to Schodack Island State Park: No, not even a little.
  4. Go to Adirondack Extreme: This may never happen.
  5. Learn to make bread: I may no longer care about this.
  6. Can some sort of jam: I may no longer care about this, either. I think both this and the bread are things that would be fun to try but I don’t see as part of my everyday (or even annual) life.
  7. Listen at least twice to one new album a month: Not really.
  8. Print and hang select pictures from our Tanzania trip: Not yet. Some day.
  9. Tell a story at Front Parlor: No. But I thought about it a lot . . . which counts for nothing.
  10. Kayak down the Kinderhook Creek: No. Maybe tubing down would go better for me, thrill-wise.
  11. Finish one quilt: No. But I did make a lot of progress on one . . . which again, counts for nothing.
  12. Read at least one Shakespearian play: Nope.
  13. Back up my gmail account: Nope.
  14. Sell my wedding shoes and dress: Nope. But maybe I don’t want to sell the shoes, after all?
  15. Go to the Mahar’s in Castleton: Nope.
  16. Take my dog to Capital Hills at least twice: Once. But that is not twice. Having a car, maybe at some point this year, should help with things like this.
  17. Run a ten-minute mile: Not even a little. Maybe my UP3 will help with things like THIS.
  18. Downhill ski and/or try out snowboarding: No. I resent that I will have to rent things, and that is holding me back. That and the general expense.
  19. Fix my boots so I can wear them: Nope.
  20. Take at least one historical building tour in Albany: Nope.
  21. Open and/or fix my membership with the Albany Public Library system: Nope.
  22. Go rock climbing at least once: Nope.
  23. Get my hair cut at least twice: I might have actually done this, but I can’t remember for sure. I am just bad at this.
  24. Make ice cream at least once: I got halfway, and then had to go do something else . . . so, no.
  25. Keep this thing going: Nope.
  26. And tell people about it: Not really.

In Praise of CDTA

I had to be in New York today for work, and got the earliest train out that I could in hopes of being able to make it home (ever). Normally the scenery from the train is lovely, but today it just looked like this:

All I could see was snow.

When the train arrived in Albany (on time, no less), the conductor welcomed us to Albany and announced that all the doors should open, but some of them might be frozen. I exited the train from this particular door:

The conductor was not kidding.

The conductor was not kidding.

Some kind-hearted friends had offered to come pick me up in a 4-wheel drive truck, knowing of my intense anger about our taxi situation. Since it was a reasonable enough hour for the buses to still be running, though, I decided to go with CDTA.

The experience was not perfect. Due to the ridiculous fact that the 114 and 214 buses to Albany pick up on opposite sides of East Street, I missed the opportunity to get on a 214 twenty minutes before I eventually boarded a 114. I say eventually because the 114’s bus driver took a much needed break in between arriving at the train station and departing, and passengers are not allowed on the bus without a driver . . . so I stood around in the freezing snow for fifteen minutes after the bus arrived. This probably would not have been so bad if I hadn’t been wearing a skirt. But it also wouldn’t have been so bad if there was a bus shelter on that side of the street.

All that said: CDTA was (and is) still running, despite horrible road conditions and the fact that it took a solid ten minutes for the 114 to climb crawl up Madison Avenue between Pearl and Swan. It arrived roughly at the time it was supposed to, and deposited me one block from my apartment. It cost $1.50. And what am I, a princess? My friends didn’t have to drive in the snow, I didn’t have to pay a corrupt taxi system $20, and I was home 45 minutes after my train got in, in a blizzard. CDTA is great. Everyone: ride the bus more. And then maybe they’ll have the money to build me my train-station bus shelter.

ps. Amtrak is also great. Don’t want a train delay? Don’t be a dummy and buy a ticket on a train coming from Canada and/or traveling across half the country. Done. Too easy.

 

What I Want To Do: 2014

50 things for me to aspire to, complete, learn, and accomplish in 2014, with a focus on the little stuff:

  1. Swim in Forked Lake
  2. Swim in Lake’s Pond
  3. Learn how to make mussels at home
  4. Learn how to make at least one new kind of candy
  5. Watch at least two of the following TV shows: Orphan Black, Masters of Sex, the Americans
  6. Cross country ski at least three times
  7. Go for at least one bike ride in the country
  8. Try three new-to-me restaurants in Albany
  9. Go to Schodack Island State Park
  10. Run at least two 5Ks
  11. Go to Adirondack Extreme
  12. Learn to make bread
  13. Can some sort of jam
  14. Listen at least twice to one new album a month
  15. Print and hang select pictures from our Tanzania trip
  16. Go on a Maine canoe trip
  17. Tell a story at Front Parlor
  18. Complete at least three levels of Rosetta Stone Spanish
  19. Kayak down the Kinderhook Creek
  20. Finish one quilt
  21. Hike at least five high peaks
  22. Take my wife out to a fancy meal
  23. Read at least one Shakespearian play
  24. Back up my gmail account
  25. Sell my wedding shoes and dress
  26. Go to Vietnam (or someplace equally exciting)
  27. Learn to excel at playing at least one new board game
  28. Host a dinner party here for some of our friends
  29. Host a dinner party here for some of our family
  30. Go to the Mahar’s in Castleton
  31. Take my dog to Capital Hills at least twice
  32. Improve my paddling skills
  33. Attend a cultural event at a cool local venue, not including Tangelwood
  34. Attend a show at Tangelwood
  35. Stand on our balance board for at least five minutes without falling
  36. Run a ten-minute mile
  37. Make at least one cake from the cake bible
  38. Downhill ski and/or try out snowboarding
  39. Fix my boots so I can wear them
  40. Take at least one historical building tour in Albany
  41. Open and/or fix my membership with the Albany Public Library system
  42. Pare down my wardrobe, jewelry collection, shoe collection, and so on so that I only own things I actually like and wear
  43. Go rock climbing at least once
  44. By the end of 2014, have at least three houseplants on hand that I can keep alive
  45. Get my hair cut at least twice
  46. Make ice cream at least once
  47. Figure out a better system for organizing my saved blog posts
  48. Keep this thing going
  49. And tell people about it
  50. Fix the zipper on my goddamn sleeping bag like a goddamn grownup

2013 Goals: What I Did

After a wonderful but not so restful week of traveling around New York State to celebrate Christmas (or: friends, family, and wealth of all sorts), I’m back and ready to jump into 2014. I had a pretty great 2013, all things considered, and one easy way to track that is to examine the goals I accomplished this year.

Last January, I sat down and thought about some small, concrete tasks I wanted to work on in 2013. I missed some, as is to be expected, but what’s pleasing is how many just happened. I wouldn’t go quite so far as to say they manifested themselves, but it does sort of feel that way–I think that there’s a connection between pointedly acknowledging your interest in something and pursuing that interest. I’m hoping to build on this for next year, while continuing to not get too into the damaging “bucket list” mentality that I think takes me out of living a spontaneous, present life. For now, though, here are a few of the things I did in 2013:

  • Made (vegetarian) French Onion soup for the first time
  • Tried absinthe. (Only rimmed on a cocktail at the Speakeasy, but I’m still counting it since that experience has led my previous interest in absinthe cocktails to dissolve.)
  • Took my whale-obsessed wife on a whale watch out of Plymouth, Massachusetts. We saw Nile the Humpback, who she has declared her spirit animal.
  • Took my dog on long walks at least once a week. (Sounds pathetic, but I have a dog who really doesn’t like walks that much, so it’s a real accomplishment.)
  • Hiked two mountains: Hadley and Porter
  • Swam in my two favorite lake-like bodies: Forked Lake and Lake’s Pond
  • Went cross-country skiing via a weekend at Dippikill
  • Learned to make three new kinds of candy, not just the one new kind I was aiming for. I have mastered two types of caramels and chocolate truffles, and am working on my peanut butter fudge.
  • Learned how to poach an egg with confidence
  • Took a tour of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and felt closer to my favorite adolescent-years author Madeleine L’Engle in the process. She’s more than just A Wrinkle in Time!
  • Had multiple bagels from Absolute Bagels at 108th and Broadway
  • Canned not just “something,” but tomato sauce.
  • Went on not one, but two random fun trips with my wife to places we hadn’t been as a couple. The first was to Rhode Island with some of our friends, and the second was to Montreal for our first anniversary.
  • Went to a show at the UCB
  • Got not just my first, but also my second massage–the first in Hudson, the other on Zanzibar! As it turns out, this was a very easy goal to accomplish. Also, hot stone massages are amazing.
  • Wrote a fundraising appeal letter for my favorite organization
  • Printed, framed, and hung select wedding photos
  • Took my aunt Carol out to lunch
  • Took my 10-year-old brother-in-law and 12-year-old sister-in-law on an adventure to Lake George, complete with jumping off of (small) cliffs into the water and exploring a waterfall
  • Learned how to make crepes with confidence

Adding in a move to Albany, increasing professional responsibility, a very stressful year of non-profit board service, making new friends and keeping old ones, spending lots of time with my family, countless picnics in Washington Park, keeping up my usual regiment of book reading / TV watching / Internet awareness, a literal safari, and starting this blog, it makes sense that this year has felt so incredibly full of joy and fun.

It has not been perfect, and of course, I did not accomplish everything I set out to do:

  • I did not even re-finish level one of Rosetta Stone Spanish, let alone complete level three
  • I have a horrible sleep schedule induced by my telecommuting lifestyle, instead of the semi-normal one I aspired to attain in January
  • I gave up on my goal to listen to one new album a month in April
  • I have twice started and twice failed to create the sourdough starter I need to make my own bread per the Tartine Bread method
  • I neither kayaked down the Kinderhook Creek with my brother nor sailed my father’s sunfish
  • I continue to be a total delinquent at fixing my sleeping bag’s zipper so it can be comfortably used in less than 60 degree weather

But, all that said, I have also accomplished quite a bit I didn’t set out to do, and that’s life. Also life: the lucky ability to get excited about 2014, and all the things I might be able to do in the next twelve months. But that’s for tomorrow.