Saturday Will Be Date Night

Making resolutions seems to get harder every year. Last year, I only had one:

1. I would like to finish another book this year. I cheated a little last year because I had a specific book in mind when I made the resolution. I was already eagerly waiting to read it. I want to see how I do if I don’t specify the book. Finding a book to read will be part of the challenge. If I can do this one, maybe I’ll up the 2012 resolution to two books!

I did read a book last year! I read the complete Bone graphic novel. It’s not a major work of literature, but it is a 1300 page epic with an amazing story and both depth and humor. Once I started, it was hard to put down. I finished it in about a week in September, which is pretty fast for me, even for a graphic novel.

For my new resolutions:

1. I would like to make an effort to spend time away from my office. When I’m studying/working, it’s so easy to spend every night, seven days a week, in my office until 12am or later. Whenever I spend even just an evening with my friends and/or family, I remember what it’s like to take a break from work. As much as I enjoy what I do, I need to find the balance between work and non-work.

2. Related to the previous resolution, I need to be more social. It’s been a long time since I went out on a date. I tried online dating a few years ago, but it didn’t go anywhere (partly because I didn’t drive on the freeway at the time). My old boss/friend (who now has a boyfriend) gave me the remaining paid time for his account for a popular online dating website, so I should use it. My goal for the year is to go on two dates, not necessarily with the same person. Two dates doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s a big deal for me.

Even my advisor told me not to come in to the office on Saturdays, so maybe Saturday will be “date night,” or at least “social night.”

I’ll try to add more resolutions if I think of any. I graduate with my second master’s degree in five months, so this will be a year of change, regardless of what resolutions I make. It should be interesting to see what I’ll be doing at this time next year.

2010 Resolution Retrospective

The new school term started this week. One of my classes (on stochastic processes) is considered (by the professor) to be the most difficult required statistics class at the master’s level, so I’m already worried. This is my excuse as to why I haven’t made my resolution respective this year until now.

I only had three resolutions last year (I split them into two posts, here and here):

1. I have been terrible at updating this blog lately. When I started this blog, I strived to post something every day. I can’t even update every three weeks anymore! I would like to get back into blogging regularly.

I wrote 88 posts in 2010 and 95 posts in 2009. I did okay for the first couple months, but my frequency went down fast. I don’t think I did very well with this resolution, but at least I haven’t dropped the blog entirely!

2. As I mentioned above, my flabby midsection needs to go. I’m never going to have a swimmer’s body at this rate. I’m still deciding whether I have the energy/time to go to the gym, but I have to start exercising again for my mental and physical well-being.

I had big plans for this, but they didn’t work out. Once I started graduate school at Prestigious University, I wanted to go to the gym and/or go swimming on campus on a regular basis. I went a few times last term, but I got busy and too tired to keep it up. However, since this campus is big and I don’t know how to ride a bike, I walk a lot. Unfortunately, my midsection is still just as (but not more!) flabby as it was last year, so I can’t say I did well on this resolution either.

3. I want to finish a book this year. Finishing a whole book sounds easy to some people, but this is a feat I haven’t done in many years. I should have a really good shot this year, though, since “Robin and Ruby,” the sequel to “The World of Normal Boys” is coming out in March! I’ve been waiting almost ten years for this!

Finally, a resolution I made good on! I finished “Robin and Ruby” on December 28th. It felt good to read a whole book. It’s so much easier for me to spend hours playing a video game or watching YouTube clips, but I think reading expands the mind and imagination in a different way than video games or movies.

As usual, and like most people, I didn’t keep most of my resolutions. But if I didn’t make them, I might not have finished “Robin and Ruby.” I was keenly aware of my resolution to finish it before the end of the year, and it forced me to make time to read. I definitely needed a little push, so this indirect self-motivation was great.

Now, for a new resolution:

1. I would like to finish another book this year. I cheated a little last year because I had a specific book in mind when I made the resolution. I was already eagerly waiting to read it. I want to see how I do if I don’t specify the book. Finding a book to read will be part of the challenge. If I can do this one, maybe I’ll up the 2012 resolution to two books!

I don’t want to repeat all of my resolutions again (though I do still want to update the blog more often and lose some weight/flab), so I’ll have to take some time to think about what other resolutions I want to make this year. I need to go back to studying now, though. Happy 2011 everyone!

A Whole Book Part II

At the beginning of the year, I made a New Year’s resolution to read a whole book. The book I planned to read this year is “Robin and Ruby,” the sequel to “The World of Normal Boys” (my favorite book after which this blog is named). It came out in March, but I didn’t buy it until June because I knew I wouldn’t have time to read it during school. I tried starting the book over the summer, but I kept getting distracted by other things and forgetting what happened before I got very far.

I left my copy of “Robin and Ruby” with my friends in Canada with whom I stayed when I visited in August. They had read “The World of Normal Boys” a few years ago because I had chosen it as a selection for our (now disbanded) book club (an informal group of math graduate students who wanted to read and discuss non-math books), so I figured they would enjoy reading the sequel. I didn’t buy a new copy for myself until October, when I went to the street fair in The City (not all bookstores carry the book, but I knew the bookstore on Gay Street would have it). By then I was back in school, so I again didn’t have time (or decided not to make time) to read it.

Once the school term ended, I told myself I would start the book again and finish it before the end of the year. I started the book a little over a week ago, on my flight back home from school. I’m 104 pages in, out of 276. With a week left in the year, I’m more determined than ever to finish this book. I waited nearly ten years for a sequel to “The World of Normal Boys,” and I’ve waited almost the entire year to make good on my New Year’s resolution. I’m enjoying the book so far, which is a good sign. It should get easier the further I get in the book.

Wish me luck!

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A Whole Book

I don’t read many books. I like reading, but I read very slowly. I often lose my concentration, so I can’t sit and read for long periods of time. I usually pick up a book for a week and tell myself that I’m going to have the patience to read the whole thing, but I never do. I’ve still never made it all the way through the first Harry Potter.

There are very few books that I have been able to start and finish in a very short amount of time, my two favorites being “The World of Normal Boys” (after which this blog is named) by K.M. Soehnlein and “Dispatches From The Edge” by Anderson Cooper (I love Anderson Cooper). “The World of Normal Boys” is my favorite book of all time; it is the only (non-children’s and non-comic) book that I have read all the way through more than once.

This brings me to another New Year’s resolution. I want to finish a book this year. Finishing a whole book sounds easy to some people, but this is a feat I haven’t done in many years. I should have a really good shot this year, though, since “Robin and Ruby,” the sequel to “The World of Normal Boys” is coming out in March! I’ve been waiting almost ten years for this!

*** Update 12/24/10: Part II of this post is here. ***

Late Retrospective

My brother and I spent New Year’s Eve (and New Year’s Day) with my sister in Irvine (where she lives). It was a low-key celebration, but we were able to see distant fireworks over Disneyland from my sister’s window!

Now for my resolution retrospective. I didn’t do very well on last year’s New Year’s resolutions. I had four:

 1. I want to be more conservative with my money. Since I started working full time, I’ve been better about not wasting as much money buying unnecessary knick-knacks, but there are other ways I can cut corners as well. With my impending move to the accounting department (and the dramatic pay cut that goes with it), I’m going to need to save even more than before. No more 4 dollar mochas from Starbucks for a while.

Because I went back to school and voluntarily left my job, I’ll excuse myself for breaking this resolution. I try to be conservative with my money, but any amount of money I spend is technically negative already because I don’t have income anymore.

2. My house is full of boxes from when I moved back from both college and graduate school. The amount of stuff I’ve kept over the years is overwhelming. I need to sit down and sort through everything, getting rid of items I don’t need and organizing (and maintaining) the things I keep in a neat and orderly manner. This task is long overdue.

I actually didn’t lift a finger for this resolution until a few weeks ago. Whenever my brother comes home for his breaks from medical school, one of his main missions is to clean the house of all the useless clutter. I usually lack motivation to clean when my brother isn’t home, but I did a large amount of cleaning and organizing when he was home for Christmas. I can see the top of my desk now!

3. Since I started my current job seven months ago, I’ve gained about ten pounds. I’ve been to the gym at most three times. I’m still at a very ideal weight, and I try to limit my intake of unhealthy foods, but I definitely don’t feel as healthy as I’d like to be. I would like to either go back to the gym on a regular basis or figure out a way to exercise regularly so that I can feel healthier and not have to worry about gaining all my weight back.

For about a month or two toward the end of summer, I went on nightly walks with my parents to lower my mom’s cholesterol level. That, in combination with watching what I ate (without true dieting) helped me lose a few pounds. Unfortunately, I was a bit too enthusiastic about the holidays, so I gained everything back during my winter break. My weight ended up breaking even in 2009. As I said last year, my weight is still “ideal,” but I would still like to lose my somewhat flabby midsection.

4. While I started The Great Photo Project a while ago, there is a long way to go. My brother is pushing me to continue as well. I started strong, but I lost motivation and it started to feel more like a chore than a hobby. I would like to keep up my motivation and make a lot of progress with this project. I think the end result is important and will outweigh any temporary frustrations I have with the project.

The only progress I made for this resolution was when I scanned pictures of my sister’s childhood for her wedding slideshow, so I really made no progress at all.

Now for my new resolutions:

1. I have been terrible at updating this blog lately. When I started this blog, I strived to post something every day. I can’t even update every three weeks anymore! I would like to get back into blogging regularly.

2. As I mentioned above, my flabby midsection needs to go. I’m never going to have a swimmer’s body at this rate. I’m still deciding whether I have the energy/time to go to the gym, but I have to start exercising again for my mental and physical well-being.

I seem to have fewer resolutions each year. I will try to add more later (even though I’m already ten days late. Happy 2010 everyone!

Forced Exercise

In an effort to get started on my New Year’s resolutions, I went to the gym over the weekend. As I expected, I wasn’t very into it. I did a little strength training, a little ab work, and then spent 20 minutes on an elliptical trainer.

I used to be really into working out. I would go four times a week and always try to beat my own record for how long I could stay on the elliptical trainer. This time, the 20 minutes I did felt forced and ultimately unproductive.

I’m pretty sure exercising at the gym is the kind of activity that is hard to get going, but once you get into it, you wonder how you did without it. Actually, many things are like that for me, such as watching Heroes, blogging, or eating sushi. Some things are linked with my fear of change and/or fear of trying new things, but that can of worms is for another day.

Anyway. I don’t know if there’s an easy way to get back into exercising, beyond regularly forcing myself to go to the gym. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of making excuses to not go (like getting home from work around 9pm, which is what I did today), but I shouldn’t make excuses every day.

Why does self-improvement have to be so difficult?

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Resolution Retrospective

Because Amy asked so nicely, I’m going to put up my list of New Year’s resolutions. First things first, I’m going to review over last year’s resolutions.

1. I would like to take more pictures with my digital camera. I never feel like I’m taking enough pictures, and I’m not taking every opportunity to improve my picture-taking skills.

Over the last year, I’ve taken at least 1000 pictures with my digital camera. That seems like an acceptable number, but I still don’t feel like I’ve improved my picture-taking skills. Maybe I’m expecting too much; it’s not like I’m a professional photographer. I’m going to say that I kept my resolution.

2. Along the same lines as my first resolution, I would like to print out some of my favorite digital pictures and make a photo album (or three). Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but there’s something special about having a physical album to look through rather than just viewing the pictures on a computer.

Where did the time go? I honestly didn’t take any steps toward keeping this resolution. I bought a photo/negative scanner so that I can archive my old family photos, but I haven’t printed any yet. I also haven’t even scanned nearly as many pictures as I would have hoped by now.

3. I’ve always had a problem with time management. There are days when I have lots of important things to do and yet I will put them off for no good reason and complain about being bored. I get into a rut and I stay there, even when I know that I should be more productive. I sound like any procrastinator, but it bugs me a lot. I would like to be more productive with my time. I think that’s part of why I like working at Target so much; I always feel productive while I’m working.

I haven’t really changed much at all in this respect. My days are certainly productive now that I have a full time job, but I still waste a lot of my time off. I guess “productive” and “waste of time” should be more well defined for me to really evaluate this. But I maintain that watching all three seasons of Heroes in one week (I finished the third one last night around 3am) shouldn’t be considered a complete waste. What an amazing show.

4. Having moved away for college and graduate school, I have friends in many different places, but I don’t keep in touch with them as much as I would like. I’m really bad at replying to emails, even when I truly mean to. I was talking to a friend online tonight who still thought I was living in Canada, even though I moved back home six months ago. I would like to be better at keeping in touch with my friends and update them more often with what’s going on in my life.

Yeah, I’m exactly like everyone else; I don’t keep my resolutions. I’ve somewhat kept up with updating my friends on what I’m doing, but I still fall into the trap of being reclusive and not replying to emails in a timely manner. I owe one of my old friends from graduate school an email; I’ve kept a note to do it for at least two months.

5. I often feel isolated from the straight community by being gay and from the gay community by not having gay friends and not really knowing how to “be gay.” I would like to make more gay friends. I think having friends who see the world in a similar way would help me in understanding and accepting myself.

This one is interesting. My boss/friend is gay, and one of my college friends came out this year, so I guess I do have more gay friends now than I did a year ago, even though I didn’t make any “new” gay friends. My gay friends don’t see the world the same way I do, but I don’t really see myself as an outsider as much these days. Most of the time, I don’t even think about how normal or not normal I am. I’m just me.

So, it looks like I roughly accomplished two of my five resolutions from last year. I’d say that’s pretty good, considering I never used to make resolutions. Now, for this year’s resolutions:

1. I want to be more conservative with my money. Since I started working full time, I’ve been better about not wasting as much money buying unnecessary knick-knacks, but there are other ways I can cut corners as well. With my impending move to the accounting department (and the dramatic pay cut that goes with it), I’m going to need to save even more than before. No more 4 dollar mochas from Starbucks for a while.

2. My house is full of boxes from when I moved back from both college and graduate school. The amount of stuff I’ve kept over the years is overwhelming. I need to sit down and sort through everything, getting rid of items I don’t need and organizing (and maintaining) the things I keep in a neat and orderly manner. This task is long overdue.

3. Since I started my current job seven months ago, I’ve gained about ten pounds. I’ve been to the gym at most three times. I’m still at a very ideal weight, and I try to limit my intake of unhealthy foods, but I definitely don’t feel as healthy as I’d like to be. I would like to either go back to the gym on a regular basis or figure out a way to exercise regularly so that I can feel healthier and not have to worry about gaining all my weight back.

4. While I started The Great Photo Project a while ago, there is a long way to go. My brother is pushing me to continue as well. I started strong, but I lost motivation and it started to feel more like a chore than a hobby. I would like to keep up my motivation and make a lot of progress with this project. I think the end result is important and will outweigh any temporary frustrations I have with the project.

I think four resolutions is okay for now. I’m sure focusing on these will be difficult enough. I’d still like to continue working on last year’s resolutions too, so I have a lot of work to do. There are other work/job/career related things I’d like to accomplish as well, but I’m waiting to see how the accounting position pans out first.

Happy 2009 everyone! Less than three weeks until George W. Bush is no longer the President!

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