On the last day of the year, I wrote about it. It was a weird and mostly fun year, and 2019 seems poised to be the same.
On the first morning of the first day of the year, I roused a friend from typical post-NYE grogginess and we drove to Magnuson Park to run a “polar bear plunge”. Are you familiar with the concept of a polar bear plunge? It is when you run some distance (in this case, a 5K), and then you cap the race by diving into a body of water (in this case, Lake Washington.) The water is cold and bracing and comes up to your forehead. When you emerge from it, you know a new year has started.
It was my friend’s first 5K ever; it was my first “dive headlong into very cold waters” ever. Starting off the new year with a first ever thing felt very good.
Suddenly becoming the person who convinces other people to go on runs feels weird, though, and faintly like I’m cosplaying as a different, more well-adjusted version of myself. There is a piece of my brain that remembers huffing and puffing my way to a twelve-minute mile in middle school; there is a piece of my brain that is still convinced it is literally impossible to run two contiguous miles without dropping dead of exhaustion.
One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to read War and Peace, and my method of tackling Tolstoy seemed so simple — twenty pages, every night before bed. There have been four nights I have attempted this; each night has been a failure. I have made seventeen pages of headway into the book, at an average of 4.25 pages a night. The wind, as it is said, is against my sails.
Did you know Tolstoy spoke French? Or that War and Peace is partially in French? I didn’t. I didn’t know much about Russian literature at all — and I still don’t, but I know exactly seventeen more pages about it than I did a week prior, which is some form of progress.
I am growing a beard now. This is terrible news for everyone involved.
I am trying to remove lots of extraneous things from my apartment, in what a reasonable outside observer would diagnose as a certain level of surface-level minimalism. (Or, in more modern terms: konmari-ing without the fuss.) I’ve thrown out some clothes; jackets I’ve never worn; some old vermouth that is probably spoiled; a busted old Kindle Fire; a halloween costume from 2015; a couple extra highballs; lots and lots of cables.
Soon I will move onto the books, which will be very hard — it feels so good to own books. Read books; unread books; coffee table books; books about art; books about computers; books that turned me into who I am; books that I was at one point convinced will turn me into someone else. I will try and keep the ones I need (Murakami, Vonnegut, poetry) and the ones I plan on reading this year (Eco, some Sedaris). And the rest will go to the library, or wherever you send books that deserve a better home.
After the books will come the video games and then probably some more glassware. Glassware is easy — they are just vessels. There is no animism in a coupe, as much as I may like it.
I’m trying out using OmniFocus, which is a computer program that purports to make you a more productive person.
If you use OmniFocus, teach me your secrets. There is something so fundamentally appealing about being able to map your entire life onto a taxonomy of checklists!
I am worried (albeit only faintly) that if OmniFocus doesn’t work, it will less be a failure of the software (which seems very nice) and more a failure of that underlying assumption: that you cannot, in fact, sit down and think for a long time and emerge with a roadmap for the best possible 2019, a glorious lattice of checklists and todos.
But we’ll see! Maybe you can.