Looking Forward: Goals for 2016

We’re nearly through the month of January, so, in a typical show of timeliness, I thought it would be suitable to share my goals for the current year. I could supply a proliferation of excuses related to the 40-hour work week, a visit from my sister, and weekends filled with biking and stymied attempts to find comfortable, work-appropriate footwear, but I will spare you the details.

So, without further ado, here are my 9 resolutions for 2016. To keep it visually interesting, I’ve interspersed them with beautiful photos of Portland, all courtesy of Greg.

Finding the Meaning in Life

1. Start reading again before bed

Unfortunately, I have been using my chronic inability to obtain 8 hours’ sleep per night as an excuse for not having time to do any substantial reading. Ironic, because reading before bed calms me down as I then contemplate fictional conundrums instead of my own.

Sellwood Park

2. Work out 5 times per week, on average

This may seem unrealistic, but I was already hitting this target maybe 75% of the time in 2015. And my definition of “work out” is fairly mild – a 20-minute yoga video after a tiring day at work is worth just as much as a 4-mile run on a Sunday afternoon. All of the usual arguments apply: working out makes me feel better, helps me sleep better, and reminds me to eat better, too.

Ferns in a jar

3. Wear lipstick once every two weeks

This one may seem like pure silliness, and it is. But one lighthearted resolution is necessary, I think! For others who also enjoy makeup, I highly recommend adding Auxiliary Beauty and Cheap as Fuck to your reading list.

Hawk and Mt. St. Helens

4. Buy a car

A year in New Zealand turned me into a hiking enthusiast (no surprises there), and it’s very frustrating to be able to see Mt. St. Helens (above), Mt. Cook, and Mt. Adams on a clear day yet not be able to access them!

Pine branch

5. Continue training so that I can run home from work (7 miles)

In mid-December, I was consistently able to run 4 miles without feeling overexterted. That may not sound like anything much to proper runners, but it was a huge accomplishment for me. Unfortunately, since I am a pansy, I refuse to run when it is raining and/or below 50 degrees, which means that training has been on hiatus since before Christmas. But that will change when the weather finally improves!

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge

6. Pay off student loans

I’ve written about my student loan debt before on this blog, and I’m ready for it to finally come to an end. I was pretty lucky to leave school with a modest amount of debt — at least in comparison to the average American graduate — but my ability to pursue a Master’s degree, etc. is severely curtailed and I insist that the financial side of higher education (in addition to other aspects) is broken.

Portland downtown at sunset

7). Obtain a promotion/make a tangible career decision

I’m now an entry-level professional in my mid-twenties, so this shouldn’t be too surprising. Many of the people I’ve known since high school have taken on an air of the professionalesque, and, after a year gallivanting around New Zealand and Australia, I’ve come to crave some sort of career development.  On one hand, these feelings strike me as odd because the liberal curriculum to which I was exposed in college pushed me to question and invalidate many of the cornerstones of corporate America. At the same time, though, it’s not fun to flounder aimlessly for a prolonged period of time, and professional advancement is not wholly in opposition to intellectual curiosity.

I’ve thought seriously about including some more work-related posts here on my blog, but wasn’t sure if readers would be interested or if I would come to regret it later. Any thoughts on that? I’d try my best not to write them in a cringeworthy LinkedIn style.

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge II

8). Write to grandparents once a month

This is more of a “be better at keeping up with your family and friends” sort of resolution. I like to use my military background as an excuse for why I’m not good at staying in touch with people, but I’m feeling more and more strongly that this is something I ought to be doing a better job of.

Among the trees

9. Start following international news again

New Zealand is a fairly isolated country, and its denizens are, on average, fairly unconcerned with international developments. I’m afraid some of that attitude rubbed off on me. Also, I hate feeling ignorant about current events. So, in an homage to my high-school-debater younger self, I bought a 2-year subscription to The Economist and have started learning about record low oil prices, prolonged intercontinental quibbles, and dry British humor yet again.

What do you hope to achieve or change in the new year?

P.S. I should also stop promising to write specific blog posts, because I am fickle and it never happens.



2015 Reflections & Highlights from a Year in New Zealand, Pt. 1

2015:  What a year. It’s startling to think back to last January and realize how much has changed, and how quickly. If you’ll indulge me, then, on a trip down memory lane featuring some photos of New Zealand that for one reason or another never made it to the blog.

I’ve had to split up this post into two parts, simply because there was so much I wanted to share! Part 1 will cover our travels in New Zealand from January through August. Part 2, to come in a day or so, will include photos from Australia and more thoughts on our move to Portland. I hope you enjoy!

Wellington Botanic Gardens
Wellington Botanic Garden

We begin in windy Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, in high summer. The hydrangeas were blooming gloriously in a riot of colors this day in the Botanic Gardens. We stayed in cheerful, blustery Wellington in a dilapidated rental house until January 16th, when, bidding goodbye to our feisty South African friend and chef extraordinaire, we drove our unreliable Honda Accord onto the Interislander Ferry and sailed south across the Cook Strait. Continue reading “2015 Reflections & Highlights from a Year in New Zealand, Pt. 1”

An 8-to-5 Pace

There’s a reason I never set a schedule here on my blog. It’s because I inevitably get caught up in whatever I’m doing at the time, whether that’s spending two months driving through the backroads in New Zealand or simply pondering the purpose and pace of the blog itself. And now, sure enough, I’ve been sufficiently preoccupied by my new life in Portland — and wondering, too, about the direction my sporadic musings should take — that, as is becoming habitual, I’ve pushed Literary Vittles to a dusty folder in the back of my mind.

I’ve settled into an 8-to-5 pace that forces me to wake up on time and do workout videos on the IKEA rug in the living room/dining room/kitchen if I have any hope of exercise. I limit myself to buying lunch once a week and make sure to eat a hearty breakfast each morning. After showing up at work looking like a sheep one day, I reluctantly admitted that it was time to start fixing my hair again. And I downloaded an app to keep track of which outfits I wear, and how often, which sounds ridiculous but is also ridiculously helpful. I hardly recognize the reliable person I’ve become in the short space of just one month, and it’s jarring to think about the other ways in which I’ll continue to adapt without question. Continue reading “An 8-to-5 Pace”

Greetings from Portlandia

Portland - Sellwood Park 2

Portland - squirrel munch

Portland - park path

Portland - bocks at dock

There’s an irritating ticker in the upper-right corner of my Facebook homepage that continuously quantifies how inactive I’ve been — “Your page this week: It’s been 72 days since fans of Literary Vittles have heard from you!” After passing the 100 days mark, even Facebook gave up on me. Languish for too long, and you pass into the realm of the forgotten.

The past three months, though, have been anything but inactive. Continue reading “Greetings from Portlandia”