Dec. 29 2010 11:36 AM

Another year of wishful thinking under scrutiny

That was quick—2010 came and went like Ugg Boots, vodka martinis and the recession. Still here? Well, I can dream. Anyway, Presently Tense readers know I care more about annual resolutions than trends. Trends come and go, but the inability to keep New Year's vows is timeless. For three years, I've been making my lists of resolutions long and public, and then tallying up the occasional successes and many failures right here for your schadenfreudian amusement. Let's dive right in:

Rollover resolutions for 2011

These have been on the list for more than two years now. My hope is that their persistence will embarrass me into achieving them.

1. Finish the novel. Only 25,000 words in.

That's one-third-ish of the way. There's reason for the delay, but no excuses. Must finish by 2011 or else (it goes back on the list).

2. Clean out the garage. “Actually got started” doesn't count.

3. Be on time. Meh. I did better than in '09, but I'm supposed to be batting 1,000 percent. Thanks to busy local designer Jason St. John for recently introducing me to the iPhone calendar and its helpful “alert” feature, which shoots a tiny poison dart into your neck an hour before an important appointment. Prospects for timeliness in '11: pretty good.

2010 resolutions assessed

According to my somewhat dishonest calculations, I achieved a little less than 50 percent of my resolutions for 2010. This indicates a consistent downward trend in my ability to keep resolutions during the last three years, but, as I said, I'm not so interested in trends.

Resolutions kept: I managed to drink much less coffee, thanks to a more realistic goal than quitting altogether. I neither said, “It is what it is,” nor accepted it as an explanation for anything. I didn't

join Twitter. I played guitar more. I bought some records, visited San Francisco several times, wore a suit at least twice a week, attended more cultural events and rode my bicycle a lot. In other words, I kept mostly the fun resolutions.

Resolutions half-kept: After giving away my TV in 2009, I have stayed off the box. I'm not sure how much iTunes and Hulu count, so I can only give myself half-credit for the “TVfree life” resolution. I vowed to hike all over the desert this year, but only made it out there a couple times. Still, I did hike in a lot of other places (half-credit). I will also award myself half-credit for sometimes turning off my phone. The vow was to leave it at home—crazy!

Resolutions not kept: I thought I'd make tejj again this year (Ethiopian honey wine, a failed experiment in '09), a goal I will renew for '11. I resolved to travel across the border more in 2010 and travel more in general, but I didn't visit TJ or go much of anywhere. Jaunts within California don't count, so I get zero credit on the travel resolution. I didn't write as many articles as I'd hoped to, not even enough to earn half-credit. I vowed to try new things this year, but can't say I did, other than getting laid off from a job, but that feels more like something that happened to me than an accomplishment (no credit). I'll carry the “try new things” resolution over, because I have a hunch I may try golf and salvia in 2011 (hopefully not at the same time). I also vowed at the start of 2010 to have no interest in any women younger than 30, as befits a man of 45 (no comment). Finally, in last year's Resolution Competition, I accepted reader Beth Autin's challenge to defrost the freezer.

How did you do, Beth? My freezer is so caked with ice that there is currently only room for one slender package of morningstar Farms Fakin Bacon. Failure to defrost!

New resolutions for 2011

1. Eat seasonally and locally. If I want blueberries, I'll wait until summer. I don't need them shipped to me from South America. No Florida orange juice when I live in California. Occasional exception allowed.

2. Eat slowly. Chew my food 27 times.

Put the fork down between bites. What's the rush? There's no gun to my head. I'm not competing against Kobayashi.

3. Cook more at home. I ate out of the house too much this year. I cooked a lot more when I had a girlfriend.

4. Get a girlfriend. This is important. It will help me achieve No. 3, and I like me better when I have one of these. I really need to procure one by January 2012, one who shares my goals and values and preferably is not crazy.

5. Get a job. This will make No. 4 much easier to achieve. Working as a freelance writer has been a blast, but I need to get back on the fulltime treadmill.

6. Practice drumming every day. I wrote a whole column about this recently: Musicianship became important to me this year. I need to see technical improvement every month.

7. Sell stuff at the swap meet. I've never done this, but I've wanted to for years. I acquired stuff in Thailand in 2004 and have a garage full of other stuff I don't need. I even bought a folding table at a yard sale to put all the stuff on when I take it to the Sports Arena parking lot. Stuff to sell at swap meet: You are finally on the list.

8. Listen better. This will be hard to quantify for next year's assessment, but sometimes I just nod and say “Huh” and “Wow” without really hearing what somebody is saying. In 2011, I will insist on having some follow-up questions. Hopefully, that will force me to really listen. The new girlfriend will like that.

9. Handle money better. See, already planning next year's rollovers.

Write to and


  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • The former local boy and creator of the highly influential blog, Advanced Style, will be signing and discussing his third book, Advanced Style: Older and Wiser, which features inspiring pictures and stories...
  • C.J. Chenier and Bonsoir Catin headline this annual Cajun inspired festival. Also enjoy 10,000 pounds of crawfish, dancing and cooking demonstrations. Held at Spanish Landing Park, across from the...
  • A Cinco de Mayo party featuring $2 tacos, cocktails and live music from Bostich+Fussible, Javiera Mena and Gepe
  • A spoken word showcase hosted by English instructor Karla Cordero and her City College students. There will also be a special reading from poet Mercedez Holtry, as well as an art and photography show....
  • Widely known as host of "Weekend Update" on Saturday Night Live and for his role in the Showtime dramedy Weeds, Kevin Nealon brings his unique humor back to the stand-up stage
  • New works from over a dozen UCSD undergraduate students. Participating artists include Charity Algarme, Richard Lin, Joseph Maas, Ignatius Nguyen, and more
  • This video art exhibition from UCSD MFA candidate Stefani Byrd features two installations that explore the themes of breath, mediation, and the nature of time. Takes place in the VAF Performance Space,...
See all events on Thursday, May 5