OK -- I'm cheating. Christine gave me Laura Hillenbrand's "Unbroken" for Christmas. I finished it in three days. I'm using that energy to read more. I bought another book, "The Imperfectionists," by Tom Rachman, on Thursday.
I recommend "Unbroken" to anyone. It's not just about an Olympic runner, World War II bomber, survivor of 47 days stranded at sea, and the legacy of Japanese POW camps. His life up to that point is amazing enough -- and accounts for two-thirds of the novel -- but how he conquered his post-war life and helped others even more is incredible on its own.
I'm only 48 pages into "The Imperfectionists," which is a fictional story about people working at an English-language newspaper based in Rome. After my days working for an English-language weekly in Prague, the storyline intrigued me. The structure of the novel put me off at first, but Rachman is a great storyteller, and I'm starting to see the big picture coalesce.
Run and Get more sleep
Here's the plan: Get to bed by 9, rise by 5. That way I can bang out a few pieces for the company website or on Twitter before Christine and Benny wake up.
Rise by 4 on the one day (initially) per week that I go running. I went running with Benny at the Kezar Stadium track last week, and I actually found it relaxing.
Save more money
Not a good start — I just bought this new computer, a Flip camera and a printer. But after seven years of working on the same computer, which technology has passed by — it's time. The goal here: roughly $1,000 a month, not counting restarting the 401(k) contributions. Recommended reading: "Your Money or Your Life." My mother gave it to me and my siblings years ago, but Christine and I finally started living it three years ago.
Stay focused at work
Simple goal here: Continue what I've been doing, but try to turn out at least one enterprise piece every quarter.
Help others/get involved
The church that I joined last June — Seventh Avenue Presbyterian Church — does a monthly gig at a soup kitchen. I've also meant to volunteer at Benny's school's library, and I'll be volunteering with the SF Little League as Benny starts playing baseball this year. I also talked to the choir director at church about playing in the bell choir, something I haven't done for years.
Since I mentioned church, the other thing I want to do is try to figure out this God thing. That isn't too much to do this year, is it?
Eat right/exercise more (consistently)
I've been working out at a club for the past two years, but I need to bring more consistency to that routine. I figure two times working out at the gym and one run per week — so that means eating better.
I cut soda out of my diet in July, and in 2010 I drank a lot more water.
Goal: Lose 5 pounds a month, maintain and finish the year at 170.
Take more trips
In California: Death Valley, Mono Lake.
Midwest: Family in Michigan and Wisconsin.
2012: England, Scotland, France.
Spend more time with family/friends
Whether that means friends from work or friends outside of work, Dad's memorial service reminded me that it's friendships, not achievements that are the longest lasting.
I'm not sure exactly what I think about this little bit from "The Imperfectionists," but it also got me thinking. The character, who is sick, is being interviewed by a reporter for her obit:
"But my point, you see, is that death is misunderstood. The loss of one's life is not the greatest loss. It is no loss at all. To others, perhaps, but not to oneself. From one's own perspective, experience simply halts. From one's own perspective, there is no loss. You see? Yet maybe this is a game of words, too, because it doesn't make it any less frightening, does it." She sips her tea. "What I really fear is time. That's the devil: whipping us on when we'd rather loll, so the present springs by, impossible to grasp, and all is suddenly past, a past that won't hold still, that slides into these inauthentic tales. My past — it doesn't feel real in the slightest. The person who inhabited it is not me. It's as if the present me is constantly dissolving. There's the line of Heraclitus: 'No man steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man.' That's quite right. We enjoy this illusion of continuity, and we call it memory. Which explains, perhaps, why our worst fear isn't the end of life but the end of memories." She considers him searchingly. "Do I make sense? Does that seem reasonable? Mad?"