In 2014 I decided to listen to all my CDs from start to finish, no skipping allowed. I loved the project because it made me find new things in my old collection, made me listen to a ton of music throughout the year, and it was highly goal oriented. I decided to use the same idea, and similar support from a spreadsheet, to organize another year long endeavor for 2015. There's a new one already underway for 2016!
This project started with me thinking I would hike the 10 tallest mountains in New Hampshire. Then I was running more and more with a friend and we decided to do a half marathon together and I thought I would hike the 13 tallest mountains in New Hampshire and run the 13 miles of a half marathon. Then I was thinking how I would also like to watch some more movies, so I could watch 13 movies. Then I realized all these things started with M! Then I realized that M is the 13th letter of the alphabet. Fate (and my obsessive compulsive personality disorder) had intervened. I warped my use of language and managed to come up with 13 M things I would do in 2015. What follows shortly are a few photos, thoughts, and funny things.
Before you scroll through this all, I want to again endorse how much I love these yearly projects. You should try one! New Year's Resolutions never work for me, I'm one of those people who just get lazy and then give up. Having a themed goal, a spreadsheet to track it on, and something which is so big I can only possibly do it by plugging away all year make this kind of thing a success for me. Friends and twitter followers have since begun on their own projects, which is outstanding. (See this post from Abigail and this one from Seeta.) This kind of project allows you to slack off for a bit, but then also get back to things without feeling like you're lost. Unlike saying you're going to the gym every day, damn it! ...And then by February you've already missed 9 days and so what's the point and you give up. These year long projects, I admit, do speed up in November and December when the time crunch is real, but by then I've come so far! I can't give up now! I think that's the important difference and where the success lives. Truly, you should try this and you'll amaze yourself with how wonderful you are and how much joy you can create in your own life.
1. Hike the 13 tallest mountains in New Hampshire
2. Run the 13 miles of a half marathon
Again, the friends thing was very handy. In January I ran a 5k I barely finished with my friend who said, "Just think, later you'll be running that whole half marathon!" I'm pretty sure I rolled my eyes and rued the day I agreed to run a half marathon. Turns out, my friend was right! I still don't run very fast, but I did run the whole entire thing, no walking at all. I also got ravenous from running long distances all the time and had to learn to eat a crap ton more protein.
3. See a meteor (shooting star) on 13 different nights
Initially I thought this one was going to be a bust. We had cloudy days several of the meteor showers early on in the year and one night in January or February it was just too cold for me to go outside at 3am and stand around. I changed my goal to just see 13 meteors, just in case. Happily, during the perseids in August, I saw more than 13 in an hour and went back to my original goal. When I went to a field to see the perseids, I stuck my head out the sunroof of my car and the first meteor I saw was actually a huge fireball across the whole sky and it made a roar. With a little perseverance, I successfully saw meteors on 13 different nights.
4. Learn to play 13 chords on my mandolin
I've had a mandolin for a long time and never gave it attention long enough to learn how to use it effectively. I was able to successfully teach myself 13 chords using a combination of the books Mandolin for Dummies, The Mandolin Chord Book, and Teach Yourself to Play Mandolin.
5. Read a manuscript (book) from 13 different genres
Bossypants, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, and Yes Please all counted as one book, for example. Also using those as an example, I learned that I could write a book! But no one would care because I'm not on tv. I read my first romance novel (The Governess Affair) and a book on Supernatural fan culture (Fangasm). My two favorites were Born to Run and Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat. Born to Run really inspired me for running and every time I wanted to bitch about the running conditions I remembered the stories about ultramarathoners running across Death Valley and having their shoes melt to the pavement if they didn't maintain their pace. Or the stories about people running the Leadville 100, a nonstop race up and over the damn Rocky Mountains... my little problems were nothing. Born to Run was so good that I started reading out loud at work during lunch and I was constantly passing along these amazing stories. My running friends and I all have Spanish language spirit animals now... Consider the Fork was much the same experience; no one I ate with for the next 3 weeks escaped without me relaying one of the anecdotes I had picked up from that book. It was fascinating.
6. Drink 13 different microbrews
7. Mix 13 different recipes
mint oreo truffle balls (KILLER), monkey bread, mascarpone banana bread, miso soup, macarons, mini quiche, mozzarella waffles, mixed berry pie, and maple spiced almond milk. Cocktails are fun to make and to drink, unsurprisingly. I made the almond milk from scratch. Soaked the almonds and everything, now I have almond meal I dried out and can grind up to make my own macarons totally from scratch! Because I was making things just with Ms, I pushed myself a bit and ended up making things I never would have otherwise. That was the beauty of this project.
8. Eat 13 munches (brunch!)
See that? I made that. This one wasn't hard either. I made some, I paid for some, I drank at them all. I forgot to count one and I think it was an unconscious effort to just eat an extra brunch. I made the most exquisite fruit salad and I have no idea how to recreate it but I'm so glad I got to eat it-- it had pomegranate seeds and a ginger lime dressing. That, and the crepes, lavender gimlet, sausage, oysters, blood orange mimosa, champagne cake, lost bread, bacon, tostadas, ginger beer floats, fritattas, and boatloads of hollandaise. I made a M themed brunch, one for my friend's 30th birthday, Easter, a friend's graduation, and on vacation. I ate at L.A. Burdick, Gilmanton Winery, Tek-Nique, Corner House Inn, Hartstone Inn, Belga Cafe, Caiolas. I would recommend them all. Except that one in New York, Parker & Quinn, for it is there I got food poisoning. Food poisoning for the first time and may it be the last time.
9. See 13 live music events
10. Watch the top 13 movies I haven't seen from a top 100 list
I curated this one a bit to match some of my interest. I looked through the top lists from IMDB, Hollywood Reporter, Rotten Tomatoes, American Film Institute, and Entertainment Weekly and picked the top 13 I hadn't seen. Then I compared the list and picked the list I most wanted to see. I didn't want this to be a real slog. I ended up going with the batch from the Hollywood Reporter because it contained some classics I had missed and some which caught my attention more. I ended up with Citizen Kane, Casablanca, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Gone With The Wind, Chinatown, Lawrence of Arabia, Blade Runner, A Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove, When Harry Met Sally, Alien, Some Like It Hot, and The Usual Suspects. Shocking how much I knew about these movies just from pop culture references, sometimes I knew the references and didn't know what they were from... Keyser Soze, for example.
11. Create 13 metals projects
12. Go to 13 different museums
Museum of Modern Art as well as tiny gems such as The Bakken (dedicated to electricity in the body), The Edward Gorey House, and the National Museum of American Illustration (which has more Norman Rockwell and Maxfield Parrish than I thought I'd care to see, but was great). Also, who knew how fantastic the National Postal Museum was!?
13. See 13 different live musicals