As the Calendar Changes, a Look Around

The first thing I did in the New Year was pay my American Express bill (well, technically it was the second think I did, after picking up the broken champagne flute and depositing the empty bottles of Veuve in the recycling.) Next, it was on to the gym. When I got home, I baked butter tarts and cheese biscuits, then googled “Oscar Isaac relationship status.”

If these acts kicking-off my 2016 are in anyway indicative of some underlying, motivating New Year’s resolutions, those resolutions would have to be:

  1. Continue to improve personal financial solvency.
  2. Obtain fitness model physique.
  3. Consume more carbohydrates.
  4. Marry Oscar Isaac.

If I really think about it, I’m fairly confident I can achieve all of these in the next 12 months (even if Nos. 1 and 3 seem in complete competition and I didn’t get a FitBit for Christmas). #4 seems particularly obtainable…

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Oscar Isaac… Swoon. (New Year’s Eve had included seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens in IMAX 3D.)

On Wednesday, the last day our offices were open in 2015, my boss called to riddle off a few final requests and bid me an enjoyable long weekend.

“2016 is going to be a great year for all of us,” she said.

“Well, I certainly hope so…” I immediately envisioned the upcoming 12 months — a long list of projects which forecasts a relentless, Sisyphean push uphill scrolled across my mental computer screen. I think I threw-up a little in my mouth. “Yes. I mean, yes. Of course it will be a fabulous year!”

sisyphusThe changing calendar triggers a flurry of contradictory feelings. Nostalgia — for the year closing and years past. Excitement — the chance to start afresh and the promise of new adventure. Fear — a lot of life happens in a short period of time; can I handle what lays ahead?

“Your Year Ahead” emails, complete with horoscopes, exercise plans, shopping “musts,” and travel suggestions start hitting your inbox on Boxing Day. If you hadn’t had a chance to think about what’s next, you certainly are now.

Resolutions emerge, our proposed answers to the question: how will I “show up” this year?

2015 was pretty fabulous year — the first 7 months were loaded with firsts, with successes, with travel, and fetes. In turned 30 and with a new decade came the summer — a slower paced season which brought changes, more travel, and a little illness. Fall was a mixed bag, highlighted by still more travel, but otherwise a slog. The year closed with the flu, but great family and friends. In general, I felt that I was always running to catch up and to get ahead. The changing calendar was the first time I had a chance to look back and enjoy, because from the moment the datebook read 2015, I’ve been looking ahead… into March 2016, September 2017, February 2018… If only I had a crystal ball.

There is a lot to look forward to in the upcoming months — exhibition openings, a wedding, arty parties, travel, an extra week of paid vacation — little exclamation points on my calendar that await sentences to fill the lines between them. Generally, I walk into the pages of this new year with excitement. Who doesn’t love the start of a new story (especially when Oscar Isaac is cast in the cinematic adaptation…) Let’s leap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Considering My New Year’s Resolution to “Be Smart Again”

My friend Jimmy and I have a bit of a New Year’s tradition: on the first weekend of the new calendar, we go to a museum.

everyone has their own New Year's tradition... most involve wine. mine is no different
everyone has their own New Year’s tradition… most involve wine. mine is no different

Technically,  it’s something we’ve only done twice, but I’m pretty sure twice is two times enough to qualify as a steadfast tradition. We take it pretty seriously. Jimmy expects me to spew brilliant insights about whatever artwork we see. I expect we’ll end up somewhere we can order wine. We both expect to finish the day a little more cultured, to catch up on what’s happened since our last outing, and to share insights on what we hope for in the year ahead.

For 2014, our destination was the Frick Collection — a mutual favorite on Museum Mile — and the “Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals” exhibition. Vermeer’s famous “Girl with a Pearl Earring” and Hals “Goldfinch” had been drawing record crowds for the otherwise dozy (but outstanding) house museum, and so we bundled up and prepared to wait outside on the sidewalk… for an hour… on the coldest day in a decade.

Inside the museum’s galleries, standing inches from one of the most famous paintings in the world, I was at a loss for words…

No. Really. Like, here I was — the art historian/curator/gallery director — and all I could say was: gosh, gee, I expected the canvas to be shiner.

I had a painful realization: I used to be smarter.

Once upon a time, I could look at a painting from almost any time period and read it, or recall some interesting fact about its maker or its style or its period or… or whatever and spew out a short story. Like a fortuneteller and her tea leaves, I’d tell you about the things on the canvas you couldn’t see.

The Gainsborough portrait of Mrs. Peter William Baker that sparked a smile
The Gainsborough portrait of Mrs. Peter William Baker that sparked a smile

“There’s a smile on your face,” Jimmy noted as I stood staring up at a portrait by Thomas Gainsborough. “Why?”

“I like large pretty portraits of not unattractive women. They say a lot.”

“Like what?”

“Like, ummmm, you can never have too many feathers…

This was true, but the Gainsborough said a lot more than that, and I knew it, I just couldn’t explain it. Now, I see a painting and my brain starts recalling other images — artworks line up before my eyes, a dictionary worth of visual vocabulary with definitions. That is, I see the files with all the information back there in the recesses of my brain, but when I go to call them up to sort them together, it’s: Access Denied.

Remember when I used to write blogs about dating using artworks?

While I deal with artwork every day, I realize I spend very little time looking and talking about it any more. I’m focused on how to display it, or how to get people in to see it, or how to write a press pitch about it. My approach to a painting has changed. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just different. I was smart. Now I’m savvy. It would be nice to be both.

Hello, 2013. I think we’re going to get along famously: Considering Resolutions

The beautiful Waterford Crystal Ball atop Time Square touched down at midnight, marking the first day of 2013 for those partying in EST. Glass slippers were left on staircases up and down the eastern seaboard. At 12:02AM, ABC cut to commercial and America watched 2 ads for Weight Watcher’s new 360 plan. The second, which featured Jessica Simpson made me reach for another cupcake.

the weight watchers commercial made me reach for another cupcake.... happy new year!
the weight watchers commercial made me reach for another cupcake…. happy new year!

Soon there after, they cued the roll for eHarmony.

So, America, what are your top 2 New Year’s resolutions?

I’ve written about this before — how for the most part, I’ve given up on writing conventional, and arguably sensible New Year’s resolutions. No more “lose 10 pounds” or “find love.” Both of those have gone nowhere in the past (though, in 2012 I did drop a dress size… booya!…. and then, there were those roses….). Instead, I opted for mantras or theme-songs for the year.

My 2011 theme song was “Jump!” by Madonna. My theme poem was “Invictus.” My mantra was “make it work!” I should note, I was unemployed in January 2011.

2012 flew in and before I knew it, it was July. It seems I had forgotten to select a theme song or mantra, but I suppose Keep Calm and Carry On might have been a late-in-the-season pick up.

For 2013? I’ve had some thoughts…

Bubbly is lovely
Bubbly is lovely

Along with several bottle of Veuve Cliquot and Pommery sitting next to my recycle bin, there’s a stack of cheese paper and half torn labels that hint at triple-creme cheeses to suggest that I gave 2012 a graceful, indulgent and highly appropriate send off.

Apparently, the dieing words of John Maynard Keynes were: “I only wish I had drunk more champagne.”

Every New Year’s Eve I am reminded why he was so regretful. Bubbly is lovely.

2013 New Year’s resolution 1: Drink More Champagne.

In the past, I’ve secretly resolved to read more. This has typically started off well in that I used my lunch hour to browse the shelves at bookstores and came home with a stack of classics along with a few recent “notable” publications. 2012 was my most successful year. I read a whole 2 books.

The men in my life keep giving me massive books as gifts. In 2013, I resolve to read them.
The men in my life keep giving me massive books as gifts. In 2013, I resolve to read them.

For 2013, I joined a book club that will meet monthly around potluck wine & cheese parties. This is great because not only does it help me achieve New Year’s resolution 2 (read more books) it also helps me achieve resolutions 3 & 4 (join more clubs and drink more wine, respectively).

I’ve also resolved to do more yoga. The challenge with this one is not in finding the time, but making sure that it doesn’t run into conflicts with resolutions 1 and 4.

Next step: google yoga studios with open bar…..

Can we make that "Forever 27.5" cuz that sounds like me right now
Can we make that “Forever 27.5” cuz that sounds like me right now

Here’s a drink to you, 2012

As 2012 draws to a close, I confess, I’m a little sad. It was a good year. Nay, a great year. The kind of year you look back on and think: “Gee, I hope I have another 2012.”

I got my moment to shine, curating my first NYTimes reviewed exhibit
I got my moment to shine, curating my first NYTimes reviewed exhibit

2012 got off to a rickety start. I was frustrated at work and play. I was suffering from typical mid-winter doldrums, the kind that come with a restlessness that makes you start looking at new job postings or considering applying to culinary school. On January 2nd, I had lunch with a guy I had met online and thought would turn into Mr. Right. He didn’t call me back. Humpf. I was uninspired as January began to click down.

By March, I was singing a different tune. Life was off and running. After a few small-scale successes, I was curating my first marquee exhibition for my organization. I’d see a raise, a promotion, and  a full-page spread in the New York times. There would be failed but funny first dates. The guy that didn’t call me back became a trusted friend.

Old friends made their mark as we planned new adventures. Reunions happened on a grand scale. Close friends got engaged or said their “I-dos” with joy and really delicious wedding cake. Love blossomed under a moonlit canopy and carried through the summer into late autumn, when the changing weather brought with it new prespectives. We closed one chapter and began to write another.

Guadi stole our hearts in Spain
Guadi stole our hearts in Spain

My mother and I packed our suitcases and gallivanted across Europe, embarking on the kind of ramble through five countries that can only be summed up as a trip of lifetime.

A hurricane hit. We were left relatively unscathed, but others were less lucky.

Yes, as it turns out, 2012 was one exciting, raucous ramble from beginning to end. There were some rough patches, some catastrophes, some heartbreak, some unpleasantness that will leave their scars, but all in all, 2012 was a year of highlights for me. I’m lucky, and grateful to be so.

My wish for you, and perhaps my hope for me too, is that 2013 is the kind of year where we’ll all look back and say: “Gee, I hope I have another 2013.”

 

 

Out with the Very, Very Old to Make Room for the New

Do I really need to keep these things on display? It's probably time to get over my glory days in little legue softball...

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. But if I did, arguably I’d be off to a very good start — a week into 2012 and already I’m down 4 pounds and up one very nice first date.

True, the weight loss was due largely to a sinus infection that made food less than appealing and a lovely first date isn’t very useful if it doesn’t turn into a second date, but like I said, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.

However, just because I refuse to make a list of half-hearted promises for self-improvement doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate that January 1 comes with the potential for renewal.

For 2012, I decided to kick things off with a cleanse… no, not a grapefruit-supported detox (that commences in February). A feather-duster and bubble wrap attack on a life I haven’t lived in 10 years.

I’m not a nostalgic girl. I’m just a saver. And a collector. “You never know when that might come in handy/back in fashion again!” is one of my mottoes. So when it came time to make room for yet another bookshelf to accommodate yet another year’s worth of exhibition catalogs and “to-read as soon as I have the time” books, so too came the time to make some decisions.

(No, I will never use my kindle.)

Trophies packed away, it was time to alphabetize. New Year's resolution? Be more organized? Not exactly.

I’m 26. Do I really need to my Little League Softball All-Stars Championship trophy on my bookcase? It makes a reasonably good bookend.

What about all those high school swimming medals?

My “Annual Report” on a business I ran in the 8th grade? Sure the graphics are sophisticated, but I paid back my investors with dividends years ago.

I haven’t ridden a horse in 10 years. Do I really need the helmet? What about the crop? No, save those… you’re 26 and are on OkCupid…

The dust was thick on the marble bases of those trophies, and as I chipped it off to ready them for the storage bin, I strained to remember the teams they represented. Not a solid memory came to mind — I couldn’t even recall my perfect game as the starting pitcher on my junior high school’s undefeated softball team. It was a perfect game, wasn’t it?

Memorabilia safely away, I turned to my bookcase and began alphabetizing.

New Year’s Resolution: be more organized. Check.

I take that back. I don’t make resolutions.

Resolving to be Resolute to Find Love or Let Love Find You?

January 1st is the universally accepted date of renewal — the calender starts afresh and we get to put behind all the foibles of 2010. As we embrace the new calendar, we make lists of resolutions, of self-made promises to motivate us through the next 365 days (but really, only through January).

The stack of diet books I've accumulated to match my resolution to Lose Weight in the New Year... how do you think I did...

My custom before setting fresh goals for the new year is to flip through old notebooks and diaries searching for records of New Year’s Resolutions past, evaluating my success and accepting my shortcomings. There were a number of constants over the years, namely the universal standards:

Lose weight.

Find Love.

Write a book.

Clean basement.

Find inner peace… Optional and for extra credit: join movement to bring about World Peace.

For the first time, it occurred to me that “Find Love” was the most challenging of the goals. “Find love” — it’s an active, commanding statement that puts the quest for Love Everlasting on par with “lose weight.” It implies that, just as a regimented diet and exercise routine gives me power over my waistline, I have some control over Cupid and his henchmen. It implies that if I grab the bull by the horns, leave no stone unturned and tear the curtains asunder, there will be a shining treasure waiting for me. If I just look hard enough…

But let’s be honest, when it comes to finding love, there are far too many stones in need of turning.

Venus & Cupid: the dangerous yet dynamic love-conjuring duo we try to employ come the New Year

In 2006, I resolved “to fall in love.” This was a mistake. Falling in love is easy and, much to my eventual chagrin, I accomplished the mission before midyear.

So in 2007, I needed a sequel resolution: Make “Bob” fall in love with me. Again, I had conjured a statement that implied I was Venus and Cupid was at my beck-and-call…

It may come as a surprise to you that as of January 1, 2008, I was on a mission to “Fall out of love with ‘Bob.'”

By 2010, after a 2009 dedicated to “Letting Love Find Me,” I had a new journal and a new outlook on resolutions. On the journal’s inside cover, in my best, most decorative script, I scrawled  William Ernest Henley’s “Invictus” and decided to commit the poem’s stanzas to memory. I had had enough with these commands to get thin, let love happen, and learn to play the guitar — making this poem my mantra was the closest thing to making a New Year’s resolution I was, and am willing to do.

Yet while “my unconquerable soul” may  resolve to make me the “captain of my fate,” something tells me that if I want to cross “Find Love” off my list of future New Year to-dos, my heart may have to accept being anything but unconquerable.