2016 & 38

I gave up making New Year’s resolutions a few years back, but every year, between my birthday and the beginning of the new year, I can’t help thinking about what I’d like to see be different in my life. From 2011 through 2015, inspired by a friend’s 2010 list, I instead made a list of things—specific, actionable goals—to do during the year. My friend called it “10 in ‘10”, so when I started I did “11 in '11”… and then “12 in '12” and so on. It started well, but eventually became more stress then benefit. Not to mention the problem where that number keeps getting higher.

This year, I’m trying something different. I have some projects.

52 Rolls

A few photographer friends of mine have done things like this in the past, and I’m mostly copying from them. The idea is that I’m going to shoot one roll (or pack) of film each week.

I’ve done some daily projects in the past, including a shot-a-day project with Impossible film that mostly went well and was a great learning experience. Overall, though, I find daily projects don’t really work well for me. I often get to just before bed, realize I haven’t done my whatever-it-is for the day, and half-heartedly do something that satisfies the letter of the project but doesn’t have any real emotion to it. I don’t like that; it feels like cheating. I think I’ll be able to do this one well, learn a lot from it, have enough variety to keep it interesting, and have it not stress me out.

I don’t have this broken out as a separate thing, but as part of this project I’d like to shoot people more. I’ve done a lot of landscapes, patterns in the natural & constructed environment, and so on, but I’d like to get more faces. Which maybe relates to…

Selfie Sunday

Selfies—internet-speak for self-portrait photography—generate a lot of hate. I get it. I’m not above looking at an Instagram feed dominated by close, poorly-framed faces of the user and speculating about narcissism, free time, self-awareness, maybe even the real-world relationships that person has. And look— science! And yes, our culture is undoubtedly obsessed with image to a super-unhealthy degree, and the selfie as a cultural artifact is totally tied up in that. But that isn’t all that’s going on there. Even while all that’s true (or some of it, anyway; I’m calling “bullshit!” on a lot of that “science”), selfies also represent a positive claim to self, an agency and ownership, in many cases an openness and vulnerability.

There are also a lot of selfie cheerleaders out there, who I’m not entirely on board with, either (let’s not pretend that narcissism doesn’t exist). But I’m re-examining that balance.

The selfie, at least as a cultural artifact, is also pretty strongly gendered, and there’s some really interesting questions as to why that is. I would bet good money you could do a whole set of doctoral theses on the relationship between the selfie and subject/object dichotomy, male gaze, gendered relationships to vulnerability, and so on. I’m not writing a thesis, but I’d like to play with the ideas some anyway.

So here’s the plan: I’m posting a selfie on every Sunday in 2016. I’m super uncomfortable with this idea, but that’s sort of the point. I want to figure out why I’m uncomfortable with it, examine how I feel about other people’s selfies and motivations for them, and maybe exorcise some of my own insecurities about my body.

Poem a Week

I used to write poetry semi-regularly, which wasn’t all awful. I miss it. It just sort of fell off over time. I did a poem-a-day thing for National Poetry Month in 2015, and while it often fell victim to the same problem I generally have with thing-a-day projects, I enjoyed it quite a bit and got some things I liked out of it. So I’m going to do that again, weekly instead of daily, with an eye towards spending some time on editing and revising.

I’d also be really excited if I could build from this into writing music again (or at least finishing the three half-done songs I’ve got), but that’s a longer-term goal.

Health & Fitness

I debated including these. Unlike Selfie Sunday (lord, that name…), I’m not the least bit uncomfortable with doing them or thinking about them myself, but talking about these things ties into a whole mess of cultural baggage around body norms, the flawed-at-best relationship between apperance and health, and so on. I’m not going to try and pull all that apart just now, but here’s what I’m working towards:

The Euclid Creek Parcourse is one of those courses with stations where you do a different activity at each. It’s intended that you walk between them, but I’ve been running it for a while now. Euclid Creek is a pretty park close to my house. As a baseline, I ran it to day in 35:17. That’s not a very good time for me; I’m usually around 32 minutes.

On the back side of Euclid Creek, there’s a trail in the woods. It’s just about a mile of uneven ground. I really enjoy the run over the terrain, especially at the far end where there’s some jumping over downed trees and the like. My average for that is just about 11:30.

One of the stations on the Parcourse is pull-ups. The top par, which I’m doing all the other stations at, is 10 pull-ups; I’d like to be able to do that. The best I’ve ever gotten in a row was 7; today was 6, barely.

I feel better, both physically and emotionally, when I’m in better control of my weight. I was at 165 today. I’ve dropped more than that in a year before, although I was starting from a worse weight at that point. I think this is doable. 2015 was not a good year on this front.

The handstand is just something I’d like to be able to do. It’s a good test of core strength, balance, and—if I make it to a full handstand, not just the yoga variety I’ve been working on so far—upper body strength, but mostly I just think it’ll be fun.


These are the things I’m treating as year-long projects. My thinking about them is more tied to my birthday than the new year, but I didn’t get my act together to start in time for that, so 2016 it is. There’s other stuff that could go on here: I’ve got a big work project to finish this winter, a vehicle to fix up, and I really, really need to move. But I like this as a project list. We’ll see how it goes.