The time has come. (Round 1 is here, don’t laugh.)
I’m a little bit older; not fragile, but not sure-footed either.
Part of that entails feeling aimless. Not for lack of aims, but more of the sense that a huge swath of them might eventually prove frutiful and a paranoia about opting to pursue the wrong ones. That only lasts for so long before you start to feel really useless and guilty about it, and so I guess the big aim of Goals.R2 is to strategically narrow the scope of the adjacent possible: to compress the world of possibility from something rampant and unwieldy to something concrete and manageable and worthwhile, burrowing through the muck toward a clairvoyant surface and engendering habits within myself to keep that burrowing steady and multifaceted.
Career-wise, I’ve got a North Star; I’ve had it, in fact, for a few years – as is perhaps the nature of an aim worthy of the title – and am finally certain enough to be grounded in it though there are like fifty billion paths that might lead that way and it is really anyone’s guess as to which will prove fruitful. So most of these items focus on other things.
Also worth a separate prelude: I would like to include more goals on being kinder, more empathetic, more graceful, a reliable friend in times of crisis – but I can never quite figure out how to phrase them as tangible, checkable goals. And I don’t think I ever ought to, for that matter, so I will be keeping those things in mind as an ever-present thrum that enhances all else.
Before January 1, 2019:
wanderlustin’ (the easy part)
- Hike the Wonderland Trail around Mount Ranier
- Visit 10 more U.S. national parks. Dreamlist:
Acadia,Glacier, Canyonlands, Crater Lake, Badlands, Pinnacles, Yellowstone, Ranier, Grand Teton, Joshua Tree. Very flexible. (6/17 – 4 down. Acadia, Rocky Mountains, Great Sand Dunes, Black Canyon of the Gunnison)
- Visit national parks or reserves in four different countries (6/17 – One down, Kilimanjaro National Park in TZ)
- R&R @ that island with the cool trees in Yemen
- Do the Southeast Asia thing, before I am too old to be a youth there.
- Visit at least 7 new countries. An ephemeral, very flexible wishlist: Armenia, Cuba, Croatia, Switzerland, Morocco, Georgia, the Marshall Islands. (11/17 – Four down. Chad, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda)
Travel the American West by train.Took the Sunset Limited + Coast Starlight from SA to SF. I’d still like to criss-cross Colorado or Montana, but check for now.
- Visit the African Quadripoint
- Hike at least 100 miles of the PCT
- Read the collective works of Bob Shacochis. (6/17 – Easy in the Islands, Swimming in the Volcano)
- Read the collective works of John Steinbeck, including a re-read of East of Eden when I turn 27. (12/17 – Log from the Sea of Cortez, decided this was perhaps overly ambitious)
- Experience 15 moments of genuine awe. Is that too many? Too few? I’ve been trying to assess retroactively and can’t figure it out. (12/17: four down, I think!)
- Develop a system for slowing myself down and prioritizing tasks. I’m not sure exactly what this will look like, but in light of the quantum impossibility of being/learning/reading all the things at once, and the difficulty of working deeply when I generate new sources and ideas and plans at a faster pace than I can absorb and carry out, it’s very necessary. I’ll know it when I do it?
- Read all the extra articles I saved in graduate school. There’s a folder. The contents are substantial enough to merit a number.
- Completely unplug for one day every 2 months. Phone off, computer off. 18 days total for duration of this period.
- Complete every unread book I currently have on my shelves. Cataloging them upon return to the district.
- Do OneWord once weekly & compile. I did this almost every day in high school and forgot what a great exercise it was for staying quick.
- Complete a physical art project. Stretching myself, here. I’m thinking something with heat tiles…
- Draft my ideal obituary, or several versions thereof.
- Sustain many genuine friendships with people in different socioeconomic groups. I worry a lot about not stretching beyond my own hyperacademic ambitious weird yuppie world.
- Close out of all tabs on all devices once monthly. I know it sounds outlandish but this is ambitious and I forsee desperate reading binges in my future.
- Clear and sort my Google Chrome bookmarks.
- Inbox zero. Just once will do. (2/18 – down to 70 total, from 310 in 4/17…gotta keep hacking at it)
- Track my time for two weeks (ideally early on) & iterate from there. If anyone has any suggestions on how to, you know, accurately observe the system without altering it, I’d love to have them.
- Pay down [some proportionate amount] of student loans.
- Organize computer files.
- Develop habits for backing up information.
Switch over to external security keys.
- Become a morning person, once and for all. Stand down, haters. I got so close last time.
- +1 redacted
skills, feats, etc.
- Arabic: make it through Al Kitaab again and identify a satisfactory intermediate instructional source
- Watch and comprehend a film in Arabic without subtitles. We’re aiming low and settling for something Levantine. I’m tentatively saving Theeb for this, or Abu Raed. I might also rewatch Timbuktu and settle for comprehending the more feasible Fusha-French mishmash (ignoring the Tamasheq & Bambara bits because, let’s be real…)
- Run 4 more half marathons, progressively faster. This is the part where I admit to being slow, gimp lungs & all. I ran my first in 2:25:44; ideal progress –>
2:15–> 2:10 –> 2:05 –> 2:00 (Bull City ’17)
- Year 1: Take introductory, capsize, & FJ sailing courses.
- Year 2: Get pretty good at all of that.
- Year 3: Skip over to Istanbul, rent a boat, & sail the Bosporus through to the Sea of Marmara. Is this zero to sixty? Perhaps.
- Run a 10k in under 50 minutes. Again, hi, my lungs are full of scar tissue, don’t make fun.
- Aerial silks – 20 classes. Saving “run off + join circus” for the next round. Have to keep my options open.
- Aikido – 30 classes. I just want to be Juliana Crain.
- Take a series of introductory courses in Turkish (partly in support of goal #36, partly so that I never mix up the marked letters again, partly with the sneaky intent of passing as something while traveling in the region)
- Perform a decent & bidirectional set of free handstand splits. No idea how feasible this is. Probably impossible but possibly also require for circus training, so I’ll have a go at it.
- Sub-15:36 2 mile run (…so as to achieve a perfect score on the Army Fitness Test, see #37, see #33)
- Learn the basics of celestial navigation. I have a bad habit of accidentally hiking at night?
- Take an EMT-B course & get NREMT certified.
- Dance lessons in two new variations.
Fly in a small plane without freaking out.(This was originally flying lessons but after much strong-willed shuddering I’ve decided I should space out attempts at new forms of transportation.) (Update 4/8/17: okay, it wasn’t a 6-seater, but I’ve decided “landing on things that are not really landing strips” suffices.)
getting things done/#werk
- Work on something that I can reasonably estimate directly prevented 100 deaths.
- Take on a health/dev work assignment in a place I might be just a little bit scared to work.
- Avoid accolades and programs that are prestigious and yet devoid of substance. I’m not sure how to assess this but I think I’ve developed good instincts (mainly by messing up & feeling like I’d wasted my time). Keep me honest, please. (6/17 – I think I’ve kept true to this…)
- Provide a set of ideas for conflict-based projects for Rice’s engineering lab. Hopefully one that is brought to fruition?
- Become expert enough at a thing to testify about it before Congress. This is probably definitely a little situational and maybe I don’t want to have to do that, but I’m leaving it here anyway.
- Have some sort of legitimate professional reason to go back in the White House (2017 update: scratch this, obviously.)
- Join one of three potential national security fellowship cohorts
- Join a specific technical fellowship cohort that I think would provide some really useful skills
- Convince some employer that I’m worth investing in for a security clearance.
- Re-learn rudimentary physiology.
- Learn to give a really good speech.
- Retain information from grad school by a) practicing the technical skills I learned twice annually when I’m not employing them at actual work (i.e. STATA, GIS, etc depending) and b) going through all my notes and organizing the important bits.
- Tech transfer: I’d like to help bridge the thus-far distinct worlds of medical device design for low-resource settings and combat medicine. I think this could be done in a few ways (connecting designers/companies to new organizations/providers, unique funding models, writing about it, etc.) and I’m not super picky about how. This could be a side thing.
- Join a reserve branch. I am still verrrry much in the process of deciding whether this is a fitting thing to do and figuring out if I could even make the timing work but I figured putting it here would make everyone I haven’t already talked to give me their opinions, so I’m all ears.
- Volunteer locally at least twice per month. I’ve decided that this is a Super Important Thing that everyone should be doing for a whole bunch of reasons, longer explanation pending.
- Plot out a few potential career arcs that balance and integrate, or feasibly alternate, the gritty (tactical level: specific health & development projects, all my biosecurity + epidemiology nerd stuff, the in-depth meat of specific challenges individuals face in hard places and process of gaining that information accurately) with the grand (geopol level: the complex network of forces & institutions governing said day-to-day challenges, communicating the nature of those issues to foster sustained public interest & political accountability in the United States). Yeah that’s one number, whatever.
- This one is redacted, but in spirit: I’d like to maybe, circumstances VERY much pending, spend some amount of time conducting research out west, far far away from I-95. If (un)said location also enables elaborate hiking and/or craft brewery touring itineraries then so be it.
integration & dissemination:
- Turn M.Sc. thesis into something fit for popular media outlet; publish successfully. Bonus longshot: swing an NPR interview out of the thing. Though I think that would depend on timing and also I am nowhere near smart enough but this list is for dreaming so humor me.
- Make serious progress (charted out, 15k words) on a nonfiction book that I’ve been planning for a bit.
- Publish an article in each of the following: [redacted, redacted, & redacted]. Bonus longshot: Write something super clevergoofy for McSweeney’s. This item will inevitably appear on lists until I die but I’m going to go for it under various pseudonyms until I die so GAME ON Dave Eggers.
- Create an organizational web for academic papers of interest (to tie together seemingly disparate interests).
- Compile & curate an open dataset that at least two other people use. I’d like to do an independent, open-source database of the impact of the new open carry laws in Texas but I’m sure someone else is already doing that so maybe something else.
- Publish two papers in an academic journals, with accompanying articles in popular outlets.
- Write 70 distinct things. Not really sure what merits a thing, but if you listen to the Hamilton soundtrack enough you want to be prolific, so here we are.
Throw together a creative display of epidemiological data.This became a job, so, easy 🙂
- Plot out a novel. Probably don’t write anything, I just want to have something on hand in case I make this a weird hobby later.
aesthetics, nesting, & wiles:
- Curate a home. I think I’ve finally pulled together a consistent aesthetic scheme; implementation, and settling somewhere long enough to implement, are the tricky bits.
- Bring back a worthy full rug from somewhere far-flung.
- Cultivate a nice collection of plants. I’m a grown woman and ought to be able to properly nurture low-maintenance creatures, damnit.
- Form a habit of reading before bed. Not on my phone.
- Iterate my skincare routine via UV evaluation. Annual assessment? Are there even businesses that do this? If not there ought to be.
- Host a dinner party once per season.
- Battle of the Hepburns will, once and for all, be one of those parties.
- Grow & maintain truly enviable nails.
- Maintain weekly rolling average of weight under [I don’t really care if you know how much I weigh but maybe you care?], with 2 possible non-medical exceptions for extent of term.
- Make an article of clothing. I have a particular dress in mind. There’s probably a set of (many) hidden intermediate goals here.
- Subscribe to a CSA. I am really bad at timing store-based vegetable purchases.
- Aesthetic/physique goals. Compressing this into one big “I’ll know it when I see it” sort of thing but for the record I’d like to maintain visible obliques for more than, like, two weeks (& preferably forever).
- Monthly suburban strip mall adventure meals. I found this absolutely wonderful blog cataloging cheap ethnic restaurants in the D.C. metro area and now I’m taking friends on regular excursions so let me know if you want in (next up: Uyghur!!!). (6/17 – check while in DC! a bit hard to keep up from far away…)
- Brew cider.
- I’ve had this long-held plan that involves becoming a regular at Russia House under a constructed persona and somehow pilfering minor state secrets from some unsuspecting embassy staffer. So, that?
- Bonfire night, on the beach, smores + effigies + obscure English poetry readings.
Properly attend (and/or crash) events at two embassies.Hint hint @ you folks know who you are
- Take my mother on an international vacation.
- Get invited to & subsequently attend some fancy shindig at the Cosmos Club.
- Pick a holiday each year and make it a big thing.
- +1 redacted
Rollover from previous list. I would still like to do these things, but counting them here would cheating.
Rescue files from my old laptops Learn to drive stick(Thanks Chad! By which I mean, thanks Rob) Climb a 14er
- Hike the Annapurna circuit
- Finish T.R. Fehrenbach’s giant book of Texas history
- Complete a pyrotechnics project
- Purchase & learn to use a DLSR camera
- Learn about cars (i.e. be able to diagnose and conduct minor repairs independently)
- Clean out and get rid of unnecessary things from my mother’s house (if I ever live anywhere…)
- +5 redacted