Staff List: New Year’s Resolutions

This year’s gonna be different, right Bureau Staff?

New Year’s has always been something I either won or lost. If the year started well, I won. If, on the other hand, I ended up arguing with my girlfriend and barfing in the bathroom when the clock struck twelve, I lost. True to form, 2005 wasn’t my best.

Reflecting on 2009, I am forced to reevaluate this philosophy. Before the end of March I had seen three of my pillars for personal accomplishment crumble: I lost over 70% of my workload, every graduate school I applied to rejected me, and I got dumped. Strangely enough, this was the best year I’ve had in recent memory. In fact, these three “negatives” played a pivotal role in 2009’s success. Without them, I wouldn’t still be in Europe, I wouldn’t be starting my own business, and, at the risk of sounding sappy, I wouldn’t have a woman in my life that makes me happy every day.

I guess this is a pretty roundabout way to say this, but my New Year’s Resolution this year is to remain positive. It sounds simple, but it rarely is…

Looks like I’m off to a rough start. — Writer Locke McKenzie

This year, I’m going to watch one Criterion Collection movie a week.

For those unfamiliar, the Criterion Collection distributes what they believe are the world’s greatest films, everything from the masters of film — Hitchcock, Kurosawa, Bergman, Fellini, and so on — to under-appreciated, out-of-print works from every corner of the earth. And they package everything perfectly: pristine transfers, worthwhile DVD extras, and even brilliant artwork. But what’s most impressive is their taste. Think of Criterion less as a distributor, but a curator.

I’m certainly no expert on cinema, and I honestly don’t love everything Criterion picks. But even when I don’t think the film is great, I’m always left with the feeling that it was worth watching. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to fill my Netflix queue with Jean-Luc Godard movies. — Editor Kevin Nguyen

It’s been seven years since I graduated high school, and I like to think that I’ve matured a bit since then. So I assume that I can now appreciate the books we read in high school English class much better than I could when I was a teenager. Or, in the case of Dickens, Hawthorne, Wharton, and Brontë, appreciate them for the first time. My first New Year’s resolution, then, is to re-read the Anglo-American literary canon as interpreted by my high school English teachers, from Orwell to Steinbeck, Fitzgerald to Lawrence.

My second resolution involves my computer chair. It’s a gently-used Aeron rip-off, which means that it has lumbar support, pelvic stabilization, a weave backing, and all those things designed for kinematic something and anthropometric whatever. The trouble is that I’m not meeting the chair halfway. Whenever I sit down, I resort to one of two positions: the “cooked-shrimp,” in which I lean forward so far that I become a kind of half-circle, or the “slouch,” in which my butt is basically right on the front edge of the chair (which is how we were told to sit in middle school band classes, so it’s a psychological default for me) and my shoulder blades are the only part of me in contact with the back of my chair. Not surprisingly, I end many days of full-time sitting with an aching back and weird crease lines across my torso (gross). So this year: sitting properly, with lumbar supported, arms in an ergonomic position, etc. etc.Assistant Editor Darryl Campbell

This year I resolve to complete a 10k race.

I’ve had many past New Year’s resolutions where I promised myself I would lose a bazillion pounds and become perfect. Needless to say, those never worked out. I realized that the problem was with my goal, not my inability to achieve it. The focus was always on weight, which made eating, a basic life necessity, a very stressful experience.

With the new goal of running my ass off — as far as I can take it — I’m able to accomplish something small every day, and the task of becoming perfect is made a lot less daunting. — Writer Caitlin Boersma

2010 will be the year I recommit to studying Mandarin Chinese. Specifically, I resolve to take the HSK (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi, or 汉语水平考试), which is China’s standardized test for non-native speakers of the language.

I began studying Chinese in 2005, and reached my peak abilities in the fall of 2007, when I spent six straight months living and studying in Taichung, Taiwan and Beijing, China. Since my return, I have lacked a consistent regimen for maintaining my skills; I’ve kept things afloat by cobbling together a hodgepodge of study methods, including undergrad classes, independent classes, tutoring, podcasts, and picking up the occasional Chinese newspaper on grocery runs to Uwajimaya.

By making this resolution, I hope to prove the old adage that “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” I certainly do not need the validation of a test score (And really, who does? Do you even remember your SAT score?). Rather, by making this long-term commitment (the next test is in October), I hope to re-immerse myself in the study of a culture, history, and way of thinking that is far more complex and engaging than whatever a single test can encapsulate. — Contributing Writer Daniel Adler

Since my favorite band, Pavement, is reuniting this year, I was all set to outline my plan to catch as many of their concerts as possible, which honestly isn’t as much resolution as self-indulgence. But then something landed on my doorstep: a box with an oversized Ziploc bag inside, and inside the bag a copy of McSweeney’s issue 33 — The San Francisco Panorama.

I’m a little embarrassed by how overwhelmed I feel in the face of this immense, astonishing collection of art. The issue is an old-school broadsheet newspaper (think Sunday New York Times, only bigger) packed to the gills with content from some of our greatest living writers, musicians, designers, and cartoonists. I don’t even know where to begin describing it; all I can really do is gesture uselessly at this promo to indicate the scope of the thing. It is a flabbergasting collaboration.

So here’s my resolution: I will wake up some Saturday or Sunday this year, I will find a warm bright place, I will open my Panorama, and I’ll read until night. I will interact with no electronic devices the entire day (with the possible exception of an old iPod). I will close my laptop; shut off my iPhone; the Xbox, DS, and PSP will remain powered down; and I won’t even look at the TV remote. One whole day without looking at a screen. Between work, leisure, and blogging I probably stare at LCDs at least fourteen hours a day, so I’m not sure what might happen to my eyes, but I’m willing to take that risk. An absolutely extraordinary effort went into producing this beautiful homage to newspapers, so it’s only right that it be given a fittingly analog reading environment. — Editor Nick Martens