Past Year’s Accountability 2013

Should old resolutions be forgot? And never brought to mind?

In what has become one of my more respectable traditions, I will once again, for the fifth year running, post a list of the New Year’s resolutions that I made for myself in December of 2012, and check back to see which of those resolutions were completed successfully, and which failures publicly demonstrated my inborn character defects of procrastination, laziness, and incompetence.

I call this humiliating process Past Year’s Accountability: the time when I send out a notice for the entire world to see how I spent my year. It’s important for me to be the kind of person who follows through on his commitments, or at least admits when he doesn’t. Sometimes embarrassment at having to admit to so many failures is what keeps me on track through the year.

If you would like to check back on past year’s progress, you can view my 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 posts as well.

And so, my 2013 resolutions:

1. Finish the Mike Rennie peacock on my arm.
In November of 2010 Mike Rennie outlined and began the shading on a peacock tattoo taking up most of the top of my left arm. Right after I started it, I ended up getting laid off from work and then starting my hair apprenticeship. My money just wasn’t good enough to really finish that tattoo but I had hoped to finish it this year. I got a little over two hours of work done on it in September so I’m going to give myself half credit for this resolution since I did make some considerable progress on it.

2. Travel 1,000 miles.
Over the summer, I went on a road trip to follow my favourite band on tour. I ended up traveling first to Atlanta, then to Carrboro, then to Norfolk, then to Baltimore. Overall I put about 1,500 miles on the odometer so I get full credit for this resolution.

3. See Eisley twice.
On the trip I describe above, I ended up seeing Eisley four times total, plus I saw Sherri on a solo acoustic tour. So that’s 4.5 times. I give myself full credit for this resolution.

4. Finish editing/compiling my collection of short works.
I am planning to publish a collection of short stories sometime in the next year or two. I had hoped to finish up the preliminary work this year but I didn’t. I turned the stories over to my friend’s mother who has a master’s degree in English who is going to edit for me but she hasn’t had time to finish those pieces. No credit for this resolution.

5. Become conversational in Spanish.
While I did work on my Spanish off and on this year, I don’t feel like I did enough work to even give myself half credit for this resolution.

6. Finish editing/compiling collection of my dad’s photos/writing.
This is another creative, writing project that I didn’t have time to work on this year. I have a large collection of my father’s photographs and writing that I would like to eventually self-publish as a tribute to him but I haven’t had time to work on it. No credit.

7. Build a pinhole camera.
This is just a fun crafts project that I thought about doing last year and forgot about until the very end of the year and it suffered the same fate this year. I forgot about wanting to do this until the very end of the year when my money was too tight to even spend $30 on materials. Maybe next year? No credit this year.

8. Learn to cook five new dishes.
This was a fun resolution from last year. I just wanted to cook five things that I had never cooked before. Since I am a fairly inexperienced cook, the expectations are pretty low. I learned two different barbecue techniques which I employed a lot this summer, as well as how to make guacamole at home, and a vegan version of my mom’s chicken and dumplings. The big culinary achievement this year though was making a veggieducken for Thanksgiving.

9. Take five continuing education hair classes.
I wanted to expand my hair skills by taking five stylist level hair classes. I ended up taking five colour classes, two cutting classes, and a styling class. With eight classes total I can obviously give myself full credit for this resolution.

10. Do the hair for a photo shoot.
I wasn’t sure exactly how I should approach this resolution but this one fell into my lap. Richmond Shakespeare/Henley Street Theatre did a joint production of The Importance of Being Earnest, and I did the two female lead actor’s hair for the promotional photos for the shoot. Full credit here.

11. Build a bookshelf.
I’ve been wanting to build some better bookshelves since the cheap Ikea ones I have are ugly, flimsy, and way too small. My buddy Ty has some experience with carpentry and I helped him build some bookshelves recently. I was hoping to get some help with him but I never had the money for materials. No credit here.

12. Finish books I and II of Euclid’s Elements.
I have been working with Ty on doing all the math in Euclid’s original geometry text, The Elements, which is split into 13 books. I was hoping to finish books one and two, but I was only able to finish book one by the end of the year, so I will give myself half credit for this resolution.

13. Write a research paper on a topic I’m interested in but don’t know much about.
I had intended this resolution to give me a chance to do some academic writing and learn some new and interesting things, but this was a time consuming resolution that just kept getting pushed back. This resolution, along with number 7 about building a pinhole camera are the kinds of resolutions I hate to fail at as they only require time, not money. I could have easily finished this resolution if I had taken it seriously earlier in the year instead of pushing it back over and over and forgetting about it. No credit for this resolution.

14. Buy a vehicle.
I wanted to buy a car by the end of this year but I didn’t. But in reality, I am happy that I didn’t. I am not giving myself credit for this resolution since I didn’t buy a car and couldn’t have afforded to buy one even if I had still wanted one. But I am not unhappy about failing this resolution since I have actually grown to enjoy riding the bus. I am getting a lot more reading done lately since I’ve been taking the bus to work. No credit here.

15. Participate in NaNoWrimo.
NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It is a challenge every year encouraging people to try to write an entire 50,000 word novel between November 1st and 30th. I wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo this year and I did. While I didn’t “win,” as it were, I did participate. I created an online profile on the NaNo website and managed to write over 8,000 words in the first ten days of the challenge before some personal crises stepped in and screwed up my progress. But since my resolution was only to participate, not necessarily to win I will give myself full credit since I believe 8,000 words to be a respectable first try for NaNoWriMo.

16. Start a garden.
I was hoping to start a garden in my back yard this year. While my house did acquire a compost barrel and a rain barrel, we didn’t actually plant anything so this resolution didn’t pan out. No credit here.

17. Get back in shape.
This resolution was vaguely worded but it was important to me to start exercising regularly and try to slim down a little bit. I got really sick in the summer of 2012 and was unable to do much except lay around for the last half of the year and consequently by the beginning of 2013 I was very out of shape and expanding in the mid-section. But in 2013 I got a gym membership and by the second half of the year I was going to the gym at least twice a week most weeks. I lost ten pounds and two inches in my waist and my fastest mile time was about seven minutes. I count the whole endeavor as a success and will give myself full credit for this resolution.

18. Put together an online hair portfolio.
While I didn’t end up putting together an actual portfolio, I have been posting regular pictures of my hair work on Instagram. Some of my posts have been popular and have gotten some flattering and validating compliments from other hairstylists and even from the Aveda corporate Instagram account. I think it’s fair to give myself full credit for this resolution.

19. Read a book of poetry.
I rarely ever read poetry and I thought it would expand my horizons a little bit to read a book of poetry this year. I was originally thinking that I would read all of Shakespeare’s sonnets, but I ended up being loaned a book of poetry by a friend that she really enjoyed. Although I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as she did — to say the least — I did read every line of every poem in Richard Siken’s book “Crush,” so I will give myself full credit for this resolution.

20. Memorize a Shakespeare monologue.
Continuing my Shakespeare education, I thought it would be important to actually memorize a monologue from a Shakespeare play. This would give me the ability to spontaneously audition for a play if I ever find myself in such a situation, but more than anything would just be personally satisfying. I memorized the “Let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings” monologue from Act Three of Richard II. Full credit here.

21. Get my iTunes library over 20,000 songs.
While I am pretty vigilant about being neat and thorough with my music library now, I wasn’t always so. I was annoyed with the number of single songs in my iTunes and by the lack of new music so I went through and tried to get whole albums for some of the singles floating around and expand my collection with some bands I like but hadn’t spent much time listening to. Overall the project was a success. I had nearly 21,000 in my library by the end of the year. Full credit on this resolution.

22. Buy a nice pair of shears.
I wanted to upgrade the most important piece of hardware in my professional life. I ended up buying a pair of Hikari shears, which are arguably the best brand of shears on the professional market. I give myself full credit for this resolution since Hikaris are amazing, even if I did buy the baseline model.

23. Change my name.
I have long wanted to change my last name to add an A into my last name. But since it costs the same of money regardless of how big or small of a change you make in your name, I figured I might as well go all out. At the beginning of the year, my full legal name was Joshua Adam McDaniel; in July I legally changed it to Joshua Augustus Straightedge MacDaniel. Full credit on this resolution for sure.

24. Go snowboarding.
I haven’t snowboarded since I was 17, but I have been wanting to try it again but I never got a chance to do it this year. No credit on this resolution.

So my success rate this year was 14/24 or 58.3%. That is actually my highest success rate ever. I beat my previous record by about 12%. This means that while 2013 had some serious ups and downs, I managed to be more productive in 2013 than in any year since 2009, as far as resolutions are concerned. That’s something to be proud of. I experienced a pretty serious downward trend for the first few years before I started taking this project more seriously.

Be sure to check back at the end of 2014 for the next set of resolutions. Hopefully everyone has already made their 2014 resolutions and is ready to start on some serious self-improvement.