15 New Things for 2015

Well, it’s official. A new year has begun. I’ve never really been big on New Year’s resolutions, partly because it seems arbitrary to me that January 1st is the day when you suddenly turn your life upside down, and partly because I have a terrible track record at keeping them. I think part of it stems from a lack of specificity: It’s all well and good to say “I’m going to get in shape” or “I’m going to be better at relationships” or “I’m going to be creatively engaged,” but when push comes to shove and there’s no easy way to quantify your success at keeping these commitments, it’s easy to feel like you didn’t get anything done at all. Similarly, when your resolutions are a laundry list of things you enjoy that you are going to deprive yourself of from this point forward, this so-called holiday can become down-right depressing. So this year, instead, I’ve made a list of 15 new things I want to do in 2015. A lot of them are part of a bigger, general resolution to get to know New York better. Some of them are new skills I want to acquire or stuff I want to learn. But they’re all things I’m excited about. And hopefully, I’ll be able to share my 15 adventures with all of you.

Via Small Batch America
Via Small Batch America
  1. Find a signature cocktail and learn how to make it. I’m particularly inspired by this article from Bitter Southerner on what they consider to be the top five Southern cocktails. I already know how to make a mean mint julep, but the other four are fair game for 2015. Also fueling my cocktail fever are my new Mason Shaker and Shake book, long-term residents of my wish list and this year’s Chrismukkah presents from Scout, with the caveat and she be designated #1 Official Taste Tester for any and all experiments (unless they involve Fireball).

    Ingrid-Michaelson-F
    Via Hey Reverb
  2. Learn to play the ukulele. I bought myself a ukulele last spring, in the midst of a Polar Vortex and thankless barista job-induced funk. My brother happened to be visiting that week, so he tuned it, showed me some basic chords, and taught me how to play my favorite Ingrid Michaelson song. For about a week, I practiced diligently, strumming those Gs and Cs over and over again while “Scandal” played on my TV. Slowly, however, my practice sessions grew more and more infrequent, until the strings were hopelessly out of tune and I couldn’t tell my Ds from my Es. So this year, I try, try again.

    Via The New York Times
    Via The New York Times
  3. Take a day trip somewhere upstate, in New York but outside the city. Some of my resolutions this year involve exploring New York City, getting to know this sprawling metropolis that, for better or for worse, is my home for the foreseeable future. But “New York: The City” is just one tiny fraction of “New York: The State,” 99.9% of which I have yet to explore. This city can get me down, with the smells and the concrete and the starless skies, so this year I’m going to remind myself that I don’t need to leave the state in order to get a dose of fresh air and green. Bonus points will be awarded for apple-related activities: picking, cider drinking, donut tasting, or otherwise.

    Via The Stranger
    Via The Stranger
  4. Roast a chicken. As I’ve written before on this blog, I am a compulsive baker. My roommates past and present can attest to my spontaneous urges to make muffins or chocolate chip cookies or apple pie, just because it’s a Tuesday and why not. But one area that my kitchen experimentation has largely shied away from is meat. I can bake or sautee a chicken breast with the best of them, but the scale of cooking a whole bird in one go has thus far intimidated me. No more. With Julia Child and Mark Bittman as my guides, I will put my newly inherited roasting pan to good use. Domestic goddess points, 10.

    Via Brownstoner Queens
    Via Brownstoner Queens
  5. Check out Astoria. I hadn’t been in New York long before I started hearing about a mystical neighborhood, as trendy as it was hard to access from Brooklyn (#thanksMTA), full of bona fide ethnic cuisine and groovy culture. This year, I vow to explore the magical land known as Astoria, along with all the Greek, Egyptian, Brazilian, Palestinian, and Algerian food my stomach can take.

    Scout and I, gettin' our Nerdeoke on
    Scout and I, gettin’ our Nerdeoke on
  6. Sing solo at Nerdeoke. One of my and Scout’s favorite pastimes in New York is nerdeoke, a low-stakes, show tune-sprinkled karaoke fest hosted on Sunday evenings at our favorite Doctor Who-themed bar (yes, that is a thing), the Way Station. And while I have rocked the Dixie Chicks, the Spice Girls, and the epic ensemble numbers of Les Misérables with Scout and other friends, I have yet to take the mic solo. Song suggestions and glasses of liquid courage welcome. (Also, in a joint resolution, Scout and I have sworn to finally tackle our favorite drinking song, near and dear to our hearts since our pre-drinking days. If you have not yet experienced the joys of Monty Python’s Philosophers’ Drinking Song, you have not yet fully lived.)

    arrogant-swine, barbecue, bushwick
    Via Arrogant Swine
  7. Try at least one new bar/restaurant every month. There are approximately 38,000 bars and restaurants in New York City. Many of the most exciting ones are in my hood, which is constantly being named the 2nd/7th/11th coolest in the world, largely because of its exploding culinary and nightlife scene. One of my biggest overarching resolutions for this year is to get to know the city better, and as a foodie, a big part of that is the culinary scene. So at least once a month, I’m going to try something new, from Bushwick barbecue to gourmet macaroni and cheese and just maybe, if I’m lucky, a ramen burger.

    Via Hawk Talk
    Via Hawk Talk
  8. Take the Staten Island ferry. This resolution encompasses two goals. First off, it offers sweeping, and free, vistas of the Statue of Liberty. Second, it would complete my five-fecta of New York City boroughs, allowing me to say I’ve officially set foot in all of them. Note: At this time, this resolution does not include any actual time on Staten Island. The ferry terminal will be sufficient to make it official.

    Via Seriable
    Via Seriable
  9. Finish “The Wire.” Many moons ago, as a college freshman, I, like scores of liberal arts students before me, became enamored with “The Wire.” I plowed through the first three seasons in an addicted haze, thrilling to the gritty streets and colorful cast of characters. Then finals hit, and summer break, and I never quite got around to watching the rest (including the fourth season, Scout’s favorite). Special thanks to my parents’ HBO Go password for sponsoring this resolution, and to “Serial” for reviving my love of Baltimore-based crime narratives.

    paris, france, eiffel-tower, zelda-and-scout, jennifer-harlan, jen-harlan
    My apartment building in Paris, and our neighbor the Eiffel Tour
  10. Find a French conversation group and go. Last month, I spent a glorious two days being reunited with my former European home. There are many, many things I miss about living in Paris, but one of the biggest is speaking French. I realize it makes me a total language nerd, but those 48 hours spent reunited with the imparfait, the accent circonflexe, and even the subjonctif were magical, and rather than slaking my thirst, they amplified it. With 8.4 million people in New York City, some of them have to speak my (second) language. And if the French group goes well, I may even up the ante and bring my now very rusty Italian out for a spin.

    Via New York Observer
    Via New York Observer
  11. Go to more museums. I love museums. I think part of it stems from my time in Paris, museum-tastic city that it is. There’s something about the quiet and the colors and the neatly placed wall tags that gives me a sense of peace, even amid the bedlam of an urban center like New York. And despite the fact that most of said museums are found on the Upper East Side, a foreign land to which I rarely venture, I want to make a conscious effort to make the trek more often, especially in the winter months. At the top of my list are three New York Institutions (with a capital I) that I have yet to experience: the Whitney, the Guggenheim, and the Natural History Museum.

    Via The Design Inspiration
    Via The Design Inspiration
  12. Walk across Brooklyn Bridge. A rite of passage for any Brooklynite, and one which I have yet to accomplish. I’m saving this one for a sunny day, with the promise of pizza and a picnic waiting on the other side. I’m warning you now: Prepare for the Instagrams.

    Via Wikimedia Commons
    Via Wikimedia Commons
  13. Read “Swann’s Way,” all the way through, no cheating. My reading list for the upcoming year could take up an entire post of its own (Roz Chast’s graphic memoir! Marilynne Robinson! Gone with the Wind!). But perhaps the most ambitious goal on there is the big madeleine, as it were: Monsieur Marcel Proust. I dabbled in M. Proust in college, reading the first section of Swann’s Way for a Modernism class in college. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it, sinking into the language and losing myself in his patient, painstaking narration. But after chapter one we stopped — there were Joyce and Woolf to be read, after all — and my dog-eared copy got consigned to a box. It has finally made its way to Brooklyn, and in 2015, by Marcel, it will make its way into my brain.

    Via Le Temps
    Via Le Temps
  14. Go to Albertine. This is Albertine. It is basically my version of heaven on earth. I want to go to there.

    Via Wikipedia
    Via Wikipedia
  15. Learn to ride a damn bike. Readers, I have to confess something, which is quite possibly the greatest secret shame of my life. I do not know how to ride a bike. There are conflicting theories as to why I didn’t learn as a child, with my parents and I trading blame on who gave up on the process first, but either way, I never picked it up. I’ve spent a huge chunk of my life thus far making excuses and squirming my way out of having to admit this fact — just typing it now and knowing all of you are going to read it is already bringing on a bit of a panic attack — and I’ve decided that it’s time for it to stop. At the age of 25, I’m finally going to do what 5 year-olds around the world are currently doing with ease. I’m going to learn to ride that damn bike.

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