Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives
The root of 'resolution' is 'resolve'.

Well, it's a week into the new year and I've already blown most of my New Year's resolutions. While it's annoying, it's also not that surprising: the biggest issue I have right now is trying to rework my daily schedule into something that can accommodate all the different things that I want – or need – to shoehorn in here somewhere in order to get where I want to be on January 1st, 2010. Since I'm still actively working to make this happen, I'm considering this first week-and-some-change to be the 'planning stage' for the rest of the year, and as such it's still okay that I'm still getting my ducks in a row.

I am writing this from my office in Kendall Square, at the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, from which I can watch the construction of MIT's new cancer research building across the street. It's taking the spot of a lovely green space (well, and a parking lot that you would overlook to see the green space) that used to stretch between our lab and Gehry's magnificently quirky Stata Center, which is one of my favorite buildings on campus. It's progress that is encouraging and noble, despite the cost of the disconnect between me and a past favorite thing of mine, and it serves as a reminder that the world is continuing to grow despite the current economic downturn.

Said construction site is providing the soundtrack while I hammer out these thoughts on my lunch hour, and this is reflective of the path I'm currently trying to sort out: it's fitting, although annoying, that my New Year's resolutions are so keenly playing to multiple senses of the word 'resolve'. First, they require a great deal of personal resolve in order to make the lifestyle changes required to make them happen. Two, if they come to pass, then they will go a long way towards resolving a number of issues that I've been wrestling with for years. Three, in order to make them happen at all I need to resolve these issues with my schedule. These are, I think, the issues that everyone has with New Year's resolutions, but it's important to remember that all of this is work, and resource management, and growth, and sacrifice. Just like the construction site across the street.

So, what am I up to? What are these resolutions?

  1. Read more.
    This is a perennial for me. My research last year suggested that I should be focusing on trying to earn a traditional Ph.D to offset the quirkiness of my CMS degree in a largely conservative academic job market, and this just-as-largely makes sense. I have a bachelor's in English literature from a very good school for that, and I have a master's in media studies and new technologies from arguably the best school for that, and I have my eye on a Ph.D program that has a very solid chocolate-and-peanut-butter combination of the two. This is good, since this is what I want to be doing (writing, teaching and consulting on the transmedia franchises that I view to be true 21st century literature – but more on that line of thought later). However, my actual literature background is currently fairly rusty, and I need to read a whole stack of the classics in order to get myself into a place where I feel comfortable applying for an English literature Ph.D (and theoretically feeling qualified to teach English 101). Much like my AFI top 122 films project, I've compiled a list of 200 great books that I want to read, of which I've already read 46. While I'm aware that it'll be impossible to read three classics a week for the rest of 2009, I'm hoping to chew through at least a good portion of the list before submitting applications to graduate schools next December, and then finish up the rest before starting classes in the fall of 2010.

  2. Finish the AFI top 122 films list.
    I'm currently at 92. I am confident that I can do this one, at least. Looking back, this was an amazing project and well worth the time – not only have I discovered a number of great new favorite films, I can now sort of hold my own in a number of film conversations with my film nerd buddies. (This is the same place I want to be with literature classics next year, hence #1 above.) I do have a stack of 32 additional movies from the Criterion collection that I want to watch after this is done, so that means that the final count will be 154 of the best movies out there, but I may wait to hit those until after I'm further through the literature list.

  3. Get back in shape.
    Damn dirty desk jobs. Since enrolling at MIT I've gained over fifty pounds. This will be undone, dammit. I'm already taking great steps to ensure that this happens, including obtaining a really great stationary bike this Christmas (thanks, honey!) and changing my diet to exclude the worst of the foofy coffee drinks, sugary sodas and snacks and replace them with healthier alternatives, but I have a long way to go. (Not to mention a copy of Wii Fit to dust off, which I might wait to do until after I'm sure than damned little thing will stop whining "That's obese!" whenever it gives me my weight. Grrr.) Plus, it ought to help with my whole 'public intellectual' career thing, since more than one place has also suggested that looks definitely play a part when you're trying to break into any industry. There's one piece in a paper here in Boston that explicitly demands to know why, if these bright young novelists are so smart, they're not bright enough to look better. C'est la vie. (Besides, if Jay Lake can shear off 65 pounds, and I'm something like a decade or two younger than he is, I should be able to do the same thing. And I need to do this before I start developing the serious stuff, like heart disease or diabetes. Yay adulthood.) That said, I have great reason to do this, thanks to the next one...

  4. Get married.
    I finally popped the question to Laura on Christmas, and we're set to get the hitching done on Halloween of 2009. (Yes, we're those nerds.) I am determined to look good in that suit, by God. I have a sneaking suspicion this one might rise up and obliterate all the others on the list, as per the snickering of a number of my married friends, but so far so good.

  5. Write more.
    I have a number of writing projects that are gestating but need to be really brought to term and delivered. Although it may be counterintuitive, I suspect that one way to make that happen is to do more regular writing on places like this blog, the GAMBIT blog, the C3 blog, the IAF blog, and other places where I'm considered a regular. I had a scheme all set where I'd blog in one place or another each day every week, but, well, it hasn't happened yet. Again, this first week has largely been planning, mmmkay?

  6. Get fiscally responsible.
    This is something I've been working on for a long, long time and I'll probably still be working on for the next ten years. It's a simple truth that academics – and academic staffs – don't make huge piles of money (with a couple of notable outliers, of course – there are some graybeards here at MIT that are making out like goddamn bandits, but they're rock stars) and that's why so many academic types like myself do so much consulting on the side. My consulting business has been taking off like a rocket ship this year, even though this website doesn't really reflect that yet. Which brings me to my next resolution...

  7. Make more representative of me in 2009.
    Every year for the past couple of years I've just changed the date up there in the corner. (Which I still need to do yet for '09... Fark.) This year I need to really overhaul some of the basics, so that this site does a better job of working for me as a calling card, portfolio space and public laboratory. I need to build up my traffic, I need to conduct some experiments, I need to make more art and upload stuff more reliably. I know I say this a lot, but watch this space.

So there you have it – my seven key resolutions for 2009. Thanks for joining me as I continue to hammer out a more successful state of existence. 2009 is going to be amazing, I can feel it – and, more importantly, I'm determined to make it amazing. Stay tuned.

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