Lowering the Bar for 2018


Let me just say that I’m super proud of you, Daniel. You did so many cool things this past year and listening to you talk about everything you achieved inspires me to do more with my time.

While you did achieve a lot of what you wanted to do this past year, I feel like I barely did anything. I had some lofty goals at the beginning of 2017, including running a half marathon and teaching myself calligraphy. Did any of that happen? Well, I did read forty books, which is pretty cool. Still feel like I could’ve done more, ya know?

This year I’m going to set goals for myself again, but instead of creating incredibly lofty goals, I think I’m going to keep mine simple. Some may call this lowering the bar, I call this celebrating the little steps I can take to help me reach my incredibly lofty goals.

Here are my incredibly simple, straightforward goals for 2018.

Read more books.

This past year I read a lot and I’ve told myself a couple times that, in 2018, I’ll push myself and read 60 books. Well, we’re only five days into 2018 and I already feel like that goal is too high. I feel like I’m setting myself up for failure by dedicating myself to five books a month.

So, instead, my goal is just to read more. I’d like to read 50 books, but as long as I match what I read last year, I’ll be happy.

I also want to read more horror novels by women and people of color. I realized over this last year that a lot of my favorite authors are white guys, which is just sad. I’m not saying Stephen King and Jack Ketchum and Joe Hill aren’t good writers, I just want there to be more diversity in the books I read. And the only way to make things more diverse is to actively try to make it so. I can’t just hope more women and people of color get popular, I need to work for it. If I just keep reading horror novels with great reviews, I’m going to read a lot of stuff by white guys. I want to give other people a chance.

Watch less Netflix.

Now when I say watch less Netflix, what I actually mean is I need to stop using streaming services to “fill time.” More often than not, I’ll spend a few hours on the couch watching something I’ve seen a million times just because it’s comfortable. It’s safe, in a way.

My goal for 2018 is to do that less. I don’t just want to fill time, I want to enjoy my time and I can do that by only using Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Youtube to watch things that I actually want to watch. Stop re-watching the same things over and over and broaden my viewing horizons a bit. There are thousands of horror movies I haven’t seen and yet I’m re-watching Roseanne. Sad. 

Save money.

This has literally been goal of mine since I graduated college. I just need to save more money so I don’t end up going into debt every time a big bill hits. To help me achieve this goal, I’m going to try to do less retail therapy. I need to stop spending money on things just because I can. Now, I can still buy things I want, but only if I really want them and not because I need to “treat myself.”

I also want to spend less money on beer that’s just for me. I like craft beer because it’s something I can share with my friends. It’s an experience! Well, it’s not an experience when I’m sitting at home watching a movie by myself and drinking a beer I’ve had millions of times before. Basically, I sometimes treat beer like I treat Netflix. I spend my money on beer I’ve had before because it’s safe, not because I’m enjoying it. Of course, I’ll still buy beer for myself once in a while, but I don’t need to be spending $60 a month on Black Butte Porter. I could be spending that on stuff I’ve never had before!

Write more.

Again, this is literally a goal I’ve had since the dawn of time. I just want to write more.

In middle school, I wrote every single day and I had notebooks full of fanfictions and funny stories and poetry. Nowadays, I write like once a week and it’s not because I’m passionate about something, it’s more because I feel obligated.

Well, guess what, if obligation is what gets me writing then I’m going to need more of it.

What I specifically want to do is set up a writing schedule for myself and stick to it. No more of this waiting for inspiration or to feel passionate about it bull crap. That doesn’t work anymore. I need to change up my tactics.

Now, my goal is to write a novella and maybe a book of poetry by the end of the year, but that goal comes later. Right now, my goal is just to write more than once a week and to start writing things for myself rather than for work.

Take time for education.

Like I said in my last post, I work at an institution that gives its employees access to college level courses for $5 and yet I’ve only taken advantage of that a couple of times.

Of course, I have big, lofty goals for my education like going back to grad school and becoming a certified cicerone, but for now I’m going to start simple. I just want to make more time for my education, take more time to learn new things because it’s fun.

There are so many free online resources I can take advantage of. Last year, I was enrolled in a introduction to law course and a course on HTML coding for free through Coursera. Did I finish either class? Nope!

That just means I need to make more time for it.

Do more things with my time.

And to wrap up my 2018 goals, I just want to do more things with my time. Right now my free time is taken up mostly by Netflix, reading, crocheting, and work, which means I’m incredibly boring. I want to change that. I want to do more.

Some things I’m planning to do more of this year, mostly because it will give me things to do during the time I’m usually re-watching Gilmore Girls, are play more video games, get back into drawing and painting, listen to more podcasts, and try out different types of exercise besides running. I want to be an interesting person and right now all I can list under the hobbies section are reading and crocheting.

So there you go, those are my goals for this coming year. Yep, I pulled the bar way down for this year, but it’s worth it if in January 2019 I can look back and feel like I accomplished something. Setting myself up for failure isn’t a good thing. 



So What Now?

Sometimes I find it funny how alike we are, Daniel. This morning I sat down to write my blog post, but couldn’t find any inspiration so I sat for twenty minutes looking at old Tumblr posts I like to distract myself. Yesterday, on my lunch break, I re watched a bunch of old Jenna Marbles videos instead of reading my book or working on one of the many goals I’ve set for myself because I was tired.

You mentioned that your friends and family are out hustling and getting things done. Well, just so you know, in between these small bursts of productivity in my life, I’m re watching old episodes of Gilmore Girls and eating cereal for dinner because I have no motivation to do anything else. I guess I’m not as much of a hustler as you think.


I’m not going to lie and say I don’t have anything in my life that I find exciting. I enjoy running and crochet and reading, but sometimes my stress gets in the way of these things. I’ll come home after a hard day of work and want nothing more than to just sit on the couch, browsing Tumblr on my phone with the TV on in the background. On those days, I usually have to force myself to get up and do something. I know I’ll feel better after I find something else to do, but I know that’s not the case for everyone.

Anyway, I didn’t want this post to be a long-winded lecture about motivation and pushing yourself to achieve your goals. I am by no means an expert on motivation and nine times out of ten my motivation comes from a feeling of anxiety. Like I said in my last post, I feel anxious when I’m unproductive and adding anxiety on top of my stress is not a good thing.

What I want to talk about is my answer to “so what now?” What comes next for me? Where do I want my life to go from here?

Last October, I turned 26 and officially moved into my “late twenties.” It wasn’t a hard milestone for me. I’m happy with where I am at 26, but I’ve been thinking a lot about what I could possibly regret in another ten years. When I turn 36, will I look back and wish I had had the motivation to get up and do something different with my life?

I am fortunate that I found a career that I really enjoy. When I started college, my plan was to become a writer. Well, I reached that goal and also found out a lot more about what I want from my career. I love event planning and project management and website development. If I went back and asked 17-year-old Emily if she wanted to plan events and make spreadsheets, I’m sure she’d look at me like I’m crazy. The thought never crossed my mind in high school.

So when I ask myself what now, I wonder if I should be trying new things? I know I love my career, but what if there are other opportunities out there? Would I fall in love with donor relations or nonprofit development? I don’t know until I try.

But, I also know that I’m happy where I am. I love my job and my coworkers. I live in a wonderful community, have a loving husband and amazing friends. Should I risk all of those things at the small chance there’s something else out there for me? Maybe, maybe not.

Keeping on that train of thought, if I choose to stay where I am, what’s next? Should I be looking to buy a house? Should I start a family? If I decide to keep on my current path, it would make sense to start putting down real roots. Yes, I have a life here, but I’m still renting an apartment and have made no solid commitments to my community. Should I start doing that? Is that what I want?

Right now, I just have a vague feeling that I should be doing something. Don’t get me wrong, I am making progress toward my goals. I’m working on opening an Etsy shop and I’ve been writing more, but what else will I regret in ten years?

9995fc5ecf7abe34582a61c8205a295eBeing an adult is hard, and not just because there are bills to pay and responsibilities to keep track of, but because there is so much at stake just from day to day. There are also a lot of decisions in front of me that can’t be undone.

So, Daniel, whenever you look at my life and think that I’m hustling and bustling, just remember that I have no f*cking idea what I’m doing. I feel like a 15-year-old who put on mom’s makeup and somehow managed to trick the world into thinking I’m an adult.


I’m Mostly Made of Coffee and Self Doubt

I can’t say I watch too many sitcoms nowadays. I have cable at my apartment, but most of the time I use it to watch SyFy original movies, dramas, and reality shows about animals. I absolutely love Dr. K’s Exotic Animal Vet on NatGeo, even if it gives me a mini-panic attack every time they have a ferret patient.

Anyway, I do remember watching a lot of How I Met Your Mother, My Wife and Kids, and According to Jim when we were younger. I also watch a lot of Big Bang Theory whenever I’m visiting the parents’ house, so I know exactly what you’re talking about. So many sitcoms use super dysfunctional relationships as a source of humor and it drives me up the wall. It sounds like Mike and Molly is the same way.

These last few weeks at work have been busy, so recently I’ve been watching even less television. What I have been doing is drinking a ton of coffee and taking quick naps whenever I can find the time. Nowadays I’m mostly living off of coffee, black tea, and stress, which got me thinking about how much has changed about me since I was in school.

In middle school I absolutely HATED coffee. I just hated the taste. I remember one time when I went to the mall with my friend Crystal I bought myself a vanilla frappuccino, the farthest away from coffee you can get at Starbucks, and I ended up throwing it away because it tasted too much like coffee. That’s how much I hated it. Nowadays, I can still barely finish a frappucino, but now it’s because they’re too sweet. When given the option, I go for black coffee these days. When did that change?

Oh yeah, it changed my senior year of high school when I decided to take two AP classes, I was the section leader for the trombone section in marching band, and I was in the middle of my high school exit project. That year was when I really started having late nights and that’s when I really started needing caffeine.

Previously, when I needed caffeine, I would drink Monsters, but Monsters are expensive and in between five hour band practices and massive study sessions I didn’t have the time to go to the store and buy energy drinks. But you know what was always readily available in our childhood home? Coffee.

Coffee was convenient and I just couldn’t pass it up. I would load it down with creamer and sugar so that it barely tasted like coffee, but the flavor was still there. I needed the caffeine badly so I just had to suck it up. Without coffee, I’m not sure I would’ve survived my senior year to be completely honest.

As you probably remember, I spent my first year of college living at home to save money. Well that I meant I could continue to load my coffee with the expensive creamers mom used to buy.  Creamer is so expensive! Six dollars a bottle? No thank you!

Well I finally had to address my creamer-addiction when I moved out. When I moved to Pullman, I had to foot the grocery bill and, as you probably know, food is also expensive. One of the first things to go was the expensive creamer. I decided I could make due with milk and sugar.

Over the last six years, the amount of milk and sugar I put in my coffee has dwindled. Michael and I eat too much cereal to waste milk in coffee and I’ve recently started baking so sugar has become a sacred thing. To save money and time, I just drink my coffee black. And, get this, I actually like it. There’s nothing quite like a cup of black coffee in the morning. 

It weird how much things can change. When I was little I hated coffee and beer was gross and the idea of going to bed early was repugnant. Now, those are three of my favorite things.

It’s just weird to think about, isn’t it?


My Definition of a Home

Our childhood home was a house in a rural neighborhood outside of Tomah, Wisconsin.  We grew up there, and while it wasn’t wildly populated, busy, or sprawling, it seemed like it encompassed my entire world.  That is why it was particularly painful for me to have to move early in the year 2000.

Until that point, my idea of a home had been “the only place I’ve ever known.”  Our home had my stuff, it had my memories, my few friends were nearby.  We grew up there, I honestly had never considered that things could possibly be different.

Living in Washington was so different I almost experienced culture shock.  Not trying to say things were harder for me than anyone else (it probably wasn’t hard for dad, he located a bowling alley the first day), but I also had to deal with a transition from elementary school to middle school.

During this time I didn’t really think of our new house as a home.  It was our house.  My home was left behind, and I’ve become some weird mullet-ed nomad (NOTE: I had a mullet).

During high school, and after I’d acclimated some to this weird crowd of kids, I had a new definition for my home.  It was my home base, my return trip, “my grand intersection in my life”.  I was busy with school, friends, clubs, girlfriends, and sometimes dealing with my sisters.  I was comfortable at my place but my new definition for home was the place that I always returned to at the end of the day.  It was my finish line.

After graduating high school I moved out with my girlfriend at the time.  We had an apartment and it was pretty cool.  I felt like a grown up.  I was paying some bills, working my job, and asking my parents to fill up my gas tank.  I mean, I was a pretty sophisticated adult.

During this period my home had become “the place I lived in.”  It was as simple as that.  My parents place was still a big intersection for the parts of my life, but now I lived elsewhere.  I had my own place, so that must be my home.

My girlfriend at the time was that type of girlfriend where she kinda, sorta, maybe made me a worse person.  She was very negative, and this negativity spilled over into my personality.  This caused me to get into a fight with our room mate.

One day while I was hard at work, because of our fight, he had his family come over and remove all of the furniture from the common areas of the apartment.  In his defense it did belong to him.

I then learned that my concept of a home could be violated.  My concept of a home could be torn down by something external.  The remainder of the time I lived there I didn’t feel safe, secure, or even comfortable because my angry roommate decided that scorched earth was better than being adult.  He had effectively come into my safe zone, and stole my soundness of mind from me.

After my girlfriend became tired with me, I had to move back into our parents house.  But I didn’t immediately become my new home.  It felt alien and cold.  I was pointedly moving back into my parents house.  I had given up my room to go have my own place.  I had established a home, and it was violated.  Its a feeling I’ll never, ever forget.

Luckily I was distracted with college.  I had classes to slack off in, and tests to ace.  My teachers were frustrated.  I was pumped.  During this time I also worked, hung out with buddies, and had another bitch girlfriend.  I still lived with the parents, and I became more comfortable.  At this time in my life my home was my “retreat.”  When I was tired, overwhelmed, stressed, mad, or sad, I could fall back to my safe zone.  I could pull back from the front lines of my life and feel like I was in a place unassailable by the world.

Right now I’m in another transition.  Things have changed.  I do not currently have a definition of home.  I would not confidently say that I have a place I call home.  This isn’t a bad thing, but for me home is a place that has been left behind, taken from me, and violated.  I’ll have to find somewhere that can be all of the previous things, but with something new.

I’m sure my next definition will have to be “where I have built my life.”