To Making New Year’s Resolutions, Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving, and Spreading the Love on Valentine’s Day!

NYE champagne toastAs I’ve mentioned before, I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions. I firmly believe you can make positive life changes on any old day. If you want to eat healthier, then start with your next meal! If you want to drink less, order a seltzer and cranberry juice the next time you’re out with friends. As the adage goes (and no folks, Gandhi did not say this), be the change you wish to see in the world. Don’t wait until January 1st. It only takes a week or so for a new habit to become a routine. Personally, I prefer to start new routines on Mondays, but that’s just me.

While I don’t make formal resolutions, I do like to make crazy lists. The other day, I found myself writing down a bunch of things I’d like to focus on this new year. I guess you’d call it resolutions. Here’s what I scribbled down in my planner as unpacked from my Christmas vacation:

My "resolutions."
My “resolutions.”
Inside the Guggenheim.
Inside the Guggenheim.

The list has a lot of standard items like work out, clean, read, etc. However, two items really take precedence here as far as I’m concerned: going to the museum and getting off my phone. I live seven avenues from museum row and I’ve haven’t set foot inside the Met since 1990. (In my defense, it was closed the day I ventured over there). I’m so close to so many cultural gems and there’s no excuse to ignore them! Secondly, I need to beat my iPhone to smithereens with a sledgehammer  take some time to unplug from my phone. But, Instagram! Anyone that knows me knows my phone is always within arm’s reach and it’s getting to be a bit ridiculous. Even I’m annoyed. Baby steps!

Facebook status
Haters gonna hate.

I was having a conversation with a friend at work the other day about how many people in our Facebook feeds like to kindly remind us that we shouldn’t wait for New Year’s to make change, for Thanksgiving Day to give thanks, and for Valentine’s Day to express love. He pointed out, if that’s what you need to put a little positivity out there, then so be it! I couldn’t agree more. Just like some people need conversation starters to talk to people who intimidate them, others need the boost of the holidays to give thanks, share their love, and make resolutions.

So instead of hating on New Year’s resolutions, as I may or may not have done in years past, I fully support all of your goals for 2014! Who cares if you made them on January 1st (or in my case December 28th)? Let’s just make some positive changes in 2014 and spread the love!

I’ll see you at the museum.

The Key to a Woman’s Heart is Through Her Library

There is nothing more wonderful than receiving a book as a gift, especially if the gift giver is someone with whom you are romantically involved (or wish you were). Romance aside, I absolutely love it when someone, anyone, gives me a book. It doesn’t even have to be for a special occasion.

A book gift is very personal. It means that someone has taken the time to think about you and to find a book that will speak to you specifically. Someone wants you to have an enjoyable experience so much that they bought something that will aid in the process. I also love it when someone listens to you rant and rave about a book you’ve always wanted to read and then a few days later, that book magically appears on your front door step.

My aunt was a book editor for a newspaper for many, many years and each Christmas, she always sent everyone in our extended family a book. Each book was tailored to our own preferences and the types of works that we most enjoyed reading. Each Christmas, I could look forward to a delicious new work of fiction, often with a literary tie as my aunt knew my love of writing. These were the types of books that were pager-rippers–so engaging, that I practically tore the pages from the spine.

Another fond memory I have of getting a book as a gift came at the end of my senior year of college. It was Valentine’s Day weekend and I was competing in my final swim meet of my 14 year swimming career. My mom and dad drove all the way to watch me swim as they so often did throughout my life as a swimmer. At the end of the meet, after my final race, my mom and dad gave me a rose, a card, and a copy a childhood favorite, Goodnight Moon. On this milestone of getting older, receiving Goodnight Moon was a nod to my younger days. The book still sits on my bookshelf.

There is something so special about being given a book.  Here are five books that I would be delirious with delight if someone gave to me as a gift:

  1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. You can never have too many copies of your favorite book!
  2. Nothing’s Fair in Fifth Grade by Barthe DeClements. I received this as a gift from a cool baby-sitter in first grade, when I was sick. I read this book so many times that the cover fell off. I loved reading about the drama of fifth grade girls who were forced to get along with a new girl that they didn’t like.
  3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (an older edition). Another one of my all-time favorite books, it would be cool to have an older edition of this book for my collection.
  4. Any collection of Yeats’ poems. Who doesn’t love to receive poetry as a gift, especially when its written by your favorite poet?Bonus if “He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven” is included in said collection.
  5. The Best Loved Doll by Rebecca Caudill. My grandmother, who also happened to collect dolls, had given this book to my sister and me. We loved this book because we loved to play with dolls and we could relate to the main character and her “best-loved” doll.
So gentlemen, if you’re puzzled on how to win over your lady-love interest, the answer is simple. Buy her a book! 

5 Literary Characters I’d Like to Make My Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day! In the spirit of the holiday, I’d like to take a moment to pay tribute to two things I love (besides the Green Bay Packers): books and attractive men. Inspired by a recent post on a literary blog I follow I read entitled, “Bangable Dudes in Literature” and my love of making wacky lists, here is a list of 5 literary characters I’d like to make my Valentine:

5) Hamlet
Hamlet is full of angst, emotionally conflicted, and depressed. Yes, these might be bad qualities for a long-term relationship, but they are excellent qualities for a passionate love affair. I always admired Hamlet’s drive to determine who murdered his father and I love the creative way he exposed his uncle. The play’s the thing. He loses points with me for the way he treated his lover, Ophelia, which is why I would never want more than one or two rendezvous with this lost soul. What he lacks in serious relationships, he gains back in his beautiful soliloquies. What a piece of work is man, indeed.

4) Nick Carraway
I’ve always been partial to Midwestern boys and Nick is just that–a Minnesotan boy out to explore the charms of New York City. I love his reflective nature and overall storytelling abilities in The Great Gatsby. Although he does not talk much about his love life, he did get a little fresh with Daisy Buchanan’s friend. It didn’t work out, however, which was fine because I think he was searching for something deeper. I can respect that.

3) Atticus Finch
A widower raising two children all by his lonesome! Makes me melt a little. Atticus, a hard-working lawyer, stands up for what is right and true even when it makes him the most unpopular man in town. Very admirable. He seeks to break down racial barriers in his small Alabama town while at the same time teaching his children good morals. Not an easy task for just one man. I admire a man who can take a stand and has strong convictions and at the same time can be a caring father. All that is missing from Atticus’s life is a woman to keep him warm at night. I can help with that.

2) Theodore “Laurie” Laurence III
I always had the inkling that Laurie was good-looking because the March girls were instantly drawn to him when he became their next door neighbor. Laurie becomes the brother the March girls never had and becomes particularly good friends with Jo, the tomboy. Laurie mistakes this friendship for love (who wouldn’t?) and eventually proposes to Jo. Jo, like an idiot, refuses this proposal and Laurie seeks solace in Europe. Who wouldn’t want to marry their lifelong friend, attractive, and did I mention wealthy next door neighbor? In Europe, Laurie crosses paths with Amy March and he consoles her while she mourns the death of her sister, Beth. Laurie eventually woos Amy which is understandable because he offers her a strong shoulder to cry on. Amy and Laurie marry because they love each other and Laurie wants to be a March for once and for all! I love Laurie’s determination and love of the March family. Nothing beats a true family man.

1) Gilbert Blythe
All Gilbert wants to do is love Anne of Green Gables, but she won’t have any of it! That does not stop Gilbert from making Anne spelled-with-an-e realize that she does, in fact, love Gilbert deep down. Persistence. I like that in a man. Gilbert will not take no for an answer. Fight for your woman! However, I don’t suggest trying to woo your woman by calling her “Carrots,” a nickname she despises. Anne is sensitive about her red hair and Gilbert calls attention to that on her very first day of school in a new town. I suppose I can let that one slide because after all, Anne and Gil were only about fourteen. Teenage boys don’t exactly have the smoothest moves.

Another great thing about Gilbert is that he loved Anne for her brains. She was the smartest girl in the school and the two of them often duked it out for the highest honors in the class.  There were plenty of other pretty and popular girls in Avonlea that liked him, but Gilbert only had eyes for Anne. I appreciate a man who likes a woman for her intellect.

I always admired Gilbert’s undying devotion to Anne. He did not let their silly quarrels ruin their relationship. One of my favorite moments is when he and Anne both become school teachers. She has been assigned to a school in a town far from her home in Green Gables, while Gilbert has been assigned to the local school.  Matthew recently died, leaving Marilla to be the only one to look after Green Gables and the farm land. Gilbert learns that Marilla might have to sell the land because she has no one to help her so he trades places with Anne so she can be close to home and help Marilla. The ultimate sacrifice for the woman he loves. Brings tears to my eyes.

All this talk of these attractive literary characters has made me late for my Valentine’s Day pub crawl! Happy Valentine’s Day, people. Whatever you decide to do today to celebrate your love of [insert object of affection], just remember: don’t write on your lover’s Facebook wall. Save your words of affection for your chocolate fondue date. Your friends thank you in advance.

No Valentine? No Problem!

As another Valentine’s Day rolls around, those without Valentines need not worry.  If you are flying solo on February 14th, there is no reason to panic or even give it a second thought.  While everyone else scrambles to order flowers, secure reservations for the local dark bistro, and set the mood lighting at their hotel room, you will have something even better planned: A Valentine’s Day pub crawl.

Last Valentine’s Day, I attended a Valentine’s Day Pub Crawl throughout the streets of downtown Boston.  Singletons and non-singletons alike packed these bars to the brim.  Most places even had lines of people waiting to enter.  This record-breaking turnout made me stop and wonder, are there really that many single people around? How refreshing!  My friend found this organized pub crawl through some social group, but if you’re too lazy to find a pre-organized crawl, you can make your own!

The homemade pub crawl never disappoints.  All you need is to pick a neighborhood of local bars, decide an order and a drink minimum per bar.  If you live on a line of public transportation, try to visit a bar at each stop.  For instance, my pal and I used to do what we called The Red Line Challenge in Boston/Cambridge, MA.  Starting at the Park Street stop off of Boston Common, we headed North towards the end of the line at Alewife, picking one bar per stop.   Usually by the Davis Square stop (just before the end of the line), we had to call it quits due to exhaustion. 

If your route permits, I suggest stopping by a hotel bar. The third stop on our Red Line Challenge was always the Kendall Square’s Marriott bar, Characters, a clean dive bar. With complimentary popcorn, pool tables, a permeating smell of the hotel pool, foreign bartenders, and intriguing hotel guests, our experience at Characters always provided a good story to tell the next day. 

Finally, making t-shirts for your pub crawl is key in building camaraderie amongst pub crawlers and helping you keep track of your route and friends, should you forget.  Even if you’re not single, you should have been expressing your undying devotion all along, not solely on Valentine’s Day.  You have 364 other days to express your love and affection, but the Valentine’s Day Pub Crawl comes but once a year!