In the six years I have been sharing my New Year's resolutions here on the blog, I have talked about all kinds of life events - starting a new job, adopting a dog, becoming an aunt, losing a grandparent, supporting parents through health issues - but I can honestly say, I never predicted I would be writing an update during a global pandemic. I hope you are all hanging in during these uncertain times and that Pop.Bop.Shop. can be a source of comfort and levity.
Back in January, I shared my goals for this year. There are two I am carrying over from years past. The first was to stay home at least one weeknight during every work week. Typing that now, seven weeks into quarantine, feels laughable. That said, I have kept this goal for all 17 weeks of the year so far.
The other ritual I vowed to maintain was sending one piece of snail mail to my grandmother every week. That was one of my 2019 resolutions and I kept to it all 52 weeks of the year. In 2020, I have successfully written to her each week without fail. Before COVID-19, I was able to send a postcard from all of my travels - New York City, Israel, Curacao - and since then I send her a different card every Monday. When I spoke to her on FaceTime last week, she said, "Molly, I cannot tell you how much it means to me to get your letters." During these challenging times, it has really deepened our connection, especially while we are unclear about when we will see each other again in person.
Ok, now onto a progress update on the seven new resolutions for 2020!
1. Improve my Hebrew
Status: Duolingo domination. After my trip to Israel in January, I made a commitment to myself that I was going to improve my Hebrew before traveling back in December for my cousin's wedding. Eleven months felt like more than enough time to significantly up my skills.
The day I came home from that trip, I downloaded the Duolingo app and set a goal to practice for at least ten minutes per day. As of yesterday, I am 90 days into my streak!
I can feel that my reading comprehension is improving. I follow a lot of Israeli bars and restaurants on Instagram and it's been cool to be able to read and understand their Instagram stories and photo captions.
This weekend, I started watching Shtisel on Netflix, an Israeli TV show that airs in the States with English subtitles. I can tell that I am understanding a lot more as I watch, which feels cool!
Soon I need to install the Hebrew keyboard on my iPhone so I can start writing to cousins and friends as another form of practicing.
2. Take the ice cream-making class at Gracie’s
Status: Pandemic pause. At the beginning of this year, I was excited about the idea of taking an ice cream-making class at Gracie's in Union Square in Somerville, MA. I love the shop, their unique flavors and their Cocoa Pebbles ice cream sandwiches.
With social distancing, I am just not sure when the shop will be able to re-open and if they will decide to offer the classes again this year. I am hopeful that it could still be a possibility in 2020.
In the meantime, I am planning to support Gracie's by placing pint pre-orders during their weekly online sales. I tried to score a few pints last week, but they sold out in under two minutes!
3. Eat at Orfano
Status: A mozzarella cheese miracle! For the last few years I have had one resolution that focuses on a particular restaurant. Last year it was Pammy's in Central Square in Cambridge, MA and this year it was chef Tiffani Faison's newest addition to her Fenway empire, Orfano.
By some incredible stroke of luck, Orfano was one of the last restaurants I visited before quarantine. I went on Wednesday, March 11.
I took tons of pictures on my real camera and plan to share a detailed blog post once social distancing is lifted and you can actually head to Orfano yourself. Until then, here is a sneak preview of some things we enjoyed during that meal:
I have to say, Orfano is most definitely a special occasion place. It's the type of restaurant you make a reservation at to celebrate a graduation, a promotion or a new career path. It's also a place I can't wait to take my parents.
4. Finally make it to Charleston, SC
Status: Foiled again. Planning a trip to Charleston was one of my 2018 resolutions and I never made it there. When my cousin and her family moved there in December 2018, I was positive I'd make in 2019 to visit them. Spoiler alert: that didn't happen.
This year, I had talked to my cousin about coming the first weekend in May. That seemed like an ideal time weather-wise. It would be warm there, but not boiling hot.
With COVID-19, airline travel doesn't seem in the cards for quite some time. I wish I had a crystal ball so I could know when this would all be over. Between now and then, I am keeping a list of all the places I hope to check out when I do eventually get there.
5. Read 30 books
Status: 8 out of 30. In 2019, I was able to read 28 books over the course of the full calendar year. For 2020, I wanted to challenge myself and up that number. At this very moment, I am finishing my eighth book. If I maintain this pace for the rest of the year that only puts me at 24 books, so I clearly have to carve out some more reading time!
Here are the books I've read so far:
- One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
- The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa
- On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
- Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
- Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
- The Gifted School by Bruce Hoslinger
- The Butterfly Mosque by G. Willow Wilson
- One Day in December by Josie Silver
If you've read anything recently that you've loved, please share the title with me. I am always looking to expand my list!
6. Listen to more music
Status: Groovin' right along. In 2019, any time I had my headphones in or was listening to something in the car, on a train or at the airport, it was always a podcast. I had completely forgotten how good it feels to listen to, sing along and dance with actual music. So, I resolved to spend more of my driving time and dog walks with Apple Music and Pandora (no, I am still not using Spotify).
In preparation for sharing this update, I took a look at my top five most listened to songs so far in 2020. Here is the short list:
- Nice to Meet Ya - Meghan Trainor
- RITMO - Black Eyed Peas & J Balvin
- Dance Monkey - Tones and I
- Shape of You (Cover) - Jamie Cullum
- Love on Top - Beyoncé
I am so happy to be enjoying music more often! The only struggle is not singing along and dancing while walking Scout in public.
7. Expand my list of dog sitters
Status: Early success! At this beginning of this year, I shared with all of you how one of the greatest sources of stress in my life at the time was finding people to care for Scout when I need to travel.
As of January, my favorite dog sitter had recently gotten engaged and moved an hour away, so staying here in Watertown with Scout wasn't as easy for her anymore. Though I had other great people on my roster, I didn't want to lean on them too heavily.
So, I emailed a bunch of friends with dogs or who love dogs to ask if they would recommend anyone. That led me to a new dog sitter, who watched Scout while I was in Curacao. Not only was she willing to stay at my place with him, but she seemed to really relish being with him. On the day I came back home, I texted her to say thank you and to share how content Scout seemed and she replied, "He was such a happy pup with the cutest personality!" Be still my heart.
Ironically, what was once my biggest stressor, is now a non-issue during quarantine. I don't have any travel plans until July and I am not even sure if those will still happen, so the pressure is off in a sort of wonderful way.
There you have it! My four month progress report. Here is the current tally:
1 resolution complete
#3 - Eat at Orfano
4 resolutions in progress
#1 - Improve my Hebrew
#5 - Read 30 books
#6 - Listen to more music
#7 - Expand my list of dog sitters
2 resolutions yet to be tackled
#2 - Take the ice cream-making class at Gracie’s
#4 - Finally make it to Charleston, SC
Tell me, did you make any resolutions for 2020? How's it going? Did you chuck them out the window during quarantine?