I told my wife I had no New Year's resolutions this year.  After some time in January thinking about it, I realize I was wrong.  I do want to do some things that will improve my personhood.  I'm not sure why this came to me.  Maybe Christmas burned me out.  Maybe after Merm-8 dropped, the thrill has diminished.  Blog popularity is down, writing is tepid.  Maybe I'm looking for something to do besides watching Parks & Recreation every night (although it's worth it).

Option One: Learn Guitar

I keep drifting in and out of music.  My dad played music all his life -- guitar and accordion.  Played rhythm guitar in a church band up until his death.  The pastor at that church administered his funeral.  My wife was almost going to be a music teacher, played clarinet in HS marching band.  My sister went to an arts high school to be a theater/musical actress.  So in other words, seems to run in the blood.

I tried learning keyboard from my dad, but that didn't pan out.  I asked for and got a drum machine for Christmas one year, thinking maybe percussion would be my forte, since it didn't involve knowing music.  I practiced a little in college, but schoolwork + lack of structure = nope, nothing doing.  After I graduated I tried bass guitar, looking for something to do while looking for a job.  I learned that pretty well.  But I learned by studying tabs online, not notation.  At the heart of it all, I still don't know how to read music.

I stopped practicing bass after I got married because I simply had to prioritize free time.  And bass was the least interesting and rewarding, because I couldn't share with anyone.  It's hard to tote around.  My wife plays piano, which doesn't sound good with a bass.  Plus we have vastly different tastes in music, and I got frustrated with her lack of practicing.

But if I learn how to play guitar, chords at least, I could do more participation.  We always play Christmas songs, and it would be a good bonding experience with my eldest daughter, who is currently in piano lessons.

Option Two: Cooking

This is one of those basic skills that I would like to improve upon.  I mean, we eat every day, we should learn how to cook.  If I learn, I'd be more inclined to eat higher quality food and less of it.  A well-cooked steak is more satisfying then a Taco Bell box of twelve tacos you at work and get sick. (No, that's not the voice of experience.  (¬_¬)

But everything I make seems to turn into a disaster.  There'd be a lot of thrown-out food if I didn't have a dead palate and a pet peeve against wasting food.  I've made chicken chili that ended up like solid cheese dip, a Kool-Aid smoothie that tasted like cough syrup, and all my wife's birthday cakes have imploded on me.  I'm missing the basic principles.  I want to learn how to cook a steak so it's not all rubbery, or the best way to cut carrots, or what I did wrong with X, Y, or Z.

I see those people on Hell's Kitchen pulling recipes out of their ass, and there has to be some framework to follow, cause those people had no experience.  Also, it's another thing that would benefit my family (although the only thing I can count on my kids to eat is hamburgers and pizza).

Option Three: Join a Writing Group

I keep waffling back and forth about joining a writing group.  On one hand, it'd be a great place to meet people with common interests.  No one I know knows how to offer proper feedback to a writer.  On the other hand, I've heard lots of writers say "don't join a writing group, they're just a pat-each-other-on-the-back fest with no return value".

That local author's collective I went to last year was like that.  They seemed to be too satisfied with being self-published.  Plus, they couldn't manage to put me on their mailing list, after I gave them my email twice.  Incompetency is the quickest way to turn me off.

But that wasn't a proper writing group -- there was no handing out of drafts or peer review or things like that.  And maybe if I go to a different city, it could be different.  But the people around here just aren't interested in the same themes and genres I am.  They like prairie romances or Christian fiction or post-modern literary stuff.  I'm afraid I'd get bad feedback from people who aren't my audience.

Bonus Option: Massage Therapy

I love giving my wife massages. Not because it leads to any nookie, but it helps her to relax.  She's a high-strung sort and people she doesn't know touching her doesn't make her relax.  We had a couple's massage on our honeymoon cruise and she came away with more tension.

My problem is that my hands get tired too fast.  I'm sure I'm doing something wrong -- using my thumbs too much or standing in the wrong position.  I figure knowing the ins and outs and getting feedback would help my game.

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