Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Drowning on Dry Land








I have so much stuff to do I'm afraid to make a to-do list.




This afternoon, I had to take a moment to look up at the sky and "feel the floor." It's an acting technique, I think, but I use it like a mantra when I'm stressed and need grounding. "Feel the floor, Jan. Find your center."




On the plus side, there's a lot of good things coming my way in the next few weeks. If I can focus the important stuff and deal with the minutia, it's all out there waiting for me. Without being too specific, I have opportunities to write articles, teach a class, and get involved with a local reading series--not to mention the AWP Conference and sending out my manuscript.




Also, I had lunch today with Boston Erin. It was fun commiserating with her about the amount of stuff we're doing for our writing careers. She's my writing buddy--don't think I could get through manuscript revisions without her. Thanks E! Truth is, we wouldn't have it any other way. We're better off busy than not. Besides, she and I are Aquarians--not sure what that means but it definitely means something.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Simultaneous Submissions

Fat Charlatan wrote such a good post on simultaneous submissions and cover letters that I had to share.

FYI, I'm a firm believer in simultaneous submissions. I mean, the likelihood of two journals accepting my work is infinitesimally small.

The Poet Laureate of Boston?

Should Boston have a poet laureate? Absolutely. I think Massachusetts should have a state laureate, but I think it will go someone like Robert Pinsky. Hmmmm ... maybe I should apply. Unfortunately, I don't live in Boston so I may be out of the running.

Still, if there's a North Shore laureateship, sign me up!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Chronicles

The January Chronicles

Couldn't think of anything to blog about for today's Sunday Scribblings until I went to Kamsin's blog for inspiration. Thought I would chronicle my Sunday at home.
























(Look at how little snow there is on the ground!)






















While daddy and kids play...












Mommy sneaks away!









Then a story before naps. ("How many different feet you meet!")





Ending the morning with a little lunch.





(I cannot get these photos to line up correctly. Drat!)





















Saturday, January 27, 2007

Five Things You May Not Have Known About Me

I’m tagging myself for this meme.


One
January is my real name. I was born in February and on time. My dad simply liked the name—no stories to tell there. And yes, I’ve heard just about every January joke in the book.

Two
I’m an only child. People ask me if I miss growing up without brothers and sisters. My standard response is, “How can I miss what I’ve never had?”

Three
I’m a HUGE Red Sox fan; I’ll watch roughly 150 out of 162 games a year. Baseball season cannot start soon enough for me. Go Sox!

Four
I used to (unofficially) sing backup for a local Virginia band called the Mudpuppies. I had the biggest crush on the lead singer named Hayden (oh, Hayden). As one of three backup singers, the band named us “The Muddetts.”

Five
When I lived in NYC, I worked at the headquarters of the Associated Press. One day at lunch I ran into JFK Jr. I’m not going to pretend we talked, or that he even noticed me. But he was tall and beautiful and I knew who he was right away.

Six (a bonus)
I can't swim.

If you want to try this meme, consider yourself tagged!

Friday, January 26, 2007

LOVE


When people compare song lyrics to poetry (ex. “those lyrics are like poetry,”), I bristle at the very thought. I am firmly in the camp that lyrics are lyrics and poetry is poetry.

That being said, I have always been a fan of The Beatles. I can appreciate the songwriting abilities of John and Paul, how revolutionary their words and music were for the times. And given all of the disposable, wannabe artists out there now, the music of The Beatles still holds up today.

So I was thrilled beyond belief when Love arrived in the mail. This new album is made up of selections of Beatles favorites, digitally remastered for Cirque du Soleil’s Las Vegas show. The songs are stung together into long, almost orchestral movements. But this not another greatest hits album.

Imagine listening to what you think will be "The Benefit of Mr. Kite!" but it morphs into "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" into "Helter Skelter, " and before you know it you're singing along to "Help." Or, you think you hear fragments of a drum beat from "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" yet you hear strings from a song vaguely familiar but you just can't place. And the lyrics. Some of my favorite tracks are where the music drops out completely and you hear just the unaccompanied vocals, in mono!

If you're a purist, then maybe this album isn't for you. I mean, mixing "I Want to Hold Your Hand" with "I Am the Walrus" sounds sacrilegious. But if you're looking for something different yet familiar, music that aspires to the realm of poetry (and I've set myself up nicely for this) ... All you need is LOVE!

Check out a few audio tracks here.

(And here's something that will make you feel old. Paul McCartney will be 64 this June. I remember hearing "When I'm 64" (not featured on the Love album) as a child, thinking that's a long way off. My, how time flies!)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Poem for Poetry Thursday

Why I love poetry ... in 153 words or less
by January O’Neil

Every time I attempt to answer this question, I come up with a different answer. And I think that’s part of the reason why I love poetry: because it changes you.

If you’re like me, there are poems you carry around like a child’s security blanket. You pull them out when you need them, no matter how tattered that swath of fabric has become. A good poem can make you feel better about yourself. And it doesn’t matter if you wrote it, heard it at a poetry reading, or received it in the mail from a friend.

Whenever this question comes up, I always fall back on the words of William Carlos Williams from his poem “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower”:
It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day for
lack of what is found there.
Words to live by… and I do.

And now, it wouldn’t be Poetry Thursday if I didn’t have a poem. Just wrote it so it’s very rough. No title yet.


Writing a poem about writing a poem
is like trying to find a planet with the naked eye
nothing but the universe to stop you.
Those distant agates captured
under Hubble’s sexy gaze.
Even our bodies are born in explosions,
all of those dark ingredients
expanding and collapsing above us,
inside of us.

A small void becomes a contour of cosmos,
the heavy elements and high mass,
like a poem—the axis of the imagined
and the distorted. Who can sleep
in the dark water of night
writing and sleeping
and waking to write?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Oscars, baby!


It's the most wonderful time of the year! The Oscar nominations were released today. Woo hoo!

Now those who know me know that I love the movies. I run an Oscar pool with my closest friends, which starts with much trash-talking and continues until Oscar night when one of us (ME!) is declared the winner. Yours truly has one the pool two years in a row.

I like to think of Oscar night as my Super Bowl. Tim watches the kids and makes a fabulous meal for me, complete with champagne. And the phone is always nearby so I can call my friends to dish about the best and worst of the night's fashions.

Do you get together with your friends to discuss the latest movies? What do you do on Oscar night? And if you have seen the nominees, were you surprised by this year's list?

Monday, January 22, 2007

NBCC Award Finalists

The National Book Critics Circle Board of Directors have posted the finalists for the 33rd annual National Book Critics Circle Awards. Have you read any of the following books?

Poetry

  • Daisy Fried, My Brother is Getting Arrested Again. (University of Pittsburgh Press)
  • Troy Jollimore, Tom Thomson in Purgatory. (Margie/Intuit House)
  • Miltos Sachtouris, Poems (1945-1971) (Archipelego Books)
  • Frederick Seidel, Ooga-Booga (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • W.D. Snodgrass, Not for Specialists: New and Selected Poems (BOA Editions)
Fiction
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun (Knopf)
  • Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss (Grove/Atlantic)
  • Dave Eggers, What is the What (McSweeney’s)
  • Richard Ford, The Lay of the Land (Knopf)
  • Cormac McCarthy, The Road (Knopf)
I did get a chance to hear Daisy Fried read at the Dodge Poetry Festival from her nominated book. She read a few poems and they were all very good.

Torvill and Dean 1984 Gold Medal

With three minutes left in the AFC title game between the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts, this is what I was watching. The game was too way too intense for me, and I don't like football.

The Pats lost (*sigh*), so it was nice to watch a couple of goal medalists spin on the ice.

(Red Sox pitchers and catcher will report for spring training in less than a month. Game on, my fellow New Englanders. Game on!)

Enjoy the video.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Fantasy

Cinderella Revisited


Once upon a time (last night), Cindy got a call that her friend, Sleeping Beauty, was having a birthday party and wanted her to attend. So Cindy told her husband, the prince (who was now king), and he gladly let her go. He was more than happy to take care of the little prince and princess, and watch ESPN coverage of the AFC title contest between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts. So she put on her glad rags, driving off in her magical Subaru to the mythical city on the water called Boston.

Beauty's party was actually a surprise party. The event was much smaller than the ball Cindy attended when she fell in love with her once and future king. It was a modest but swank dinner party, yet Cindy was sorry she did not bring her camera so she could post pics on Poem Mom’s blog. Still, she enjoyed seeing old friends. Even though she missed her family, she liked being a single girl for the night. And after Beauty made her last birthday wish, and the restaurant check was settled, Cindy headed home, well before her self-imposed curfew of midnight.

The next day, she awoke to the grand news that Hillary Clinton is running for president in 2008, the Powerball jackpot is $240 million (not that we play, but that’s the stuff that fantasies are made of), and the Pats are well prepared to win tonight’s AFC game and to win the Super Bowl. Again.

The End.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Got Writing Exercises?

In an effort to stretch myself and my poetry, I'm looking for poetry writing exercises. If you have suggestions for specific prompts or exercises that have worked for you as a teacher or a poet, I'd like to try them.

I'll try all of the exercises posted between now and the end of February.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Poem for Poetry Thursday

Last Minute

Say nice sweater. Say I look beautiful.
Say the rain is a shadow inside my body.
Maybe you meant to say shallow. Maybe
I was mistaken. Maybe I was only thinking
about the rain and someone’s woolen voice
wrapped around me. Say I am an Amazon rainforest,
with canopy of leaves protecting my understory.
Say the words so I can stretch them across my dry,
cracked body. Say that gravity is just the earth
pulling me back home. Tell me all of this
and I’ll tell you how I treaded
an ocean of indecision to get to this sweater,
its woven imperfections under the heavy layers of winter.
Tell me how lucky am to recognize irony
as an element of beauty, that I chose something last minute,
because in real life that’s the only real minute we have.
Tell me I look like rain today.
Tell me I must be mistaken.



Happy Poetry Thursday! (Don't get me started on my morning--let's just say I spent it trying to get my frozen car window up from the down position with a hair dryer!)

What a great prompt! I chose Jim Brock's line, "the rain is a shadow inside our bodies" and tweaked it. I feel like I used a really great line and surrounded it with a mediocre poem. And what I mean is, my instinct is to get rid of a really great line to strengthen the piece as a whole. But I think with a little more tweaking I can make it work. I just wrote this so it's really raw--hasn't found the right form yet.

Looking forward to reading lots of poetry this week. (And thanks, Jim, for sharing a piece of your work with us.)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

"Tuesday afternoon is never ending..."

I’m home from work because my dear, sweet Ella has a hacking cough. She’ll be fine, but I thought she needed a little TLC from mom today. So after being sleep deprived last night, and keeping up with her, I’m not sure what to talk about today. That rarely happens. So maybe I need to rest and refocus—I’m spent. Ella’s asleep and I have an hour before I have to pick up my son Alex from day care.

January goals

This week
• Write a poem
• Send out poems to one journal/review
• Collect manuscript comments from readers
• Revise and post 2007 book list
• Save my favorite blog posts and all of my posted poems to my hard drive and backup drive (ugh)

Next week
• Start a new book to read
• Write a poem
• Send out poems to one journal/review
• Revise manuscript to send to publishers
• Plan a night out with Boston-area bloggers. More on that later.

The week after next
• Find a poetry reading/open mic to attend
• Write a poem
• Send out poems to one journal/review
• Get manuscript ready in order to send out the first week in February

Monday, January 15, 2007

Monday Monday



















I can't think of anything to write about tonight so I'm posting this kids pic. My husband and I love this photo--makes us smile every time we see it.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Idea

"No ideas but in things."
~Williams Carlos Williams


As a writer, I've always tried to adhere to this notion. If concepts such as love and death, hate and happiness, estrangement and despair are to mean anything, I have to show it in my work. It's not enough to write great verse around an idea, I have to figure out how to make it resonate for the reader through everyday examples. And that is where craft comes in.

Not all of the poetry I write is good, but I'm not afraid to push an idea up against the wall and interrogate it until it tells me what I need to know.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Me Time? Not Today.



















I look happy, don't I? Well, let me tell you about my morning.


Today, I got up, went to the gym, and then headed into Boston for a hair appointment. Ella has a bad cold and Alex seemed fine when I left--my husband Tim had everything under control so I could enjoy the day.


After the hair appointment I had planned to work on my computer and grab a bite to eat, and then see a movie alone. Usually, I meet my friend Suzie in the city after a hair appointment but, she was off to NYC this weekend (have a cupcake for me, Suzie!). But today I was on my own and loving it!


Unfortunately, I had trouble setting up my wireless network, so much so that I got really frustrated. My husband says I'm a gadget girl, but nothing could be further from the truth--today was a good example of that. After many failed attempts, I decided to work offline and finish my poem that's been kicking around since Thursday. But I didn't save it in Word; I saved it in Blogger and I couldn't log on to retrieve it. Grrrrh! Also couldn't check movie times online because ... well ... you know.


Seeing that the writing was clearly on the coffeehouse wall, I headed home. When I got back, my husband and son were lying in our bed with my son wailing because he had developed an earache, poor thing. It came on quick, my husband said. Seems like the ache came on within the hour. And my son is almost never sick. (I blame both kids' illnesses on the flu shots they got earlier in the week.)


So once the kids settled in for naps and we figured out next steps in case Alex's symptoms get worse (the dr. doesn't think it's an infection), I sat down to finish the poem, which I posted as a separate entry. Oh well, best laid plans, right? At least Alex and Ella are resting, and Tim and I have a few hours of quiet before the chaos picks up again. Ahhh, parenthood.

New Poem

Tickle

The giggles start just before
my fingers touch her body.

A light stroke across the belly
contracts her small muscles

so she can absorb this joy
yet she doesn’t know why

she wriggles and contorts herself
away from me. Why do I crave this?

It is nearly impossible to self-tickle.
I have tried, but I can’t surprise myself,

I never could. I look at her liquid-center eyes
and wish her rising moon would fall

before her older brother uses it
to intimidate her into submission,

before it becomes the clumsy fumbling
for the boys in her teenage years,

long before it turns to the erotic,
before it becomes foreplay.

She doesn’t understand the impulses
that creates pleasure are born out of pain.

She simply delights in my touch.
Says give me more without saying a word.

I give her this unspoken guarantee—
this is how we learn to love the dark.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Poem for Poetry Thursday

Yet again, no new poem for Poetry Thursday. I must be slacking ... but I have a good excuse. I had to plan a baby shower for two women in my office and the party was this morning.

The good news is that I have two new poems waiting to be posted, I just need to refine them a bit.

Anyway, this is an oldie but a goodie (how's that for a cliche?).


After 21 You Can’t Go Back


The bartender tonight was new
His jet-black hair fell over his face
and into his eyes
and when he asked me what I wanted
I was looking into his eyes
and thinking something else
I wanted to ask for what the girls
giggling in the corner would get
later that night
At the end of the bar I heard bits and pieces
of slurred pick-up lines
and beer bottles
and the sound of women
crossing their legs
rubbing their thighs
like crickets
ready to mate
Tonight
I did not want to settle
for a drink

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Poets I’d Like to See Read at the 2008 Dodge Poetry Festival

Doesn’t need to be at Dodge, really. I’d just like the opportunity to see these poets read their works once in my lifetime.

Kim Addonizio
Sherman Alexie
Lorna Dee Cervantes
Rodney Jones
Stephen Dobyns
Bob Hicok
Timothy Liu
Marilyn Nelson
Carl Phillips
Charles Simic
Gary Soto
Virgil Suarez
James Tate
C. Dale Young

Who’s on your list? And if you’ve attended one of their readings, how was the experience?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

How Do You Save Your Work?


This is a picture of my jump drive that I snapped while moving my laptop.

*sigh*

On it, I transported poetry files back and forth between work and home.

*big sigh*

The good news is that I used this as my backup so I should be able to recreate the files that I lost. But I still have this sick feeling that I may have lost a thing or two that can't be replaced.

This unfortunate incident got me wondering how and what other writers save. I tend to use a jump drive and my computer's hard drive as my primary storage for my work, saving a final copy and maybe the previous version in case I need to refer to something. I also like to have hard copy around, especially when it comes to my poetry manuscript. I save copies on poems both good and bad ( you never know when you can resurrect a stanza from the dead), resumes, writing samples, and the occasional blog post.

So how do you save your work? Are you a pack rat who saves copies, or can you keep your electronic files in good working order? Do you save blog posts? Do you save all of your journals? (I do.)

How do you know what to keep and what to let go?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Literary Mama

My poem, "The Ripe Time," was published in the January issue of Literary Mama! Go on and check me out, and also take a look at the other literary mamas on their site.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Kissing

January, During the Warmest Winter Ever

My hand bushes against his elbow,
that bony, unloved part of his
I have never kissed,
and we succumb to our hidden ferocity,
this new growth willing to bloom
even in the deepest shades of winter.
His lanky arm I graze like a tourist
forgoing the mainland
for the southernmost point
with its snowless Christmases
and year-round foliage
I am always visiting
yet cannot call home.
How voracious my craving
for the places I’d never venture
otherwise.


Happy Sunday Scribblings everyone! This poem started with a kiss and then took on a life of its own. I'm still figuring out what it means.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Heat Wave


(I don't think this reading is accurate--seems like it's 10 degrees warmer.)

Oh my gosh, it's warm today--too warm to be inside. Too warm to be January. So I spent this morning with my husband and kids at the park. And once they went down for naps, I went to my local Starbucks to collect my thoughts. Here are a few random ones before the kids wake up.

1. I finally wrote a poem, the first one of the year (Woo hoo!). I'll post it later for Sunday Scribblings.

2. At the end of February, I'm going to the AWP Conference in Atlanta, GA. I have family there, so I'll be able to stay for free. And my employer has agreed to pay the registration fee (another woo hoo for my boss!). AWP brings together current students, educators, and publishers to discuss the business of literature. I hope I can make a few contacts, learn about industry trends, and attend some interesting sessions while I'm there. But I'm painfully shy at these events; I'm not one toot my own horn so I envy those who do.

3. I'll blog all the way through the conference.

4. Not sure if you knew this, but I've been working out five days a week since before Thanksgiving. I manage to get to the local Y at 5:20 a.m. and work out until 6 a.m, and I'm starting to notice the difference. My arms are shapelier, my thighs and calves look great, and overall I feel better than I have in months. Now I just have to work on the tummy.

5. Last night I went to a 40th birthday party with my husband, and late into the evening a drunk woman came up to me and asked if I was pregnant. After I picked up my jaw off the floor and said no, she came back at me with, "Are you sure?"

I hate letting moments like this get to me but it changed my mood completely, especially because I'm working so hard in the gym. Oh well. She was drunk and lacking social skills. Was happy that my husband was more pissed off about it than me.

6. Tonight, we're having ribs for dinner.

7. Wish I could spend a whole day writing. I could plan to do it because I have plenty of vacation time. But I have a feeling I would waste the day doing everything but write.

8. In the background, I'm watching The Rainmaker with Matt Damon. I'm impressed with him, not so much with his looks or ability but the roles he chooses. He really seems like an actor rather than a movie star. Rarely does he make a bad movie.

9. Time to wake up the kids.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Questions to a Poet

Rethabile at Poefrica has a meme that ... well ... I have try.


Question one: Why do you write poetry (or literature) at all?
Because I can. Because I'm kinda good at it. Because I feel more myself with poetry in my life.

Question two: What is your favourite poem? You know, the one you'd have loved to have written, the one by whose standard you base all other works of art. If your life depended on answering this question, what poem would you suggest to the person holding the knife to your throat?
Too many to choose just one:

"Keeping Things Whole"--Mark Strand
"The Routine Things Around the House"--Stephen Dunn
"The Takers"--Sharon Olds
"somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond"--e.e. cummings


Question three: According to you, what is the state of poetry today? Is poetry flourishing or dying?
Hard to say. I think overall, poetry is flourshing as a result of creative writing programs, as well as through self-publishing, Web zines, blogs and community-based groups. But, poetry is still the least-selling genre of literature in publishing today. It is the least-selling genre, period.

Question four: What kind of poetry (or literature) do you dislike, and would not consider buying?
Hmmm. I'll consider all types of poetry. But this site, leaves me scratching my head. Some of the selections are just bizarre; and yet, I'm glad their out there.

Question five: Between the styles of Come (by Makhosana Xaba) and word speaks (by Kojo Baffoe) which do you prefer? Care to tell us why? Obviously, Makhosana and Kojo aren't required to answer this question.
I like them both. Thank you for introducing me to these poets.

Question six: What was the last poetry book you bought?
Late to Work by David Tucker

Question seven: Where do you go for poetry on the Web?
Other than Poetry Thursday? I go to versedaily.com, as well as the links on my blog.

Question eight: Do you talk poetry (or literature) with friends and family? "Hi honey -- Hey, I read this incredible poem today..."
Occasionally. I have a few coworkers that like Mary Oliver. Otherwise, I keep my poetry discussions to those who write it and read it regularly. If I'm passionate about a poem I'll share it with anyone, and I'll never turn down an opportunity to talk about poetry.

Question nine: What one piece of advice would you give to a beginning poet (or writer in general)? Pick a poet and read all of their works, as if you were listening to the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. I mean, don't just settle for one book or an anthology. Consider the period in which he/she wrote. Does the poet's work improve or decline over time? Once you have a good handle on that poet, read the poets they read.

Question nine A: What would you tell them to do or not to do?
Don't wait for inspiration, publication, or recognition. Just write.

Question ten: What line comes to you after the following two verses (in other words, please write the third verse -- these are spontaneous lines from me and are no part of any poem I'm writing or will be writing).
When the light from the lantern
beamed and fell upon the child,
a softness opened inside of me
I knew I was not alone.

Poem for Poetry Thursday

I love the smell of Poetry Thursday in the morning.

Happy New Year, everyone! I'm still getting caught up from the holidays so I'm posting an old poem today. Hope to write something new tomorrow. No Gumball Poetry this week, just a request to the gumball gods that the gumball machines make it to the East Coast in the near future.


Miseries of Spring

Before you knew it
Spring was gone,
stolen, mooched,
fleeced, frisked, filched,
seized, snatched, poached,
pilfered, hijacked, shanghaied,
plucked like tulips after a hard night’s frost.
Those first few days when the temperature soars
above 80 degrees, then chilly air sweeps in,
she fools us every year.
The tree buds bloom and shed
in a matter of hours, leaving a thick coating
of pollen on your windshield. Inside,
ants take over the kitchen like tourists on vacation.
If it’s not Spring, then what is it
stuck deep in your hair like a pine needle?
A rainy day and open toed shoes
remind you that it’s not quite June.
Yet, you smile as cool water caresses your toes,
traipsing through still puddles on the walkway.
She’s a long-lost friend who comes when she comes,
you don’t care why or from where, you just wonder
what took her so long.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Literary Friendships

What really happens when two writers become friends? Hosted by Garrison Keillor, Literary Friendships features poets, mystery writers, and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelists exploring the solitude of writing and the company of friendship. Past shows include:

Robert Bly and Donald Hall
2 poets, 50 years, 3,000 letters

Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman
Married writers with ten novels and four children

Dana Gioia and Kay Ryan
California poets who first befriended each other's work

Sandra Cisneros and Joy Harjo
Met in graduate school and became fierce allies

Michael Cunningham and Marie Howe
A poet and a novelist who write with each other in mind

Monday, January 01, 2007

2007 Goals

Happy 2007 everyone! Last year was such a good year, I'm not sure how I'm going to top it. This list is a step in the right direction.

1. Poetry Goals
  • Write a poem a week/52 poems
  • Revise and send out manuscript for publication
  • Publish poems in 8 journals/reviews/Web sites
  • Read 12 new poetry books this year, 6 by poets I haven't read before

2. Fitness Goals

  • Drop 8lbs
  • Take up tennis again. (I used to play when I was younger)

3. Learn How to Swim. Okay, this one could be a fitness goal but I think it's important enough to elevate to a separate goal. I can't even open my eyes underwater; I get weirded out just thinking about it.

4. Join a Church. I grew up Catholic but lost touch with the church. Now that I have kids, I hope to give them the structure and community support a good church can provide. But my husband and I have to find a sect that we both like. Doesn't have to be Catholic, just a religion that speaks to us. If we're going to devote hours a week then the priest should be engaging.

5. Save $100 a Month. Tim turns 40 in a few years and I'd like to be able to take him on a trip. I need to start saving now so I have some options.

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