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At the end of each month, I report on the progress of my New Year’s resolutions (or lack thereof).

Here are the result through the end of November.

PERSONAL FITNESS

1. Don’t die.

Still alive!

I continue to wear my mask, social distance, and avoid large, indoor crowds because I believe in science, doctors, and common sense. I’m not a stupid, selfish idiot, and happily, most of the people around me are the same.

2. Lose 20 pounds.

Not done anymore. I gained three more pounds in December, bringing my weight loss back to 13 pounds.

This is mostly the result of being unable to exercise. Shorter, colder days have prevented me from riding my bike on many days, and the gym is no longer an option for me. This has led to us purchasing a new NordicTrack exercise bike, which Elysha and I assembled over the weekend and I will begin using today.

Like a Peleton but with some additional features.

Losing 7 pounds in December is going to be very hard, but I’m going to try like hell.

3. Eat at least three servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day, six days a week.

Done! I’m eating more fruits and vegetables than ever before. Pandemic dining has its advantages.

4. Do at least 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 3 one-minute planks for five days a week.

Done! Sit-ups have become crunches at my doctor’s request. Planks resumed.

5. Set a new personal best in golf.

Done!

On August 9, I shot a 45 on the back 9 at Rockledge Country Club, producing my best round ever.

Naturally, it was the one time when we failed to snag a scorecard, so this epic achievement is recorded on the inside of a box of golf balls.

A 45 is officially bogie golf: An average of one stroke more than par for every hole, and it included a bogie on the 14th hole (#5 on the scorecard), which has been my nemesis for years.

A month later, I shot five over par on a par 31 executive course. I don’t count it as my best round ever because of the shortness of the course, but it was still a great day. First time I played alone, listening to Springsteen as I walked the course.

On Sunday, I shot two over par on a par 31 executive course, but this time, I was playing from the red tees with Charlie. I never hit anything beyond a wedge and only played seven holes before it became too cold for Charlie to continue. Still a good day.

I’ve broken 50 on three of my last four outings, in fact. Much improved.

Early this summer, I also shot my best mini golf score of my life. Three over par. Hardly golf but still notable.

WRITING CAREER

6. Complete my seventh novel before the end of 2020.

Work continues.

Work also continues on my first middle grade novel.

I’ve also nearly finished my next storytelling book.

7. Write/complete at least five new picture books, including one with a female, non-white protagonist.

No progress. Shameful.

8. Write a memoir.

Writing continues.

9. Write a new screenplay.

This goal has transitioned into a musical (sort of a screenplay) that I am now writing and will perform with my friend, Kaia, despite the fact that I cannot sing.

We have decided on a topic, theme, and overall plan. Forward momentum. Music is currently being written. I’ve written the first 8 pages. I still await the first song. The stupid pandemic has kept us from seeing each other, so it’s harder to twist her arm via text message.

I’ve also started writing a solo show that I hope to mount once this pandemic has come to an end. I’ve begun workshopping it with a crew of smart people.

10. Submit at least five Op-Ed pieces to The New York Times for consideration.

DONE!

A total of six submissions in 2020.

None were accepted, but two have been published by the Hartford Courant.

11. Submit one or more short stories to at least three publishing outlets.

None submitted in 2020.

12. Select two behaviors that I am opposed to and adopt them for one week, then write about my experiences on the blog.

I’ve identified two behaviors to try.

I started listening to the audiobook version of 50 Shades of Gray in November. I’ve always assumed that it’s a terrible book, but at a recent party, I listened to friends disparage this book (despite having never read it), which automatically made me want to defend the book based upon its commercial success and their hints of literary elitism.

I also have an oppositional disposition, so I almost instinctually take the opposing viewpoint in many situations. I’m a joy to be around.

So far the book has failed to impress. But I’ll give it some time.

Second, I will engage in the weirdness of ASMR for a month, starting today.

13. Increase my newsletter subscriber base to 5,000.

I added 23 subscribers in November for a total of 4,414. This goal is likely out of reach.

If you’d like to sign up for my newsletter, you can do so here.

14. Write at least six letters to my father.

Done! Seven letters written thus far in 2020.

15. Write 100 letters in 2020.

Two letters written in November.

A total of 32 written so far in 2020.

16. Convert 365 Days of Elysha into a book.

No progress.

Shouldn’t be so hard.

17. Complete and release my limited episode podcast on “Twenty-One Truths About Love.”

The podcast is nearly complete. Episodes with my editor, the cover designer, and more are ready to go. I need to record the first episode with Elysha and finish editing the last one and it will be ready to launch.

The plan is to wait until 2021 to launch the podcast in conjunction with the paperback release of my novel, making the completion of this goal impossible in 2020.

STORYTELLING/SPEAKING CAREER

18. Produce a total of 12 Speak Up storytelling events.

Done! Despite the pandemic, we managed to pull it off.

Two shows in real life before the pandemic shut us down. Four virtual solo shows, and six traditional, virtual shows, including a collaboration with Voices of Hope.

19. Pitch myself to at least 5 upcoming TEDx events with the hopes of being accepted by one.

DONE!

I pitched myself to five TEDx events in 2020 thus far:

TEDx Salem State University
TEDx Hartford
TEDx UConn
TEDx Wesleyan
TEDx Yale.

TEDx Hartford passed. TEDx Salem State has decided to use faculty speakers only because of the pandemic.

I await word from the others. I suspect that the pandemic has altered schedules significantly.

I have also helped two clients get accepted to speak in TEDx events in 2020 ands 2021.

I was supposed to be speaking at a TEDx event in the Berkshires in April, but that event has been rescheduled for next year.

20. Attend at least 15 Moth events with the intention of telling a story.

Done!

Fifteen events so far in 2020. The pandemic made this a lot harder and a lot less fun than the live shows, but thanks to the virtual world, it was still possible.

21. Win at least three Moth StorySLAMs.

DONE!

I won another virtual Moth StorySLAM in Boston. It was my third win in 2020, my second virtual win, and my 51st Moth StorySLAM victory in all.

Damn do I miss the live shows.

22. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

I completed in a Moth GrandSLAM in Boston in February and finished in second place.

I have several victories – both virtual and in real life – in the bank, but The Moth has ceased all virtual shows for the time being.

23. Produce at least 40 episodes of our podcast Speak Up Storytelling.

Elysha and I produced one episode in November. Pandemic teaching has simply made it hard to record and edit on a regular schedule.

A total of 27 new episodes in 2020 so far. We are shooting for three more before the end of the year.

24. Begin providing transcriptions of each episode of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast.

I’ve investigated several transcribing services, and frankly, this is far more costly than I had originally envisioned. Since no one has ever requested a transcription, this may be a service that we pass on. But I’m still on the hunt for a less costly solution.

Friends in Australia have given me one possible solution.

25. Explore the monetization of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast.

DONE!

Our Patreon page is up and running, and so far 28 people have been kind enough to commit to a monthly contribution. In exchange for their commitment, they are receiving bonus content on the Patreon page, including interviews with storytellers, instruction material, behind-the-scenes ph0tos, and more.

If you’d like to become a patron and support the work we do at Speak Up, click here.

I also have possible advertisers for the podcast, but we’ll need to resume a more regular schedule first.

26. Perform stand up at least six times in 2020.

No performances in November and no performances in 2020.

Given the nature of the world, this goal is going to be much harder now. I’ve looked, unsuccessfully, for online open mics.

27. Pitch at least three stories to This American Life.

No stories pitched in November. No stories pitched in 2020.

28. Pitch myself to Marc Maron’s WTF podcast at least three times.

Done! I pitched Maron twice and his producer once.

Still no response.

29. Produce at least one new video for my YouTube channel each month.

I posted one new instructional video in November.

Fifteen new videos in total in 2020.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel here.

30. Find a means of producing my storytelling instruction for an online platform.

DONE! I taught multiple an online storytelling workshop since the pandemic struck, starting in April with about 70 people from 17 different states and 8 different countries in partnership with MOPCO Improv theater.

I’m also currently teaching six-week online storytelling workshops to small groups of storytellers, in addition to workshops for a variety of other storytelling organizations, corporations, nonprofits, and more.

LOTS of online instruction happening now. Another pandemic silver lining.

Ultimately I want to develop asynchronous offerings using recorded instruction, but this has been an excellent start.

My publicist and I are currently pursuing MasterClass, with little success so far.

Anyone know someone?

HOME

31. Print, hang, and/or display at least 25 prints, photos, or portraits in our home.

Art has arrived. More art has been shipped for framing. The devices needed for hanging the art have arrived.

Elysha has decided to hire someone to help hang the art. Hopefully soon.

32. Replace the 12 ancient, energy-inefficient windows in our home with new windows that will keep the cold out and actually open in the warmer months.

DONE! 14 windows replaced!

33. Clear the basement.

I’ve been taking advantage of my town’s free bulk pickup each week. Progress is slow but steady.

Incrementalism, people. Some jobs are best done through consistency and vigilance.

34. Refinish the hardwood floors.

This might be a problem. Hardwood floors require at least a few days to be completed, and we have cats. The cats will absolutely not stay with anyone else while the floors are being done, so what the hell are we going to do?

Also, the coronavirus might make this impossible in 2020.

35. Purchase a new television.

Done! It’s large and beautiful and professionally mounted to the wall.

THANK GOODNESS we did this early in the year. Our new couch, chair, television, and streaming services have been invaluable during this period of social distancing.

FAMILY/FRIENDS

36. Take at least one photo of my children every day.

I missed nine days in November. Yikes! I’ve missed 33 days in 2020.

37. Take at least one photo with Elysha and myself each week.

I missed two of the four weeks in November.

38. Cook at least 12 good meals (averaging one per month) in 2020.

DONE! I stopped counting at 25 meals. I’m well over 50 at this point. Maybe close to 100.

This pandemic has done wonders for cooking skills.

39. Ride my bike with my kids at least 25 times in 2020.

DONE! I stopped counting at 30.

40. Plan a reunion of the Heavy Metal Playhouse.

No progress. Impossible in 2020. Though a virtual reunion might be possible, it would also be awkward and awful.

41. I will not comment, positively or negatively, about physical appearance of any person save my wife and children, in 2020 in an effort to reduce the focus on physical appearance in our culture overall.

Still done. Life is good when you don’t feel the urge to criticize someone about their physical appearance, both outwardly or in your mind. It took a while, but that urge has been almost entirely stripped from my being.

42. Surprise Elysha at least six times in 2020.

DONE!

In the month of November, I gave Elysha a box containing a collection of Ruth Bader Ginsburg memorabilia:

Bobble head. Action figure. Tee shirt. Buttons. A book. Much more.

Surprises thus far:

  • Summertime photo display
  • Watchmen graphic novel and compendium
  • Ukulele sheet music for Francis England songs (hired a musician to transcribe since it wasn’t available)
  • Bullet journal stickers
  • A pin from the Smith College Botanical Garden
  • An adjustable standing/lap desk in April.
  • Tickets to a now-postponed Mike Birbiglia’s appearance in New Haven in May
  • A bouquet of flowers sent to her workplace on her birthday in January and two in September.

Twelve surprises so far in 2020.

43. Play poker at least six times in 2020.

DONE!

My friends and I use a combination of a poker app, Zoom, Venmo, and Spotify to play pandemic style.

Nine games played so far in 2020.

44. Spend at least six days with my best friend of more than 30 years.

DONE!

Four long walks and two long phone calls in all in 2020. He also plans on playing poker with us next week.

NEW PROJECTS

45. Understand Instagram better.

No progress, but this can’t be that hard. Right? It’s just a matter of either reading and/or speaking to someone who understands it better than me.

Or maybe even Youtube…

What exactly is an Instagram story?

46. Listen to new music via the Billboard Hot 100 Spotify playlist at least four times per month.

Done! I’ve been listening to this playlist while riding my bike. I wish there were more actual bands in the Hot 100. Where did all the guitars go?

47. Host a fundraiser for RIP Medical Debt, which would allow us to relieve the medical debt of struggling Americans for pennies on the dollar.

No progress. Though I still find this issue incredibly important, it’s hard to ask people to donate to a cause like this when there are so many needs in this work right now and so many Americans without jobs. As a result, I’ve been hesitant to start this project and will likely reschedule for 2021 or beyond.

48. Complete my Eagle Scout project.

No progress. Though I would love to complete this goal, it will require me to travel to Massachusetts and do work that probably doesn’t make a lot of sense in the midst of a pandemic.

49. Scan and send photos of Laura to her daughters.

Progress! Started scanning.

50. Post my progress in terms of these resolutions on this blog and social media on the first day of every month.

Done!