• New Year’s 2017: The New Year’s Jedi

    by  • January 15, 2018 • New Year's ramblings, You are DEFINITELY sorry you asked • 5 Comments

    Last year, I gave myself the productivity gift of concentrating on only ten goals in 2017. Did it help me actually complete them? Only time will tell!

    … or this blog. This blog will also tell.

    1. The rest of Duolingo’s German lessons

    screencap of trophy from Duolingo app

    What’s uuuuuuup????

    … I mean, wie geeeeeeeeeeeeeeht’s????? (?)

    2. How to revise a MG novel after writing adult fiction for the last several years

    I haven’t finished my revision yet, but it took a while to get back into MG (middle grade, ages 9-12) headspace after writing for adults. You have a lot less space to write in, if that makes sense, because what you’re writing is so much shorter. And it’s weird to be thinking about logistical limitations that haven’t been on my radar for years, because adult protagonists don’t have parents and teachers wondering where they are.

    But it’s been fun to stretch those atrophied muscles and work on something a little more lighthearted, in which people aren’t dying or grieving every other chapter. Also, I’m having a ton of fun teasing the conventions of a genre I know pretty well: X-Files-style paranormal conspiracy adventure.

    3. How to ski

    Not yet as of Jan 1.

    4. How to alter men’s short-sleeved button-up shirts into shirts that fit me

    My torso in a baggy button down shirt


    My torso in a button-down shirt that fits way better


    I used this tutorial as my basis, although I skipped a few steps — I like men’s sizes in part because the shoulders usually fit me, so I ignored the first part. From experience, I know I can get by without bust darts, so I decided to Keep It Simple, Sarah (that’s what that stands for, right?) and go with the third step only.

    My first attempt (above) wasn’t perfect: slight mismatch at the ends of seams, small but weird bulge at the hips, a little too tight around the bust, but nothing a between-buttons snap can’t fix. In the end, it was good enough to tuck in and wear to work/all day. And apart from the problem areas I mentioned, the fit felt good. Hooray new skills! (And new work/summer wardrobe!)

    5. How to host my first Pesach seder.

    Compared to #6, this was a piece of cake. But not delicious cake. Gross matzah-meal Passover cake. *sigh* Anyway, thanks to all the family and friends who celebrated with us this year! And thank you, JB and YK for lending us the extra table and chairs to fit everyone!

    Passover seder table setting

    6. How to *personal thing that I’m not prepared to announce yet*

    Wait for it…

    Wait for it…

    How to organize our wedding!

    (Mine and Fiancé’s, I mean.)

    Obviously, I am not doing this on my own: Fiancé and I both have wonderful parents and friends and family, and the operative term for wedding planning is “Fiancé and I.” But I knew this was going to be a lot of work, both administratively (contacting various vendors! Arranging appropriate contracts!) and emotionally (negotiating compromises! Accepting others’ excitement without overwhelming our low-emotional-energy-capacity selves!).

    Happy to say, it’s all set for the new year. Hooray!

    P. S. No, we weren’t yet engaged when I wrote this resolution last new year’s. But based on our discussions, I had a pretty good idea we’d be wedding planning in 2017.

    7. How to stickhandle with my head up and be confident moving the ball myself at ball hockey.

    So here’s the thing: I’ve been practicing stickhandling at home every weekday for a minute or two. And I *have* improved a lot. But when I tried to deploy it in games, I realized that it wasn’t my stickhandling skills holding me back: it was everything else.

    For example, I’m not a sprinter. My running strength is maintaining a slow, steady pace for a longer time. I can’t dart past the other team to pick up the ball on the other side of a defender.

    Maybe most importantly, I’m bad at fancy moves that require me to deke — bluff — convincingly. Which feels… weird to me.

    Still, I’ve taken steps to remedy these as well. I practice agility/power moves at the gym, I take shorter shifts and run all-out when I’m on (… mostly), and I try the damn dekes anyway. I can’t cross this off, but I don’t feel like I totally failed at it either.

    8. How to donate blood (or get medically disqualified from doing so, should that turn out to be the case)

    So, I think I might have to bite the bullet and admit to myself that I need to take this one off the list. I had to get blood taken for a medical test in August. They filled only six of the little tubes, which is more than I usually get tested, but which also, according to the Internet, is at most 1/5 the amount it’s normal to donate in one sitting.

    Aaaand I got dizzy and faint despite having eaten a hearty lunch and having drunk a whole bottle of water before. And my arm was still bruised and painful over a week later (which is pretty normal for me for blood tests, even when CHEO used baby needles on my adult arm).

    That’s not a medical disqualification, exactly, but it does give me serious pause. So I’m thinking maybe giving blood is not the best way for me specifically to give back.

    9. How to make peach jam

    I… ate all the peaches again. Oops.

    10. How to perform first aid (including CPR).


    First aid certificate

    I took a day-long course during February Reading Week. I never learned CPR when I was a kid, but it turns out, I remember a whole lot of the other stuff from swimming lessons and Guides, and most of it is still applicable. CPR is pretty straightforward too. (Now I notice where AEDs are every time I walk into a public building.) Feeling as-prepared-as-possible for an emergency is good.

    Since I did so well(?) with 2017, it’s time to plan for the coming year. In 2018, I’d like to learn:

    1. How to better understand spoken German. I’m subscribed to German Sesame Street videos, and their rate of speech is still too fast for me. But I bet if I start listening to Slow German podcasts and using the 0.75x, 0.5x settings on YouTube, I can work myself up to full speed.
    2. How to write (and submit) at least one new short story. Even if it doesn’t wind up published, it’s still a good streeeeeeetch for the old writing muscles, same as any other project. But less time- and emotion-intensive than something twenty times as long.
    3. How to ski. We were so close last week, Dave H.! But the weather shut us down. SOON.
    4. How to drive by myself in Toronto. I. Hate. Driving. It makes me nervous, which is putting it lightly: I feel like every second I’m going to break the car, get in an accident, and make every other driver hate me. All at the same time. But I signed up for ice hockey lessons/games a 15-minute, easy drive away on Sunday mornings. Which is also a 60-minute TTC trip away. I’ll take it slow (not literally) and work my way up to driving with confidence. Before the new year drove there one-way with Fiancé in the passenger seat just in case. This weekend, managed for the first time on my own. I can do this!
    5. The content of at least one online math course. Every so often, I remember that I miss math. It’s been about a decade since undergrad (!)–I’d like to keep learning about what I enjoy. MOOCs have worked for me in the past, especially for subjects assessed through more objective problem sets. So I’ll see what they’ve got going later this year.
    6. Everything in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission executive summary. I’ve been working on this one for a while, but it’s past time to get it done.
    7. Whether consistent use of my therapy light helps me through the winter. As in, turning it on for half an hour every morning when I wake up instead of occasionally/when I have to wake up before sunrise/when I already feel my mood turning sour.
    8. What going to Disneyland is like! I’ve never been to any Disney amusement park, but Disneyland Tokyo is on our honeymoon itinerary.
    9. How to play sports I haven’t touched since gym class. Like flag football and handball and new ones like beginner rugby. AKA: who wants to join the TSSC All Sorts of Sports league with me? :D
    10. Duh! How to actually get married!!! Unless something goes very wrong, I will be completing this one this weekend. Woo hoo!


    I write SFF, young adult, and middle grade fiction, and I've been known to knock off a play here and there. I'm represented by Bridget Smith of Dunham Literary, Inc. Stick around - who knows what might happen?


    5 Responses to New Year’s 2017: The New Year’s Jedi

    1. January 16, 2018 at 4:12 am

      I hope you enjoy a your trip to Japan, I really enjoyed the two weeks I spent there in 2010. It is a place very different and yet with lots of common features to North America and that makes for an interesting experience.

      In terms of practicing German you may find that watching TV with subtitles on may help. Not really sure, I find that with French it helps my comprehension and I think it aids my ability to parse spoken French, but it may only really reinforce reading, not sure.

      I used to give blood but after fainting or nearly fainting three times I gave up. I was never sure how to optimize things in terms of food and fluid intake. Now with all my surgeries etc. I could not give blood if I thought it was a good idea. I always figure that if you faint and crack your head or something you could easily end up receiving more blood than you donate, so not much point.

      In terms of doing a mathematics, a book that I found interesting that might scratch this itch is the book What is Mathematics https://www.amazon.com/Mathematics-Elementary-Approach-Ideas-Methods/dp/0195105192/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1516093853&sr=1-1&keywords=what+is+mathematics I only got part way through this book but it challenged me to learn some interesting mathematics.

      Good luck with your wedding preparations.

      • January 17, 2018 at 9:26 am

        Thanks, Allan! We sort of started watching Dark, which is a German show on Netflix, but it’s kind of slow-paced so far. I’ll have to see if it helps or not. (And also check out that book! :) )

    2. January 16, 2018 at 12:06 pm

      I haven’t said it already, so congrats on the upcoming wedding! We’re still working on ours. Money sucks.

      Anyway, with regard to donating blood…
      “That’s not a medical disqualification, exactly, but it does give me serious pause.”

      This kind of reaction if frequent enough will prompt CBS to deny you from donating blood anyway, so best to be safe and not shock your body. I can confirm that they do take quite a bit of blood out of you. If it makes you feel any better, I’m still donating (just re-started in 2017 after a lengthy hiatus), so it’s not like NOBODY is helping!

      • January 17, 2018 at 9:25 am

        Thanks, Steve! Good to know re: donating blood, and, wow, good on you for continuing to do so :) Good luck with the wedding working-on; money does indeed suck :P

        So, how do you feel about the new X Files handling its cliffhangers in the typical X Files way (i.e. “What cliffhanger? We never said Mulder couldn’t get out of that boxcar. He’s just out. That’s how it is. We obviously wrote this without a resolution in mind and couldn’t make one up.”)?

        • January 18, 2018 at 8:15 am

          Haha. I haven’t actually seen the new season yet (forgot to set my PVR to record it…I assume that CTV has it on demand though, I will catch up!). But what you describe pretty much sounds par for the course for X-Files. I think they seem interested in having it both ways – large overall story arc, but with one-off monster of the week stories. I think they’re better off doing the latter only.

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