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The Plan So I Don't Waste the Last Year of My 20s


On Tuesday I turned 29. Apparently this is one of those "milestone" birthdays meant to suggest that now I'm really growing old and should start worrying or feeling worse about myself in some abstract way. Apparently when you're 30 it means that the party decade is over and you should scrape the cheeto dust out of your navel, put some pants on, and finally grow up.

So be it. Growing old has never really bothered me. (Though I wish the hair wasn't going so fast...) I've felt like a cranky old man trapped in a young person's body since at least junior high. So how about this for an old-fashioned way to really put the last 362 days of the third decade of my life to use: actually writing out a plan for the year. Here's what I'm going to try to do so that when the 30th birthday hits in 2014 I can look back and not feel too much embarrassment at another wasted year.

In December I declared my "7 New Year's Resolutions I Invite Others to Steal" and then began the process of integrating these general self-improvement goals into both my daily routine and the weekly schedule of my PJ Lifestyle blogging. I left them somewhat vague so over the course of the month more concrete goals could materialize. And here they are, revised from my original list but generalized so perhaps others might still find them useful to consider as potential additions to their own Lifestyle self-programming.

1. Family Life on Monday: Rediscover and Celebrate Your Family's Origins.

On Monday this week I blogged an open letter to my wife informing her that the time had come to change directions with our Netflix diet. The number of Dexter/Battlestar Galactica-level cable shows on DVD had dried up and new releases offered little hope of consistent entertainment satisfaction. We had to start mining older regions of film and TV history -- but could we agree on a path forward?

Turns out we still can. April selected the first option:

1. Watch the entire Criterion Collection. Maybe in order?

You’re always complaining (rightfully) that the past few years I’ve spent too much time on politics and don’t show you weird, artsy movies anymore. Well here’s the mother lode and now we should start exploring it.

April suggested we call it "The Criterion Challenge." We're going to attempt to watch as many as we can this year -- and yes, as close to in the order of their release as we can. We started last night with my copy of The Seven Samurai (spine #2) and watched the first hour. I'd forgotten how entertaining a film it was -- and was delighted when April got into it too.

In charting this new entertainment course for us, we're really going back to the origins of our relationship. I never realized what a role my oddball movie tastes had for April. When we began dating seriously for a second time in the fall of 2006 (a few months after I'd graduated and she was starting her sophomore undergraduate year), I would drive up to Muncie from Indianapolis on weekends with different art movie DVDs to share with her.

But in the years since our marriage I've neglected this original film guide role. My movie obsession fell by the wayside to make way for political warfare and new media trouble-making. Now's a good time to correct course as I seek to re-balance my life between the legs of culture, religion, and politics. (Instead of the ideological focus that it's largely been for the last three years...)

And we're both on the same page in why we're watching this series of classic films -- to further develop our own understanding of the visual arts. What makes a beautiful, powerful image? How does film tell stories and evoke feelings? April and I are going to explore these questions together and I'll try and blog a few thoughts on each film. Also, keeping with the return to film, for our year off from Disney Land I'm going to make a point to explore the ideas that brought it into existence.

Monday Bookshelf and Blogging Focus: Research the life, work, and ideas of Walt Disney to separate the wheat from the chaff.