2013 To Do List


I have no idea what’ll happen in 2013. I wish I knew. But at this point, given that 2012 has now turned into past tense, I do know I’m going to give birth in 2013. And then–? Who knows? It’s like the time I adopted my wiener dogs, and thought to myself, “I don’t know what I’m going to be doing in 10 years, but I’ll have these wiener dogs.”

I make yearly “to do” lists. In fact, I prefer making yearly “to do” lists to resolutions, because “to do” lists are actionable and they aren’t dependent on other people’s actions (i.e., things like “win a fellowship”) or overwhelming (like “finish writing novel” or “lose ten pounds”).

To repeat what I said last year:

Resolutions are, in the end, comprised of many “to do” items, anyway–so why not break them down into more reachable increments? A resolution to run a marathon involves training milestones and “to-do’s” just like a resolution to “relax more,” involves defining what it is that helps you relax, and then doing those very relaxing things.

2012 was an amazing year, and even though I stopped tracking my 2012 To Do List mid year last year, I found I did pretty well at achieving most of the items. And yet–so many other brilliant things happened that had nothing to do with the list, and yet had so much to do with the list, because I think positive actions, no matter how little, beget positive outcomes.

Interesting to note that I keep failing at the whole ferry riding to-do (I didn’t do it in 2011 or 2012). You’ll see it again on my 2013 To Do List, here.

Miscellaneous Pleasures

  • Get out for dessert/dinner with just my husband at least once in the first 3 months of parenthood. Omg, we are doing this tonight! At Annisa in NYC.
  • Celebrate our 14th marriage anniversary in May and our 14th wedding anniversary in October!
  • Buy nice postpartum clothes and wear them. I then went and bought nice non-pregnancy-related clothing and have vowed to wear THEM (instead of pajama or yoga pants).
  • Take a ferry around the SF Bay.
  • Visit Korea.
  • Visit Manhattan. We are *here*!!!!!
  • After 2 years away in NYC, revive our Berkeley vegetable garden.
  • Make the Silver Palate Carrot Cake.
  • Use my new bundt pan. To make coffee cake. Good stuff. I took an afternoon off just to bake this for my sanity. I asked my husband to watch the baby and leave me an hour to make coffee cake. Yes, making coffee cake is my relaxation activity.
  • Learn to make a really good Bloody Mary. (I am not good at making cocktails).
  • Okay, just looking forward to having one cocktail. Whether it is a Dark ‘n Stormy, or a mimosa, or a bloody mary, or some Lillet Blanc, or a bit of American Honey.
  • Make an Upside Down Cake.


  • I’m supposed to be on a panel at AWP, but I’m not sure when my kid’ll decide she wants to start breathing air or how high maintenance my kid (or I) will be, so let’s just say I want to be at AWP and will try to be at AWP, and if I do that, wonderful. If not, I hope I don’t get too bummed out. Alas yes–I opened my eyes and there was reality telling me that I just could not go to AWP with a 7 week old; too many germs, too exhausting, etc. And I was already exhausted to begin with (I fell asleep during my first postpartum haircut yesterday). So I bowed out. However, Jennifer Derilo, my peer at Kartika where she is the Creative Nonfiction Editor, will be stepping in and taking my place on our AWP panel. Meanwhile, I put together a panel proposal for AWP 2014 in Seattle and…it has been accepted. Hubby’s promised to watch the baby in February, and I’ll be in Seattle!
  • Allow myself 6 months off from my novel revision.
  • Delve back into novel revision by September 2013. i.e., establish a writing routine. Well, by January 2014 counts.
  • Look up feedback from past writing mentors and reread them/frame them.
  • Start major revision of novel by end of year.
  • Write a four page long, grammatically correct sentence. I’ve long-admired Roberto Bolaño’s 2666–which includes a four page long, grammatically correct sentence.
  • Write an essay I’m proud to have written. coming out in The Rumpus, soon!


  • Get back to yoga: pop in a Tara Stiles yoga DVD by 3 months postpartum. I did pop in a yoga DVD, more than once, and I totally did the yoga. But not regularly. I walked 7 miles/day and did yoga until 8 months pregnant…now that it’s 8 months postpartum, time to get myself back into a regular yoga routine.
  • If I visit NYC (*fingers crossed*), drop by Strala Yoga to do some yoga. I did this, and it made me feel human again. It was good to drop by my “yoga home.”
  • Get back in shape so I can hold crow for at least 5 seconds. (Update as of January 31, 2013 (21 days postpartum, I can hold crow for 3 seconds! Onward!) Update as of May 1, 2013: I totally did it! Like, 8 seconds, even.
  • When I’m ready, get back up to my 5 miles/day minimum.
  • Do a juice cleanse.


  • Birth my kid. It was an amazing experience. It was the best part of the first week of parenthood–which just tells you that the first week is really grueling or birthing was very fantastic.
  • Send out baby announcements.
  • Ask for/accept help with postpartum meals at least once. Ohlawd, thank you C and O and N! For awhile, I was so sleep deprived and exhausted that I’d just STARE at the contents of my fridge–including the pre-made freezer stuff and think to myself, “OMG. I don’t think I have the energy to THAW any of this,” and then shut the fridge/freezer door and walk away nearly in tears. As a result, I lost over 5 pounds the first week. So grateful for the food. I should have added, “make it through the first week” and “make it through the first month” on this To-Do List.
  • Ask for/accept help with babysitting at least once in the first 6 months.
  • Check out and learn baby sign language.
  • Hop in the pool with our kid.
  • Fly somewhere with our kid.
  • Go to a drive-in movie with the kid.
  • Photograph our kid smiling, but also ugly-crying her head off.
  • Make it through the first 3 months. (vague, I know)
  • Make it through the first year. (vague, I know again)
  • Make baby food from scratch.
  • ???

What a difference a year makes, for the record. Last year on New Year’s Eve, we went to a New Year’s Eve dinner at a friend’s place in Tribeca, before heading out to Times Square, where we got about a block away from the ball dropping. We were in the shadow of celebrations, but it was close enough to be a part of the energy that is so very much NYC. Confetti fell as everyone counted down–it was thrilling to be part of such collective anticipation.

This year, we spent it watching the ball drop from our couch in Berkeley, while I bounced on an exercise ball, and also hopped up and down (trying very hard not to wet my pants, because seriously, wetting your pants while hopping up and down at nearly 40 weeks pregnant is a realistic concern even though hopping up and down in hopes that it’ll get labor started is not very realistic at all), thinking, “When am I going to be done being pregnant?”

Last year:
New Year's Eve dinner getup

Now time to eat some tteok guk. Hope you have an amazing 2013. And if 2012 was awful for you (I understand Awful Horrific Years all too well), I hope 2013 is waaaay better than 2012.

What are your To-Dos for 2013?

New Year's tteokguk (Korean rice cake soup) simmering.


Filed under Life, The Personal

15 responses to “2013 To Do List

  1. All good goals. I want to do a ferry around SF Bay, and perhaps visit Manhattan too!

    Happy 2013 to you and the family.

  2. Wonderful lists. If you do even half of these things, it will be an amazing year. Actually, it will be an amazing year no matter what.

  3. i’m really digging your to-do list — there’s a lot on there, but it’s in manageable bite-size pieces.

    i quit smoking a few weeks ago, but i do this all too often – swinging back and forth between extremes. so for 2013, i want to go the whole year without a single cigarette. that’s all i got so far, but i figure if i can stick to quitting smoking, that would buy me about five to ten years of extra game time to make more ambitious to-do lists for 🙂 so i’m taking it easy with this one. i’m 25 and i’ve been a regular smoker for over a decade. that’s just not acceptable.

    ps. i’ve been juicing like crazy ever since i got my juicer a few months back. let me know when you’re interested in starting that cleanse — i have a few delicious recipes to share!

    • Have you tried the BluePrint Juice Cleanse? I lurrrv it. I bought a juicer, and I keep going back to the BluePrint Juices. That said, juicing helps me cut down on my sugar intake (I am a big sugar fiend).

      I get overwhelmed by lofty goals. Breaking them down helps me achieve, with happiness. So proud of you for resolving to quit smoking! Part of doing it, is the decision to do it. I wonder if you can give yourself a rewards system for each week/month you go without smoking? In NYC, for instance, I know cigarettes cost close to $15/pack, so you could set aside the money you save for your Rewards Stash. 🙂

      • that’s a bloody brilliant idea! i never thought about a reward system (thanks, catholic school). i haven’t tried the blueprint, i haven’t even heard of it, but i’m going to look it up now.

        • Nate

          I quit when I was your age (~10 years ago) and the deal that I made w/ myself: no smokes = guilt-free ice cream whenever I want it for the rest of my life. It’s worked out pretty well.

  4. Did someone say “carrot cake”?

    I haven’t made any resolutions or to-do lists, but I’m pretty certain of one item that should be on there: Start and finish first draft.

  5. Nate

    That looks like a great list. The sign language thing is really cool. Even just a couple of basics like “milk” and “more” will make your lives a lot easier (see: 3 months and 1st year survival.) Good luck. And don’t forget to have fun, especially early on.

    Mine is more like:
    Get a job, any job, perhaps Jack-in-the-Box?
    Weed derelict garden.
    Visit Downtown Oakland.
    Make daughter Mac and Cheese.
    Write one grammatically correct sentence.

  6. lvrgrl

    Awesome and so inspiring.

    One of my to-dos is to read Roberto Bolaño’s 2666. Another one is to make the transition from New York to California (LA) without freaking out. To make that more proactive, I’m going to apply to the Anitoch Low Residency program for this summer.

    I also want to take a memoir writing class at the UCLA writer’s extension program in Feb of this year. I see you’ve read Wild! Cheryl Strayed gave a “writing from urgent place” workshop that I attended at Esalen this past summer, before I even read the book. I was just a huge Dear Sugar fan.

    I just submitted my application to MacDowell, after messing up the payment processing for the application to Yaddo last night! Last night I decided that was either a sign that I wasn’t quite ready to apply to a residency or that I needed a job to fill up those debt card reserves. This morning I decided to just move on and saw that the MacDowell deadline was still open – until Jan 15!

    I would love to ask you about mentorship in 2013 so that I might more successfully reach these goals.

  7. Am I right in guessing that you had an epidural? Otherwise I doubt the birthing would have been the best part of your first week of parenthood 🙂

  8. Pingback: To Do List 2014 | 80,000 words

  9. Pingback: The best of times, the worst of times, and the work | Christine Hyung-Oak Lee

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