About Me

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Washington, DC, United States
I don't write here nearly as much as I should, but when I do, I'll try to make it count for something.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Confessions of a non-traditional Catholic: Deal With It!

So today I had someone say to me, "You celebrate Lent? You don't seem religious." And I started to contemplate what that meant and why it bothered me so much. I thought about what being religious actually means to me and how it impacts my everyday life. I never really responded to the person's comment, I kind of laughed and felt awkward about it, which is very strange for me because I'm a pretty opinionated person and almost never shy from getting on my soapbox. So why was I clamming up all the sudden? I have a theory.

The problem with being religious in this day and age, particularly being Catholic is there are so many negative associations. I feel like if I tell a person that I’m Catholic, there’s an instant backlash. People think they know exactly who I am when I talk about religion: they think I’m a bible thumper, they think I don’t believe in logic or science, they think I’m ultra conservative. A lot of times, people throw at me all the horrible things that the Catholic Church is responsible for, as if I personally committed these atrocities. I honestly don’t think I’m exaggerating in the least when I say that I imagine this is how Germans must feel when people bring up the Holocaust. I mean, I’ve actually had people yell at me about the Inquisitions. (Also, I’m not going to sit here and act like I’m blind to the type of evil people are capable of – or the evil people will commit in the name of God or whatever else they believe in. But the Inquisitions ended over 200 years ago. Surely there are at least more recent things to be outraged about?) And hey, what can I say? Christianity has a dark past and people today still use it for purposes of oppression and violence. I would say, however, that every group has a dark side and people who are willing to twist it in order to gain power... but I can recognize that while this is very true, the Catholic Church in particular has been very successful with that and has the bloody hands and body count to prove it.

Now, that being said, I would like to fully explain my relationship with God and just put it out there. Do I think there is an old bearded man in the clouds, passing judgement on all of us from his sky kingdom? I can't say that I do. Do I think if I follow a strict set of guidelines, I get to go to heaven and all those suckers out there who are having lots of pre-marital sex (or non-marital, for those with no interest in that institution) and stealing and cheating on their spouses are heading to a fiery pit for eternity? Nope. I think that's all too easy and life is far more complex than that. So in that sense, I am a terrible Catholic.

However, I think that the universe has a balance to it. While I don't believe in the traditional physical concept of God, I do think that there is a spiritual force that watches over us - not judges, watches. I believe that force created everything around us. I believe that when we die, all of our spirits are finally at peace and maybe they go... somewhere? I can't stand the oppressive idea of some people going to this glorious kingdom and some people burning for eternity. It sounds so hateful. I like to believe all the hate in a person's soul dissolves at the point of death and there's a clarity that the living cannot achieve. This, I admit, is mostly wishful thinking but honestly, what is wrong with that?

This world can be so cold and unforgiving sometimes and we all need our own way to cope. I find comfort in believing that something greater is out there, that this force - that God - put us here for a purpose. I don't think that purpose is mapped out for us at birth or that our lives are predetermined but I do believe there is a reason - maybe even many reasons - for everyone to be here. Also, as cheesy as this sounds, whenever I see, let's say, a sunrise against the Pacific Ocean... well it's difficult for me to believe this is all just some happy accident. Perhaps there is some ego involved in that but I cannot chalk up an entire planet of life and beauty to just a bunch of random molecules just deciding to get together.

Now understand that I'm not saying that I don't believe in science. I've just never really understood why people feel like those two things have no place in the same world. I am a reasonable, logic-based human being. But I also have a spiritual side that craves a deeper relationship with the world.

In addition to all of this, I love the community and warmth involved in attending church. I do believe there is some wisdom to be found in the Bible, even if you have to dig through a lot of judging and wrath to find it. I even enjoy the rituals involved, for the most part - but I think that comes from my strong desire for structure and plans.... though maybe my need for structure actually originates from my connection with Christian rituals? Who knows?

All I do know for sure is that my faith really makes me feel at peace when life throws obstacles my way. Would I ever push that on another person? Never. I don't even like it when I see other people doing that. I also don't find it healthy to use faith as a crutch or your only source of comfort. But there is no denying that it makes my life richer and makes me accept tragedies better when they come around.

I am still pro choice. I still don't care for Christian rock bands. I still drop F bombs like it's my job. I still have the urge to punch assholes in the face. And yes - I have sex without marriage! GASP!!! So maybe I'm not the most stereotypical Christian out there, but hey some people might argue that's not so bad.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Weekend of Mental Health

There's something to be said for the power of positive thinking but what happens if that doesn't quite work? Lately I've been on this optimistic kick (which I'm sure my readers may have noticed by now) but some days it's really hard to pull my head out of the dark clouds. I went to bed in a grumpy mood on Friday and whenever I go to bed feeling shitty, I wake up the next day feeling the same way.

So I got up on Saturday. Then realized how much stuff I had to do. Then felt the stress headache creeping in. And then I realized that I was doing all of this to myself. The old Natacia would have wallowed and questioned why the universe can be such an asshole.

But that was the old Natacia and I refuse to let that negative lady control my emotions anymore. So I took a step back, I canceled all of my social engagements, I got a lot of work done and I took a mental health weekend. I took care of myself because in the Year of Natacia, I am going to put myself first more and stop obsessing about how my every move effects the people around me.

I did a lot of reading, including the entire Sunday Post. I made a big pot of chili, which turned out GREAT (and I will post once I recall everything I put in it). I caught up on my favorite sitcoms. I started outlining my trip to South America next winter to visit a dear friend who has been placed there for the Peace Corp. I had two fabulous phone dates; one with my mom and one with my beautiful and wise friend, Crystal.

Sorry for the laundry list. Not sure if this post is really saying anything. I guess the point is I'm progressing! Which is lovely and gives me hope that this whole self-improvement thing isn't just a passing phase.

Yesterday my mom told me, "Sometimes you have to say 'fuck it and smile" - and by the way, that is the first time my mom has ever dropped the F bomb on me NOT in anger so that was pretty cool - "because life is too big and too short to be mad about things you won't even remember in 20 years."

So on my dry erase board in my kitchen, I wrote "fuck it and smile" as a reminder. It's a good advice. New mantra, anyone?

What do the rest of you folks do to pull yourself out of a funk? I'd love to hear!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Analysis of the American Dream

I know it’s an age old debate – the American Dream and what it means. People have been debating over it for at least the last 80 years. It’s actually something that’s troubled me since the first time I heard the term used, approximately 14 years ago in my sophomore year AP English class during a heated discussion about the Great Gatsby. The book is a favorite of mine and features several characters, all with a very different and distinct idea of what the American Dream means to them and what it says about our own lives. I have to say, however, that after years of thinking about it and reading various text on the subject and, you know, living my life… I think that the American Dream is just a big festering trap. But let me elaborate.

First of all, I want to say that I come from the perspective of a person who does in fact love her country. Interestingly enough, I tend to have two types of people in my life: the highly patriotic types and the ones who are highly critical of how this country’s system works (or doesn’t, really). I hate copping out and saying I’m “middle of the road” but honestly I feel like I am. I love America for what it could be, for its potential, for being my home, for giving me the rights that so many of us take for granted. However, I recognize that parts of our system are broken, that our priorities are messed up, that our capitalistic way of life diminishes the chances for those who are struggling and builds up those who are already abundantly wealthy, that the American Ego has gotten completely out of hand – particularly in regards to our relations to outside parties and our imperialistic attitude. So I can see both sides of the coin and I agree with both perspectives. Therefore, when I criticize the supposed “American Dream,” please know that I am not saying this lightly and I am not saying that it is a reflection of my total dissatisfaction with the United States.

This topic recently came back into my mind when I was watching the movie Cosmopolis, starring a surprisingly competent Robert Pattinson as a billionaire mogul and financial analyst who rapidly loses his fortune through the course of a day due to faulty analysis and starts questioning his whole way of thinking. It’s a fantastic case study actually, despite being the least cinematic film imaginable and being very abrasive to start with. I recommend it to anyone with a lot of patience and a passion for the subject matter and/or old school Cronenberg. In this movie, Pattinson travels through New York City (in the not-so-distant future) by use of a stretch limousine with inconceivable amounts of luxuries. He picks up a few passengers, makes some stops, and finally gets to his destination, which is his family barber for a desperately desired haircut. During all of this, his billions are crumbling and there are many discussions in regards to the strengths and weaknesses of capitalism. On the outside, Pattinson’s mogul is cool and soulless – a chilling vessel, not even a man, but simply the personification of entitlement. However, crackling beneath it all, there exists the flame of self-loathing burning inside of him. You can interpret this movie in so many different ways but to me it really brought home the concept of the American Dream and the materialism involved in it. Though, it takes it a step further, which is finally where I will reach my point: it’s not even JUST that it’s materialistic; it’s that even when it’s achieved – or when you believe you have achieved it – it is very likely that you’ll find you’ve crawled through the desert towards a fresh spring that was never there in the first place.

The American Dream is our salvation, right? It’s what should motivate us! It’s why “all those foreigners want to become card-carrying members of this great nation” (a direct quote from a right wing reporter friend of mine). It’s what makes this country so great – the simple idea that, and I quote, “…life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement.” (James Truslow Adams) It’s the idea that even if you come from nothing and you work hard, then you will be prosperous in one way or another, because don’t misunderstand – it’s not simply FINANCIAL prosperity that this Dream offers. No, Adams further said, “It has been much more than that. It has been a dream of being able to grow to fullest development as man and woman, unhampered by the barriers which had slowly been erected in the older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class.” And this was written in the 1930s. Just mull that over for a second, you guys. UNREPRESSED BY SOCIAL ORDERS. I mean, at least he didn’t have the nerve to mention race in there but it’s heavily implied and as a black woman, I find that borderline comical. No, actually, just straight up comical. Yep, we’ll go with that.

See, the problem is this: the American Dream is no more than a very poetically worded distraction, a smoke screen – at least now, in the world that we are currently living in. In MLK Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, he acknowledges the hopes of a better tomorrow and yet the severity of the times we are in. Granted, a lot has changed since then but there is still a lot of work to be done, both financially and socially. There have been significant strides towards equality, but not as much as many of us may think. Dr. King is an inspiration not just because of the seeds of hope and brotherhood (and sisterhood) he planted but because he knew we weren’t there, that the “American Dream” is something that we should all strive to create. Women still make less money than men. The war on women, in fact, still rages on. There is a serious disconnect between our country's "1%" and well, the rest of us. There are areas of the U.S. that have many of the conditions of third world countries. And race relations? Well, folks. I'm glad I'm not picking cotton or using black designated bathrooms but as a resident of DC and a neighbor to Baltimore, I can tell you that true racial enlightenment has not yet arrived.

The concept of the American Dream, more often than not, is used to promote flag-waving, blind patriotism (which is one of my biggest pet peeves and perhaps a post topic for another day), and the misconception that this country is something that it's not. It also breeds a sense of failure and class/race wars. Any person, theoretically, who works hard every day of their life - to the fullest of their potential - should succeed, regardless of where they come from or their lack of silver platter opportunities?

Granted, success means something different to just about everyone. To me, success is found in cultivating meaningful relationships and making a positive difference in the world. To someone else it's money and power. To another person it's creating a happy family unit. To many of us, it's all of that. The American Dream tells us that these are things we can all grasp - if we work for it. But what happens when we do what we're told and we never reach the proverbial pot of gold? What about those people who can't manage to crawl out of the slums that have been abandoned? What about our homeless citizens who don't know how to pull themselves out of their tragic life situation? What about the people that get lost in the judicial system and are tagged as unfortunate blots to the rest of our pristine society? Oh I guess they didn't work hard enough. And screw second chances! No dream for them. They only get cold, cruel reality.

And you know what? I think we all deserve better than that. Let's own what this country is, flaws and all. Let's admit that sometimes hard work pays off and sometimes it doesn't. Let's admit that some of us have obstacles that society has put in our way that can be insurmountable. Let's admit that some of us are born into a life of endless possibilities because of our race, financial status, the powerful friends we keep. Let's admit that there is no collective dream, that it's out of reach for so many of us. Let's admit it but not accept that it has to be this way forever. So much progress has been made and so much more can happen. I see it around me everyday. We are getting there - we are getting to that ideal. People want it - as a society, we crave that equality and the same opportunities as our more privileged counterparts.

Yesterday, there was a blog post in The New Yorker that basically said that the reason why people have been so appalled about the possibility that Beyonce may have lip-synced "The Star-Spangled Banner" is because, and I quote, "[The lyrics are] aspirational, they’re soaring, they represent a vision of American power that is mostly obsolete. It’s not the fiction of BeyoncĂ©’s performance that angers us, but the fear that underneath the pomp and idealism our political leaders are con men, telling us a story about ourselves that may not be true."

It's time to wake up. Let's open our eyes to the truth but let's have heart that we can be better and we will be better. However - and I fully believe this with all my heart - real change won't happen if we're not willing to let go of old ideas and move on to new possibilities.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Food Lifestyle: My Personal Diet Wars

It was a bone chilling winter morning in the District today and while I had planned on going to the gym, my desire to stay in my warm bed until the last possible second won that war. But I figured hey! If I'm going to be a lazy bones, at least I can draft a blog post or something, right? And you're welcome, reader.

Today's blog post is about eating healthy. Now here's my problem: I really love food, you guys. To make it even clearer, I love food that is terrible for me. I mean, let's be honest here - this is not an original dilemma to have in this country. And the thing is for about six months out of the year, I'm like, "I work hard! Life is short! I'll eat whatever I want!" And then summer time approaches, and I remember that swimsuit season is rearing its ugly, judgmental head.

I panic. I look at all the extra padding I had developed over those six months. I think of all the cheesy mashed potatoes and gelato and wings and chili cheese fries that contributed to this padding and I curse the universe for creating so many cruel temptations. But then I decide, hey I can turn this around! And by golly I do it... and then, a terrible thing happened that I didn't expect. Suddenly it wasn't easy to lose weight anymore! Back in the day, I could spend a month at the gym and have a few salads and voila! Svelte and ready to show off my hot bod (well my non-flabby bod). But those days are gone. My mother (and society) warned me this would happen but I honestly didn't believe it.

Last year, however, was a rude awakening. Beach season was so cruel and I tried very hard for a couple months to shed off a few pounds but let me tell you - I failed completely. Eventually I gave up and took a very, "If I'm gonna have this weight then I might as well make it worth it!" attitude. I indulged in any and everything which in turn made me feel even grosser. I went up a pant size. Once a person genuinely thought I was pregnant - which is just comical for many reasons.

Finally, New Years came around and like everyone else in this country, I decided that something needs to change. Honestly, it's not even about swimsuit season (entirely); it's more about not feeling disgusting. So I recommitted myself to the gym (and yes, totally getting the irony of my skipping the gym to write this) and got a personal trainer who told me something very scary: I can't just go to the gym - I have to change my whole lifestyle?!?!

Well, reader. I am totally inept at cooking for one. I am busy with volunteer work, my job, attempting a social life, and now classes. I'm trying to maintain a fairly strict budget. How do I keep a healthy diet? To start, I refuse to keep cookies, chips, gelato, or frozen pizza in my home anymore. Giving up beer for a while. That's where it started. Emptied out my snack drawer at work, too! (I'll miss you, peanut M&Ms...)

But cooking at home? That's the problem. Cooking small sensible meals seems so elusive. How do people do it? I've mastered throwing chicken breasts in the oven and then putting the chunks in salad.... but what else is there?

And then this weekend, miraculously, I realized how many different things you can do with chicken! And quinoa! And lentils! Plus I found all these awesome recipes in Jamie's Food Revolution, which I must embarrassingly admit was purchased like a year ago mostly because I have a tiny (HUGE) crush on Jamie Oliver and only skimmed it once and threw it in the large pile of other cookbooks that are going completely to waste in my life. But this weekend I was compelled to look through it and hot damn, if there aren't some great ideas in there! And they're mostly easy, too, which is good because my patience and attention span are quite limited in the kitchen.

So look out! I'm gonna be a healthy food cooking dynamo! Life changes all over the place. But! I have decided that in order to not torture myself, I'm going to give myself one day a week to eat anything I want (as long as I don't cheat the rest of the time and keep up with the gym). We'll see how long this lasts? I am a textbook stress eater on top of everything else. So send me all kinds of positive energy, folks! I'm gonna need it. Lifestyle overhaul, y'all!

Will try to post recipes on here soon. Successful ones... or maybe also the hilarious failures? Stay tuned!

- N

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Review: Zero Dark Thirty

Before giving my review, I want to start off by saying that I had a lot of reservations about the movie Zero Dark Thirty long before I saw it. The two main reasons, without going into great detail, were:

1) The disrespect towards a subject matter that deserves more than some Hollywood, glorified twist - only 2 years after the incident in question, while our Nation's international relations are still doing poorly and our troops are still in the Middle East.

2) Everything about this film appeared to stink of propaganda.

Now, 24 hours ago, I finally was in a movie theater and was watching this film. I went in with as open a mind as I could manage (though sitting at the end of an aisle juuuust in case I felt the need to save myself from an anger-induced aneurism). I then steeled myself and the film began - with a total black screen, the only audio being a 9/11 emergency 911 call. This was chilling and surprisingly effective.

And then the plot begins.

Let me say right now that Bigelow's other big cinematic claim to fame, The Hurt Locker, is a favorite of mine. This may not make sense, seeing as how negative my feelings about ZD30 have been, but The Hurt Locker succeeded in my eyes because of how raw and emotionally-driven it was. It wasn't really a movie about war. It was a movie about man's obsession with war. The star, Jeremy Renner, played the war-loving soldier to perfection - a man so wrapped up in the violence and the honor and the blood that he isn't capable of living any other sort of life. As a person raised in a military family, I can tell you, this was as honest as it gets. My brother signed up for multiple tours, by choice, so that he could be out there, "doing his duty" and sometimes I think he wishes he was still there.

So I guess the question is this - how does ZD30 compare? Not very well, I must say. But let me start off with the positives:

Cinematically, it's beautiful to look at. The cinematography was interesting and complex. The music was sparse and added the right amount of emotional resonance - from the same composer responsible for the music of Tree of Life and Moonrise Kingdom, two of my favorite soundtracks from the last couple of years. And... that is all the nice things I have to say.

Here is the problem with this movie - and it's not even the problem I thought I'd have.... it is actually devoid of any narrative, emotionally interesting characters, meaningful character interactions.... Basically it's a rather stale laundry list of government fuck-ups that lead to the 8 year drawn out search for Osama Bin Laden. Bigelow has made a big production about the authenticity of this film (which, frankly, I find questionable because one of the few messages that I got loud and clear was, "Torture is very sad and unfortunate but we did it and it worked and we were right to do it." And that, again, stinks of propaganda). Bigelow seemed so focus on making everything as truthful as possible, she failed at creating a film that asked the audience (or itself) any of the hard questions - or, rather, the biggest one: was the search for Bin Laden worth it?

The protagonist of the film, Maya, is dogged and obsessed, which is to be expected, but lacks any sort of basic human complexities. She has no interest in friends, sex, love, or anything else outside of finding Osama Bin Laden. She has no personality. She is no more than a vessel to keep the plot moving forward. Well, the last ten minutes she finally showed us something but why did we have to wait that long?

Now with all that being said, I do think that the film is well-crafted in the sense that it is artistically compelling. As a former film student, it would be crazy for me not to recognize that. However, compelling or not, do I think this film is socially responsible? Absolutely not. First of all, if you decide you're going to make a movie like this, for better or worse, at least have the guts to SAY something meaningful. Second of all, I'm not a fan of the half documentary/half Hollywood "thinker" this film was. Meshing supposed facts and real footage in a glamorized and fictionalized Oscar whore... oops I mean, movie... it just feels so dishonest. Either be a work of dramatic fiction or be a documentary. Don't straddle the line. That is irresponsible filmmaking and bad journalism.

And in regards to this movie's agenda? I'll be fair here. I really don't think there is one, truly. It's worse than that if you ask me. It just sits there retelling a tale that we all know - albeit with insider information (which the CIA has denied being expressly involved in, so this is either them covering their asses - particularly in regards to the issue of sanctioning torture - or it's the filmmakers fibbing about just how much classified information they actually had access to), and it was a retelling without the bravery of a voice or commentary. Actually I don't know if it's cowardice or laziness. Either way, it's problematic.

All in all, I do think it's a movie worth seeing. First of all, I don't support fully criticizing something like this unless you have seen or experienced it yourself. Also, it does achieve some things, as previously stated, that are a cinematic success.

Praise for this movie has been almost universally positive so count me in the minority here with my opinions. If you don't agree, I encourage you to tell me why - I love a healthy debate and open dialogue. Give me your thoughts!

And if you read this whole post, well good grief! You must really like me!

- N

PS - Oh lest I forget. Knock another few points off this movie for how slickly it glossed over the U.S.-sanctioned drones. I honestly do love my country; I consider myself a Patriot and proud of it. But shame on you, Bigelow. Shame on you.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Two Week Point? I Own You.

Folks! I'm back! Two weeks into the New Year and so far, so good! I'm getting all my ducks in a row: curbing my spending (well except for some new workout clothes - which is a totally valid purchase! - and a couple of DVDs), have started going to the gym regularly, and I've been better at controlling my junk food and alcohol-related impulses. I am so winning at 2013, you guys!

My new would-be mentor, whom I will call E.D., has been a great inspiration and influence. She cheers me on but is also not shy about pointing out the parts of my life that could use some improvement (and not in that condescending way my therapist does it) - and I've been doing my best at taking her advice. Both educationally and otherwise.

Basically I am happy with the direction my life is going in right now, which is a delightful change from my usual disappointment in almost all aspects of my life. I've even decided to give myself a break and appreciate the things I'm doing right. What a concept!

I think it helps, actually, that this also happens to be Oscar season. No words can describe how happy this makes me. The weird thing is I don't particularly agree with or respect the Academy, who are basically a bunch of old dudes who essentially don't have any of the talent that they hold their "peers" to and often seem to pick winners based on sales and/or Hollywood politics. But I gotta tell you - I get wrapped up in the buzz! I am pulling with all my film-loving heart for Django in pretty much every category it's nominated for and hoping that Les Mis gets completely snubbed (I could go on about my love and hate, respectively, for these two films for quite some time but perhaps I'll save that for another day). I have a few more films to watch before the big night and I'm saving Zero Dark Thirty for last because... well I find the subject matter questionable and we'll leave it at that for now. (Expect a bigger Oscar themed post later.)

So, as a result, I've been taking myself on dates to the movies again, which always lifts my spirits (except in the case of seeing Amour which is a horrific look at every way your body and mind fail you as you creep towards death's door). I've been buying cheap $1 records and reading classic Batman comics and watching old episodes of the Cosby Show and trying out some fun recipes (some of which have been great, some of which have been chicken broth-exploding disasters). Basically, I've been getting reacquainted with me and guess what? I'm pretty great.

And now here's my recommendation to you, reader. Take yourself out on a date. Go to a movie, a museum, a lunch. Sign up for a LivingSocial cooking class. Hang out at home on a Saturday and spend some time just reading by the window or having a one woman (or man) dance party - and I particularly recommend the Eurythmics, best $0.99 I've ever spent. Don't be afraid to be alone. You're fucking fabulous. I know it and you should know it too.

Signing out, loves! More progress on the #YearofNatacia to come!


PS - anyone else hate the new JT single? Man, I almost went a full post without really hating on something... Oh well.

PPS - almost forgot my hating on Les Mis. Please avoid at all costs. Did I mention it's a train wreck? OK now I'm done!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013, Let's Be Buds

So here's the thing. I feel like every year I make all these resolutions to improve my life, but mostly they are a recipe for failure. I have realized it's because these resolutions are often not in tune with the realities of my life - and they're always so specific. Lose X amount of pounds. Only have drinks with dinner. Date more eligible bachelors.

Honestly, at this point, I only have two resolutions and I plan on keeping them:

1) Improve my friendships

2) Improve my body, mind & soul

The first one is easier. I feel as though I have taken a few friendships for granted but like any relationship, you need to be there and you need to work at it. Also, surrounding myself with people I love can only help with the second resolution.

Improving my body, mind & soul involves a bunch of small things:

• Get back into running
• Take myself out for Sunday morning movies again
• Read more books that are out of my circle of comfort
• Balance my bank account more often
• Cook more - get creative in the kitchen
• Get back into practicing the guitar (no matter how terrible I think I am at it)

This may seem like a lot but I don't feel like it is. These are just everyday actions that, I believe, will put me on a positive road I want to be on. I almost put "drink less" on there too but... well, who am I kidding? So I'll just say "be less indulgent."

So get ready, 2013! I'm getting myself together and by gosh, you and I are going to make this a fantastic year!