About ten years ago I made a resolution to never make a New Year’s resolution again. I figured I had tortured myself long enough, and I was done with this ridiculous tradition. I mean who the heck came up with this stressful over-achieving exercise? I’ll tell you who….a masochist.
Every year I would beat myself up for being too fat, spending too much money, and wasting too much time actually enjoying my life. I would make long lists of the things I wanted to change, and even how much time I would give myself to achieve these life-altering goals. As it happens with all drama-induced transformations, it would take a mere couple of weeks to fall back into my old patterns, have a massive panic attack, and curl into a crumpled lump of disappointment.
Since I made my “no resolution” resolution, I have never been happier. I laugh in the face of cruel and unusual changes. I refuse to follow the pack. I adore being out in the cold, alone and resolution-less (if that’s even a word). Join me, my comrades in the mighty war against needless change! So what if I gained 65 pounds in the past two weeks? Maybe I do procrastinate. Who cares if I can’t pay that stack of bills sitting in my office? LEAVE ME ALONE! CHANGE IS YUCKY AND I DON’T WANNA HAVE ANOTHER BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!
Wow. Did I just yell at you? Gosh, I’m sorry. How embarrassing. I completely lost my composure. Sniff. Can I get a tissue please? PPPPpppppffhhhhhhhsssscccchhhhh.. Thanks, I needed to blow my nose. Ok….(big breath) I confess there’s another reason behind my outburst. It’s not just that I hate New Year’s resolutions, it’s just that my birthday is this Saturday, and I’m turning th… thirrrrr… thirrrrteeee… UGH. I’m turning 38 and I can’t stand it! Most people look forward to ringing in another 365 days, but not me. There’s always the music and fanfare, romantic midnight kisses, then BAM – I get OLDER. Having a January 2nd birthday is the absolute worst (yeah, you’ve been lured into a pity-party..welcome, here’s your hat.)
I know, I know, “age is not important,” I don’t look “a day over 30,” and “you’re only as old as you think you are” bla bla– I feel very blah. I especially hate being called “M’am” instead of “Ms” at the grocery store the other day (dumb kid.) I’m officially done having birthdays. This is it. Sayonara! So party all you want tonight. Wear those flashy glow-in-the-dark 2010 glasses, gulp down copious amounts of champagne, and toast to my NEW New Year’s resolution. No more birthdays. Cheers!!! Where’s my drink?
From year to year, my resolutions don’t seem to change much. In general, they’re a collective vow to take advantage of the time I’ve been given — however much of it remains.
This year my resolutions came early. One November morning I found myself making a list of things I would like to start doing, toward the goal of self-betterment. Because the better I conduct myself, the more positively I affect the world around me.
Among those things: at least one belly-laugh per day. While I do laugh a fair amount on any given day, it’s usually a chuckle, or a giggle, or a sort of breathless squeal. Those are all great. But the belly-laugh — where you can’t help but throw your head back and just give into it — has therapeutic, cathartic qualities. When I belly-laugh, I feel different afterwards. My head feels clearer, and my body lighter.
For belly-laughs, I turn to many R-rated materials! The milder of those materials include the writing of David Sedaris and the “What Up With That” skits on recent episodes of Saturday Night Live.
This is rated PG; the penguins kill me. And of course I have a couple funny friends who can make me belly-laugh simply by raising their eyebrows a certain way.
What, or who, makes you belly-laugh?
And, what are your new year’s resolutions?
Happy New Year, everybody!
Here are my resolutions for 2010:
1) Will simply ASK acquaintances to tell me their names once again instead of pretending to remember and spending the rest of the (wedding, reunion, party, etc) paralyzed with fear that someone will come up to us and require an introduction, revealing me to be the cowardly lying fraud that I really am.
2) Will never again passively-aggressively torture my nemesis (Hyper-Competitive Mother) if I spot her meditating in her parked car while waiting for our kids’ school to let out. Will not park my minivan next to hers, walk a hundred yards away, and repeatedly activate the locking mechanism on my keychain, causing my minivan to honk loudly. Feel very guilty for having done this.
3) Will no longer pretend to feel very guilty about torturing Hyper-Competitive Mother. She deserves every stinking moment of it.
4) Will not merely put on exercise clothes in the morning in an effort to “ease into” working out in the hopes that the next step will be driving to the gym and one day actually setting foot inside. Fitness is not like a small squirrely animal that needs to be snuck up upon with a net. Must embrace it whole-heartedly, as one would a long-lost friend whose name one cannot remember.
5) Must stop putting healthy, organic fruits and vegetables into my son’s lunch box in an effort to impress the teachers. He wants Go-gurt and granola bars with chocolate chips. And, frankly, so do I.
6) Must finally come clean to my husband for “accidentally” tripping and gently kicking him in his sore foot. The fact that I’d recently endured natural childbirth and he was incessantly whining about a twisted ankle is no excuse for violence. Though his high-pitched, girly squeal WAS quite satisfying.
7) Must groom self more thoroughly in the morning, instead of putting on sunglasses and pulling up the hood of my sweatshirt, in what my husband calls my “Unibomber” look because it so closely resembles the FBI sketch. Come to think of it, ankle kick also justified.
8) Stop kidding myself and just eat the freaking chocolate. We all know it’s going to happen – why delay the inevitable?
Resolutions for 2010:
1) Finish the next book.
2) Exercise more frequently; cook more; snack less. (I find this less daunting and mind-twisting than “lose weight”)
3) Do a little email replying and a little tidying each day, so that I don’t end up with intimidating masses of Things That Need To Be Done.
The theory is that I need to change just a little of what I do every day (write a little, keep in touch a little, clean a little, and cook at least one proper meal), not make a Herculean effort all at once and then give it up after a few weeks. That’s the plan, anyway.
And now to look back for a moment at last week:
We just got back from a few days in Bristol, to jointly celebrate a big birthday and to do some background research on a new character. My sweetheart lived in Bristol for his teenage years, so he knows it well.
Our kids are really good sleepers, so long as they have their own rooms. There were few options of that size. We indulgently booked a “luxury penthouse” because it had three bedrooms, and figured, hey, it’s a big birthday! A splurge is okay.
The kids were wowed when they walked in. Statuary! Fake trees! A spiral stair to a rooftop terrace!
But within an hour flaws became apparent: Single-pane glass on all the many windows, in the middle of a bitter coldsnap and snowfall, left us shivering. And there was a creepy damp smell in our bedroom that I attempted, and failed, to dispel by propping the door open. There weren’t any dish towels or paper towels (for kid spills) or coffee mugs (for me!!) in the flashy, modern, otherwise-equipped kitchen. Oh, and a door handle came off in my kid’s hand.
Our older boy was the first to give up on his terrible mattress. Starting the second night, he slept on a couch instead. Our bed was pretty awful too, but I held out until the third night before I headed for a couch.
The funniest part was the fancy bathroom with an automatic light. A motion sensor by the door triggered the light on, and I suppose this was meant to be an indulgence. Really it was just a pain because we couldn’t keep the light on at night, as a beacon for the kids. And, we found out, the tub is too far from the sensor to have any effect, so every ten minutes or so the light goes out and you can’t restart it without getting out of the tub. Or calling for a visitor. My sweetheart had to be on a late conference call and paced the hallway, waving his hand through the bathroom door every few minutes to keep the lights on for me–thanks, honey!
All in all, we had a fun time, in the way that family camping is fun and at the same time really uncomfortable, and in some way fun *because* of the discomforts and coping with them together.
Perhaps the people who rent out that apartment could resolve to live in it for a few days, and make adjustments to it accordingly!
Tracy Kiely’s debut novel, Murder at Longbourn, is a mystery set on Cape Cod, and combines Tracy’s love of the classic English country-house murder with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Publisher’s Weekly wrote, “Jane Austen fans will welcome Kiely’s spirited debut … an engaging adventure that will hopefully be but the first of many.”
Set in a picturesque B&B on New Year’s Eve, Murder at Longbourn follows Elizabeth Parker, a young woman on the mend from a bad breakup. Instead of a peaceful retreat, she finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation, and in the company of the nemesis of her youth, Peter McGowan, a man she suspects has matured in chronological years only. As she investigates her fellow guests — some bearing more than a striking resemblance to characters in Pride and Prejudice — Elizabeth fights to keep her inner poise, while she hunts down a killer who keeps killing.
To enter a drawing for a free copy of Murder At Longbourn, please leave a comment below!
Thanks and welcome, Tracy!
So lately I’ve been perfecting a theory of mine (I tend to work on these theories when the laundry gets around eye-high). Anyway, my theory is this: the kind of holiday shopper you are says oodles about the kind of person you are (that’s right people, I said “oodles”).
Think about it. There’s the person who gets all their Christmas shopping done sometime in late September and then gleefully shares this abomination with everyone. These are also the same folks who design their own Christmas cards, create gingerbread houses with indoor plumbing, and knit their Christmas sweaters.
I call these people “Crazy.”
Then there’s the next rung on the gift-giving ladder. These good souls get all their shopping done around mid-December. The presents are wrapped and sent in a timely manner, leaving them plenty of time to bake cookies with the kids. These are the people who also send out their cards each year with an updated picture of the kids. Mind you, that’s an updated picture where no one appears to be screaming, weeping, or sleeping.
I call these people “Annoyingly Organized.”
Next in line are those who get their shopping done, but only after a frantic late-night trip to the mall. Their cards go out sometime late Christmas Eve – but they will go out. The presents will be wrapped, but it will be the wee hours of Christmas morning before their heads hit their pillows.
I call these people “Good Friends.”
And now for the last rung on the ladder. Here hang those well-intentioned souls who fly about in a frantic last-minute panic, forced to log onto Amazon.com at the 11th hour and pay through the nose for the expedited shipping. They send out “Happy January” cards with stick figure sketches of the kids instead of actual photos. Each year they swear that this year will be different – that while they probably won’t climb to where the Crazies perch, they will at least pull themselves up to the level of Good Friends. They never do.
I call these people “Me.”
Now, I know people on each of these rungs and the way they are over the holidays is the way they are in everyday life. The Crazy runs eight committees at the school, runs six miles before dawn, and has an organic garden in her back yard. The Annoyingly Organized finishes her book club’s selection a week in advance, irons, and is learning a second language. Good Friends have an updated calendar in their kitchen, but it’s on the wrong month. There is fruit in the refrigerator but some of it is starting to look funky. They are pretty sure they know where their car keys are.
As for Me, well, what can I say? My calendar is blank, there is an empty plate in my fridge (leading me to think that something ate something else), and I have NO idea where my car keys are.
So that’s my little theory. Look around at the people in your life and see if you don’t agree with me. I’ve got to get those Happy January cards out.
I’ve had a pretty darn good life so far. Not that I’m planning on giving it up any time soon or anything, but on reflection, even the darkest moments were eased by other wonderful things happening at the same time.
The other day, I was having breakfast with some friends and one of the women started pointing across the room. I immediately looked around behind me to see what she was pointing at. Turns out, she just wanted the syrup that was sitting next to me. I laughed and said, “I’m a word person. You have to use words with me. If you just point, I’m like a cat and I’m more likely to look at the end of your finger than figure out what you mean.” Everyone laughed too, and the syrup was passed.
The thing is, I wasn’t joking about being a word person. I mean, you might say, “Well, duh. That’s why you’re a writer.” and that’s probably true, but I started out as an actor, which is also word oriented, right? Words have always been important. I think this is why, out of all the blessings and gifts I’ve received in my lifetime, the one that came as words has had the most impact on my life.
More times than I can tell you in a whole year of posts, things have looked as if they are going very wrong for me, only to take a surprising turn, and be better and more than I could’ve hoped for in the end. As a child, my mother used to watch this happen to me, and with wonder, she would say, “Everything always works out for you, Joelle.”
As I got older, her wonder gave way and the words became a statement. “Everything always works out for you, Joelle.” These words have carried me through upheavals, indecision, world travel, college, divorce, two big moves, immigration, and yes, the tough road of publishing.
Now they are my own words. Now I tell myself this as needed. Now they are my mantra. Now, in times of indecision or doubt, you may see me mouthing these words over and over. “Everything always works out for you, Joelle.”
Seven years ago, when my husband and I first got together and he needed them, I happily gave him these words for his own use. Today, I offer them up to you.
Everything always works out for you.
When you are a kid, gifts are your reason for living. One of my favorite presents EVER was going to Lionel Playworld with my parents on Christmas Eve, and being told I could choose a giant metal swing-set for our backyard. I remember I couldn’t decide between the slide combo, or the monkey bars addition. My head nearly burst with excitement when I spotted the delivery truck heading up our tree-lined street.
Later (once I met my beau) the gifts got smaller, but pricier. Ultra deluxe meals, designer duds, plane tickets to Paris, tiny blue Tiffany boxes bearing jaw-dropping jewels… all delightful and absolutely memorable.
These days, the only gift I truly yearn for is silence and un-interrupted sleep; precious time away from the suffocating noise of everyday life. My husband needn’t pick up a catalog, or spend wads of Benjamins, forget the fancy wrapping paper, and save a tree by skipping the sappy card. The best gift is the following sentence:
“Hon, you deserve a weekend off. I’m planning a father/son trip to get out of your hair and let you relax.”
48 hours later I end up missing them terribly, but when they return, I am renewed and ready to rejoin the madness. Ah, best gift of all.
The return makes one love the farewell – Alfred De Musset