The old year is drawing to a close and the new is rapidly approaching. It's time to look ahead to a brand new start and recreate yourself as a better person by changing your patterns of behavior. Everyone I talk to is all abuzz with New Year's resolutions, and I thought that maybe I should take a look at my hopes for the New Year, too. Here is my list of New Year's Resolutions:
- Stop teaching the neighbors' kids weird things. So far I've taught them that toy cars are more fun if you make really strange, flatulent engine sounds; how to tear up the land-scaping digging for worms; and that face paints are for every day, especially when you make yourself look like a kabuki theatre actor. The other mommies are starting to pay a lot more attention now on our play dates. They've also started bringing hot tar and bags of chicken feathers.
- Be more involved in politics. By this I mean driving to Sacramento and hanging around the capitol building trying to get Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph.
- Be less involved in politics. By this I mean teaching my daughter to make loud noises with her toy cars when my (republican) husband and my (democrat) father start talking politics at the dinner table.
- Be more aware of current events. My mother got me the latest issue of one of those trashy, celebrity-stalking tabloids as a gag Christmas present. I had no idea Lara Flynn Boyle was so skinny, or that Alec Baldwin was so fat. There is just so much going on in the world that I don't know about.
- Strive for excellence in journalism. I was pretty proud of my writing until I saw an article entitled "The Spice Girls - Where are they now?" Pulitzer material there. I may have missed that boat, but maybe I can still earn marks by using the theories of Jung and Joseph Campbell to interpret the lyrics of boy-band songs.
- Teach the neighbors' kids weird things anyway. Speaking of Campbell and Jung, some of the neighborhood kids who hang out at the park when I'm there with my daughter are old enough to grasp concepts like "the Trickster" and "the Hero". If they want that new Eminem CD with all the explicit lyrics, they need to learn how to present a proper argument to their parents. "All the other kids are listening to it" won't fly as far as "I'm hoping to round out my studies on Archetypes in the collective urban unconscious." Plus this will pave the way for me to have yet more fascinating conversations with the other mothers on the block.
- Support bio-diversity. I like the way that sounds better than "Refuse to clean out the fridge."
- Get my daughter what she really wants for Christmas next year. At 19 mos. old, this Christmas is the first she was really able to participate in. The Christmas tree was surrounded by mounds of exciting toys purchased by an assortment of doting ancestors. We got her stuffed toys and a giant horse. My grandmother got her five Teletubby dolls. My great aunt sent marvelous tracks with windup toys to buzz along them. My parents got her books and bunnies. My father-in-law got her meat. (He's a rancher -- all our presents from him on every occasion are always meat. Nothing says "Merry Christmas", "Happy Birthday" or "I love you" better than half a freshly butchered cow.) What did she spend all day playing with? The tennis balls given to the dogs for Christmas. She liked their squeaky toys better than her stuffed animals, too. Why fight it? Next year, I'm doing all my Christmas shopping at Petsmart.
- Take a honeymoon. My husband and I never got around to doing that when we got married. He was talking about driving up Highway 1, maybe staying in Fort Bragg and doing a little whale watching. (He had better be referring to the gray whales journeying to Baja California this time of year and not the pounds I've packed on over the holidays.) But I was thinking of something a little more memorable. For about $20 million dollars, a company called Space Adventures will get you aboard a Russian spacecraft. Take a Soyuz to the International Space Station for eight days you'll never forget. Or pay off.
- Call relatives more often. I love my friends and family, but I truly hate talking on the telephone. I feel like Gollum with the rope around his neck when I'm on the phone. Every time it rings, I lunge for something disgusting to stick my hands in so I have an excuse not to answer. I've come up with a way to call my long-distance loved ones without getting stuck for hours on the phone, though. I'll just call and pretend to be a telemarketer.
- Open all junk mail 'Pre-Approved Credit' offers. Apparently some of them are actually letters my grandmother has been sending me. She says she can keep them shorter that way.
This article first appeared in the Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin.