Memos from the Middle

Smack-Dab in the Middle of Living

Resolutions Revised

With the new year less than 72 hours away, many Americans are gearing up to make the big announcement of what their resolutions are. The truth is that no one really cares, except maybe the fitness center owners who will fiscally benefit from the pervasive lack of stick-to-itiveness many of us possess, helping them turn our inevitable 15-day commitments into a three-year payment plan because we’re too embarrassed and too lazy to actually walk into the center and cancel our memberships. (Believe me, I’m a member of this club, too. My husband and I spent about $900 dollars before we actually had the nerve to say, “Enough is enough.”)

The thing with resolutions is that they are too selfishly altruistic. Okay, I know that sounds weird, but how many of us have said something like, “I’m going to lose some weight so that I can fit into that dress, and my kids really need their mom around and healthy as they grow up?” Similar mantras have poured from the lips of the smoker, drinker, gambler, womanizer, and uncommitted Christian.  But for all the cynics out there, it’s not the self-serving philanthropy that gets most of us into trouble; it’s the laziness. Coupled with laziness, though, is also an inner drive to conform. These two may sound like opposing viewpoints, but they are really two sides of the same coin, for it is conformity that makes us think that we all need to and should look like that rail thin blonde bouncing away contentedly in that fake ass aerobics class fitness clubs plaster all over television in January, and it’s our laziness that makes us stop showing up to those classes when we realize that we actually have to sweat a little to shed those extra pounds.

Knowing all of this doesn’t make the resolution making any easier. We don’t make resolutions believing that we will give up on them less than a month later. We hope that we will be saying goodbye to some bad habit, activity, or relationship forever. To do that, though, we have to account for the ups and downs of real life and make plans about the plans. We can’t just sign up at the local gym saying, “I’m going to lose 100 pounds this year.” In fact, that’s what they hope you are saying because that means that you haven’t thought through your decision well enough, and you’ll probably give up soon, taking up less body space and allowing them to make money without having to work that hard. Furthermore, I don’t think that it’s right for anyone to financially benefit from our failed resolutions. So we have to be smart, people. We have to craft resolutions that will benefit only us, and if we don’t stick to them, no one will be waiting in the wings to reap the rewards of our shortcomings. That’s why I’ve decided to provide a list of resolutions that people should have for the New Year.

  1. Smile when something really pisses you off: This sounds crazy, but that act alone can be just the thing to make you stop and think before reacting. Many of us get into trouble because our first impulse is to act instead of thinking through a situation or putting the offending event or person into proper perspective. An added benefit is that if it is a person who has run afoul of your good graces, smiling may be just the thing to catch him totally off guard and make him think that you have completely lost your mind. Believing a person is crazy is sometimes all it takes for people not to continue to press your buttons. If this resolution doesn’t last more than a few weeks, it’s okay. Assuming you’re not the violent type, you don’t have to worry about going to jail.
  2. Take the stairs: This alone isn’t going to help you lose weight, but it will give you a few moments of alone time. If you’re anything like me, taking the elevator means that I have to make small talk with people I really would rather just wave to in passing. It’s hard for me to take complaining and an overall negative disposition from coworkers in the morning, and I’ve found that the biggest complainers are usually the laziest people, so taking the steps might be just the thing to shake the pest before she ruins the rest of your day. I must warn you, though. Sometimes that nuisance will try to walk up the steps with you as she fully vents her personal frustrations. Here’s an easy fix: RUN! You can make a lame excuse later like you’re training for a marathon, or your bag is too heavy to prolong the stair-climbing experience. You may be about to pass out from all of the extra work your heart and lungs had to do to get you upstairs in a quarter of the time it normally takes, but count it as benefit if you successfully avoid having those “meaningful” conversations for the next three weeks.
  3. Read: I would be remiss in my English teacher duties if I didn’t encourage at least one person to read for fun, but I may defy expectations by proposing that you read whatever you enjoy. It doesn’t matter if you like classic literature, comic books, silly magazines, or erotica. Just read. Don’t sign up for that book-of-the-month crap or get new magazine subscriptions. You can’t afford that if your resolution falls through. Just pick up something at the store that looks interesting. Go to the library. Borrow something from a friend. At the next cocktail party, you will seem cultured if you can recall quips and quotations from Shakespeare. You may be able to answer a question or two on Jeopardy! Your next staff meeting will leave you feeling a bit inflated if you have already read the latest professional journal devoted to your career. At the very least, if porn is your thing, your lover may find your new sexy vocabulary and adventurousness in the bedroom really appealing.
  4. Take a bubble bath: In the words of my grandmother, “Sometimes that stuff needs to soak.” It’s totally relaxing and it gives you a few moments to yourself. I’ve found that taking a bath is not an option when my kids and husband are awake. My kids find excuses to ask me questions and request toys they haven’t played with in months. My husband sits on the toilet and leers at me much the same way Elmer Fudd would look at Bugs Bunny when he tricked him into getting into the stock pot filled with carrots and celery. (By the way, if I’m in the mood, leer on, boo!) To me, the best time of day is at about 3 in the morning. The kids are still asleep, and my husband is knee-deep in a REM cycle after the Call of Duty marathon gaming he’s just completed.
  5. Sing really loudly: Few things in life feel as good as your jam belting forth from your own lips. My dad is the master of this! I didn’t say it sounded good to us, but I can tell that he really enjoys singing “Super Freak” at the top of his lungs as he dances offbeat to the melody that isn’t quite right. Obviously, there is a time and place for everything, but if the time is right and you’re in a place where you won’t be cited for disturbing the peace, go for it. Teenagers do this on the back of the bus, sometimes even as a pseudo-chorus. It’s weird and disrespectful, but have you seen the look of glee in their eyes as they disturb everyone around them? When my kids are fighting over some toy or another, I reach into my musical mental database and pull out some long ago favorite, like “The Thong Song,” “The Wild, Wild West,” or “Kiss,” and commence to singing loudly, off-key, and without updated dance moves. Briefly, they stop fighting to contemplate my obvious mental decline, but I feel great!

If these resolutions don’t please you, craft your own. Just remember that the more selfish they are, the better off you will be, and the more likely you will stick to them.

Good luck!

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