One of the disadvantages of being a blogger — aside from the incredible waste of time — is that written records exist where sometimes you’d prefer there were none. Such is the case with my resolutions from last New Year’s Day.
Others may have spouted lofty ambitions about weight loss, financial prudence or establishing a one-world government that they would rule as an iron-fisted autocrat. But if they only spoke of these goals, and then failed to achieve them, few would remember that failure a year later. Maybe the Department of Homeland Security would send you an email about U.S. laws against leading a global insurrection followed by a reign of tyranny. But, more than likely, your New Year’s Eve boast to a roomful of drunken acquaintances would go unreported, unless you’re unfortunate enough to be a Muslim.
I, on the other hand, have a post dated January 1, 2010, spelling out what I hoped to achieve in the year ahead. Looking back, I have failed miserably at just about every resolution.
I vowed to get taller as an attempt to improve my physical appearance. “No medieval racks or awkward orthopedic surgery for me, though,” I wrote. “I’m going to use those … adjustable Uncle Sam stilts” to increase my height a few inches a week until “I’m 8-foot-4 and nobody’s the wiser about how I did it.” Progress report: If anything, I’ve gotten shorter since I had those calluses sanded from the bottom of my feet.
I claimed I’d become more comfortable with my species choice, finally giving up on dreams of one day becoming a tiger. “When my parents and teachers told me my potential was unlimited, I took them literally,” I wrote. “I thought you could choose wild animal as a career option. Later I realized such a choice would offer very poor pay and benefits, as well as few opportunities for advancement (like promotion to lion).” Progress report: I’ve given up on the whole tiger dream, but would still like someday to be professionally invisible.
Another dream I said I’d abandon was to become world heavyweight boxing champion. “I look at the modern landscape of what sportswriters used to call the ‘sweet science’ and am dismayed at the fragmentation among the governing bodies of boxing.” Progress report: I thought I was doing really well at this until I bought myself a George Foreman grill for Christmas. Now, I have the itch again.
I also failed in 2010 to get hit by a car. Having never been seriously ill or injured, I’ve long yearned to be hospitalized. “To be hooked up to machines providing everything from pain medicine to automatic pee removal sounds like my kind of vacation,” I reported. “All the morphine and jello I can eat? Party!” Progress report: At least I had lunch in a hospital cafeteria one day because somebody told me the food was good, but actually it made me sick. Not sick enough, unfortunately.
Other unsuccessful goals included altering the numbers in the bloodwork from my annual physical “just for fun;” reaching the top of Mt. Everest by scooting “like a dog with anal worms;” and suppressing the internal monologue inside my head that labels everyone as “idiots, slacker-douchebags, morons or really hot.” Progress report: Failure all around, though I have signed up for a skipping expedition up the north face of K2 later this spring.
Finally, I vowed to eliminate the last vestiges of fun from my life. “Fun is for the young,” I blogged. “My priorities need to be responsibility, stewardship, sobriety, caution and cholesterol. By this time next year, I hope to report an existence that has finally captured the essence of drudgery.” Progress report: On Sept. 13 last year, I thrilled to hear an old song from the sixties that I hadn’t heard for years. So, in other words, failure again.
Looking back, it becomes apparent that I set my dreams unrealistically high. I still want to offer up some resolutions for 2011, but I’m going to scale these back into achievements I can reach by the end of this week. Then, I’ll have the rest of the year to allow my animal urges to run wild, even if I haven’t become an actual animal.
In 2011, I will:
- Write an entire paragraph in my blog that doesn’t include an adverb.
- Read the Bible more (there — took care of that one already).
- Take my shirts out of the dryer
- Lose at least a small amount of weight (cutting fingernails counts)
- Stop and smell the roses or, if that fails, stop and smell the Rosses, a new family that moved in next door
- Pretend to take up knitting by carrying chopsticks and a towel around with me
- Stop caring about dusty surfaces in my home, and think of fiber-based filth instead as a protective patina
- Create a secret language that only I can understand
- Erase less, white-out more.
Lastly, there is one other thing I want to try to accomplish in the year ahead. I aim to come off in my personal interactions with family, friends and coworkers as slightly deranged.
Despite recent trends toward de-institutionalizing the severely mentally ill, you still don’t encounter that many crazy people in everyday life. Most people speak coherently, act reasonably, and smile and say “thank you” when they’re done. These civilized citizens are little noticed and little respected.
What if, instead of living by the conventional script we’ve all grown a little tired of, I started dropping hints here and there that I might be a tad unhinged? I’m not talking about taking hostages or anything as troublesome as that. I will simply finish each conversation by looking over the person’s right shoulder and whispering “anhinga” (a fish-eating bird native to the wetlands of the South). I will look at a person’s mouth instead of their eyes while talking to them. I will perform deep-knee bends (with full arm extension) at work and in the aisles of grocery stores. I will grow the left half of a moustache.
None of these things alone, or even in combination, will be enough to cause others to seriously question my sanity. However, I will be setting myself apart as a unique individual worthy of attention and a kind of grudging respect. You may have literally hundreds of short conversations during the course of a typical day, and will forget virtually all of them by evening. But you won’t be able to get the image of that guy with all the weird tics out of your mind. Maybe you’ll even consider offering him cash payments just to leave you alone.
These, then, are my resolutions for the year ahead. We’ll check back in at the first of 2012 to see how I’ve done — if I’ve been confined to a group home or continue to roam freely.
Until then, “anhinga”.