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This will be a great year, if we’re not subsumed by a Mesoamerican apocalypse

January is and always will be a crappy-ass month. It’s cold, leafless, chapped, debt-ridden, and deadly. There’s really no reason to get up in the morning in January, unless your NFL team is in the playoffs. But one thing that helps make this perpetually rotten month a little more bearable is the chance to make New Year’s resolutions.

People give resolutions a bad rap, because so many of them fall so quickly by the wayside. (Right now, your gym is stuffed with sweaty, grunting loafpeople who’ll be back on the couch by Groundhog Day.) But it doesn’t matter whether our resolutions fail. It matters that we still endeavor to make them. Resolving to try to improve the thing that is us means we still have hope. Our lives are worth living, and we want to be better at them. We might be trying to fill a bathtub with a big hole in the bottom, but at least it isn’t empty. And if you don’t make resolutions, you’re either 1) perfect, or 2) shivering naked in a waterless tub, waiting for the sweet release of death.

Over the last five years, most of my resolutions can be grouped under the broad umbrella of Get Better At Being A Divorced Parent. In excess of that, here’s what I’ll be trying in 2012:

1. Cook more creatively. I’ve got the time to cook, a kitchen that’s finally bigger than my car. I have a spice cabinet, and counter space for more gadgetry, and a new phone full of cooking apps. IT IS SO ON.

2. Cook more unilaterally. The kids are great sous-chefs. They’re getting really good at seasoning meats and conjuring new marinades (most of which are ketchup-based), and they always argue over who’s the defter mixer of pancake batter. But when it comes to eating, my little gustatory Philistines will only countenance the same few meals over and over again: the Daddy Special, the Daddy Supreme, and the Daddy Surprise (recently re-purposed as Rice Bombs). This year I want to nudge them out of their comfort zones and inspire them to try new stuff. And if either gives me the Sourpuss Face and regards a meal like a urinal cake, he knows where the peanut butter is.

3. Write more openly. When Louis C.K. eulogized George Carlin, he said Carlin’s inspiration to dig deeper into his “fears and nightmares” was the spark that turned his career around. It’s better to say what you want to say, regardless of how people react, then be stuck with an hour of tepid jokes about airplanes and dogs.

4. Boss myself around more efficiently. This new lifestyle has afforded me with more Me Time than I’ve ever enjoyed since I became an adult. It’s amazing, and jarring. (Ask Phil Connors.) I’ve always thrived amid structure, and now it’s incumbent on me to make my own. This will be a big challenge, because the Angry Birds are always within arm’s reach.

5. Explore A2  exhaustively. Ann Arbor’s been pretty good to me so far. I’ve taken my kids camping, met Jennifer Egan, seen a MOTH Story Slam–and that’s all before I got on Instagram. I think I need to learn something specific this year. Like Italian. Or the piano.

And you know what else? I’m gonna take more baths.

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