New Year’s Resolutions

Mashed potatoes with a parsley leaf.

Tis the season, right?  With the winter holidays — Christmas, HannukahKwanzaa, Yule, and the ever-popular Festivus — and New Year’s gibbering at us from behind a ginormous pile of mashed potatoes and turkey gravy (or Tofurkey gravy if you’re so inclined) we start thinking about how a new year will give us a new opportunity to change the future.  I’m not going to point out how there’s never anything stopping us from resolving to change our habits right now, today… on a Tuesday at noon, for example, rather than waiting until Monday morning, or the beginning of the month, or Jan. 1st.   (See what I did?  I pointed it out anyway.)  If you’re inclined to wake up some time on the first of January and say, “That’s it then, no more _______” (Fill in the blank with the problematic behavior of your choice.) more power to you.  That’s a hopeful way to start a year.  And it can’t hurt to make positive changes in your life no matter when you start.

To be honest, it’s been years since I’ve made a New Year’s resolution, and the last one I made was to never make another.  It’s the only one I’ve managed to keep for more than a month.  But the other day I was having dinner with my friend Karen, and her mom, and Karen said: “My New Year’s resolution is to learn to like red wine.”  This is noteworthy on a couple of levels, the most surprising one being that if you know Karen, you will know that if she has ever tasted something and hated it (or decided without tasting that she would hate it) that thing will never come within a foot of her lips again.  The exception being beer because she hates the taste but loves the smell, so she always asks to sniff our beer when we order it.  Yes, she’s an odd girl, but we love her.

But her resolution made me stop and think about the whole business of  resolutions.  For most of us a resolution is framed in negative terms:  I’m going to stop smoking, I’m going to drink less, lose weight, stop whatever.  Something goes away, something leaves your life.  You impose some sort of discipline on yourself.  But Karen’s resolution was so positive — I’m going to learn to enjoy something that others find enjoyable — that it made me rethink the whole process of resolutions and my own aversion to them.

I’m not consciously planning to wake up on the first and say, “I’m going to learn to like lima beans!” because what’s the point?  And anyway how many people apart from Karen actually do find them enjoyable?  But I might just decide to try something new in 2012.  I might resolve to be more open to something I’d previously disregarded or dismissed.  I might resolve to do more of something that I like but from which I have fallen away.  I might frame a food resolution in more positive terms; rather than saying “I’m going to stop eating meat.” I might say, “I’m going to make more meals vegetable-based every week.”

To be honest, I think that resolutions, whenever they’re made, really should be framed in a positive way, be something that you can say “YES!” to rather than “no.”  They should be things that open up your world a little more and make you feel, not deprived, but enlarged, smart for having done it, and even blessed for being able to do it.

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Paper wraps rock, rock smashes skull…

Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock

Earlier today a couple of people on my Facebook friends list were talking about how today seemed to have provoked a good deal more assholery than usual.  By mid-afternoon, after an utterly pointless go-round with someone who was determined to misunderstand everything I wrote, I was starting to wonder if they weren’t right, and by the time I discovered that someone had tried to link their email account to mine, and someone else had filled the larger of our two garbage cans right up to the top with dead leaves, I knew for sure that there was some serious Asshole JuJu flyin’ around today.

Of the lot, I’d say the leaf thing annoyed me the most.  I mean, come on, buy some fucking lawn bags you cheap douchetards!  Or ask.  We have a bunch.  We’d have given you a few.  Don’t sneak over while we’re out and fill up our garbage cans.  I very nearly left a rude note on the garage above the cans but I thought better of it.  There’s no point to starting a war with your neighbors over something like this.  It’s idiotic.  I did enjoy thinking about how Sheldon Cooper would have figured out who did it.  (And if you’re not familiar with The Big Bang Theory, just skip the rest of this paragraph.  And you might want to watch the show because it’s pretty wonderful.)  Sheldon would analyze the DNA of each leaf to determine which trees they came from.  And then by computing the wind direction and speed over the last few days, he would have a good idea of how far they’d traveled and could pinpoint the malefactor.  I so wanted to be Sheldon for about fifteen minutes this afternoon, and walk up to the leaf-dumper’s house with a bag of leaves and say “You dropped this.”

Interestingly enough the whole Facebook thing shed some light on a notion I’d been trying to work through for a few days now.  One of my other FB friends — I don’t recall which one now — pointed out that it seemed odd to block people because of their opinions and while  in theory I agreed since it serves no purpose to live in a kind of idea vacuum in which you never hear anything that you disagree with, I knew that there was something more at work here, but I couldn’t quite frame what it was.  Today I got it.  I like differing opinions.  I have discussions with my friends all the time in which we don’t agree on this or that, and frequently end up agreeing to disagree.  But the operative word there is “agreeing.”  When I knock someone off my friends list or block them completely I do it because there is no chance to have a meaningful discussion with them. Either they refuse to pay attention to what’s actually being said (as in today’s argument) or they think they’re entitled to their own facts, or they think a cogent argument is to tell you that you’re ugly and probably haven’t had sex in decades.  Why bother with them?  They don’t advance any sort of understanding of differing opinions, they just hammer away at you with nonsense.

So what did I learn today?  Lock your garbage cans in your yard until garbage day, keep an eye on your accounts and don’t argue with someone who has a huge emotional investment in a subject.

I’m gonna go and make some tea and hum “Soft kitty” to my kids.  Later, taters…

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Fighting SOPA/PIPA and Internet censorship by big business interests.

Icon for censorship
Image via Wikipedia


Rather than try to give an extensive explanation of what the SOPA/PIPA bills are trying to do, let me just tell you that they’re bad.  They’d spell the end of most social media sites.  Then let me point you to a page which will bring you up to speed on this subject:  American Censorship Day.  Pay attention to what’s written there, and to the links they provide.  It’s that important.

Go.  Be the change.



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Thinking about death and money

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 25: Author and euth...
Sir Terry Pratchett

Neither of which are actually too jolly.    I just finished watching “Choosing to Die,” Sir Terry Pratchett‘s short film on his search for the answers to the questions “When?” and “How?”  He interviews several people in the course of the film, two of whom have chosen assisted death in Switzerland, and one who has chosen a hospice.  It seems to me that the two men who do go through with the process of assisted dying — one actually on camera — end up being more memorable than the man who chose hospice care, and I think there’s a reason for that.  I have the sense that Sir Terry has already made up his mind that to end in a hospice is not what he wants.  Fair enough, I say, but in that case I really believe he should never have included the interview.  You can feel his opposition to what he’s hearing and seeing, and I don’t believe that serves him well if he’s trying to prove that he’s being open-minded about the options.

All things considered, it’s a hard film to watch, not so much because of the deaths, but because of the people who are involved; the families, the doctors, the assistants, and Sir Terry’s own writing assistant who is clearly not sanguine about the suicide option.   Oddly, thinking about the two men who do go through with their suicides in the course of the film, and there’s almost a blank where there should be some sort of emotion, as if by virtue of the fact that they have made an absolute decision, they have already ceased to exist.  Or perhaps it’s just that having been the one left behind a number of times now, I have far more feeling for those who, like me, had to say good-bye.

On the money front — yes I’m tired of talking about death; you can only do so much of it before it rolls over you like one of those cartoon boulders — things are still tight, so I opted to join a group which purports to show how to earn money writing copy.  It’s well spoken of, so I didn’t have any hesitation in paying the money upfront.  But so far there aren’t that many jobs that I felt right applying for because I don’t have a lot of experience in the areas where the prospective employers want experience.  Or they’re full-time jobs.  Or they’re not remote jobs; and I can’t hop around from city to city doing part-time or freelance work.  Still, it’s worth a look.  Fiction isn’t paying all that well right now.  I’ve decided that after the first of the year I’m going to be sending some work to an agent to see if there isn’t some option beyond trying to sell books with my terrible promotion skills.

Tomorrow I’m taking about $270 worth of DVDs to the UPS store to ship off to  They do trade-ins on a lot of merchandise, and it’ll let me pay for Xmas without taking any money out of the bank.  I’ve also got an appointment to see a gal in my Alderman’s office (I have a great Alderman with a lot of political clout.) who is going to help me with my property tax issues.

As Glinda says, “Every little bit helps.”  I need to remember that.



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