the year that will be

How hokey am I? Resolutions, seriously.

be courageous
Do more things that scare me. Taking up snowboarding has really given me confidence that I can actually do this: that I can do something that scares the hell out of me and have fun. I’m not so much just looking for things to do for the sake of doing them (the wow that was scary and I hated every minute of it, so er, yay? approach) but more things that I will actually like. I was reading in this magazine about how this world-champion skiier does indoor rock climbing to help get over her fear of heights (her? afraid of heights like me?) and then I remembered that earlier this year, I thought that would be a good, fun way to try to get over my own fear of heights, but I never went. P. thinks I should try heli-skiing. He dreams big. Hallucinatory, crazy big.

buy new slippers
Do you have any idea how often I wear slippers? And do you know how old and smelly they are? It’s bad, trust me.

eat healthy! work out!
How trite, I know. I can barely stand myself as I type the words. But, God, I already have one achy knee, and the orthopedic surgeon tells me that added weight doesn’t help; working out does. I don’t want to get too decrepit to enjoy my life just when it’s reaching its prime. I want to be able to hike and snowboard, and well, climb indoor rocks. Again, I feel confident I’m not entirely talking out my ass because I’ve gone to the gym five times a week for the past four weeks. Now, four weeks does not a permanent change make, I realize this. But it does make a start. Also, P. got me a shiny new iPod for Christmas, and I have been claiming for months that this was the one work-out accessory I needed to ensure success. And now he’s calling me on it.

be organized
Lord knows this is my goal every day of my life. I once hired a personal organizing coach-type person to help me. Only she didn’t. Obviously. Instead, she gave me color-coded folders and a tickler file and an inbox. Well, “gave” would be the wrong word. She did charge me for them.

It’s just that the clutter is like quicksand. It drowns me. And not just paper clutter, but life clutter, time clutter. And being organized leads me to not only having clothes to wear in the morning, but also to finally writing that cookbook I’ve been trying to write for the past year, maybe planting a window sill herb garden. It leads me to doing things I love, to loving my life. I am in all sincerity outraged at myself that I’m letting my own laziness keep me from what I want in life. It’s baffling and it’s insane.

be nice
Let’s face it, I’m kind of a bitch. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a bitch, and sometimes it’s warranted. But, other times, being a bitch just makes me feel crappy about myself and cranky. Like when I leave the garage after work, there are two interesections at which I am almost always a bitch.

The very first intersection I encounter is a two-way stop, and I am going one of the directions that does not require stopping. However, about 75% of the time, a car coming from a direction that does require a stop thinks that I do too and attempts to drive in front of me, which causes me to have to slam on my brakes and causes them to look or gesture at me in a threatening manner, because of course they think I’m the idiot who ran the stop sign. Without fail, my first reaction is to want to whip around and force them to pull over and explain the concept of a two-way stop. However, I do not. I simply look at them angrily. Yes, I am a bad ass.

Only a few blocks later, I come upon a light at which I turn left onto a one-way street. Both streets, the one I begin on and the one I end on, have three lanes. Only the left two lanes are turn lanes. The third lane, according to the handy arrows that hang below the light, is only for those driving straight. The one-way street eventually becomes the onramp to the freeway. It backs up a lot. At least half the time, someone darts out of line in the middle lane (where I generally am), zooms around the line in the always-empty third lane, turns left in front of all of us, then zooms back into the middle lane. Often this person zooms directly in front of me and cuts me off, causing me to slam on my breaks to avoid hitting them and hope that the person behind me is paying attention. When this happened to me a couple of weeks ago, I made a fairly angry guesture (no, not that gesture, I really try to avoid that one) at a man in a BMW who nearly sideswiped me and forced me out of my lane. He, of course, countered back with his own gesture that involved him sticking a finger from one hand into a hole he had made with his fingers of the other hand. Well, that showed me.

The point is that being bitchy to these people only makes me angrier. And why end every work day angry? When I just laugh at their idiocy, these truly idiot drivers (and in the second case, they really are assholes; the first group is just a bit clueless and non-observant) have no power over my mood, my day. Also, I always fear that the person I’m yelling at is going to turn out to be my boss or something.

And I yell at my coworkers sometimes (well, not yell, but I can have a definite cranky edge in my voice). Sure, they deserve it, but you never get anywhere yelling at coworkers. You have to keep working with them, and yelling never ever helps. It doesn’t stop them from doing all those little things that made you cranky to start with. All it does is make you mad. And make them mad. And make it harder to work with them. It’s dumb.

read more poetry
How could I forget how much I love poetry? At the risk of sounding unhip and uncultured, I don’t really like modern poetry much. My first love is really old British poetry. I spent ninth grade curled up in a corner with a dusty book I found in an auction box my parents bought for their antique store: British Poetry and Prose, reprinted 1950.

I still have that book. On the inside cover, I wrote the page numbers of my favorite poems. It was around this time that we got another auction box with old records in it. I snuck the records home and listened to them when my parents weren’t around. I recorded some of my favorites in these pages also, wonderous singers I had never heard of: Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin.

On one of the back pages, I transcribed a poem that I wrote. It begins:

I once thought love would be so true
If only I had known
That love brings heartbreak, grief, and tears
To all whom love is shown

Yeah. I should have stuck with reading poetry, but if I had to be an angsty teenager, at least I was an angsty teenager who used the word “whom.”

In light of that, I guess it’s no surprise what I was drawn to in those days. I circled the following from William Blake:

Love’s Secret
Never seek to tell thy love,
Love that never told can be;
For the gentle wind doth move
Silently, invisibly.

I told my love, I told my love,
I told her all my heart,
Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears;
Ah! She did depart.

Soon after she was gone from me
A traveller came by,
Silently, invisibly:
He took her with a sigh.

Published in 1804 but it rang so true in 1987.

On page 467, underlined, this by Robert Herrick:

For to number sorrows by
Their departures hence, and die.

My angst continued. My favorite Ben Johnson was apparently “A Farewell to the World”. Favorite Shakespearan sonnet? Number 29, which begins,

When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate

And did I love me some John Fletcher. “Away, delights! Go seek some other dwelling, for I must die!”

Surreptitiously plant British Poetry and Prose somewhere a teenager can stumble upon it and you’re assured of nurturing a poetry fan. What teenager wouldn’t love “There is, underneath the sun, Nothing in true earnest done”?

In college, I went even farther back, reading Beowulf in Old English. I had a brief fling with American poets. I still think fondly of Emily Dickinson. But then I tried to be mature and cool and read the new stuff, but there was no passion, no spark there for me. And in my disappointment, I forgot about my loves. But now I remember.

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime
We would sit down and think which way
To walk and pass our long love’s day.

My vegetable love, it yet grows.

keep cooking
I love to cook. I love combining ingredients and trying new things and well, eating. And if I just remember to cook instead of ordering take out, it’s much easier to keep my resolution of eating healthfully. For instance, I just now made the best sandwich, which could also be a side dish, or a pasta sauce, or any kind of dish you want, really. I’m not here to stifle you.

I sliced two zucchini and two yellow squash diagonally (I know, they’re out of season, but at least I found organic ones) and put them in a baking pan. Then, I heated two tablespoons of olive oil and added a couple of smashed garlic cloves. I drizzled the oil and garlic over the squash (leaving a little oil in the pan), added kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, and then baked the squash for about eight minutes at 450. Then, I flipped the squash and topped it with some Italian seasoning, sliced red onions, and a splash of balsamic vinegar and baked it for another eight minutes.

Meanwhile, I sauted more garlic and red onion, then added a 28 oz can of drained fire-roasted chopped tomatoes and 8 oz of tomato sauce. I tossed in some salt and pepper and a splash of red wine vinegar and then let it simmer.

Since I was making a sandwich, I sliced some french bread and topped it with a little shaved parmesan and Jalsberg (yes, I realize mozzarella would be the more traditional choice but I’m contrary like that). I put that under the broiler for a minute. I assembled it all together with some torn basil leaves. For those of you keeping Weight Watchers score at home, this was a whopping 6.5 points (assuming the vegetables would make four servings). Subtract the bread and cheese and you’ve got a great low-point side dish. Add some whole-wheat pasta and maybe just the parmesan, and you’re still doing great for dinner.

Making this was surely as fast as driving down the road to the McDonald’s drive through. And McDonald’s doesn’t even have zucchini.

keep writing
It makes me happy.

Is that enough? Should I be more ambitious? Most days, just managing to do my laundry feels like all the ambition I can take. There are lots of other things I want to do, that I plan to do: travel, read, learn more about wine, find new trails to hike, places to camp, spend lots of time doing wonderful things with P. But all of that feels more like life than resolution.

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