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August 31, 2010

Oh, sure, go on, tell me to clean the house.  Like that’ll help.  Actually, we’ll never know, will we?  The kids came back, and the house was still unclean.  I did, somehow, manage to get most of my work done–a testament to my extraordinary ability to ignore my surroundings and concentrate.  Correct?  Not a testament to laziness, but to concentration.

Except that my mother is coming tomorrow, so I will spend the intervening hours running from floor to floor emitting little yips of panic, spilling cleaning fluids, and yelling at the children.  Well, at the younger one.  The older one is spending this week–all day, every day–at the mercy of sadistic high-school athletic coaches, due to “pre-season” requirements for school soccer. (I am suspicious of the whole concept of pre-season, unless you are a Boston Red Sock.)  Yesterday he had to run until he became physically ill, which would have made me cry and quit the team, but which acted on him as a powerful ego-stimulant.  He spent the evening looking pale and declining to assist with chores (“Yeah, I’d like to unload the dishwasher, really, I would, but after running three miles and all those shooting drills, I kind of think I should be able to rest….”)  Finally I reminded him that he was not exactly Lance Armstrong, and that I myself used to run three miles five or six times a week.  He sighed wearily.  “You never SCRIMMAGED afterwards,” he retorted.  Touché, Mother!

Anyway, even though I neither ran nor scrimmaged, I neglected my chores most shamefully all week.  And because it is the last half hour of the last day of August, I am determined to change my lazy ways.  I don’t make resolutions on January first, the way most people I know do.  January’s hard enough–I generally grant myself indulgences all the way through March.  The last thing anyone needs is discipline and austerity in the dead of winter, for christ’s sake.  But back-to-school fills me with the same excitement it always has (this is what comes of being a student well into one’s fourth decade), along with the same desire to (and conviction that I can) start anew.

So I’d like to make a few resolutions, keeping well in mind that the raw material I’m working with has never been especially resolute, and has taken a serious beating in the last couple of years.  I’m aiming low, trying to stay realistic.  The last couple of weeks were an odd interlude–I’d never been alone in a house for that long, EVER.  I grew up in small houses with lots of family underfoot, and then I had roommates at boarding school and college, and then I moved right in with the man I eventually married.  But some small sea change seems to have taken place while I crouched in my own filth and became nocturnal.  I’m going to set this place to rights.  I’m going to stop coasting along under the impression that simply existing is all I can manage.  Oh dear, I’m getting lofty and starry-eyed already.  No, no, down to earth:  This year, I resolve to:

1.  Return library books on time.  Or, at the very least, pay my fines, instead of waiting until the librarian’s back is turned and slipping the overdue books back in their proper spots on the shelves.  (When they turn up “returned”, the fines are waived.  Oldest trick in the, er, book.)

2.  Keep better track of receipts, important mail, tax information, and the like.  I know, everyone SAYS this.  But I even bought a special series of clever accordion files today, so I am serious this time.

3.  Mail things.  It is not difficult to go to the post office.  Every time I go to the post office I am amazed at how simple–even pleasant!–it is.  No more will I cram things into packages and try to guess at the proper number of stamps required.

4.  Ditto the bank.  I will deposit checks on time.  Or, you know, sometime.

5.  I will write all thank you notes promptly.  (This, per Steve Martin, is the resolution equivalent of the trick ransom demand you should always slip in, so there’s room to negotiate.  Heh.  Getaway car.)

6.  I’m going to start running again.  I stopped because my knees hurt, and because I started doing yoga instead, and because I got lazy and lost the habit.  But I used to run in the evenings, and it was wonderful.  It’s pretty, where I live, and there’s a beautiful college campus only a few blocks away.  It cheered me up quite a bit, gave a morsel of structure to the evenings.  It suddenly occurred to me that instead of missing it, I could simply start doing it again, so I will.

7. I’ll get rid of everything we don’t need, or don’t use–all the old clothes, the superfluous toys, the broken and worn out things I don’t even see any more, and before you decide this is far too ambitious for a list of resolutions that began with library books, consider the following:  At least half the reason I wanted to move was because I wanted to ditch all this pointless ballast and start over.  I’ve lived in this house ten years, ten whole years–I’ve never lived in any other house for more than four, my whole life.  A prescient reader suggested I treat my big house like a little compound of smaller houses–so why not pretend I’m moving by lightening the load?

(Also, you don’t know me.  I’m really, really bad with library books.)

So that’s a start.  A few resolutions, to begin the new year.  Tomorrow I’m sure I’ll remember more shortcomings and vow to amend them–stay tuned.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. September 1, 2010 9:36 am

    Good for you for setting some intentions. I’ve always felt that resolutions are most appropriate in September, too. I think it will always feel like back-to-school time, even though I haven’t been a student since 2003.

  2. Apple permalink
    September 1, 2010 10:12 am

    Ha, I thought I was the only wacko who did resolutions in September. Good Luck, to you and to me!

  3. September 1, 2010 10:12 am

    I could probably just copy and paste your resolutions onto a poster board and tape it to my bathroom door, where I’d see it every morning and perhaps do all these wonderful things too.

    I love the September resolution idea. I’m great at making resolutions on January 1 and then forgetting them by January 3.

  4. Jen permalink
    September 1, 2010 11:12 am

    Hello there! I am so glad you’re back to posting! I didn’t get a chance to post on your post before this one because I’ve been running around like crazy, but I wanted to say that I hear you about the fugue state…been there many times myself. Ugh.

    And I love these resolutions. In fact, I am stealing them for myself…along with your strategy for avoiding library fines. Brilliant!

  5. irretrievablybroken permalink*
    September 1, 2010 11:50 am

    I forgot to add that I vow to be better about deadlines. And let the record show: I managed to post at 11:59 on August 31st! Surely that’s a sign?

  6. Michelle Lewis permalink
    September 1, 2010 1:02 pm

    Good luck! May I suggest some of the techniques described in this posting to help with your change process?

  7. September 1, 2010 5:08 pm

    I just did resolutions too! I decided that I finished my New Year’s resolution so I did a Mid Year’s resolution.

  8. nancy d permalink
    September 1, 2010 6:46 pm

    I so LOVE the idea of resolutions in September. Its way too difficult in January. THANK YOU!!!!!

  9. Linda permalink
    September 1, 2010 7:48 pm

    My strategy for library books is to pick a day and stick to it. I renew and return books on Saturday mornings. (I check out books all week long.) Plus, every now and again, I get online, renew my books and realize that I don’t have to go to the library unless I really want to!

    (Mind you, I’m a librarian and already spend 40 hours a week there. I’m notorious with my co-workers for showing up on my days off. It’s just that my kids aren’t librarians, that’s my excuse!)

  10. twangy permalink
    September 3, 2010 12:57 pm

    In the NJ town where I once resid (resided? Eh?) the library had a book bunker type thing in the front where you could leave your overdue books under cover of the night. Sort of a permanent library book amnesty. Brilliant idea.

    I congratulate you on your verve and determination on this the occasion of the start of the academic year. Me too, I hope. I am doing the couch to 5K, and it is not so very very terrible. I quite like it. May your knees be free of pain and carry you ever onward.

  11. September 4, 2010 5:42 am

    I need all of those resolutions except no 2 which I do to avoid making progress on 1 and 3 to 7.

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