New Year’s Resolutions 2017
Many of you may remember what you were doing in 2009 on New Year’s Eve. I know I sure do. I had been huddled in Mazama amongst many colorful images of the Christmas season--a crackling fire in the fireplace, snowy Christmas trees, a glittering white field filled with deer just off the back porch---thoughtfully pulling spaghetti off of the cat (don’t ask), while trying to finish that darned book. My husband the pastor, who hates the uninhibited language that literally bursts out of me when I have to re-do the same type-set corrections for the 12th time in a row, had decided to go home a few days early, having quickly become bored with me asking him questions like “How do you spell obsequious?” and "how should I answer the following question: 'do the double quotes come before or after the question mark?'?" and leaving me on my own to wrestle over the internet with the copy editors (who were British, and therefore kept insisting on misspelling words like ‘oesophagus”) and using words like "whilst" and "amongst" as subordinating conjunctions.
So on a clear, sunny New Year’s Eve, I packed up my things (including the cat), stuck them in the back of a completely inadequate snow vehicle (Minicooper, regular tires, no chains) and struck out for home--neglecting, of course, to first check the weather on Blewett Pass. Which is pretty much how I found myself later that day driving up the pass in a blinding blizzard while simultaneously leaning out the driver's side window and reaching over the windshield to free up the frozen wiper blades, cursing the bl--dy British editors and wondering how I was going to get the car turned around with all of those monster trucks sliding sideways in the snow past me, the drivers gesturing in my general direction in what one can politely describe as being in a less-than-friendly fashion.
Thus I spent New Year’s Eve 2009 alone with my cat in a Holiday Inn Express in Wenatchee Washington, where, while awaiting rescue by my husband, I learned that Bob’s Goodtime Broiler lets out at about 2 AM, and—forget fireworks--they have real guns in Wenatchee and know how to use ‘em.
Now, this is an example of precisely the kind of experience that makes writing my New Year’s Resolutions every January so very easy. I have long since given up making New Year’s Resolutions I can’t keep. I know I am actually never going to clean out the attic or pay off the credit cards, and I have grown confident they will both sort themselves out after I am dead. Instead, I believe this is the time of year to reflect back, consider what I would be willing to do again, what I should try anew this year, and what I should definitely never, ever repeat. So here goes:
Resolution #1. I’m not spending another New Year’s Eve alone in Wenatchee, and if I ever do, I’m at least going to have the dog with me. I mean, come on. The cat was totally useless, just sitting there like a big, hairy, purring pillow on the bed when that immense-sounding guy came pounding on the door at 3 AM begging someone named “Jennie Darlin’ ” to forgive him and let him in since all he’d been doin’ was funnin’ it up with the boys. The next time that happens, I think “Jenny Darlin” deserves to have an insanely furious, barking maniac in a fur coat scratching and slobbering at the door on her behalf, even if the dog’s next move when the door opens will be to dive under the bed and let her face the music alone.
Resolution #2. If I ever write or edit another book, it won’t be about ethics. After a while, even all the “right stuff” starts to look….well frankly wrong. And there’s a kind of irony in having to explain (for the 12th time) to a doctor why it would be wrong for physicians to torture people, while simultaneously enjoying a mental picture of said doctor standing in the snow with his tongue frozen to a tetherball pole like that kid in “A Christmas Story.”
And to the doctor who stole a copy of my book from the Medical Library at the University, I have two things to say: 1) I am honored and delighted that you find my book so compelling and obviously want to read it and 2) Please turn to chapter 35. While it is not about stealing, per se and why that is wrong, it is about plagiarism, which is a kind of stealing, and I think you might find the ethical principles detailed in it relevant to your particular situation.
Resolution #3. The next time someone offers to pay my travel and expenses to take a business course in July, I am going to ask where it’s being held before answering the question. This resolution is quite similar to one I made in 2008, which actually was “The next time my husband asks me if I want to go for a ‘little walk’ with him in Spain, I am going to read a travel book about it before agreeing to take an 800 kilometer trek to Santiago.”
Houston this July was 95°F, 95% humidity. Need I say more.
Resolution #4. I am going to eat more chocolate again this year. You non-medical types out there may believe that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but in fact there is no evidence that apples do much of anything special for your health, and I personally don't like them. Now that I think of it, forcing your favorite doctor (that would be moi) to eat an apple a day probably would keep her away. Chocolate, on the other hand has flavonoids, which lovingly wrap your little platelets in a gooey and tasty coating, leaving them too slippery to reliably cause blood clots, strokes and heart attacks. Chocolate releases narcotic-like substances in the body, and increases the levels of dopamine in the brain (and I know you Discovery Channel fans out there know what that means).
Resolution #5. I am going to try to avoid teasing the pit bulls by walking around in my own neighborhood. This one didn’t go well at all, as you can imagine. And this resolution may turn out to be surprisingly difficult to keep, since my friend and I didn’t actually recognize that we were annoying the dog by simply walking down the street (that is until it was too late), and also because there appears to a strong pit bull lobby working hard to keep this breed from being regulated, for god-only-knows what reason. But clearly we must have been teasing the dog (as was reported in a local blogpost), since we both ended up in the hospital (me mostly because I had stupidly let my tetanus shot lapse, my friend because she needed significant surgical repair). I remember it vividly-- thinking as I was scrubbing my friend’s leg out in the kitchen sink and telling her not to look while she was madly dialing my husband for a ride to the ER, that I sure as heck wasn’t going to ever try that again. At least now I have an interesting new scar to talk about if I ever find myself meeting new people and the conversation lags.
Resolution #6. I’m going to learn to play bridge. Now, this one will runs the risk of violating one of my critical criteria for a New Year’s resolution: easily attainable so you don’t feel like a failure if you….well…fail. Bridge is hard. Omar Sharif must be much smarter than he looked in Dr. Zhivago, but at least I now know why his eyes are always bloodshot. There’s nothing like staring at your hand, which has no face cards, no aces, no hearts and no spades, and hearing Sally’s husband (aka Brad my partner) bid 4 spades after the opposing side has bid 3 no-trump. This is because a) I have no idea what he’s talking about, b) I can’t remember the super-secret bridge code words for “Brad, I have no idea what you are talking about but I’ve got nothing I mean nothing in my hand and c) I really like Brad, with whom I feel I have formed a close theological bond, and whose book I am quite enjoying, and I don’t want him to think I’m stupid if he already doesn’t.
Resolution #7. I have decided to use up my leap second this year. Remember that leap second we all got in 2008? Well I never used mine. And since they’re talking about abolishing leap seconds in 2013 (before another one is due), I think I should use it before it vanishes. So this is the year. I just haven’t decided exactly how I am going to use it yet. Knowing me, though, I just won’t have the presence of mind to use it at that exact moment during parallel parking when I should have hit the brakes to avoid leaving my mark on that $75,000 Mercedes that both chronically and deliberately uses up 2 whole parking spaces right in front of our house while the owners are attending church down the street.
Resolution #8. I’m going to wear more interesting lingerie to the airport this year. Yes, the time has come. Remember when your mother used to warn you to make sure your underwear didn’t have any holes in it in case you were in an accident and people got to see it? I have always thought in retrospect that it was a little silly, since with rare (albeit somewhat weird) exceptions the status of people’s underwear is about the last thing on your mind when you’re cutting the bloody clothes off of someone who has just been in a head-on on Highway 101. But now the TSA has decided that if they can’t convince us to all fly naked (I would rather walk), they can at least make us feel both naked and inadequate via the use of xray vision and intimate pat-downs. Sure, they think it’s all gonna be so titillating and fun. But I suspect, that like those of us in the medical field, they’ll find it to be a) more boring than they ever imagined and b) more than a little bit creepy at times.
Resolution #9. I really am going to quit Facebook this year. I mean it this time. Sure, I say this every year. And every year someone floats in on the ether just as I am about to hit the ‘delete’ button and saves my profile for one more day. Usually it’s someone I thought was dead. This year, it was a long-lost niece. Which was especially interesting since I thought my brother only had sons…..
Resolution #10. I am going to give a little more this year. It’s not that my husband and I don’t give to charity. We do. In fact, his whole job is about helping the needy. And a pretty big part of mine is, too, now that I think about it. But in these hard times, there are still 2,000 people sleeping outside in Seattle tonight, most either because they have no choice, or they are too ill to be capable of making a choice—as well as thousands of abandoned animals, some left behind when the owners also lost their homes. And that’s just too many. So I’ll do what I can, even if it only seems like a little. In the legend of the Star Thrower, a boy on a beach is asked by a passerby why he is throwing starfish back into the water one by one that have been exposed by the tide and are dying in the blazing sun—when there are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of starfish dying on that beach that day and he won’t be able to save them all. “Well,” he answers, picking up another starfish and tossing it into the waves, “I think I just saved that one, anyway.”
….. if we all went down to the beach together this year…..think of what could happen.