As is bound to happen there’s presently a lot of hubbub about the New Year. Many of us, excited by the hope and promise of beginning anew, are absurdly making foolishly aspirational resolutions that we know, even as we make them, we’ll never keep (You’re really going to give up dairy, go to the gym 5-days a week and stop yelling at Asian drivers??).
But that’s the allure of a resolution: not that your life will change, but that it can. And with the clock being reset, there’s no better time than now.
And rightly so, for in just under 12-months the world will end, a fact I determined after spending several months in Central America this summer, where I visited many Mayan ruins and inundated myself in their cosmology, a true understanding of which will reveal notions of time that, like most pre-modern belief systems, have no conception of a beginning or an end, though since that sucks the drama out let’s just stick with what the quacks are telling us and set the countdown clock for December 21, 2012…
In order to move successfully into the new year I believe, unlike the Obama administration, that it’s essential to make a public reckoning with the past, specifically last year’s shortcomings. And so, in an effort of purification I confess to the following 2011 sins, and hope that in doing so I’ll clear the path for better things in the year to come:
I jaywalked. A lot. All across Seattle. Downtown, Capitol Hill, Ballard. Broadway, Denny, 1st Avenue—you name it, I jaywalked it.
I didn’t do this in other cities. Chicago drivers do not observe crosswalks, Detroit drivers will run you down, shoot you, then run over your shot body, and large swaths Guatemala City don’t even have amenities like crosswalks or paved streets. But in my hometown I stomped about with impunity.
Despite receiving a stern, squinty-eyed warning from a buzzed-cut cop wearing clear plastic protective goggles and generally taking everything, especially his job, way too seriously late one night (honestly, this is the crime situation in the white parts of Seattle) I heedlessly, illegally, and may I smugly say unrepentantly, crossed at red lights and kitty-cornered 4-way stops everywhere I went while the rest of you spineless dopes stood waiting for a sign to tell you that it was now acceptable to cross a car-less street.
As you can see—despite my efforts at making amends and moving forward etc., it’s unlikely that this behavior will change in 2012.
I also may have drank too much alcohol. I may have done this more than once. And it is conceivable that during those times I (possibly) did some stupid and embarrassing things. Hypothetical things such as fall off a boat or threaten a lumberjack to an axe duel or flirt with terribly unattractive women or fall off a small building or crawl around the floor of a public bathroom in a pool of my own vomit or make relational promises that, once sober, I immediately rescinded.
Unlike the jaywalking thing I actually feel badly about some of those. I’m working on it.
I may have stepped on other peoples’ toes. Actually, that’s not very accurate: I’m too socially tame to have done much public damage. After all, I’ve lived in Seattle long enough to have learned to muffle my interpersonal complaints to an appropriately hushed tone until I return to the safety and confidence of my computer screen, so at worst I probably gave some customer brusque service at a restaurant.
In truth, I didn’t step on many toes this past year. Instead, I stepped on one toe. And I didn’t just accidentally step on it in passing. Instead, I jumped up and down on it. I stomped it to shards with steel-shanked boots. I repeatedly kicked and booted and shredded it until all that was left was a bloodied, swollen mess.
I didn’t do this because there was anything wrong with that toe. It is, in fact, a lovely toe (despite the weird pinky nail, which is creepily small) and it belongs to the person I, in my own admittedly inept and fucked up way, love more than anyone else on this planet. No, I did this foot stomping because ass-schnozzles like myself sometimes—by “sometimes” I am ashamed to reveal that I mean “repeatedly”—treat the people who love them as if they were our own personal poop receptacles, like those canvas wheelbarrows that trail horses giving tours through city parks.
But it gets worse. Much, much worse. Move over St. Paul: I’ll show you what it means to be the worst sinner of all.
My lowest, darkest, sleaziest sin of 2011 is to have stolen a copy of Martha Stewart Living magazine from my grandmother, a magazine that for inexplicable reasons she pays real cash money for from her very limited and very fixed income. Yes, you read that correctly, all of it, and Yes, I am a horrible person.
There are mitigating circumstances: I was visiting my grandmother’s house and had just been given my grandfather’s old briefcase, and in practicing carrying it in the manner of someone who is actually important I determined that it would work best with things inside it, so I grabbed some papers and magazines from my grandma’s counter and stuffed them in and then we left her house very quickly and before I knew what was happening I’d left Michigan without removing the papers… and I didn’t mean to do it but the ugly fact is that I ended up taking her magazine home with me to Seattle.
I didn’t intend to take it, but then measuring morality in intentions is about as useful as measuring air quality in pajama-softness. It’s what you did that counts, and the ugly and unavoidable fact is I committed this atrocious act.
Even worse, this specific magazine promised to, “Make it your best Thanksgiving ever” with pages of holiday recipes, which raises the troubling question, How could my poor old grandmother enjoy the BEST THANKSGIVING EVER without Martha’s culinary guidance?
I can feel the reader’s growing ire, but let’s just be honest here: there’s a better chance of Rick Santorum marshaling a Pride Parade through the Castro than there is of my grandmother making Martha Stewart’s Cauliflower, Red Onion and Chestnut Tart or Chocolate Cabbage Leaves with Candied Beet Chips. After decades of eating the drab, palate-numbing pabulum this woman passes off as food I can quell the reader’s concern by assuring you that this Turkey-day kerfuffle was resolved in one of three ways:
1) A can of green beans was opened into a casserole; a can of cream-of-mushroom soup was poured atop this; the combination was baked and then topped by fried onions, also from a can.
2) A pumpkin pie was baked with filling that came not from a pumpkin grown in the earth, but from a can.
3) The piece de resistance: a lone can of cranberry sauce was opened and its gelatinous and grossly unnatural bruise-colored contents were placed in a quivering, can-shaped heap atop a piece of her finest china.
So there you have it: my sins of 2011. My dirty laundry publicly aired. There may have been one or two more, but trust me, they weren’t anything that bad.
And with that out of the way I’m finally ready for 2012. It’s going to be a big year: I turn 35 in a couple months, and it’s rumored that this time maturity may finally gain some ground on chronology.
My own list of resolutions for the new year is very personal, very short and I think very realistic. Hopefully next year’s reckoning won’t be as shameful as this one was. I can’t promise much except that I’ll do my best to steer clear of grandma’s Reader’s Digests.