This is not going to be one of those blog posts where I declare that by Spring 2016 I’m going to look like Christie Brinkley, who by the way, what the hell? I mean, you can see signs that she’s not 25 anymore, but you have to look through a Helium Ion Microscope to do it. What you can’t see are signs that she ever spent more than a couple of weekends on a diet of Funyuns and Hoarders. Or ever gave birth to another person. Or ever had a middle-schooler in her charge. Give me a freaking break. Propping up Christie Brinkley as a goal when you’re 57-years-old but with the discipline of a second grader with ADHD is just setting yourself up for failure.
I’m also not going to proclaim that I’m going to spend less time on Facebook, live in the moment more, commune with nature, take more hikes on wooded trails, unplug, get in touch with my inner Thoreau. That all sounds good, but it’s just not going to happen.
Also not on the 2016 agenda? Giving up coffee, wine, junk food, and anything else that when consumed in moderation isn’t hurting anyone. When your favorite snack is Snyder of Hanover Sourdough Nibbler Pretzels you get a pass. The fact that I have no intention of being moderate with any of those things and in fact plan to dip each nibbler in crab dip before stuffing it in my mouth doesn’t count. Because moderation. And fifty-seven.
Here’s what I am going to do.
I will spend more of my time reading
I have put myself on a reading schedule that is so aggressive it’s almost violent. If someone could be an eccentric reading beast, it’s going to be me in 2016. I used to read a book a week and then a few years ago lost my concentration. This year I read 15 books, which I can only admit publicly because I vow to bury that statistic this upcoming year.
Putting together my 2016 reading plan involves three separate charts, two reference websites and my top- secret advisory council on Goodreads. I gleefully put it together with two glasses of wine and eight pecan tarts the day after Christmas.
I won’t go into all the details, because they’re too boring and I haven’t color-coded them yet, but next year I’m going to be reading all the books on my To Read shelf in my living room (starting with all the books that don’t go with my new loveseat), plus half of the books on the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction list, which I plan to borrow from the Kindle Unlimited subscription that my husband bought me for Christmas. To do this, I have to read 50 paper pages a day and about 25 e-book pages while on the elliptical at the gym. Thus –
I’m going to go to the gym more often but not for the reasons other people go to the gym
I’m not going to try to lose weight or develop any muscles in 2016. My muscles are fine. And my weight is – shut up. But those 25 pages aren’t going to read themselves. My idea of the perfect e-reading nook is the elliptical machine second to the left.
Plus the gym is a great source of material. I took a steam there once and roughed out an entire comedy screenplay starring the woman who sat naked, her chin resting on one knee, reading the Chron editorial page.
If the end result of all the gym-iness is that I lose weight, I hope it’s not so much that I have to buy new clothes. I’m as happy with my wardrobe now as I ever have been. And spending more time clothes shopping is not on the list this year.
I will start volunteering and learn Russian
In an attempt to start unblurring the line between my work day and my spare time, at some point in the afternoons, I’m going to close the laptop lid, put on a raincoat and go do some shit. This will require that I have an actual work day and act like I’m At Actual Work and not just filling time in between folding sheets and customer service phone calls. This, in turn, will require that I use my spare time to make those calls to Anthem Blue Cross for the 15-minute paradoxical discussions on the four-dimensional overlap of pre-unmet-deductible coverage and post-cap out-of-pocket costs, and other phone calls that require a PTSD nap.
Starting in January, I’m going to start volunteering at a homeless support center. As a former full-time volunteer, my past two years have been embarrassingly uncharitable. I have a lot of catching up to do, so look out, homeless guys and gals! Especially Sean and Ryan, the two guys I came across while in the ER at St. Francis Hospital last month. You two are my inspiration to help find solutions to the San Francisco homeless problem so you no longer find yourself peeing on a pediatric cart in the triage room or eating a ham sandwich that you pulled out of your pants in a wheelchair. Stay tuned for more on that.
And in late February, if Sean and Ryan and Company don’t keep me too busy, I plan to start Russian lessons. I haven’t learned a new language since I took Greek in college and my expectations are about as low as you can get. Russian is a beautiful language with a beautiful alphabet. Plus I’m determined to communicate with my son’s in-laws without portraying myself as a baby-obsessed chatterbox with Tourette’s and Alzheimer’s. Stay tuned for more on that, as well.
Happy new year to you all, and good luck to those of you who plan to unplug, lose weight, give up alcohol, and go to the gym to exercise. Christie and I are rooting for you from opposite sides.