29 December, 2016

Resurrecting dead machines, new year resolutions, and other powerfully mixed cocktails

Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man. -- Benjamin Franklin
 

Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut. -- Ernest Hemingway

Last night over dinner with my father and mother-in-law, the topic of new years resolutions came up. I am, not uncharacteristically, close to the chest about those kinds of things. It's not that I don't want to share; it has more to do with my lagging cynicism about them. Most people make resolutions they have very little chance of fulfilling. This isn't because of a lack or absence of resoluteness, fortitude, or good intention.

Generally, people box themselves in when they make resolutions. My wife pointed out the other night when we were talking about this very same topic at home that a large part of why people tend to fail at resolutions is because they word them in a punitive way.

  • People proclaim their need to get a bikini body before warm weather (in spite of never having a bikini body by the usual unrealistic and self-loathing driven standards) and swear they will undertake a strict dietary and workout regiment. 
  • More than one member of the midnight choir has proclaimed that THIS YEAR, BY GAWD will be the year they stop drinking and act like an adult.* 
  • Some people swear off destructive relationships before running off into the night with their heretofore nameless NYE fuck buddy.
The last time I made any NYE resolutions and actually SPOKE them aloud on NYE, I believe I was three quarters of a case of beer and a bottle of cheap rye** into a night that I still, to this day, don't really remember. For all I know, I promised to quit drinking and join the Hari Krishna's.***

I am grateful to this day that social media didn't exist 20 years ago.


And while that annoying cynical voice keeps telling me that resolutions are ridiculous, that it's nothing more than setting myself up for an inevitable feeling of failure and dissolution at the end of 2017, the optimistic part of me that has been resurrected over the last few years**** reminds me that setting goals is a form of forward thinking. It helps to have a general direction you want to go before setting off on the road, and if that tired old cliche about life being a journey has any validity at all... which it probably does, or it wouldn't be a tired old cliche... then I need to set goals for 2017.

A couple of those things are in process. Thanks to my amazing wife, I received a punching bag and gloves for Christmas. Over the last year, I've had to come to terms again with the fact that I do, actually, in spite my best intentions, have a bit of a temper and a few anger issues that aren't all that easy to resolve. So, rather than turning all that anger internally -- which will hurt me -- or externally without focus -- which hurts other people, usually people I love -- I will direct it at a punching bag. I'll never be a boxer, but that doesn't mean I can't feed the pugilist in my soul.

I also decided to resurrect my old manual typewriter. It's a 1957 portable Olympia, which was Sears' market answer to the Smith Corona. It was a gift from my brother and now-ex-sister-in-law. I used it when I lived in New Orleans in a "reconditioned" crack house^. I hammered out two complete drafts of my master's thesis in graduate school. I've written more on that typewriter than I have ever shown the world. And while it will never replace this blog, or my various projects in the digital world, there is something about coming back to the machine that makes me feel good. And if feeling good is wrong for a resolution, I don't want to be right.

I'm also reaching an important mile marker in that I will turn 44 in February. I've considered every year since 27 dumb luck and every year after 33 an undeserved blessing. So here's mud in yer eye, 44.  In spite of myself and a short list of people with questionable taste, I'm still alive and kicking. Ninny- ninny-boo-boo.

2016 has been an up and down year for me. I finally and officially was divorced from higher education. I spent 6 months trying to find another gig, only to find one that, while the pay was decent, the hours took me away from all the things I was working to maintain. I lost friends. I pissed people off. I stepped back from my obligations to speak out and agitate. I hope to spend 2017 building bridges and repairing relationships, spending more time writing and creating and speaking truth to power in these, the waning days of Babylon.

I'd also like to take a dancing class. So there.

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* "Adult" is a subjective term. Hence, most underage drinking is the result of cultural taboo and the notion that it's so fucking grown up to chase oblivion.
**Yes, there was cheap rye once upon a time... before the Hipsters got a hold of it and wanted to be all ironic and annoying.
***At least one of those was a prediction in my high school graduation yearbook. If you've known me that long, you know which one it was.
**** Life has been pretty great to me, actually. I'm luckier than I deserve.
^ When trying to picture this in your mind, use the word "reconditioned" liberally.  In theory the rooming house was supposed to be renovated. In reality... well, let me put this way. I had roommate. His name was Gregor. He was a cockroach. He was there first. He was there when I moved out.

If you like what you're reading here, I have work for sale on my amazon author page:
www.amazon.com/author/mickparsons
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