Your Girl’s First Ever New Year’s Resolutions

Is that me, making a New Year’s resolution?  Check me for fever, quick!

Lightly tapping myself with a rolling pin to make sure I'm awake--and not making any of this up

I have always been firmly of the non-resolutin’ kind.  I secretly scoffed at people who made resolutions and posted them to their fridges and, depending on how evil I felt towards the innocuously resolving person, I’d remember their resolutions so I could secretly gloat at my wisdom in not making resolutions if they failed at theirs.  What can I say?  Holidays and scheduled merrymaking occasions bring out the misanthrope in me.

More than my perverse desire to flout calendrically-dictated conventions, however, the real reason behind my resolution phobia is my fear of setting goals and not accomplishing them.  Make a list of Laura Improvement, let everyone know it, fail miserably, hate myself for the remaining months of the year, and provide fodder for other secret misanthropes to gloat at my shortcomings?  No ta, I’ll pass and wait to improve myself until April.  And so it went for years and years.

This year, however, I was shocked to find that not only did I no longer want to cackle whenever the dreaded three words “New Year’s resolutions” were uttered in my presence by well-meaning and kinder-than-me folk, I actually WANTED to set some for myself!  I came to this realization in mid-December and, like everything else I ever do, I mulled it over slowly for the next few weeks.  I mean, at the very least I have a Grinchy reputation to keep up, and this new development does not  fit my carefully cultivated image.

So ponder I did, and I started to get my head around the kinds of things I could resolve to do.  I wish I could be as cool about it as Little A, whose New Year’s resolution is to chew more slowly (I kid you not, and I kindly ask her to confirm in the comments, should she be reading, that this is so). But I wanted to do a bit more and aim higher, bolstered by the kind of teary-eyed and silly self-confidence that comes from having set some goals (completely informally and without telling anyone, mind you) this year and reached them. 

I wanted my resolutions to cut across all levels of importance and to carry through short, medium, and longer-term goals.  I wanted to be able to accomplish some of them on a daily or weekly basis (if only so I could ego-boost regularly) and I wanted to have some that would make me get sappy and emotional once I hit them.

So, lengthy preamble over, I unveil my first ever New Year’s resolutions, as finally penned in my bird notebook at JFK airport on Monday night:

  1. Put less sugar in my oatmeal. I gasp at the three teaspoons it takes sometimes to make me happy in the mornings.  I need to get over it.
  2. Train for a 10K in the fall–should no 10K races be on in Trinidad, I will train as if there was one on or by November 15.
  3. Manage my time better–but without giving myself stress over it, as I always have.
  4. Eat more crudites as snacks.  Carrots WILL be my friends.
  5. Organize my sewing stuff so the sewing area doesn’t look like it’s been freshly hit by a tornado.
  6. Be able to swim fifty laps in an hour by the end of the year.  I’m currently at 30 laps in about 50 minutes (or 1:15-1:20 per lap), so I’m aiming high on this one, as it’s a lap in a minute and a second or two.
  7. Write one page a day of prospective material at least three times a week (more at less busy times).  Mamalicious knows what I mean by this.
  8. Make one new recipe a week (I should aim for, say, six new recipes a month, but hitting one a week will do).
  9. Pitch some writing ideas (either for completed or tailor-written pieces) for publication in the great big Out There.
  10. Keep a clean, debris-and-rotting-fruit-free handbag at all times.
  11. Act like I’m New Stress-Free Laura on Christmas Break at least 75% of the time.  The world did not end when I did not cook/clean/etc. exactly when I wanted to over the break. Lesson learned–so I plan on digging the laissez-faire this year.

I think I can handle these, don’t you?  I deliberately set eleven because ten is a pretty standard number of resolutions, and even though I’ve succumbed to resolution-making, I’m still an anarchist at heart.  The Chosen Eleven will be printed on nice paper and stuck onto the fridge and an original copy of the scrawly list will be kept in my wallet once I use up the bird notebook.  The challenge is on…

The Last Holiday Mop-Up (I Think…)

In the madness of Christmas-doing, Christmas trying-to-post and Christmas failure-to-do-so-regularly, I completely overlooked giving my pre-Christmas trip to Toronto to visit my friend and fellow shortie Dr. Teeny with Mr. Man its bloggy due.  Dr. Teeny was Mr. Man’s fellow PhD student/sufferer (and a hangout-loving, good-temper-having, integral part of my Witch Circle) back in the Coventry days and no visit to the northern climes is complete without an old-school meetup.

We had a blast eating, drinking, watching the latest Almodovar (I heart big cities with art cinemas, le sigh) and, most of all, gabbing and gossiping about everyone we know and love/hate.

Best done in a few priceless pics:

My favorite ad campaign, featuring cheeky monkeys, on display at the Toronto Eaton Centre

The Rivoli, where we stopped for a surprisingly quiet drink after some shopping and freezing

Sake, sushi and crunchy soybeans (I think!)--that's how you start a Korean food feast

Kimchee soup

Beef bibimbap--rice with beef, vegetables and fried egg with spicy soy-based dressing and served in a baked clay pot. I NEED to learn how to make this.

No trip to Toronto is complete without a hot dog-stand stop for Italian sausage and all the fixins

Toronto walker

And now, back to our normal programming!

The day-to-day business of wearing:

Target boutique top, H and M pants, and foxy Target shoes (the only new thing I'm wearing here-sorry to bore you!)

Closer view of my new shoes--they are sweet suede flatties, since I feel no need these days to pretend I'm taller than 5'1

Eating:

Bet you missed my oatmeal pictures--that would be cranberry oatmeal, eaten at work with some tea in a very unstylish cup

Salad with tomatoes, chickpeas, and peppers in a harissa vinaigrette over lettuce

Went to China with my wok tonight-white rice, omelette in spicy tomato sauce, and sesame soy green beans

And exercising:

Who did her 30th (and final) lap nine seconds faster than her average lap? And who now knows this thanks to her wondrous new heart rate monitor watch and its amazing lap-recording and chronometer wizardry, which she has yet to learn how to use properly?

Continues.

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Edited to note:  Little A has indeed replied below, and I hold her to both resolutions–next year’s Freezer 5K better have THREE Weapons of Ass Destruction on the road!

Back to Reality

My dear blog peeps, I’m so sorry to have left y’all abandoned and alone for so many days!  I hope you will find it in your gracious hearts to forgive me, or at least pity me for what the last week of my Christmas break turned into…

So, about that last week.  It could be summed up thusly:  stank sewer water cleanup, snow, and sickitude, all of the first degree.

The Stank Sewer Water Cleanup

Remember the disgraceful mess outside my mother’s house caused by the digging for a clog in the pipe outside?  Well, what I may not have noted was that the flood in the basement was two inches high in some places, and that the water was backed-up drained water from household use, which included sink water, bathwater, and….  the rest I leave to your imagination.  The plumbers who came managed to drain the water away, but of course they were not responsible for cleaning up the rest of the mess, their sole job being to dig up the entirety of my mom’s lawn and remove the clog.  Obviously.

So, last Wednesday (the day before New Year’s Eve), after attending the wake for Juan Diego’s grandfather (JD being Baby Bel’s wonderful, nutty, and mega-tall boyfriend) who sadly died a few days after Christmas, Baby Bel and I dressed in our mankiest clothes, screwed up our courage, blasted some music, and cleaned out the basement (well, most of it–we left a closet for the boys to have their own nasty cleaning experience).  We stuffed garbage bags with all the junk that had been stored on the floor and threw away half the contents of the basement.  We tossed toys that made it from my 80’s childhood into her 90’s one and joked that our childhoods had been washed away by the sewer water and sang loudly any time we were tempted to puke at the nastiness of the basement.  We doused the floors with ammonia and rinsed and mopped, times three or four.  We did a damn good job and finished in about two hours, which was as long as we could stand the ammonia and stinkwater fumes without fainting, and I’m sure we both dreamed of that foul basement.

The whole disgusting experience served to further strengthen my stance on home ownership:  no thanks.  I’d rather be very Continental and rent for the rest of my days–because if MY basement ever flooded, I’d pick up my scant belongings and move.

The Snow

I lived in Buffalo for plenty enough years to accept that yes, it snows.  But this time, the snow came with extremely cold temperatures–I’m talking a day-time high of 11 F on one particular joy of a winter day.  Not only did it snow every day for that last week, but the skies were 3 pm-dark ALL DAY LONG.  So there were no nice winter walks for coffee and bookstore fun, no ice-skating, no park runs, no nothing.  The family and I just huddled, shivered, and froze.

The Sickitude

As if seeing her basement provide a display of dirty waterworks weren’t enough, my mother spent the last week of my visit in a fog of flu with a helping of ear infection.  She’s a tough one and generally powers through anything, but this thing knocked her out and she spent the week in bed, tossing and turning and looking extremely pitiful.  Though she tried to keep us all far away, we still tended to her like dutiful daughters.

Unfortunately, some of her germs must have drifted my way and, combined with the germery that was the basement cleanup job, they did a number on me too.  On New Year’s Eve I woke up with the worst stomachache I’d ever had and some nasty flu-like symptoms as well.  To make matters worse, I had been the back-up hostess for New Year’s celebrations (given my mom’s state) and I had to back out of making dinner and merriness for the family and friends that night, which was extremely upsetting to me (yeah, I love my family and friends, but I also love hosting like an adult with grown-up china and sufficient cutlery).

Luckily, the stomach pains subsided long enough for me to get showered and dressed on New Year’s Eve and I managed to join the sisters, sister boyfriends, and a couple of sister friends downstairs, where I presided over kindly muted festivities from underneath the blankets on my sick couch.  I toasted the New Year with a tiny sip of champagne, threw water out over my shoulder on the porch to get rid of my bad luck (Puerto Rican tradition) right afterwards, went upstairs with the elephant-stampeding sisters and fam to wish my mother Happy New Year’s from six feet away, and then fell asleep while the Wii party went on around me.

After that, it was two more days before I felt normal, and I didn’t actually make it out of the house in a unmedicated state until Sunday.  I did, however, make Mr. Laura drag me out to my favorite bookstore on Saturday afternoon–sometimes you have to risk vomit and subsequent embarrassment for books, and no way was I letting this bug stop me from stocking up on good reads for the next six months in Trinidad.

But, apart from that (ha!), the visit home was an overall score!  Here are some pictures of the rest of the visit, from New Year’s Eve on, just to prove my point:

New Year's Eve family time, the photo taken from my sick couch--Miggi, Little A, The Mop, and Baby Bel joke it up

Minxy, Baby Bel, and yours truly, wearing masks before sitting with Sick Mama, as per her request the day she insisted she had "the H1N1, oy"

Minxy, Little A, Baby Bel and her Juan Diego--this is what happens when my family gets together to watch movies

Italian sausage and peppers pasta, courtesy of Baby Bel's cooking chops

Little A and Baby Bel enjoying snacks during a Flight of the Conchords marathon

The snow, the snow, the snow...

"Our" dog (borrowed from next door), the massively fat Bella

Hamming with Mamalicious and Little A before jumping on my jet plane

On a zen-like and very un-Laura tip, I feel ridiculously proud of myself for good behavior  on this break, despite the circumstances.  To wit:

  • I did not revert to the competitive-eating antics of yore.
  • I ran AND did strength training five times in the first week-ish (before disaster hit), and even had a 5K PR of 31:40!
  • I did not stress out, mini-mom-style, about much of anything this time around.   Being an older sister (and by a lot to the youngest two), my visits home tends to bring out a people-organizing, big-pots-of-food-making, stressy-and-naggy-and lectur-y side of me that I really hate, because I’m not like that in my day-to-day life.  I used to feel very old and very uncool after visits home because I would fall into that behavior and then beat myself up for it afterwards (your chica has guilt complexes that would make a good Catholic marvel).  I had resolved I would NOT revert to this me this time.  And surprise surprise,  I didn’t, and we still ate and came and went and had a great time–a better time, dare I say, for it.
  • I didn’t sob at the airport for the two hours between parting with the fam and getting on the flight, which is my usual MO.  (I did, however, cry three times on Monday before heading to the airport, so it may have been that I was out of tears).  This is a serious accomplishment because I am a HUGE weeper when I leave home and it’s a source of great amusement to my family.  Yes, I’ve lived away from home (and mostly out of the US) for eight years now, and I still cry like a five year old, snotfully and needing plenty of tissues, every single time I leave.  Whatever, I’m not ashamed–and they DO say that crying (or not bottling it up) keeps you young.
  • My suitcases were packed but not overweight, despite undertaking my usual twice-yearly-when-at-home shopping binge.

So that’s my visit home.

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And, after an uneventful but tiring red-eye flight back to Trinidad on Monday night, I made it to my humble abode yesterday morning, unpacked my stuff, and have restarted my campaign to be favorite owner to the dog and a good blogger worthy of your reading exertions.  Regular outfit/dinner/etc. blogging will resume after this post, once I dust off the mirror and plate cobwebs–and get Mr. Laura to fix our laptop’s internet-getting card whatchamacallit, which has refused to connect to the internet since we poked and prodded at its security settings to get wifi access at JFK airport on Monday.