Thursday, January 01, 2009

Self-improvement, tentatively pencilled in for the next 12 months

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Before moving on to 2009, I think it would be constructive and enlightening to cast a brief look back at 2008, recapping some of the highlights of the year that was.

2008 sucked. Just -- ugh. Fucking awful.

OK! So here are my New Year's resolutions for 2009, off the top of my head:

- Write more often here. Someday, and it's probably going to be sooner than we can imagine, a nerd somewhere in America is going to invent a device that you implant in your brain which sends your every waking thought to your online social network. You think about cheese, and boom -- the brain chip updates your Facebook status to say "Dan is ... thinking about cheese." You have a fleeting idea that maybe "Mad Men" is overrated, and instantly your brain uploads a 500-word post to your blog. We're already 95 percent of the way there (I'm looking at you, Twitter). Until then, though, I'll have to have actual thoughts and type them out. I'm going to attempt to do that more often, is all I'm saying.

- Write shorter blog posts. Because how much misplaced outrage and yammering on about beer can people stomach? Speaking of which:

- Drink more beer. I'm not saying, "Get plastered," because I hate plasterization. I mean sampling some new beers I've never tried before. I've scouted the packy up the street from me, and it appears their selection of beers may hold my interest for a while. On a related note, my wife and I should probably do a wine-tasting sometime in 2009, because we're now in our early 30s, and people in their early 30s must attend wine-tastings.

- Read more. Essentially, I read for a living. So when I'm at home, I don't do as much reading as I once did. I have a stack of novels and collections and nonfiction books I have yet to crack open and which are mocking me. I've had Underworld by Don DeLillo bowing my bookshelf for years, unread. I had a grand notion once that I'd tackle the U.S.A. trilogy by Dos Passos, and instead The 42nd Parallel sat for months on a side table in the living room, the cover curling from being in steam heat, then summer humidity, then steam heat again. Mason & Dixon by Pynchon. Books on skepticism by Joe Nickell and Michael Shermer. An essay collection by David Foster Wallace. Sensing a pattern, that maybe I'm trying too hard? Maybe I should start with something small and easy -- one of those books with big thick pages, about bunnies or ducklings with a bit of fluffy fabric built into the cover.

- Write more. I have a master's degree in creative writing. I should use it, as opposed to being a moron.

- Go to finishing school to relearn basic table manners. I have noticed over the past year that my eating habits are atrocious -- specifically, how I eat. Because of my dumb work schedule, most of my meals are eaten alone and hastily. So when I do eat around other people, I always make a mess because I've gone so long without caring. I spill soy sauce all over the table when my wife and I are at sushi restaurants. Something always falls off my fork onto the table. I get stains on my shirts and on the crotches of my pants. I'll bite into something like a vegetable or a piece of chicken, and a chunk of the remaining bit will hang out of my mouth for a second and then drop off. I knock restaurant tables with my knees and send the napkins flying. I'll overestimate the sharpness of my front teeth and realize halfway through a piece of beef that I can't bite through. My latest thing: seems like every meal, I'll attempt the impossible by chewing and breathing simultaneously, shooting a morsel of food into my windpipe. I'll flail my arms, coughing and sputtering and clattering the silverware and turning purple while my wife waits to see if it's serious enough to put her spoon down. Then somehow I work my alimentary canal in such a way that I dislodge it and gasp for air like a landed fish. Every goddam meal, this. I used to eat politely -- you know, like a human being not raised by wolves. Got to improve that.

One of these resolutions is screwed already -- another long blog post. What a start.
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