Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle Self-Improving Summer

By Margaret Moser

JULY 19, 1999:  People make a big deal out of New Year's resolutions. Not me. The New Year means nothing in terms of promises to myself I'll never keep. I make resolutions, yes. I just ignore them.

Lose weight. Exercise more. Spend time more productively. Stop smoking. Noble goals all, but let's face it, they last about as long as the leftover turkey, completely forgotten by Valentine's Day. Easter candy only serves to unleash those nagging voices that say "six weeks until you get into a bathing suit."

I have a much better idea: Summer resolutions. You probably made your New Year's resolutions lit up on champagne -- not exactly the prime mental state for making life-changing commitments. Imagine making life-altering decisions when you've had some time to think about them, like since New Year's. Now is the time to decide what is and isn't important, and where your so-called priorities lie.

These are the six things I came up with:

1. Lose Weight

2. Exercise More

3. Read More

4. Stop Wasting Time

5. Organize the Time I Have Stopped Wasting

6. Stop Watching Soap Operas During the Day

Seems easy enough. The challenge is in finding a way actually do them. What a rude awakening it will be to discover that we are expected to actually carry through with these resolutions and won't be able to shrug them off with an "I was drunk on champagne." Let's see if any of my resolutions are realistic.


1. Lose Weight

Fortunately for me, this is a common goal, or so the women's magazines have blabbed since February. Actually, they tell you all year 'round. They either try to get you "Lose Weight for That Holiday Dress!" or "Get Fit for Summer!" Either way, I am not on the program. It's not that I can't find a diet -- I have a hundred. It's finding the one that includes eating Whole Foods chocolate bars and getting Pizza Nizza delivered.


illustration by Jason Stout

2. Exercise More

See above. Despite living within walking distance of the Continental Club and the Town Lake Hike & Bike Trail, exercise somehow keeps getting reduced to a) trips to and from the mailbox (twice if I am too early!) and b) trips to and from the swimming pool. One trip to the mailbox was to receive the Tae-Bo exercise tapes that have since gathered dust along with the 13 six-hour videotapes I have taped of programs and specials devoted to Diana, Princess of Wales (including the wedding, the funeral, and two made-for-TV movies).

3. Read More

This noble goal is easily accomplished if I can get as far as 2b and add a pair of sunglasses with those nifty stick-on magnifiers. About two years ago I realized I could no longer read most CD booklet text because the print was so tiny. I started wearing reading glasses. Soon, the number of cute little half-glasses in bright colors littering every surface of my home rose in direct proportion to the rate at which my eyes got increasingly worse. I switched to bifocals and discovered that the glasses weren't coming off at all during day except during my mid-afternoon nap, my pre-prime-time-TV nap, and my late night-before-beginning-a-night-of-writing nap. Oh yeah, wear sunscreen.

4. Stop Wasting Time

This is the tough call. What I see as perfectly legitimate time spent rearranging bookshelves may not seem important to anyone else, but I tackle it with vigor and imagination. That's why you'll naturally find all of the SubGenius books filed in my religion/philosophy section by the pagan books. My friends, however, would probably equate "stop wasting time" with "stop playing on the Net." I'm not playing, I'm doing research! I am! Checking out "The Hamster Dance" and making Britney Spears crash in a pickup truck are legitimate pursuits of the writer who writes about cyberspace and the Net. Sometimes.

5. Organize the Time I Have Stopped Wasting

Okay, so this one is problematic, too. What good does it do to set my e-mail every 15 minutes instead of by the minute if I keep watching the clock to see how long it is before I'll know whether or not I had mail? I sit and wonder if I will get mail. If I don't get mail, I become unhappy and spend timing fretting over mail I haven't received when I have a buttload of mail I haven't replied to yet. E-mail is the devil in computer disguise.

6. Stop Watching Soap Operas During the Day

Heh. Remember that joke where the guy with the broken fingers asks if he'll still be able to play piano? When the doctor says yes, the guys says, "Good, because I couldn't before!" Well, I don't watch soap operas during the day -- this trick resolution is included to fool myself into thinking that I have accomplished something. I did, however, recently subscribe to the Disney Channel on a whim, and it's changed my watching habits at night. No, not the dippy contemporary programs, the dippy old ones. I'm all wrapped up in Spin & Marty and Annette, every night at 11:30pm, followed by a classic Disney movie, then a newer movie, and finally at 4am, an hour of vintage Disney animation. Yeah, it's major nostalgia stuff, but I write best at night, especially very late at night.

The real reason I don't watch soaps during the day is because I sleep through too many of them or would rather listen to John Aielli.

So there you have it. Make a resolution and I will find a way to avoid it. I've often envied those rich and famous folks who have people surrounding them like a personal trainer, a personal shopper, and a maid. In my life, I'd have Jiminy Cricket follow me around. "Eat this." "No, don't eat that." "Stop watching Darby O'Gill and get to work." Oh sure, it might get annoying, but it'd be for my own good. I'd only have to listen to the little insect chirp endlessly and tune him out just like Pinocchio did unless some big whale of a writing assignment comes along to swallow my time and justify not following the annual endeavors ... or until the New Year rolls around and I can make a new set of resolutions to ignore.


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