Wednesday, January 13, 2010

COLUMN: You say you want a resolution?

You’ll recall how around this time last year, I resolved that in 2009 I would become “a spectacularly wealthy icon of material success.” As you may have gathered, things didn’t quite work out that way, or else instead of typing this I’d be out stomping on all the little people.

Yes, I was once again frustrated by my own lack of ability to keep a simple New Year’s resolution. This is a common problem, since New Year’s resolutions are actually just little lies we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better about facing the coming year. You know, things like “I’m going to lose weight!” or “I’m going to get organized!” or “People like me!”

So instead of shooting for some pie-in-the-sky goal like good health or better work habits, I decided that this year I’d resolve to be more realistic, and try for the following:

1) Watch more TV. I used to love TV; I loved TV like a seagull loves a half-eaten bag of Cheetos, or like Lady Gaga loves walking around with entire live animals on her head. As a kid, I looked forward with breathless anticipation to the edition of the TV Guide that previewed all the new Saturday morning cartoons; I would sit there for hours with a Magic Marker circling the shows I planned to watch, until it was time for the neighborhood jocks to come to my house and give me noogies.

But sadly, I’ve somehow gotten away from television — for the first time in my life, there’s no show that I watch regularly. This is because my prime-time hours are now spent getting the kids to bed, working on various side projects (such as the comic strip I’m developing about a cat who loves lasagna), and writing my novel, by which I mean, “illegally downloading music.” And also, I’m concerned that TV now stinks like Fred Sanford’s backyard.

Still, I hear shows like “Mad Men,” “True Blood” and “Modern Family” are all worth my time, even if none of them happens to feature a character named Wojciehowicz. (I also have high hopes for this “Jersey Shore” program. It looks classy.) So if you need me, I’ll be on the couch, remote in hand. The kids can get themselves to bed for a change.

2) Eat more. Every year I make the mistake of resolving to eat less — specifically, less cake, less cookies, less pizza with sausage and meatballs, less deep fried seafood, french fries and onion rings washed down by a giant glass of Coke with ice … Mmm, onion rings and Coke … I’m sorry, what were we talking about?

Oh, right, eating less. Whenever I resolve on Jan. 1 that from here on in nothing will cross my lips that isn’t green and leafy, by Jan. 2 my stomach cavity is reverberating like Chuck Barris is down there banging on a little gong. By the 3rd I’m starting to picture skinny people as giant hot dogs and heavy people as hamburgers, like castaways in a Looney Tunes cartoon, and by the end of the week I’ve woken up naked in the bakery aisle at DeMoulas, surrounded by crumpled Ring Ding wrappers and knowing that something’s gone horribly wrong.

So this year I’m going to go the opposite route and pledge to eat just a little bit more of everything, so I don’t wind up eating too much of any one thing. And as for the extra calories, I’m going to make up for them by doing more exercise! By which I mean, “illegally downloading music.”

3) Be less organized. Every year I resolve to eliminate the eight to 12 piles of old memos, outdated printouts and vintage newspapers that have taken up residence on my desk, or at least to give them helpful names to remember them by. (This way when I need something I can say to myself, “Ah, I think I left that one in Fred,” etc.)

Since by the end of the year I invariably have more piles than when I started, I’ve decided this year to abandon any semblance of order and spend the year gradually devolving into chaos. In fact, all this making of deadlines and naming of piles may be exactly what’s holding me back — if I free myself up from the psychic manacles of conventional organization, I may actually have the wherewithal I need to truly excel. Maybe even become a spectacularly wealthy icon of material success.

Also, “People like me!”

This column appeared originally in North Shore Sunday. Peter Chianca is a managing editor for GateHouse Media New England. Follow him on Twitter at To receive At Large by e-mail, write to, with the subject line “SUBSCRIBE.”

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