Whenever I start the New Year with a plan to overhaul my bad eating/drinking/living habits, I wake up some time in March, on the couch with an empty bottle of Jack Daniel's at my feet and a half-eaten honey-baked ham clutched under my arm. Well, not this year, Mister. I'm wising up and scaling back. I'm making super-achievable mini-resolutions that'll get me off on the right foot for 2012, or whatever year it is. Maybe some of them will work for you too. If not, I've got half a honey-baked ham you can have instead.
1. Curse less. Maybe I'll get a jar or something. During a contentious meeting about funding Philly public schools last year, I told a representative from the city council that the state could "s--- my b---s." Now I'm known for this. I walk my son to school and women I've never met are like, "Hey, SMB!" So, yeah: less cursing, get a jar.
2. Volunteer at my kids' schools more. This might be a better idea than swearing at city council people.
3. Write love letters to Karel. A friend once said I get paid to write love letters to my wife, since I say nice things about her sometimes in this column. Really? This is what passes for a love letter? I can do better. I started writing because I was staying at home and I needed someone other than a 9-month-old to talk to, but the person I was writing to was always Karel. I wanted to crack her up, and impress her, and make her weak in the knees with my words. It's a job now (a job I love with readers I love), but maybe it would make Karel feel good to be reminded that she was the starting point and she'll always be the end point of the words I commit to paper. And, yes, maybe my notes for her eyes only will help me get lucky.
4. Stop smoking altogether. I really must get rid of the last 10 cigarettes a month. I don't even enjoy them. If I say that enough, I'll believe it, so maybe the resolution should be to repeat I don't enjoy those last 10 cigarettes a month more often.
5. Get the pictures of my kids off the computer. Karel does stuff with her pictures, like print them and frame them and use them on social media. Social media scares and confuses me, but I could print some of mine, I'm pretty sure.
6. Go to bed earlier. I don't need to stay up until 3 a.m. playing Fruit Ninja. Fruit Ninja is not worth a day of feeling like the hair ball my cat just coughed up.
7. Remember that punching a broken dishwasher can't fix it. In fact, I might go so far as to say punching broken dishwashers makes them more broken. Save punching for the gym and call a licensed repairman.
8. I'm not gonna diet, but I will eat more vegetables. Maybe even one of those hip vegetables like kale.
9. Organize my desk. I've been trying to get my office cleaned up and decorated for roughly two years. In my mind, accomplishing this will signify that I am an adult. I have been less than successful. When I sit at the one uncluttered corner of my desk, I type as gently as possible, in fear that the vibrations will topple the mountain of CD jewel cases stacked in another corner. So I'm going to start with one thing: I'll take these empty paper coffee cups and put them in the garbage. We'll see where that leads.
10. Declare Monday evenings technology-free. If I can make my Mondays meatless, I can make them stuffonmycat.com-less too. Man, I love that website-just pictures of cats, but with stuff on them! Even so, it's probably more important to have a nice conversation with Karel. I'll be back tomorrow, cats.
11. Go on a weekend vacation with Karel. We've been parents for seven years; now we need to reconnect as lovers. (I know lovers sounds gross, but we can probably only afford to go to Trenton, NJ, so don't worry, there won't also be a heart-shaped bed.)
12. I'm going to start playing Hacky Sack again. Two reasons: One, I can feel a midlife crisis coming on, and reliving my youth with pointless pastimes is better than having an affair or getting hair plugs. Two, Hacky Sack increases flexibility, which will come in handy on my lovers' weekend.
13. No more doughnuts. I can't give up sweets, but I can totally give up doughnuts. Mostly.
14. No more beer. I can't give up alcohol, but I can totally give up beer. Mostly.
15. Save my temper for people who deserve it. When my family got stuck in Houston because of a blizzard on the East Coast, the lady behind the ticket counter did not need to see Angry Aaron. She was having a bad day too, and doing the best she could. But I know better than to say I'm going to be a nicer guy this year. I'm not going to be nicer to the people who are jerks to the people I love, like the guy who flipped off my 70-year-old mom in a fit of road rage. That guy, that guy, is why Bad Aaron exists. I resolve to learn the difference.
16. Only go to the ATM once a week. Bank cards and credit cards make spending my money too easy. So I'm going back to cash. I'm taking out $60 on Monday, and if I run out by Tuesday, then tough, I'll need to learn how to do some old-timey bartering. Perhaps Akosh, the guy who runs the coffee shop, needs some personal essays written. Would my dentist like a ghost blogger?
17. Eat less bacon. When you eat bacon several times a day, it stops being special. Let's make bacon special again this year.
18. Get a Roomba. I'm burned out on vacuuming, and yet the floor still needs to be vacuumed. Also, I want a robot.
19. Talk to someone when I'm down. I struggle with depression sometimes-nothing too serious, but more than standard man moodiness. It's hard to get out of a dark place if you can't admit you're in one. This year, I'm promising that I'll talk to someone, even if it's the guy behind the counter at 7-Eleven after midnight. Pete's pretty smart, and he's a good listener, but if he's too busy monitoring the rotating hot dog roaster, then maybe I can suck it up and talk to a professional. Tony Soprano was man enough for therapy; so am I.
20. Take more time to appreciate my dog every day, because she's old.
21. Draw and paint more. Did you guys know that I never took a writing class, ever? Trust me, my editors are unsurprised. I barely finished an associates program, but I was an art student. I worked with oil and pastel. I loved drawing and painting, but somewhere along the way I decided I didn't have time for it anymore. Why do I think I don't have time for something that makes me happy? I do, and you do too. This year's gonna be better than doughnuts and cats (though maybe not cats with doughnuts on them).