15 January, 2013

Resolution #1: Riding the Wagon

Before the hangover hit, last New Years was a good time. I remember it mostly through snapshots from my memory and retold stories from friends. Standing on the Longfellow Bridge, straining to see the fireworks that were blocked by the buildings in the financial district. Toasting pedestrians as they crossed, coming and going from the city proper. Little troves of boats gathered in a semi-circle on the water, one of them reflecting white Christmas lights which someone had strung over the bow. I sang Auld Lang Syne with (and at) other revelers as they streamed past, and felt like I knew all the words. It was a couple of magical moments.

But we all looked so happy...

After that, things start to get a lot more blurry. There was a car, my boyfriend (the DD), and a car ride on the highway back to his apartment in the middle of nowhere, Connecticut, because he had to work on New Years Day. There was a brief but intense moment of motion sickness, followed by a mandatory pitstop at the Blandford plaza. 

There were many sad people at the Blandford plaza that night, staring at themselves in the mirror outside McDonalds, mascara smudged, wobbling a bit, unsteady on their feet at such an hour. There was much sadness and some regret in that little rest stop off the highway. But there was also a silver lining, because it showed me that any man who will clean upholstery while a snifflingly sad girl wanders away and then saves her from giving away her mobile technology because, in her words, she no longer deserved access to the world wide web, well, then he is probably going to be a pretty good dad. I’m sure parenthood cannot get more trying than that.

After that night, I subsisted on plain pasta and crackers, and thought a lot about my life. People tend to do that when they’re housebound and sick, dreaming of the things that they’ll do once they’re back on their feet and contributing members of society. Self-induced sickness bears its own unique and painful cross, and the realizations borne there seem to carry a more substantial weight.

During this time, there was a lot of quiet reflection on the cool tile floor, wondering where it all went wrong. There was manic flipping through channels because, god damn it, nothing good was on tv, and people were talking just way too much to follow and haven’t we already seen the Magic Bullet informercial three times already?! Sunlight was no longer my friend, but a scathing laser beacon sent down from God reminding me of my bad choices. It reprimanded me, scolding me that that, elsewhere, children were playing on a playground, sliding down a slide and enjoying the way the warm sunlight hit their cheeks as it reflected off the metal. And I hated them. I hated these hypothetical children for their strong, nausea-free stomachs, for their carefree ability to walk around without loathing every muscle and bone and cell of their being, for their blissful ignorance of the hell that they would inevitably inflict upon their bodies at least once in their adulthood.

Some of the solo cup carnage.
It was not a pretty, nor overly empathetic couple of days.

Right then and there, in my dehydrated and chastened state, I made a decision: I would ring in the next New Years sober. Stone cold , devoid of any traditional adult imbibements, seatbelted firmly onto the wagon, abstemiously sober. It would be one of 52 resolutions that would come throughout the year. Because I wanted to do so much more than lie prostrate on bathroom floor, resenting my poor life choices and how much I still hadn't experienced. I was going to dance in the rain, shout off the edge of a cliff at the top of my lungs, visit the Grand Canyon, and do a whole bunch more meaningful but smaller-scale resolutions that I won’t put here in the hopes that you’ll keep reading my blog every week thinking that I’ll do something super exciting that you should totally tune in to.

But back to New Years. Though experienced with clear, unobscured eyes, New Years night itself was still pretty fun. I got to play emcee for what is arguably the most fun party game on earth, Scattergories, to a crowd thought I was more uproariously hilarious and clever as the night went on. There was a fire in the fireplace, delicious snacks, and loud sing alongs to classic songs from the '80s and '90s. The crowd commented how cold and sad the New Yorkers looked, packed so tightly together and slapping on smiles as the cameras panned by. We talked about how wonderful it was to have convenient and easy access to a rest room, and people refreshed their drinks. Then, like many Americans, we counted down from thirty as the ball dropped with Ryan Seacrest, and kissed cheeks and sang along to Auld Lang Syne when midnight came.

Soon after the stroke of twelve, I donned my new pink snuggie, courtesy of my mom and dad (thanks mom and dad!). The rest of the night was spent lounging in comfort, talking and laughing and singing and snacking. My memory starts to get muddled after four am because, honestly, my brain can no longer function past two in the morning. Boston shuts down after the last train at 12:25am, and my body and mind have completely acclimated. I don’t hate it, even on New Years. Even if I had been drunk... maybe.

Friends got in on the snuggie action.
Resolutions are all about learning about yourself, your limits, your strengths, the areas you want to improve. So what did we all learn here? Well, we learned that even someone who once wrote about how many different ways drinking was culturally acceptable and necessary to adulthood could survive, nay, thrive while sober at a social event focused around drinking and debauchery. We learned that people really like singing songs once they hit that certain point in the evening, and that if your song choices are familiar and reminiscent of their youth, well then, you're their new best friend. We learned that after a certain hour, one will be so much happier if they are in comfy clothes. And we learned that, above all, waking up on New Years before noon and grabbing breakfast with some friends is a pretty novel and fun experience, even if the rest of your friends were fairly hungover and one of your friends went to bed at 6am after sleeping in someone’s basement. And, sadly, we (I) learned that even when trying your best, you just may end up throwing up in the restaurant bathroom for unexplained reasons, feeling like the waiter is totally judging you even though you held true to your resolution of ringing in the New Year sober. But after all that, you can still go home and take a three hour nap because, hey, why not? You stuck to your guns, had some fun with friends, and set the tone for the rest of 2013.

You learned that it's going to be a good year.

For my next resolution, I will spend an afternoon in Starbucks “writing my novel.” And I will try to refrain from wearing black plastic frames, a big scarf, and donning an affected, “you will see my name in lights one day, plebians!” attitude. I will hopefully be mistaken for someone very, very important. And avoid passing out from a caffeine overdose because, you know, Starbucks. And live to tell the tale. Onwards to resolution #2!

09 January, 2013

One Thing

Why, hello. No, you are not mistaken, I am posting in my blog. You know why? Because it's 2013. It's a new year, ripe with possibilities and untarnished aspirations and countless goals and dreams for the coming months. New Years is a time to take a moment and take a deep breath, to spend some small amount of minutes reevaluating your life: where you are, what you’d like to do, and where you see yourself by the end of the year. At least, that's what it's always been like for me.

To me, New Years is the adult version of the first day of school. You gear up for it for weeks, imagining yourself in your best form, a person without that deeply annoying habit of biting your fingernails, of slouching, or of ending sentences with, "you know?," you know? When you're younger, you get a new wardrobe that can reinvent who you are, and more importantly, who you want to become. You get binders and pencils and books to make you smarter, and maybe even some new friends in new classes with new subject matter to make you grow into a more intelligent, more well-versed adult, the kind that knows things like where the golgi apparatus is inside a mitochondria and that can recite “Oh Captain, My Captain” at will.

Sadly, all that newness kind of goes away when you grow up. Sure, when you're older you get gym memberships that you're fully going to commit to this year (not like last year), maybe some new clothes for New Year’s Eve if you have a social gathering, but ultimately after school ends you lose that crisp exciting feeling of newness and resolve. Except for on New Years.

Looking at most of the adults I know, it seems like if you're lucky, you get a few days off from work to spend with friends, family, or Ryan Seacrest on tv, maybe sipping something deliciously bubbly but internally remarking how utterly unremarkable the stroke of midnight always seems to be. Except for New Years, because of the all-too-critical tradition of making important New Year’s Resolutions. Resolutions make the whole pomp and circumstance of New Years seem that much more definite, more life-changing. You can finally make a commitment to yourself on a significant day (and not just any random Tuesday) to run that marathon, to speak up more at work, to finally learn how to speak Spanish to seduce that sexy vecino of yours. You would know what vecino meant if you had committed to learning Spanish, already.

My resolution is a little different, and is something I'm referring to as my "one thing." Many moons ago, back when we Massachusetts people donned skimpy swim wear and visited tiny, rocky beaches and pretended that we didn't have work on Monday, I got sick with a little something that the doctors are pretty sure was maybe West Nile. The verdict is still out. But regardless of what it was, it was just plain awful. I spent many weeks slumped over, stuck over indoors, being ache-y, watching entire seasons of tv pass by on Netflix, and generally feeling a whole mess of self pity. I no longer considered myself a contributing member of society, heck- I just called it a small victory if I could get through the morning without puking. Those were not my shiniest, most noteworthy hours.

So, once I started to escape the confines of my sick bed, I decided I would do one good thing a day that would make me feel like a real person. Just one good thing. That good thing could count as me paying off a bill I had been putting off for far too long, or writing a little note to someone I had been thinking about, or spending an entire evening without the internet (gasp). These actions were not revolutionary or innovative by any means, but they did make me feel a little less guilty as I crawled into bed at night. Because if I did my one thing, then that day was not a waste. It was just one thing, but it made me feel like a better, more complete person, a real adult.

Gradually, I got healthier, but I still kept to my one thing. And as I got stronger, my one thing started to get stronger, too, expanding to include things like gathering friends I'd been meaning to see, taking trips home I'd been meaning to take, reading books I'd had on a wish list that dated back to well before college, maybe even high school. They started to take a bit longer than one day, and that’s why, for this New Years, I am expanding my list again. For it is, after all, a new year full of promise, opportunity, hopefully health, and god willing, going viral on YouTube. Because that is one thing that is on my list of things to do, see, or experience this year. Fingers crossed.

Some of these one things may be small, like spending an hour doing nothing (victory is only counted if I manage to not fall asleep), some may be slightly larger (like to take part in a protest for a cause I believe in), some involve other people (like to sing what is arguably the greatest sing-a-long song known to man, Walking in Memphis, at a karaoke bar) and some are just plain practical (learn how to shoot a gun, or to host an R. Kelly "Trapped in the Closet" marathon).

The point is to finally do all those things I'd been thinking, "hey, that'd be pretty cool, maybe one day.” Because today is that one day. This year is that year. And, of course, for posterity’s sake, I'll be writing about it and providing photographic evidence when possible. Because personal growth should be shared, and this is my blog, and if you think my life goals are dumb or this blog is dumb, you can take some advice from my crotchety old Armenian grandmother and go scratch. There, I said it.

My first resolution was to ring in the New Year sober. Did I fail the first of my resolutions? Or did I complete my first task because I remembered last New Years where I drank from a bottle of Kraken rum on the Longfellow Bridge, kissed random passersby, got sick in a car, and tried to give away my iPad to the kind women at the Blandford stop on the Mass Pike because I was convinced that a depraved being such as myself no longer deserved such nice things as access to the internet and touch screen capability? Will I tell you the whole story in the following post? Guess you'll just have to tune in next time to see.