Okay, it´s the New Year. I´ve made my resolutions. Here´s this year´s slapdash list and an inspirational essay, which you can feel free to skip and come back Friday for a review of the Indults.
I will not embrace the new technology. (By “new” I mean anything this side of a CD player.) I will not get a Treo, I will not learn to send or receive text messages. I will continue to bother Patty with my higher-level technical issues, like when my toolbar disappears, providing her with hours of low-cost mirth. I will continue to use the same three online passwords I have been using for the last 10 years.
I will give up on trying to change the burnt-out bulbs in our recessed lighting and learn to Embrace the Darkness. I will try to harness my special electrical superpowers (nobody blows bulbs like I do – they practically explode when I touch any light or lamp switch) and try to channel it towards the forces of good.
I will not get a tattoo, have an affair, or learn to play bridge. I will find a place within a two-hour drive (there must be one) where I can shoot clay pigeons.
I will read more books. I used to read; I remember. You´d think in all the time I spend not watching TV I´d read more books. I´m going to check out that Library Thing some of you blogged about. Also, by the way, I just read Dave Eggers´ new book, What is the What, which tells the novelized true story of Valentino Achak Deng, one of Sudan´s Lost Boys. I didn´t buy it because it was too depressing. Having received it as a Christmas gift, though, I read it in one sitting, because I couldn’t put it down. Yes, it is depressing — it’s also glorious and wry and beautifully written.
I want to remember – and I know you know – what is that song which for some reason I am hallucinating is William S. Burroughs exhorting us to wear more sunscreen? Have I been hitting the Perrier Jouet and Belgian chocolates a little too hard? Come on, readers – help me out. Also, if I were less technologically inept I´d stick in one of those music thingies right here you can click on that would play Will Powers´ Dancing for Mental Health. Formerly disaffected geek/D&D/proto-punk children of the 80s – bring those hands together! I hope they are not still sporting chipped black nail polish.
Fragrance-wise, I will: revisit Caron to see if my nose has smartened up any; add another five or ten incense or leather fragrances to Ma Collection; spend some time sniffing and reviewing more vintage fragrances; fall in love with one of those new Guerlains (the house can´t break my heart forever); completely reverse my feelings on several scents.
I want to live closer to that ideal which says I will live forever – and only one more day. As part of that goal, we are taking a trip this summer, the whole motley Ship of Fools. I am hoping it will be a long trip outside the country. We are shopping the discount plane tickets and have put our house up on homeexchange.com; our random first-choice destinations are Thailand, Greece, and Sweden, but we´d go lots of other places too – for three weeks or a month. When I am on my deathbed, which I hope will be at least 50 years from now, I will not wish I´d owned more crap. I want to travel, bringing my family with me when I can, because family trips are at the center of many of the best memories from my childhood.
Okay, here´s the essay: In October I did something to my neck, which spread into my shoulder and drifted down my back. It was the beginning of The End – that long, slow skid into total unfitness that I had ignored for years. I was in the kind of pain that (can I tell?) my winning combination of Percocet and Valium didn´t begin to touch, the kind of pain I had to breathe through. I turned down the Vicodin only because I know too many horror stories of people who hooked up with Vitamin V and couldn´t end the relationship without a stint in rehab.
Instead, encouraged by the Big Cheese, I tried a Bikram Yoga class. Yoga requires balance, strength and flexibility, none of which I have. But yoga seemed like literally the only exercise I could attempt. Bikram is “hot yoga” – maximum humidity, 90 minutes, 26 postures, in a room heated to 100 degrees or thereabouts. I figured, well, at least I won´t be cold (I´m always cold). Their instructions are clear: lie down if you have to, but don´t leave the room unless you´re going to puke. I survived the first class, barely, crawled out and said, thank God that´s over.
And the next day … I went back. And I kept going.
There´s a diabolical simplicity to Bikram that works for me. All classes are all levels – the same 26 postures every time, in the same order. That means, schedule-wise, I´ve got five or six class choices a day, instead of being consigned to the purgatory of Beginning Yoga. Second, I can´t half-ass Bikram; even if I´m only doing 10% of a posture I´m working like a dog.
My terrible pain was gone in a week, and my skin looked amazing. I didn´t lose a pound. Instead, an even weirder thing happened. In yoga, you´re not working with weights – you are the weight. You work like that for 90 minutes several times a week and – surprise! – you get stronger. One day I looked at myself in the mirror and realized my thin, lax Pillsbury Doughgirl body was sprouting muscles. The one area that really bugged me – my round I´ve-had-twins abdomen – is now down by several inches, and I´m wearing skirts and pants I haven´t squeezed into in years. I could say that I´ve taken 10 years off my body, but that would be a lie. I have never looked like this before.
So. I´m singing that hackneyed platitude from the rooftops – if I can do this, if I can get in shape — anyone can. I know Patty´s been hitting the Pilates hard and is very pleased with the results. It doesn´t have to be Bikram or Pilates or boot camp. But if, in the back of your mind, you´ve been a little worried about what shape you´re in, let me state the obvious – you´re wearing the only body you have, and it might be easier to start taking care of it now than wait, like I did, until you´re really in trouble. Go do something. If you´re lazy like me, don´t just join the gym – assuming you ever go, you´ll just stand around in your shorts reading Vogue. Sign up for a dance class, hire a trainer – make a commitment. Just a thought to carry you forward into what is, I hope, a great 2007.