Sunday, January 2, 2011

Looking back at my Old Year's Resolutions

You wouldn’t believe the number of people who have asked me where I get my story ideas. I can count them on one hand. One finger, to be more precise. It was my mom. I think she was bored.

Anyways, story ideas come from everywhere – your pets, your car, your spouse (with prior permission), and other writers who live far, far away, because you’d be just plain stupid to “borrow” an idea from someone who might actually read what you’ve pinched. But sometimes an idea plops itself right down in your lap (usually when you’ve forgotten to cover it with a napkin), and you’d be foolish not to make something useful from it.

Here’s my latest thought:

The way I figure it, New Year’s resolutions are a dime a dozen. Everybody makes them. Everybody breaks them. Some of those people are writers who think their readership would really enjoy what they have to say about the subject. Most readers, on the other hand, find the comics more entertaining.

Since I wouldn’t touch the subject of New Year’s resolutions with a 10-foot polecat (which I swear lives out in the woods beside my house), I’ve decided instead to talk about the Old Year’s resolutions I made and what I learned from them – which is still not as entertaining as the comics, but at least I’ve come to terms with it.

First off, I resolved in 2010 to learn to speak Spanish fluently. Somewhere along the way I fiddled with French, and at the end of the year I was having a go with Chinese. I can say “Good morning” and “Where’s the bathroom?” in all three languages, but I still can’t tell the difference between an appositive or a negative.

A Happy New Year (back)
What I Learned – I should have resolved to improve my skills in English, my mother tongue, which I’m sure would have made all my friends and neighbors happy.

You probably won’t believe this, but in 2010 I resolved to learn how to do the splits. I’m not sure why I thought doing the splits was important, other than to be able to say I could do them, but it was a goal I eventually discontinued due to unforeseen difficulties – those difficulties being unimaginable pain.

What I learned – People my age should never resolve to do anything that requires a whole bunch of needless hurt that produces copious amounts of crying and cursing. Doing your taxes is bad enough.

At some time during 2010, I thought I’d get myself better in shape by “Walking Across America.” I’d walk and/or jog around the neighborhood, keep track of my mileage, and chart the distance on a map. I would start my “journey” in the Florida Keys with my ultimate destination being Fairbanks, Alaska. I reckoned I could cover the mileage within 15 months, just in time for my 50th birthday.

What I learned – I remembered that I hate exercise. After walking for a month and a half, I was able to calculate that it would take me 29 years to get to Alaska. The reality of the situation has made me so depressed, I have vowed to take an Alaskan cruise as soon as financially able.

During the spring of 2010, just when the grass started growing again, I made a resolution that I would do what it takes to make my yard the best-kept yard in the neighborhood.

What I learned – I have no desire to do what it takes to turn my yard into the best-kept yard in the neighborhood.

And finally, 2010 was the year that I would single-handedly breathe new life into the banjo, elevating it from a hick, back-woods novelty plaything to a mainstay instrument of all things hip, groovy and stylish. Ozzy would play it; Lady Gaga would be gaga over it; Kanye West would criticize it, then apologize, then take back his apology for his apology.

What I Learned – I come up with a lot of stupid ideas.

In closing, a wise man once told me that if you counted all your baskets before they had eggs in them, you wouldn’t know any more than what you already knew. I have no idea how that fits in with this story, but there it is.

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