by Jennifer Pruiett-Selby
Taking note of all the tinseled evergreen carcasses rolled into ditches like Breaking Bad victims in the New Mexico desert, I realized it was that time of year again. Another reminder: the sign at the grocery store with the well-fed baby in diaper, the banner reading: Happy New Year! I’ve already grown tired of all the talk of “New Year, New You.” There are only so many times a Midwestern mother of five can reinvent herself. I’m not Lady Gaga, folks.
So … resolutions. What promises should I make to myself so I can break them by March? I can’t stop smoking. Oh sure, I smoked for a few months in college, but I lacked the dedication to stick with it. The summer months were fine, but here in Iowa it drops below 40 by October. Nope. I’m not stepping outside for a cigarette if there’s a chance of goosebumps. Plus, God knows what’s lurking in the shadows. Could be a coyote, could be a perverted farm boy. Either way, I can’t run as fast as I could in high school.
I’m already a member of a gym, so joining another would be redundant. And costly. Furthermore, in our little town, there’s only one gym. The next one is half an hour away. In the three months I’ve been working out at my gym, I’ve lost three pounds. No need to congratulate me. The sweat stains in my favorite yoga pants are reward enough for my hard work.
As for dieting, the whole clean-eating craze only works if you’ve access to the right foods. As with our limited choice in fitness centers, we’ve only one grocery store. The organic selection is lacking, but they’re fully stocked in wine coolers and Mike’s. And I’m thankful for that. I try to make healthy home-cooked meals, but everyone in my family seems more interested in Pringles and our fine selection of sugar-loaded cereals. I shouldn’t complain, I guess. You never read about kids dying from salmonella in their Fruit Loops. Can’t say the same thing for veggies. As I write this, I see there have been a few deaths from listeria-laced bags of salad. Or as the kids call it: the devil’s foliage.
For me, resolutions are about cataloguing my flaws. The planner I bought for this year has eight spots in the Resolutions & Goals section. Maybe I’m being short-sighted, but I can’t think of that many things I want to change. I considered writing, “Stop asking for verification that my husband actually heard me,” but that just seemed pathetic. Instead I thought of general, superficial things like, “Get organized” and “Make more family time.” In the end, I feel like a better goal would be “stop making unrealistic goals.”
While I’m at the gym, I think about sex. While I’m having sex, I’m thinking about my writing. While I’m writing, I think about the pile of laundry waiting for me. And when I’m washing my yoga pants, I remember that I haven’t been to the gym this week.
Truth is—if I’m being honest—I’d say I’m easily distracted. Keeping resolutions requires a constitutional strength that I lack. I have a difficult time living in the moment. While I’m at the gym, I think about sex. While I’m having sex, I’m thinking about my writing. While I’m writing, I think about the pile of laundry waiting for me. And when I’m washing my yoga pants, I remember that I haven’t been to the gym this week.
There is no now for people like me. We vacillate between this plane and some crazy land for wandering minds. It’s not ADD because I don’t even have the dedication required to commit to a full-blown disorder. Plus, I can pay attention to an entire episode of Ancient Aliens. Especially when I have a cold Mike’s in my hand.
The plus side of goal-setting is that I’m reading more now—having promised Goodreads that I would read 12 books this year. I’d also like to start a garden, and fill it with listeria-free devil’s foliage. Maybe I’ll drink less. Or more. I haven’t decided which way to go on that one yet. The one thing I know for sure is that I want to be more present in the moment. Because, as I learned from Kung Fu Panda, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why they call it the present.”