New Year’s Resolultions Now, Then and Totally Irrelevant

Every year I make New Year’s resolutions, and almost every year I break them. Likely because mine are always so broad and vague that I don’t have a concrete way to keep track of whether I’m sticking to them or not. Apparently it’s easier to keep resolutions when they are clearly defined goals, and more easy to accomplish. This is also supposed to be better for my self-esteem, or something, because apparently not meeting goals makes us feel bad.

Eff that. I don’t see any point in making resolutions that are easy. The easy ones won’t be of  use to me. So here are my resolutions for the year 2012:

  1. Try not to be so grumpy so often. This is a resolution I’ve made a few times, because I know I have a bad habit of letting little things (like being late) get me down, and then letting my swearing and banging around of household utensils rain down on any innocent bystander who is unlucky enough to be in my path. Great stress relief for me, uncool for the people around me.
  2. Drink more water. Eugh. I never drink water. And then I get headaches. The simple solution is obviously to drink water BEFORE I get a headache but I hate drinking water because water is BORING. This may just be something I’ll have to put up with.
  3. Make my friends a priority.  When I get busy I live at the mercy of whatever I wrote on my calendar, and sometimes that means going weeks without seeing my closest and dearest friends, the ones who are always here for me when everything else I’m doing ends, winds down, or disappears. And that sucks, because I love my friends, and generally speaking they’re more fun than the obligations on my calendar.
  4. Finish what I start. Lately I’ve been feeling a little smug that some of my 2011 plans actually came to fruition, like my European Adventure and the fact that I’ve kept up with this blog. In reality, I am a procrastinator, a lazy-bones, and a scaredy-cat, and most of my plans and ideas barely make it past their inception. Which is a shame because whether they be writing, art, or home improvement projects, some of my ideas are actually good ones and I’d probably enjoy seeing them through.
  5. Be nicer.  This is a big vague goal and probably goes along with not being as grumpy, but when my TC and I were talking about resolutions this is one of the ones I came up with almost immediately. I think I am a nice person, but I also think that part of being a nice person is not resting on your laurels. To really be a nice person means making a continuous effort to have empathy, to maybe not share that retort that’s on the tip of your tongue, to donate what time/money/resources you can spare to make someone else’s life better, and basically to try to comport yourself in a way that does as little harm as possible to the people around you and your planet. And it’s not easy! When I have a shitty day there’s a part of me that wants to make it the world’s problem, that justifies my snappy remarks and occasional lack of charity, patience, or understanding. Which isn’t nice. And that part of me will always be there, making life interesting, but I am determined to soldier on nonetheless.

Because I am currently back at my parents’ house with my boxes of old diaries and journals at hand, I thought it might be fun to see if I’d written down any resolutions in junior high. And I did. On December 31, 1998, at the age of 12, I made the following resolutions:

  1. train more for skiing
  2. work harder in school + extracurricular
  3. get all the social life stuff worked out
  4. stop being such a grump
  5. try new things and try my best
  6. be healthier + nicer

I’m actually quite surprised at how many of my resolutions were the same as they are now, though I did make a couple resolutions that are no longer relevant. With regards to getting my “social life stuff worked out” I think I was referring to a friend at school who had found a new group of friends that I didn’t get along with and I was having some problems with the new pecking order in the class. I also had a mad crazy crush on a cute little Grade 7 boy who in turn had a crush on the new best friend of my old friend. Sigh. Grade 7 was complicated.

To my credit, since being 12 I have been doing better at trying new things and at being healthy. Success!

Since I found some resolutions in my Grade 7 diary I assumed I would also find some written around the new year in Grade 6. Alas, James Cameron’s seafaring masterpiece got in the way of making New Year’s resolutions. In the interests of reflection and exposition, I am posting my first entry of the year 1998, written when I was 11 years old:

Jan. 8, 1998

Dear Diary,

I watched Titanic this holiday and, omigod! I’m going crazy for Leonardo DiCaprio again. Only this time it’s worse. Almost everything reminds me that he died at the end of the movie. Somehow, it’s way worse than Romeo + Juliet. At the end, the girl he was in love with is 100 or something, and she dies and goes back to the Titanic and she’s young and with him again. It’s so sad. Someday, I want to get Leo’s address and write him a letter. That would be neat.


And then, inexplicably, I stuck a sticker from a glycerin soap bought at the SoapBerry Shop into the diary at the end of the post. Three months later I devoted an entire page of my diary to little pictures of “Leo” that I cut out of magazines but if writing Leonardo DiCaprio a fan letter was my resolution for the year 1998, I never did do it.

Huh. I wonder if “finishing what I start” means I ought to write a letter to him now….

I’ll think about it. In the meantime, I wish you all a very happy New Year, and I hope the year 2012 brings great things and good changes to your lives. Get excited! I know I am. I mean, omigod!

Omigod what a dreamboat.

The Claw Hands: Chilly Memories of Adolescence

For those of you not in Vancouver this summer, let’s just say it’s been disappointing. And by disappointing, I mean it’s been cold. Yesterday was my office BBQ. Last year I got a sunburn. This year I got claw hands.

“Claw hands” is the term I use to describe what happens when my hands get so cold and stiff they curl into useless frozen claws. After a freezing cold staff BBQ (can’t blame the organizers, I’m sure they thought mid-July would be a lovely time for an outdoor lunch), they weren’t much good for typing or handwriting or picking up telephones or anything else I do at work.

Poor me.

Illustration of me with claw hands by Sonja Kresowaty

I have very poor circulation and claw hands are a fact of life in cold weather. My first memory of the joys of claw hands comes all the way from autumn 1998: I was 12, Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy With It” was played at all the junior high dances I was FINALLY old enough to go to, and I was involved in the only sport I was any good at: running.

In Saskatchewan, the cross-country running season begins in September and ends at the very end of October. The first couple of meets are generally quite nice and the rest of the season is pretty chilly. One particular meet that fall was held north of Meadow Lake, a meet most of us didn’t look forward to because it’s really hilly north of Meadow Lake  (let’s just say I’ve never ran on this “meadow” they’re talking about) and it was always cold.

I have an old photo somewhere of me at the starting line for that race and I’m sure I thought I looked pretty good. I was wearing a Buffalo Jeans t-shirt (with an @ symbol instead of the “A” in Buffalo, very edgy) and, the pinnacle of Saskatchewan athletic wear, Husky Athletics sweatpants. Anyone who grew up in Saskatchewan will understand why I could possibly have thought huge green ankle-biting sweatpants made me look cool. They were Husky. HUSKY. And maybe on anyone else, they would have looked just dandy.

The thing you must understand about me in 1998 is that I was a 12-year-old who did not yet weigh 100 lbs. I was long and bony but there was not a hip or a curve to be found. Certainly nothing that could really hold up a baggy pair of sweatpants. I made good use of the drawstring and hoped for the best. Sweatpants or no sweatpants, I’m absolutely certain I was already freezing before the gun went off, it being a typical grey autumn day in Northwest Saskatchewan, but I guess I assumed I would warm up during the 3km race.

And most of me did. A little. But not my hands. After the first 800m or so I knew it had been a big mistake not to include gloves (or better, mittens) in my stylish running ensemble. My hands were freezing. I tried to shake them out. I tried to rub them together. But they were balled into little fists of ice, so cold they HURT, and there was nothing I could do about it.

It doesn’t mean I didn’t try. During the course of the race I came up with two excellent solutions to my problem: one solution was to plunge my hands down my pants. Unfortunately, running with both hands shoved into the front of your pants is hard (try it sometime). The feeling of two cold hands suddenly being planted against my warm thighs was also a rather horrid shock to the system. My actions served to loosen the drawstring in my sweatpants and caused my pants to begin to fall down.

I remember striding past one of the checkpoints, hands completely hidden in my pants, and I have a memory of the image of a school-aged boy, a volunteer, standing at the checkpoint with a look of shock and total confusion on his face. I suppose I should have been embarrassed, I suppose now I must have looked like some sort of adolescent pervert, fiddling away in my pants on a running course, but I was too excruciatingly cold to care.

Once it became clear that the “pants solution” was slowing me down (and was ultimately not that effective) I moved on to solution two: I shoved my hands in my mouth. They took turns obviously, one at a time through the rest of the race. It’s a good idea when you think about it: my mouth was probably the warmest place on my body at the time, and with a little effort I could get at least half a hand inside.

Actually, no, of course it’s not a good idea. Once it was time to switch hands, the hand that had been in my mouth was now wet in addition to being cold. Since my hands were totally frozen stiff at this point (claw hands!) they were quite difficult to manoeuvre and fit into a mouth I was also trying to use for heavy breathing (since I was running a 3km race on hilly terrain and all).

In addition to my cold hands and falling down pants, my hand-in-mouth solution created a third condition for me to contend with. Due to the cold, my heavy breathing, and my constant shoving of my hands in and out of my mouth, my lips chapped and began to bleed.

This is pretty much what I look like running. Illustration by Sonja Kresowaty.

I can only imagine what my dad must have thought as he saw his middle daughter approaching the finish line (finally!); panting, pale and purple-cheeked, pants falling down, blood on her lips and hands, and, of course, the aforesaid hands curled into raptor-like claws, extending rigidly from my bony arms.

I don’t even remember crossing the actual line and having my placing number written on my hand. I don’t even remember if I gave my name to the helpful folks at the officials’ table. I ran straight for my father.

Dad: What HAPPENED?!

Me: (crying and blubbering through my bloody lips) My hands!

Dad: Oh Lauren. Why didn’t you wear gloves? I told you your hands would get cold.

Me: (still blubbering) I didn’t think it would be SO. COLD.

My dad tried to put his gloves on me at first but my hands were too stiff to uncurl and fit inside. He took me to the van and turned on the heat and I spent a heavenly afternoon with my hands on a radiator.

And THAT is the story of claw hands. And THAT is why I don’t care when people laugh at me for wearing gloves in April. If I had had gloves with me at yesterday’s staff BBQ, I would have worn them. Claw hands are not to trifled with. You never know when you’ll end up with falling down pants and bloody lips.


Reflections: “Dear 16-year-old Lauren”

With New Year’s Eve and the end of 2010 quickly approaching, many bloggers, Twitter personalities, news outlets, etc. are taking this time to reflect upon the year that has passed.

I do not yet feel like reflecting upon the year that has passed. It was a long year (365 days!). A lot happened. ‘Nuff said.

However, in the spirit of remembering days gone by, and in the spirit of the nostalgia that visiting my childhood home in Saskatchewan for the first time in two and a half years has given me, I decided to dig up my oldest box of journals (I started keeping a diary when I was in grade 3) and read some of them. Most of my entries are painfully embarrassing. I had a lot of crushes (esp. for an 8-year-old). I deluded myself into thinking these boys had crushes on me when probably they just wanted to play with their pogs. Pretty appalling stuff, and for the most part too humiliating to share with the internet.

My trip down Embarrassing Memory Lane revealed a treasure I had completely forgotten about: a letter I wrote when I was 12, to myself at 16 (I’ve changed all actual names but the spelling mistakes are real):

October 5, 1998

Dear 16-year-old Lauren,

I wrote a letter to you when I was in, like, grade two, but I lost it, and besides, nothing interesting was happening.

I hope you haven’t dropped out of school. I want to be a teacher right now. And if I have girls, I want to name them Katrina, Fiona, and, maybe, Meredith. I’m not really sure about the other two names, but I like Katrina for sure.

Right now I have totally fallen for Russell McDonald. My friends are Amanda, Tiffany, Jane (my best friend), and Cassie. My enimies are Kathleen, Jennifer, and Louise. Angela is OK to hang out with, but she flirts and acts stupid all the time. I like to get hyper with my friends, my favourite band is the Cranberries, I like Swing Music, I’m on the X-country running team, the volleyball team, the music group, the SRC, I will probably be doing French by correspondence, and I will be doing drama. My favourite colour is blue, my favourite number is ten.

I hope you’ve made good decisions: not to smoke, not to drink, not to do drugs, …and so one.

Love, Lauren (at 12 years old)

Yikes. I suppose it never occurred to 12-year-old Lauren that dropping out of school isn’t just something that might happen without you noticing when you turn 16, especially when your parents are teachers. And yes, when I said I liked to “get hyper” with my friends, I really meant being hyper and energetic…no sinister euphemisms here.

I was super cool 'cause I'd grown out my bangs.

A couple of things surprised me about this letter. Firstly, it seems to say absolutely nothing at all. Wouldn’t someone writing to their future selves have a lot to say? Wouldn’t they want to fill their letter with important information?

The second thing that surprised me was the realization that these silly details actually were REALLY important to me, and probably to many 12-year-old girls. Who my friends were, who my “enimies” were, what band I liked, all the extra-curricular activities I was involved in in Junior High… It’s strange to think about how small my world was then, how little I knew of what my life was going to be like, and how old I actually thought 16 would be, when I know now that 16 isn’t old at all. And that even with 12 more years under my belt (a whole other lifetime for the author of the letter), my world is still smaller than I want it to be, I still know very little about what my life will be like, and I’m still not really very old at all.

I’m actually impressed that I was involved in so many activities. Good for you, 12-year-old Lauren. (Full disclosure: I was terrible at volleyball. I made it to the end of the season and never signed up for it again. I like to play “casual” volleyball now though, when I get the chance.)

I’m happy to report that I’ve come far enough since grade 7 that I don’t have any “enimies” anymore. And that I don’t need to worry about people who “act stupid all the time” because I’ve been lucky enough in my adult life to be surrounded by kind, smart, fun people most of the time. I still like swing and big band music. My favourite colour is still blue. I like the number 10 but I think the number 2 is better. As for “making good decisions…and so one”…well….I never took up smoking. So good for me.

I hope that if I ever do have a 12-year-old girl of my own (Katrina is a family name so that one’s still on the table), I’ll remember to think of this letter and try to understand a time when my crush and my social circle and my little activities were everything and I wasn’t worried about the world or whether or not my dreams and the dreams of those I love would be possible against the backdrop of the hundred million things that could happen before I grew up.

And what did 16-year-old Lauren think of her 12-year-old self? Well, in 2002, when I was 16, I wrote on the envelope, “Ha ha. Poor little 12-year-old Lauren. She doesn’t know me, but I think she’d be proud of what I’ve become.” As if I was really anything at the ripe old age of 16 for a 12-year-old Cranberries fan to be proud of. But maybe I was.

Ha ha. Poor little 16-year-old Lauren.

And soon enough it will be…Ha ha. Poor little 24-year-old Lauren.

I guess the moral of the story is that I’m going keep embarrassing myself, and writing stupid things, no matter what my age.

Happy New Year, everybody. Remember that no matter what you do or think in 2011, you’ll likely think you were stupid later, so don’t worry about it. 🙂