Every year I resolve to eat fewer carbohydrates, and every year I fail. How do people live without bread? Given the choice, I’d take a thick slice of toasted baguette slicked with salted butter instead of ice cream for dessert. And I’d give up meat and cheese for pasta any day of the week (and usually do). There is little that cannot be improved by the noble noodle. Except my waistline. But that’s what the gym is for. Liz Entman
I tried to quit coffee and, after a week of self-deprival, learned the following lesson: Don’t try to quit coffee. I was the sort of coffee drinker who would go to bed early to expedite my way to a morning cup, but was starting to feel that sort of dependence might be unhealthy. So I gave it up, cold turkey. But then I discovered caffeine withdrawal, which has actually been classified as a psychiatric disorder; at my lowest I felt like being locked up in a padded room didn’t seem far off. So I’m back on coffee. It’s delicious. I feel good and my mornings are swell. And to paraphrase Method Man: I tried to quit [coffee] before, but I’m no quitter. Pasha Malla
My mind is mid-Atlantic, marooned between two time zones, as I work for America and live in Britain. Last year I was blessed with late starts, late nights, and few productive mornings. This year my calendar is marked FAIL. This year I’ve already failed at getting up early. But I persevered. An alarm clock playing Radio 4 rouses me. I wake to the sounds of Melvin Bragg discussing Thoreau, hear extracts from The Rest Is Noise, and I subconsciously absorb the news. I can’t fall back asleep whilst so many people are being so smart, and so productive, so early in the morning. Resolutions require resolve, it’s not one strike then Game Over. Press reset, cry, read the walkthrough, hit the weak spot, beat the game. Failing that, the cheat code is Up-Down-Up-Down-A-A-H. Congratulations! You’ve just completed two press-ups. You’ll be running marathons by June. Aren’t resolutions easy! Mike Smith
I haven’t yet broken my official resolution for this year, but that’s because it involves travel plans and my deadline is the end of 2009. Maybe next year I’ll have opportunity to whine about the economy and the value of the euro and my overly responsible, (mostly) unfrivolous nature. For now, however, I’m left to reflect on the unofficial resolutions I’ve already violated. I vowed, unofficially, to start running again. That hasn’t happened, and isn’t likely todid you know it’s cold in winter? Also, that my bed is warm? Plus, I’m lazy? Alas laziness, that not-so-very-fierce competitor, wins again. I’ve also vowed to open my heart to love and tragedy; given the aforementioned economy, I think I’m all set on that one. Bridget Fitzgerald
Overextending on New Year’s resolutions has become a tradition of mine. Failing to keep one resolution is less of a negative, I would tell myself, if others were made and kept. Some I’ve made in the past were easy to fulfill: Grow a beard. Bake a cake. But the bulk of the resolutions I’ve made over the past few years have come to nothing. Some examples directly from my journal’s pages: Write a novel. Take the GRE. Go skydiving. Get my own place. Learn to play piano from sheet music. Learn to speak Spanish. Get paid to write. Take psychedelic drugs. Father a child out of wedlock. Rob a bank. I’m ashamed, really, to say that I’ve accomplished none of the above. The only solution, of course, is to forego making any resolutions for 2009.
Easier said. Aside from the most obvious paradox I’ve assumed by resolving not to resolve, I made another error of calculation in my determination not to better myself this year: I now have a writing schedule. I decided, quite innocently, even offhandedly, that I’m never going to write my generation’s Sex and the City without some rigor. Now every night at 8 p.m. (when I can guarantee myself that nothing worthwhile will be on TV) I go around the corner to the Archive, my neighborhood’s coffee/DVD rental shop, sit, and, in the words of Sean Connery’s William Forrester, punch the keys! All I can hope is that this newfound diligence doesn’t lead to worse excesses of character, specifically further resolve. Erik Bryan
A few years ago, I was prone to excessive chattiness, so in honor of the new year, I resolved to say OK, good talking to you. Bye, whenever I was on the phone with someone who said, Hey, I should go. Did I follow through? Oh yes, yes I did. If you have to hang up, adios muchacha, click. See, New Year’s resolutions are only good when they’re concrete and immediately actionable. I resolve to lose five pounds doesn’t really indicate what you’re going to do, so failure is practically a lock. After sharing this thought with a good friend of mine in December, he chose a resolution for me: To not speak while yawning. Putting aside the fact that I enjoy speaking while yawningit’s relaxing; it means I’m in the company of people who care enough to try to decipher what I saidI think this is a good idea. How did I grow up without realizing that it’s rude to talk when the mouth is incapable of forming any phonemes but vowels?
As of today, I have progressed far enough to at least realize I spoke over a yawn and then repeat what I said. Awareness is the first step, as they say. Unless they’re yawning, in which case they say, Aaaaaaawaaaaaaaaafeeeeeeeehp. Lauren Frey
In a recent conversation about resolutions, I had mentioned that I had been considering cutting down on drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. I was chastised for only considering the chance to start fresh, instead of dedicating myself to self-improvement. I was also reminded that it was a week into January, so I was a little late on the execution. I responded to this by affirming my love of such heinous habits; I made coffee and smoked a cigarette. This resolved this year’s issue of resolutions for me. TMN Reader Samantha Schlegel
It wasn’t much, but I pledged to myself that I would go through 2009 ignoring the news. The free news. By not accepting one of the myriad free newspapers handed out on the streets of London every evening I would save time and mental effort. These papers are a plague on journalism, filled with sketchy flash photographs of minor female celebrities tumbling out of insalubrious nightspots, unfunny strip cartoons, horoscopes, and PR-driven news of staggering banality. Worst of all, each typically contains three Sudoku puzzles, graded neatly from easy to hard. It wasn’t long before I found myself turning swiftly to the puzzle page and attempting to blitz all three in the space of a 12-minute train ride. Most days, the capital’s tragically neglected signaling equipment bought me a few extra minutes, but I still never managed to do more than graze the third puzzle. It had to stop. By consigning those 12 minutes to mindless amusement each and every day, my unread book pile grew higher and higher. My notebook remained unfilled and new apartment blocks rose up unnoticed alongside the tracks. So I abandoned the papers, rebuffed the pavement distributor, and ignored the dump bins of fresh copies. That is, until a commute without anything to read sent me scurrying back to the puzzle page, guilty but also thrilled to have something to do. I lasted a week. Jonathan Bell
I told myself that this was the semester, over halfway through college, when it would happen. Finally, I would start my papers days ahead of time instead of hours. I would meet with the TA to talk about the problem set if I didn’t understand it. No longer would I dash off apologetic emails after the due date to ask for extensions. Then I was asked: Do you have any broken resolutions? I filed the message along with all the other important emails. And then I didn’t start writing until an hour after the deadline: procrastination. I owe you my apologies, everyone. Can you give me some time to get them to you, though? Nozlee Samadzadeh