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August 29, 2006

A New Year, a new kind of list

Today is the first day of the rest of this year.

When I was about ten years old, a teacher gave me a book with the saying, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life" inscribed on the inside flap. I wish I could go back in time, find that person, and headbutt her for contributing to my already overdeveloped sense of fatalism.

So I usually find myself making lists and scrutinizing my life and sounding frighteningly Oprah-esque on the first day of the year (and on my birthday, of course, and during any life-altering event, including but not limited to bad haircut experiences, too much red wine, bitter breakups and even, once or twice, a movie with a tearjerker ending. Think "Untamed Heart." Sigh.)

This year is slightly different.

Instead of making lists of all the things I hope to accomplish this year ("play the guitar" "speak French like a Parisian" "cook without ruining pans and having to call for pizza and/or call 911 to put out fire") I decided to think about the few things I learned in 2001, in hopes of not repeating the past ad nauseum like some pink and girly version of "Groundhog Day."

Things I discovered in 2001:

1) Be careful who you trust. Be careful who you choose to befriend. Be very careful who you give your heart to.

2) Don't give anyone your phone number while intoxicated.

3) Green is not flattering for my skintone. Fine, I admitted it. Happy now Grandma?

4) If someone you're close to gossips about her other friends to you, don't fool yourself into thinking "She'd never talk about me like that behind my back, after all, we're such close friends." Good grief. Let me serve as a cautionary tale on this one: the way people treat others in the end, good or bad, is how they will treat you. So choose your close friends very carefully (see item #1).

5) Always wear your seatbelt.

6) Remember that when people say bad and inappropriate things, it's usually because they have issues and need therapy. It isn't your job to be anyone's bitch. It's not your job to please others. Repeat daily.

It's a short list, true. But an important one. I still have things I want to accomplish in 2002 ("get a full-body wax" "take a trip to Spain" "sell a story to a major magazine" "stop the tweezing insanity") but I can't help feeling ... lighter somehow. I am no closer to speaking fluent French or making a seven-course meal than I was last year, but now I am an expert knife-in-the-back-remover and a proficient salsa dancer, which is saying something.

Last year was a tough year for me. It might make a great sob story over a couple of margaritas, but to be honest, I'm just happy it's over. Happy to know the truth about people. Happy to know that even though things can really suck sometimes, they do eventually stop sucking, and I just keep on keeping on.

And honestly, isn't that a better skill than knowing how to flambé an egg?

Posted by laurie at August 29, 2006 11:59 AM