Friday, December 31, 2010

Good Bye and Good Riddance, We’ll Miss You


Today is once again New Year’s Eve and, once again, I find myself wishing that midnight would hurry up and come on already. 2010 is pretty much used up and wrung dry in my opinion. Like every year that came before it by December 31st it is a shriveled, worn and de-juiced version of what it was on January 1st!

When I was much younger, I saw the celebration accompanying this date as a welcoming ceremony, a ritual devoted to ushering in all that was new and shiny and clean and full of promise. We were throwing open the doors on our hearts and minds and shouting ‘Come On In! Make yourself at home, stay a while!’ We would wake on the first and do everything possible to please our lovely new year. Just as with a new lover, we dieted, we colored our hair, we worked out and cooked fancy meals. We bought new towels for the guest room and new sheets for the beds. We vowed to give up smoking, at least in the house, for real this time. In general we were our best, most energetic, happy, intelligent and beautiful selves. January goes by in a blur of rapture and conviction.

February comes skipping up next, full of romance and emotion, ready to join the fun. Most of the grandiose plans made New Year’s Eve while gently buzzed are still in play. The hair cut still looks nice and the roots aren’t too obvious yet. While a few pounds came creeping back during those short cold days the gym is still on our GPS, the sheets still feel crisp and only one or two of the now not so new towels have been used to soak up spilled beer or dry snowy pets come in from the cold. Just when you think this winter is really rocking and you don’t know why you said you hated the season Valentine’s Day pops up right in the middle and slaps us back to reality. Like the new lover not wanting to have to buy you a present, Valentine’s Day drops you on your ass. If you are not alone and neglected you feel that way. Luckily, so does everyone else so you can generally prop yourself up enough to limp through to the end of the month. At least you weren’t dumped, even if your special someone didn’t get you anything, at least this stupid card is better than nothing, at least I got flowers and / or chocolate with my stupid card, at least I got some jewelry (even if it is costume) with these stupid flowers, at least I got a promise ring (too cheap to spring for an engagement ring or does he just not want to commit?) that’s not zirconium, my engagement ring might not be a carat but it is better than the one my friend got with a mere chip…

We eat the chocolates, relish the putrid odor of the dying flowers, throw darts at the card and let the dog chew on the stuffed animals. Screw the gym, screw the laundry and screw yo… WAIT! It’s March! While February may have disappointed us, shown us the cracks in the once shiny new façade of the year March takes our minds and just plain blows them. Tornados, blizzards, torrential rains and hard, hard freezes make March a month to reckon with. The weather is wild and it makes us feel a little wild too. We hate all our winter clothes and the sound of the heater cranking up drives us mad. There are no holidays, the ski slopes are slushy, ads for tax attorneys and accountants fill the television schedule. Just when we can’t stand it another minute April knocks gently on our door.

Thank God for April! Pretty pastels come out of storerooms, bunnies and little chicks and lambs decorate every surface. We see light in the morning when we go to work and light in the evening when we come home. We make plans for our tax refunds, dream of vacations and the possibility of romance once again right around the next corner. Skin that has been covered in ten layers of woolens for months comes creeping out bit by bit, exposing itself to the sun shine and temperate breezes, it sickly white hue shocking in its intensity. We work on our better selves, planting gardens to nourish the body and soul, sweeping out cobwebs and emptying closets in to bags marked Goodwill.

May brings a new intensity to the exercise of living. We rue the day we quit going to the gym and vow to go twice as often and work out twice as hard. We get pedicures and hair removal procedures and tummy tucks and Botox.  We spend a fortune on a too small swimsuit (it will motivate us to work out more) so that we can look like we are all natural, a goddess washed up from the sea. The entire purpose of the month of May is just to get ready for the month of June.

June is a wild rush to do everything that we couldn’t do in the previous five months. We parade around in next to nothing, sucking in bellies and artfully wrapping sarongs or adjusting our board shorts on our hips just so. The summer lies stretched out before us like a shiny sand littered path into the sea with nothing but hedonistic adventure to distract us. We offer ourselves up to the sun as if it will cleanse us, make us new again. We drink too much, bronze too much, and laugh too hard and too loud.

July comes in with a bang, quite literally. Right when we feel the best about ourselves we are encouraged to feel the best about where our bodies reside. Uncle Sam, apple pie and the American flag are everywhere. Patriotic hymns disguised as pop or country or rock and roll are played on the airwaves ad nauseum. Suddenly everyone looks great in red white and blue. Lakes are as busy as the interstate with speed boats and jet skis creating waves in the roped off swimming areas for the little children to bob in. The bigger the roller coaster, the steeper the water slides, the larger the crowd and the longer the fireworks display the better. We are indestructible, we are healthy and happy and we are American, dammit!

August comes in with a blast of heat decorated with school sale flyers drifting aimlessly in the stilted breezes. Pictures of children in incredibly hip and expensive jeans, sweaters and boots belie the 95 degree temperatures. We grind down the gears. Time to get serious, time to pay attention, time to start getting prepared like the little ant in the Aesop’s fable. We take a few moments to squeeze in one last swim, one last picnic, one last bonfire on the beach but we all know it is for naught.

September once again inspires us with the thought of something new to look forward too. Cool weather in the evenings inspire husbandry in the daytime. Yards are fed and mulched and put to bed for the winter, roses are pruned and fall color planted. Everything apple is new again and in rural areas the sweet, sickly smell of them rotting on the ground is the perfume of the season to come. Into October, we nest, putting up storm windows and cleaning out gutters and painting shutters. Men winterize and women redecorate with russets and oranges and umbers. The days are shorter, the light is sharper, we all… slow….. down.

November calls us to start gearing up yet again but we just don’t have the energy we did the last three times. Thanksgiving seems to leap out of nowhere and threatens to launch us into the deep end of the year’s frivolity without a chance to take a deep breath first. While we attempt to gaily go about the business of celebrating for six weeks straight we do everything possible to sabotage ourselves. We find ourselves once again eating and drinking too much but this time without the benefit of sun and sea to keep us moving. Instead of long walks on the beach, or hours raking in the yard we find ourselves battling crowds in the mall and moving at a snails pace. While our circadian rhythms are telling us to go to sleep at 8 we are just putting on the final touches to race out the door to yet another gala. When we do have a chance to slow down we wonder why? Why aren’t we invited to more parties?  Why aren’t we getting everything done in time? Why are other, better, people out making the most of this glorious time while we are inside eating fruit cake and watching 12 straight hours of Christmas miracles on Lifetime TV? The only thing in the world that makes the stress and strain of the season on our bodies and minds worthwhile is the single day it is all designed around.

The week after Christmas is filled with work you can’t get done because everyone is still on holiday. It is filled with leftovers, carbs, carbs and more carbs. It is filled with half done house work and reruns and pants with elastic waists and retrospectives to remind you of every terrible thing that happened in the world in the last twelve months. The only bright light is New Year’s Eve. Next year you can do it better, you can work out more, and get the house fixed up and call that person you have had a crush on but weren’t going to call because you put on twelve pounds in two months.  This week is shot to hell, but come January first….