Today is the first day of February - the perfect time to fortify my New Year’s Resolutions. Or perhaps to edit them, as the glowing optimism of December has dimmed somewhat.
I am a big fan of resolve and resolving. If you read my blog last year about Woody Guthrie’s wonderful New Year’s Rulin’s then you will already know this. If you didn’t, then read it now - not only for my vanity, but because I think Guthrie’s 33 commandments are Mount Sinaian in their sagacity. Yeeah I just made up that word, ‘Sinaian’. A coinage! And so early in the year!
I know it sounds like I may have made up ‘sagacity’ too. But I didn’t. I wish I did - what a humdinger of a word.
Sagacity is ‘the quality of being sagacious’* — I have just decided that my tip-top February resolution is to be sagacious AT ALL TIMES.
Person A (let’s call him Englebert, just for fun): ’Where’s Katya?’
Person B (Mildred): ‘Oh, she’s just over there, being sagacious, like usual.’
Leaving my soon-to-be perpetual sagaciousness aside, let me tell you why I hate January. That took a negative turn quickly didn’t it? Quick! Look at this kitten falling down!
Despite my unabashed love of resolutions (I love resolutions almost as much as sticky buns, and that is really saying something) and the fact that they should be the very mechanism to bring about positive change, they somehow have a way of infusing January with misery. It seems to me that in January, everyone feels cold, fat and an irrefutable non-piano-virtuoso-linguist-zen-master.
I shan’t pretend that December didn’t see me making overzealous resolutions:
- Cutting down on meat - though I am an unrepentant carnivore, this has been a moderate success
- Stretching every day before breakfast - obviously an unmitigated failure. It takes a stronger will than mine to resist the siren song of toast & marmite and/or Special K.
- Growing fingernails as long as my arms - I don’t think I’ve seen a single friend this month without shrieking “Look! Talons!!” and wiggling my paws at them. That’s not to say I have succeeded, it’s just my new ‘cool’ way of saying hello.
But January is too cold, too lean, and too sober (not for me, although there is nothing more sobering than people expatiating on their decision to plump for a lemonade) to try and bring about self-flagellating change.
When you are cold to your bones, you need more fat on them, more brandy, and more lie-ins with a fleecy blanket.
With this is mind, I wanted to share two poems with you - don’t worry, I didn’t write them.
They are actually both in an anthology called 101 Poems To Get You Through The Day (And Night) edited by Daisy Goodwin: a surprisingly restorative collection. My Grandma gave me this book eleven birthdays ago, and it has been propped up on the various bookshelves of every room I’ve lived in since then. I think that’s nine.
The first one is called Song on Being Too Lazy to Get Up, by Shao Yung (and translated by Burton Watson). If staying in bed for an extra 15 minutes, give or take, is OK for 11th Century Philosophers, then it is a-OK by me.
Half remembering, yet not remembering, just waked up from a dream;
almost sad, but not sad, a time when I’m feeling lazy,
hug the covers, lie on my side, not wanting to get up yet —
beyond the blinds, falling petals fly by in tangled flurries.
How beautiful is that?
Not rhetorical. The answer is Very.
And the second poem is Against Dieting, by Blake Morrison. I love this poem so much I would almost go so far as to hand over my soon-to-be-title of Chief Sage to Blake Morrison. I think it’s an excellent (Gin &) Tonic for one of January’s many cruelties - the world alliance that, for reasons unfathomable to me, got together and decided to make women feel bad about their loveliest squidgy bits.
I decree (as soon-to-be Chief Sage - this is happening, people): take Morrison’s advice, and have a sticky bun. Or at the very least, share one with me.
Please, darling, no more diets.
I’ve read the books on why it’s
good for one’s esteem.
I’ve watched you jogging lanes and pounding treadmills.
I’ve even shed some kilos of my own.
But enough. What are love handles
between friends? For half a stone
it isn’t worth the sweat.
I’ve had it up to here with crispbread.
I doubt the premise, too.
Try to see it from my point of view.
I want not less but more of you.
So now that January is well and truly behind us, I encourage you to make like Woody Guthrie, and come up with some corkers for your February Resolutions.
*I’m sure you already knew that but it never hurts to refresh the old vocabulary. I used to go out with someone who thought that ‘Resting on your Laurels’ meant sitting down, and that Laurels was a fancypants (so to speak) word for bottom.
You can bet your laurels I set him straight.
It is January 22nd, and my 2012 Resolutions (The Resolutions To End All Resolutions .. Look Out World! and so on and so forth) have already fallen by the wayside. Oh woe.
Luckily, I am a big believer in making my resolutions realistic and, more importantly, making them regularly.
January 1st. Rosh Hashanah. Chinese New Year. The Academic Year. Monday Mornings. … Tuesday Afternoons. Thursdays, around about 11am. Ok, 11pm. Fuck it. FRIDAY!
I used to have a bottle of pearly white liquid hand soap that read ’Wash Your Hands, It’s Time to Start Afresh’. I loved that. I would go as far as to say that was my favourite ever soap. (I know — I can’t take that back)
So you can imagine my excitement when, this morning, I discovered Woody Guthrie’s ”New Years Rulin’s” - an extract from his diary, dated January 1st, 1943.
As you can see, they were written on the page in ‘The Middle of The Book’. That’s a great page. You can write anything on that page, and just — tear it out! No problem! Luckily, he decided to keep these Rulin’s in, and I’m so glad he did, because they have given me a great deal of pleasure, on an oh so snowy sunday.
1. Work more and better
2. Work by a schedule
3. Wash teeth if any
5. Take bath
6. Eat good — fruit — vegetables — milk
7. Drink very scant if any
8. Write a song a day
9. Wear clean clothes — look good
10. Shine shoes
11. Change socks
12. Change bed cloths often
13. Read lots good books
14. Listen to radio a lot
15. Learn people better
16. Keep rancho clean
17. Dont get lonesome
18. Stay glad
19. Keep hoping machine running
20. Dream good
21. Bank all extra money
22. Save dough
23. Have company but dont waste time
24. Send Mary and kids money
25. Play and sing good
26. Dance better
27. Help win war — beat fascism
28. Love mama
29. Love papa
30. Love Pete
31. Love everybody
32. Make up your mind
33. Wake up and fight
There is nothing that I don’t love about this. I think my favourite rulin’s (although this will certainly change, as they are all so heart-achingly apt) are:
- Wash Teeth If Any
- Make Up Your Mind
- Stay Glad
So far I have changed my socks and washed my teeth. Look out, 2012!
Next on my To-Do List: Wake Up and Fight.
(Also, a note to anyone called Pete: try and cash in on #30.You can’t argue with “Rulin’s” — right? You’re welcome.)