Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Saturday, January 01, 2005


I'm not big on New Year's resolutions. I usually do my annual stock-taking at Rosh Hashanah, and make the usual promises to myself to try and be a better Elayne. (Kath David puts it nicely: "I strive to be better at what I do so I want to exit 2005 a better person than I entered it.") In terms of specifics I generally keep the bar pretty low and aim for practicality; I think my pseudo-resolutions last year had to do with getting into a better situation, both at home and at work, than I had at 2004's beginning, and that's more or less been accomplished; our current place is much quieter and efficient and the rent less expensive and there's actually room for a car, but I'm still at the same job (albeit not in the city any more, and with a far shorter commute than I ever had when working in Manhattan) and seem to have more responsibilities (and less authority) than ever, not to mention all the nightmares but I won't mention them. Yeah, I'd like a job that doesn't leave me too physically and mentally exhausted at night to write stories, but considering our current political and economic situation my take is that I'm just lucky to be employed.

So "get a new job" isn't really a resolution any more; things like that are too dependent on outside forces. Neither is "get in shape and become healthier" - while I know it's necessary I can't submit it to a resolution or it'll be riddled with failure from the start. And to an extent that's externally-dependent too; like hybrid cars, organic food is generally too pricy to be affordable by the middle class, and while the idea of cooking still appeals to me I don't have the time and instincts for the prep. If I got out of work the same time (and had the same sort of commute) every day I might consider a fat-accepting exercise class like the one I used to attend on 72nd Street a decade or so ago, but that's not going to happen. And I'd rather just get on the stationary bike 2-3 times a week (after my current injury heals) than promise myself I'm going to, because if I make the promise and can't keep it due to work exhaustion and/or the commute I'll feel even worse. That's how resolutions are; they're made to be broken because, after all, we're human beings affected by our environment and not paragons of unbreakable will.

Which brings us back to the "be a better me" line of thought, where my pseudo-resolutions include things like not becoming the kind of driver I used to yell at when I was strictly a pedestrian, giving more to charities if I can afford it, and finally writing the Book of Vashti comic book story I've talked about for years. Yes, still externally-dependent to an extent, but laudable goals to which I should aspire. And that's what I think resolutions should be - not hard and fast "I must do this or be a miserable failure" rules, but goalposts for which it's not a bad idea to shoot. And if I don't make it, oh well - rather than being incentive to quit one needs to look at falling short of goals as incentive to try again, perhaps with a different strategy.

Here's hoping all the goals you set for yourself this year are within sight and within reach. I wish you all a very happy and healthy 2005.