Life Notes: New Year, Old Hopes
Getting ready to tackle those to-dos

It’s January. The slate is clean. Or almost.

But there are those pesky, sloppy leftovers from 2011 that won’t release their grip on me. Count among them the following:

The still-unpacked cartons in the basement from our last move 11 years ago, mocking reminders of one couple’s terminal procrastination. There they stand, stockpiled against two basement walls, mute testimony to our inertia

The bedroom carpeting that we’ve been buying since that same move. While the former owners had left theirs in fairly pristine condition, it wasn’t the color or the texture we really wanted.

But the last time we actually took a stab at carpet shopping, accusations were hurled about who was color-blind, who had no imagination, who was impossibly indecisive and well, you get the idea.

The New Year always stamps its “We’ll do better this year” imprint on us in the early days of January. Everything seems possible.

Every unread book will be read, every already-late thank-you note will be sent and the “invite back” list will magically shrink as we give chic parties with menus to-die-for.

Except that come February, then March, the unmet commitments leer at us from the dark corners of our consciences. We always find something to blame: work, family obligations or falling asleep on the den sofa before the 11 o’clock news.

I recognize I probably will never ever sort out the jungle in my sewing basket, where tangled threads, loose pins that prick me every time I reach for something and a wildly random collection of buttons derail any serious sewing efforts.

I understand with a sinking heart that the gym I earnestly joined long ago, the place where I was going to attack my “problem areas,” will probably not see my sneakered feet more than twice a week on a good week.

And if history is prophecy, my sister and I, who have been planning a spa weekend since 2005, will likely instead spend a weekend arguing about whose fault it is that we haven’t gotten to that spa yet. And while we love each other dearly, we do not love our mutual inability to keep promises to one another.

I still have not conquered bifocals, let alone trifocals, which is why I now have more than a dozen pairs of glasses – reading and distance – all in varying degrees of wreckage.

I sit on glasses, step on them and notoriously leave them behind in restaurants. I’ve had quite a few restaurant managers, by now familiar with my carelessness, chase after me like mother hens into parking lots, waving wayward glasses in their hands.

There is that moment of embarrassment and humiliation as I reclaim my specs, and swear to those managers and my long-suffering husband, that this is it – I’m getting one of those chains to suspend from my neck that will solve the glasses problem forever.

Tomorrow. I’ll do it tomorrow…

Meanwhile, I continue to build up shameful library fees for unreturned books, kill plants I vowed to love and cherish, and do fierce battle with my bedroom closet. My friend Patsy, a fashion writer, has taught me an immutable rule of shedding: if you haven’t worn it in two years, ditch it.

So why is the space in my husband’s teeny part of our shared closet pristine, while my hangers sag with my mistakes: the vest made of silver discs that was an impulse buy at a boutique that was going out of business, the red jumpsuit from another lifetime that I keep thinking will make a triumphant comeback, the carton full of clothes at the back of the closet that bears the tiny label “Too Small.”

By not simply giving them to a good cause, I cling to the notion that someday, these things will fit again. Keeping those pants and shorts and skirts lets me cling to that possibility. Not very likely, but still a teensy-weensy bit possible.

And as this new year begins, I cling, also, to three little words that get me through so many of my foibles and failures: “Hope springs eternal.”

January 2012
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