For most of my adult life I was one of the millions of Americans who made ridiculous New Year resolutions knowing full well I’d never stick to them. Eat healthier. Save money. Be kinder. Puh-leeze.… Come the first cold snap I’d find myself scarfing down a big carton of General Tso’s chicken and binge watching some random FX+ series. I wasn’t alone. It seems four out of five people who make resolutions break them—80% by the second week of February.
Then why do we do it? Probably because there’s something alluring about the start of an unblemished new year as a time to look at the changes we’d like to make in our lives forward.
From what I’ve read, this resolution business started in ancient Babylon but really got rolling when Julius Caesar created his calendar. Caesar declared January as the beginning of the new year. The month was named after Janus, the god with two faces. One looked to the past and the other to the future. Hence the Romans began making sacrifices and promises to be good in the new year. The early Christians then adopted the practice of looking to the beginning of a new year to reflect on past mistakes and vow to change their behavior.
Experts on time management behavior point to four main reasons so many well-intentioned people fail in their resolutions. First, most people want the change, but aren’t really willing to put in the work. Second, people want to see big changes fast. And that’s generally not how it works. Third, we don’t plan for setbacks. Fourth, we’re too ambitious in our goal setting.
Yours truly is no expert on the topic, but I do believe they’re missing something important and that is you have to make the resolution fun if you want it to stick.
I stumbled upon this notion last year when I resolved to try my hand writing iPoems, very short poems meant to be read in a single screen on a smart phone. Using the notebook app on my phone, I was able to write on demand, anytime, anywhere, when inspired by anything I saw or heard.
It was a different type of resolution. And it stuck! I found I enjoyed writing sly little spoofs about the people and circumstances I encountered in my everyday life. Let’s face it; I’m not deep. I am, however, observant. And I have a sharp wit and a breezy writing style.
Then, when one of my iPoems was published in the gay literary e-zine Chelsea Station, I felt almost like a modern day Cole Porter. This, I realized, was how a New Year resolution should work out.
So, without further ado, I want to share three of my favorite New Year resolution iPoems.
Another stumble, another fall.
Pirouette into a coral wall.
Cuts and abrasions. A big ol’ scrape.
Blood clot powder and lots of tape.
Punctured lung. Broken rib.
Grand jeté, another fib.
Bring out the Stoli, a drink will do.
Pas de deux, baby, me and you.
Dinner Party 10PM
Shut the f@#k up.
Stop breathing my air.
The dinner has burned,
But nobody cares.
The old boys are drunk,
Zombies in their cups.
And the twinks have all left,
For their Grindr hook ups.
Husseys in pearls,
Queens in white jeans,
Adorn antique mirrors.
A bust of Robert E. Lee.
The host is a bigot,
But few will admit it,
While drinking his wine,
And looking so fine,
In expensive white cotton and linen.
So what is my resolution for 2019? At first I was going to quit watching CNN, but the reality show going on in the White House is just so fascinating that I can’t pull myself away. I considered flossing because I need to do it more often, and I have this pesky gag reflex I keep hoping to overcome. Neither of these, though, seemed very fun.
Finally, after much soul searching, I have resolved to drink and appreciate scotch whiskey, which seems like an appropriate taste to acquire later in life and something a refined and—ahem—older gentleman might sip while watching and writing about life’s amusing antics. Can’t wait to see where this takes me. ▼
Rich Barnett is the author of The Discreet Charms of a Bourgeois Beach Town, and Fun with Dick and James.