Grandma Hilda believed that whatever you did on New Year’s Day you would do a-plenty in the year to come. With this in mind, Grandma structured the activities of her New Year’s Day more carefully than any poser publishing their self-inflating resolutions. For instance, Grandma loved to travel, so on New Year’s Day she piled the kids in the car and took a small road-trip around the neighboring countryside. Ever hopeful that her kids would be successful in their ventures, Grandma made certain that each kid built a project or cleaned a room or completed a puzzle on New Year’s Day. And Grandma made sure to eat black eyes peas on New Year’s, steadying herself for the winds of chance that blow seethingly against even the strongest constitution. Grandma Hilda left us many years ago, but her New Year’s tradition lives on as an enduring family legacy.
With Grandma Hilda’s memory prodding me into 2014, I decided to keep a New Year’s Log, a running predictive commentary of what the approaching year may reflect from the workings of this single day. In retrospect, I feel the year ahead is full of promise, of literature and caffeine, of pugs and long walks. From all accounts, it appears 2014 will be the year my biographers will reference and say, “By God, he finally got it.”
January 1, 2014 : An Inner-Commentary*
8:25-8:45 = Wake and immediately berate myself for rising late in the New Year. Consider the entire year a wash. My most Thoreauvian moments of 2014’s dawn squandered between flannel sheets rather than leashed to my pugs, gazing on box turtles glistening in the corner creek. What’s the use? New Year’s snooze-beers. Ah, but nature.
8:46 = First shiver of 2014!
8:47-8:55 = Make coffee using Starbucks Christmas blend. Berate myself for drinking corporate coffee. Consider tastiness of Starbucks Christmas blend. Consider my previously published rants about stimulating local economy. Consider tastiness of Starbucks French Roast. Recognize first dual of the New Year between shoulder angel and shoulder demon. Resolute myself to be less Republican in 2014.
8:56-9:15 = Walk the youngest pug (without a poop bag).
9:16-10:42 = Drink aforementioned corporate coffee (not for long!) and begin reading Steinbeck’s East of Eden. Caffeine slow to act. Have difficulty focusing on story. Mentally rehearse announcement to friends that I began the New Year reading a super important classic that exceeds 600 pages. Caffeine takes hold. Crap, this book is really good and super important. Friends’ facial and verbal approvals of my classically steeped literacy annotate the margins of my reading. Resolute myself to read more important books in 2014. At least two. Counting this one. Maybe a shorter one next, though.
(9:16-10:42 = Send three or four mass text messages announcing my reading of East of Eden. Attempt to make domestic tranquility of warm coffee, Arkansas Razorback moccasins, and snoring pugs central to my textual thesis, but I also type EAST OF EDEN in all-caps. No reply.)
10:43 = Wife arrives home from running a 3K. Pugs go ape-shit. Wife is smiling and announcing resolutions to run even more in 2014.
10:44 = I rise from my reading chair, feel the stiffness in my back, and resolute myself to get a massage in 2014.
10:45-Noon = Cook brunch: Applewood smoked pork bacon (per my 2014 resolution to give up turkey bacon because I’m not a little bitch), scrambled eggs with aged whisky cheddar, biscuits, locally produced and manufactured honey (from Democratic bees), and a few of those little Cuties oranges. Consume brunch at dining room table with wife. Marvel at “adultness” of brunch. Slip pugs a little bacon fat and scrambled eggs. Youngest pug vomits.
12:01-12:30 = Walk both pugs. Wave to unknown neighbors. Feel great sense of community and a keen swell of accomplishment to have exercised so early in the New Year. Resolute myself to celebrate with ginger beer straight from the bottle.
12:31-12:40 = Cellular telephone call Otha Graham. Pride myself for being socially gracious on a major holiday. Envision myself in 2014 hosting intellectual forums in local parks, poetry readings in cafes, artistic klatches in the parking lot outside Painting With a Twist. We agree – Otha and I – to have lunch and discuss cinema soon. Chalk up first phone call of 2014 as a blazing success. (Also, I’m happy to report the entire Graham family is in good health.)
12:41-12:47 = More coffee. More Steinbeck. Less focus.
12:48-1:55 = Ditch East of Eden for Eastbound And Down (Season 3). Mass text Kenny Powers line about Cabbage Patch Kids fornicating in a dojo. No reply. Begin rough drafting a mass text that plays on East of Eden and Eastbound And Down titles. Gotta keep a balance. Resolute myself to find the joke there.
1:56-4:30 = Nap like a competitive napper. On top of the covers. Wearing my shoes and glasses. Total REM. Ninth rung of sleep ladder and everything. Wake cradling a pug, wondering where the hell I am and where Jamie Lee Curtis ran off to.
4:32-4:47 = Stretch. Brag to wife about gold medal napping. (Omit the JLC bits.) Mass text about Best Nap of 2014. (Still omit JLC bits.) Second shiver of 2014! Pour another coffee.
4:48-5:15 = Walk pugs. Upon returning to drive-way, resolute myself to wash my car way more in 2014 than the previous year. Count by memory number of times I washed the car in 2013. Realize I only need to wash it twice in 2014.
5:16-6:30 = Assist wife in dinner preparations. Clean dining room. Select dinner music. Change pants. Brush teeth. Lift hat and scoff at hairline. Mentally prepare three jokes about dinner that are sure to kill. Practice one joke via mass text. No reply. Resolute myself to give up comedy in 2014. Feed pugs. Set table. Suddenly remember East of Eden and Eastbound And Down bit. Resolute myself to not give up comedy again in 2014. Prepare beverages. Set out appetizers. Run “to powder” before guests arrive. Resolute myself to meditate on comedic timing and the comedy rule of threes. Third shiver!
6:31-7:05 = Welcome dinner guests. Serve prepared beverages (iced water) and appetizers (bowl of Jelly Bellies). Dinner prep takes longer than anticipated – lobster and shrimp! Resolute myself to teach pugs parlor tricks in 2014.
7:06-8:30 = Consume meal with the grand Nelsons. Share stories. Ditch previously prepared jokes and work “off the cuff”. First two attempts bomb. Slide third joke seamlessly into Courtney’s conversation about “Sup to Sup” (Supervising the Supervision) – “You should ask them when they wanna try ‘Ass to Ass’: Assessing the Assessment” – and it kills. (Comedy rule of threes!) As does another seamlessly slipped line about mistaking a friend’s second child for the un-grown version of their first child, which kills harder than the “Ass to Ass” bit. Resolute myself to pursue this art form financially in 2014.
8:31 – 9:15 = Dismiss friends. Clean kitchen. Walk pugs. Contemplate the richness of friendship verses the momentary glitter of wealth. Review jokes that bombed.
9:15-10:20 = Read more East of Eden. Meet Cathy Ames character. Subsequently redefine personal definition of bat-shit crazy. Pride myself about having an inside literary Steinbeckian “bat-shit crazy” joke – “Are you sure you wanna date this girl? She seems to be a regular ol’ Cathy Ames, if you know what I mean.” Pencil these details in the margins, even though it’s not my book.
10:21-10:?? = Find a stopping place between chapters. Revise and re-revise and re-re-revise East of Eden and Eastbound And Down joke. Fire it off in a mass text. No reply.
10:?? = Silence phone. Go to bed. Resolute myself not to check message Inbox till morning.
*Times are approximate and rounded to nearest large number on clock face.