New Year's is a strange holiday. Let me preface this by saying I did absolutely no research on the subject, because during my school break, the most strain I'm putting on my brain is deciding between MTV and VH1, but I think -- I THINK -- that some guys were randomly sitting around back in the days of wooly mammoths and sandals made of twigs. "I want to get drunk," one said.
"We need a reason, though," said another. "The wife, you know."
"We'll call it New Year's," said one of the really innovative ones, who invented the wheel later that week.
And thus, New Year's was born.
There's more to the story, though.
"But wait," said another guy (the cautious one, who, after his friend invented the wheel, asked, "What about safety belts?"). "Is this a bad idea? What if we feel guilty about this tomorrow?"
And thus, New Year's resolutions were born.
New Year's resolutions are such an enticing idea. "This is it," you think. "Tomorrow, I will wake up and I will be a different person, capable of doing things that I wasn't capable of a mere 24 hours before." As far as I can tell, this does not really occur. I have yet to see someone count down from 10, cheerily toast, make out with a stranger and then set her glass of champagne down, her eyes snapping open with a committed, crazy gleam. "No more champagne for me," she'd say, rubbing her belly. "I resolve to watch those calories."
It seems like resolutions actually have the opposite effect. My friend Carey, for instance, resolved that this would be the year she quit smoking. She spent the week before Jan. 1 chain-smoking Marlboro Lights. "I have to get in as much as I can," she muttered through lips curled around the filter. "I need a light. I need a light, does anybody have a light? I need a light."
She inhaled a final time as the clock struck midnight, then stubbed her cigarette, eyeing the ashtray with all of the remorse with which one might look at a coffin. For two days, she chewed gum, ate more Tootsie Roll pops than any human should ever consume (and we still don't know how many licks it takes to get to the center, as Carey would succumb to aggressively biting the poor pop after 30 seconds or so) and complained incessantly. On day three, I woke to her walking out the door. "It still makes me healthier. Two days less cigarettes," she said.
"Well, except for the extra ten packs you smoked the week before," I pointed out, but she was already gone.
I stopped making resolutions when I was 16, during a fit of teenage rebellion. "I'll show them," I thought, because the abstract "them" holds a very important place in the minds of adolescents. "I'll resolve not to make any more resolutions."
But this year, I decided to change that, because, well, resolutions are fun. Resolutions are hopeful. And really, what's the harm in a little self-deception? Unless, of course, you're resolving to be more honest.
I've resolved to go to the gym, to spend less money on shoes and to stop looking at myself in every reflective surface I pass (my dad calls it narcissistic, I call it observant).
So, go ahead and make your resolutions. I'm going to go back to watching music video channels now -- I can see my reflection in the TV.
Liz Moody, a 2004 graduate of Johansen High School, is a student at the University of California at Berkeley. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.