My alarm beeped promptly at 6 a.m. Today was the day! It was the start of a New Year, and I was ready to tackle the 12 resolutions I had painstakingly devised in December. To help me stay on track, each objective was written on a yellow sticky note and planted in places where I might be tempted to go astray. I was prepared. I was eager. I was absolutely determined to accomplish my goals.
I hit the snooze button and rolled back into bed.
Post-It number one, “Get Up With Your First Alarm,” wasn’t really that important. It was the other 11 notes that were essential. Those were the resolutions that would undoubtedly transform my life, making me happier, healthier, and infinitely more productive.
Ignoring the second alarm, I decided that Post-It eight, “Don’t Procrastinate,” should also be omitted because, while I had originally planned for this day of transcendence to begin on the first day of the New Year, it was already Jan. 17.
But who cares when I started? I was on my way now and anxious to begin this journey of rebirth and discovery. At the sound of the second alarm, Jeff, my husband, bounded out of bed, because that is who he is: a morning bounder. He rises and shines. He greets the day. He carpe diems. He is beyond annoying.
If Jeff’s body is ever found bludgeoned to death by a still ringing alarm clock between the hours of 6 and 8 a.m., it would be wise to look to the woman clutching a pillow over her head as the most likely suspect.
As my third alarm sounded, he smiled and handed me the “Walk with Jeff Each Morning” note I had entrusted to him the previous evening. I snapped, “What is the matter with you? Can’t you see that I’m sleeping?” before tossing the note aside.
If my body is ever found smothered to death by my own pillow, it would be wise to look to the energetic man bounding outdoors, mumbling, “Hey, she put the pillow over her own head!” as the most likely suspect.
Jeff shrugged and sprung down the steps to greet his true walking partner: the dog. I felt some remorse at my behavior, but not enough to actually join them. So when I heard Jeff say, “I love you,” I wholeheartedly responded, “I love you, too!”
After a moment of silence Jeff shouted back, “I love you, too,” and I realized that the first “I love you” was actually directed at the dog. The third note, “Stop Snapping at Jeff,” was probably unrealistically optimistic for such a momentous and life-altering day.
I briefly considered finding note number eight and throwing it away, but decided I’d do it later.
Once I was up and in my car, the note on my dashboard reminded me to “Learn a New Language.” I started the tutorial, but as I listened to the teacher urging me to ask, in Spanish, where the library was located and then answering back that the library was here, my mind wandered. If I’m in Spain, why am I spending my time in the library? Shouldn’t I be out touring the Temple of Debod and sampling chocolate con churros? And if I did go to the library, what would I do there? Read Big Little Lies in Spanish? In Spain, the title is Pequeñas Mentiras, meaning “Little Lies.” Why were the lies so much smaller in Spain? And why would I ask a passerby where the library is located when, based upon the teacher’s answer, I was obviously standing in the library? I tore the sticky note off the dashboard and threw it on the floor.
Post-It note five, “Keep Your Car Clean,” was also displayed on the dashboard. I threw it on the floor as well.
I drove to the gym, ready to power through note number six: “Exercise More Frequently.” The woman at the front desk jumped up and gave me a long hug. It had been so long since my last visit; she feared something terrible had happened to me. But once I assured her that no, I was not injured, had not been kidnapped, had not joined the circus, I walked into the women’s locker room. On the wide wall of lockers, mine was the only one with a padlock still in place. Unbeknownst to me, the gym owners were planning to remodel and had asked everyone to remove their locks and personal belongings in preparation for the upcoming renovations. My locker had half a dozen notes posted to it — not unlike my own motivational messages — all with notices such as, “Please remove this lock,” “We really, really need you to vacate this spot,” and “$50 reward to anyone who can identify the owner of this locker.” Realizing that I had left my padlock key at home, I quickly and quietly backed out of the locker room.
The yoga class I had planned on attending had started two minutes earlier, and I didn’t want to disturb anyone’s downward facing dog. Besides, my mat was stuck in my locker. I sat down at the leg press machine. A man across the room looked like he might want to use it, so I hopped back up. It was just the polite thing to do. The assisted pull-up apparatus felt a little shaky — I didn’t want it to fall on me mid pullup — and the elliptical looked like someone sweaty might have recently used it. It was cold-and-flu season, and I was simply taking sensible precautions by avoiding anything that might recently have been used by someone contagious. It was just good common sense that led me to sneak out the side door, thus avoiding the front desk lady who would have surely asked why I was leaving so soon.
Undeterred, I drove off knowing that my remaining resolutions would be the key to self-awareness, prosperity, and profound inner peace. But first I would need a Starbucks.
Walking in, I got behind a woman who clearly did not understand the concept of a line because she was meandering a good yard or two behind the customer at the counter. Even after receiving her verbal confirmation that she was, in fact, in line, she did nothing to bridge the gap or improve my suddenly faltering sense of serenity. When it was her turn and she asked, “What’s good here?” she had no idea how close she was to being stabbed by one of those green plastic splash sticks that were dangerously close at hand. Good thing I disregarded the patience sticky first thing this morning.
When at last she settled on the unconventional and remarkably innovative selection of a grande medium roast coffee, I took her place and was handed a little yellow sticky note from my usual barista.
“You told me to give this to you,” he said.
It was number seven, “Eat Healthier,” which also included a suggested order of green tea and whole grain oatmeal. I just stared at him. He stared back. Neither one of us blinked; we were like cowboys getting ready for a showdown. Tumbleweed may have drifted behind me, and I’m pretty sure I heard that whistling song that plays in every Western movie right before the gun fight. I squinted my eyes and almost imperceptibly shook my head. He nodded and just as imperceptibly looked down at his tip jar. I walked out with my salted caramel hot chocolate and iced lemon pound cake, a five dollar bill and a crumpled sticky note left behind at the counter.
Sitting down in front of my home computer, I came face to face with note nine: “Writers Write! You Can’t Edit a Blank Page!” This note was so annoyingly perky that I was momentarily tempted to slap myself. Instead, I logged onto Facebook.
After looking at pictures of other people’s dinner entrees, taking a lengthy personality quiz, and watching a St. Bernard get tortured by a kitten, I decided my nail polish wasn’t inspirational enough. As the “Berry Fairy Fun” polish dried on my fingertips, I wondered if “Writers Write” would be more impactful if stitched on a pillow. That reminded me of the cross-stich project I started in 2011 but never completed, and I went in search of my needlework bag. I never found the bag, but did locate a recently purchased rejuvenating face mask, which I applied while simultaneously using moisturizing hand gloves. Feeling energized and a bit clammy, I suddenly remembered that I still needed to grapple with note 10: “Cook More Meals at Home.”
I was pouring through an old Williams Sonoma cookbook filled with delectable dinner options — none of which I had the ingredients for and all of which should have been started three hours earlier — when Jeff stepped into the kitchen.
“I’m sorry I didn’t have time to cook,” I said. “I was working.”
While we waited for our Bite Squad dinner order to arrive, I tackled note 11: “Read More Nonfiction.” Finding the John Adams biography I started three years ago, I dug in, but was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of letters Abigail and John wrote to each other, distracted by thoughts of what John and Thomas Jefferson might have posted on Facebook, and wondered why, in every chapter, it was always winter. Did our founding fathers never experience good weather? I used note 11 as a book mark and turned on Netflix’s “Riverdale.”
Jeff walked into the room, a glass of wine in one hand and a can of Grapefruit LaCroix sparkling water in the other. I scowled as he attempted to hand me the can.
“There was a note on the wine bottle,” he said. “Number 12, ‘Drink Less Wine.’”
It was the Starbucks scene all over again, but Jeff blinked faster than my barista. Before the tumbleweeds could roll or the music swell, Jeff handed me the wine.
After a long swallow, I located the yellow Post-It pad I had used to write out my New Year’s resolutions and tossed it in the trash.
It was just as well. I probably never would have stuck with it.