I’m not generally that into New Year’s resolutions: be nicer; be healthier; try harder; create and complete more to-do lists, less to-done lists (hello, check to one of those already!); pursue creative endeavors; re: my future/a career about which I’m passionate: more acting, less pontificating; spend less time staring into space; magically develop a talent; understand the difference between narcissism and self-love; buy more shampoo; please don’t forget to send Christmas thank-you-notes before the week is over; something about eating; Clarkie Crawford; Elizabeth Clarke; Elizabeth Clarke Crawford; scribble, scribble, scribble; both of my parents’ signatures, perfectly matching those on my third grade reading log; HAPPY NEW YEAR.
I think 2013 might be the year of the resolution to have resolutions, but I’m a little nervous about it.
Historically, for me, the New Year simply marks the time I need to start thinking about the year ahead, which doesn’t start until the anniversary of my birth, which conveniently falls exactly one month after Christmas. How I feel, act and react during my twenty-four hour birthday period, I have always thought, unquestionably determines how I will feel, act, and react for the entire year. (So, resolutions are not generally my deal. My life is generally out of my control save that one special day.) I’m so self-obsessed that in the weeks before my 26th birthday, I still completely believe in this phenomenon, which is why I’m nervous about the year of the resolution to have resolutions. My birthday falls on a Friday this year and my mom will be in town. I’m already feeling so much pressure that I almost had to take my coat off on my way home from work last night; it’s 14 degrees outside, and it didn’t feel safe. What if the day ruins the resolutions?
I was born on Super Bowl Sunday, which is obviously the root of both my apathy toward football (and perhaps love for pigs) and my love-hate relationship with myself. At the tender age of zero, I could tell the focus wasn’t all on me but could sense the American camaraderie in the air. Moreover, I wasn’t able to discern the tone of the “Super Baby” my grandparents had embroidered on the beautiful pillowcase that still rests on my childhood bed.
I tell everyone I meet about the time I had my mom make a carrot cake for my third birthday. Nobody liked it except for me. I’m actually not sure I liked it, but that didn’t matter because I had to keep up appearances, like a true adult. That was the year I moved from Chicago to Kentucky, had to re-evaluate my whole being, developed the adult ability to suck it up and go with the flow. It was the year I pretended not to be potty-trained at night because I didn’t want to let go of my childhood innocence, which I realized—but didn’t dare admit— I’d given away with my cake order.
I turned seven in the year of Louisville, Kentucky’s “Big Snow.” Every girl in my grade (or so I assume, because I was so inclusive and popular) was invited to my house for the most amazing and safe sledding party of all time. I felt very fortunate to have a hill in my backyard, and everyone went home with a purple saucer-style sled as a party favor. I experienced true embarrassment for the first time during this party of all parties when my dad yelled at me for spilling my homemade orange soda snow cone on the dining room rug. I thought the point of the designs on oriental rugs was so that they would hide stains. Apparently, I was wrong. (Plus side: Up until that moment, I had to say my most embarrassing moment was when my pants almost fell down on the monkey bars in pre-school.) That year, I felt pretty on top of my social life and created a new embarrassing moment for myself and my summer best friend when I decided to wear my brother’s swim trunks and no top to the country club pool. Had I not been embarrassed on my birthday, I probably would have felt stronger when acting out my choice to make a statement about socially constructed gender roles at the country club pool.
The day I turned sixteen, I was diagnosed with mono. All my best gal pals came over to eat Funfetti, then the boy equivalent to our friend group came over and stood in my front hall. I had to break and sit on the stairs. I felt exhausted and loved, decided I had contracted the kissing disease from an airplane and spent the better part of that year being excited when I had enough energy to brush my hair after washing it. I was too overwhelmed to get my driver’s license, but my best friend drove me everywhere and called me every single day I didn’t show up at school.
I turned 21 in a Walmart. They wouldn’t sell me beer because I wasn’t yet 21 in California; I knew the girl checking me out had no control over the machine, but, I said, “Could you just put your ID in there since I’m clearly of legal age now and we aren’t in California?” “No,” she said. They take these laws extremely seriously in South Pittsburgh, Tennessee. I’m pretty sure it was my idea to have someone sing happy birthday over the intercom. My friend made it happen, and then my roommate threw up in the parking lot because she ate raw chicken. We drove twenty minutes back to school and went to bed. The next morning, because I was about to leave for a study abroad program and didn’t have a room at school, I sat in my car and called my mom. That night, I accidentally decided I would just buy everyone drinks for my birthday and then thought all my friends ditched me at a party, but really I just told them all to leave even though I didn’t have a ride home. I decided not to be mad. Two weeks later, I went to China. The airline lost my luggage, and I spent the next three months being exactly who I wanted to be. I was about to say it was the only time in my life I didn’t care what other people thought, but that would have been a lie. I also won a lot of athletic awards when I was 21, which is probably only because I persevered (Walmart) and took control of a few situations on 21st birthday, and athletes who give up and don’t take control don’t generally get awards.
Last year, I said: “I’m 25: I do what I want” and then cried on my kitchen floor.
I keep saying I have plans, tricks up my sleeve, moves to make, articulations almost ready to be articulated. I don’t know what’s going to happen this year, but I’m just saying that I hope I’m not a liar. HAPPY NEW YEAR. Sorry if my grouping you in with me doesn’t apply, but let’s make a change for once in our lives. It seems right.