Feb 4, 201112:00 AM
Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans
On New Year’s Day, my friend Vera came over for black-eyed peas and cabbage, and we started talking about resolutions.
“I make positive resolutions,” she told me, and in answer to my blank look, she explained, “You know, none of this, ‘I won’t do X’ or ‘I’ll stop doing Y.’ The best resolution I ever made was, ‘I will see more live music.’”
It made a lot of sense, really, but I have a 4-year-old; a resolution to see more live music wouldn’t fail, per se, but only because I think the only live music I saw last year was at Jazz Fest. Having a kid limits my leisure time to stuff I can do either with her or at home once she’s gone to bed, and a resolution to watch more Law & Order: SVU while drinking cheap wine by myself really wasn’t an appealing proposition.
Still, I decided Vera had a good point. Instead of trying to give something up (my only real addiction is coffee, and I would be both absolutely useless and murderously cranky without it), I would try to make positive changes.
A month in, I’m taking stock.
Resolution No. 1: I will keep my desk clean.
Result: Well, I’ve kept it cleaner, anyway. I’ve corralled all of my chewed-up pens into a coffee mug and developed a pretty half-assed filing system. I’ve stopped letting half-empty coffee cups sit until they get moldy, but I still have a collection of half-empty water bottles that I keep meaning to recycle. I get a solid B on this one.
Resolution No. 2: I will cook healthier meals for Ruby and me every night instead of resorting to feeding her Kid Cuisines and then having wine and a PB&J after I’ve tucked her in.
Result: This one is hard. I love to cook, but I learned from my mom and dad, who are both fantastic – but not necessarily fast – cooks. My family recipes are more for turtle soup and gumbo and all-day pot roast than one-pot suppers or make-ahead casseroles or Crock-Pot delicacies. By the time I get home, Ruby and I are both too hungry and tired for me to contemplate making anything elaborate. Stopping at the grocery after work with her in tow is a pain, too, because again, we’re both so tired – she is more prone to throw a tantrum when I deny her something, and I am more prone to give in when she wants something, plus we’re also both shopping hungry. Yesterday, we stopped at Rouses for an onion and some pasta and somehow I still managed to spend $50. And then I have to lug Ruby, her school things, my work things and the groceries from my car to my apartment on the third floor. I feel very Classic Single Mom as I struggle to find my keys and unlock the door while holding 25 pounds of groceries and yelling at Ruby to please hurry up and no, I don’t really care that you have a rock in your shoe; I’ll get it out in a second – can’t you see Mommy’s hands are full; oh, my God, come ON! I’ve had moderate success with cooking and freezing meals on the weekends, though, and even when we don’t sit down to a home-cooked meal, we sit down together to eat PB&J, which is the most important part. I get a B-/C+ on this one.
Resolution No. 3: I will keep my car clean.
Result: I don’t even know why I attempted to make this resolution. Here, again, the cards are stacked against me genetically. True story: My mom’s car was stolen when I was in grade school. A week later, the cops called us and said they’d found it. “But,” said the officer solemnly, “I’m afraid the thieves trashed it pretty bad. It’s full of garbage and food wrappers and junk.” My mom played along and acted shocked and disgusted, but the car, when we got it back, was just like we’d left it – full of garbage and food wrappers and junk. So if my car right now is a rolling Dumpster – and it is – it’s a family tradition, right? I don’t even want to know what’s in my car at present, but if I had to take a loose inventory, I would say that there is at least one (and maybe two) sippie cups full of sour milk, a Twinkie that got stepped on, five empty PJ’s cups, three dresses of mine and two of Ruby’s, a pink feather boa, two sticker albums, a frying pan, my iPod, 16 gum wrappers, an empty aspirin bottle, 12 crumpled-up gas station receipts, two pink Triaminic cough strips, a set of bristle blocks, four My Little Ponys, 36 black elastic hair ties, seven trashy mystery novels my mom lent me, two different kinds of hand sanitizer and a six pack of Abita that I meant to bring to a party. Also, some Tupperware, Ruby’s ballet clothes, a Ziploc baggie full of Valentine conversation hearts and some appallingly high heels that I should just throw away because I will never wear them again. Also, a Bit-O-Honey gummed up in the back driver’s-side door by Ruby’s booster seat. Also, some ketchup packets, two sweatshirts, a set of Crayola markers and a flowered raincoat. Also, a traffic ticket for having expired plates that I really need to take care of before I get arrested. And that’s not even counting what’s in the trunk. On Jan. 3, I cleaned and vacuumed my car, and for maybe a week after that, I was diligent about throwing trash away every day and taking Ruby’s discarded clothes upstairs and not letting toys just pile up. I had a canvas bag that I would fill and carry up to my apartment every night and carry back down empty in the morning. This worked fabulously – until I just … stopped doing it. And so now my car is full of everything I’ve just listed. And yes, that happened in less than a month. I absolutely deserve an F on this one.
Overall, I’m not doing so great, I guess. I average probably a C-. But when I stop to look at the big picture, maybe I should relax. After all, it’s not like my resolutions were, “I will finally kick my crack habit” or “I will stop leaving my kid at home alone while I pursue a life of crime.” I definitely need to clean out my car and pay that traffic ticket, and I know I work better with a clean desk, and my daughter deserves a regular mealtime and a wholesome meal every night. I’m not abandoning these goals. But I think my resolution for the next month is to be easier on myself.