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					New Year’s Resolutions Gone Awry (Directions: Can be first-person truth – it really happened to you – or first- or thirdperson fiction, you made the whole thing up. In 500 words or less, tell us about a New Year’s resolution that crashed.) Resolutions Rhyme A New Year‟s Resolution? What in the world is that? When we were kids If you made one We knew you were a brat. Your mom had talked to Santa, But that didn‟t do the trick. So she had to come up with something Really, really quick To challenge you to change And truly try to be good. I guess that she was worried You‟d turn out to be a hood. You did resolve to change your ways And not pick on your brother. You promised as you crossed your heart, “Yes – I will try, Mother!” But children always find a way To twist and turn events, And Brother can make you look good By paying him just a few cents. – Marge Smith Peterson, guest New Excuses “Dear, there are dying, poor people, and you complain,” her mother said. “You make it a crime to want people,” Zelda said. “I am a writer, but I don‟t want to be alone. Do I just watch people at malls, hoping one will talk to me?” It wasn‟t going to be easy to make a resolution to find people with whom to do things.

She kept pondering why she didn‟t have friends in Parline. She did have gay friends, although she wasn‟t gay, but the most popular church in Parline found that hard to believe. Zelda had Not Allowed to be Friends of Gays stamped on her forehead. Her children couldn‟t play with the children of the Organic branch of Parline because she couldn‟t afford Organic food. But she limited her use of sugar, wasn‟t that good enough? Her children were not allowed to play in the snow at school because a little boy hurt his ankle. Zelda kept trying. “We can‟t come to your house because I am breast feeding,” the mother told her. “So?” asked Zelda. “Not in public.” In the big city, she had seen a baby on one breast and a five-year-old on the other. Zelda started volunteering at school. “You need vacation insurance or fly separately. If one dies, there is still one parent.” “What?” “On a plane, give the oxygen first to your child.” Zelda thought about that one. Does the kid need a dead parent? “We don‟t play on the playground after school.. We don‟t want accidents.” Pardon? I want community, mothers talking to mothers and children playing together. “Oh, you joins MOPS then and pay thirty dollars a month.” The group is organized? No spontaneity? “You weren‟t born here, were you? You don‟t go to our church. We don‟t talk about politics, we don‟t ask about school funding. You don‟t live on our street. You‟re too white to be a mother.” What happened to fun, playing, getting together? Zelda realized people had new excuses. She left the school and volunteered at a dog pound. She had allergies, but a bit of Clariton took care of that.

Zelda didn‟t need crazies to fill her day. Waiting was the key to finding whether she would meet funny, open, warm people. Her resolution to meet people would take time or a job transfer. – Sandi Walker, first-and-third The Swimsuit “I swore I‟d never wear a swimming suit again,” I exclaimed in disgust to the lady standing next to me in aqua therapy. “Be careful what you wish for,” she replied with a laugh. Okay for her to laugh. Nearly twice my size, she didn‟t have a speck of the dreaded cellulite on her. Probably because she was half my age. Anyway, in another month we would be moving back to our native Wisconsin where you can only swim a couple of days a year and that‟s if you‟re young to stand up to the cold water. When I opened the drawer to pitch out the offending suit, hiding behind it was a yellow two-piece that I had forgotten. Good grief, it was almost a bikini – but it was more than 20 years old! I guess I had worn it when the dimples on my thighs were still at a somewhat acceptable stage. Well, I took both suits to the trash. No, not even to Goodwill. Now enter the “awry” chapter of my New Year‟s tome. My daughter invited me to take a Carribean Cruise with her and her girlfriend. When she listed the things I would need, she said, “Oh, and be sure to bring your bathing suit.” Over my protests, she declared that there would be every shape and size of humanity on board. Well, if Nora Ephron feels bad about her neck, I feel horrible about my thighs. Reluctantly, I purchased a suit, then determined to sit around the deck or the hot tub enclosed in a cover-up, I packed and headed south. Once on board ship, I did exactly as I had planned. I did notice all the girls had what they call hot bodies. So here I was, a woman of a certain age awash in a maelstrom of great-looking people. When my daughter and her friend got suited up to swim with the dolphins, I decided to leave my deck chaise and mosey over to the little bar and get me a frosty tropical drink. With my cover-up securely wrapped around me and my offending thighs, I sauntered over and got a Margarita. I took large sips through the straw and soon noticed a few women who might be elderly – how I hate that term – but none of them appeared to have my thigh problem. My sissy drink, like a fancy snow cone, called for having another. That first drink made me brave, so I sashayed over to the little bar and ordered a second dose of courage. Whoops! My cover-up was on the chaise!

Not to worry. A group of ladies my age walked by, and they didn‟t look intimidating. They were not hot bodies; they actually had cellulite. Why hadn‟t I noticed this group before? Well, I resumed my seat by the pool, defiantly leaving my legs uncovered. A little tan to show off in Wisconsin wouldn‟t hurt. I syphoned this drink and as a result saw a lot that I hadn‟t noticed before. Rather pleased with myself and relaxed – very relaxed – I heard my daughter and her friend laughing as they prepared to leave for their ocean swim. Now that I looked at them with lubricated eyes, I could see they weren‟t hotties anymore. They were 50ish and quite carefree about their looks. Charged with courage I did not realize I had, I called out to them to wait for me while I went to get a ticket for the swim. My daughter threw a fist into the air. “Good for you, Mom,” she said. I tossed my cover-up aside and went to buy a swim-with-the-dolphins ticket. Most of the people on the beach were like my daughter, her friend and me – far from hard-body type. When we came back to the ship, and after I had a couple more of those delightful, but sneaky drinks, I actually got into shorts, and the girls and I went to the casino. Now that I‟m about to get off the ship, I‟ve been thinking I may keep this swimsuit for a while, and maybe next winter I‟ll do the cruise again. Adios, Margaritaville, but not goodbye! – Millie Mader, guest of first-and-third group What was I Thinking? Sleep deprivation sparked my New Year's resolution this year. I resolved to get eight hours of sleep a night. There‟s history to this resolution. I typically average about six hours of sleep a night. I used to go to bed earlier – at 10 p.m. – and force myself to get up at the ungodly hour of 5:30 or 6 a.m. But night after night, I would toss and turn for two hours before I finally drifted to sleep. I just couldn‟t turn myself off at night. I learned long ago that I was a night person married to a morning person. Hence, the divorce. On my first wave of freedom, I went wild. Stayed up all night every night. Ate scrambled eggs for supper and leftover pizza for breakfast. Drank a gallon of coffee to prop me up in the morning at work so I could pretend to be human. My days are filled with deadlines. Adrenalin shoots through my veins as one deadline after another parades by throughout the day. Two to 6 p.m. is my most productive – and

creative – period of the day. When most people wind down, I get my first wind. The second wind arrives at 10 p.m. Since I work late every night, I arrive home late. Going to bed at 10 doesn‟t allow enough winding-down time. I eat supper at 7:30 or 8, or later. If I eat at 8 p.m., I have to stay up until midnight so supper will digest without acid reflux taking over. If I went to bed at 10 p.m., I would have two to three fewer hours of personal time. The queen of multi-taskers has much to do. Why, while I‟m writing this, I‟m also eating dinner, waiting for two phone calls – oops got interrupted by one of them – listening to Mozart – oops there‟s the doorbell – adding two things I just thought of to my to-do list (pay the roofer and the cable bill), and now my cat is telling me I haven‟t fed her on time, which reminds me to call the vet and order her cat food. I jot that down in my calendar in between these sentences. Twenty-four hours a day isn‟t enough, so I had cut down on my sleep. Last year I kept a journal and documented my time. It‟s official: I exist on six hours‟ sleep a night. Thus the New Year‟s Resolution, which I wrote out on New Year‟s Eve afternoon and stuck to my refrigerator. Ha! I blew that resolution right out of the water on New Year‟s Day. I celebrated the old year out and the new one in, got home after 2 a.m. and probably drifted off to sleep about 3. So on New Year‟s morning – late morning I might add – as I open the fridge to find the hangover cure, I come face to face with the resolution: “Get eight hours of sleep a night.” What was I thinking? I grab the paper and toss it into the wastecan. – Leigh Gregg, second-and-fourth Resolutions My resolution for 2006 was a noble one indeed. Altruistic, unselfish, caring, humane, did I say selfless? Yes, my New Year‟s resolution for 2006 was all the things I‟m not. And the perfect way to convince that cute attorney in our office that I wasn‟t the selfcentered, egotistical, little brat that I am, by nature. You see, I resolved to work at the local Humane Society ONCE A WEEK. I had to do the once a week thing, they had a rule, and wouldn‟t take anything less. Picture it – me, a cute puppy or two, with those big puppy eyes and hundreds of photographs of ME under

the „ole Humane Society sign. Me, volunteering to take care of unloved, unwanted, easily discarded puppies. Puppies, cute little defenseless, puppies. How much pain could that be, really? January 2, 2006 – arrive and meet Butch the Saint Bernard. Butch, my ward for the day. As I was handed the leash I was told today you will bathe, walk, feed and clean out Butch’s kennel. Butch came right up, licked me, slobbered on me, farted and then proceeded to pee in his kennel. I realized I would have rather died, dated a sumo wrestler, died, gotten a cavity fixed without anesthesia, died by having my heart pulled out through my left nostril. “Where are the puppies?” I asked. “There aren‟t any,” I was told. Apparently puppies are so popular that they come and go faster than Double Stuff Oreos. But I did manage to get one really good picture of Butch laying on my chest, me laying on his bed as if we were best buds. Butch, showing off his toenails I had just painted – Redder than Blood. As it turned out Butch was really a girl, so I took the liberty of renaming her Bottechia. Which stands for you could do worse than me in Italian. January 9, 2006 – Bottechia got adopted! By a little old lady from Sicily – Mrs. Ceceri. Apparently, Bottechia reminded her of her late husband – fat, lazy and drooly. The old woman was lonely. Got a nice picture – me in the foreground, Mrs. Ceceri stuffing Bottechia into her VW bug. And welcome to Miss Madeline, the miniature moomuu. She was about the size of a twinkie and as high strung as a bee in a jar. Zipping around, bouncing off the walls, leaving teeny footprints on the ceiling. I did manage to dye her curly coat a nice shade of peachy-pink and place a purply, poofy pompon atop her head. January 16, 2006 – Miss Madeline got adopted! By a Paris Hilton type – rich, finicky, flamboyant and as high strung as a kindergartener on pure sucrose. She even had her own purse-size carrier. Go Miss Madeline! I was offered a job, a paying job – head caregiver to the unwanted. Did I take it? Well, I figured I could do worse. The pay was good. And I have a knack for turning beasts into beauties. So yes, I took it.

The attorney? I found out after showing him the first picture of Butch/Bottechia and me that he‟s highly allergic to dogs. And puppies. – Chris Gehrmann, first-and-third Out, Out, Quotidian Speech You know what I hate? Small talk. I don‟t know why people persist in engaging in shallow, insipid banter in place of saying something that‟s actually interesting. I hate small talk so much that, this year, I resolved to cut it out all together. I am going to revolutionize quotidian conversation. I had my first opportunity to test my resolution at a dinner party that my fiancé, Bill, and I attended last Saturday night. I rang the doorbell with one hand and clutched a bottle of Coppola Cabernet with the other. Katie, a friend of Bill‟s from law school, opened the door and smiled at us. She had the frazzled, distracted look of someone hosting a dinner party and trying to act like she had everything under control. “Welcome! Come in,” she said. “How are you?” “Fine,” Bill answered, adhering to the small-talk regime. “I am a little bit tired and stressed out,” I said. Bill turned and stared at me. There was an awkward pause, and then Katie said, “Well, aren‟t we all? I‟m glad you came.” Katie took our coats and led us into the living room, where she began her rounds of introductions. “Susan and Bill, you know Rob,” she said, touching her husband‟s arm. “And this is my co-worker, Lynn, and her husband, Tom.” A petite woman waved at me from the couch and the man next to her nodded. “These are our neighbors, Gloria and Stu,” Katie said, gesturing toward a woman in a frumpy snowman sweater and a bespectacled man. “And this is my brother Mike and his girlfriend Alice.” “Nice to meet you,” Mike said, shaking Bill‟s hand and then mine. “We‟ve been having an unusually mild winter, haven‟t we?” “It sure is,” Bill replied. “It‟s kind of nice.”

“I despise winter, mild or not,” I said. “If it weren‟t for the fact that Bill is only licensed to practice law in Wisconsin, we‟d be living in southern California, Arizona, or Nevada. Somewhere with a more humane climate.” Mike blinked a couple of times, then said, “Well, at least you‟ve got something to look forward to when you retire.” “Bill is a workaholic. He will never retire,” I said. “His father dropped dead at the office at age seventy-nine, and Bill will probably do the same.” Bill cleared his throat. “Um, Susan, I‟m going to get us a couple of drinks. What do you want?” “Glass of wine will be fine,” I said. I sat down on the couch next to Lynn. “Hi,” she said. “How do you know Katie and Rob?” “Katie went to law school with my husband, Bill. They were in the same study group. She helped him pass Evidence.” Lynn laughed. “Well, Evidence is an important class. And Katie is pretty bright. We work at the same firm doing insurance defense work. You know, bad faith claims, coverage disputes, reinsurance.” “That sounds incredibly boring,” I said. Lynn‟s almost spat out a mouthful of gin and tonic. We hadn‟t even made it to dinner yet. – Susan Gloss, first-and-third Buenos Dias Buenos Dias! Me llama es Catherine. Soy vive en Middleton. Me direction es 3321 Prairie Glade Road. Er, Prairie Glade Calle. How goes my 2007 New Year‟s Resolution, you ask? Well, if any of the above sentences and phrases resemble actual words a Spanishspeaking individual might say in conversation, then the answer is, my 2007 resolution to learn a new foreign language is going just bueno. Si! Mucho gusto! Not without problems, I must admit.

Listening to Berlitz Beginner‟s Spanish taped instructions while driving in my car has proven to be a difficult task, even though it is a goal I set out for myself to do this year. This nuevo anos, as we bilinguists would say. Incantada! You might say in reply. That is great! Son appertido, por favor? Your name, please? Whoa, sorry. Those two thoughts don‟t go together. But I just feel compelled to ask a person what his or her surname is whenever there is a pause in conversation. That is because I can‟t seem to remember any of the other phrases from Section One, Part One of Berlitz‟s Learn to Speak Spanish four-part CD box set with accompanying booklet and compatible computer program. So far I‟m very good at handling any and all issues related to names, greetings and introductions. Give me your senors and your senoritas, coming and going and saying hello and goodbye and also registering at international conferences with multiple children in tow who for some reason all need to be introduced. Ask me for help. I can do it, as long as I‟m not trying to merge onto the freeway. Here‟s a resolution I can make to you – usted – in the new year: If ever you find yourself from Madrid – soy de Madrid – and you seek to be registered at an international conference, I can take care of things. Si! I can register you, with your first and last name repeated in full, into the conference so you can go to the conference. You can introduce your entire family to me, and I promise to be delighted to meet each and every one of them. Bring your sons and daughters. Bring the wife, the mejora. Heck, throw Grandma and Gramps into the car (or that boat you took from Madrid) and I‟ll get them in as well. It goes without saying, I will bid you buenos dias a comfortable number of times and I will ask you where you are from more than once. Madrid, right? I can do this. Yesterday morning, while driving and listening to my Spanish CD, stopping and restarting the car and the CD over and over, I registered the same man into my conference eighteen times. I hope he learns a lot at the conference because I just decided that I won‟t let him in again. I can‟t write more, because it‟s time to run another errand. Maybe I‟ll get to Section Two today. I‟m so ready. Mucho ready. Incantada, por favor. – Cathy Riddle, first-and-third Fifth Tuesday Challenge in Waaayyy Less Than 500 Words My resolution was to get my poor cold bod to a place where flowers grow on trees, the only clothes are sandals, bush pants and a dirty tee shirt – and, by golly, I done it.

For those following me, I‟m in Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, and finally on the sea – the China Sea – where I got some fine sunset photos. Friday off to Tawau on the southeast coast. Then on to another national park where I‟'ll join a jungle research team for a few days. Then on to Semporna on the coast of the Sulu Sea. Then to some islands where few tourists go . . . for turtle watching and lazing in a thatch place on the beach. My kind of life. So my resolution has been fulfilled. Eating lots of good food with an average cost of 4 to 8 ringgits. That‟s 70 cents to $1.60 American. Good food, most of it pretty spicy and hot. I‟m healthy, happy and in my element. So Happy New Year and go for resolutions. [Friends, this piece is unedited, unread and sent as typed on a foreign keyboard all gummy from heat and humidity in the nineties.] Lovin it. Da Dragon – Shel Ellestad, first and-third New Year‟s Resolution as Wish – The Hamam (Turkish Bath) Wishing on pleasure, history and imagination, I resolved to visit the Cinili Hamam (1640). It had been a wish for several years, ever since I left Uskudar, Asian Istanbul. In a visual memory I visited the place time and time again. Now I see the high domes of the women‟s and men‟s baths down the hill in the working class Turkish neighborhood. Through the metal gate, down the foot-worn steps, I enter the humble reception room. Glass-fronted changing rooms are all around, the key to each on a heavy brass knob. Wearing a cotton bikini bottom and plastic sandals, I am wrapped in a towel, the water dipping dish, soap and shampoo in hand. Entering through the low door, the steamy heat wraps around me. Hexagrams pierce the thirty-foot dome admitting diffused daylight. Women lounge on the huge, grey granite slab as heat moves up through the stone. I sit on a low granite slab next to a white marble basin. It has no drain. Two faucets fill my personal font. There are three basins per niche, alternating with more private alcoves that line the polygon central room. Slim stone gutters catch the ever-flowing water. At my basin I adjust the faucets for temperature and dip, dip, dip, pouring the clear water over me. Soap never enters the basin. I soap myself from head to toe. One of the female attendants, also in a bikini bottom, takes me in turn. I lay on my stomach on the slab and with a textured mitt she rubs in firm strokes. I turn over for side two. The old me rolls off in small pills. Then I lie on my sides as she completes the exfoliation.

I move back to the basin for another leisurely washing, mixing hot and cold. Soon it is time for the soap massage. Lying again on the big smooth stone, she lathers and massages me, bending low over the knee-high surface. After about 10 minutes, I sit up and a huge tub of cool water is poured over my head. I cry out in wonder. All around the hamam round forms of women are washing and reclining. Friends sit in groups in the alcoves. There are grandmothers, mothers and a few young girls. A low murmur of talk echoes off the tall stone walls. I hear the voices of three hundred and sixty two years; the gossip and jokes, the quiet laughter. Someone said the women might chose wives for their sons from the fresh young girls draped demurely around the chamber. My New Year‟s resolution is fulfilled. A wish come true in my long awaited visit to the hamam. A pleasure simple and ancient. – Brandy Larson, second-and-fourth The Diet Are you old enough to remember “The Fat Man” radio show? I am. It always opened with the narrator saying: “He‟s walking into that drugstore...he‟s stepping onto the scales...(SNICK! CLICK!) Weight: 237 pounds...Fortune: Danger! Whoooo is it? The...Fat Man!” . . . Brad Runyon, a detective created by Dashiell Hammett. And Runyon could run pretty fast for a fat man, each week chasing down murderers and thieves. Me? I get winded pulling on my Adidas. New Year‟s Day, I had to face the music. I stepped on the bathroom scales and (SPRONG!) Weight: 242 pounds . . . and I‟m only 5-foot-7. Resolved: I will shed 40 pounds in the new year. I should be able to do it, after all, when Doxie, my weinerdog, hit 32 pounds – so I feed her from the table as well as serve up big bowls of Gravy Train . . . that‟s tasty stuff, let me tell you. I know; I lick the spoon – my vet insisted I slim her down . . . no more stuff from the table, only one small bowl of Gravy Train a day, and an experimental diet pill for dogs to kill her appetite. Well, it worked. I committed myself to toast and juice for breakfast, a green salad for lunch, and a Weight Watcher‟s frozen dinner for supper. Healthy and less than 1,200 calories. I could see the pounds sliding away. Did I tell you my cousin gave me an Applebee‟s gift card for Christmas? After my first week of dieting, it seemed only fair that I treat myself, so I took that card and went out for spicy orange-glazed chicken on rice pilaff, it was good. I mean fire from the first bite to the last. And a serving big enough for three. Well, I couldn‟t waste it.

But I showed my steely resolve to my diet and refused dessert. Driving home, though, I passed Culver‟s and their electronic billboard flashed the sign: CHOCOLATE OREO VOLCANO. Never had one and thought a taste would be nice, might even extinguish the blaze in my belly from the Jalapeno juice Applebee‟s had drenched the chicken in. It did put out the fire, but it took all of the Volcano sundae to do it. Home at last, and in time for CSI. And you can‟t watch CSI without having a beer, a Linenkugel Lite because I am committed to my diet. All right, a six-pack. And there was that plate of peanutbutter fudge Alice, my neighbor, had left outside my door . . . and the rum Christmas cake in the refrigerator. The two pounds I lost were replaced by six pounds I gained. I needed help. I needed a diet pill, so off I went to Walgreen‟s. Every package promised miracles, but their listings of side effects included dry mouth, hair lose, erectile disfunction, chest pains, and possible death. I left Walgreen‟s empty-handed. And then I remembered Doxie‟s pills. They worked for her. And the researchers said there were absolutely no side effects from the use of Slentrol, the active ingredient. I‟ve been on Slentrol for a week now . . . appetite in control, ten pounds gone, but I have developed a real liking for Alpo. – Jerry Peterson, first-and-third Bad Boss This year I decided to apologize to everyone I‟ve ever hated. Stacie Lincinati, my old boss, topped that list. We had our last weekly meeting on Halloween. “I‟ve assigned you two new clients. They work late nights, so you‟ll be staying evenings.” She smiled all cheeky friendly and her extra papier-mâché head jiggled on her left shoulder. I smirked like the Grinch. “Well, actually, I quit.” Her eyes watered. She sucked down a wad of spit thickening in her mouth, “Put it in writing, I guess.” Two weeks later, I expected a cake. She never missed a special occasion, but I didn‟t get a cake. I never heard from her again. Until January 2nd, I called to fulfill my resolution. “Stacie, it‟s Betsy DeCoco.”

“Oh my gosh. Hi, how have you been?” “Great.” “Someone told me you‟re in Madison now?” “Yep, we bought a house.” “That‟s great.” “I won‟t keep you long; I just wanted to say how nice it was working together. You really taught me a lot.” “Thanks. That‟s nice to hear.” “You and Steve should visit sometime.” “That would be nice.” “Anytime, we‟d love to have you.” “Thanks. You take care now.” “You too, talk to you soon.” “Bye.” Click. While washing my face that night, I heard a thump in the other room. Frank must be home, I thought. I dried off my face, smeared on moisturizer and let down my hair. Walking into the kitchen I smelled peach hand lotion. Butterflies turned to lead in my stomach. I peeked around the corner into the living room and Stacie looked up at me from the sofa. “What are you doing here?” “I thought I‟d stop by for a visit.” “You let yourself in?” “I wanted you to be surprised.” She motioned to the coffee table like a robot and summoned me to sit down. “Have some black tea.” She had set out two gleaming white porcelain teacups and cut two wide slices of red velvet cake onto celadon plates. She smiled without her face creasing, sipped her tea and motioned for me to do the same.

I sat across from her and lifted the cup to my lips. It smelled like melted plastic and I pretended to take a drink. She took another sip, placed the cup down and ate a forkful of cake. White frosting glossed her mouth. I shivered as she licked it off with an insane smile and brushed her waist-long black braids in front of her shoulders. She reached into an orange crochet bag at her thigh, pulled out a pair of silver scissors and set them next to her plate with a grin. I pretended to take another sip. She finished her cake, then picked up the scissors and cut the left braid off, gritting her teeth as she clamped down on the handle again and again until the braid drooped lifeless onto the wood floor. She did the same to the right braid, letting out a low gurgling chuckle, then leaned back against the plush sofa pillows and froze. The scissors clanged on the floor. She didn‟t move again. – Juliette Crane, first-and-third The New Year‟s Resolve No, I‟m not going to be late again. I‟m tired of all the rush – taking wet or foggy roads too fast, racing through yellow lights, contemplating just how many miles I can drive over the speed limit, then back-pedaling to how many minutes I‟ll then save if I hit all the lights just right. And then there‟s the rushed walk. Pushing myself with a too heavy briefcase on the aching left shoulder, pacing myself to reach the crosswalk before the “Don‟t walk” sign flashes. Or the dart between moving cars. Of course I need sensible shoes, I have to make time. Oh, how I dread the turning faces as I try to slip into a chair unnoticed. A muffled apology spoken into my shoulder, a quick glance at my watch. But the worst is the guilt. Oh yes, I know what tardiness implies – “You have no respect for the value of everyone else‟s time.” It is self-centered, disrespectful, unprofessional – an act of defiance. It angers some and puts a black check by your name. Perhaps it is one of those sins that will come up at the Gates of Heaven to bar your way in. All this and more I suspect. I recoil as I recall the times when there was no discrete way to enter the meeting-inprogress. You open the door and all eyes fix on your slothful form. They were up and made it on time. They put in their dues and made a good showing. Probably even had time to smooze before the gathering started. What a concept! While you, where were you, you slacker, they think. Lounging in bed with someone? Reading the paper or a novel over latte instead of attending to the important matters of the day? I shudder at the thought. No, I can‟t take it anymore. It‟s time for the resolution. The days of chronic lateness are over with the year. I‟ll burn those bridges behind me so I can‟t pass that way again. I‟ll try to schedule meetings so they don‟t begin until 10 a.m. earliest. The white zinfandel seals my covenant as the old year floats into memory.

So far, so good. I rolled into staff meeting a bit early and got there for some of the chitchat phase. Was plenty early for the meetings that I ran, but had a few slip-ups on the meetings that weren‟t critical for me, just info on a topic of interest. Red light problems mainly. But last week, I‟ll never forget the look of disgust on his face as he sat in his running car waiting for me to arrive so that we could go to the dance together. Sheer exasperation, wishing to just leave me behind in the dust of my tardiness. I have this sinking feeling as I ponder this while trying to urge my car a little more through this traffic snarl. Perhaps if I just make this light I‟ll be ok. – Mindy Habecker, second-and-fourth group New Year‟s Resolution Gone Awry The whirring sound of the electric toothbrush kept Larry focused. He scrubbed his tongue until it was red and sore. What he wanted – no, needed – was to have this whole damn thing be a dream, not a wide-awake nightmare. Every New Year‟s Eve, as the Time Square ball started its descent, he and Sheila would celebrate their January 1st wedding anniversary by acting out her favorite fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty. Sleeping Beauty was a beautiful Princess put under a sleeping spell by a mean witch. The spell could only be broken by a kiss from her true love, her Prince Charming. Every year on this day, Sheila would put on a beautiful gown, lie on her bed and take a special medicine that induced a temporary sleep. When Larry – Prince Charming – kissed her and she awoke, it was a renewing of their love commitment to each other for another year. Tonight would have been the beginning of their eighth year together. Larry entered the candle-lit bedroom and scattering rose petals on the floor and around the bed. When he looked down at his Sleeping Beauty, his heart filled with love. He knelt by the bed, moistened his lips with a lick of his tongue, then gently kissed her once, then twice. Holding that second kiss, his tongue nudged her lips apart and entered the warm interior of her mouth. It took only a few moments, first a gentle sigh, then a whole body shiver, a deep gasp, then stillness. Nothing, nada, just dead silence. Time froze like a single frame of a movie.

Larry read the label on the bottle of special medicine for the fifth time. No change in the dosage and the same caution: “Do not take alcohol when using this product.” He was very careful not to have anything alcoholic on New Year‟s Eve. Yes, he had indulged in chocolate candy earlier in the evening – at an office party – but that was all, chocolate candy his secretary‟s mother had sent from Brazil. The chocolate and the fillings were made of ingredients found only in that country. He liked the chocolates so much, especially the ones with the creamy filling, that his secretary gave him the last candies to take home and share with Sheila. Larry gazed at the candy box on the chair while he waited for the police. Maybe one piece to relax him – just one. He ate it, and, as he did, he absently turned the box‟s cover over . . . and that when he saw the warning in bright yellow: CAUTION, the chocolate and fillings contain Banana Rum. DO NOT mix with sleeping medications. Can be lethal. In that instant, he understood what had happened, what had gone wrong. Would the police believe that his wife‟s death was a tragic accident or would they think he had murdered her – death by chocolate and his tongue the weapon? Just in case, thought Larry, I‟ll go and brush my tongue – I mean, my teeth. – Trish Mackey, first-and-third This Year, Dammit! The Box was fancier than last year‟s. Papier mache and glitter this time. At 11:47 Tess shoved a card into the Goodbye slot. Goodbye to Microcontroller Management Types. Hello to what? 13 minutes. The Christmas tree blurred in her gaze. Humor? Would be nice. Communication? Of course. Hunky dude? Who cares? 9 minutes. Fun? Why not? Someone who . . . no not someone who, just fun. She scribbled three letters and squeezed her second card into the Hello slot as silly hats and party poppers appeared. “Great party, Skeech. I love the Hello Goodbye thing! Gotta be careful to get the yays and boos into the right slots, though.” “You get booze into that slot, Boomer, and it won‟t burn right.” “Or it‟ll ignite in a flash and take us all with it!” “So what‟re YOU drinkin‟, Boomer?”

Was that Skeech‟s old roommate? Tess had already noticed his shy but mischievous smile. He turned to her. “You sure waited until the last minute to submit your offerings to the august demigod of Yazenbooz.” “Ah yes, so many candidates; it was tough to award the Pick of Ick.” “Mine was easy. Gonna break out of the corporate slave thing this year for sure.” “Got a blockbuster up your sleeve? A foolproof scam? Or just gonna disappear into the wild beyond?” “Good question. Little of each I think. . . .” Tess‟ eyebrows met her bangs. “Just kidding. Don‟t have a blockbuster.” He giggled engagingly and Tess snorted her champagne. It spilled. “Whoa, can‟t have that; here, lemme fill ‟er up. Meanwhile here‟s a clean handkerchief I never use. Don‟t ever tell my mom though, I can hear her now: „I told you you‟d need it some day.‟” A party popper went off. Boomer returned with two full glasses. “Now waitaminnit, you guys! I haven‟t heard the countdown yet; gotta play by the rules. Let‟s live every minute of this year first.” Skeech enthroned the kitchen clock on a velour pillow and stood back dramatically. Boomer pulled out his cell phone. “No, no, we must have up-to-the-minutes minutes. Nothing short of an atomic clock readout will do these days.” Guests followed suit, and wandering brain circuits gradually fell in line with an annual urge to measure time‟s flow. 58... 57... “Hey Boomer, bet it takes you the rest of the year to drink that!” “That and two more!” 37... 36... “Who‟s got a lighter for the Hello Goodbye Box?” 25... 24... “The Boomer comes prepared; here‟s fire. OK all ye stout of heart. Who needs a coat? Let‟s get this thing as lit as we are!” Tess headed for the patio door, scarf in hand. Boomer grabbed the scarf. “C‟mon, don‟t be a wimp, let‟s go make it happen!” 3... 2... 1...

Traditional bedlam reigned. Pyromania invites backseat drivers, and Boomer fended them off, teasing orange tongues from the box of intentions. Tongues became an oven, and the crowd retreated. Tess and some old friends joined in a group hug. Boomer whooped, then strode up to them. “You were cold a minute ago. Have you kissed anybody this year?” – Karen Zethmayr, second-and-fourth The Origins of Resolution Gone Bad In the last day of the thirteenth year in the reign of King R. Thur, just after executing his third wife, the monarch experienced a moment of introspection. Introspection led to insight, insight led to hindsight, and hindsight told him things need to change. “I know just the thing,” said the monarch to his scribe. “Tomorrow is the fist day of the new year. I will issue a decree . . . write this down.” The scribe pulled a quill and ink bottle from his robe. “On the first day of each and every year, my loyal subjects will think of one way to change the world, henceforth to be known as a personal new year‟s resolution.” The scribe, being a recent immigrant from France, only moderately familiar with the English language…and very familiar with the way of politics, posted the king‟s decree. Early the next morn, King R. Thur was awakened by sounds of fighting. He rushed to the window only to hear the „ppht‟ of an arrow whizzing past his ear. “What sort of unholy force would attack my kingdom on this tender day of the New Year?” He ventured another peak out of his window to gaze upon a strange sight. A line of men, women, and children snaked through the street, single file, as far as he could see. The man at the head of the column rushed toward the palace, yelling and brandishing a sword. King R. Thur leaned out the window to see the man reach the palace door. Three guards swarmed around the man, bludgeoned him with clubs, and dragged him, unconscious, to a pile of bodies on the street corner. As soon as they returned to their post, the next man from the column in the street charged the door. The King threw off his robe and rushed down the stairs to find the scribe. “What is going on? Who sends such a force against my kingdom?” The clerk spun to face the King. “Why… you did, sire.” “Preposterous!” bellowed the king.

The clerk looked perplexed. He cracked the door open slightly and reached out to snatch the decree that he had nailed to the palace door on the previous evening. It read: „Hereby be decreed on the first day of each new year; all loyal subjects will prove their devotion to the king by initiating their very own New Year‟s Revolution. Failure to carry it to completion is punishable by death.‟ The king rushed into the street to halt the unfortunate mistake, but was fatally shot by an arrow. The king dead, the remainder of the revolutions were cancelled. The clerk was banished back to his homeland where the country of France embraced the decree wholeheartedly. To this day, many folk find resolutions revolting …and others issue revolting resolutions . . . virtually all agree that breaking your resolution should not be punishable by death. – As researched by John Schneller, first-and-third I want to be a Tommy 2007 is where the world bends for me. I‟m going to be a Tommy. All Toms are kat-cool. Before today, I was just a level four cape-commander on Playstation II, Battleberms. But no more. I Google „Toms‟ and find a thing called a Peeping Tom. It must be where you start! I bet, you get like, training from a real Tommy. Take‟s you in and says stuff like, “Hey Bro‟s, this is my peeps.” The website says, “You be Peeping Tom $24.00 Dollar. You download now.” It tells me, “You wait till dark, sneak under windows.” Like spies or something. “You wait till chicks come out.” The ones with the goods. Yeah, they must have the information on how to be a Tomcat. Bet they keep it hidden in a drawer. That night I crawl under Trisha Tittles‟ window. “Cranium-crack.” It‟s starting to rain. I pull my salted-in-the-shell peanuts from my pocket.

Way up in the tree, the aroma alerts a squiggle of squirrels high on pistachios. They drop from the sky bent on bag-snatching my nuts. . Out of the window-well darts a poky of porcupines low on patience. I sit back on my haunches, right on top Pretty Porcupine Patty. Yikes! I sky-rocket upward, land with my fingernails clawing the windowsill. Inside Trisha Tittles is pulling something out of her drawer. The Book of Knowledge of Tom. Of course. Porcupine Patty and her date Puddy – The Beast from the East Puddles – attack. Quills fly, I am doomed because inside my pocket sits a laser pointer. The missiles hone in, I scream. I am coated eyebrows to britches with mud, squirrel fur and porcupine quills. Trisha Tittles opens the window and screams, “It‟s a bear! Call 911!” Minutes later a cage truck side-slices across the lawn. Out steps a man wide at the shoulder, narrow at the mind. Ernie Shootumfirst, critter-getter and sewage-plant wedding ring recover-er. Back when, before the metal plate in his head, between the divorce and the incident with the brake press, simultaneously with the affair over right-of-way on a one-lane bridge, the same day he got the bill for the trailer-on-fire-drove-at-high-speed-into-the-new-firedepartment. Yes, that was the day that led him here. Now standing at the back of the cage truck he pulls out Betty-Lou. Double-barreled triple-scoped heat-seeking shotgun. He whistles, using his missing tooth. It, lost when Louise Littleton tossed the winning beer-barrel toss in Anchorage during the Land-Where-Men-Are-Men Festival. (No one wanted to tell her she couldn‟t enter.) I run for the street wailing like a little girl who just got Christmas canceled. Ernie‟s gun bellows one down the sidewalk. The buckshot scorches the quills hanging out my butt. I go up an octave. I head straight for my Playstation II, my Star Wars screen saver and my poster of Jabba the Hut. The shot-gunned quills make me look like a fresh plucked chicken. Tenderly I sink into my chair and type Never leave my room; never leave the room again.

Ever. – Spike Pedersen, first-and-third

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