Friday, January 09, 2015

J'accuse!

Among the many things I read in the Chicago Tribune today (that's the actual paper edition, mind you, but I will obligingly post a link for you online masses to the digital version, sigh) was an editorial headlined "What does the West do now?" I'm not sharing it for its stark either/or characterization of what it calls the "militant Islamist assaults on liberal Western lands and their freedoms" but rather for one of the points it makes in its list of suggestions of what, in fact, "the West" can do now.

One of its bullet points is that "More Westerners would be open to calls for tolerance of Muslim immigrants if more leaders within Islam would publicly, and vigorously, denounce jihadist sentiments that attract some Muslims to religious extremism."

Apart from the troubling phrase "Muslim immigrants" (immigrants go from nation to nation; the religion isn't really a factor; the phrase dangerously implies there aren't native-born Muslims in these so-called liberal Western countries, etc.), I would love to see more of a discussion of this suggestion.

Particularly, I think it's a good idea to -- and I wish more people would -- call for leaders to "publicly, and vigorously, denounce" jihadist sentiments. In other words, your half-assed calls for peace ain't cuttin' it, might be another way of putting it.

But lest you think I am applying this only to Islam vs. its extremists, which I think misses large parts of the problem, I wonder if we shouldn't call for more leaders in other areas to publicly, and vigorously, denounce the psychos who act in their name.

Should evangelical Christians be urged to publicly, and vigorously, denounce the Ku Klux Klan? The Westboro Baptist Church?  The Quiverfull movement?

Should Mormon leaders publicly, and vigorously, denounce polygamy? I'm forever annoyed by how non-Mormons call the shots in associating current Mormons with this abandoned practice. One can only assume that the church leaders tacitly support the idea of bringing it back someday when they refuse to publicly, and vigorously, denounce it.

Will any of our political leaders ever publicly, and vigorously, denounce the warmongers and torturemongers in their ranks? Or the awful shenanigans in countries that have oil/other resources we want? What if people in the military could have publicly and vigorously denounced the horrible Iraq war choices without being called unpatriotic, or worse?  What if Edward Snowden had been able to publicly and vigorously denounce unchecked unfounded surveillance without then having to flee as a refugee?

Or will everyone just keep playing the Oh-my-gosh-I-wouldn't-want-to-offend-anybody game?

Many of us from Arizona have to spend more time than we'd like publicly and vigorously denouncing the psychos who get themselves elected with alarming frequency there. Publicly and vigorously denouncing people who claim to speak for you isn't so bad. It can be fun. Try it sometime!


Wednesday, January 07, 2015

"Why are you shooting that thing at us?"

As Colonel Mustard says so eloquently in Clue, WHY are you shooting? WHY? "I could have been killed," he says, as the chandelier spins and twists furiously above him. "I can't take any more scares!" And then it comes crashing down right behind him.

World, we are all in this together. I do not care if you are right about your opinion in an argument. You don't get to shoot people when you are right. I don't care if you are indignant, angry, outraged, hurt, vengeful, righteous, patriotic, religious, atheist, whatever. You do not have the right to shoot anyone. Furthermore you do not have a good reason to shoot anyone. I guarantee you that whatever reason you have for shooting someone is not a very good one.

Stop shooting people who disagree with you. It's not OK. You're not OK. When you shoot someone, you are being an asshole. Stop shooting people.

Today's assholes fired their weapons in a fatal attack at the Paris offices of the magazine Charlie Hebdo. These particular assholes are apparently angry that this satirical publication has satirized things having to do with Islam, Mohammed, etc. They shouted, "Nous avons vengĂ© le prophète!"  

You know what, assholes? No, you haven't. Because there is no such thing as vengeance. There is only assholery. When you shoot people, you are being an asshole. And when you shoot people because they disagree with you? You are being the supreme asshole of the Earth, and you have not avenged any goddamn prophet, peace be upon him. (Did you get that last part?)

You're absurd, masked gunmen. And that goes for you, too, Newtown shooter. And you, too, gang bangers. And you over there, executioner, Fort Hood, movie theater, Virginia Tech, political assassin, CIA, drug dealers, mafia, robbers, on and on and on....  How absurd is it that we just sat here last night pondering these insane mass shootings while watching the Frontline documentary Gunned Down: The Power of the NRA. I do not give a shit about the NRA. I am not even interested in arguing about anyone's right to bear arms or not bear arms. It's a distraction. I am interested in this world caring about a mass realization that shooting people is the wrong thing to do. That is the discussion. Every person who does not have a deep, abiding belief that they should not shoot people who disagree with them needs to wake the f**k up.

Stop shooting people. Stop it. It does not make you cool. It does not solve your problems. It does not avenge your prophet. It does not spread truth. It does not issue a wake-up call. It does nothing except violently kill people and reveal that you are an asshole. So if your goal is to reveal that you are an asshole, then you might accomplish it by shooting people, but there are easier ways to achieve this goal, too. For example, you could open your mouth and share your opinion that you believe you should shoot people who disagree with you, and then we will all easily know that you are an asshole without you even having to do anything violent about it.  How about that? So easy.

Stop stop stop stop stop stop stop shooting people who disagree with you.
Stop shooting people!

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Cougar town

You know those dreams where something bad happens, and it's not necessarily a nightmare, I mean, it's not scary, but something bad has definitely, irrevocably happened and then you wake up and are SO relieved to find out it didn't really happen and you can go back to your normal life?  It can be anything, big or small; I mean, I've done it all from the dreaming I woke up late (and then waking up a thousand times to see that I have not, in fact, yet slept through the alarm) and, especially in the first year or two after I quit smoking, dreaming that I'd had a cigarette, to big-time life acts like dreaming I had a baby, cheated on a partner, or even killed someone (not that those three things are equal degrees of malice...)  Seriously, I've totally had the killed someone dream a few times; usually it's like I hit them while driving or something because apparently even the most deeply disturbed parts of my subconscious don't see me as the murdering type... Actually, I do realize these things are symbolic, and that just like with the Oops-I'm-taking-this-class-I-didn't-go-to-all-semester dreams they are about wasting life or "killing" it in other ways than the literal. Anyhoo, so, you know those dreams?

Well, last night was a new one on me. I dreamed  I went back and took some classes from BYU. Now, here's a little-known fun fact about me: I actually did go  to BYU, back in the day. I know, what? It's another lifetime, what can I say. First of all, I attended a five-week-long high-school summer theatre workshop there for four teenage summers in a row, and then I headed there as a bona-fide college freshman on a lovely scholarship. Good times, good dorm friends, a fabulous English department, languages up the wazoo, ski class, lots of psychotic behavioral control issues, and the well-that-certainly-had-the-opposite-effect final pushing me away from religion (which, to be fair, was sure to happen eventually anyway). What fun! This was all like so long ago now, though, that I have now had more life AFTER BYU than before it. How about that?! But anyway, back at age 18 I saw the error of my ways and transferred out of there, but not before firing off angry letters to the deans, presidents, and board of trustees promising to never again let another penny of mine go to that school. 

How would I spend another penny on BYU, you ask? Well, it was actually quite possible, because I continued to spend time in Utah regularly, mainly due to family connections. But I felt so strongly about this not-another-penny resolve that I stuck to it even in desperate situations. FOR example, one of the many times I flew into Salt Lake City and headed to Payson, Utah, to see my grandfather, I opted not to rent a car but instead took the SLC Airport Express bus to Provo, which lies between Salt Lake and Payson, where I then transferred to the Provo-Payson bus that would drop me off just a hop, skip, and jump from Grandpa's ol' homestead. Naturally, where does this Provo bus transfer take place? At the BYU Wilkinson Center on-campus bus transfer hub, which most of the Provo-bound and intra-Provo-Orem bus routes hit up. Now, I had a bit of time to kill in between buses (because I'm sure the Provo-Payson bus frequency was like once every hour or two, if that), and so I'm right there, you know, at the Wilk (as the Kidz always call it) and not only was I in the usual I've-just-been-on-a-plane-and-then-a-bus hunger/thirst mode but I discovered that they had added a Jamba Juice! A JAMBA JUICE! There had not been a Jamba Juice on campus when I attended there. I really wanted Jamba Juice. There was certainly not a Jamba Juice in Payson, and what with me not having a rental car on this trip I was going to be a prisoner of the Payson homestead, unable to even hop over into Spanish Fork on  a whim, beholden to the needs and wants of my decidedly non-coffee-drinking family members, not pursuing my daily franchised happiness of my own accord, basically. These thoughts made Jamba Juice even more appealing than it normally was (which is: very), but I couldn't do it. because this branch was on the BYU campus, paying rent or whatever to BYU, and probably the campus gets some sort of profit, I thought?  I didn't (don't) really know how it works with these on-campus Sbarros and Subways and other fast food franchises, but I just knew that despite my longing for some Jamba, I couldn't let a penny of mine pass into BYU coffers, and so I abstained. Such resolve! Choose the right, eh?

And then last night, I dreamed I was taking classes from BYU...some kind of independent study/in-person collaboration...I can't recall all the hazy dream details or why I was taking them, but what was notable, even in my dream, was after the classes were going or I was preparing for the exams or whatever, I realized with full punch-to-the-gut horror that Ooops!!! Oh no!!! I had given hundreds of my dollars to BYU to take these classes!  And I wasn't supposed to ever do that or give money to BYU ever again! Oh no! Regret washed over me...how could I undo this mistake?! 

And then I woke up to realize it wasn't true, that I was safe, that I have not in fact accidentally spent a few hundred bucks (?!) on a BYU class, that my boycott still stands. Ahhh, sweet relief. 

Well, Freudians, anyone want to venture a guess about what it all means?

Monday, January 05, 2015

Readin' and 'Rithmetic and 'Ridin' the Bus:
A School Reform Debate

OK, I am pretty sure the anti-testing debate has just jumped the shark.

During the 9 o'clock hour every morning, I invariably end up changing from WBEZ, our Chicago public radio station, to WXRT, for the simple reason that a call-in talk show occurs on WBEZ at that hour and I cannot bear the insipid things that people say. Even some of the "experts" on this particular show tend to be local heroes at best, who could use a bit more expertise. Today, I was in the other room doing other stuff and the 9' o'clock hour got going with WBEZ still playing through the speakers, so I was privileged to hear an "expert" (about Chicago, school boards, local policy, something, who knows?) responding to a (teenage?) young lady about what is being taught in schools in low-income neighborhoods, specifically responding to the point of whether it was a good idea to be teaching Mandarin Chinese when students' main problem on any given day is getting bus fare together to get to school and they have no intention of ever traveling to China.

(And yes, I realize there are SO many problems with the logic of that question that it's hard to know where to begin: it's not an either/or thing, education is a process of learning how to learn, languages are helpful for brain development, how do you know China isn't going to take over your neighborhood, you don't need to have travel plans to benefit from learning a language, kids should not have to worry about bus fare at all because they should be walking or biking or on a freakin' free yellow school bus for the love of goodness sakes alive... etc.  But that's not even the point. It's what happened next.)

So this "expert," who ends all of her sentences? and clauses? with an upward intonation? that sounds really freakin' stupid and annoying??? tells us about how the mayor is definitely concerned with this issue and about the importance of being sure we are teaching life skills in the classroom and not just (and I quote!) "reading and math" and other things that are on the standardized tests.

Oh - my - !@#$%%^* - god - are - we -ever - doomed.  Yes, yes we are.

To paraphrase Mr. Keating*, we don't learn math and reading because they are on standardized tests. We learn math and reading because they ARE the skills of life and the essential functioning needed to participate in human society. (Or, really, even if you want to drop out of human society, so that you can produce your manifesto and whatnot when you go psycho and also to calculate your requirements for feeding yourself when you're off the grid. So, yeah. Math and reading.)

*I refer, of course, to Dead Poets Society, when Robin Williams' character tells his students: "We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race."

And we will use math and reading to do things throughout our life. Some of us will use math and reading to do truly great things, but even those of us who are not DaVinci, Jefferson, Curie, Hawking, et. al., can also do wonderful things during our lives because we are educated. We can make the world better, and we can make ourselves better.

I understand that the whole school testing thing has its issues. The main one, however, is not that we are testing our students once a year. (Even six-year-olds!) The issue is that society, in its perpetual love affair with statistics, thinks it can boil everything down to a number, and that it can then make all decisions about whether a school is "failing" based on a number which is based on a bunch of tests' numbers, instead of using standardized tests to, you know, compare students to a standard and check out what sorts of basic things have been learned/not learned.

Really, there is more to say about standardized testing than is going to be said here in one blog entry, but rest assured, I am a language teacher. I am a HUGE proponent of recognizing multiple intelligences and teaching things using visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and other interactive methods. This is not about that.

This is about the fact that people have so thoroughly lost their minds at the very notion of testing that they now, without batting an eyelash, jabber on the thoughtful public radio program about whether we need to rethink our emphasis on math and reading and those other pesky aspects of life that also happen to be examined on standardized tests.

And Brian wonders why I insist on changing the station to 'XRT mid-morning?!  Please, society. Touch that dial.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Super Duper Losers
a stream-of-consciousness pigskin rant

I used to not care for (American) football. I don't think it was for the same reasons that most people dislike watching the sport, which I generally hear  to be along the lines of it's "boring" (too much down time, play stoppage, etc.) or "confusing" (lots of rules and penalties and whatnot), or possibly that it's a giant waste of money with which some people are far too obsessed. That last may be true, but none of these were the reasons I didn't watch it for years. Instead, I just thought it was sexist--the one sport (in my world, having grown up in the U.S. as I did) that not only was blatantly male and specifically excluded women from playing (except for the occasional newsmaking teenage girl with chutzpah and mad skillz who makes her school team and grabs headlines for a few days, but I'm talking systemically excludes women) but also built up an entire substitute "sport" (cheerleading) for the girls, which in turn launched its own thousand debates about what's really a sport and what gets short shrift and the whole thing was annoying to me because at the time I was only looking at the idea of equal opportunity as a social thing. But in terms of sports, it's just a physical thing. You see, the male and female bodies are different. (I feel more and more strongly about *this* every time the gender debate escalates to a place where sex differences are entirely thrown out the window.) I don't have a problem with those bodies doing different things that cater to different strengths, namely, male upper body strength and female hips/thighs/different-center-of-gravity-and-flexibility strength. For example: ballet. It is incredible, and the skills and talents involved in the male-female lifts and other ballet feats totally involve different body types, all making one beautiful ballet dance. In that light, I totally reconsidered and now accept football as a sport designed to capitalize on the bulky male body's peak performance and I don't really care anymore that it exists (although I OBVIOUSLY agree that women and women's sports should be given equal access, opportunity, funding, etc.)  What's weird is that I, who grew up doing gymnastics, was unable to make sense of this back then, seeing as gymnastics is entirely constructed around the different strengths of the different male and female body types. But, like I said, the whole social aspects took precedence (as they SO often do with football) in the debate and so I didn't care for it. NOT to mention the fact that I went to a fabulous, storied football school (USC) during its worst couple of football seasons in recent memory, so my best chance at fandom glory was also shot. (I re-engaged with my Trojan football love, too, post-late-'90s, after graduation. I do enjoy the college football, I do.)

Anyway, so I didn't use to watch much professional American football and on top of that Phoenix  didn't even have an NFL team in my early childhood and then we got the Cardinals and then they sucked and then I moved away and everyone in Phoenix had just kept always being Cowboys (mostly) or Broncos or 49ers fans (or possibly fans of the team from whatever Midwestern state they hailed from)  As a youngster I'd thought about maybe being a Broncos fan because I liked orange and blue...but nothing ever really came of that. So then I lived in L.A., which had its own NFL issues, and when I moved to Boston, while the Patriots were (are) undeniably great, I moved there just in time for the Red Sox to become awesome and lift the curse and win their World Series so all Boston sports excitement was all about that. Then I went to Korea. You see, no NFL football team ever took hold, really, mentally or emotionally for me, even as I stopped hating the whole inequality thing.

I might add that now I am in Chicago where I am so amused  by the Bears fans and their inability to comprehend how their team could possibly have a losing season when these fans are so clearly entitled to be given a winning season and the Chicago Tribune has about sixteen writers on staff dedicated to telling us all about that every day on the front page (not just of the sports section, I mean the front page front page) that I could never actually become a fan of the local team; it would ruin all my schadenfreude fun.

When I lived in New York, I thought about being a Jets fan, especially the one year I lived down the street from their practice place, but then again, I loathed Long Island. The last few years spending time with Brian I've idly paid attention to the Lions, those lovable losers, but I haven't really committed. Instead, I basically just circled back around to my hometown and decided I might as well like the Cardinals. Like, when they went to the Super Bowl? That was ridiculously awesome! Of course I rooted for them! And people I knew in New York who also knew me from Massachusetts-California or whatever were like, "Arizona? How does that fit in?" and I'm all like whatever people, I'm totally allowed to root for them (even though I hadn't bothered to do so for a couple intervening decades) and especially the last few years as we've been living in various countries but hanging out with sports fans and someone needs to stand up for the team from Arizona, yo.

The point is (bet you thought we'd never get there) that all year I've been delighted by the Arizona Cardinals' performance and their playoffs and even Super Bowl potential but then someone started killing off all our quarterbacks and it looked grim but then we thought, you know, the Panthers?! We can do this! Only we couldn't.

And then to make things worse, Brian's Lions had to go and lose after a promising first half of their game today to, of all things, "America's team" (groan. I will NOT consider adopting the Cowboys, ever). And with that, I have lost interest in the Super Bowl and will now only watch, if I deign to at all, for the Katy Perry halftime show.

Also, I hate the word "belly."

Saturday, January 03, 2015

"War and peace?"
-- Radar O'Reilly


I do believe the time is here. This is the year to re-read War and Peace. Who's with me?

Why now, you ask? Careful readers will note that I first began reading The Book, as I like to call it, that magical Russian novel that lives up to all its promise of literary glory, in 2005. (In fact, it's what prompted me to start my Literary Supplement blog in December of that year.)(Have you actually looked at the URL of my Literary Supplement blog?) And now it's 2015. (CANYOUBELIEVEIT'SBEEN10YEARSSINCE2005?!! BECAUSEICAN'T.) It's been nearly a decade since I moved to Korea, started a blog, assumed my Linda Without Borders identity, and bought my treasured copy of War and Peace (not in that order, because I had bought the book at Borders -- which has since died, leaving us all Without Borders -- in Massachusetts well before leaving the country). Ten freakin' years, my friends.  Side note: we shall perhaps have to have a tenth blogiversary party this fall.  I have mentioned in the time since I read The Book that it is definitely a book to be reread over one's lifetime, since it's so goddamn wonderful and all, and naturally this reminds me of the random guy on the Boston Common who jabbered to me about Goodbye, Columbus. Remember him? Go on and click that link to refresh your memory, if you don't recall the encounter. I'll wait here.  ...  OK, all caught up? He was funny. And I still haven't watched Goodbye, Columbus.

(Is Ali McGraw going to annoy me in it as much as she did in Love Story? I mean, that is one overrated movie and her character was SO irritating! I hated that movie. "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Ugh, who thinks that? Who wants a relationship based on that? Good god. That is second only to "The customer is always right" as the emptiest platitude of crap that everyone repeats as if it speaks some profound truth. Blech.) (It does occur to me to wonder, though, whether the man on the Common jabbered to me because I reminded him of Ali somehow. I mean, she could play me in the movie of my life, right? Or the older version of me, anyway. What is she doing these days?  Maybe it was just her character that was annoying. Maybe I should give her the actress another chance, or read her book, or something. But not that horrible overrated Love Story again, no thanks.)

OK, so where were we? Right. War and Peace. Over the past almost-decade, I have cherished my memories of reading that novel, that quintessential novel of novels, that standard of bookdom, that ultimate literary fiction experience. I remember the excitement of plunging in, reading those first few pages of something SO big and famous and intriguing. I remember the cafe across from my job in Daegu where I would read for an hour or two each afternoon in between classes on my split shift days. I remember finishing it on the plane on the way back to the U.S.-- such interesting timing -- and then the random Eastern-European-who-spoke-Russian man next to me talking to me about it and me being utterly unable to form an answer to the immense question "So, how was it?"

And I'm inspired to reread it now because every ten years, why not, and also because at the bookstore here in Chicago where I attend my Women's Classics book group there is also another book group that is reading big books (called, would you believe it, the Big Books Group) and taking two or three months/meetings to discuss each one, so like they just did Middlemarch and are now doing Vanity Fair and in the spring will be doing, what else, the ol' War and Peace.

I'm starting to get a little bit giddy with the anticipation. (Even among all the other books and projects and reading plans I have for 2015.) Who wants to revisit The Book with me, or perhaps discover its joys for the first time?  Who's in?

Friday, January 02, 2015

Doctor Flu?

Apparently, I should get a flu shot. Why haven't I got a flu shot? ("yet"?) Do I have a case of influenza-nertia, since I've never had a flu shot before? Not only have I never got one, but this is one of those things where I find myself having to reevaluate my entire conception of How Things Are in order to keep up with the public discourse. During my childhood/adolescence/young adulthood, I never heard of anyone getting an annual flu shot. Eventually, I started hearing of it, mostly as I started knowing more and more nurses and other medical professionals, and it was something I associated with people who were not me (said nurses, old people maybe, and I wasn't sure who else). But now all of a sudden it's one of those things being urged far and wide, and there is definitely a bit of finger-wagging and shaming on the part of the admonishers. "Get your flu shot or you're going to endanger us all!" Fair enough; if flu shots are a thing everyone should get, then I suppose everyone should be reminded to get them (although maybe without the cheerleading condescension? Maybe.) But when did they become a thing? It reminds me of Doctor Who. As a faithful reader of EW (that would be the magazine Entertainment Weekly, and if you're cool you read that as E-dub, NOT "ee double-u"), I get to find out about a lot of pop culture obsessions that I don't partake in. It's very handy. One of these is Doctor Who. Around 2012, it started reaching whatever saturation point of popularity is necessary to merit multiple lengthy articles in the pages of our weekly pop culture bible, so I learned that loads of North Americans have joined the Brits in revering and watching this series, which is so long-running that there have been a bunch of different actors who play The Doctor, kind of like James Bond, I suppose. (Also, I gather that it makes sense somehow in the show's plot/mythology to have different people become The Doctor; it's not just about actors getting bored or whatever.) Now, I have never seen an episode of Doctor Who in my life, but I'm OK with learning about it from my beloved EW (did you pronounce it right that time?), but when I got confused was over the next couple of years, 2013 and 2014, as more and more friends revealed their deep, abiding, enthusiastic love for the program. Really, friends? When did this happen, exactly? I mean I had never heard a WORD about Doctor Who, from these friends or anyone else. But suddenly it was a big pop culture obsession, and not a big NEW pop culture obsession that everyone knew they had just discovered (like your Meghan Trainors or your Hunger Games or your Orange Is the New Blacks (or is that Oranges Are the New Blacks in the plural?) (joke), but a big longstanding pop culture obsession. I mean, decades-long. Where were all these fans during my entire life that I went without hearing about Doctor Who? I'm so confused. It's really weird, this sensation of not having missed the boat, exactly, but more like of standing with a bunch of people admiring the gorgeous cruise ship and then all of a sudden turning around and finding yourself alone on the pier and everyone waving to you from the deck. How did that happen? What did I miss? Did I fall asleep or something? I haven't jumped on the Doctor Who bandwagon and I haven't been able to figure out why everybody refrained from saying a word about it during this whole life of fandom they apparently had for decades, nor have I got my flu shot or been able to pinpoint when getting a flu shot became a thing that everybody has always been doing -- even when nobody was, that I recall. It must be that handy time-traveling phone booth thing. That could totally have something to do with it.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

New Year, New You!

I think the key to being able to stick to your resolution to get up and go for a run on the morning of January 1st -- in spite of any wee-hours-of-the-morning New Year's Eve celebration you may have engaged in the night before -- is to start running five days a week on December 1st so you're already in the habit come New Year's Day. Granted, I was in slower motion this a.m. than I have been the past four and half weeks, but I had a cup of tea and a bit of pastry for some fuel and then went out there and did my miles. I saw a few other runners in the park, and on the way back, through the half a mile or so of neighborhood streets between the park and our apartment building I passed a woman walking her dog, bundled against the cold in a long puffy coat. She complimented me as I ran by: "Good for you!" Ha, ha, thanks, I thought, but it's not a New Year's resolution or any wherewithal on my part, just a habit developed through the preceding month of December that got me out there, really.

I love New Year's Day and New Year's resolutions. As usual, I have a slew of goals and projects for 2015 and I enjoy taking advantage of the new calendar numbers to schedule these things and plot them out. Also as usual, I don't necessarily talk about my resolutions. I guess that may seem strange to some people who hate New Year's resolutions, or maybe even to people who like them, too; they wonder if I'm so fond of the whole thing why I don't want to declare them. It's funny: for as unabashed as I am in putting my analysis of the world and life opinions out there, I'm actually more of  private person than people realize about my personal life and self. I do not need everyone to know my innermost thoughts, goings-on, goals, progress reports, etc. Because I'm so willing to talk about so many things, lots of people think they know me, but then those people are sometimes very wrong in the conclusions they draw about me based on the not-personal stuff I've said that they assumed explains everything about me.

Some people, however, are not like me and they DO like to talk all about their personal stuff and other people's personal stuff and about their New Year's resolutions and goals, and if you're one of those people I by all means encourage you to share. It is indeed fun to, for example, have a project and then blog about it month by month as you work your way through. I may or may not do some blogging about my various 2015 endeavors as I get into them.

But I think that's part of the key, too: getting into them. There is one school of thought that says when you have a goal, be it weight loss or quitting smoking or writing your novel or whatever new ambition you're undertaking, you should declare it so that friends and family can "hold you accountable" and support you. The thinking is that putting it out there -- out loud -- means you can't back away from it because now you've said you're going to do it, so you have to do it, unlike if you just said it to yourself.

Me? No. That's not my school of thought. For one thing, why is making a promise to yourself any less important than making the commitment in front of other people? It's like, have some self-respect, am I right? I care more about my integrity than about what others think of me. I am the person who didn't tell a damn soul I was quitting smoking until I was weeks into the quit. and no way did I say that I had quit until months had gone by. I am the complete and total opposite of declare-so-others-can-check-up-on-you. Hell, no. Mind your own business! Now, eleven years later, I tell anyone who will listen (and a few people who won't) all about my quit smoking process, which by the way I think is genius. But then? It was like a two-year process, and it was not something I had any interest in discussing until a long time had gone by and I was sure it had worked. I am very much about doing my thing and I do not need other people involved in my thing. I have so many projects -- I'm like a duck floating on the water, and my projects are the feet flapping underneath that keep me moving through life that everyone on the surface might not ever see or know about. I have personal goal projects going all the time. And with every New Year's Day, I like to add a few more. And then maybe next year I'll tell you about them.

Feel free to share your resolutions here -- if you're one of the sharers, that is!

Happy New Year to all.