My friend Marie and I have known each other since our sophomore year of college. We've studied short-story writing, moved to Los Angeles and dated younger men--not necessarily together, but definitely at the same time.
Once Marie and I found each other living in LA, we found it hard to stay in touch, as all friends inevitably do. So Marie sent me an email for this little website called "Friendster." I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but my mother certainly is a paranoid (a disease that I only partially share) and I was rather unenthusiastic about posting even the slightest bit of information about myself on the Internet. But Marie convinced me. She even wrote a comment on my profile about what a great friend I was for whoring myself out over the Internet for her.
Around the same time, Marie and I got together to attend an Open House at UCLA Extension. I was seriously unemployed (the kind of unemployed where the government sends you checks) but thought it would be fun. And of course, it was an excuse to see a college friend. We sat in on several mini-lectures, and by 3:30pm that afternoon, she'd convinced me to beg my grandparents for $450 so I could take a class from a quirky writer/musician named Rob Roberge. I was partial to a jovial, middle-aged Australian woman because I liked her accent. My thoughts are that if I'm going to shell out that kind of money, I want to be entertained as well. But Marie was adamant -- Rob was our guy.
She was correct. Rob was, and still is, brilliantly funny and a gifted instructor. His wife Gayle both stuns and dumbfounds me with her inherent "hipness." So in this case, I guess its lucky that I succumb easily to peer pressure.
We took Rob's class. Then we took another -- not quite as good as the first, but it wasn't Rob's fault that the class was chock-full of weirdos. Then I got a "real" job. I got the kind of job where you work on weekends and they don't pay you overtime. This was management, and I was salaried. Marie and I saw less and less of each other, but still kept in touch. We went to another Open House -- two hours late and mostly to say "hi" to Rob. While we were there, I told Marie that I'd signed up for a 10K. She told me she was already registered. Of course she was.
The previous summer I'd made a trip to New York City. I immediately fell in love and decided that I wanted to move. I went in the fall, and then again the following winter. When I spoke to Marie a few weeks after the 10K, she told me that her sister and college roommate were sharing an apartment in Chelsea and that she was quitting her job and going to New York. I was just beginning the process of researching companies and headhunters, and didn't anticipate a move till middle of 2006. I'm not sure if I was more impressed with her spontaneity or completely disturbed with the way I'd become Marie's Caucasian "Mini Me."
On the 31st, Marie left for Thailand for two months. She has family there, and plans to further explore what she wants to be when she grows up. Before she left, she emailed me a link to her blog, "shewannabecool." Her New Year's Resolution is to write everyday. Mine is simply to write more, among other things. After I read it, the first thing that came to mind was, "I should have a blog."
Since I don't like to think of myself as a "copycat," I've decided that Marie has inadvertently become my muse. Now, I'm not planning a trip to Thailand anytime soon, but I do plan to outline my New Year's Resolutions in my blog.
1) Read one book each month, for a minimum of twelve (12) books in 2006.
2) Try one new recipe each month.
3) Visit one new restaurant each month.
4) Attend one culturally-enriching activity each month.
The book must be a fictional or non-fictional work of literary merit. Meaning no books of poetry, plays, short-story or letter collections. And no crap "chick lit" including, but not limited to, books on the following: dating, how to date, how not to date, how to date like a man, how to date like a woman, how to get a man, how to lose a man, etcetera, etcetera. And under no circumstances will a romance novel count as a work of literary merit, even if it is based in some sort of historical context.
The recipe must be from a cookbook. Any cookbook will do, but the recipe must be made in its entirety with no alterations or substitutions to either ingredient or technique.
Go to a new restaurant that requires that I eat from a seated position and encourages its patrons to pay for the meal post-consumption. Food must be brought to the table by a server, and not on disposable plates. I don't anticipate this regulation to cause any problems.
Finally, and most potentially troublesome is this "culturally-enriching" activity. This is what started the whole slew of resolutions. When I was in college, I would drive to San Francisco just for the day to see theater productions. I'd get a group together to see a band in Berkeley. I went to all of my roommate's bizarre modern dance concerts -- even the one where they squawked like birds and wore tutus while standing on wooden blocks. After I graduated, I took comedy-writing classes at the local JC, organized a silent auction to raise money for a small local theater and painted my bedroom "Knockout Red" with "Scarlet Hat" accents. And then it all faded away, until it finally stopped. The sad part is that it took me two years to notice that I no longer had hobbies, and had nothing to do in my spare time. I was leading a fabulously dull life.
So I'm going to change that. I'm going to enrich myself -- culturally, mentally, artistically, physically, literally. In order to do that, I'm going to attend book-readings, theatrical productions, wine-tastings, cooking classes, concerts and the sort until I remember what it was once like to attend these events without thinking, and without having a deadline. I'm going to remind myself that even though I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up, I always knew who I wanted to be: a literate, culturally-aware woman with a sense of humor and an opinion that matters.
My hopes are that with the advent of this ambitious New Year's resolution project I'll get closer to achieving that goal, and I'll become a better, bitter blonde.