Sunday, January 06, 2013

Recycled New Year's Resolutions

Like Walt Whitman, Robinson Jeffers and other poets, I love writing lists and even incorporating them in my poems. My Grade 4 English teacher (who actually taught us everything else as well) taught us outlining for three months and it was tattooed on my mind. My thought process is mostly bullet-pointed.
So New Year's resolutions are natural for me. So natural, I do them every month. I write them at the back of many of the books I just bought at that time. So my biographers (agraraman!) would know where to find them.
I also buy a lot of diaries, though I usually buy them in March when the year has started because they are cheaper. I got enough stamps from Starbucks but gave my diary to my sister. Diaries I received I also gave to my siblings. If you want to give me gifts, give me old diaries so I can use them as notebooks.  Or Moleskines (ehem).
Writers love New Year resolutions because they are hopeful people.
Jonathan Swift in 1699 made this bucket list when he was 32 ("When I am old"). He made 17 bullet-points:
Not to marry a young Woman.
Not to keep young Company unless they reely desire it.
Not to be peevish or morose, or suspicious.
Not to scorn present Ways, or Wits, or Fashions, or Men, or War, &c.
Not to be fond of Children, or let them come near me hardly.
Not to tell the same story over and over to the same People.
Not to be covetous.
Not to neglect decency, or cleenlyness, for fear of falling into Nastyness.
Not to be over severe with young People, but give Allowances for their youthfull follyes and weaknesses.
Not to be influenced by, or give ear to knavish tatling servants, or others.
Not to be too free of advise, nor trouble any but those that desire it.
To desire some good Friends to inform me wch of these Resolutions I break, or neglect, and wherein; and reform accordingly.
Not to talk much, nor of my self.
Not to boast of my former beauty, or strength, or favor with Ladyes, &c.
Not to hearken to Flatteryes, nor conceive I can be beloved by a young woman, et eos qui hereditatem captant, odisse ac vitare.
Not to be positive or opiniative.
Not to sett up for observing all these Rules; for fear I should observe none.
More than three centuries later and they are still applicable for writers today.
In 1942, then 30-year old Woody Guthrie came out with his own NY bullet points:
  1. Work more and better
  2. Work by a schedule
  3. Wash teeth if any
  4. Shave
  5. Take bath
  6. Eat good — fruit — vegetables — milk
  7. Drink very scant if any
  8. Write a song a day
  9. Wear clean clothes — look good
  10. Shine shoes
  11. Change socks
  12. Change bed cloths often
  13. Read lots good books
  14. Listen to radio a lot
  15. Learn people better
  16. Keep rancho clean
  17. Dont get lonesome
  18. Stay glad
  19. Keep hoping machine running
  20. Dream good
  21. Bank all extra money
  22. Save dough
  23. Have company but dont waste time
  24. Send Mary and kids money
  25. Play and sing good
  26. Dance better
  27. Help win war — beat fascism
  28. Love mama
  29. Love papa
  30. Love Pete
  31. Love everybody
  32. Make up your mind
  33. Wake up and fight
Woody Guthrie, THE folksinger, was supposed to be 100 years last year. He wrote on his guitar: This machine kills fascists. And even if his songs are unsung by today's karaoke singers, his New Year's list still harks true.  


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