Monday, September 29, 2008

My New Year Resolutions

I would like to say that I have been thinking long and hard about my New Year's resolutions, but the truth is that I have not. I have not been thinking long and hard—or, arguably, at all—about anything that is not 1) work-related or 2) chocolate. But Rosh Hashanah is around the corner and I just passed the corner on which my birthday lives and as fascinating as work and chocolate may be, resolutions MUST be made. Because I ALWAYS make resolutions. Which means that my thinking had to be diverted.

Well then.

For years, influenced by my Franklin Planner and its supreme importance in my life, I drew up wildly elaborate annual plans. I listed my values and wrote a descriptive paragraph about each one. I broke down my life down into key areas (professional, relationships, spirituality, education, creative, and so on) and then proceeded to write page-long essays describing where I was in respect to each area and where I wanted to be the same time next year. The next step was to take these aspirations and make them tangible. I built an outline for each item in which I broke it down into steps. The idea was that as I planned each week, I would review my annual plan and pick one of the small, manageable steps from each category and thus make consistent progress in all areas of my life.

As you might imagine given the complexity of the drafting process, my annual plans tended to be extremely ambitious. For example, my annual plan from the Rosh Hashanah after I made aliyah included, among other items: pass the Israeli CPA exams, lose 20 pounds, find a job at a Big Six accounting firm, move to Tel Aviv, become stylish and cool, learn French, develop a sideline as an artist and meet and marry the guy of my dreams. In the end, the only goal that I actually managed to accomplish was the weight loss and the only reason I managed that was because of my surprise enrollment in the Machane-Yehuda-bombing-diet-plan mid-way through the year.

After a several years of drawing up hopelessly unachievable masterpieces, I came to the conclusion that creating a more modest annual plan might result in a better success-to-failure ratio, if for no other reason that one item achieved out of 10 results in a better ratio than one item out of 40. Accordingly, over the last few years, my annual plan has gotten successively more modest. By last year I still broke out my goals by key area, but the quantity of goals was way down, I did not bother to outline anything and I ditched the deep thoughts section completely. Sooner or later I fully expect that my annual plan will shrink to something along the lines of "avoid getting killed and anything else excessively fatal, injurious, stupid or illegal". Which, provided I manage to stay out of G-d's way, is eminently achievable.

But that is in the future, and must be worked towards. This year's annual plan, while much shrunken from last year, still has actual goals in it. As follows:

1) Move to Jerusalem
2) Write and sell a book
3) Get back into singing or studying parshat ha-shavua (Realistically, I might be able to squeeze in one, but not both. I have yet to decide which of the two I want more.)
4) Get in shape
5) Find a friend with benefits

I must admit that I really went back and forth on the last one. I think we would all agree that "meet the man of my dreams, get married and pop out some Jewish babies" is clearly a goal. It is worthy of being included in one's annual plan. But…finding a f**kbuddy? I mean, does that actually count as a goal? On the other hand, I am trying to set more achievable goals. So one could look at this as a goal within a goal. A goal which, by virtue of its existence, fulfills another goal. A double-point goal, if you will. Kind of like a triple point word in Scrabble, but unlike Scrabble, absolutely not suitable for minors. (Of course, Scrabble was not suitable for me as a minor because my snotty genius sister would always beat me, and that made me cranky and I would throw the board at her and toss the pieces all over the room and end up being grounded for a year. Really, just based on the number of Scrabble games I lost, and not even taking into account the time I hit my brother on the head with a large broom and my weekly destruction of the vacuum cleaner, I calculate that by rights I should still be under house arrest today. But I digress). Quite frankly, I have planned on the marriage and children thing for pretty much every year since I was…I don't know…legal? And yet, it has not happened. Apparently, it is not as achievable as one would hope. Perhaps modifying my goal to something less ambitious will improve my chances of success?

But then, if I am going to use that argument to justify ditching my dreams of holy matrimony in favor of life as morally bankrupt harlot, how can I possibly justify including "get in shape" on my list? THAT one has been on my list since I was seven, which is the year my my mother explained (read "started drilling into my skull with a jackhammer") the concepts of "calories", "dieting" and "you will never have a boyfriend if you are not thin". Some 31 years later, apart from the year I did the bombing diet, I have yet to actually succeed in my "get in shape" goal. I still list that goal year after year after year. Such inconsistency is disturbing. Fortunately, (well, no, not really) my mother passed away many years ago and the repeated and futile inclusion of "get in shape" can easily be considered an eternal monument to her memory, twisted as it may be. Which is, of course, not only appropriate, but admirable.

And yet…I still question my judgement in respect to the "special friend" goal. I conducted an informal poll of my friends. Responses were:

1) Of course it does! You actually have to ask that question?
2) Yes, because it requires a change of attitude on your part and changing one's attitude counts as a goal.
3) Yes, because it will make you a lot less annoying and therefore a better friend.
4) Yes, but you better make it plural because what if you find one and he turns out to be a one-off? Then where will you be?

The lesson to be learned from this, of course, is that asking a Tel Avivit—including a religious Tel Avivit— whether finding a f**kbuddy can be considered a goal is the ultimate kickback question. I decided to check another source in the form of non-Tel Avivit, very Orthodox, RivkA. After a moment of shocked silence, she broke into hysterical laughter. At first I was worried because her laughter seemed to indicate that this was a ridiculous question and that of course the answer was "no fucking way in hell". All of a sudden, it hit me. I realized that I had just provided her with a session of free laughter therapy! Charity and aiding the sick all in one fell swoop. This translates into divine brownie points. And the divine brownie points can offset potential divine demerit points associated with the above-mentioned goals. I had it! Rak B'Yisrael, the ultimate Rosh Hashana kombina.

Right then…so I think I am covered. Back to thinking about accounting and chocolate.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sort of a Guest Blogger

I went riding with Asher a week and a half ago. As you can see Asher has a blog, put as he says, he prefers to work from the basement of other blogs. Anyway, I meant to write about our excursion, but I have been working approximately 5 million hours a week, so that was not happening. So he did!

When you are done with that, Haveil Havelim is up with more reading material.