Friday, January 05, 2007

My New Year Irresolutions

It's that time of the year again. All across the globe, people have been making promises to themselves that they know perfectly well they're not going to keep.

Last year I made a New Year resolution that I wouldn't make New Year Resolutions anymore. I figured I never kept them anyway, so what was the point. This year I find myself in something of a quandary. If I keep my resolution from last year then this means I am, in fact, capable of sticking to my resolutions, which means it makes sense for me to make new ones. If I break my resolution and make a new one this year, then I'm clearly not capable of sticking with my resolutions and shouldn't bother making them. You can see why there's never a dull moment living in my head.

Instead, I came up with the idea of making New Year Irresolutions - decisions I've been thinking about making / things I've been planning to do that I haven't got around to doing yet, and that I plan to continue procrastinating about in the year to come. Here are the five top things I pledge to dither about this year. I might get them done. Then again, I might not. I couldn't say for sure:

1. Decide on a favourite drink

One major point of difference between me and James Bond is the fact that unlike 007, I don't have a favourite drink[1]. When bartenders ask me "What will you have, sir?" there's none of this 'shaken not stirred' business. Instead, I tend to reply with "I don't know, what are you having?", much to the bartender's consternation. At parties I'm like a butterfly, sipping and flitting from drink to drink. Sometimes it's the lyrical aftertaste of a fine Riesling that intoxicates me, sometimes it's the raw burn of undiluted vodka; sometimes it's the bitter melancholy of a well-aged single malt that I'm enamoured by, sometimes it's the deceitful sweetness of a glass of Bailey's; sometimes I long to put four shots of tequila into my brain, while sometimes I'm content to sit quietly by the fire, sipping the sacred nostalgia of fine cognac. And then there's Guinness, and absinthe and sunkissed Jamaican rum. Why, there are even moments (thankfully rare) when I feel like slumming it with a bottle of beer. I figure if I could manage to make my mind up about what drink I really love, I could then move on to other, less important commitments - relationships, real estate, that sort of thing. I think some in-depth research into the merits of these various beverages may be what 2007 calls for.

2. Read the Divine Comedy. And In Search of Lost Time.

Okay, okay, I'll admit it - I've never really done justice to either Dante or Proust. Not that I haven't read them, you understand - it's just that my reading of the Divine Comedy stalled somewhere in the fifth circle of the Inferno (a premonition of things to come, perhaps?) and I've never managed to get beyond Swann's Way. And it's not that I didn't like what I read (well, at least with the Proust - with Dante I kept sitting there thinking I'm sure this must be brilliant in the original), it's just that reading In Search of Lost Time has always felt like a major expedition - like setting off to discover a new continent - and why do that when you have all these convenient little weekend trips through the Booker shortlist that you can make instead? Still, 2007 is going to be the year when I read the rest of Proust. Well, at least the year I get his books out of the library and add them to the stack of 60 odd volumes lying scattered around my bed. Oh, all right, the year I think about issuing out his books so I can think about reading him. Sigh.

3. Pick a topic for my dissertation

Dithering on this is going to be hard. My advisor isn't exactly breathing down my neck yet, but he's been doing lung exercises and showing a startling interest in the diameter of my shirt collars. And the Department chair has taken to muttering things like 'Tempus Fugit' or '5 years isn't much, you know' when I'm around. I suppose I could use the old red herring again - come up with an idea that sounds like it could make a credible dissertation, then write it all up in one paper and proceed to get bored with the entire sub-field and decide to move on to something else. Or I could actually decide on a topic - the only trouble with this being that it significantly increases the hazard that I may actually graduate, and then what would I do? No, better to obfuscate the matter for a few more terms, I think.

4. Travel to Europe

Have I mentioned that I'm a committed Euro-phile? Oui monsieur, Europe is my dream continent - you can keep your Inca trails and your Grand Canyons and your hunts on the Kalahari - for me the lure of your Europe trumps all that.

Not that I've ever been there. In ten years of planned trips, aborted trips, trips cut short, business trips, conference trips, training program trips, etc. - all with arcs supposedly criss-crossing Europe - I've managed to see: a) most of Eastern Switzerland b) a couple of ski resorts in Austria c) Salzburg d) Munich Airport e) Paris Airport (twice!) f) that crummy little bus station outside Heathrow and g) the cafetaria of the Sociology Department at Warwick (thanks, S.). Not an edifying list. Every year for a decade now I've made at least some half-hearted plan to visit Europe, and every year something doesn't work out - I don't have the money, I don't have the time, I've got no one to go with, I've gone and made other plans, I've got someone to go with but they've gone and made other plans and so on. And if nothing else works, there's always my natural laziness to fall back on. So chances are that I won't be polluting the sunny shores of Greece this year either. Still, you never know. I'm going to be flying over Europe on my way back to India this summer, and planes do crash. [2]

5. Change the way this blog is set up

Old blogger / new blogger? Blogger / Wordpress? Black background or white background? Just some of the vexed yet topical questions that I spend absolutely no time considering everyday.

The thing is - I know this blog could do with a facelift, but it seems pointless to put in the effort, partly because, as anyone who knows me will tell you, I have the graphic design abilities of a bat with glaucoma [3], and partly because, let's face it, no one actually reading this blog is here for the way it looks. So chances are this time next year 2x3x7 will look exactly the same as it does right now. Still, you never know. I could run out of things to write about [4] and decide to spend my time decorating instead. So if you visit the site and find it has moved to a magenta background with neon rabbits hopping about, you know I've got a bad case of writer's block. Either that or I've finally decided on a favourite drink.


[1] Otherwise we're practically impossible to tell apart. Well, except for a few minor details involving my inability to handle women, guns or a tuxedo.

[2] Szerelem: If you're reading this, don't even THINK about mentioning the Europe trip you're on. Not if you want to live to see Venice again.

[3] And if you think this blog is hard on the eyes, you should see how bad my dress sense is.

[4] Actually, that happened about 15 months ago


tangled said...

'no one actually reading this blog is here for the way it looks'
So, so true etc.

India trip, huh? Sounds busy. You will still be writing when here, I hope?

drifting leaf said...


Anonymous said...

hmpff. That is so unfair! Fine shall not mention the trip. Though I should mention that I got back to school yesterday. Talk about being depressed.

I haven't been to Autria but am sure it must have been terribly beautiful. I do think it a travesty that you were at the Paris airport and never visited. It's the most beautiful city in the world!

And you can travel alone you know or am I the only person around who thinks its perfectly normal to keep roaming around alone?

Tabula Rasa said...

i can see #3 come crashing down heh heh heh (*hideous grin*).

Vi said...

Wordpress > Blogger.

Just thought you should know.

Dipanjan said...

Your first resolution is one of the easiest ever. Just settle for Guinness. I have. But one advice - do it after the India trip. Last four weeks in Calcutta without a single pint was not fun.

The tour guide said...

People-watching in British univ cafes is quintessential part of experiencing errr... British pop culture ( though really, you should have at least seen the art galleries:). As are crummy bus stations, pseudo Salman Rushdie plays and err stunning, predictable weather. Also, it is actually all your fault that you'd rather read in cafes/trains than come along on carefully charted and planned British poets/writers tours, remember? Fingers crossed you run out of excuses soon...

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bess said...

That bit about riesling being lyrical makes me smile. It's sweetish so lyrical is about right.
I have a drink for you...but no bartender will know it. 3 parts Sake with 2 parts pear nectar and a bit of candied ginger...shake it up! It's a sake martini.
I'd go with Proust and just enjoy Dore's artworks of Dante's masterpiece until you can get 'round to it.

Ms.Mephistopheles said...

The best new years post ever! I absolutely love you!