Throw my ticket out the window. Throw my suitcase out there, too.
They say that whatever you are doing on the last day of the year is very likely what you will be doing during the coming year, despite your resolutions. Who says? I don't remember. Probably some feature writer desperate for a topic. Still, it does make sense.
"Habit is habit," wrote Mark Twain, "and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed down-stairs one step at a time."
The idea that our habits will automatically change for the better on the first day of January is pleasant, but perhaps overly optimistic.
As usual, the last week of December finds me doing things that will under no circumstances be allowed in the new year. Finishing off all of the Christmas cookies and chocolates, spending money I don't technically have, running out of the house leaving dishes in the sink, and so on, could be signs that that the New Me Let's Get Organized campaign may not go well. Every January, as I struggle to live up to my resolutions - which are always pretty much the same - I wonder, who did I think I was going to be?
But there is no reason to be pessimistic, either. Far be it from me to discourage anyone who happens to be reading this column from pursuing self improvement. Yes, as the Eagles sang, "You're still the same old girl you used to be," but there's no need to let that keep you from coaxing your bad habits down the stairs.
Taking it one step at a time gets tedious, which is one reason so many resolutions are abandoned by the time spring comes around. If only good habits were as easy to adopt as bad habits are! I think the main reason we give up on our resolutions, though, is that the sense of failure we experience when we relapse, even a little, is so painful. The bad habit, like my cat Jupiter, having consented to creep down a step or two, then deliberately runs back up the stairs and just sits there, thrashing its tail.
This happens all the time. To continue the metaphor, Jupiter meows to be let out and scampers to the stairs, but when it's time to go down to the front door, he gets all finicky. He bounds down a few steps with apparent enthusiasm but returns in order to get right under my feet and put me in peril of falling down the stairs and breaking my neck. Then down he goes again. I open the door. Jupiter looks out, then feigns interest in a dried-up leaf on the floor.
"Out or in?" I demand like some kind of fool as Jupiter decides to explore behind a cardboard box in the hallway. Suddenly, detecting imminent danger, he darts out from behind the box and tears back up the stairs.
We have done gratitude - that was Thanksgiving. And we have done good will - that was Christmas. Nevertheless, I am grateful that, as we attempt, once again, or still, to improve ourselves, we are not being reported on by the press. Can't you just see it?
"The flawed roll-out of Allen's 'Let's Get Organized' plan elicits harsh criticism."
"Allen says that her failed 'Let's Get Organized' plan, known as LEGO, has been rolled back to February."
"Allen says 'No hurry, no worry' when asked when LEGO will be implemented."
"Allen appears relieved that an apparent mass invasion of the High Peaks region from outer space is diverting attention from the flawed roll-out of her ambitious LEGO plan."
"The alien invasion of the Adirondacks has turned out to be a hoax. Allen is now claiming that she saw a mountain lion in St. Huberts, but the state Department of Conservation isn't going for it."
"'Allen's pathetic attempts to change the subject do nothing to garner popular support for the trainwreck that is LEGO. And besides, there are no breeding mountain lions inside the Blue Line,' stated a DEC official who prefers to remain anonymous."
Fortunately for us, we, not the press, are our own harshest critics. It is possible to modify behavior. Eventually, the cat does go out, and I remind myself that I did finally give up smoking. It took years to coax that habit down the stairs.
Here, kitty, kitty!
Happy new year.