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Archive for December, 2009

Goals List For 2010

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Call them resolutions, call them promises, call them whatever you want, but this is the time of the year to set goals for the year. Below is my list which may help you generate your own. Or not.

Goal Number One: I want to stop being pissed off at things beyond my control. Every time I watch the news—which is daily—I end up spitting acid, screaming and my head spins around on my shoulders. Bankers getting bonuses for screwing us all over. Town hall meetings that turn into WWF matches. Rush Limbaugh. Blue states and red states. Yet, I do not want to bite when I am fed the anger chew toys. I want to drop the ball and concentrate on what I want in my life. Which is less bile, more fun. But when some idiot on TV is screaming and waving a sign that says “Keep Government Out of My Medicare!” I can’t help but want to smash them over the head with a reality stick.

Goal Number Two: Lose weight. This has been on my goal list for the past fifteen years. I call it a Legacy Goal. Have no idea if I’ll do anything about it, but it’s a nice thing to have on my list.

Goal Number Three: Ignoring irritating people. We are surrounded by many annoying people in our lives. The more self-aware you become, the more irritating people you notice. So this year, when some irritant walks up to me and says something stupid, I don’t want to be angry. I want to either ignore them or come up with a witty comeback other than “Shut up, Dad.”

Goal Number Four: Prioritize my To Do list. Maybe optimize my To Do list would be a better way of putting it. I fret over the yard, the house, my work, everything. I’m so afraid of not finishing the tasks on my list that now I feel like a failure at everything. When I’m writing, I’m failing at keeping the house up. When I’m cleaning the house, I’m failing at writing. So I’ve decided to write my books and wear a blindfold the rest of the time. I may trip over stuff, but if I can’t see the mess, I won’t care.

Goal Number Five: Work out more. This has also been on my goal list for the past fifteen years. Another Legacy Goal. Putting it on my list makes me feel less guilty about eating lots of chocolate and drinking beer and not working out. Hey, it’s on the list, isn’t it?

Goal Number Six: Seeing my friends more. Because I’ve got this stupid list of crap I never finish, I don’t schedule as much time with friends. Wait…I’m having an epiphany… I’m… writing a list… about letting go of my obsession with adhering to lists… there’s a lesson here somewhere… if I could only find it…

Goal Number Seven: I want to be okay with who I am and where I am now. Here’s who I want to be: mature, self-confident, rich, on the NY Times Best Seller list, svelte and buff. Here’s where I am: overly emotional, self-confident in writing only, super broke, my total book sales for the last two years is 534 and I’m chunky. But this is my best. I work hard, and for some reason, this is the best I can do. And I want to be okay with that. I want to be okay with me. Fat, wrinkly, beer-drinking, swearing-every-other-word me… Somehow that looks even worse in print. I just frightened myself. Maybe this is another one of those Legacy Goals…

Goal Number Eight: Completing planned art projects. I want to create this entire series of yard monsters. Using chicken wire and plaster, I want to build large (between four and six feet tall) strange colorful creatures and put them in my yard. I want them peering out from behind bushes or guarding the mailbox or lurking by the garage. I have many designs in mind and have already created smaller versions out of polymer clay. This also sounds even crazier in print. And I just added a goal to your list: Avoid moving next door to Janet.

Goal Number Nine: Stop worrying. Another Legacy Goal, but I get closer everyday. I’ve worked hard and I’ve let go of many things. I am no longer worried that I will get female-pattern baldness (at fifty, I can tell I dodged that bullet). I’m not worried about my parents moving next door to me (because they’re dug in like ticks at that retirement home). I’m not worried that my cat will die (because he’s already dead.) I don’t worry about Frank cheating on me (maybe I should). I don’t worry about passing classes (because I graduated in 1989). See? I’ve really come a long way.

Goal Number Ten: Stop making stupid Goals Lists. And enjoy my life. I don’t want to push myself so hard that I wake up dead one day and wonder where the hell my life went. I don’t want my tombstone to read: Died Trying To Finish Her To Do List. Or the converse, I don’t want the two people at my funeral saying, “Yeah, hadn’t seen her much in recent years. But I heard she finished everything on her list.” Somehow I don’t think there’s a special red velvet section of Heaven reserved for people who completed their To Do lists. I’m afraid instead of wings they’ll give me a Dunce Cap that reads: Lived Her Life By Lists and Forgot To Enjoy Herself.

I just hope my Legacy Goals don’t follow me into the next life.

©2010, Janet Periat

Holidays on a Budget

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Yes, it’s that time again, folks, to buy gifts for our loved ones. Due to job loss and the current economy, this year could prove even more challenging to those on a strained budget. Instead of exchanging guilt, frustration and worry this season, try something different and take one of my suggestions below.

Number One: Wrap cheap gifts in bags and boxes from expensive stores. Go to the dollar store, pick up some cheap crap and stuff it in a Nordstrom’s box. No one will know the difference and you’ll score huge points. Hopefully your relatives will reciprocate with gifts that are actually expensive.

Number Two: Create personalized gifts. This adds a wonderful personal touch and enables you to give more unique and memorable gifts. Do a sculpture in marshmallows of your father’s stomach. Handwrite a poem on nice parchment about the time your brother accidentally set the house on fire. Do a photo collage of your family’s most embarrassing moments. Make sure to include pictures of your Dad passed out behind the tree after the Cinco De Mayo tequila-chugging contest and your sister’s unfortunate hairstyle that made her look like a dead poodle.

Number Three: Make gifts out of recyclables. Think decoupaging an old wine bottle to make a beautiful vase. Hint: Consume all the wine before you decorate the bottle. Amazing what creativity sprouts under the influence of alcohol.

Number Four: Bake gifts for loved ones. People love cookies, candies and cakes. But don’t go for the usual, try the unusual. How about recreating The Last Supper with gingerbread men? How about a cake in the shape of deceased pet? Chocolate in the shape of a relative’s most prominent body part? Fruitcakes are especially recommended. Not only are they a tasty dessert, they make great wheel chocks, paperweights, provide amazing self-defense against burglars and work well as an impromptu jack stand to change tires on cars.

Number Five: Give gift certificates for personal services you will perform. Think about your talents. How can you turn this into a gift of service? Are you a racecar driver? Give a gift certificate for a thrilling ride to the airport. Are you a police officer? How about a coupon for covering up a relative’s petty crime? How about a mover? Give a certificate redeemable for moving your sister’s cheating husband out of her house. Exceptions: masseuses, personal escorts and performance artists. Even open-minded families don’t want to go there.

Number Six: Regift. While many will advise against this, a gift becomes a belonging once it is received. Fruitcakes make perfect regifts as they have half-lives and will more than likely outlive their recipients. If you’re all out of fruitcakes, I’ll bet Dad would appreciate that hand-crocheted toilet paper cover in the shape of a pink, frilly doll that Aunt Gilda made for you. What about that Obama Chia Pet you got from the office for Mom? What about the Ab Roller your husband gave you as an anniversary gift? As long as the item is more or less unused, anything is fair game.

Number Seven: Give the gift of a family heirloom. What a perfect opportunity to get rid of a family albatross under the guise of being generous. What about your dead aunt’s collection of raccoon memorabilia? How about Grandpa’s gold teeth, Cousin Lydia’s antique fruitcake or better yet, the urn full of Uncle Al’s ashes? What a marvelous surprise for Jimmy to open up a box on Christmas morning and find his favorite uncle’s remains.

Number Eight: Give a group gift that everyone will enjoy. Hire a Chippendale’s dancer for the family Easter party. A Mafioso to beat up your sister’s deadbeat husband. A group date to In and Out Burger. Or take your family to a time-share presentation for vacation homes in Antarctica. Not only is it free entertainment, you’ll get a box lunch to boot.

Number Nine: Give marketing stuff from work. Pens, pencils, mugs, t-shirts, sweatshirts. If you don’t have enough marketing crap, think outside the box. Reams of paper, old computers, Post-It notes, manila envelopes. Maybe even your cubicle itself. Mom might want to divide the master bedroom and create some personal space away from Dad.

Number Ten: Change the gift tags on the presents under the tree. This is super simple. All you have to do is exchange tags and make the presents appear as if they came from you. This is the cheapest option of all.

Number Eleven: Steal stuff. Okay, so maybe this is bad karma, but who will know? Think a Rolex for Dad, a Ferrari for Mom, a few million for Sis. Hey, if you’re gonna be stealing something, why not aim high?

Number Twelve: Dumpster dive. It’s amazing what kind of stuff people throw away. So what if that sweater doesn’t have a sleeve? Put it in a Macy’s box and tell your sister it’s a new trend. And that case of chili may be a few months out of date, but it’s still good.

Number Thirteen: Buy my books. Especially How To Make Your Life Suck. Especially if you never want to hear from your relatives again.

Feel better about the upcoming holidays? Bursting with creative ideas on how to save money? Inspired to face the challenges of too much family time? Great. Glad I could help. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go create a sculpture of Rush Limbaugh out of old tires. What joy awaits my family on Christmas morning!

©2009, Janet Periat

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