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I'm a simple guy who had one New Year's Resolution for 2009--drink more.  And  I couldn't believe how easy it was to double my alcohol consumption from one beer a month to two.  Readers might think this was a cheap resolution, but I'm allergic to booze and my head can turn into a fountain of histamine (i.e., snot) if I get within a five feet of a drink.  Anyway, I manned up enough to get down two drinks a month.  As a result,  2009 was a year of soaring triumph.

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I'm a simple guy who had one New Year's Resolution for 2009--drink more.  And  I couldn't believe how easy it was to double my alcohol consumption from one beer a month to two.  Readers might think this was a cheap resolution, but I'm allergic to booze and my head can turn into a fountain of histamine (i.e., snot) if I get within a five feet of a drink.  Anyway, I manned up enough to get down two drinks a month.  As a result,  2009 was a year of soaring triumph.  

What to do for an encore?

Hey, I'm an American!   If one New Year's Resolution is great, five is five times greater.  So here's this year's Resolutions.  

1. More Blogging.  The first item on any list is the most important.  In the Beatitudes, Jesus gave his first blessing to the "poor in spirit"  as a way to indicate those who were most important to him.  In my case, blogging comes first.  For me, blogging is an index of happiness.  When I'm happy, I write funny stuff about my bladder, call Republican leaders like "the Talking Cadaver," draw up a "Kumbaya Dick Cheney," and claim that I wrote Obama's first book rather than Bill Ayers.  But my work situation has deteriorated so badly that I lost my happy fingers.  My blogging went down from once a day to barely once a week and I rarely had anything worth posting on OS.  

That has to change.

One of the reasons 2010 is a big year is that I got a favorable response from an Ivy League Press for my book proposal on 19th century popular culture and now need to submit a full manuscript.  To write academically, I need to be on top of my writing game.  To be on top of my writing game, I need to be happy and my no.1 sign of happiness is blogging.  

So, I must blog more.    

2.  Piano.  I should play more piano for the same reason.  Lack of happy fingers is also a problem with piano, but I must move forward if I want to fulfill my dream of playing in a geezer band after I finish writing two or three awesome books.   Maybe Fleetwood Mac needs a keyboard player now that Christine McVie has retired.

That's Excellent!  I've two resolutions into this and I've emphatically resolved to resurrect two of my favorite distractions.  This New Year's Resolution stuff is wonderful.  Why haven't I done it more often.

But there must be something I have to give up in the kind of puritanical gesture that makes this country great.  Here's a couple of things

3.  Stop with the Sports Already.  I grew up in a sports family.  My father is still a football legend in my hometown and two of my younger brothers were all-state.  I definitely wasn't all-State, but I wasn't bad either.  Sports was my life through high school and following sports was a big part of life after that.  But I quit cold turkey in 1995 when my wife Mary and I decided to turn off our cable and cut ourselves off from television.

And it worked pretty well until this year when my misery over my work situation led me to start reading obsessively sports on the internet.  To be perfectly honest, the problem is therapy.  After decades of therapy, I no longer respond to stress with psychosomatic symptoms or panic attacks.  Instead, I have PTSD symptoms, the really trendy mental disorder of the post-9-11 era.  Really, bi-polar disorder is so five minutes ago.  But even though they're really cool, my PTSD symptoms  are no fun and I've reverted to sports (rather than blogging or piano-playing) to smooth out the vulnerable times.  

And like any addict, I'm finding that most times are vulnerable times.

Luckily, I'm still not watching games.  But I found myself reading Peter King, Don Banks, Charlie Rosen, Jason Whitlock, and other online sports writers for what seems like two or three hours per day.  I read a Charlie Rosen article on the Bulls before working on this post.  

Maybe there are more worse addictions out there, but "internet sports journalism" has to rank very high on the list of super-lame addictions.  Given that I have such a cool mental disorder, I have to give up my lame addiction while I can still show myself in public.  So I'm cutting out the sports.  Maybe the Clippers can get along without me.

4.  My Highly Satisfying and Meaningful Food Addiction.  This is tough, but I'm going to face the music.  If I don't shake my food addiction, it's going to kill me.  Consuming mass quantities of food works for me on several levels.   One of the few things I share with my abusive jerk of a father is my association of masculinity with eating.  As much as anything else, being a man means the ability to eat what I want.  Food is also my no 1 consolation for work-related stress.  With higher levels of stress, I want to eat even more than usual.  There's also a physical component.  For some reason, my stomach doesn't register as "full" until I've eaten three or four helpings and started thinking about no. 5.  Maybe that's because I eat at warp speed, but I also have insensitivities like a high pain threshold.  Maybe the fact that I don't feel food in my stomach until I'm stuffed is one of them.

But it can't go on.   I'm 55 now.  I weigh something like 230 when I should weigh 180.  The added weight is a big factor in my being in the first stage of hyper-tension.  High blood pressure makes me feel crummy as well.  Given that the stress is probably going to get worse rather than better, I have to learn to stop eating while I'm still hungry or I'm going to have "The Big One" before I get my awesome first book published.

5.  Live the Wii Life.  For a guy who weighs 230 pounds and has high blood pressure, I actually get a fair amount of exercise.  Last month, I did a fast walk  for 30 to 45 minutes every other day.  Now it's time to ramp things up a little bit.  We got a Wii system and Wii Fit for Xmas.  Besides being super-excited to be only two years behind the Wii craze and therefore patriotically contributing to Obama prosperity, we want to use Wii to get some aerobic exercise.  We'd better.  It was 10 degrees out this morning.  Too cold to walk 0utside.

Bonus Resolutions.  I promised five resolutions, but I'm delivering more.  I'm such a productive guy.   What a great way to start off the New Year!  

6.  Keep My Back Going for Another Year.  One of the unintended consequences of high school football has been 22 straight years of spinal problems that include two ruptured discs and a wonderfully S-shaped neck.  For some reason, my coaches forgot to tell me that I would NEVER recover from my football injuries.  I've lucky to have avoided surgery but my bad discs are starting to lose fluid and that's leading to a new round of problems.  My faithful (and very prosperous) chiropractor thinks I'm going to need a new procedure where they stretch me out in a way that gets my discs to absorb fluid from surrounding tissues.  But I'm pretty sure that I'll have some really cool but unfortunately scary PTSD symptoms in response to going on the rack like that.  So I'm going to try to keep my back going for another year before I get the new procedure done.  By that time, I'll have the manuscript of my awesome first book finished.

7.  Taking Opportunities.  I'm pretty sure my work situation is going to get worse rather than better.  Some conflicts are both intractable, and, for better or worse, the other side refuses to acknowledge that I am completely in the right and they are completely in the wrong.  But, should the other side acknowledge the error of their ways, I would gracefully accept their confession.  That way, I could get some relief from my cool mental disorder, give up my lame addiction to sports, stop eating so much, give up exercise, and finish my awesome first book.  

8.  Relaxing.  Given that the other side is so irrational, I'd also like to find a way to take my mind off the whole situation.  But I've found that relaxing my mental vigilance about my problems opens me up to the PTSD symptoms.  So, anytime I relax around my faculty friends, appreciate my many great experiences with students, or remember that I'm still employed, I get hammered with all of this pain.  As a result, my bottom line is that I have to just go through the pain if I'm going to do things to relax.  I can't really embrace a cliche as bad as viewing the pain as "my friend," but I probably can do a better job of just facing up to it and allowing myself to relax a little afterward.

9.  Not to Get a Big Head.  One of the tremendously odd things about my work situation is that administrators are constantly telling me how "prominent" I am or what a "reputation" I have.  Who knew?  Sure, I've stood up to a department chair (or two), pushed a couple of sexual harassment complaints on behalf of female students, and taken a complaint about a professor humiliating one of my students to the campus newspaper.  Doesn't everybody?  Surprisingly enough, it turns out that the answer to that is "no" and I'm become widely known as a super-aggressive, combative, tough-guy type guy--the Chuck Norris of regional state universities.  Anyway, I'll try not to get a big head about it all.

10.  See My Doctor.  One of the bottom lines of my forthcoming year is that my stress level is going to increase no matter how many of my first nine resolutions I fulfill.  Therefore, I resolve to see my doctor and have my dosage of blood pressure medicine increased as the year goes along.  I went today and, sure enough, she doubled my prescription.  My resolution to end all resolutions is to get through the year and finish the manuscript for my awesome first book without completely destroying my health.

Of course, I could solve all these problems if I just followed Britt Hume's advice and became a Buddhist.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to dumasqy on Tue Jan 05, 2010 at 10:40 PM PST.

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