The Annual Placebo Effect, or: That Weird Feeling When Your Ball Drops

The New Year does a stupid thing to people. That whole starting over thing. That thing itself is not stupid – introspection and self-examination are important life skills – but I think most of us go about it in a really stupid way, too big picture, too clean slate, and we set ourselves up to fail and then blame ourselves for failing. I know that’s what I do. Double your shame spiral! Double your fun! That tricksy old monkey brain. Plus, I shouldn’t do big life change stuff in winter. I am not at my decision-making best when there are only six hours of proper sunlight in a day.

Point is, I’ve been gone for a minute and wanted to make it clear that this isn’t one of those “New Year, New Me!” kinds of posts. I just really needed a fucking break after the year we had. A braincation, if you will. I needed to mourn the deaths of democracy and Carrie Fisher, and eat my weight in fried things and Terry’s chocolate oranges. In the interest of even numbers, I figured the first of the year was as good a time as any to start up again. Don’t call it a comeback.

Seriously, don’t.

Anyway, I am doing a couple of new things since you last heard from me, but not because of some arbitrary calendrical distinction. I do that yearly list on my birthday, when I can think clearly and hate myself for the right reasons. For my mental health, I’m cutting down on caffeine and screen usage so I can sleep better. I’ve made a commitment to my sister to reread all seven Dark Tower books and get them to her in time for both her and my nephew to read the series before the movie comes out. So, challenge accepted. I’m also on a mission to find a suitable replacement for mushrooms in all the many vegetarian recipes written by people who seem to think that mushrooms are an acceptable substitute for meat. Or anything. Fucking gross, you guys. Your dirt nubbins are gross.

I suppose one could call those resolutions, but I don’t like to. I’ve never been particularly resolute about much. Still, the temptation persists to use the New Year as a starting/ending point, doesn’t it? Like a big red button that we’re all drawn to push. If we are going to use the changing of the year as an excuse to alter our behavior and say “from now on,” I have some suggestions.

Let us be kinder to each other, in person and online and in print and in our minds (and, as a side-note, I almost put “in real life” rather than “in person,” but realized that all of those affect our and others’ real lives, so maybe we should remember that, as well).

Let us not confuse being busy with being successful or productive. Time is not a jigsaw puzzle, where every little gap must be full for it to be correct. Your life is wibbly wobbly. Chill the fuck out and don’t feel bad about it.

This year might be a tough one on a lot of levels. Let us try not to allow fear or anger to take over. Basically, don’t be a dick about politics. It’s not worth losing good relationships over. Trust me. Also, slight tangent here: fact check shit before you post it, for fuck’s sake.

Let us stop telling each other how to live our lives. Here, I’ll start.

See? That was so easy.