I tossed off this poem yesterday afternoon so I’d have something new to read at the Caffe Lena open mic last night. The historic coffeehouse has been beautifully expanded and renovated, and it has a spiffy new lobby and an elevator that makes it handicap-accessible for the first time. Kudos to Carol Graser, who’s kept the monthly open mics going for many years. I hope you enjoy my oblique take on New Year’s resolutions.
Blue Sky Day Designer
I ordered my Blue Sky planner in November,
Resolved to launch the New Year with a fresh burst
Of deluxe, inspired organization.
My present to myself arrived in plenty of time
For Christmas, elegant as last year’s version,
Embellished with pink roses and rainbow tabs,
A generous two-page spread, each sheet 8 ½ by 11,
One spread per month for plotting out the macro view,
One spread per week for micromanagement
And journaling my daily moods and triumphs,
With plenty of room for ticket stubs and stickers.
But this year’s planner had an unexpected twist.
Blue Sky partnered with Day Designer,
An outfit launched by Whitney English,
A pompous, snotty name if ever I heard one.
She wrote the introduction, and I quote:
We want to inspire you to live a well-designed life—
A life that is organized but spontaneous,
Full of laughter and smiles and the practice
Of making little moments matter.
Her cozy intro made me mildly queasy.
Even worse, she signed it “Warmly,”
When she doesn’t even know me.
Worse still, she added numbered pages
Telling me to fill in the blanks:
Start with the big picture, set my goals,
Design my days and stay on course,
And I hadn’t even gotten to the calendar pages yet!
My queasy tummy rumblings turned to nausea.
Damn you, Whitney English! I shelled out twenty dollars
For a planner, not a saccharine self-help book.
I’ve got tons of those. Hell, I’m even writing one myself.
Pissed off, I tossed the planner atop some dirty clothes.
It tunneled deep into the grungy heap and disappeared.
On New Year’s Day, I couldn’t find the planner anywhere.
The hell with goals and resolutions—who needs them anyway?
I burrowed back beneath the covers and slept away the morning.
That night I finally found it, under some books,
A week-old Sunday Times, and dirty underwear.
I turned to January lst and found to my dismay
The big blank rectangles of last year’s model
Were bisected into Today’s Schedule and a To Do list
With little boxes to check off. At the bottom,
A rectangle for gratitude and one with inspiring quotes.
This week, it’s Emerson: “Write it on your heart
That every day is the best day of the year.”
Not a bad quote, I must admit. I guess the old guy’s
Telling us to live fully in the moment.
Hey, I can get on board with that—
It means I don’t need New Year’s resolutions!
Because I couldn’t leave the house until I’d finished the poem, I was the last reader of the night.
Even so, I got a warm reception and lots of laughs. On the way home, it occurred to me to put together a chapbook of my more sardonic poems, the ones that elicit laughter at open mics. One more project to add to my creative to-do list for 2018.
Do you make New Year’s resolutions? How do they work for you? Please leave a comment and let me know—I’d love to hear from you.