Column: Profound Thoughts for the New Year By Susan Parker

Tuesday January 10, 2006

I make a New Year’s resolution that I will be a kinder, gentler person. I will listen more and talk less. I will be sincere and philosophical. I will be deep.  

I will read The New York Times, The Nation, salon.com, and Slate. At the dentist’s office I will read the Economist instead of People magazine. In the event that the Economist is not available, I will read Newsweek, and if Newsweek is not in the offerings I will read the Yoga Journal, and Good Housekeeping, in that order.  

I will not look at the National Enquirer, The Star, or In-Touch magazine while in the checkout line at the grocery store. I will not buy frozen pizzas, sugarcoated cereal, or Cheez-whiz-like products. I will shop more at the Berkeley Bowl and less at Safeway, even if it means sneaking into Walgreens first in order to get a parking space. 

I will see good movies and watch only good TV or no TV, if necessary. I will read all the books I’ve been intending to read of the past 37 years: Moby Dick, Anna Karenina, and Ulysses. I will learn to play bridge and chess, and dance the tango. I will go to the theater more, and, perhaps the opera.  

I will not get angry when someone cuts me off at an intersection. I will not think mean thoughts about pedestrians who throw candy wrappers in my garden. I will not assume the teenage boys lingering on the corner near my house are drug dealers.  

I will not be jealous when I learn good fortune has come to other people. I will be happy for them, and wish them well. I will not envy friends who have book contracts and movie deals, large inheritances, and normal family situations. Someday I will take a Mediterranean cruise, and if not, so be it.  

I will call my mother more often, concentrate on what she is saying, multi-task less. I will not read the newspaper while eating. I will consider each piece of food I put in my mouth and chew it slowly and thoroughly before swallowing. I will drink multiple glasses of water daily. 

I will exercise more, lose weight, forego using a cell phone while driving.  

I will compose columns that are intelligent, sophisticated, reflective, thoughtful, weighty, and witty. I will focus on worldly issues instead of my own little problems and obsessions. I will write about international hunger, world peace, global warming, AIDS, mad cow disease, and avian flu. 

I will rally the masses against injustices. I will promote goodwill and friendship. 

I will have ideas on prison reform, urban sprawl, and corporate theft. I will make predictions and forecasts; I will be visionary and prophetic. I will end each essay with an epiphany that will make readers sigh. At the very least I will say something diplomatic about the sideshows I have witnessed in my neighborhood. 

But just as I am putting the finishing touches on this very column, my housemate Andrea comes to my bedroom door.  

“Hey Suzy,” she shouts. I don’t turn around, busy as I am with being insightful.  

“Suzy,” she repeats. “I’m talkin’ to you.”  

“Yes,” I mumble, annoyed to be interrupted from thoughts of profound importance.  

“You know that big hurricane in Louisiana a couple months ago?” 

I nod my head without turning to look at her. 

“What happened to all them alligators down there, do you know?” 

I pause. 

“Did you hear me? I was just watchin’ the Weather Channel and it occurred to me that I never heard any reports about the alligators. You should do a column about that, don’t you think?”  

I turn around and look at Andrea. She is dressed, as always, in raggedy-ass pajamas and a head scarf. On her feet are my old sheep-lined slippers, and across her cheeks, nose and forehead is smeared a new face cream. 

“Hold that thought,” I say. I turn back to my computer screen.  

What happened to them alligators, I type. Andrea and I would like to know.