Thursday, January 04, 2007

Octopus 2007 Resolutions

Late again this year, but here are my New Year’s resolutions for 2007 (note the depressing similarity to last year’s list):

1. Help Mrs. Octopus out more around the house.

2. Spend 20 minutes each day practicing languages.

3. Floss daily. Have been making this resolution for about twelve years now. Never keep it.

4. Figure out what I want to do with my life.

5. Remember my friends’ birthdays. I made this resolution last year and had about a 40% success rate. (Now my friends whose birthdays I forgot are going to hate me.) My problem with keeping this resolution is related to resolution 7.

6. Pick up the piano or saxophone again.

7. Waste less (stuff and time). Included within this resolution are subresolutions “Stop procrastinating”, “Stop driving”, “Don’t buy so much crap”, “Don’t be so fucking lazy”, and “Become more organized” – despite what the NYT article said. I am horrifically, unforgivably disorganized: I’ve been trying for years to fix this. I think I am making slow progress. I cleaned out my filthy, polluted Intrepid and gave it its first car wash in L.A the other week and – stupid as this sounds -- it made me feel like a new man. I felt more virtuous, walked taller, made more eye contact. Speaking of which . . . .

8. Make more eye contact. One of the odder resolutions I have ever made. I don’t know why I make so little eye contact. My cop-out explanations to myself are that my inability to make a lot of eye contact is a cultural thing I picked up from (a) growing up in a South Asian household where eye contact is not a huge thing and perhaps more confrontational and possibly disrespectful than in the West, (b) from living in Japan for a year (similar argument as the South Asian household), and/or (c) living in New York for about eight years, where eye contact is usually a bad idea, especially on crowded F trains. I actually don’t think any of these explanations is really accurate. I think my inability to make eye contact comes from a very deep-seated feeling of guilt. It’s hard to say what causes or caused this guilt; it’s a somewhat free-floating and amorphous thing, a large cloud of unease and remorse. I think I carry around guilt and shame (realizing that these are distinct) for all of the bad things I have ever done (or judge myself to have done), just a little too high up in my consciousness. I often feel like a bad, shameful person. These feelings could be triggered by my messiness, my bad driving, my failure to keep an appointment, my laziness, my unreliability, my stupidity, my thoughtlessness, etc. (You see why I need resolution 9.) I often feel like I don’t know enough, don’t work hard enough, have failed at many things, have let down my parents, brothers, family, and friends. It’s a very profound weight on my mind, and I’m not sure why I feel this way. Not making eye contact is a way of hiding. When I see people doing it, it looks furtive, like the person is being dishonest, concealing something. I’m hoping that if I force myself to make more eye contact, I can help myself get beyond some of these feelings. And now that I live in California, I have no excuse not to look my fellow enthusiastic, bright-eyed Californians straight in the eye.

9. Be less self-absorbed. Included within this are “Volunteer more” and “Shut up and listen more”, and “Respect other people”.

10. Cook more.

11. Write more (outside this blog).


Anonymous said...

If it's any help, I have eye contact issues as well.

toddy said...

I am going to try and be more human this year. Not that I would have put myself in the "superhuman" group, more like "other."

I should probably make less eye contact.

Suzanne said...

Your birthday is, what October 20th? Don't feel bad, I forgot yours too.

hh said...

wow, i haven't noticed your lack of eye contact. now i will totally and only pay attention to this everytime i see you and make you really nervous and point it out everytime you aren't making eye contact, and then totally make it an issue for you and freak you out.

Anonymous said...

I have to make eye contact, otherwise I would be staring at breasts; even on dudes.