Intentions Count for Something?

I believe the current state of my life can be summed up by the fact that I had every intention of reading Kafka's "The Trial" this afternoon and ended up watching "13 Going on 30".

The Good, The Bad and the Discounted

THE GOOD: Today I got my first galley. What is a galley, you ask? It's a bound copy of a book- an advanced ready copy. It's for THE GRILLED CHEESE MADONNA by Chris Cihlar. I opened the envelope and couldn't believe my eyes as I finally got to see a project I had watched grow from start to finish (I picked up the project starting with a random query email).

I imagine this is what a proud father feels like as he holds his newborn (the joy, the pride, no real sense of the blood, sweat and tears that bore the actual thing). Keep an eye out for it. As we were reading, we were busting up. If I didn't have free copies, I'd totally buy it, it's so damn funny. May 2006, baby!

THE BAD: I realized yesterday that there is something incredibly unfair about the holiday season as an Iranian American. You see, I don't subscribe to any particular religion, but something about the holidays in the US really get me down. I mean, deeeeee-pressed. This year I've been so depressed that I haven't even been able to partake in my usual ritual of popping in Home for the Holidays and delighting in the dysfunction of another person's family.

I feel the same pressure as everyone else to buy the 'perfect' gift for the people I love, to spend time with my family (even though we all live in the same city), and to make resolutions for a new year. Problem is, I'm not Christian or Jewish, the token holidays of the aformentioned "holiday season." Technically Persians do have a holiday, and it was tonight. Shabeh-Yalda, the longest night of the year. According to my mom, my job was to "eat lots of fruit and make a wish!" That's the type of holiday I want. And yet I feel all the solemnity of the Judeo-Christian Shopping season and all it entails. This depression is slated to last another two weeks. Right up until Dec 31st, when I have to make the aformentioned Resolutions and then sink under the weight of figuring out how I will possibly accomplish in 365 days what I haven't in the previous 28 years. The pressure, the pressure! And all this in the face of the fact that the new year that actually means something to me, Noruz, doesn't even roll around til the first day of spring in March.

I recently heard a statistic that approximately 70% of the United States is Christian. I don't know if this is true, but I wonder how much the numbers fluctuate around the holidays. The rest of us, aka. "Other", get greedy, we wanna play too, so we put up a tree, and then all hell (or depression) breaks loose. Last night my family even got around to bickering just a tad about the placement of lights and ornamentation on our Christmas tree. I am a victim of the American Marketing Complex, and it's my own damn fault.

THE DISCOUNTED: Random stroke of brilliance tonight. I think third wheels should get discounted movie tickets.


The other night I was having dinner with one of my best friends and I asked her what her New Year's resolution would be. Never in my 28 years of life on this here earth have I seen a face go so blank. She may have asked me "What do you mean?," I really don't recall at this point.

You see, it has never been an option in my mind. Just like how you did your homework growing up and you look before you cross the street and you flush the toilet after you've left a souvenir (hopefully. If not, feel free to add that to your list)... you make a resolution. It's part of the natural order of things, really. Or so I thought.

The entire month of January is built around the fact that we are each supposed to be new people at the start of the new year. A Friends episode is devoted to this 'fact' -- that we all *try*, in any case. Entire marketing campaigns (big nod to 24 Hour Fitness, for example) have even been formulated around the usual suspects (weight loss and...oh yeah, weight loss). Everyone does it. No one doesn't do it. There are nudist colonies for people who don't wear clothes. There aren't "no resolution" colonies because it, to my knowledge, just doesn't exist. EVERYONE MAKES THEM... right?

Let's get back to the table. So I'm sitting in this fabulous little Asian fusion joint in L.A. chowing down food at 10pm. While I'm sitting there counting my sins (eating out while I'm supposed to be saving money, eating food that tastes too good to be good for you and the new dress you want to fit in to, etc.), my friend shrugged with the explanation that she had actually NEVER IN HER LIFE made a New Year's resolution.

I tried baiting her with a few suggestions -- "You never thought to ... or ....?" Nothing. She didn't bite. In fact, I can't recall making eye contact after the Kung Pao arrived. (But, again, that could have been my fault. See Resolution #2, above.)

Must be nice, most of me thought. A little tiny part of me sniffed at her "Hm. Well, the rest of us are trying to become better and better people with each passing year." But the majority of me recognized that she was the fortunate one. She is who she is. She accepts that. She doesn't make promises she doesn't intend to keep; if those things -if that handy list of 'self improvements' meant something to her, she would have made those changes long long ago. It wouldn't require an expensive evening out, annoying noisemakers and a cheap glass of champagne to seal the promise to herself.

I should clarify here that, while fascinated by her behavior, I didn't convert. I mean, anthropogists go observe tribal rituals but it doesn't mean they come home with a neck coil or a communal husband. I'm still rapidly creating a list and trying to google "how many resolutions is too may resolutions?" But it's enlightening to see how the other half lives. And hey, it's one less person fighting for the treadmill.

In No Particular Order

1. I'm not okay yet, are you? A mere 24 hours later, Yahoo's headlines about Stanley "Tookie" Williams are but a cache'd link in a faraway place. Everyone is over it. I'm not. Watching the news and the minute-by-minute account of what was going on was a wake-up call to the part of me that used to be very active about prison social issues. Somewhere along the way, I tucked that interest and concern aside. Sometimes problems seem so big and I don't even know where to dig in and start helping. I have started to act as if voting from time to time for a Democrat would do the trick. But we have a legal system where it's okay to execute someone. To extinguish an existence. And that bothers me in a way I can't even put into words. In the matter of one day, I watched a simple shrug of a conclusion rise like a puff of air from that execution chamber. The conclusion: there is no redemption.

Have we lost our faith in the possibility of redemption -- or, simply put -- that people can learn and change and become better or shed an old skin? Is that what we were really putting to sleep last night? That hope? If so, that's so sad that I don't even know how to address it.

2. Tonight I went to a party with Cyrus and someone looked at me and asked "Who's older?" -- with a STRAIGHT FACE. Cyrus later explained that she is the dumbest girl at his workplace. This was consoling to me. Until someone else asked me as I was *telling her this story*. Arg. I still don't know whether to be upset or complimented by this. At 23, it was an insult to get carded and such. At 28, shouldn't I be rejoicing in the fact that I'm easily passing for 10 years younger than my own age? I'm still not sure where I stand on it.

Am I going to be one of those people who's in her 40s and then people finds out her real age, having thought she was cool like them, in her 20s, and then they freak and feel weirded out?

Which brings me to another thought -- you know the whole thing about 'you're only as old as you feel'? I have no idea how old I feel. I think it might be 18. Which is just weird. I can't seem to fit in at another number. Ack. I know most of my guy friends are happily hovering at an average of "ten... and a half." But girls?

3. Humbling Moment of the Week. Today I made what could possibly be construed as a mistake at work -- let's say I had an oversight on something that was caught by someone else. I realized through this horrific experience (a little melodrama for ya) that making a mistake is a really big thing I can't deal with. It unhinges me for all practical purposes. Does anyone know if perfectionism is genetically inherited? If so, I'd like to point fingers. Thanks!

3.5 I'm auditioning New Year's Resolutions. Anyone got good suggestions? I want to do one serious one and one silly one at least. Being all serious never works. Why do we make serious resolutions?

Wouldn't it be fun if you could make resolutions for *other* people? Hell, I'd give up some of my Xmas presents for that. I'd like to start with my neighbors across the hall, who cornered me when they were drunk after the building holiday party and yelled at me (unfortunately, this is quite literal; as we all know - cheap wine makes people hard of hearing) about how "the 30 year old and under crowd in this building needs to stop acting like it's a hotel." The volume continued to go up as they harangued me for not having attended the holiday party.

I imagine what I experienced is like the reaming teenagers get when they break curfew (never had that; see 3.0 for more details). They CORNERED me. As I was recycling, no less. So much for karma. As she's whining about how I should get involved and insists that I read the book club book and be present and accounted for at the building book club meeting, he's glaring at me. And she didn't let up. "It's so short you can read it on the TOILET, Lilly!!!!" Ah, class act. At this point, he steps forward. Military man. Hovering over my 5'1 frame (yes, I've come to terms with my height. Shut it.) and goes "Lilly. We'd really like to see you show up at some of these functions." Subtext: you have disappointed us. We love you, but we don't like you right now.

Um, I pay a hefty association fee so I don't have to interact with my neighbors - hello! Thus, I would begin my resolution superpowers with one for the aformentioned neighbors. It would simply be that in 2006, they will stop popping out of their door just as I walk by, which I find both creepy and fortuitous (for the spreading of their neighborly evangelism).

4. If you haven't gone to, you must go now. Because it's incredible. It's like a musical psychic. It knows what you'll like even more than you do. I predict that this will be one of the biggest sites of the next year. Who needs MySpace -- who needs friends at all -- when you have good music? I'm obsessed with the insight I'm gaining from this website and I think everyone worth their salt should go check it out. I am fully judging my friends based upon their reactions to it once they've examined, by the way.

5. I have initiated a hot-chocolate-before-bed ritual. Ok, that makes it sound much more scandalous than it is. I make hot chocolate in the spirit of Christmas. Given that it's been gorgeous and sunny, it may not make complete sense, but it works for me. Highly recommended. Me belly full, so off to bed I go.