The Irresolute and other New Year’s Day musings

I failed in my New Year’s resolution. The resolution was, OK, you’ll start waking up early, so by 5:30 a.m., you’ll be writing. Not anything specific, just writing. I know, getting up that early to do something sounds rather ambitious to a lot of people, but not necessarily for me, since I’ve always been an early riser.

But I “slept in” — until 5:50 a.m. and thought, screw it. I’ll lie in bed, all cozy and warm in the dark and think, think, think. Not about a hangover, thank goodness, because I didn’t indulge in that way the night before. Rather, I would think about the dreams I was having before waking that were already starting to slip away, about regrets, about a holiday season that turned out to be lovely, about my usual fears about the future, about my family.

Finally, I made myself rouse from bed, went out into our living room, where I found my husband. I made coffee, made waffles, gave him a New Year’s morning kiss and scanned the headlines from the newspapers I grabbed from the driveway. I guess we went over the “fiscal cliff,” but maybe not for long. We’ll see. Some NFL coaches got fired, and Oakland had a startling new level of homicides in 2012.

But I came across a yummy-sounding recipe for pecan-crusted trout. Will I ever try it? I could resolve to. I could resolve to do a lot of things.

At least, I stuck to my habit this morning of getting out to exercise. Before 8 a.m., I set out for a run. I left my Parkmead neighborhood and headed over to Saranap. I love running through that neighborhood’s winding streets lined with tidy homes built in the 1940s or 1950s–during that post-World War II era when America was expanding its economic and political power internationally, and, with regard to the communities of the East Bay, its reach into undeveloped areas outside its big cities.

Families moved out here, creating their prosperous suburban lives, with the fathers finding upwardly mobile jobs at corporations with headquarters in Oakland and San Francisco. This morning in the Contra Costa Times: an obituary of one of those men. He served in the army in World War II, fought in Germany, and became an executive at Dole Pineapple, heading its San Francisco office until he retired. He died on Christmas Day at age 92.

The air at 8 a.m. was fresh and cold. The sky was a soft blue with a gentle winter sun glimpsing through trees bare of leaves. The streets were mostly empty, people tucked inside still asleep or lying in their bed, musing on their dreams or regrets. Two fire trucks rushed east on Olympic Boulevard and turned up Tice Valley, no doubt heading towards Rossmoor. One sounded its siren. A few minutes later the trucks, silent, were heading back to the station. False alarm.

As I ran, I admired homes where the owners, probably not the original owners from the post-World War II era, had presumably spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on remodels, making the once very modest homes a bit bigger and a little more stylish according to 2012 standards. Craftsman architectural touches. Double-paned windows with white trim. Were the owners happy with the results, I wondered. Did they feel satisfied with their lives, that they had made these home-remodeling resolutions and stuck with them? Did they now feel secure somehow with themselves and their future?

I pondered these questions as I came across one other woman running, and then more women, usually with scarves wrapped around their necks, walking their dogs. Outside another house, a woman was starting to pull down giant glass ornaments that were hanging from a tree. Pretty soon, today or over the next few days, people will be pulling down the lights they had hung along their roof lines to celebrate the season, and hauling their Christmas trees out to the curb for pickup.

The Times also had a story about how to make resolutions and stick to them. Maybe you’ve heard these tips before: Make small, achievable and specific goals; replace your vices with other things that comfort and nourish you so you won’t be going cold-turkey; accept the possibility of relapse. Keep in mind Scarlett O’Hara’s dictum that “After all, tomorrow is another day.”

So, I didn’t hit my 5:30 a.m. target this morning, but tomorrow is another day? So, I can try again tomorrow to write at 5:30 a.m., right?

I’m not sure what I want to write, or why I want to write. I thought about how I had this 5:30 a.m. resolution, with no end point in mind, as I ran over the bridge above Las Trampas Creek. The creek had a healthy level of cold rushing water.  Maybe no end point in mind is OK, I thought. Maybe the point is just to create the habit, and see where it takes me.

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