New Years Again or “I want to be a dentist”

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is one of my favourite xmas stories. I love Hermey the elf who wants to be a dentist. Arguably I’m a dentist who wants to be an elf. But I envy his chutzpah and spirit of adventure. He may be animated, but he’s inspirational. (I’m pretty sure he’s Jewish - that angst is so familiar. But he wasn't out. I don't think they'd lifted that discriminatory ban in Santa's shop.)

Every year brings another New Year, another countdown, another exposition of bests and worsts that points right back at us - our own red noses getting brighter, wrinkles and grey hairs more plentiful, our kids growing bigger, our parents shrinking.

But if there were no new year there’d be no out with the old/in with the new possibilities. New Years is like the secular equivalent of Catholic confession. It’s the once-a-year little booth you step out of feeling optimistic and armed with the Hail Mary’s of new gym memberships, revised copies of the South Beach diet, writing, cooking and carpentry courses.

I’ve never been a fan of the new year's resolution. They’re too revolutionary. Variations on I plan to be an entirely different person instead of the shmo I was yesterday. I think we should go for resolutionettes. Mini goals. Not that the smallest goals are not daunting, but it’s less depressing when they fall on the dirty floor. They’re easier to pick up and dust off.

Professionally, 2012 has been a wonderful year for me. I got published in the NYT, which begot the Globe and Mail, which begot Toronto Life.The Huffington Post seems happy to post my opinions on any number of unrelated topics. I wrote, edited, re-wrote and re-edited a novel, and I’ve started other writing projects. I was offered the buy-out package I’d wanted to leave government work. But somewhere along the way, the wave that had carried me forward, pulled back, like all waves do, and left me stuck on a sandbar, looking out, but primarily back, for enough weeks to be called months, waiting for my next wave.

If I were to pick a 2013 New Years revolution it would be to move full steam ahead on the force of my own steam. (Why choose a concrete goal? They are far too fallible). But really I just want people to ask me for my writing. Can you write us an opinion piece about Idle No More, about Trans-men, about the crazy thing that happened at Ari’s last performance, about processing tragedy, about working as a supply teacher, about life as an imperfectionist (that’s what my 13 yr old called me a few days ago.)? They’re all half-ready to go.

I worry that generating my own steam would require an overhaul of my personality into a soliciting, networking, lunching, chatting, cold-calling, snappy-suit-wearer. Seriously, I'm not worried about that at all. It's simply an excuse for lying in wait. So I start projects and leave them open on my computer where they can yell at me not to forget them. It’s not as though they’re mistreated but they aren’t having the life they were meant for. They live, half complete, on my personal Island of Misfit (Pieces) Toys.

For any of you who haven’t watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, it’s well worth it, not just to understand what I’m trying to say. I’d love it if Yukon Cornelius, Hermey and Clarice were to come and deliver my pieces to loving homes but in the meantime, in the spirit of New Years I’ll build up some steam and get ready to blow it off.

Why does that plan sound distinctly un-resolution-like?


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