After a six week holiday break, Pistolette has returned. I’ve been quite productive though, getting up at 4:30am to make short story deadlines, and crack out word-count on other fiction projects. But now, it’s back to the essays. Happy New Year!
Using the word “resolution” for something you want to accomplish just destines it to fail. It sounds disorganized, undedicated, and passive aggressive, like something the United Nations would declare. Call it anything but that. Ambitions, objectives, aspirations, and even intentions sound more tough than resolutions. “Goals” is a nice direct one.
That aside, making any such attempts for the New Year is almost destined to fail when you live in New Orleans, especially when eating healthy and starting exercise programs are at the top of the list. Everywhere else in America, it might be productive to mark the end of the Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas seasons with new “resolutions”. But January is actually the worst time to start life changes here because it’s technically holiday MIDSEASON for us.
Take January 2nd. The new diet begins. You learn to grill some fish and steam some veggies, adding liberal amounts of cayenne just so you can swallow it. Then the workout starts. You endure stabbing pains in your side while you run in Audubon Park – and that’s before you even make it out of the parking lot. But you survive four whole days, pat yourself on the back, and give yourself one fat-free organic chocolate chip to celebrate, and then…
Aunt Jeanette comes over on Twelfth Night with a f#%king King Cake.
And this is how it goes for months. After January 6th there’s a slew of diet-destructive treats related to Superbowl parties and Mardi Gras, not to mention Valentine’s Day goodies that sneak in from the office and school. Before you know it your Pilates DVD is buried under beads and candy wrappers, and your health food is rotting in the crisper drawer. Just a minor setback, you think, there is still hope.
Lent! Yes, Lent will save me! Forty days of behaving for a higher purpose! Unfortunately there was a comedian in the Catholic bureaucracy who thought it would be hilarious to place St Patrick’s Day during Lent (yeah, I know Paddy died that day, but what the hell was wrong with his birthday?). So there are more parades, and food, and alcohol. In any other city this might be a one afternoon event, but in New Orleans, hell no, at least a week. This also happens to be wedding season too, and if you’re standing in one, consider your ‘get in shape’ plans decimated.
Even if you survived all that, you surely wouldn’t make it through festival season. From mid-March to the end of May there are more Springtime events in Louisiana than dirty politicians (ok, maybe not that many). If you’ve made it this far… oh hell no you haven’t. You’d have to be Jesus to endure that kind of temptation. And even he liked a big family dinner with plenty of wine and Saints.
Nope, I’m not apologizing for that. Quit groaning and read.
Now you’re in the first week of June, and your New Year’s resolutions are long forgotten. You likely gave up somewhere around your fifth slice of Cream Cheese and Raspberry stuffed Randazzo’s at the office party, right before the “Be Mine” card with a box of Godiva arrived. You didn’t decide to give up, you just decided not to think about it anymore.
But you didn’t fail, really. You simply started at the wrong time. Many of these goals take months of uninterrupted dedication, and when do we ever get a break from partying around here to do that? Well…
That’s right. The perfect time to start New Year’s resolutions objectives in Louisiana is June 1st.
In June the worst of the summer heat kicks off, and a lull in the city’s fun agenda along with it. You’ll have several months of no interruptions*. You’re going to switch from bacchanal mode to survivalist mode anyway. You’ll clean out the pantry so you can fit canned goods and bottled water in it, stock battery powered electronics, scrape out the storm drains, do some house maintenance, check on the important documents, etc. This mode is far more conducive to making health changes than the beginning of Carnival season because you can convince yourself it’s hurricane survival training**.
The peak of hurricane season is so hot that you won’t be as pissy about salad or grilled cuisine as you’d be in January***. If not, you might just forget to eat while obsessively checking the Weather Channel every ten minutes to the hour. So work off the stress in a chilly 65 degree gym, or get up at 5am and beat the heat for a run. By the time the Fourth of July comes around you’ll have shed several pounds while everyone else will have already gained back what they lost in January (plus a few extra). And when those 4½ months are over you’re far more likely to enjoy the October through May onslaught of decadence in pleasurable moderation****.
So there you go. You’re officially off the hook until Summer. Enjoy that King Cake.
*Sure if you LOOK for trouble you can always find it here, but during these month it usually stays out of your way.
**Which in diet psychology feels morally superior to “I just wanted to wear a bikini again”.
***Sometime during June’s Tomato Festival last year you probably bit into a juicy fresh Creole tomato and thought, “Hmmm, this is healthy *and* delicious. Too bad it’s not the proper time to start eating well”.
****I’d never suggest giving up the local fun completely. If that’s your goal I’d just advise you to leave town.
Originally published at Pistolette.net, January 1, 2011.