The Culture of the Resolution

I’ve changed the name of this blog once and considering my lack of allegiance or faithfulness to anything, it’s not so unfathomable that I might easily change it again.

I’m thinking of something like “East L.A. Curmudgeon” or “Curmudgeon-in-Training.” Who the hell knows.

I have this image of a curmudgeon as an ornery and humorless old man slow to embrace or impart light-hearted goodwill. There he sits in this cloistered musky room, surrounded by coats of dust and a drab sense of ill-humored existence. Fending off the younger generations who lack seriousness and continually elicit his harsh judgments. If you go the official route and check Mrs. Merriam’s take, you’ll find this:

Wow, that archaic “miser” usage is new to me.
A big affirmative to that!
And I fulfill definition number 2’s criteria, though I’d like to think I’m not quite “old” yet. My mind is preceding my body to that race.

My burgeoning curmudgeon-ness is rooted in a severe distaste for most people and their predictable daily nonsense of existence. And as I get older, their existence seems to sickeningly take on the pallor of oppressive and revolting mediocrity. I think it’s natural for us, as human, to overlay our social intolerances over the entirety of mankind’s cumulative personality and to attribute all offensive behavior to a “modern” sensibility, when in fact that shit was probably just as annoying when I was young. But of course, being that I was young I was most likely happily engaged in the same petty proliferation of bullshit and thus not bothered by it. As you get older, you get bothered. You attribute all cultural ills to modernity, which is really just a code for “young.”

I think those ungraciously aging of my generation are exposed to a whole new brand of cultural exposure as a result of the internet. We are able to witness the prattle of imbecilic chatter stride shamelessly across our screens on Facebook and Twitter and Myspace and every other social networking/dating site we dare to log in to, and most of this shit an affront to intelligence and good taste. The curmudgeon is devoutly serious. Flatly joyless. His intolerance is aggressively expressed reticence with a dose of timidity thrown in for good measure. In his distaste there is perhaps a sense of resentment or bitterness. I believe the curmudgeon’s genesis is rooted in an alienated childhood of rejection. Perhaps in early adulthood the early curmudgeon assumes the facade of normal society member by virtue of youth’s bristling virility. As age creeps up and relinquishment of the idleness of youth overtakes the maturing man, that old sense of alienation returns but cloaked behind the curtain of self-righteous withdrawal and arrogance. Curmudgeons are living out the continuation of a dejected youth.

And the worst time of year for me, as a fledgling curmudgeon, are the holidays. The holidays bore me. They annoy and test my patience with people.
The holidays were designed with the unqualified intent to completely break the back (and psyche) of curmudgeons everywhere.

The holidays with their incessant flippant tone of happiness and optimism and faux well-wished assertions. Such a barrage of seasonal bullshit!

1) That fucking Rose Parade. What an annoying display of old California style blue-blood debutante garbage. Even the rare minority member of the precious Rose Court wears the stain of tokenism. Nope, the only valid contestants are the white chicks whose families span back eras into SWPL Pasadena pre-history. Well-bred and well-moneyed, and now their precious little girls reap the nationally televised attention whore benefit of this stupid-ass parade built on the backs of thorny rose bushes and mentally enslaved workers seeking to build the best float ever. Fucking floats gliding by while the crowds press in madly to get a look at…a motorized rose bush. WTF? I don’t get it. Not only does the crowd scream in indescribable excitement, they do so in the most inclement weather ever (for SoCal). For you foreigners, Pasadena directly faces the northern mountains and is at an elevation much higher than most coastal Los Angeles and it is cold as hell there most December 31st’s. So it figures this is the perfect location for a bunch of nomadic souls to flock to while leaving behind the wonderful warmth of an adobe so they can sit on a sidewalk wrapped in scarves, jackets, mittens and boots, in order to watch this procession of colorful crap.

This is tonight’s weather forecast. Makes you want to rush out here and join the hordes, doesn’t it? (Yellow highlight is my own to accentuate the weather. I’m helpful that way…)

I’m disappointed there is no rain in the forecast at parade time. Major damnit. People root for football teams on New Year’s Day; I root for rain.

2) The endless barrage of mindless greetings.
Have a great!
Have a wonderful!
Have a prosperous!

If you ever, for whatever deranged reason, forget the time of year, you won’t have to wait long to be reminded because eventually, in the next 45 seconds, someone will scream or write this shit in your ear or your wall and you’ll think, “Oh, yeah! It’s Christmas!” A unforgiving parade (worse than the Rose one) of platitudes and hollow encouragements. Occasionally I hear the sporadic sincere and heart-felt greeting. Then I’m touched. I will not shrug it off as I would a wife’s or girlfriend’s substanceless order. But 97% of the shit that gets recited and barked out at this time of year carries all the sincerity of a greeting card pulled from a stack of 30 you bought in a pack on sale at CVS. Fucking holiday robots. Most aggravating is when this type of dynamic plays itself out in the realm of religiosity and other forms of Christian devotion. People who haven’t gone to church since Easter, never pray, never lift a fucking finger to do anything remotely saintly throughout the year, suddenly become virulent dogmatic charlatans in December while displaying frantic masks of religious fervor and recite Christian niceties until they need to be euthanized for everyone’s sake. It’s the robotic and reflexive holiday cheer that drives me crazy.

3) Speaking of reflexive behavior. Another holiday loser tradition that makes me want to scrape my eyeballs out of their sockets is the Culture of Resolutions. Every year it happens. 365 days have slipped by before people start realizing in a last-minute flash of glory that they have not been living up to the standards society dictates are proper or healthy and in a flourish or demented morality and discipline, they decide to right their personal Titanic by making personal contracts spelling out their new life path. They make all manner of promises about what they will give up or what new habit they will embark on. A resolution is just a promise to the self. Inevitably, New Year’s resolutions involve a change for the better. They are trite and doomed to failure. The fat chick who says she will eat less, the functional alcoholic who resolves to drink less or the materialistic creep who resolves to donate more…all a bunch of useless and futile dead ends. Health clubs recruit new customers for annual contracts because this the time people are morally at their weakest. They have spent too much money and eaten too much food over the holidays and their fat-assed empty wallets cushion the seat as they wallow in self-pity. Midnight looms and things will now change because they endeavor to say so…but nothing ever changes. I don’t understand why change must be announced at the beginning of a new calendar year. Is January 1 more special than August 14? Why can’t you make an August 14 resolution?

It’s this hollow self-obsessed display of change that I despise and the drive which possesses people to profess the nonsense loudly. As if the public utterance of such bullshit will lend it more gravity and significance when in reality it will die the same death all personal goals made behind the futility and dark secrecy of our own minds. It’s a crass display of egotism to announce in the public square that you will lose weight when in fact you have no intention of it. This is social and mental anesthesia. Making these overstated and raucous goals merely quiets the dysphoric chaos of an unhealthy mind but nothing will be done because there is no resolve. The reason we set artificial starting lines is to distract us from the goal because we are truly incapable of starting many personal treks independently of our environment. Which would not be so bad because this is what people do and it’s what I expect. No, I’m disgusted by the New Year’s tradition of making a public, Facebookian fuss about the adventure and involving everybody who in turn, feel they must pitch in the obligatory words of encouragement which we all know won’t matter one bit because that Resolution will be smashed to smithereens in the matter of a couple of months.

But there is always next year.