New Year's resolutions are a bad idea. There's no way I will lose 20 pounds and keep it off, get through Gibbon's "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," or plant the imported tulip bulbs that have been sitting in my vegetable bin for the last two years. After years of compiling lists of things I want to accomplish in the next year, I've decided on a far more modest agenda. Following are five mistakes I hope not to repeat in 2001:
Buying high, selling low: Having discovered the joys of technology stocks and online trading last December, I have managed, over the last year, to ensure that I will never be able to retire. Unlike Hillary Clinton, whose careful reading of the Wall Street Journal a few years ago helped her turn a thousand dollar investment into $100,000, I have reduced my retirement fund by about a third by taking control of my own portfolio. Thankfully, I've now forgotten my online password, which means I won't be able to buy any more shares at their 52-week high or sell them just before the company disappears off the NASDAQ.
Naming the dog after a former president: What seemed like a great moniker for a 12-week-old pup sounded a bit foolish months later when I stood in my front yard at 3:00 a.m. yelling "Reagan" at the top of my lungs. Then there was the problem of finding a place to board Reagan when I went out of town. It turns out the only kennel in the area is run by a Reagan-hating Democrat. Or worse yet, I never could get the terrified UPS man to believe that the snarling, 75-pound beast who would keep him at bay on the front porch would back off if he'd just say: "Sit, Reagan, sit." After nightmares of mauled neighbors and million-dollar lawsuits, I've sent Reagan back to his breeder -- who, I hope, will find a good Republican home for him.
Driving a pick-up to work in the city. I have discovered a new form of discrimination: prejudice against people who drive trucks. No pick-ups need apply when it comes to finding a parking place in Washington, D.C., or any major city, I suspect. My truck is no larger than the humongous SUVs I see wheeling into underground garages all over the city. But whenever I pull into a lot, the attendant looks at me like I was driving a Sherman tank, before informing me the garage doesn't take "oversized vehicles." I've spent hours looking for spaces on the street and pleading with unsympathetic garage managers to rent me a space, to no avail. I guess it's time I traded in the truck for a sedan.
Putting a TV in the kitchen. It seemed like a good idea, until the Florida recount. I've never been much of a TV viewer, except for the evening news, so putting a TV set on the kitchen counter where I could cook and watch the news simultaneously made sense. Then came the election -- all five weeks of it -- and my one-hour-a-day viewing turned into 16. With all those hours in the kitchen I cooked up a storm ... elaborate breakfasts, lunches and dinners -- not to mention midnight snacks as we listened to pundits rehash the days' events. In 33 years of marriage, my husband has never eaten so well. Now both of us need to go on a diet.
Believing my husband when he tells me not to buy him anything for Christmas. I should have known better. Every time we have an agreement not to exchange gifts, he cheats and buys me something special. Next year when he says there's nothing he wants, I'll know it means I should run out and buy him a 60-inch-screen entertainment center or maybe a hot tub or a snowmobile.