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Anthony Staehelin ’10: Resolutions for 2009 (or at least January)

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ahhh, New Year’s! The transition to a new year seems, as it always does, like the perfect opportunity to kick the bad habits we’ve been meaning to shed for some time. The first of January is that liberating day when we just start afresh, kind of like the reboot button on a computer.

We all know that feeling of returning to our computer after an all-nighter and seeing the 18 Mozilla Firefox tabs we’ve left open, the nine Word documents we’re too tired to care whether we saved and the mess of open folders and documents that litter our desktop… and then the joy and liberation that comes from hitting the reboot button and magically getting rid of that whole mess. Well, that’s a good metaphor for New Year’s!

An intrinsic part of this ‘reboot’ process is coming up with a list of resolutions for the new year. We’ve all done it: study more, curse less, stop smoking, etc. Although most of these endeavors fail before February, a ‘list of resolutions’ has become a staple of New Year’s. In keeping with this tradition, and with campus life in mind, I came up with three personal resolutions for 2009 that other students might find relevant as well. So here goes:

1) Sleep more… in bed and less in class.

Until college, I had never witnessed mass public sleeping before. In classrooms, lectures, screenings and even at the Ratty, it seems like everyone is snooZzzzing. It’s as though a widespread ‘fatigue’ pandemic has hit Brown with full force. If you think I am exaggerating, I invite you to sit at the front of the auditorium at your next mundane afternoon lecture. Turn around halfway through the lecture and you will witness a substantial number of students either staring straight up at the ceiling or focusing intently on their belly buttons. Although I also occasionally enjoy an afternoon nap to the soothing voice of Professor XYZ, in the interest of actually learning something in class, I will try to kick this habit in 2009.

2) Stop wearing those boxers with the holes in them (i.e. do laundry more often!)

The only significant lifestyle change I made from freshman to sophomore year was buying a bigger hamper. In the first few weeks of school, I quickly realized my two-foot hamper would not suffice – I could never actually find it because it was always hidden under a mountain of clothes. There is no sensible explanation for why we all put off doing our laundry… aside from general laziness. There is no ‘bulk discount’ for waiting until we have six loads to do! On the contrary, it is harder to wash many consecutive loads in one go, as the competition over laundry machines is fierce (and growing fiercer by the day)!

Unfortunately, not doing laundry leads many Brown students to wear clothes that should only see daylight in the direst of times and otherwise be confined to the darkest corner of their closet. You know what I’m talking about. That faded yellow sweater, that worn out white T-shirt with the armpit stains or that old unflattering turtleneck. But with a new year comes new hope! In 2009 therefore, let us no longer inflict these types of clothing on our fellow classmates and let us commit to doing our laundry more often.

3) Inform Chef Boyardee that his services will no longer be needed

I’m not sure what it was that inspired this last one. Perhaps it was all the home-cooked meals over break, or the traumatizing memory of that time I lay in bed at 5 a.m. unable to sleep because I was thirsty and the only beverage in my fridge was Red Bull, or perhaps my mother’s incessant phone calls starting with “Are you eating? You sound too thin!” are finally paying off. Whatever the reason, my third resolution is to eat healthier in 2009.

Don’t get me wrong, I was no different from any other college kid in 2008: I would start my day with a microwaved pop tart, later I’d snack on a Pizza Pocket and my idea of a quick, late-night dinner amounted to a delicious, three day-old serving of Pad Thai noodles. (For increased speed, eat cold and straight from the fridge. Don’t be dissuaded by the fact that they have taken the cubic shape of the container!) Although I still have my doubts about whether the Ratty food is preferable to those coagulated noodles, our parents are probably right to suggest that we should at least try to eat healthier in 2009!

So there you have it. Although this list could hardly be more arbitrary, I’m quite certain it applies to many of us. Admittedly, staying awake through afternoon lectures, doing laundry once a week and not succumbing to the temptation of microwave ravioli will prove a daunting challenge. You might find some relief, however, in knowing that many New Year’s resolutions don’t actually make it past January. With that in mind, Happy New Year and good luck. (Only nine days to go!)

PS: I briefly considered including “stop watching mind-numbing VH1 programs” in the list, but quickly decided I should only include resolutions that have at least some chance of succeeding.

Anthony Staehelin ’10 is a political science concentrator from Geneva, Switzerland.