Veeder: Life about laughter, not resolutions
By Jessie Veeder / Forum News Service Columnist
Last year I vowed 2013 would be the year I would plant a garden. I promised that once the winter snow melted, I would till up that flat spot below the house and I would put in carrots and tomatoes, peas and beans, corn and lettuce, and maybe a pumpkin or two, you know, for the autumn holidays.
Last year, at this time, I thought I might work really hard on mastering the mandolin and learn the words to “Rocky Top” just for fun and for nights in the Legion Club with the band.
Exactly 12 months ago, I proclaimed that it might be a good idea to add a sit-up or two to my daily routine.
Last year I promised to keep laughing.
On my first waking hours of 2014, I opened the window in my kitchen to let some of the smoke from a burned breakfast escape into the cold winter air, and that cold winter air killed the only house plant I’ve ever kept alive for more than a month.
Smoke was billowing out of the oven, indicating a seriously compromised egg bake, and while I flailed helpless around the kitchen trying to salvage a breakfast that I realized I maybe should have sought a recipe for, my relatives stood drinking coffee next to the open windows, waving smoke away from their noses and saying reassuring and loving things like:
“The egg bake smells delicious! Can’t wait.”
Or: “Cough, cough … it’s just a little smoke. Here, I’ll open up this door a crack.”
And: “Don’t worry. That plant will bounce right back …”
I love my family.
They are about as delusional as I am.
Because it’s 2014 and I had 365 good mornings to learn how to successfully cook breakfast, plant a darn carrot, learn the words to a song or, you know, coax out an ab muscle or two, but there I was at 11 a.m. on New Year’s Day in my flannel jammies and fuzzy ponytail with a kitchen full of relatives, a breakfast up in smoke and the realization that my closest attempt at a sit-up all year might have been actually, like, sitting up.
And then I laughed, and not because it was on my list, but because life is just a series of well-intentioned ideas that, when executed, may or may not result in a frozen houseplant and a house full of hungry, coughing relatives.
It’s a bizarre thing, this idea of a year, the idea of the Earth spinning us about in the universe, gradually carving lines in our faces, sprinkling silver in our hair and teaching us a little more about what it means to be human with each passing sunset.
Some days I think I’m about as human as it gets.
A human who doesn’t know the words to “Rocky Top” and now realizes that was a pretty dorky resolution, and who may have been too distracted by deck-building, songwriting and margarita-drinking this summer to convince anyone to teach her how to use the garden tiller.
A human who understands there can be pumpkins next year, if she gets around to it.
And if not pumpkins, maybe a green bean or two.
We’ll see what happens in 2014.
I think that might be my declaration. I just came up with it right now.
Because as much as I like a good list with checkboxes just waiting to be filled in, I sort of like the idea of making it up as I go along, you know, kind of like that egg bake “recipe” that overflowed in the oven and the four bottles of champagne that froze solid in the snow bank outside the house.
And the impromptu New Year’s Eve party that developed when some of my favorite people made the drive to the ranch just because they had the day off and wanted to be together.
And those homemade hats we made with red Solo cups because there was not a Happy New Year headband to be found in Boomtown.
And the laughter.
You can never plan the laughter.
And that’s the best thing about spinning around in this universe anyway.
Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband on a ranch near Watford City. Readers can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.