Yearly Planner, you can’t be serious

by Gene Collier

A new year triggers an almost biological urge among the humans to, as the horrid cliché goes, hit the ground running. Not I. At my age, I’m fairly certain I don’t want to hit the ground at all. That could be serious.

As someone who much prefers to ease into things — pants, chairs, daylight — you can appreciate my alarm when I couldn’t even get to Page 2 of the new  yearly planner without being struck with a sudden blast of external pressure to consider actually doing something this year.

That’s because on Page 1, after the few lines where I write my name and phone number in case I leave a black 9-by-12-inch spiral bound yearly planner on a pile of cantaloupes at the Giant Eagle (don’t think I couldn’t), it says: Yearly Goals.

Excuse me?

Then, there are 25 lines of blank space, each with a little box I can check, presumably upon completion.


But OK, I’ll play. Twenty-five “yearly goals,” for 2022. Or about 800 words, whichever comes first.

Avoid dying alone in a hospital parking lot. Yeah this is still No. 1, despite hope and prayer and vaccines and a booster. Thanks primarily to the unvaccinated, it’s likely to stay at the top of the charts for a while, too.

As I am a slow and careful reader, No. 2 will again be the modest goal to read 12 books this year, actual books, meaning longer than the menu at the Cheesecake Factory, although that’s a heavy lift. The first year of COVID, I read 24, owing to the condition of having nowhere to go and nothing to do. In the second year of COVID, I read 18. So for 2022, 12 is a number laced with hope.

No. 3 then should be to avoid books written, all or in part, by Bob Woodward. I love ya, Bob, and your Watergate coverage is part of the reason I’m in this game in the first place, but your last three books, “Fear,” “Rage” and “Peril” have me thinking the next will be “Pulmonary Embolism.”

No. 4: Become a billionaire space tourist.

No. 5: Turn the former bedroom-turned-COVID writing space into something that looks more like an office and less like a library closet filled with shelves that don’t look like other shelves and stacks of books waiting to be shelved and lamps that don’t work anymore.

No. 6: Ask the 33-year-old son who moved out in, like, 2006, how long we should keep this System Of A Down poster on the wall. I mean, that one guy looks particularly murderous, right?

No. 7: Follow through, finally, on the urge to remind my friends at Channel 2 about weather segments featuring “Futurecast.” All “casts” regarding weather are for the future, pretty sure. There’s no “Pastcast.” That would be too easy.

No. 8: Start a clothing line called “The South Face,” with all the logos on the butt.

No. 9: Lose 52 pounds. This is a perennial. It’s one pound per week. It should be easy. Been doing it since about 1990. Gained 52 pounds.

No. 10: Perhaps related to No. 9, go lighter on the five basic food groups: Fritos, Cheetos, Doritos, Tostitos and pizza.

No. 11: At some point, take down the Christmas tree.

No. 12: Remove enough of the contents of my wallet so that it no longer resembles the genetically modified pig heart that was transplanted into that guy in Baltimore this week. This happened, so I read, at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine, which is good. You wouldn’t want experimental surgery done at, say, Four Seasons Total Landscaping. Experts expect a simple walletectomy to be easier.

No. 13: Another perennial, expand my vocabulary and get at least part of that expansion into the Post-Gazette. At or near the on deck circle are caducity, gallimaufry and punctilio. For extra fun, use ‘em in a Steelers column.

No. 14: Cut down on visits to “The Wellness Center.”

No. 15: Make another attempt at separating from Twitter, aka the International Center For Inexhaustible Anger. It’s possible I’ve been going about this the wrong way. Perhaps it would be easier just to mount an insurrection against the government of the United States. That’ll get you separated, I hear.

No. 16: Schedule a colonoscopy. Don’t need one; I just like the drugs.

No. 17: Finish that play I’ve been working on.

No. 18: Start that pulp fiction novel I’ve not been working on.

No. 19: Throw my cellphone in one of three rivers.

No. 20: Long an admirer of tattoos, consider actually getting one. Always thought a sleeping Airedale would be nice for one of my biceps, but unfortunately, the gun show never really came to town.

No. 21: Don’t be such a smart ass.

No. 22: Continue the exhaustive search for that column or story that “writes itself.” Editors love this phrase. “You gotta do this; it writes itself!” No. It. Doesn’t.

No. 23: Swear off putting periods after every word in a sentence. It’s annoying.

No. 24: Schedule another planning session with my financial adviser, Gus the Groundhog (keep on scratchin’).

No. 25: At any and all costs, avoid hitting the ground, running or otherwise.

Gene Collier is an award-winning columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.