No. 1: I will stop purchasing objects from flea markets, antique fairs and online dealers in a thinly disguised quest for my long-lost and occasionally misspent youth. I will remind myself that buying a small nearly empty bottle containing six whiffs of Evening in Paris cologne will not conjure up my robust aunts or miraculously manifest their soft padded shoulders against which I might fall into a dreamless sleep as I used to on Sunday afternoons. I will remind myself that possessing the midnight blue and silver-capped bottle will merely force me to regret spending more money on an empty vessel than they, in their frugality and wisdom, would have spent for a full one. In my life, not only do such items evoke my own mortality but they need dusting.
No. 2: I will stop hiding things to keep them safe. The one person from whom these purportedly valuable items remain hidden is me: I can never remember where I put something after I put it away for safekeeping.
No. 3: I will stop collecting old grievances as if they were old perfume bottles or were weirdly distorted Hummel figures. I will get over being indignant and I will shrug off being huffy. Impatience takes too much time, unfunny bitterness ruins the flavor of life and resentment gives me lines that make my mouth go down at the edges, which is not a good look. I need this bad mojo even less than I need another empty bottle of Evening in Paris.
No. 4: I will never say “please” before I have said “thank you.”
No. 5: I will swear less.
No. 6: I will remember to send greeting cards by mail with stamps from the U.S. Postal Service to friends and loved ones so that I might celebrate their birthdays, anniversaries and happy occasions in a timely fashion rather than relying exclusively on Facebook. This way I will be able to acknowledge the happiest days of their lives before it is too late.
No. 7: While we’re on the mailing business, I will also write thank-you notes by hand and I will encourage any young people in my midst to do the same.
No. 8: I will put my money where my mouth is and write checks to charitable organizations whose work I know and respect. Women need to understand the power of the purse. If we have the privilege, we should act collectively when it comes to choosing to write a check to a shelter or a local arts organization, for example, rather than buying another pair of shoes. Yes, donating time makes a difference but so does donating $30, if you can afford it.
No. 9: I will count my blessings when I am in the doldrums, count to 10 when I am quarrelsome and count on my friends when I need a laugh.
No. 10: I will encourage in myself and in others a ferocious hunger for learning and an unquenchable need to be generous; I will celebrate whenever possible, reassure whenever necessary and prevail even if it means being called “bossy.”
No. 11: If I ever do buy Evening in Paris again, the bottle will be full.
Gina Barreca is an English professor at the University of Connecticut, a feminist scholar who has written eight books, and a columnist for the Hartford Courant. She can be reached through ginabarreca.com.