"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 8 January 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Filler 01.08.97

Are you suffering from it? Check for these symptoms.

Are you overcome by a strange mix of hopefulness and dread as the new year begins?


Do your friends suddenly make you sick, reflecting everything that's wrong with your life?


Have you reorganized anything with the manic energy of a Joan Crawford clone?


Do you feel alternately guilty, delusionally optimistic, and utterly hopeless within the span of a few minutes, a rollercoaster of hell cured only by a stiff drink?


Do you find yourself suddenly rethinking everything you once took for granted or believed in?


Don't worry - with time it'll evaporate faster than Jim Beam on hot asphalt.




Not suffering from Resolution Anxiety? We can't have that, now, can we?



You see, Resolution Anxiety is a natural part of any adult's healthy psychological development, like commitment phobia or deep-seated resentment towards family members. Without a yearly period of crisis and self-evaluation, you'll never know what in your life needs to change. Not that you'll ever change it, of course. But we think you should suffer just like we do, nonetheless.


THE GOAL When you're suffering from R.A., this is what your brain should look like.



Ask yourself: Am I half the person I should be?

If your answer is YES: Stop lying to yourself. Repeat Step 1.

If your answer is NO: Don't you feel small now? Good. Go to the next step.



Take a minute and think about all the:

Letters you haven't written
People you haven't called
Laundry you haven't done
Books you haven't read
Books you haven't written
Places you haven't been
Cities you haven't seen
Countries you haven't led
People you haven't met
People who wouldn't meet you if you wanted them to
People you haven't slept with
People who wouldn't sleep with you for all the tea in China
Instruments you can't play
Worthy causes you haven't helped
Things you don't know
Things you couldn't understand if you tried

When it boils down to it, you really haven't done shit, have you?



Now think of all the marginally talented, annoying people who're wildly popular and unbelievably successful (and you're not). For example, Alanis Morrisette. Or Douglas Coupland. Jon Katz. Cliff Stoll. Jenny McCarthy. Art Alexakis. Liam Gallagher. Kennedy, for godsakes. Hell, even Brooke Shields has her own sitcom. These people should be complete losers! Oh, but uh, YOU are instead, see?



By now, you should be in a state of utter despair and self-loathing, and should be considering at least three or four of the following:

Going to grad school
Dropping everything and moving
Starting a business or charity
Running for office
Leaving your spouse
Dropping your friends
Dropping out of society
Doing heavy drugs
Killing yourself
Eating a few pounds of chocolate

You're on the right track!



Now that you're feeling more anxious than a heifer on an anthill, you're probably ready to write down some of these resolutions. Don't do it! It'll just make you feel worse when you find the list a year from now and see you haven't changed a damn thing.

Instead, just go to a local bar with some friends and complain about all the things you'd like to change about your life. By the end of the night, you'll be too drunk to remember a thing - instead, you'll just wake with an undeniable sense of vague dissatisfaction and unfocused longing that will grow and grow until the day you die.

Congratulations! You're done! And, uh, welcome to the human race.



Now meet a few people who've made Resolution Anxiety a way of life!



He's convinced that through art, he'll make the world a better place. Or at least get himself a better place. All he wants is to express his innermost self through painting or pottery or interpretive dance, but mostly he sips cappuccinos and kvetches about the limitations society places on the artistic lifestyle.



His excuse for going to law school? He's doing it to save the environment! Too bad he's a corporate lawyer hammering out business contracts instead. He's always planning to quit next year to work with metal or something similarly unfathomable, but the money keeps rolling in, and there are still payments due on that townhouse...



She graduated from school firmly dedicated to helping the homeless, minorities, old people, and mixed-breed dogs. But after years of work in nonprofits, wrestling endlessly with grants, bureaucratic mazes, and ramen noodles, she's beginning to question her ability to effect change. Her doubts are sublimated into bitter rants against everyone who does anything less than totally pure and charitable. Years ago she'd have been a communist. Instead she's just pissed. Note: She's still better than you.



He always said he'd give lots to charity, instead he's pretending to invest it for them, since they can't possibly understand investing. He always said he wouldn't live ostentatiously. But that mansion in the Hamptons was so quaint, he couldn't resist. He always said he'd be a kind, reasonable boss. That was before he knew that good managers have to be heartless and manipulative. He does just what he likes, but he can't sleep at night.



She set out to write groundbreaking investigative pieces to expose corruption or the cruelties of war; instead, she's writing product reviews for Consumer Electronics or crafting exposés on "Trust" for Glamour magazine. "It's worthless but the pay is great," she says, and mumbles something about the novel she's going to write this weekend.






Polly Esther

Terry Colon



Polly Esther