|Before the fresh start to the New Year started going a bit stale, I got a jump on things during the lull between Christmas and January 1. With no more presents to wrap, holiday feasts to prepare, and most of my clients out of town, I had plenty of time. Most of it I spent hiking in the glorious crisp weather we had following the deluges that brought green to the parched hills and a brief fantasy that our drought might be over. (It isn’t, but what’s the point of New Year’s if not hoping for things that will soon fail to materialize?)
When I wasn’t hiking, I was unsubscribing. Not quite ready to tackle the actual clutter in closets and drawers I’d resolved to conquer, I could at least take a stab at virtual clutter. How satisfying to hunt down the microscopic click here from all the defeated congressional candidates we’d supported who were now sending holiday greetings while asking for more money. And kudos to the Sierra Club, which uses a big font for Unsubscribe—not so worthy of praise that it kept me from clicking, but still, I appreciate their thoughtfulness. The ever-persistent requests for $3,$5, $10, ANYTHING, PLEASE, WE’RE SO DESPERATE!!! from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, like the mosquito that whines in the night, were harder to get rid of, but for the moment there’s no more buzz in my ear. Sorry, Nancy Pelosi. Bernie Sanders I kept on board, just in case.
Since I felt so good about purging emails, I moved on to purging my stacks of unread New York Reviews collecting dust on my night stand. Vowing to be ruthless, I decided beforehand to stop only for articles about “The Serial.” Since the New York Review is too high-falutin to traffic in the most popular podcast ever, I was able to make short work of my tall pile, though I did pause for a few essays, including Michael Chabon’s short paean to Oakland, before remembering why I had never made it through Kavalier and Clay or The Yiddish Policemen’s Union. More successful at drawing me in was an article on the theory of broken windows policing—perfect for the New Year, since it’s another hopeful idea that hasn’t panned out too well. I passed on “What Happened to the Arab Spring?,” “Is There an Answer to Syria?,” and “Did Patrick Modiano Deserve It?” I guess I will never know, nor will I ever know who Patrick Modiano even is.
“Oh no!” my husband cried in dismay when I told him with relish of my purge, of my disloyalty to intellect and knowledge. But disregarding the opinion of others is one resolution that has gained traction over the years. My NYR-free nightstand has meant I am almost caught up on New Yorkers. And I finally began Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, which I have been magically thinking about reading for years.
Then there’s my favorite ritual of honoring the change in the calendar: packing away all the holiday ornaments and tossing the Christmas tree over the balcony.
Of course, now that I’ve unsubscribed from 2014, the question remains: What do I want to subscribe to in 2015?
Lorrie Goldin is a psychotherapist in the San Francisco Bay Area and blogs regularly at Shrinkrapped.