Behavior modification project X-46/13

This is what a real experiment looks like. You need at least one microscope, several test tubes, and three colored liquids. I think I only have 2 colored liquids.

We’ve all tried them, with varying degrees of success, but each year we swear, "This year is going to be different."

Some people call them resolutions, but as an amateur social scientist, I prefer to call them personal behavior modification projects. 

Taking a page from my friend Eileen Dunne’s playbook, rather than establishing resolutions, which can be broad, undefined and difficult to maintain throughout the year, I’ve decided to try mini-resolutions (ahem, modification projects) throughout the year, with the overall goal of living a more healthy, productive, full life.

Each month I’ll either focus on a “without” (removing something from my life that I enjoy but might not be the best for me), or a “with” (adding something healthy). And while I’ll continue to be conscious of the measures I’ve completed in subsequent months, the focus for that month will be … well, my focus.

I started off strong in January by removing resolutions from my life. So far so good.

This month I’m going without alcohol. I was doing great, except for an inadvertent slip-up this past weekend (in my defense, it was a tapas place and instead of wine, I ordered something called “coffee for men.” The menu didn’t make any mention that café cajillo was pretty much a shot of rum and a drop of coffee). 

I definitely wasn’t going to send it back, so i swallowed the now-tarnished mini-resolution with my pride (it was delicious).

Moving forward, here’s a breakdown of what I have for the rest of the year: 

Withouts: caffeine, meat, no TV/computer (at home), bäckerei
Withs: exercise (5 times/week), water (3 liters a day); making art (2-3 times/week)

I'll try to pair them with the months that make the most sense. For example, I’ll probably choose “not using the computer at home” when I don’t have any major trips to plan or anything that requires a lot of email coordination; or move the no caffeine to a warmer month.

Though it may seem silly, if you’ve ever lived in Germany, you know removing the bäckerei from your life for a month is no laughing matter.

You may have also noticed I’m a little short on ideas for the remaining 10 months in 2013, so I’m looking for a little help from our readers. (Molly hasn't started her modification project yet; it's been at least a month since she's brushed her hair but that's not a modification;).

So if you provide suggestions, I'll pick the best modification recommendations (and provide attribution, of course), and then assign them to specific months. If I receive enough good ideas, I might even replace some of my current picks ... so let the best ideas ... modify. 


Bill Murray likes our dog

My two-week stint in an intensive German language class in Dresden has come to end. In celebration, Jeremy and Sky came to rescue me and we took a family trip to the outskirts of town for a snowy hike in the Sächsische Schweiz National Park. 

In the middle of the park, high above the Elbe River, we noticed a film crew near the Bastei Bridge and wandered over to check out the scene. A sharp dressed mustachioed man walked by us and said, “You have a beautiful dog.”

It was Bill Murray. Bill. Fucking. Murray.

Jeremy and I excitedly jumped up and down screeching, “Bill Murray likes our dog! Bill Murray likes our dog!”

We noticed Bill Murray walking off by himself to take photos of the scenery, so we did what any non-creepy fans would do – we followed him. Oddly we were the only ones who recognized him, or seemed to care. We could stalk him all by ourselves!

We were a bit shy about approaching him until we noticed a stray dollar bill on the ground– the perfect conversation starter. Jeremy scooped it up and said “Excuse me, Mr. Murray, did you drop a dollar?”

“I think I did, thank you,” replied Bill Murray stuffing the dollar into his pocket.

“Where are from?” he asked.

(Bill Murray wants to know where we’re from! Bill Murray wants to know where we’re from!)

We told him we were Americans living here in Germany and he commented again on how much he liked our dog.

(Bill Murray likes our dog! Bill Murray likes our dog!)

We proceeded to have a conversation with Bill Murray. He told us he was in Görlitz a few days ago and had just finished up his work in Dresden. He was on his way to Berlin for another job.

“Would you mind if we took a photo with you?” Jeremy asked, his voice cracking like a prepubescent teenager.

“I wouldn’t mind at all,” said Bill Murray, with his characteristic melancholy demeanor.

While I’ve already forgotten most of the German I learned during the course, I won’t soon forget the star-struck finale of the trip to Dresden.   
(And Bill Murray likes our dog).