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Resolve this!Posted Friday, January 1, 2010, at 12:51 AM
It's resolution season again, and I've already gotten a jump on my big self-improvement kick for the year.
Of course, I'm tossing around the usual ideas: lose about 20 pounds; read my Bible more; do some writing (outside of work) every day.
But another big problem came to a head on Sunday, Nov. 8. That was the day my beloved Green Bay Packers fell to 4-4 after a ridiculous loss to the previously winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We'd already fallen to the previously beloved Brett Favre and the hated Vikings twice. It was time to freak out.
For me, that meant cursing -- lots and lots of cursing. I was mad and frustrated. With that, I must have dropped at least 50 words that day that I can't repeat here.
Needless to say, I had a problem.
So, I was out shopping on Monday morning, I picked up a small notebook I could keep in my back pocket. It was to serve as my curse journal.
Of course, this was a complicated issue. My wife and I actually had a discussion that day about what does and does not constitute a cuss word. Surprisingly, I was actually harder on myself than she was.
Of course, part of the fun for me was questioning whether a word should be on the banned list and then saying, "That didn't count." Nicole has grown weary of that routine.
In the end, though, I decided there is certain language I use while in church and while I'm substitute teaching. Why can't a be like that all the time?
In the last month and a half, I've rarely been without that little journal. I keep a daily tally of every bad word I utter, and usually make comments at the end of the day. The first day, I made 15 marks. It's a total I've equaled twice since, but never exceeded. I've had just one mark three times (twice this week).
I'm still in search of that "perfect" day. (Of course, if I were Bill Polian, I'd say perfection isn't something that concerns me.) I hope it's coming soon.
There has been at least one disturbing trend that's come up, though. As well as I feel I'm doing, the tally reached 12 on Christmas Eve and 15 on Christmas Day. I guess I must think holidays give me the right to go off the rails.
I guess what's really at the heart of this all isn't my mouth, but the issue of self-control. Cussing isn't simply a matter of anger for me; it was just part of my vocabulary. At one point, I was actually proud of that I was "good" at it.
Of course, I also used to think I was a good smoker, and I put that aside more than three years ago.
So I guess the best advice I can give anyone approaching their New Year's resolutions in the coming weeks and months is to make sure you have to be accountable. Whether it was a girlfriend who could always smell smoke on my breath or a little journal that glares back at me every time I say a bad word, it's good to have something to make you feel guilty.
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Jared Jernagan is a 2003 graduate of Wabash College and has been in journalism since 2005.