The Japanese do all their "spring cleaning" leading up to New Year's Day, the notion being that whatever state you're in when you kick off the new year is how you're destined to spend the rest of it. Which is why I've spent all day doing thirteen loads of laundry (the floor's starting to peek though again, though I could swear the carpet was a different color) and also why I plan to pop a beer shortly before the ball drops.

Holidays and ritual serve important functions in society, primarily as a reason to drink a lot of alcohol, eat a lot of food, and argue about proper greeting etiquette. Though January 1 is nothing more than an arbitrary date in the never-ending march of time, it's a good to have a time to reflect on the immediate past and be hopeful that the future will be brighter.

From where I sit, 2013 is shining like the sun, primarily because it's not an election year. I plan to keep an arm's length away from the news media and Facebook over the next 12 months. I learned more about my friends in 2012 than I ever wanted to know. 

When it comes to resolutions, though, I'm more hardcore than most: When I make one, I keep them for at least 12 months. I love the built-in opportunity to try to prove to myself that I still have a modicum of willpower. When so much in the world is out of your control, isn't it nice to be able to exert some control over something?

So when I craft these, they're bold, specific, and almost always involve food. I went vegetarian in 2007 to try to curb my cholesterol and went entirely without meat for two years. In 2008, I ate not a single dessert I didn't make myself. And I gave up carbonated drinks in 2003. Except for beer. You have to keep your goals realistic.

This year, inspired by the documentary Forks Over Knives - and armed with the companion cookbook I snagged for $5 on closeout - I'm going for the gold by sticking to an entirely plant-based diet devoid of processed food and oils, with exemptions for meals abroad and my mother-in-law's cooking. The last time she tried to accommodate my vegetarianism, she insisted the bacon in her salad was okay for me because it was turkey bacon.

I've found that, when you're giving something up, it helps to have a ritual send-off. It anchors the effort in time and helps cement your resolve in your own mind. So tonight Bich and I went to Pizza Hut and ordered the items pictured below.

Stuck in snowy, icy Kirksville today, it was the best I could come up with. If Japanese superstition holds true, I'm destined to spend most of 2013 sick to my stomach. 

But I'm feeling pretty cocky this year, so other resolutions follow, most of which strategically involve my Playstation 3:

Learn to play the bass guitar. Thanks to Rocksmith, I got a head-start on this three days ago. Live healthier by exercising four times a week and walking every day. I'm on day 3 of the EA Sports Active 2 program and already having difficulty walking.  Watch more films (Netflix), read more books (Nook), and stay out of web browsers as much as possible. Overall, I'm going to try to keep it more real and less virtual. Write a little something every day, and finally participate in NaNoWriMo. This will be on actual pencil and paper, only because the PS3 onscreen keyboard is impossible to navigate.

Why am I putting this down in some bizarre public confessional? You gotta have a partner to hold you to your word. Maybe by setting this in print, you can help keep me honest. And maybe it's time you stopped reading and checked to see what the kids are up to in the other room. They've been awfully quiet.

Time to bury the bones of the past and ... uh ... slather on the sauce of the future. Hey, it's late.