Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A New Me. By Friday.

I have just recently begun to foray into the world of audiobooks, which I have discovered I can check out of the library, transfer onto my iPod, and listen to while I'm running, or during rush hour commutes after I’ve heard enough of the headlines.

This has opened up a lot more literary possibilities to me. Titles that sound interesting but perhaps not quite artistically important enough for me to devote my all-too-limited bedtime reading to can still be called up to pass a couple of hours of running or commuting. So I lower my standards a little bit for audiobooks and grab whatever looks interesting.

During last week’s 10-mile run, I finished “BossyPants” by Tina Fey, a perfect example of an audiobook winner. A little too frivolous for actual reading, but fine to keep my mind busy during a two-hour w. This week, I reached for the next audiobook in the stack, having already forgotten what I’d picked out at the library.

It turned out to be a new entry from the self-help shelf called “Have a New You by Friday,” by Dr. Kevin Leman.

It was an impulsive choice and I can’t really remember what motivated me to grab it off the shelf, except again, audiobooks are a good chance to try something I might not otherwise choose.

I haven’t yet started listening to it. Truth be told, I haven’t even gotten as far as transferring it to my iPod, which itself takes a good 20 minutes or so, so I don’t usually initiate the process until I’m sure I’m ready to begin something. And I suppose my reticence to start the disc transfer process suggests maybe I’m not fully on board yet with the idea of having a new me by Friday.

One thing I find both mysterious and irresistible about this title is the declaration of a specific day. Not “Have a New You in a Week,” not “In Ten Days,” but “By Friday.” So apparently it doesn’t even matter what day you start; you can still count on having your results by….Friday. I suppose if you procrastinate on starting the process until, say, Wednesday afternoon, you just have to be psyched up to change really, really fast, which sounds like it could actually be a bit dizzying.

Not wanting to tempt fate, or failure, by leaving myself too small a window for transformation, I plan to start it next Saturday, so as to give myself the maximum six days for the promised change.

The other thing I love about the title is the verb “Have.” Not “Be a New You” or “Become a New You.” Instead, a verb that implies not transformation so much as procurement: the new you will not be something you are, but something you possess. I picture a little cutout version of myself that I can carry around in a briefcase. “Look what I just got! Oh, yes, a new briefcase….but look inside! It’s a new me! It arrived last Friday!”

Of course, all of this silly speculation is frivolous compared to the most important question underlying the title. Just who will this new me be, once Friday arrives? Will it be any better than the old me? Will it be more punctual? More tolerant? More assertive? More patient? Better at resisting cookies at three o’clock in the afternoon?

Admittedly, I’m making a huge assumption here, which is that the new me will be better than the old me at all. Maybe the title is a trick, and in fact, the value of the exchange could be randomly assigned. Maybe it will be like trading in one rental car for another. Maybe it’s nothing more than luck of the draw whether the old new me is better, worse, or equal in value to the current me. Maybe it will have just as much of a punctuality problem. Maybe it will have even worse traits. Maybe it will be a kleptomaniac, or want to eat at MacDonald’s.

Needless to say, there’s only one way to find out. Next Saturday, just in time for my next ten-mile run, I plan to load up the discs onto my iPod and hit the trail. But I don’t expect the changes to be apparent right away. I’m giving myself a whole six days until the Friday on which I’m promised a new me, which does make me wonder if it will be anything like being assured the washing machine repairman will arrive on Friday, or having a pregnancy due date: will I sit around for hours that Friday, waiting for the new me to make its appearance?

I guess we’ll have to wait and see. But there’s still a lot I can’t quite picture: maybe it will inhabit my old skin, like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or maybe it will be a paper doll in my purse, like the children’s literary hero Flat Stanley.

Although another thought suddenly occurs to me: there’s nothing in the book title about keeping the new me. Suppose I get it only for a short time and then have to return it, like the audiobook itself?

So many things to figure out about this new me, who may or may not be a kleptomaniac, a carnivore, a body snatcher, or a transient. But I'll find out all the answers on Friday. As long as I start loading the discs into my iPod within the next few hours. Which, fortunately, is something the old me knows how to do.

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