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Many hopes and plans, but few resolutions

The Baltimore Sun

Jeff Plaine has been writing a true story about meeting up with his high school sweetheart after 10 years, a love story script long in search of an ending. What to do?

Plaine sat in a Parkville diner awaiting his breakfast yesterday, New Year's Day. A day, perhaps, for a resolution.

"Usually I think about it, but I didn't this year," said Plaine, 41. But as he got to thinking, his courage grew as he sat at the counter of the Bel-Loc Diner.

"I've been working on a script for a year and a half," he said. "But I've never been able to write the ending. So maybe I'll finish that and shop it around."

Among dozens of patrons who made their way through the Bel-Loc on the first day of 2008, the prospect of making a resolution -- whether to find a new job, finish school or get rid of debt -- resonated with some more than others.

Fear of failure can weigh heavily.

"I don't think about it. I don't think about it because I just don't do it," said Jen Witowski, 21, of Towson.

The bright, blustery first day of the year might well inspire, but several diners at the Bel-Loc were unimpressed. They said they don't tie their hopes and dreams to what they consider is just another date on the calendar.

"I just try to make life better every day," said Jefferson A. Russell, a 41-year-old actor who lives in Charles Village.

New Year's resolutions are said to date to ancient Rome, which gave us Janus, the mythological god of gates and doorways, beginnings and endings, and the name of the year's first month. Janus was portrayed with two faces: one to see the past, the other to see the future.

Resolutions were in the air as the ball dropped on New Year's Eve in Times Square in New York. Confetti dropped at the celebration included paper printed with people's wishes and resolutions, the Associated Press reported.

But most Americans, according to a recent poll, take a dim view of resolutions.

Forty-three percent of respondents from a Marist College/WNBC poll in December said they would be very or somewhat likely to make a New Year's resolution, compared with 44 percent the previous year.

The poll showed that 49 percent of women would be somewhat likely to make a resolution, compared with 37 percent of men.

To women at the Bel-Loc, the idea of losing weight sounded great, but the call lost its oomph in the presence of crispy bacon, runny eggs and creamed coffee.

"The losing weight one hasn't worked," said Cyndi Adkins, 20, of Towson.

If you can't come up with your own inspiration, Uncle Sam is offering a helping hand. The U.S. government lists 13 popular resolutions on the Web site www.usa.gov., which offers links to federal departments offering tips on losing weight, saving money and stopping smoking. It also touches on traveling and voluntarism.

Many believed they were kicking off the year right by breaking bread with family and friends. Seven friends who graduated from Loch Raven High School settled into a table just after 11 a.m. after a full night of celebrating the new year.

"We drank a lot of sparkling apple cider," Jeremy Weitz, 20, of Towson said to a few laughs.

As the conversation turned to resolutions, Katie Guckert, 20, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., spoke of trying to graduate a semester early from Coastal Carolina University with a degree in hotel management. She transferred there from a Florida school this fall.

Michele Frock, 20, of Towson waxed philosophical about the purpose of resolutions before she appeared resolved to make one of her own: "I have to let go of an ex-boyfriend."


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