The conversation hearts and foil-covered boxes of Russell Stover are large and in charge at my local pharmacy, and to them I say, “Welcome.” Unlike the rude arrival of Halloween candy in August, the retail gusto for Valentine’s Day in the first week of January invigorates me. It aligns with my own desire for the winter months to hurry up already. Bring on the egg-dyeing kits and the Mother’s Day cards. Let’s set our sights on spring.
Slow down. OK. It’s the first week of the new year. Let’s be in the moment. How many of us resolved to be more present in 2023? How many of us have broken that resolution? Depending on which gloomy study you read, somewhere between everyone and everyone and their brother will have broken their New Year’s resolutions by Feb. 14. How can we make this year different?
Resolve to always be resolving. That sounds terrible, but it’s actually sort of liberating. January might be, for you, a terrible time to begin eradicating your bad habits. Depending on where you live, the days may be shorter, darker and colder — precisely the worst conditions for getting up early and endeavoring a HIIT workout.
You don’t need a specific day of the year to start to change your life. You can resolve to do something differently — spend less money, be nicer, drink more water — anytime. And you can decide to do these things for an hour, a day, a week. Then see if you want to continue. Vowing to overhaul your life on Jan. 1 and trying to stick with the changes forever is a tall order.
When you do make a resolution, be it now or in six weeks or in July (or never — you’re perfect the way you are), remember that a resolution need not be punishing. It doesn’t have to involve curbing appetites or behaviors unless you want it to. You can resolve to reward yourself more. You can resolve to take more naps. And the resolution doesn’t need to be big. It can be small and boring and meaningful only to you.
The real reason I like to Always Be Resolving is that it reminds me there’s always a clean slate. There’s always a day or month or year ahead of me with no mistakes in it. Right now, there’s the calendar year of 2023, and that offers a tidy organizing principle. But there’s a year between March 9ths too, a year between Aug. 23rds. There’s the blank canvas of next Tuesday. How will you fill it?
THE WEEK IN CULTURE
Representative Kevin McCarthy won election as House speaker on the 15th ballot, the longest such fight since before the Civil War. He gave major concessions to far-right holdouts.
The House speaker fight made clear that Congress will almost certainly be in disarray for the next two years.
The U.S. economy added jobs at a slower but still comfortable rate last month, as the unemployment rate ticked back down toward prepandemic levels.
Damar Hamlin, the Buffalo Bills safety who collapsed on the field on Monday, had his breathing tube removed and has been able to talk, the team said.
The Biden administration announced $3 billion in aid for Ukraine that includes equipment to help fight Russian forces on open ground.
Federal regulators approved a new Alzheimer’s drug that could modestly slow the pace of cognitive decline but carries risks of brain swelling and bleeding.
One of China’s most influential tech titans, Ant Group, said its founder, Jack Ma, plans to relinquish control of the company.
🎮 “Pentiment”: The world of video games is large indeed. Last year, it encompassed difficult open-world dark fantasy titles like “Elden Ring” (for many, the game of 2022), surprisingly Zen experiences like “PowerWash Simulator” and this one, which I started just before the holidays and am slowly making my way through. “Pentiment” is set in 16th-century Bavaria, and you play as a manuscript illuminator who must eventually investigate a murder. (It sells itself, right?) With a look that tries to approximate medieval art styles, this is a largely text-driven game that becomes more engrossing the longer you play it.
🍿 “M3gan”: As Jason Zinoman notes in his review of this new horror-comedy, once the rollout of awards-bait movies halts at year’s end, January can bring some more disreputable (and often fun) fare. Here, a scientist suddenly put in charge of her niece’s care invents the titular android to help out. Things don’t go as planned. Zinoman calls this “a ludicrous, derivative and irresistible killer-doll movie.”
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Hearty Kale, Squash and Bean Soup
If simmering a big pot of soup is on your agenda this weekend, may I suggest David Tanis’s hearty kale, squash and bean soup? Chock-full of greens, beans and winter squash, it’s vegetable-forward and very chunky. A little bit of sausage — either chorizo or kielbasa — floating amid the veggies adds richness, body and a brawny kick. (You can also skip the meat and stir in some cumin or smoked paprika instead.) Make a potful this afternoon, and then eat it all week long. Or freeze some for later. Knowing you have containers of homemade soup in the freezer is as comforting as a crackling fire, but a lot more convenient.
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What you get for $1.7 million: A 1778 house in Litchfield, Conn.; a Craftsman cottage in Atlanta; or a Tudor Revival in Missoula, Mont.
The hunt: A longtime renter decided to shield herself from rising housing costs. Which of these Forest Hills studios did she buy? Play our game.
Fancy drinks: Some say these mocktails aren’t worth the price. They’re selling anyway.
Suitable attire: For dayslong South Asian wedding celebrations, some guests are turning to rentals.
Heart-healthy eating: The Mediterranean diet really is good for you.
Workout prep: A warm-up that involves controlled, up-tempo movements can make exercise safer.
ADVICE FROM WIRECUTTER
Mouth guard refresh
If your New Year’s resolution involves personal hygiene, cleaning your mouth guard the right way is a great place to start — and also serves as a handy prompt to wear yours regularly. First, use a mild, unscented dishwashing soap instead of toothpaste, which is gentler on your gear. (I keep some in a pump jar and use a separate toothbrush for the task.) When done, soak your guard or retainer all day in a cup with a few drops of mouthwash. It’ll taste fresh when you pop it back in at bedtime, and if you’re prone to forgetting about jaw and enamel protection until you’re drifting off, the visual reminder on your sink will help eliminate groggy trips back to the bathroom. — Joshua Lyon
GAME OF THE WEEKEND
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Phoenix Suns, N.B.A.: On Monday, the Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell scored 71 points in an overtime victory. The 70-point mark is extremely rare: Only seven players in N.B.A. history have ever reached it. (Michael Jordan didn’t, and LeBron James hasn’t.) But it’s not so out of place this season, when the N.B.A. has seen an explosion in scoring, Victor Mather writes. “The game has gotten really loose and the players are so talented, it’s made for a lot of big scoring nights,” the Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. 8 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, on NBA League Pass.
The Suns star Devin Booker also scored 70 points in a game, in 2017. He will miss Sunday’s matchup because of an injury.
Last week, Luka Doncic, of the Mavericks, became the first N.B.A. player in history to record at least 60 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists in a game.
NOW TIME TO PLAY
The pangram from yesterday’s Spelling Bee was axiomatic. Here is today’s puzzle.
Take the news quiz to see how well you followed this week’s headlines.