Column: I’m following Billy Bob’s advice |

Column: I’m following Billy Bob’s advice

by Linda Hiller

“Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet?” hubby Jeff keeps asking me.

“Not yet,” I say, hoping to buy another six hours or so from his eager querying.

He is always so good at making and keeping yearly resolutions, but the truth is, I am planning so many life changes in 2001 that resolutions seem almost superfluous.

Plus, last year was so full of events causing us to take pause that these resolves may take a while, I tell him:

My youthful husband crossed the “big five-oh” threshold, an event that didn’t faze him but floored his bride.

His charming father turned 80, my cheery mother turned 87, our oldest child boldly went off to college and our youngest child became independent and is looking forward to joining her brother (away from us) in 2002.

We also lost some beloved pets to old age and all the other animals in our menagerie are getting up there … and I had a benign skin cancer removed from my arm in November.

Things change, life is short, then you die – these are my thoughts as we seem to be hurling toward the abyss.

“Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet?” hubby asks again.

“Not yet,” I say. “How about just staying alive?”


Maybe it’s not so bad, I think, being jolted awake to look at one’s life and wonder if you are on the proper path to your rightful, ultimate fulfillment. I ask myself, “Am I?”

My mother has a good friend with a daughter much younger and less talented than me (OK, that’s just my opinion). She has published two books and is currently writing number three.

“Virginia said Jean got a big enough advance from Doubleday on this book that she has her kids’ college education already paid for,” mom says on the phone as I am signing a gigantic check to UNR, making a mental note to transfer more money from savings into checking again. Small town reporters rarely make a living wage.

“Mom, my wildlife column won first place in the state this year,” I say.

“That is wonderful, dear,” she says, meaning it, I know. “I guess Jean’s cash advance must have been really, really generous.”

I have grown to resent this Jean, although I’ve never met her.

“I won a whole bunch of state writing awards in the last two years,” I say, violating my rule of never bragging to my own mother. “I was even asked to speak on a panel of writers at the state convention last year.”

“Isn’t that marvelous?” she says, again, meaning it. “Jean had her three children by natural childbirth, you know.”

Jean, Jean, the monkey bean. Oh, no, I’ve started to revert. Suddenly, I’m contemplating the fact that I, too, will be crossing the five-oh threshold in a mere 15 months.

I decide then and there that I want mom and Virginia to be healthy enough to discuss the news of my own publishing success over their quilting frames.

Yes, Virginia, I’m writing a book, too. Tell Jean to stand back.

Things change and so can even a procrastinator like me.

For some reason, I keep thinking of the words of Billy Bob Thornton on “60 Minutes II” this week.

“Never let it be too late,” he said.

Off in the distance, the abyss looms.

Think about it. Is it too late for you? Are you where you want to be?

“Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet?” he asks.

Not all reporters want to write a book, but this one does. Life is short, then you die.

Up music from “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

“Yes,” I say. “I’m going to write that book I’ve always talked about.”

“Finally,” he says.

“Once upon a time, there was a procrastinating princess …”

Linda Hiller has been a part-time reporter for The Record-Courier since 1996. While now giving up that position to write her murder mystery, she promises to keep up the “View from Jacks Valley” column (see the 344th installment on page 14-A) for all the nature lovers out there.