a daily story


1/1  Phil Gaffigan wakes and says to himself,

“This year will be different.”

1/2  During his planning period, Phil adds

specifics to his list of resolutions:

– Lose Weight (40 pounds by summer)

– Meet Someone (go on at least 3 dates)

– The Project (for real this year, study

   Shark Tank)

– Less Internet (1 hour a day, maybe 2)

– Keep Diary (at least once a week)

1/3  Phil orders the Son of Baconator instead

of his regular Baconator at the Wendy’s

drive-thru. He gets the combo with chili,

no cheese, and a medium coke.

Phil sits in the parking lot and watches the

passing cars and pale evening sky while

he eats. Halfway through, he thinks

maybe he should have gone for the

Asiago Ranch Chicken Club.

1/4  Phil’s neighbor pokes his head out of his

garage and waves.

“Some week,” he says.

“That it is!  Or was,” Phil says, fumbling

with his keys.

“Got anything lined up for the weekend?”

“Not much, you know.  Going down to see


1/5  Phil and his mother watch Roseanne on

TVland until it starts to repeat mid-

afternoon.  She won’t admit to liking it, but

she doesn’t change the channel either.

Roseanne begins working at the salon,

goes on a diet, files taxes, has a birthday,

fights with Jackie, makes up with Jackie.

Jackie often makes Phil tear up.

1/6  Phil writes in a new notebook:

Well, so far so good. I read somewhere

that it’s harder to keep a diary going if

you’re happy. So maybe if I don’t keep

this so regular, that’s a good thing! Ha!

Bet I have a ton of January diaries around

here somewhere. But this time’s going to

be different. It’s got to be. For one, I’m

really getting up there (officially!) and

time’s definitely passing quicker each

year. My memory’s shot, and it wasn’t

anything special to begin with! Seriously, I

can hardly remember last year. Did

anything much happen? I really have to

record things better. And not just on


Kinda lost control today. Not really a

binge, but definitely a slip-up. And after 3

days of being good too. Maybe I should

keep a food diary.

Honestly, feels like just another Sunday.

Nothing new, really. 2013 still looks weird

when I write it, like it doesn’t fit. Got to

keep my new year’s mojo going


Mom didn’t mention the blowup at xmas

yesterday. Didn’t say much of anything.

Me neither.

Man, I’m usually a lot more optimistic than

this. Pretty content, all said and done.

Been moping around the house too much

today. Maybe what I read about diaries

was that you don’t usually write about

happy things. Got to work on that.

1/7  Phil thinks of a great idea for a facebook

post in the shower but forgets by the time

he flosses.

1/8  Phil falls asleep early watching Ancient

Aliens.  He wakes hours later and

stumbles around the house turning off all

the lights.

1/9  Phil does 3 loads of laundry, cleans out

the fridge, and scrubs the bathroom floor.

A productive night.

1/10 On the way to work, Phil hears the

weekend forecast calling for clouds and

rain.  Then he makes 3 yellow lights in a

row and everything seems like it’ll work

out ok.  He kisses his palm and touches it

to the roof of his car with each light.

1/11 Phil discovers that all of Family Ties is

available on hulu for free.  There goes my

weekend, he thinks.

1/12 Phil waits to run errands at 4:00, when the

whole city is watching the game.

1/13 Phil writes in his notebook:

Going to have to keep this one short.  So

much grading still left.  Where has the

weekend gone?  Story of my Sunday


Actually was a pretty relaxing weekend

overall (except for the racket next door –

wonder what he’s building this time).

Watched tons of the early seasons of

Family Ties.  Really brought back a lot of

memories.  Though I didn’t remember

Jennifer being so funny!

Not doing so great with my being online

resolution.  I’ve got to get out more.  Maybe

see some actual movies in the theater.

Especially now that all the Oscar

nominations are out – got to catch up!

Should see friends more too.  Maybe I’ll

see if Alex is free later this week.  Sure

been a while.  Really miss seeing that guy.

Good week food-wise.  Only one bad

night.  Man, I remember when one

Stouffer’s lasagna was enough.  Just a few

years back, and I was still this same size

too.  I seriously think they changed the

recipe and made them smaller.  Or at least

less filling!

Want to wait a bit longer to actually get on

the scales.  So when I do, I’ll be able to

see some real change!

1/14 Both of Phil’s legs fall asleep after he

plays Temple Run too long on the toilet.

1/15 Phil sees two college kids holding hands

at Kroger and remembers the fantasy he

used to have about shopping as a couple.

Combing the aisles together for the

thousands of meals they would share.

Each shelf so full of possibilities.

1/16 On the way home from school, Phil’s

mother calls and asks if he’s coming

down this weekend.  Phil says he’s not

sure, that he has a lot going on right now.

His mother asks what he could possibly

have to do that’s so important.  Besides,

doesn’t he have a 3-day weekend?

1/17 Phil half-wakes from a nightmare and lies

frozen in bed.  All he can think of is a

closed door.  Behind that door, there is a

man.  He can’t see the man, but Phil

knows he’s there.  The man stands just on

the other side, face to the door, waiting.

1/18 Ian Rook, the AP English teacher, peers

down at Phil’s salad as he passes

through the teacher’s lounge and says,

“Good for you, sir.  Good for you.”

Paula Hager, the Geometry teacher, leans

in after he leaves and says, “Don’t pay

any attention to him, Phil.”

1/19 Phil spends the whole morning catching

up on facebook.  He likes 13 posts, 7

comments, 31 photos, and shares 2 funny

e-cards.  He jumps from timeline to

timeline until his eyes ache.

1/20 Phil meets his mother for lunch. She tells

him how nice the service was.

“I think I’d like to try the Zesty Roma

Chicken and Shrimp,” Phil says.

“What, is that supposed to be good?” his

mother asks.

“It’s new. One of their under 550 calories


“Well, I’ll be. Isn’t that Richard’s daughter

over there in the corner booth?”

1/21 Phil sees the Geico commercial about

Eddie Money running a travel agency

5 times throughout the day.  The look on

Eddie’s face as he sings “Two Tickets to

Paradise” cracks Phil up every time.

1/22 Before class, Phil writes in his notebook:

How is it that I have this long weekend

and still end up putting everything off until

the end?  Especially the most important


It’s been 3 weeks now since the new year,

and what can I say?  Little progress on

internet habits.  None at all on dates and

the project.  This diary is the only thing I’ve

kept up with, and even it’s late.

And then the weight.  I got on the scales

last week, even after I said I was going to

wait.  Needed a little boost.  And then I saw

it: 1 pound.  Only 1 pound lost!  So I

doubled down right after, got super

serious.  Went to bed hungry most nights.  I

don’t know what’s worse than feeling both

hungry and fat.

Well, I can imagine a lot worse, I guess.

Should be grateful if that’s the worst of it.

Let’s see, what else?  Caught some of the

inauguration yesterday.  I’m not real

political but what I saw was nice.  So funny

how Al Roker got both the president’s and

vice-president’s attention during the

parade.  Biden even ran over and shook

hands.  What a guy.

Ok, gotta go.  Kids will be here in 2

minutes.  At least this week will be a short


1/23 Phil searches for a box of old self-help

books in the garage.  He finds his National

Geographics and Chewbacca suit but not

the box he wants.

1/24 While eating his Special K, Phil watches

squirrels on a telephone wire playing

or flirting or dueling or teasing.

1/25 In the teacher’s lounge, Sara Beth Crouse

and Paul Estes wave Phil over.

“Hey, Phil,” says Sara Beth. “Can we ask

you something?”

“Sure, guys,” Phil says. “What is it?”

Paul leans back to make sure the copy

room is empty too. “It’s about Ian Rook.”

“About why he’s such a prick,” says

Sara Beth.

Phil grins. “Oh, you mean AP night?”

“We mean every single day.” Sara Beth

leans in. “What the hell is wrong with

that man?”

“Oh, he’s always been that way. A real

Mr. Tedesco,” Phil says.

“Mr. who?” asks Sara Beth.

“Did he used to teach here or

something?” asks Paul.

“Sorry, never mind.” Phil steps sideways

toward the fridge. “Before your time.”

1/26 On his way out to meet Alex, Phil sees his

neighbor dragging a heavy bag into his


“Howdy, professor,” Phil says. “Need a

hand there?”

“Thanks, Phil. I got it.”

Phil nods and waves, then ducks into his

car already warming in the driveway.

1/27 Phil writes in his notebook:

What a nice weekend this turned out to

be. Snow day Friday so the week was

extra short. Went in to pick up quizzes and

ended up staying the whole afternoon.

But it was good! Got caught up on

everything, so the rest of my weekend

was wide open.

Finally got ahold of Alex and met up last

night. It was great to see him. We can go

months and just pick up like no time has

passed. Bu then I remember why we

don’t get together more often. Guy’s really

sweet, but man oh man is he exhausting.

Everything’s a production. And he has the

hardest time enjoying anything. Still wants

out of his job. Still wants out of Kentucky.

He’s been saying that as long as I’ve

known him.

He’s really got so much going for him,

though. Still sharp as ever. His 30s

haven’t dulled his brain one bit. Not like

yours truly! Abby’s still great too. She

popped in before heading out herself.

Wish she would’ve stuck around. Alex is

so much looser with her there.

We ended up talking a lot about people

we both knew on facebook. He says it’s

kind of like a game to him. How much can

he figure out about people’s lives from

their posts. I asked him how he ever knew

if he was right, since it’s not like he ever

talks to anyone on there. He said he didn’t

know. Would never know.

Typical Alex. Glad I saw him, but I’m

probably good now for another few

months. Sometimes I just want to say to

him: it’s not as bad as all that, is it? Is it?

But if I did, I bet he’d say: typical Phil. Ha!

You got me.

1/28 Phil is staring at the moonlight on his

comforter and trying to fall asleep when

he remembers where to find that box of


He heads to the garage but pauses in

the doorway. He doesn’t want to get the

bottoms of his new slippers dirty, but he

doesn’t want to go back and change


He steps out of his slippers and down

onto the cold cement.

1/29 Phil rummages through the box before

bed. It’s filled with his father’s most prized

books. The Power of Positive Thinking,

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,

Awaken the Giant Within.

Phil remembers his father dropping by

unannounced to give them to him. The

look on his dad’s face as he held them


1/30 At dinner, Phil spills barbecue sauce on

his yellow shirt with blue parrots, his


1/31 Phil listens to the radio in the parking lot

at Wendy’s. A caller asks Delilah to play

her and her husband’s special song.

They’re separated right now, but she

hopes he might hear it, somehow.

Phil sings along to the chorus:

Walking in Memphis

Walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale

Walking in Memphis

But do I really feel the way I feel?

==> February

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