I sense a bout of self-improvement coming on. All the signs are there: Yesterday I parked my car downtown and walked to my errands, despite the cold. The day before, I chose salad for lunch. And today I shopped for new and exciting toiletries (e.g. a scary, unknown brand of mascara). Yup. I’m about to embark on a self-improvement binge.

This sounds like a good thing but, like ice cream in my freezer, it never lasts. Soon the soup cans will appear on my dresser, standing in as free weights for a nightly twelve-minute toning routine. I’ll vow to straighten the living room and put away clean dishes every single night, and actually intend to keep the promise — will find it easy to keep, in fact. For a few weeks I may even get really crazy and do my laundry before the basket overflows, though that would be pushing it.

It will probably culminate, as it usually does, in my buying a do-it-yourself Clairol kit and dyeing my hair auburn. Thank God so far I’ve had the good sense to use a 28-day dye each time, though it still obliterates my hard-earned natural highlights.

The biggest sign of reckless self-improvement would be easy to miss. I nearly did. But here it is: Today I bought makeup. The last time I so thoroughly replenished my supply, every store was ad-splashing the 2003 Back-to-School specials, and Hubbs and I were getting ready to take the big marriage plunge.

I brought my goodies home and dumped the plastic pharmacy bag on the kitchen counter, along with groceries and the video I picked up on my way to the library. Even now the sack of unopened cosmetics sits, hunched, in the darkened kitchen, its menacing presence hidden but still on my mind as I wonder if these colors will finally work the magic I’ve been wishing for. Will they make it worth my while to wake up early? Or, like their predecessors, will they make about a 1% difference, not enough to compensate for shut-eye lost? I’m voting for the latter and hoping for the former.

To complement my new beauty routine, I’m even thinking about dieting. And I know it’ll work for me, because I plan to use the same trick every successful dieter uses: I have a scheduled start date. Everyone knows that setting the date is half the battle. Yesterday I planned to start today but, well, that didn’t work out. I had leftover chocolate pie in the fridge, and it’s never a good idea to start a diet with that sort of disadvantage. Plus, I hate to see good breakfast food go to waste. So today I did my duty and polished off the pie. Took one for the team, if you will. I’ll start my diet tomorrow for certain.

Or, on second thought, maybe the next day. Tomorrow’s not good for me.

No matter what, though, I plan to keep flossing and taking my vitamins. Nothing can stop me now. I’m on a self-improvement roll.