Monday, January 01, 2007


In Which We Come to the End (no, not that end)...

I remember as a kid being told by grown-ups that there were good years and bad years, which just sounded like one of those dumb things adults were always saying--like youth being wasted on the young and how you'll miss things when they're gone, like your flat stomach, your teeth, your hair. But now that I'm older, I see the truth of some of those boring old nuggets. So I gotta say, 2006 was a bad year and I'll be glad to see the back of it.

Luckily for you, it's not in my nature to dwell on the bad. Instead, it's in my nature to delude myself into thinking I live a charmed and lucky existence, and part of that delusion includes looking back on a bad year and saying, "Well, it wasn't sooo bad."

For these few brief paragraph, I've wriggled free of my delusional state and can safely say, "The hell it wasn't."

My God, where do I begin? How about in January, when my Papa died and left me grandparentless? How about in February, when I ended up with a cold so bad, it not only ruined my vacation to Disneyworld, but morphed into pneumonia and put me in the hospital? How about my wife's miscarriage just a short time after I got out of the hospital? Should I go on? Can I? Oh yeah, I can.

It was a year marked by supreme injustice. My crazy neighbors decided to pick on my family for something they didn't even do. My son, a second grader, got put in detention for helping a classmate who was being bullied. My whole family had to go through the pain of having our dog stolen, a pain they had to suffer for no other reason than the fact that they had big enough hearts to take in a stray.


Dammit, that's it. That's all I've got. See what I mean? Three grafs into my screed and I'm already thinking about some good things. Like the fact that, defeating all odds, I kept my job after a pretty major sweep of upper management that should have carried me along with it.

Like the fact that I got my dog back.

Like the fact that Her Lovely Self is not merely pregnant as I write this, but so pregnant that I got to feel my baby girl kicking for the first time just last week, a moment that is always astounding and just a little unbelievable, like picking up radio broadcasts from your fillings.

Like the fact that I have a surprisingly vast and varied circle of family and friends who look out for me in all sorts of ways. I spend a lot of this blog sharing the obvious stories--the ones about my dad remodeling stuff in the house in the space of a few days, or my brother selflessly sending me exactly what I needed to get my dog back--so today I think I'll focus on the little things from this past year. Little, but they've meant the world to me.

Like the time you all made donations to assorted charities after the sad news of our miscarriage and the happy news of Blaze's return.

Like the signed holiday edition of Marley & Me that John Grogan sent. Even before his book was out, I told you he was a pretty goddamn good writer (and look what happened after I posted that opinion: the book was on the goldang New York Times bestseller's list for more than a year. A causal relationship? Well??). But I was wrong. He's more than that. He's a pretty goddamn great guy.

And so, come to that, is Stu. Who has been the secret engineer of a lot of good things in my online life, but who has now taken that goodness offline, by doing things like sending a special, ultra-hard-to-get Batman action figure to Art Lad. Just cuz.

I guess that brings us to the fact you thought I was going to gloss over: Being the fact that a growing number of you are gradually acquiring my mailing address, and the secret that obviously comes with that knowledge. Slowly my Fortress of Anonymity is getting taken apart, brick by brick, and I'm not nearly as frightened of that fact as I was two years ago. You think that isn't an important gift? Think again.

The fact was brought home yesterday--literally and figuratively--after a miserable, rainy, dreary day. It started when we all went out to the store in our ongoing effort to do mundane things As A Family. But as soon as we got out of the car, I stopped, ear cocked in dog-like fashion, for a sound I don't normally hear coming from our car. It was a faint hissing sound, just a little higher pitched than the sound of the incessant rain hitting the tarmac. This noise sounded like a leak, or like someone was taking one against the side of the car.

It took all of 10 seconds for me to find the eight-penny nail sticking out of the tire. Must have picked it up going past the construction site. Her Lovely Self and the kids just looked at me. "Well, guess we should go home," she said. It was a short trip back to the house and I'm sure she was thinking what I was thinking: that there were few chores more miserable than changing a tire in the rain.

But I announced that it would be a shame to waste the trip, and anyway, all I had to do was park the car such that the tire was turned so that the puncture would be on the bottom, where the car's own weight would seal the leak.

Yeah, no problem, right? I mean, how hard could it be to position your right-rear tire exactly so it's in the position you want it? Not hard at all. If you don't mind spending 10 minutes careening all over a distant corner of the parking lot, giving passersby the notion that you might be a drunk on the run from the cops, or else a very disturbed personality who feels compelled to park, get out, walk around his car, peer intently at the right-rear corner of the car, then get back in and move to another space.

Even though my little scheme eventually worked and we made it home (where I was able to change out the tire in the relative dryness of the garage), as I called around trying to find a garage that was open on a holiday weekend (a surprisingly difficult prospect, given that it was only New Year's weekend), I thought to myself,Oh, isn't this poetic? Last weekend of the year--36 hours to go--and 2006 has to stick it to me one more time.

But then I saw the box on our front porch.

It had actually been sent to the kids--by yet another blogging pal, who I suspect would be embarrassed if I named her here, because she has been a wonderful unseen fairy godmother to my kids, and not such a bad friend to me either, so I would hate to do anything to make her feel self-conscious, but too bad.

The kids were thrilled to find they each had yet one more present to open, but I can fairly say no one was more thrilled than I to discover a small cache of homemade goodies at the bottom of the box. I decided these were for me (whether they were or not).

The goodies in question were something I haven't seen in years and years: divinity fudge, or so my great-grammy Saunders called it when she made it. Since she's been dead more than three decades, that means I haven't had a taste of divinity since I was about 5. Had just about forgotten that it even existed, to be honest. And yet, here it was, a tiny, warm, bright spot at the end of a long, difficult year.

I took a bite and wow! I had forgotten how sweet it was. So sweet it made my teeth ache.

So sweet it hurt.

So sweet I couldn't help but take another bite.

If that isn't a more perfect analogy for what this year has been like, then I don't know what is.

So on that unexpectedly upbeat note, I wish you all a happy time handing 2006 its hat and kicking its ass out the door. Here's to another year just like it.

Only perhaps without the pneumonia. Or the hemorrhoids.

From Somewhere on the Masthead

Happy New Year :)
Happy New Year! Here is to a happy, healthy, safe, filled with good stories (not sure if that is an oxymoron with you, but I'm sure we will see!) for you and all of the family.
Best to you and yours, MM. I'm ready for a new year myself.
I don't know why I don't comment here very often. I read all your posts. Speaking of that, I want to thank you for a great year of posts. Just yesterday I was wearing the T-shirt you sent me. I wish you and your family a great 2007! And again, thanks for all the great stories (even the, uhm, fudged ones - yes I can tell!)

Happy New Year!
Happy New Year!
Glad to hear that you keep looking on the bright side of things - even when you've got a major pain in your ass.

here's to a wonderful 2007!!
May 2007 be a very fine year for you and your family, MM. Coming to read your stories is a pleasant addiction. If you ever find yourself in the DC area, please get in touch. The overpriced coffee is on me.

Hey MM and all others at the Mansion!
Here's to a great New Year, a slightly less crazy New Year if at all possible.
God Bless,
Happy New Year MM! I wish you and your family the very best. God bless you all.
Happy New Year MM and family. Cannot wait to hear all about the new baby girl. Cannot believe that the year went so quickly.

I hope that 2007 is a much better year, or at least less painful and full of bleak drama, but with the occasional bit of unbelieveable stuff thrown in so that you have material for the blog. :)

But please, no more hemmeroids (for you or HLS).

Happy New Year and best of love and luck.
Happy New Year, MM. Best of wishes to all at the Magazine Mansion.
And I forgot to say how odd that I also had my first divinity in eons. My Mom had it on Christmas day. I brought some home and have about three pieces (chunks?) left. Stranger still, I don't want to eat it because then it will be gone. 2007 will be your year. I promise.
Happy New Year, MM.

I know you are now grandparentless, but be happy your kids got to meet their greatgrandparents. That rarely seems to happen anymore.
happy new year, mm!
I have to say, honestly, that the most anxious and subsequently elated I've been this year was the 2 weeks or so we had to wait to find out what happened to Blaze. Thank you for reminding us how important loyalty is in 2006. I ended up adopting another dog to go with my hit-by-car-right-in-front-of-us Shiba Inu rescue, and it was due, in part, to your eloquent posts about the love and friendship of four-legged companions.
Happy new year!! We had a bit of a train wreck year here ourselves (new baby, unemployment, smashed car - oh how the list goes on...), but you've reminded me to sit back and look at all the good that snuck in there. Here's to hoping 2007 is even better for all of us!
Wishing everyone in blogland the happiest of years to come. I loved how small blog world is, though, as I have read Beth Cherry everyday since North Carolina Experiment, and I love her dearly. As a matter fo fact, she is how I found you, MM, and I consider that a gift that keeps on giving. Much love.
Happy New Year, MM!
argh! i'm crying at work (again) from your grandparent posts... you are such an amazing storyteller, been stalking you for months....
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