Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. To-day, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient short comings considerably shorter than ever. We shall also reflect pleasantly upon how we did the same old thing last year about this time. However, go in, community. New Year's is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls, and humbug resolutions, and we wish you to enjoy it with a looseness suited to the greatness of the occasion.
~ Mark Twain
No movies, no DVDs, no CDs, no books today. This is the day to buckle down and get caught up with the psychiatrist's work.
Wet and stormy
IT CAME WITHOUT WHISTLES
1 January 2004
It was one of those conversations that you knew was going to go only one place and yet I was powerless to stop it. It was like watching an approaching train, unable to get out of the middle of the tracks.
She introduced herself to me and explained that she had moved out of Davis several years ago and so didnt recognize a lot of people at the party.
We started the usual "getting to know you" questions which always ends up where I dont want to go.
We discovered our kids had attended the same schools.
"What are your kids names?" she asked.
"Jeri, Ned, Paul, Tom and David Sykes," I replied.
"I remember David," she beamed, happy to have made a connection. "What is David doing now."
So I had to tell her. She made the appropriate sad remarks but then brightened when it occurred to her that she also had a kid who knew Paul.
"Well, what is Paul doing, then?" she asked, cheerily.
Its one thing to tell someone how David died, but you cant really talk about Pauls death without making it a long drawn out story. I just said that hed died "in an accident."
But that wasnt enough.
"An auto accident?" she asked.
"He was rehearsing a show and had an accident," I said. She was about to let it go when the psychiatrist, the host for the party, passed by. He was happy to see us talking together, and made a comment that she, too, had a son who had gone through periods of depression.
So we started talking about their son and his bouts of depression and their fears for him and how glad they are that he seems to be past it and it just eventually got around to Paul again and so I had to go through the whole saga and the controversy, and the "did he or didnt he?" questions that we will always have all over again.
"Im sure it was an accident," she said, finally, backing away, happy to spot another familiar face in the crowd and to move away from me at long last.
Maybe thats why I was in such a crappy mood at the party. It was a very nice party. A lovely party. Some of my favorite people in Davis were there, people I rarely get the chance to see at any other time of the year.
And there was music that gave it that pub atmosphere that I love. There was the psychiatrist with his banjo and the other familiar faces on other instruments (including a wash tub bass). There was Andy standing by the fireplace in the same position where we last saw him, a year ago. Grainne had flown in from Ireland just for the week, to come to the party and it was lovely to see her again--last time we saw her was in the same house a year ago.
By rights I should have been enjoying myself, but I went in and out of periods of just wanting to be anywhere else but where I was. For one thing, Id forgotten how warm it gets in a house full of people. Id worn a warm sweater and was sweating. For another, I have no idea why, but my arm decided to ache. It ached from shoulder to wrist and it ached whenever I had it in any position but supported on the arm of a chair. I actually wished I had a sling or that damned immobilizer with me.
To make matters worse, people would be happy to see me and grab me enthusiastically by the shoulder. At one point, someone stood behind me tapping out the beat of the music on my shoulder. I tried finding a quiet corner because I just wanted to be alone but its difficult to find a place to be alone in a crowded house.
But when I was enjoying myself, I was remarking at how we change each year. I am perhaps more aware of it than many other people because I dont see most of these people at all during the year, so this party is the one time I have to see them. Each year we are balder or greyer, fatter or thinner. We stoop a bit more. Some of us limp. Some of us have difficulty finding words. Some of us are no longer around. Those of us who are left are all aging.
But the music is sprightly and age cant dampen the spirits of those who come each year to prove that old acquaintances will not be forgot.
When midnight comes, we take a cup of kindness (tomato-crab bisque, which has been simmering on the stove all evening) for auld lang syne and by 12:30, the place is completely empty as we all hobble back to our vehicles and head home.
For me, I had myself a big dose of ibuprofen and am about to head off to bed, my arm finally having calmed down a bit.
2004 arrived without bells and whistles, but lots of banjos, fiddles, and piano music, and the camaraderie of long-time friends....even if I was in a crappy mood much of the time.
I'm not sure if I like this new look or not, but I thought I'd keep it for awhile. I'm sort of toying with changing the background every month, but how long that idea will last is anybody's guess.
So, apologies to Dee, the Coffee Bean Goddess
for stealing her idea, but somehow waking up on January 1 to a nice hot pot of freshly
ground coffee seems somehow an appropriate way to start the new year.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Cleaning up Christmas. I took stock of the cards we received this
Weight Lost to date: 46.6 lbs