At this time of year, writers tend to write about the "Best and Worst" of 2007. I suppose I should do that too, seeing as how one naturally tends to get reflective on the last day of the year. That, and writing such a post will kill an hour. So here we go!
Personal Best for 2007: There were more than one actually. I had a couple of essays published this year in a local magazine that were favorably received if e-mails and voice mails from total strangers were any indication. I got reacquainted with an old friend that I had lost track of over the years. She told me she would have gotten in touch with me sooner after her divorce but she had heard through the grapevine that I was married. I assured her that the rumors of my matrimony were greatly exaggerated. I am glad she has resurfaced even though she thinks the blog is "too windy."
Speaking of the blog, it is interesting where the hits come from. Some of the readers and I have become "friends." I routinely hear from a anesthesiologist in Texas, a dot.com entrepreneur in Atlanta and an educator in Alabama. Turns out the Alabama lady used to babysit my friend Judy who I went to see in Chicago of all damn things. Small world, huh?
One of my readers I used to get e-mail from was an exotic dancer who worked in one of the local "Gentlemen's Clubs" around here. She once invited me to come visit her on the job. She told me I wouldn't have to pay her to talk to her or nothin'. I declined just the same. Anyway, I haven't heard from her since she said she was going to try to get a job in sales at a local car dealership.
I hate that.
I helped coach my brother's little T-ball team. That was fun. One of my old musician friends and I started hanging around together again. It's good to have her around again. I love her a lot but I will never, ever, volunteer to edit her Master's thesis again. Next time I will offer to help her with something simple. Like donating a kidney.
The local women's shelter, on whose Board I serve, is in the black for pretty much the first time ever. We actually have a surplus! Many tough decisions, most of them unpopular with the old guard, were made by the Board and wholesale changes got rammed through. It was tough trucking there for awhile but the end result proved to be gratifying.
I was able to arrive at a certain peace about an issue that had proven to be troubling to me. What was once perplexing, at times almost maddeningly so, has resolved itself in my mind. I am at peace and ready to move on. I cannot tell you how good this makes me feel.
This year, I received one of the coolest gifts ever: a cookbook written by buddy Don. PM and I thinks he needs to get this published. It's that good. More on this later.
I had no "old house" disasters, was hardly sick and didn't injure myself a single time in 2007. Of course, this means that the chest press will collapse on me at the gym tonight. The Saints almost made it to the Super Bowl last January only to lose to the Bears in frigid Chicago. I watched them beat the Eagles for the Divisional title with my excellent friend Joan in formal attire, having hightailed it from a function to catch the second half. Up until then, I had never watched football in a tux before. I will never forget how much fun we had that night.
I bit the bullet and joined a gym down the street. I have even retained the services of a sadist named Travis who is slowly but surely banging me into shape. I now have muscles albeit very teeny tiny ones.
I went to Chicago last Summer. I ran into the historian Garry Wills at the Art Museum. He even remembered me from the Arkansas Literary Festival. What are the odds of running into somebody like that in a city of 4 million? What are the odds of somebody like Wills remembering an absolute nobody like me? Later that night, I went to a Cubs game, all the while fielding text messages from my brother back home who rumor has it enjoys placing a bet now and again.
"You don't have money on this game do you?" I wrote him, holding my 16 oz. Old Style between my legs.
" It's far worse than you think," he wrote back.
It must not have been too bad. They didn't find him in the Arkansas River with a bullet in the back of his head or anything the next day.
The good news? Once Brother Bob passes his boards he will be a Nurse Practitioner. The bad news? Once he passes his boards he will be a Nurse Practitioner.
But the absolute, hands down, coolest thing I did in 2007 was to get involved with the Miracle League. There was absolutely nothing, I mean nothing, in my prior experience to prepare me for what an absolute joy every minute with those kids has been. We start back up in April. April cannot get here quick enough for me.
Personal Worst for 2007: The suicide of the daughter of friends of mine. When I got the news I literally could not stand for at least 10 minutes. Her Mother attempted it herself on two separate occasions after the funeral. Thank God she did not succeed. I am not an emotionally labile person. I had not cried since the death of my Uncle Bill. I cried when I heard about Amy. I cried when I heard about her Mom. Such overwhelming incomprehensible sadness I pretty much had never experienced. And I hope never to again.
My friend JG has been undergoing chemo again for the brain tumor that keeps coming back. As if the man didn't have enough to contend with, his wife was struck down with a rare neurological disorder which, last I heard, has her ambulating with a walker. Naturally, JG is a saint on Earth which is the way these things seem to happen. His bravery in the face of all of this is truly humbling.
Mother is still with us, but her dementia is becoming more pronounced. It is a difficult thing to watch. God will take her in His time as the Catholics say. But it would be okay with me if he could see his way to end this misery sooner than later. I mean that. She is miserable. This is no way to live.
By definition anything else will be trivial in nature, so let's discuss the trivial.
After teasing the long-suffering fans of Chicago in the second half of the season with delusions of competence, the Cubs got swept per usual in the playoffs. The Saints, meanwhile, reverted back to their typically dreadful selves by blowing the first 3 games of the season to finish a woeful 7-9. Nothing like building on success. Nothing like it in New Orleans at least.
The Razorbacks? I'm tired of the Razorbacks.
Want to know something else I'm tired of? I'm tired of being such a shitty golfer, that's what I'm tired of. And judging from yesterday's round at hallowed, historic War Memorial, that condition is not likely to pass me by anytime soon. But I'm gonna stick with it even though I would be better off trying something simple such as levitation. Or editing a Master's thesis.
That's pretty much 2007 in a nutshell. There was more good than bad although some of the bads were pretty awful.
I have employment, and I have the best family and friends a man could ask for. I have a roof over my head and I have my health. I have been blessed far more than I deserve. And I know it.
You know what I liked best about 2007? All of the walks home after working out at the gym. I enjoy the cold wind and watching the steam come out from under my windbreaker. I look at the shops along the way and sometimes I look up into the sky to see what the stars might be doing on any given night. And I am always filled with happiness despite the fact that I am typically a hurting cowboy after all the stuff Travis makes me do.
That's what I liked best. The walk back home.
May you be blessed with simple joys in 2008. Happy New Year!