The past few New Year's Eves have been either difficult or just odd. Two were spent in hotel rooms en route to vacations (which presents unique issues and challenges) and last year's was spent on the couch loaded down with pain killers. I came home from the hospital to recover from the surgery that fixed my broken bones on Dec. 31, 2003. I was thinking today of all that's happened in my life this year. And the only constant, as always, is change.
The Worst: Spent the 1st half of 2004 laid up or in excruciating physical therapy, lost the will to write and had the worst fight of my life with my parents over money. The second half of 2004 brought daily pain (with my ankle), which caused a lack of motivation to work out, slight weight gain as a result...constant fights with E over money and our tsunami of debt, absolutely NO movement in my injury case causing us to drop even deeper into debt, an ill-fated decision to declare bankruptcy and my first rejection of an academic essay from a literary journal. Plus, the apparent (although not yet confirmed) loss for no good reason of a deeply-valued relationship with the teenager we spent time, money and energy to help improve her lot in life.
After a list like that, it's hard to imagine anything good happened this year. But it did. As with everything in life, all negativity has a positive side....
The Best: My husband took unbelievable care of me while I was laid up. I never doubted that he could be counted on in a crisis...but you never really KNOW until the crisis occurs. He did everything - from cooking, cleaning and washing to shopping, handling my email and generally providing much needed emotional support and comfort. Thanks to this, I know he really meant it when he said "in sickness and in health." E is a true blessing to me. Life would be much harder, lonelier and less filled with laughter without him by my side. I thank God, Goddess and the powers of the universe that we are together...through good times and bad.
My parents started being nicer to me and to E. They do still harp on certain things and I can't be completely honest with them about everything, but our relationship overall has improved. My mother-in-law gave well-intentioned advice that resulted in disaster, but she is willing to step up and help us pay the legal fees, which is good. I know she wants the best for us, she just has a penchant for being judgmental and hypercritical...but I can forgive her that...today. :>)
I started graduate school in the summer, enjoyed the company and camaraderie of funny and intelligent colleagues all year, made several good undergraduate friendships and worked my ass off to get all As. Not an accomplishment to sneeze at. I'm proud of myself.
Moved into a very nice apartment - a HUGE step up from the dump we lived in for ten years. (It increasingly became a dump over that 10 years...but that's another story...a landlord horror story which I may share with you someday.) The new landlords are flaky, but well-meaning...and although it may take days, they do get professionals to fix the things that break, like the A/C and the furnace...they don't send brother Joe-Bob over with a roll of duct tape and some wood putty to patch it together. Our neighbors are great - most of them much older (senior citizens), but all very nice people. The building is quiet and surrounded by trees - another nice amenity since we came from a city apartment building surrounded by other buildings and concrete...blech. The rent is less than we were paying in the city and the apartment is bigger and in much better condition. Living in the sticks has its benefits you see.
(Aside: When we lived in the city, the super-grocery store we went to had over 20 checkout lines, but never had more than 10 lines open, even on busy holidays like today, and never had enough baggers, which caused enormous, headache-inducing lines, flaring tempers and general malaise...now that we live in a rural area, the store we frequent (this just happened today) had all seven of its checkout lines open (with two baggers each!) and the parking lot was jammed...but everyone got to check out in a timely and efficient manner. Go figure that one out!)
When it snows here, it's pretty. The snow stays white and doesn't immediately turn dishwater gray. The air smells good here and not like we're living in the exhaust of a 1969 Chevelle minus its catalytic converter. Our living conditions have improved exponentially this year and for this, I am truly grateful.
I just found out that because we are in the process of declaring bankruptcy and will not be paying any more old credit debt, our budget just loosened its belt. We don't have money to live like kings, but now our financial aid will pay for everything from rent and electricity to cable and gasoline. Which means neither of us have to work until June 2005, if we so choose. And I have several speaking jobs and a tutoring job lined up for 1st quarter 05, which means...dum dum dum...I may actually have money to spend and save for the first time in eight years. Now that's a miracle.
As you can see, 2004 did have some major roadblocks for me. But many more good things happened than bad...or it was at least a draw. When I look at what's going on the world, at tragedies that have touched my friends' and associates' lives, I put my woes up for comparison. If nothing good happened to balance out the bad, I would truly despair and be tempted to give up. But somehow, good does always balance the bad and I still find myself with people and situations to be thankful for.
As 2004 draws to a close, I will dip into the fondue (that I'll be making shortly) with the man I love and admire, my husband, in an apartment that has extremely good chi, perhaps play a board game and some GTA: San Andreas...and at midnight we will enjoy a few glasses of non-alcoholic Cold Duck and toast to a new beginning in 2005.
May the worst be behind you as well, dear readers, and the best always be ahead of you. Just be smart enough to know when those "best" moments happen so you can stop for a second and be thankful. That's what helps me live without regret.
Love and peace and big hugs to you. Until 2005.
- Mrs. Blonde