2010? My first impulse is that I’m happy to see the back of it, which is probably not fair. The last half of the year was not good for me personally, and certainly economically we did not see the gains I had hoped we might. In the last five months of the year, there were a lot of deaths around me, including, on December 30, the death of Haile, the four-year-old daughter of a manager at my local grocery store. Haile succumbed after a valiant nearly-year-long battle with cancer. I also lost two people who work in my building, both fairly suddenly, both due to illness, and my secretary’s father died, although he was in his late eighties and she was expecting it.
I should be grateful that none of the people who died were close friends or family, but still, it feels like standing in an open plaza with a sniper somewhere above you, firing randomly into the crowd. You’re not hit, but you don’t know why you’re not.
On the other hand, several things went well this year and I shouldn’t forget that.
Here’s the year in a (quick) review.
Facebook is finally starting to make sense to me. Lev Grossman, a blogger and novelist (Codex, The Magicians) once blogged that “Facebook is for old people.” Yes! He is exactly right! That’s why I like it. Facebook has helped me connect with members of my step-family in a way that would not have happened otherwise. Although it’s really not a technological thing, I think my blog is maturing and I’ve hit my stride, so to speak, in that arena as well.
While blogging is going well, my fiction writing is not. I suspect that putting energy into regular blog posts eats up writing time—but more realistically, it gives me an excuse not to work on the hard stuff. On the up side, however, my prose is becoming smoother and more facile, in part because I do write something nearly every day. Yeah, I know, that is a pretty lame rationalization. I did finish Nanowrimo, though!
Related to writing, however, is the writers’ group, and the regular addition of Terry W and Donna B (my friend from the Mendocino Coast Writers’ Workshop) has been great. The group is probably the one thing that keeps me honest and makes me actually produce output in my fiction writing. Thanks, guys!
My biggest—only—achievement at work was helping four local farmers’ markets get set up to accept Food Stamps. Here was a tangible, material benefit I was able to provide to poor people and families. I can’t tell you how rarely that happens for me at my level, where everything is abstract or at three removes. If I had a New Interests category, farmers’ markets would have to show up there as well; and I learned all about the miracles of kale, the wonder vegetable.
The rest of the work year was spent fending off budget cuts from an inept governor and a gridlocked legislature who were unable to do anything. The actual budget cuts weren’t too bad until November, when my budget took a $2 million hit, but the roller coaster ride of the political process—it’s cut! It’s not! It’s cut a little bit! It’s restored!—ground down what was left of my resilience. I used to find fighting the political bad-mouthing of public service employees energizing. I was full of righteous indignation. Now I just want people to shut up. This can’t be a good development.
Taking a pay cut this year was not fun, but it was nice to get the week between Christmas and New Year’s off in exchange.
There wasn’t much. I went to the Sierra foothills, Gualala, and Mendocino. I went to Merced, CA as a research project, and that was probably my longest trip in terms of mileage. 2011 will have to be different. I still managed to see my friend from Hawaii more than I did in 2009, though, because she came here, drawn by the irresistible pull of her grandchild.
Sarah Palin still manages to be entertaining. I can’t be the only person who thinks so; Discovery gave her a reality show! With her looks and that voice, she should give the Cardassian* sisters, and Snookie (is that right?) a run for their money in whatever annual reality-show TV awards are given out.
California had an interesting governor’s race with the woman who started up eBay. The good news was that she spent many million dollars and still lost big, which shows that Californians are not as stupid as other people think we are. Carly Fiorina, candidate for senate and nominee for Worst CEO Ever, also lost to Boxer.
Alaska wins the prize for the most interesting senate race, where the Republican incumbent lost the primary to a teaparty candidate, then rebounded to win a write-in vote, which almost never happens, except. . . wait, there’s a legal challenge, only wait, overturned, only, no, wait, appealed. . . Delaware comes in second with its teaparty candidate Christine “I Am Not a Witch” O’Donnell, who is now having to explain to the authorities why she has $900,000 left over and why she paid rent and other living expenses out of campaign donations. (The loser in the Alaska campaign also has nearly a million dollars left over from his campaign, thus, perhaps, redefining “loser” for many of us.)
Our President, who confuses the pundits terribly by saying he’s going to do something and then. . . doing it, managed to use the lame duck session to progress on several of his campaign issues, including the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. How many presidents in the past 30 years have managed to implement 60% of their campaign promises in the first two years of their administration? I don’t think many.
I can’t even remember everything; earthquakes, floods, wars and the rumors of wars. . . frozen Florida does stand out though, as does the devastation in Haiti.
Family and Friends
My friend is engaged in a strugle of her own with cancer; it has been difficult, but she is winning. Mostly, we’re all doing okay, and despite everything else, that’s what really matters.
So, it wasn’t a terrible year, but I am happy to be welcoming 2011. In fact I’m standing in the doorway, holding open the door. “Come in, come in! Get settled! I just know you’re going to be great!”
*Apparently it’s Kardashian, and the Cardassians were aliens on Star Trek. Sorry, I don’t watch much unscripted TV.