A few quick updates to the ol’ blog at the beginning of a new year. Watch your step:
For years in our house, we have celebrated birthday weeks. One day of cake and ice cream won’t do for us. We need a full seven days to get down that 12-inch fudge-covered yellow-cake monstrosity and a couple half-gallons of Breyers.
The idea came from my wife, who always has liked the idea of a weeklong party, especially when she’s in the middle. But the boy gets his week, too (even now that he’s down at school), and I get mine, even as I become less and less enthralled with the idea of more and more birthdays.
This is my birthday week. Which is great, of course, as far as celebrating me. I’m all for it. But this is more than that. It’s an extra special week, even as birthday weeks go, because it’s also an anniversary of sorts.
Mary Jo calls it my heart-versary.
A year ago, I spent my birthday flat on my back getting my chest cracked, replacing a heart valve that was a lemon from the start. It hadn’t given me any trouble for all those birthdays and all those birthday weeks, but the cardiologist who had been keeping track of it for the past decade-plus looked at a December EKG and figured it was time for me to go in for a rotation. Who was I to argue? Last thing I needed was for that thing to blow out on me mid-jumper. Or during my birthday week.
What followed was a few weeks of whimpering, a few weeks of getting my feet back under me and a 2016 that was unlike any other year in my life. It was like a bizarro birthday week that wouldn’t stop.
But I made it through thanks to Mary Jo and the humbling kindness of friends, family and strangers. I always knew I would, though sometimes it’s hard to see that when you can’t sleep and a 10-minute stroll around the cul de sac knocks you out for the rest of the day.
Still, I picked up my freelancing career after about a month after the operation, then we got Luke graduated from high school and off to college and everything worked out in the end.
Now comes another damn birthday and my first heart-versary. Another momentous year lies ahead for all of us. A lot of it looks unsettled. Could be good. Could be challenging.
But when you and yours have been through what I and mine have been through in the past year … whatever.
Pass the cake and ice cream. Happy birthday week to me.
Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States this week. So there’s that, too. That would fall under the “could be challenging” part of 2017.
What’s coming, huh? A greater America with plentiful jobs, cheap health care for all (he just promised that, you know) and Russia as a best bud?
Or something … else? Millions losing health care, businesses running wild, the rich getting richer, regulations lifted on environmental protections and a world that is a little less stable and maybe a lot scarier?
I had enough politics in 2016 to last me several -versaries — you with me? — and I don’t want them to dominate this year. But truth is, a Trump presidency may affect all of us, and not in good ways. So politics, like it or not, will be central in a lot of our lives in ’17.
I’m concerned about what Trump means to the environment, what he means to the economy, what he means to basic human rights and, for that matter, just basic human decency. I don’t think that he has a clue that his tough-guy act — I love a tough guy act from a guy who hasn’t used a hammer or carried his own suitcase since he was 9, and uses enough hairspray to punch another hole in the ozone — won’t play well in a lot of the world. I don’t think he has a clue that half the U.S. is ready to pounce. More than half if you believe in things like, you know, the popular vote.
Think that’s exaggerating? Have you seen his approval ratings?
Oh, those are fake? Well, let’s move on.
He wants to be friends with Putin but denigrates American civil rights icons and war heroes. He continues to fling insults at anyone who disagrees with him — the man is incapable of civil discourse and without a scintilla of class — including the American intelligence community and the press. His possible conflicts of interest (and I’m being kind there) are staggering. He lies, straight up, and dares you to call him on it.
He is so self-centered, so stunningly narcissistic that it’s embarrassing on a global kind of scale.
Anyone else who ever has been in his position gives credit. Not Trump.
Count the “I”s in these back-to-back tweets:
He spent his entire campaign claiming the system was rigged, then denied it was rigged when incontrovertible proof was laid in front of him that the election was rigged in his favor. In his slimy sideshow way, he points out that no voting machines were tampered with, so all that Russian meddling made no difference.
Let’s move on, you say? Well, wait one second.
Come on. You don’t think a few minds were changed with the Podesta Wikileaks dump? If anyone knows how minds can be influenced, especially in the heat of a campaign, it’s P.T. Trump. The Russians changed minds. Believe it.
But, yes, I’m with you. I’ve had enough. He’s our president. I get it. Swear him in and, really, let’s move on.
Still, if Trump or anyone else thinks we should give him so much as a honeymoon period, forget it. I don’t know what this year will hold for us with Trump in charge. I hope it’s not as bad as I think. Either way, though, we’re watching. And if this president messes up, I’m calling him on it. Loud and clear and publicly.
That’s not being “Sad!” or “Unfair!” or a “Loser!” That’s simply being a good American.
My first real, paying job was cleaning up tables, washing dishes and slinging steaks at Rustler Steak House in Dover, Del. Since then, I’ve worked as a stock boy in a now-defunct department store (Nichols Discount City in Dover), at a Hobo Joe’s in Tempe, Ariz. (kind of like a Rustler, except for breakfast), at a bunch of car rental places, on an assembly line at a factory that made transistors, at a movie theatre, as an early morning janitor at an outdoor mall, as a landscaper in Phoenix in the summer, as a telemarketer and, later, in a few newspaper and online jobs as a reporter and editor.
At the first of the year, I began my latest gig, a contract position helping young writers at two websites run by Turner Sports in Atlanta.
I am, I think, a consultant.
I always wanted to be a consultant. It’s so nebulous. It’s like being a … worker.
Two years have passed since I had to make my way through Atlanta traffic and into an office, so that’s been an adjustment (even though I do it only once a week). I’ve kind of become accustomed to making my own hours, too, so starting at a certain time every weekday is kind of weird.
But the people I work with seem talented and eager, and the work is steady, at least for the short-term. Which is something freelance never, or almost never, is.
It is, though, short-term, with all the uncertainty that brings. In a few months, when the gig is up, I’m liable to be out there freelancing again. But you know, I’m fine with that. Really. For one big reason.
The year 2016 was an earth-shaking one in a lot of ways, good and bad. This year could be the same.
But I’m ready. I got my family. I got my friends. I got a new valve, a new job. And, yes, a new president.
It’s time to move ahead. It’s time to party.