Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Belated Goodbye to 2008

A Belated Goodbye To 2008

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reliving some personal history—cataloguing, collecting, sifting through old work and trying to decide what is worth pursuing, what is best left at the bottom of the desk drawer, so to speak. During the sifting, I’ve revisited old blog entries, re-evaluating previous years, what we’ve achieved, what alluded us, what I failed at completely. The last few months of 2008 consisted of one royal groin-kick after another. But it wasn’t the worst year I ever slogged through.

There were definite lowlights, yeah, but highlights as well.

Gonna try an experiment—after I relive the low, I’m going to end on the high.

Ending on high notes has never been my forte, but I’m going to give it a shot.

The low, of course, some of you already know. 2008 started tricky, plateau’d, then went rapidly downhill, culminating in the hospitalization of Amy’s mom, just four days before Christmas. She was hanging stockings and fell off a small stepstool. It landed her in the emergency room with a concussion and a bruised spinal cord. After two harrowing days, she underwent surgery to fuse four vertebrae and ensure she’d walk again. In all honesty, it was a miracle that she was even breathing on her own, but she pulled through. The family spent Christmas Day with her at the hospital and New Year’s Eve with her at the rehab facility, watching Pittsburgh’s stingy fireworks clear away the last arbitrary remnants of 2008. Finally, this past Friday, she was discharged and returned home. We’ll be having the Best Family Christmas this coming Sunday, finally leaving ’08 behind.

Everything leading up to the fall—including a disastrous film shoot in early December that resulted in the end of a multi-year friendship that I’m still grieving over—came to a halt with Mary’s accident. The whole family held their breath, banded together to help each other through it. I don’t feel I did much—Amy provided the strength for the rest. In a lot of cases, I was just there.

While she spent time with her mom and sisters at the hospital, I worked on Demon Divas and the Lanes of Damnation and issue #14 of Sirens of Cinema, which had been my sole focus for most of ’08. It took a great deal of time, but Demon Divas finally started to take shape, but not until the year ticked over. Up until January 1, the movie’s structure had eluded me, and this left me sleepless and very depressed. I felt like the movie was defeating me.

Sirens met its own challenges—ones we’re not quite ready to talk about yet, though soon. We wound up with a high note of an issue, but it was a lot of work, maybe more than we’d done on any other issue. 2008 was not kind to us at the magazine. It fought us. We tried to fight back. Things didn’t end the way we hoped, but…

I woke up on January 1 and actually breathed a sigh of relief. Yes, time is an illusion, and “New Years” even more so. It’s arbitrary—the Chinese New Year ticks over in February, and let’s not even start discussing the Hebrew or Mayan calendars. But I’ve always relied on that arbitrary New Year’s Day for psychological renewal. I take a deep breath and hope for the best of the coming year. I’ve even made it a habit of staring out of our bedroom window, at the sun rising over the hills of our neighbor’s sheep pasture, and pretend that I can see good fortune on the horizon. Honestly, it’s all what you make of it, and at best it’s a psychic placebo, I know this. Doesn’t stop me from hoping.

In 2009, I started the year thinking, deliberately, about the good fortune I managed to drag with me out of the morass that became 2008. I have:

* for the first time in my adult life, a “real life” job that I not only enjoy but am actually pretty good at.

* A marriage that has survived for what will be ten years, added to a relationship that began fifteen years ago. And while we have our problems, like everyone, we’re a better partnership than ever.

* A production company that has managed to suffer through five feature films and a handful of shorts with an accompanying (more or less) positive reputation and a desire to keep trying new things with each new project.

* A family of Muppet-style good friends, blood relatives included, who have always been there for us for whatever we needed.

* A good reputation as a knowledgeable, hard-working, dependable and reasonably talented writer in a business famous for doing its best to destroy all of the above.

* A fount of projects in various stages of completion that not only mean a great deal to me to complete, but others seem to be looking forward to as well.

In 2009, we have two Cinema Wastelands to look forward to, at least one new film in the works, two past ones to release in final formats, get-togethers, parties, and, I swear, days where Amy and I do nothing but… nothing. Type-A personalities be damned.

In 2009, just thirteen days from now, I will turn 36 and become officially middle-aged, so I’m told. And while I’ve taken on the mantle of adulthood, I still don’t feel like an adult. My shadow doesn’t run away from me, and pixie dust still won’t let me fly, but I’m no closer to becoming a chartered accountant than I was when I was ten, so that has to count for something.

There are challenges ahead of me—I hope some of my damaged past friendships can be repaired. At the same time, there are still a number of psychic vampires in our midst I hope to cleanse us of. I will still expect great things of myself and others. I will still by my harshest critic and my own worst enemy.

The economy has a long way to go, but we’re just days away from ridding ourselves of the current cancerous administration and welcoming the new one—hoping beyond hope that it lives up to our high expectations. (Hey, we did our part. Just days into 2009, we helped the economy by buying a used foreign car!)

I’ve made a lot of promises to others that I have to honor. But more importantly, I made a goodly number of promises to myself, in the past month and over all the years of my life, that I’m determined to make good on now.

Sure, all of the above sounds like a cliché and it probably is. But what the hell? What are clichés for?

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