Thursday, January 1, 2015

Sayonara 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! And Happy Hanukah! And Joyous Kwanza! And Merry Christmas! And Happy New Year! Our family has been in illness purgatory since November 20th, so I have been unable to write anything. Well, not entirely true. I wrote a parody of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie called If You Give a Kindergardener a Craft Project that I didn't finish. You have that to look forward to sometime in the future. Whether I will actually finish it, or will just publish it unfinished like The Mystery of Edwin Drood remains to be seen. (Note to self: add opium den to If You Give a Kindergardener a Craft Project to make it edgier.)

According to Facebook, 2014 was a great year. Thanks for being part of it. You know what? Screw you, Facebook, 2014 kind of sucked. Okay, so it wasn't as bad as, say, 1934 (hard to top the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, the Great Depression, Hitler, and the dust bowl), but it wasn't all that great. On a global level, there was the Ebola crisis, Russia invaded Crimea, the Middle East continued to be a mess, Atlanta was paralyzed for days by a freak snowstorm, there were lots of plane crashes (and one plane that went missing and still hasn't been found), terrorist groups thought killing people was a good way to stop girls from going to school, we lost Robin Williams and Joan Rivers, and celebrities found out that their private cellphone pictures weren't so private (maybe that wasn't so bad; depends on your perspective). But Facebook has to be all Johnny Mercer and accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative. The Facebook year in review for Malaysia Air probably featured the new snack offerings for passengers in the coach cabin.

Flight attendant: "Don't mention that elephant sitting in 12D."

Personally, 2014 wasn't such a great year for me, either. I'm grateful for all the good things: My family is all healthy(ish) and happy(ish) and we didn't suffer any major tragedy this year, and I'm alive and well enough to complain about 2014. But, just as the birth of the Dionne Quintuplets doesn't change the fact that 1934 was a lousy year, attending a Christmas party at the White House (cool as it was) doesn't make 2014 a banner year. The truth is that I am more than happy to say, "Sayonara, sweetheart," to 2014.

Reason Number 1: Plagues - 2014 was the year our family was beset with plagues of Biblical proportions. They were so very bad and gross that I can really only share that we had pantry moths because copping to any of the others would make me a social pariah and would lower the property value of my house. If you've ever had pantry moths then you know how gross and fucking hard they are to get rid of, that gives you perspective on how much more gross and fucking hard to get rid of are the plagues and pestilence that I can't talk about. Oh, the things I would write if I had an anonymous blog! (But, of course I wouldn't get credit for it, and then what's the point?) Let's just say that one of the worst ways to spend two grand is on hardware cloth, cement, and labor to dig a three foot deep trench around a garden shed. Additionally, if you thought that a cold was the worst affliction your kid could bring home from school, you are sorely, sorely mistaken.

Image from here, along with a quiz to
determine which Garbage Pail Kid
you are! Because, of course there is.

Reason Number 2: Flu - I love public health and I do my part by taking myself and my three children, two of whom have major shot anxiety, and get the flu vaccine. I have done this every year for the last 11 years. One year, our pediatrician ran out of the flu vaccine and I took the Girl and the Boy, ages three and 18 months to the county Public Health Clinic and waited for two hours to get us all vaccinated. While we were there, they rolled on the floor, licked the walls, and touched every surface and then stuck their hands in their mouths. They ended up with strep, malaria, and distemper, but we were influenza-free. This year we got our shots and mists in September and the Girl, the Boy, and I all got the flu anyway. I have no idea why the Baby didn't get it. I can only imagine the flu knew better than to mess with the likes of her.

Right after we finished the regular old flu, the stomach flu made its way through the family. I was the only one who didn't get it, for which I was grateful, until I realized what happens when you are the only one left standing during a stomach flu epidemic. As a result of all of these illnesses, I've installed hand-washing stations in all the bathrooms. My commitment to public health is at the expense of the environment because we've gone through many, many rolls of paper towels with this new regime.

Reason Number 3: Change - I wish that I embraced change, but I'm an already an anxious person and change just makes me more anxious. In September the K quit his stable, secure big law firm job and started his own law firm. This is exciting, but it's also scary because starting a business is like walking a tightrope without a net. You succeed or fail totally on your own without anyone to catch you. But, in the immortal words of Michael Scott:

Attribution isn't my strong suit, either. 
While looking for a good entrepreneur quote I realized two things:
1. Risking it all to start a business sounds like a great idea if the person suggesting it is Mark Zuckerberg, Mark Cuban, Richard Branson, or Oprah Winfrey.
2. The vast majority of us are not the next Mark Zuckerberg, Mark Cuban, Richard Branson, or Oprah Winfrey.

The good thing about change is that time passes and you get used to the new situation. While I'm sure  that our family will benefit from the K's new job in the long run, I'm hoping the length of the run will be in feet rather than miles (or meters rather than kilometers for all you people who have been forcing the metric system on America for 30 years.)

Reason Number 4: Rejection - As long as we're talking about taking risks, remember when I was writing a novel? Well, I finished it last December and some good friends read it and provided feedback. I revised it and in August, I decided to send it to some agents. It went about as I expected, with rejections all around. That's fine, and not unusual at all. But, one of the agents didn't get back to me until right before Thanksgiving with an email that read something like, "Thank you for your submission, but I am not interested in representing you. The reason is that your story didn't 'grab' me." No kidding? I thought you were waiting four months to contact me because you were immediately riveted and couldn't wait to read more! Generally speaking, if you've waited four months to contact someone, the better thing to do is let the silence speak for itself.

Although the trials of 2014 were challenging, I learned some important lessons. First, it taught me perseverance: If you don't get rid of pantry moths after four tries, you do have it in you to clean that pantry with white vinegar and Q-Tips for a fifth time. Damned if this same lesson of perseverance doesn't apply to writing a book or starting a business. Second, it taught me discretion: Some situations suck and while it might be cathartic to lay out all the gory details for public consumption, it's probably not in anyone's best interest to do so. Third, it taught me cleanliness: It is actually really, really important to wash your hands.

Last week, the children and I went to Target to return some things and to use the Target gift cards that Santa gave the girls (yes, our Santa gives gift cards because he's had a long year battling reindeer parasites and sleigh moths). The after-Christmas sale was in full swing and I bought four rolls of wrapping paper for next Christmas. I thought about how planning for a holiday a year in advance is a really optimistic gesture. We'll all be here in December 2015, there will be gifts to wrap, and I'll smugly congratulate myself for being both thrifty and foresighted enough to already have wrapping paper. I'm ready. Bring it 2015.



  1. Oh my gosh, I wish you'd blogged about the pantry moths. Maybe I would have learned some tricks, and at the least I would have known I wasn't alone as I hunted them down one at a time in the wee hours of the morning... (yes, I became so obsessed that my husband suggested I pitch a reality show titled Moth Hunter).

    1. I take requests! I will totally blog about our experience with the pantry moths. I'm only sorry that you had to endure them, as well! Be looking for, "How to get rid of pantry moths in 3,542 Difficult, Annoying Steps."

  2. I'll be we get pantry moths for Passover.