Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Just a Second

As I write this, less than ninety minutes remain in 2008. At the stroke of midnight, a new year begins.

Isn’t it amazing how much difference one second makes?

The time between 11:59:00 and 12:00:00 is only one second, yet in that instant we move from 2008 to 2009, from a year of campaigns to a year of a new President, from a year of economic difficulties to a year of potential recovery, from twelve months during which most of us did not stick to last year’s New Year’s resolutions to a year in which we try again.

Nothing physically changes when the clock strikes twelve.

Here in Maryland tonight, the wind is gusting to 40 miles per hour; at 12:00, the wind will continue to blow at 40 miles per hour. At one second before midnight, the sky will be dark; as the clock reads 12:00:00, the sky will still be dark. If your heart rate is 72 beats per minute, your heart will beat 1.2 times between 11:13:59 and 11:14:00 and it will also beat 1.2 times between 11:59:59 and 12:00:00.

Yet as 11:59:59 becomes 12:00:00 tonight, a whole new year begins.

Jokesters among us will blink during that second then say, “hey, I haven’t seen you since last year.”

In that one second, many of the negatives we experienced during the last twelve months are erased and the door opens to a whole new world of positive possibilities. Even if we have never lost the weight we said we would in New Year’s resolutions in the past, it is possible we will lose the weight in the next year, so we make that resolution again.

Any dream we have could become reality: zero balance credit card debt, a clutter-free house, a new job, a new lover, world peace.

In just over one hour, that one second will flash across the Eastern Standard Time Zone in the United States. Millions of people will engage In a shared collective countdown: 10, 9, we watch our clocks or the readout on a TV screen, 8, 7, fiftysomethings see Dick Clark on TV and remark on how young he still looks despite the slurred speech pattern resulting from a stroke a few years ago, 6, 5, partygoers ready their champagne glasses as one brave soul prepares to pop the cork, 4, 3, some people are already asleep, viewing this as just another Wednesday night, 2, 1, but sentimentalists like me take a deep breath in that remaining second and shout …


Monday, December 29, 2008

More Merry Than I Expected

A few posts ago, I talked about holiday depression. I was having a particularly down day but speculated (hoped, actually) that it might be the only really depressing day of the season for me this year.

Fortunately, it was.

I won’t go so far as to say I’ve been joyous this holiday season, but I’ve been happier than usual. I followed some of the advice I’ve been given over the years – don’t over schedule, try to accept whatever comes, work on establishing new rituals to replace the ones form youth that we might miss – and it actually worked.

My wife and I have a few rituals of our own, including a making a big deal out of opening presents with the dogs and taking pictures of the proceedings. We went through this whole season without arguing about which lights to put where and which corner of which room to place the tree. We had a nice meal on Christmas day. I caught myself singing along with Christmas songs on the radio while driving home from work one day. And this past Saturday we spent the afternoon with some old friends of mine who were visiting the area.

So the season has been relatively jolly. Hope yours was too.

And New Year’s Day, my favorite holiday, is just two days away.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Kidless Christmas

We don't have kids, but my wife and I treat Christmas as if we did. See all of these presents? Most are for our three dogs.

Here is one of our dogs thanking my wife for all the great presents.

Here I am showing off a Christmas present from my wife, a 'coffee table' book of photographs by one of my favorite photographers.

Hope you have a great holiday, and if you don't happen to celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a great December.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Me Me Me

I think I discovered a reason for my temporary writer’s block. Basically, I don’t really like to talk about myself.

OK, people who know me in real life would laugh at that statement; I talk about myself way too much. But those conversations are held among a small circle of people I know. Blogs, by their very nature, are public forums in which people write about themselves. Subject matter can range from daily mundane activities to personal opinions about the meaning of life. Readership can range from dozens to millions.

Much of what I’ve written in this blog has been through the “life in our fifties” filter with the goal of sharing common experiences and offering explanations of our attitudes to other generations, using my life and observations as examples.

But my parents said we shouldn’t talk about ourselves. That presents an annoying inner conflict. I also recall being taught to keep my opinions to myself.

All of that adds up to a lot of second-guessing on my part.

Do I say my opinion or not? Does anyone really want to hear my opinion? Do I really want to hear anyone else’s opinion, especially if it’s a comment post in which someone disagrees with me?

On the other hand, engaging conversation based on disagreements in point of view is a very engaging form of communication. We learn and grow through that type of discourse. We discover that ours isn’t the only valid opinion. We learn how to bond and maintain friendships in spite of philosophical differences.

Back to my writer’s block. I could write about myself daily … endlessly. Most writing I do in my life is work-related and for other people. The writing I do here is for me. I even said something like that in my very first post: This blog might turn into a place where I express my opinion, for no particular reason other than that I can.

By the way, this is my 281st post.

So, to borrow from a Toby Keith song from a couple of years ago … “I want to talk about me, me, me, me, me.” Maybe this will cure my writer’s block.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Opinionated Journalist and Quick Reflexes

The White House Press Room can be quite contentious at times, but it's nothing compared to this scene in Iraq today.

I bet no American journalist ever threw shoes at a U.S. President.

Of course a few questions and observations come to mind:

- It was an Iraqi reporter who threw the shoes at President Bush. If he had thrown shoes at his country's leader six years ago, he probably would have been shot.

- A majority of American citizens dislike President Bush but most of them (us) would never consider throwing something at him. Like him or not, he IS the President and deserves respect.

- Some people have probably dreamed about throwing something at him.

- What will most people remember about the press conference - the message or the shoes?

- Bush has some damn good reflexes.

- What did the person sitting on either side of the Iraqi reporter think when they saw him remove his shoes?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Snow in New Orleans

THIS doesn't happen very often:

I grew up in New Orleans, and I only saw snow three times during the 27 years I lived there. One of those snowfalls set a record ... 5 inches. I've since lived in places where that would be called a dusting.

It snowed there yesterday.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Temporary Writer's Block

I've been busier than usual at work and at home and paying more attention to my photo blogs than this one. Basically, my brain is a little tapped out this month, so I have had little to say.

But I'm still here, still alive and well. Thanks for asking.

Check back again soon. I know my creative spark is around here somewhere.