December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve

It is funny how much focus there is in flipping the calendar page from December to January. Such an arbitrary line, but adding a digit to the year seems to imply massive change. We vow to do things differently, and change our lives for the better.

Of course this year's calendar flip might have some national significance. It is no fabricated, Mayan end-of-the-world situation, but the "fiscal cliff" is certainly getting its own hype. I haven't heard the latest, but my guess is that our legislators will slap on a small band aid before the clock strikes midnight, and kick the can of hard decisions down the road a bit. Not sure that things will be made "better" anytime soon.

That said, each year (hell, each day) has significance. There are some that went well, and some we would like to leave permanently in the rear-view-mirror. Most of us didn't take the time to relish the good times while they happened, and they can get buried in the awful news of the day. The last 365 days can become a blur, though those that put out a Christmas letter each year have at least gone through the exercise of reviewing the highlights.

As I have mentioned before, for a decade I spent New Year's Eve working at restaurant, followed by a celebration with a bunch of friends in the bar as the calendar made its flip. The last few years, it has been a quieter celebration with Matt, Holly and Kristy in San Diego, followed by breakfast and a day at Dog Beach to start the new year.

2009 was a tough year, and as we clicked over into 2010, I made the decision to move down to San Diego to start over. The time down there was a period of recovery and growth, and for 2011 I actually made some specific resolutions. The 30 day rotation was an interesting experiment, and proved that even moving from month to month can bring improvement. 2011 also brought someone special into my life, and that was the best turn in the road.

Now I am back in Seattle, and as we move on into 2013, I am starting over once again. Life 3.0, or whatever number I am up to now. I have a new job back in my home state (which I really need to write about), and I am getting my feet back on solid ground. I haven't made any resolutions for the new year just yet, but like most, fitness, friends and finances will be major themes.

Though 2013 will likely be a year of change, the actual night of New Year's Eve is sort of a non-event this year. Just another Monday this time around. Maybe with all the hype about the Mayans and the cliff, I just wanted to ignore the end of a calendar page, or tablet.

Some of the best parts of any year are the times spent with friends, and New Year's Eve was always a good excuse. Part of me misses the party atmosphere of the Keg celebrations, and another part the quiet gathering with friends of more recent years. And of course I'll miss the kiss at midnight.

December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

I can't believe Christmas is only an hour away. December always flies by, but this year it felt like the fastest one yet. It seems universal, like some alternate theory of relativity, that time speeds up as we grow older. Where Christmas couldn't get here soon enough when we were children, now there never seems to be enough time to get it all done.

As a kid, there wasn't much to do other than wait for gifts to arrive magically, but of course as an adult, you have a hand in making that magic happen. Though I am busier with work this year, the season rushing by has less to do with lack of time, and more about fewer markers on the path to the big day.

There are a thousand little parts of the season that add up to the whole. An afternoon spent picking out, or even cutting down the perfect tree. Listening to Christmas music while you decorate it with all the ornaments that bring back memories of places and faces in your life. Stringing up lights on the house, and hooking them up to a timer so you come home each night to a house aglow. Pulling out your favorite Christmas movies, films you seen dozens of times, but that still pluck at your heartstrings each time. Mulling some wine, baking cookies, or making and breaking a gingerbread house. Carving out a spare moment to meet a friend for coffee, or just give them a call to let them know you are thinking about them.

Tomorrow will be wonderful. The morning will be spent at my parent's home with my brother, and of course the traditional coffee cake for breakfast. In the evening, we will head to my cousin's for dinner with my ever-expanding extended family. Thirty or so people I dearly love, most of whom I haven't seen since last Christmas.

As wonderful as the day will be, it stills feels like I let the season slip by almost unnoticed this year. The anticipation of the day is part of the joy, like a child wondering all month what will appear under the tree Christmas morning. This year, without all those small traditions leading up to the big day, it feels like Christmas arrived more like a surprise party.

The magic of Christmas doesn't just happen like it did when we were kids. More than gifts, those hundred little traditions bring even more texture and joy to the holiday, turning an already beautiful day into a wonderful season. I dropped the ball this year, and truth be told, for the last few. I hope you all were able to make time for whatever traditions make this holiday special, and that you are blessed with friends and family to share it with tomorrow.

Merry Christmas.

December 13, 2012

Lyrics of the day

And now my heart stumbles on things I don't know.
This weakness I feel I must finally show.

In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die.
Where you invest your love, you invest your life.

~"Awake My Soul" by Mumford & Sons

December 8, 2012


I have been back in the Pacific Northwest for three weeks now, and there have been some definite adjustments, but Seattle felt like home again relatively quickly.

Naturally, the weather is the most glaring for this particular switch of home base. Moving from "The Best Climate on Earth" to the rainy northwest, particularly in November was a kind of jarring change. The shorts and flip flops will be as rare as pants and jackets were in San Diego. I also managed to lose my sunglasses the day before I left, and sad to say I haven't needed them much.

I can remember flying back one summer and noticing how gray everything seemed. The colors just seemed a little washed out after spending a year in the sunshine. Since I drove up this time, the transition was a little more gradual, and now it is just part of the landscape. I don't feel the need for one of those Seasonal Affective Disorder lamps, so it seems that the rain never left my bloodstream

One thing that is pretty much the same about December in San Diego and Seattle - there isn't much need to check the weather forecast. You already know what is coming. It does make you appreciate when the clouds finally part, though, and the hillsides are lit up in brilliant fall colors.

Sierra still gets me up at the same time each day, though it is now by my alarm clock instead of her happy panting or clicking nails. My room is on the second floor, and the only way she would make it up the two flights of stairs is if I carried her. For the first five years I had her, she slept out in the living room rather than in the bedroom. She would hop up on the couch as soon as I left the room (we both pretended not to notice). In the mornings, she would generally wait quietly at the bedroom door, emitting the occasional heavy sigh if I slept in a bit. Once she heard the alarm clock though, all bets were off.

When we were down in San Diego, she slept in my bedroom instead. With no door between us, she was less patient when it came to breakfast time. She would wake me bright and early whether it was a weekend or not, and more than any job, this was what finally had me getting to bed at a decent hour. Back in Washington again, she is back to sleeping in the living room, though she is long past being able to hop on the couch.

I was a little worried how this would work out. With the health issues and declining eyesight, she has been known to panic when she feels lost or out of sorts. I imagined cries or yelps for the first few evenings, but she did pretty well from the start. She has had to learn a new house layout, but she seemed to figure that out in a day or two. I set an alarm every morning so her meal of diabetic dog food hits her system on schedule, but she has still had a number of hypoglycemic crashes. I guess she hasn't adjusted entirely.

When I moved down to San Diego after a lifetime in Seattle, I was surprised how easy the transition was. It helped to have great friends there waiting for me, but there was still a whole new city to map out. Coming back home, my own layout is much more familiar, and I haven't had to feel my way around as much. We're both transitioning pretty well, though now and again we both bounce off a wall that wasn't there before.

December 1, 2012

Quote of the day

What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.

~Carl Sagan