NOW THAT creaky old dude 19 has given way to bouncy baby 20, allow me to announce my one and only New Year’s Resolution, which is to do whatever I can to defeat Donald Trump in the November election. That’s it, and that’s enough. All other potential resolutions are negotiable and put-off-able. The re-election of this miserable excuse of a multicellular organism, however, would be unforgivable. If you agree, please join me in the cause.
The last day of 2019 seems to sum up my entire year. In the morning and afternoon, I spend several hours clearing the cement-like snow from the driveway, mostly by shoveling because it clogs up the snow blower. I complete this task just in time to drive the teenager to his friend’s house, from where they will embark on an outing to Boston to celebrate the change of the calendar. In the spaces between these duties, and at the Starbucks soon after, I click-clack on the computer to wrap up a project for work that has an end-of-year deadline. Because the client is taking this deadline very seriously, I do so as well. After eventually returning home, my wife asks me to watch Nathen, the two-year-old, until his bedtime.
Nathen is a fine little boy, but seems to think that all things before him are part of his personal toy collection. This enticing world purview includes many actual toys, including blocks and puzzles and miniature cars and trucks, and a tiny toy hospital gurney that makes him happy when he pushes it around the floor. But of course it also includes the true attractions of the house, which are the power cords and light switches, the buttons on all appliances, the bowl of water for the dog, the leafy ferns by the front window, Dad’s electric toothbrush, the clothes in Dad’s closet, and last but not least, Dad’s eyeglasses. I get a little koo-koo when he starts grabbing at the eyeglasses.
The toilet training is going fairly well, but not perfectly. On my watch while we are in the living room, I hear the recognizable sound of streaming fluid on carpet. I turn around, and there’s Nathen, sans pants and diaper, acting out his version of the ball drop in Times Square.
Happy New Year!
Fast forward to today, January 12th. Thanks to two days of Florida-like temperatures, all of the snow from the previous month has melted or evaporated, leaving a muddy driveway and some confused grass, and inspiring some of us New Englanders to head outdoors in shirt sleeves. So, all of us should think this is just great, huh? An oasis of warmth in the middle of winter? A welcome relief from long underwear and heating bills? Sounds wonderful, right? Am I RIGHT?!!
Because this is global climate change! It’s messing with the blue jays and the milkweed and the pollinators; it’s raising the water levels and acidity of the ocean; it’s raising havoc with farmers and forests; it’s spurring on wildfires and hurricanes—and worst of all, it’s SCREWING UP THE SKI SEASON!!!
Don’t go screwing up the ski season!
I have a cousin in Australia who is back home at her ranch after having to evacuate—TWICE—in response to approaching wildfires. If I recall correctly, some good citizens of Northern California went through similar events a scant few months ago. And the stories do mount, both in the past and, predictably, in the future as well.
We need a technology to pump carbon dioxide out of the air (which actually exists, to a degree) and we need to switch away from burning fossil fuels (which is more possible than people might care to think) and we need sustainable development and improved mass transit and a sane foreign policy and a whole bunch of other things that will not happen unless My New Year’s Resolution Comes to Pass. (See opening paragraph.)
The professional football team of my youth just lost their playoff game, and now us fans think we are facing a long, long offseason of fretting and stewing, although we’ll get over that soon enough, I expect. At work, I am managing a complex editorial project with lots of daily noise and emails and fooferah. But it will gradually wind down (as all projects do) and leave me wondering what all the fuss was about. At the supermarket, my wife and I are able to buy meat and milk and eggs and fresh produce and rolls upon rolls of soft, white toilet paper (There’s the word toilet again—three times in one essay!) and heat-and-serve gourmet egg rolls, loaded with salt and MSG and other fine ingredients. Yum! I remain grateful for the supply chain that provides such bounty, and that also allows me to pay for it. I hope it lasts.
The two-word phrase that begins the title of this essay comes courtesy of my junior high math teacher, Bob Winegarden, whose influence on me has not yet abated. We really loved Wino, as he was known, and by “we” I mean me and the other smart-ass Jewish math students of the school, whose names I won’t list here, but if you are a fellow alum, you probably can guess. One of the s-a’s actually wasn’t Jewish, technically, but he tried to join B’nai Brith, so that counts in my book.
Wino, like so many others I can name, has departed this world for whatever comes next, if anything. I have reached the age where, like it or not, the number of departed souls that I knew or loved or admired, or who meant something to me, outnumbers those who still trod the boards. I say outnumber, though, and not outweigh. I’ve got my wife, of course, and I remain very grateful that my parents are in good health, and many family and friends as well. Plus I’ve got these two big honking stakes in the future, one of whom is too young to understand what a future is. So I’ve got to understand it for him.
That’s the news from Central Massachusetts. Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never come to mind. We’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.