(Photo: *Sally M*/ flickr)
Be careful what you wish for, right?
In my last column, I made the following half-witted comments: "Give me winter. Give me cold wind and snowstorms, bare branches wrapped in white, pink noses and boots and big coats with lots of pockets...We will eat, we will drink, we will be merry, and if the weather guys have it right, we will do it all surrounded by the first White Christmas I have seen in many a year."
Ah, well...yes. The weather guys were indeed right, and I wound up trapped in New Hampshire for an extra two days until that "White Christmas" was finished with us. My mother's house got buried under nearly two feet, and my home city of Boston fared little better.
There was, actually, some comedy to be found amidst the mountains of snow we came across upon our arrival home. It is the habit of the locals around here to dig out a parking spot for themselves in the street, and then place in that spot some item - a cone, a chair, a dresser, a box, whatever - to "save" it for when they return. Well, it seems someone stole a "saved" spot from someone else by replacing the owner's cone with a blue chair. I happened upon said blue chair stuffed deep into a snow bank with this note attached with duct tape. Polite enough, to the point, and just too damned funny. I laughed so hard I fell into the snow bank, and that blue chair tumbled down onto my head. I put it back right where I found it, note securely intact.
These are the columns where people like me are expected to drag out all the events, good and bad, which took place in the year that has now passed us by. I'd just as soon avoid the task, but as Frank Herbert observed in Dune, "The Forms must be obeyed," so here we go:
The earthquake in Haiti created a human and economic disaster that lingers (hell, has gotten worse) to this day.
The BP/Halliburton/American-oil-addiction disaster in the Gulf of Mexico showed us what we are capable of, and what we cannot do when our capabilities (and our greed) outstrip our collective talents. They managed to cap the thing after a seemingly interminable period, and the death and destruction in those waters is a thing we will not know the full scope of for God knows how long.
Kagan followed Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, continuing what I hope to be an ongoing reversal of the right-bent trend of the Bench, best exemplified by the ruinous Citizen's United decision, an event which did well to despoil the year.
The passage of a Health Care "reform" package happened...does anyone even remember the Public Option concept? I do. The thing is better than worse on balance, especially for people like my wife who have pre-existing conditions, but the story behind it resonated far too closely with so much else that transpired this year: we got something, a half-a-loaf that could have been so much more, and was nothing near to what had been oft-promised during a campaign comprised of more poetry than the subsequent prose chose to fulfill.
Howard Zinn, J.D. Salinger and Dennis Hopper left us.
We are still in Iraq, we are expanding in Afghanistan (despite the near-unanimous consensus that the war is not winnable...but hey, so long as the war profiteers get paid and the heroin addicts get their fix, that train is gonna keep a-rollin').
Millions are out of work and losing their homes, though some friends of mine have actually found work, so let that stand as an (albeit anecdotal) glimmer of hope.
The Giants won the World Series, leading to a parade in San Francisco that didn't involve toplessness and assless chaps (not that there's anything wrong with that).
Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell went the way of the Dodo, paving the way (hopefully) for the elimination of that other Clinton-era abomination: The Defense of Marriage Act.
The Tea Partiers made it socially acceptable to bring weapons to political rallies, thanks in no small part to peabrains like Sharron Angle saying "Second Amendment remedies" might be necessary if these dimwits didn't get what they wanted.
A mountain in Iceland called Eyjafjallajökull blew its stack and disrupted air travel all across Europe...and as a side note, I'm pretty sure every reporter who covered that event simply rolled their faces across their keyboards in the hope of getting the spelling of that damned volcano right.
The GOP took the House of Representatives, paving the way for endless hearings by the Select Subcommittee on "I Don't Think Obama Is A Citizen, And Despite All Proof To The Contrary, These Hearings Will Continue Until The Sun Burns Out." Everyone who works in the White House has likely retained legal counsel already (harkening back to the days of Dan Burton, who issued more than 2,000 subpoenas to the White House during the Clinton years, because he could). Fact: employment at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is going to cost everyone who works there $250,000 or more in legal fees from here on out, thanks to the blizzard of subpoenas to come. Lucky them. Or something.
The men and women who charged into the poison dust and bonemeal that was the site of the collapse of the Towers finally got money for the health care they need, thanks shockingly to a comedian named Jon Stewart, who shamed Washington into doing the right thing.
Christine O'Donnell crusaded against masturbation, an endeavor more completely covered in Fail than John McCain's decision to elevate Sarah Palin to national prominence.
Julian Assange created the single most spastic anti-leaker eruption since the Pentagon Papers, revealing, among other things, that the Obama administration actively intervened with Spain to keep the war criminals from the previous administration from facing any form of justice for their myriad crimes.
The Defense Department let it be known that more than 95% of the money slated for Iraq reconstruction is presently unaccounted for. Didn't hear about that one? Well, the other thing that happened this past year was that the "mainstream" media did not change one single God damned bit.
Three months before the 2010 midterms: vast majority of Americans oppose extending Bush-era tax cuts for rich people. Democrats refuse to fight for this. Two months before the 2010 midterms: vast majority of Americans oppose extending Bush-era tax cuts for rich people. Democrats refuse to fight for this. One month before 2010 midterms: vast majority of Americans oppose extending Bush-era tax cuts for rich people. Democrats refuse to fight for this. Day of 2010 midterms: vast majority of Americans oppose extending Bush-era tax cuts for rich people. Due in large part to the fact that Democrats refused to fight for this, they get their asses kicked, lose control of the House, and say, "Derp, how did this happen?" Months later, Democrats extend tax cuts for rich people so working people out of work don't die in the snow on Christmas. Obama declares victory, entire liberal base goes (facepalm).
Elizabeth Edwards died, and that loss cut deep.
Some of my friends lost family of their own. Others gained new members, or celebrated the extended lives of family members fighting brutal illnesses. My wife's MS remained stable, and we celebrated our first wedding anniversary. I quit smoking, and have gone 32 days without a cigarette.
A thousand other things of great or lesser import took place in the thankfully-departed year 2010. I don't have much to say about 2011...I mean, it's pretty cool that people writing checks on New Year's Day will be dating them 1/1/11, but I find things like that interesting, which makes me weird. Beyond that, what is to come will be a mystery until it is upon us, and when it comes, we must be ready, be strong, be true, and stand.
I will leave it at this.
For those of you who stood up and leaned in this past year, I say thank you. For those who did not, I ask for your help in 2011, because we are going to need it, and the country you save will be your own. May your family and friends stand strong, and find themselves in a better place than they were last year. If you can help, do. If you can't, please accept any help that is offered, so that you can regain your legs and dig back in. There is no shame in it during these dark days. As Mick Jagger reminds us, "Well, we all need someone to lean on, and if you want it, well, you can lean on me."
It was a bad year. It was a wild year. It is a finished year.
Onward, friends. Our work is far from complete.
All my love, to you and to yours, as ever.
Here we go. Again.