Please scroll down and read Sera's year-end Part 1 first. No cheating!
Are you in the mood for another litany of excuses for this blog's recent inertia? Do you wanna hear about all the stuff I had to write? You do not. But like Sera (only without the studios and producers and hyperventilating webgeek fans and actors with chiseled cheekbones), I, too, have been scribbling away pert-near nonstop -- to the detriment of our Semitic sounding board. Regrets? I've had a few, Jew.
But now that 2008 has almost coughed out its last rattles, I'm finally going to crank out a post -- and, with any luck, set free some thought-bats that have been flapping around my belfry.
In some ways this last year felt like a test. Yeah, some really fucking horrible shit happened -- and keeps happening -- but by now that feels de rigueur for the Bush era (only about 20 more days, beloveds, but please keep your seatbelts fastened until we come to a complete stop). I'm talking about implosion of structures that I imagined would never buckle. I'm talking about financial shockwaves and devastation, some of them perpetrated by a Jewish investor whose name we will not invoke without spitting twice upon the ravaged ground. The icecaps kept melting. The bombs kept going off at schools and restaurants and checkpoints in countries where "American interests" required protection.
There were other, more personal losses in my circle. A family friend who'd known me since I was a fetus and who saw me get married twice and whose insight and wicked sense of humor were a bulwark against life's most heinous storms ended her days in a hospital, stricken insensate.
I'd borrowed Sera's copy of The Year of Magical Thinking and had been thinking about what happens to the mind in the face of such absolute subtraction. I had vowed to give up magical thinking myself, in all ways, and 2008 put that to the test. So, for the first time: no desperate praying, no "don't say anything, you'll jinx it," no clinging to the idea that my thoughts would affect the outcome. Giving up magical thinking has been like quitting some dependable opiate - fewer floaty moments, perhaps, but also fewer crashes of the system.
But when we went to the Day of the Dead celebration at Hollywood Forever cemetery, where costumed revelers twirled tirelessly to an endless loop of drunken mariachi music and headstones were bedecked with lace and lights, I approached one white, spartan shrine, where the dead were memorialized on scraps of paper, and scrawled my friend's name. It served no rational purpose, and I doubt that anyone who knew her saw it. But she was a writer who lived and breathed the multiplicitous rituals and turns and bends of the city. So, in this still, veiled cubicle of light in the middle of a rollicking graveyard party, I penned a message to her through the ether. Some vestige of magical thinking abides.
But all this death and bad juju aside, I remain grateful.
For my Julia and our little hilltop life with gardens and computers and plans and lists of things to do and blankets and dinners in front of the TV.
For my family, carrying on in the storm and inviting strangers to the table.
For my brilliant nephews, growing into fine young men before my eyes.
For my dear friend Sera, achieving the greatness and recognition I've known she would reach since first we met.
For my other extraordinary, talented, kind-hearted friends, who don't hear often enough about how I cherish their minds and hearts.
For my little boat of a business, still upright and affording me a chance to live by my wits, like I always said I wanted to.
For the chance to sing.
For a new government, which will have a full plate cleaning up after the old one.
For a new year, full of new possibilities. For the acknowledgement that we're beholden to one another, the intertwining of destinies. Did you notice how much more this holiday season has been about giving charitably than about getting stuff?
And for all of you, friends and strangers, who stop what you're doing to read our words when we actually get our tuchuses in gear and write them. Now that's magical.
Happy New Year. We love you and we promise to be better correspondents in 2009.