Monday, December 31, 2007

The Year In Review: The Year In Review

2007 began with French toast and a visit from an oracle.

The French toast is easily explained. The only holiday tradition Rosemarie and I have is breakfast out on January 1, complete with Bloody Marys. Begin the year by treating yourself, and it sets the tone for the months to come.

After breakfast comes a logy feeling, followed by introspection. I decided to take a walk and found myself in an eerily deserted downtown Seattle. As I approached a corner I saw a man on the other side of the street. He looked like he’d been living rough, but he had a smile on his face directed at me. When I crossed the street he pointed to my cap. “A Mets fan! You from New York?”

I’ll talk to anyone who acknowledges my Mets cap.

His name was Andre, and he was a recent transplant from New Orleans. He told me how his telemarketing job led to a newfound respect for New Yorkers. (“They keep it real. They’re upfront, want you to get to the point. Southerners like me, we take our time to get where we’re going.”) He discoursed on his difficulties meeting women in Seattle. (“Everywhere they go, they travel in packs. It’s like Diana Ross and the Supremes all the time.”) Finally, he asked if I had a couple of bucks to spare. I told him he was truly a Southerner, because it took him a while to get where he was going. Then I gave him some money. He’d certainly earned it.

We separated at the corner. From the other side of the street, he called my name.

“It’s gonna be your year!,” he said. “2007 is gonna be your year!” Then he was gone.

Of course, nothing can live up to that kind of introduction. 2007 may not have been my year, but it could have been much worse. In February, a vortex of illness and misfortune sucked in family and friends alike. The volume of incidents was staggering, but ultimately nothing fatal or permanent resulted. Several projects were delayed by the prospect and eventually the reality of a WGA strike, but my life wasn’t thrown into complete upheaval like so many others’ have been.

And then, in September, the Mets collapsed, going from prohibitive World Series favorite to missing the playoffs entirely. I hold Andre responsible for that. He shouldn’t have talked up the team’s chances so early in the year. But what did he know? New Orleans doesn’t have a baseball team.

Still, it’s not like 2007 was wanting for personal accomplishments:

I went back to my old neighborhood in Queens for the first time in ages and discovered that not only can you go home again, but odds are the local restaurants will have improved dramatically.

I started a running list of jazz musicians that sounded interesting. By the end of the year not only had I listened to all of them, but I’d seen several of them live.

I changed my physical appearance. I let my hair grow and switched to contact lenses. I no longer look like Frank Grimes. Now I look like a second-string orchestra conductor, or an English professor at a state college who blows tenure by sleeping with one of his students. I consider this a marked improvement.

Most importantly, I ventured into new areas. I landed a writing job that is challenging and a great deal of fun. I can’t go into any detail yet. (Let me put it this way. I’m game to tell you about it. There. I don’t think that violated any NDAs.)

The job is one of the reasons why I can’t wait to ring in 2008. I also want the WGA strike to end, so that a lot of good people can go back to work and I can pick up where I left off. And there are other exciting possibilities in the mix.

The other day Rosemarie said, “2007 was your rebuilding year, like in football.” Of course, 2006 was technically a rebuilding year for the New England Patriots and they made it all the way to the AFC title game. In 2007, they went undefeated in the regular season and are on the verge of making NFL history. It’s always nice to have something to shoot for.

Happy new year, everybody. May each of you, in your own way, sign Randy Moss in the off-season of your lives.