Happy New Year

I spent a good deal of time between Christmas and New Year’s Day working on our house’s front entryway. I’m not sure how the idea came to me, but, at some point before leaving work for the holiday, it occurred to me that, having now lived here for about 20 years, I should probably start making my way from room to room, patching holes, scrubbing away grime, fixing what’s broken, and putting down a few new coats of paint. So, the day after Christmas, I woke up and started by painting our front door a shade of blue the marketing folks at Behr have decided to call inked. And, from there, I just kept moving inch by inch, addressing all of the shit that I’d been avoiding since first settling in here, back in January of 2000. Well, as of right now, I’ve made it about 12 feet into the house, and I’m slowly working my way up the front staircase, where I’m thinking about hanging a bunch of old family photos. [How do you decide, in a limited space, which photos to include? How do you figure out just which photos, when taken together, tell the story of your family?]

Here’s my view of things right now…

To be honest, this holiday break hasn’t been easy for me, as I’ve been dealing with quite a bit of anxiety, so it’s been good for me to have something to focus my attention on. And, perhaps more importantly, it gave me an excuse as to why I couldn’t go out, when people called and asked me to do things. The truth is, I just didn’t feel like seeing anyone. If I weren’t scared of freaking out my family, or, worse yet, being perceived as lazy, I probably would have just laid in bed with my eyes closed. Instead, though, I scrubbed the floor to the point where I scraped a few knuckles off, trying my best to lose myself for even a few minutes in the task at hand.

Lest people start to worry about me, I should add that this past week hasn’t been all bad. There have been good moments, like watching my son reading in front of the fireplace, or cooking with Linette and the kids. And it feels good to have gotten off the computer for a while, and invested some time in making this home of ours, which is now about 175 years old, a little more peaceful and less chaotic. [That, I suspect, is the underlying impetus behind my wanting to go room by room, setting things right. I’ve just felt overwhelmed lately, and I’m hoping that, by fixing things around the house, I might be able to improve my mental state.] And, best of all, I discovered this note from Clementine while working on the staircase. It’s a note she’d written in pencil, probably about eight years ago. It says, “I love you and mommy.” [My hope is that I’m the “you” she’s referring to, but I suppose it could have been one of the cats.] It’s amazing to me that I’ve probably walked by it thousands of times since she wrote it, and I’d never noticed it until I started this obsessive cleaning campaign of mine… At any rate, it’s a nice reminder of the fact that our teenage daughter once loved us enough to scratch it onto a wall.

Speaking of Clementine, who is now 14, I just found the following New Year’s post from 15 years ago, and thought that I’d share it again… The following was first posted here on December 31, 2003, about seven months before Clementine was born. [And, yes, I’ve apparently now been blogging for over 15 fucking years.]

A few days ago, Linette and I went to the doctor. While we were there, they held a tiny microphone up to Linette’s stomach. It was at that point that the room filled up with the sound of a rapidly sloshing little heartbeat and my life changed.

Yes, if everything continues to go well, Linette and I will be parents in 2004.

It is with that very happy thought in my mind that I wish all of you in the MM.com family a happy, healthy and productive new year.

Here’s my little toast:

Here’s hoping that were all able to put the bad things in the past behind us and to move into 2004 with optimism and hope.

Here’s hoping that we have a year without fear, in which people with courage and vision come forward with creative solutions for the problems that we see around us.

Here’s hoping that in the new year we are all able to experience the feeling of being able to work together to affect positive change.

Linette’s in the other room, researching baby stuff. She just shouted out, “Yipee, the tail’s already gone.”

On that note, happy New Year.

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15 Comments

  1. ElsieGal
    Posted January 1, 2019 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    “Yippee, the tail’s already gone!” Best line ever!!

    Use the Behr Inked because it’s lovely. Slap some Mod Podge or varnish over that note from Clementine because it’s priceless. Enjoy some guilty pleasure (not anxiety) about hunkering down doing house stuff, because it’s not just a house—it’s home.

    Happy New Year to you and yours.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted January 2, 2019 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    What is that portal looking thing at the top of your stairs? Do you jump between dimensions?

  3. John Brown
    Posted January 2, 2019 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Take solace in the fact that there is a plan to load up all the crazy christians into box cars and force them into camps, instead of the West Wing. This comes from some bat shit holy rollers who thinks Agent Orange is the New King Cyrus. So it must be credible. I’m just bummed to be finally hearing about it. Seems like something I can really get behind in 2019.
    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2018/12/31/opinion/trump-evangelicals-cyrus-king.amp.html

  4. Demetrius
    Posted January 2, 2019 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Happy New Year, Mark, Linette, and all.

    As we enter 2019, there’s much to be anxious about, but also reasons to be hopeful.

    Thanks, as always, for continuing to share, and for your thoughtful reporting and commentary.

  5. Eel
    Posted January 2, 2019 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Rest easy, Friend. Romney has the Trump problem well in hand.

  6. Jay Steichmann
    Posted January 2, 2019 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Happy New Year, Mark & Linette & family. I wish anxiety affected me to the point of getting up & doing things and not just going catatonic. So, I decided to give up anxiety. Still don’t get much done, but I don’t feel edgy about it.

  7. Debbie Locke-Daniel
    Posted January 2, 2019 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Crazy bat Christians eh? I’m a Christian and can’t stand the current POTUS . So please John Brown don’t assume we all support the crazy man. It is my faith that keeps me strong, gives me hope and prospective on the the day to day worldly madness. I highly recommend it and pray that you Mark focus on all of the wonderful things in your life and not so much on our messed up world. I do love and thank you for your blogs however
    Happy New Year!

  8. Erin O'Leary
    Posted January 2, 2019 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Happy New Year, Mark!! Hope you’re feeling less anxious today. What a sweet treasure to find in your home—may you come across more as you go room to room. I hope you find a way to “save” Clementine’s message.

  9. denise heberle
    Posted January 2, 2019 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    So that was you I just bumped into then? Thought this was my personal pit. Your treatment plan sounds spot (har) on for someone like me, too. I am also semi-upright only because I don’t want to freak anyone out. I think that’s what they mean when they call someone high functioning? Here’s what a sweet friend used to say to me when I got like this: “You don’t always feel this way. You won’t always feel this way. Even if you do always feel this way starting now, there are people who love you and who will take care of you no matter what.” Sounds like it’s true for you. HfuckingNY. <3

  10. Lisa Bashert
    Posted January 2, 2019 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    These are anxious times. Your question about how you choose photos snagged me — it’s true that you are constructing a narrative about the family by which ones you choose. Once they are displayed, I feel like I become more committed to whatever story i think I’m telling. Much like Facebook or blogging or any other curated narrative.

    I believe that caring for the gifts that we’ve been given (maintaining and putting them in order, repairing and improving them) is a kind of sacred task of gratitude and very well adapted to relieving some of that anxiety. Good for you!

  11. Patti Smith
    Posted January 2, 2019 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    I’ve also been hit with anxiety. 2018 was a really great year for me and so I figure that 2019 has to suck. Makes no sense but here we are.

    My doctor gave me these lovely “calm down chews” that are all natural yet somehow work. You can have some if you want.

  12. Anonymous
    Posted January 2, 2019 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    That portal is where M-anon’s skivvies enter to be cleaned.

  13. John Brown
    Posted January 3, 2019 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Debbie, thanks for representing the non-batshit crazy christians. I know of a few others…

  14. Donald Harrison
    Posted January 3, 2019 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    May the new year bring you lots of good projects to disperse anxiety, Mark. I found myself fixing up my apartment a lot over the break—with drinks. It was a productive combo (whenever power tools weren’t involved…).

  15. Jean Henry
    Posted January 6, 2019 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Apt. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1aPwtGpOVM

2 Trackbacks

  1. By On making myself a smaller target for illness on January 2, 2019 at 9:35 pm

    […] « Happy New Year […]

  2. […] turning 50, I’ve been making a concerted effort to get my shit in order. I’ve started working more deliberately on this nearly 175 year old house of ours. I’ve pretty much cut bread, beer and refined sugar from my diet. And I’ve been […]

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