I don’t know how the rest of you do it, but each year has a certain “flavor” to it. I look back upon certain calendar years with a sort of hyper-awareness that borders on the savantly autistic, which is why I can name the month and date of pretty much every pop song from the early ’70s to about 1993.

1982 was blissful, 1985 was cataclysmic, 1992 was dreary, 1995 was a renaissance, 2001 was heart-wrenching… you get the picture. It takes some time, perhaps a few years, for a past year to develop its flavor, but it always comes. 2002 defined itself early for me; it has now become a blank, worried slate dominated by my runaway anxiety and the drugs that helped quell it. 1997 is still percolating.

I have a few things to say about 2003. You do too, so please write them in your own blogs, or use the “comments” button below so I can hear them.

For me, it will be The Year I Got Married. So much of my life, thought and physical labor was wrapped up in the preparation for marriage that it seemed like a game of Chutes and Ladders; I walked into May and suddenly found myself in September. In many respects, our wedding was a watershed moment for me, because I finally understood that my rampant self-loathing, long-cultivated from childhood, wasn’t getting me anywhere and was mostly bullshit. That someone like Tessa would marry me, actually go through with it, has given me a confidence that I could never have summoned even with the staff of the Manhattan Project working on it full-time.

Before I kept a public blog here, I kept a private diary in the recesses of my computer, and last week I stumbled upon some entries from early 2000. Frankly, I have never read the words of anyone more dipped in shit. The lachrymose pleadings, the saturnine moans of a person stuck in a hell of his own making, is enough to give you goiters. What’s worse is that the writing is sorta bad. I can take a lot of things from my past self, but sub-par writing is not one of them.

Anyway, the next entry was in October (my diary, unlike this blog, was wildly sporadic) and it was like a different human being was typing. Loose, effortless, honest, funny… and with Tessa. It only got better, and our wedding was the culminating ceremony of a true conversion. It made me feel as though everyone gets a second act. Even the reviled are capable of redemption. God, my friends are amazing.

Speaking of which, 2003 made me miss them the most. Apart from days surrounding the wedding, I became acutely aware this year that we are not all living together. Even my post-adolescent fantasies of having a big artist commune, calling upon the different strengths of our coterie (Ann does poetry, Salem tells stories and gets the steak, Sean sings, Lindsay puts on a play, Colin writes the newsletter, Chip provides color commentary, Block keeps our money, Bud bikes to the next village for news, and Michelle tends to his wounds when he runs into a tractor) seem more distant.

Very few of us have children yet, so we are in that holding pattern of being partnered, yet untethered. But I think that thin, gossamer rope is threading itself for many of us, a foghorn in the dark sea mist that says that kids may be forming. I hope so. This is the first year I have thought seriously about being a father, which fills me with 50% ecstasy and 50% freaking out spasmodic oh-my-fucking-god. Mindful of how hapless haploids can be, Tessa and I always begin each sentence on the subject with “Ifwe’reluckyenoughtohavechildren, I think…”

By the way, I usually finish that sentence “…we should move to France.”

Which brings me to another way to look at 2003: The Year Everything Stayed the Same and Thus Got Worse. It has gotten to the point where I can’t discuss politics anymore, can barely stand to think of it. While we were writing “13th-GEN,” Neil and Bill predicted that I would become more conservative as I grew older, and, ten years later, I am pleased (and frustrated) to report that I am ten times the leftist commie anarchist bastard I was at 25.

It seemed for a while, for a brief opalescent flicker, that the Democrats might be able to present a challenge to the Forces of Mordor currently running the country – but each day that seems like more of a distant dream. The media has fallen in lockstep, calling Howard Dean “angry,” “a loose cannon,” “unprincipled,” “too smart” or “short,” or worse, “a loser.” Americans are dumb, and part of why they’re dumb is that they hate people they think are losers. And god knows what blue crack Kerry is smoking – it’s like he trying to give the election to Bush.

It doesn’t matter anyway. As a progressive liberal, all this wrangling is so much re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. I think we all know, in our heart of hearts, that we are stuck with the Republicans not just in 2004, but probably 2008 as well. This is a fatigue-filled defeat that will define this year as well.

There is a bright spot – Massachusetts has set the stage for gay marriage. It’s a small victories you have to relish when so much else is so awful.

Small victories are also what we had with the Pink House movie this year. Although we were blindsided by a betrayal already documented on these pages, we had three screenings of the rough cut that went over exceptionally well, given the circumstances. I know we have a movie in there, waiting to leap out. This is the third year of our struggle to see it happen. Please give us 2004, O Lord. We’ve earned it.

And so have all of you. I hope you say goodbye to 2003 with much fanfare, and like me, tell it not to let the door hit its ass on the way out.

0 thoughts on “MMIII

  1. jody kuhne

    Funny you should mention kids and being conservative in the same blog- Kids seem to be the biggest instigator of the rightward shift; not necessarily at a Bush level, but definitely at the local politics, where you live, stay away from weird people (that is, even types you formerly may have sought out), etc. level. You become interested in sidewalk improvements, schools and property taxes as opposed to funding non-profits and shelters. After dealing with daycare regs, hundreds of buckled safety devices, toy warnings, airbag warnings and so on, it has pushed me into the way right realm of the libertarians where you can smoke a bowl and let your kids get hurt on a set of metal monkey bars- if you can find metal monkey bars…
    Anyway, with Code Orange, helicopter gunships and 50,000 officers, be sure to go to Times Square and ‘go about your normal routine’- and for Bush’s sake: Spend Some Money!
    Happy New Year!

  2. Michelle Mrozkowski

    I understand all about how in looking back one can feel a sort of self-humiliation. I remember protesting the first Gulf War. I remember marching down Franklin Street and even burning my bra in 1991. A few years later, mid-nineties, I thought “how absurd, what an idiot I was, so uninformed.” There I was, all grown up, working for the man and I was making a decent living. I could eat sushi on Fridays and didn’t have to walk to work. I paid my bills on time and practiced safe sex. I even belonged to a gym and had Spice Girl-style highlights put in my hair every six weeks. But deep down there was a self-loathing that was deeper even that of my precarious, bra burning, cholestrol and alcohol-induced comas of my early twenties. The mid-nineties were to me the era of the sell out, a type of soul death.
    When I was 28, my childhood sweetheart and I ran into each other in Greensboro and within months we had moved in together, were engaged, and were incredibly in love.
    They always tell kids these stories that once the lovers find each other they are “happily ever after,” and that puts the hugest mind-f@#$ on us as young adults as anyone could imagine. My life had been CAKE until I got married. This was one damn thing that I couldn’t just walk away from, at least not easily. Here was this person that I had to put up with– good, bad, and ugly. That was incredibly hard. It was nearly unbearable.
    So we had a child. And in our little infant, I could see the most wonderful qualities of both of us. A beautiful little perfect boy with charm and grace.
    This morning, my son Wyatt lept into a cascade of “No”s and “Me me me”s as he refused to let me dress him for school. He was adamant that he would go only in a diaper. I would put on a sock and he would pull it off and scream at me. On the drive to school he continued to scream at me from the back seat so I said simply and loudly, “Shut YOUR MOUTH!” And he did, folks. That was the first time I yelled at him in his life and it scared him into silence. Wyatt: 2 million, Mommie: 1.
    So I think that 2003 has been for me the most awful wonderful struggle of my life. It was the time when I raised a baby into a toddler, carved out a life for my family in a destitute area of America, and gave my family so much support and love that they had better never cut me out of the Will.
    I’m a grown up. And I’ll vote for Howard Dean even if it looks like Bush will win. I might even burn one of my nursing bras.

  3. steph

    you 3 have been so reflective. I was hoping for the opportunity to look forward to those nasty ol’ resolutions we tend to make. For instance, please help me with my diet-cokaholism and incessant watching of Friends re-runs. Michelle M., thanks for sharing Mommyhood tales, I am right there with ya. I used to scoff at people who counted their kids’ ages in months but now I know… month 14 is so different from month 16a nd so on. The best thing I learned this year is that yelling at your toddler for flinging his dinner plate off his highchair doesn’t have much impact. He just continues to discover and I decided to concede to that (FOR NOW!) So what if he dumps milk over lasagna and sprinkles it with peas and carrots. Maybe I am the one who didn’t realize it’s a true delicacy. And oh yeah, 2003 was the year I decided that I wouldn’t put up with being bullied in the workplace.

  4. Ian

    Jody! Great to hear from you! And Michelle M and Steph as well!
    y’all aren’t making it any easier- I’m already scared sans shit about the idea of kids.
    I’m in my 440th month, and it is definitely different from my 438th.

  5. Greg

    Count one more vote for parenthood from someone on the other side…
    My son is almost 19 months now and every day brings another marvel. Watching him learn how things work, hearing him ask you for something when you didn’t realize he knew the words, feeling his hugs (when he is in a good mood!) have all been great. The diapers are no big deal and you get used to them after the first couple of months. Sleep’s overrated and you rediscover what you knew all too well in college – you can operate just fine on 2 (4, 6) hours sleep. The rewards of raising a child and preparing their way in the world are greater than you ever anticipate.
    The one thing I remember hearing when my wife was pregnant was that “You have no idea how much this will change your life” I, naturally, read and assumed I had a good feel for it, but the reality is that statement is incredibly true. It changes your perspective, your schedule, and your priorities, and you love it.
    Go for it!
    PS, I just re-read what I wrote and have decided I really don’t care about the grammar, so I’m adding this disclaimer rather than actually fix anything.

  6. skippy

    I’m now 35. It’s official.
    I had ideas- hopes, dreams, and so on….. then – without warning – I turn 35. Wow. What happened? where did the time go?
    I figured by now, I would be married, have children, the 2.5 kids and 3.5 cars… or is it the other way around? doesn’t matter.
    I guess, on looking at my life – I am one of those overachievers. I work too hard. I have gained success because I work hard. No matter what…. but that leaves little time for personal goals….
    All my friends, acquaintances, and so on – they have moved on – most have children – some have successful marriages – others are divorced. Some are still married – they say it’s successful, I say different, but whatever floats your boat.
    See – I figured by this time – I would be married. Only there is one major problem. I want to be for love…. I see too many marriages end because people just don’t get it…. “I got married because it was time”…. “I knew him from before, and thought it would be good…” …. ” I wanted to be part of something larger than myself, and so I did”.
    but – personally – there is only one reason – for love. Period. The aforementioned quotes (all of them from people I know) – not a SINGLE ONE said the words “spouse, husband, wife, love” in the reason for getting married.
    Perhaps I am too hard on people. Perhaps I hold them to a higher standard than should be expected from common people. I live up to my own standard, and it’s not easy – so I understand when the common man/woman can’t live up to my standard (I don’t ask anything of anyone that I wouldn’t be willing/able to do myself).
    Is settling for second best giving up your dream? That is for you to decide.
    For me – my decision is: second best is second best – live the dream – when reaching for the stars, there is a long way to fall….. nothing worthwhile is without great risk…..
    Enjoy what life you have – too many people live on this planet, not IN it…. become the best human being you can possibly be….. and never stop believing.


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