I’m passing up plans to chill at ‘art parties’ in Brooklyn tonight so that I can enjoy a calm night at home with Beatles Rock Band and my niece. I’d rather not celebrate the passage of time. I hope that 2010 brings about all of the changes I desperately need. It’s a nice even number. It provides a superficial place to grab onto and leverage psychologically, even if the laws of nature have no respect for our little numbering systems or our geographical landmarks. Last week, half of the town was blanketed by a few inches of snow, and as I drove to work only seven minutes away, the ground was clear.

Let’s reassess 2009. It started out pretty awesome. I was earning twice as much as I ever had, employed at a few different websites and being paid handsomely for my writing. I was making strides at paying back my student loans.

On Valentine’s day, I was in a cab in the middle of Manhattan, wrapped in a coat, a scarf and way too many bags, reporting from the annual Toy Fair with Brian. The phone rang (at this point, I think I was still with my ‘Birdhouse in Your Soul’ ringtone), and it was Amberly. She had just broken up with her boyfriend. A few weeks later, we met up in the city and she kissed me in the middle of Toys ‘R’ Us. We held hands and it was nice to see someone run up to you through the Grand Central crowds, excited for an embrace.

screws

A little while after that, I stepped on this. My uncle had broken an old table and left it in the garage, with these screws sticking straight up out of a board on the ground, at the bottom of a ladder. I’ve chronicled the story elsewhere, but the highlight is definitely the fact that I sprayed blood into the shower with more force than I thought humanly possible. I went into shock from sudden blood loss, and about $700 and a few months of limping around later, my foot still hurts when it’s cold or wet out. The top of my foot, where the screw nearly exited, still sports a neat little bruise.

Then, it became clear that I had contracted mono. I started passing out at work, and having intensely tired, heavy headaches. Some people never know they have it. Others are hit by a viral freight train. I was in the latter category, so much of the year was filled with naps, leaving work early (or not going in at all), and feeling like a zombie. It is a feeling of inhuman-ness, and I was nagged by a terrible fear of going anywhere, because the overwhelming nausea and fatigue could hit at any time – like the middle of MoCCA, or a day in the city with my girlfriend. I was falling asleep everywhere, so a lot of life and living were sapped from me. I didn’t get a lot done. I was not the best person I could have been, and that upsets me.

I lost one exceptional writing job because the economy just didn’t support the website anymore, and a huge chunk of income vanished. Another job was unable to pay me, which was another few hundred dollars a month I no longer had.

My car, which I’d had on loan from the family since I’d learned to drive, finally gave up the ghost. The salted winter roads of upstate NY took their toll on the guts of the Camry and every brake line and fuel line decided to fall apart all at once due to terrible rusting – after our local mechanic took $500 to fix a problem that didn’t really exist in the first place. Somewhere in the universe, fate doesn’t realize how very little I earn.

For six months, in the middle of all of this, I had been apartment hunting in Philly with my girlfriend. We found a nice little house with off-street parking that would be all ours. We signed a lease, put down a deposit, and on a choir trip to Brazil, she cheated on me – two weeks before I was set to move in. I got my deposit back, but the only way that we’d not be legally destroyed was if we let her keep the place for herself. I still have boxes of kitchen supplies and housewares that were supposed to be in a nice little place at the edge of the ghetto in Philly. I bought kitchen knives that were in rainbow colors and had bees on them, because she wanted a colorful house, and she likes bees. A business contact sent me a dozen bottles of hot sauce because I mentioned in an article that I dreamed of lining them up along my windowsill in my house. There are a lot of broken dreams that I keep on stepping on.

Somehow, in the middle of all of this, I lost a friend whom I’d cherished for over a decade. She never told me why, and I’m not interested in the cloak and dagger drama that comes with trying to find out. I am an adherent to Occam’s Razor.

Nearly every art piece that I had sent out to shows came back destroyed by the galleries, the USPS, or a combination of both. The Spaceman toy, which I’d given my heart and soul to, was broken by the USPS on the way to Gruff House. I’ve yet to face the real damages and repair the survivors. It’s too disheartening to put so much into something to have an element that’s completely out of your control take it away from you – but that’s really the theme of this year, and my life.

2009 has been a year of false steps and false starts and severe disappointments.

I met some great people, and I reconnected with other great people. I have a second toy on the way. I’m purging years of depression that I buried in retail, and re-focusing on art. I already have plans to spend time with a few nice girls in 2010. I’ve been invited to participate in at least one art show.

In this new year, I will practice my archery more. I will learn to play at least two Ben Folds songs on the guitar. I will finish an epic project (as there are many to choose from), and two issues of Coptopus. I will find rewarding work. And if none of this happens, I will learn to be happy with myself anyhow.