where wildly different is perfectly normal
Don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya
Don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya

Don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya

Usually on New Year’s Eve Day I’m nostalgic for the year about to end, remembering the good days and hoping I’d done right by my time on the earth. Not yesterday. Much like 2011, 2023 can fuck right off and just keep on fuckin’. Unlike that gawdawful year (that bled into the better part of 2012), at least now I have hard-won coping mechanisms and a healthy respect for the importance of self-care. Oh, and older kids. It’s been a ride, yo. And while there were definitely some wonderful moments, overall I have to give this, The Year Of Our Panic 2023, a solid D-. Not gonna fail it because then it’d have to be repeated, but I’m definitely kicking it out the door and chucking all its belongings out the second story window to the front lawn while screaming profanities loud enough to wake the dead. How rough was it? My ability to poke fun at the year has deflated; go read that linked post above and you’ll see what I mean.

I’ve been in pain nearly all year. My TMJ decided this spring was the perfect time to spark, grab my tinder-dry stress levels, and blaze into a cranial fire of hellish proportions. It hurt to eat, drink, sleep, talk, laugh, think, breathe…you get the idea. I played a concert in that state, no idea how. My usual mitigations weren’t touching it so muscle relaxants and a high-powered NSAID were called to service. Thank you for your service, boys. They’ve been keeping the worst of it at bay while I keep hunting for answers. They didn’t, however, do a damned thing when I threw my back out in August. What did I do, you may ask? I returned a cart to the cart corral. In the space of 20 seconds I went from fine to praying to be hit by a car and put out of my misery. It’s better-ish now, but only ish. It’d be much better if I remembered to do the PT exercises.

That went down when we were with Andy for his surgery. Yes, my eldest child did a header over his e-bike while at college and blew out his elbow. I’ll spare you the stomach-churning X-ray, but you know the lil’ nubbin at the tip of your elbow? Yeah, that was forcibly removed from its preferred location and shoved north to hang out with the humerus, which he found anything but. A cable, two bolts, and a gnarly scar later it’s back to whatever passes for normal around here.

I wrote nothing this year, barely even journaled. I think the only writing I did was my dad’s obituary. It was appreciated by many and I hope he would have loved it. Parkinson’s Disease is a rat bastard (and goddamned right I swore in the obit; I wanted to share my cry of FUCK PARKINSON’S but managed to refrain). His last days were full of love and family but my god they were hard. So ungodly hard.

2023 wasn’t all pain and misery. I turned 50, which wasn’t pain and misery but a surprise; I don’t look nor act that age, even as I feel double that number some days. Helps that my inner child is a 12-year-old boy. Tom and I took our first non-business-trip vacation since 2006. Yosemite is stunning, and this year the waterfalls were even more so because of the massive snowpack from last winter. I’d return in a heartbeat.

Last month we adopted a dog, Lemon. The shelter said she was around two; the vet, trainer, and I all laugh and laugh at that. Miss Lemmie is, at best, a year and a half old. She’s an Anatolian Shepherd/Great Pyrenees mix, very sweet, still very much a puppy. The list of items to fall to her puppyness include: her dog bed, her leash, her harness, the zipper from the body pillow on our bed, both decorative pillow covers on our bed, my sleep mask, my crappy outdoor gardening shoes, a section of the garden bed, her crate, a Swiffer dusting wand, one of my many lip balms, the carpet, and the arm of one of the couches. I’m sure there’s more I’ve blocked out. I am her person until Jack is in the room, then she gives me a guilty look as she snuggles into his lap. I still miss Rosie, our first pup, but LemonHead is perfection despite the destruction left in her wake.

Just as the 2023 finish line came into focus Tom contracted Covid for the third time; I’ve still not gotten it KNOCK WOOD LIGHT A CANDLE I AM NOT TEMPTING FATE HERE. He’s doing better now but Christmas was a low-key, masked, nuclear family only affair. And because the third time is the charm except when it comes to a highly virulent global virus I’m now on the lookout for (godforbid) Long Covid and/or longterm health effects.

Last night I barely made it to midnight…east coast time. Lemon kept trying to herd us upstairs, confused as to why we weren’t moving. She eventually fell asleep on her couch, the one she “redecorated.” I napped until the clock clicked over to 12:00, clinked glasses with Tom, swallowed my sparkling wine in a couple gulps, and crawled my exhausted ass into bed. Sure didn’t end the year strong, just ended the year. Again, improved coping mechanisms and a finely developed gallows humor.

So what’s on deck for 2024? At about 10:45 last night I stumbled across the theme that best describes the perspective I crave: Fix The Vibe. What will that look like? I’ve been in a rough place for a long time now, despite meds and a therapist and strong coping skills and supportive friends and family. Fix the Vibe. I deeply miss writing, though it may not all continue here but at Substack (gifted writing will return, will live here always). Fix the Vibe. We’re staring down an unexpectedly expected kitchen/entire first floor renovation, thanks to disintegrating tile floors and a fuster of clucks set in motion by the builder 28 years ago. Fix the Vibe. Until last week I was down 15 pounds from mid-August; I say until last week because lo how I’ve said pfffft to healthy habits since Christmas Eve. I have another 50 pounds to get to where a doctor doesn’t give me side-eye and say all my problems are due to weight. Fix the Vibe. My career is taking off, much to my delight and surprise, and I’m grateful to love what I do. Appreciate the Vibe.

A Happy, Peaceful, and ENTIRELY BORING New Year to you and yours. Thank you for sticking around. Let us walk confidently yet quietly and calmly into this year, be excellent to one another, and leave it better than we found it.


  1. Pamela Kranz

    Wow, sounds like a tough one for you. I’m sorry. Personally, I think the whole New-Year-New-Life thing is highly overrated. It leads to mediocrity and potential disappointment.

    Regarding your TMJ, I HIGHLY recommend looking into Tibetan Cranial Therapy. (https://tibetancranial.org )That is not the same as Cranial Sacral work. I think you’re in Chicago so I recommend contacting Philae Amenti. She’s a TC teacher/practitioner. It shows she lives in Austin on the website, but is in the process of moving to a small town close to Chicago and travels back and forth for the time being. (https://tibetancranial.org/practitioner-apprentice-directory/ ) Susan, in St. Paul, is also good.

    I know you used to live in the Denver Metro area. Shar Lee, the TC lineage holder, is in Longmont and there are practitioners all over the Denver Metro area. Check out the website (listed above). I really think it can help you.

    If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them or point you to a person who does the work. My son was a practitioner (he passed away in 2021), and I am still close to the community.) I would write to you personally, but I don’t have your contact info, so this will have to do. Good luck. Stay the course (isn’t that what we’re really trying to accomplish?). Pam

Whaddya think?

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