Unlike recent pieces, this one is going to be relatively short. It is now, suddenly, the Christmas break–my children off from school until after the new year, my teacher wife on the same schedule, and everyone everywhere around us nestling into their more relaxed state of anxiety with the big holiday coming up.
I am not a Christian. I’m not anything, religion itself (as you can see in any number of my earlier posts) being the enemy of humanity according to me. But that does not preclude us from celebrating the genuinely festive season. We have a Christmas tree (for the children). I even chopped that motherfucker down at a local farm (it was much harder to do that I’d anticipated). It’s decorated, and the dog occasionally eats it (especially the dangling candy canes that keep going up higher and higher–the tree is almost too tall for our living room). Presents are already scattered beneath it and, while this is really our only decoration, our house looks far more cheerful than usual.
So it sounds like many other families preparing to huddle in and celebrate together, complete with the frustrations of having people over, or going away to friends and relatives, always brings upon us. There is very little sleep on Christmas day and, inevitably, many of us will venture out after having had enough to the movies, seeing any one of the variety of new films that always come out at this time of year (I know we’re going to the movies on Christmas; we just haven’t made our choice yet.)
And all this sounds good, it sounds like it should ultimately be cheerful and relaxing and fun, and give us hope to resume our everyday lives in the new year. But for how many of us is this the case? There is often a lingering hangover, a disappointment that nothing has really changed, and we ignore our New Year’s resolutions of quitting smoking or drinking or drugs, or of having more or less sex, or focusing on your career, or even being a better parent or spouse. It is crashing back to earth. Perhaps this is the deepest cause of so-called “Seasonal Depressive Disorder.”
As for me–me–like just about every year, I have a new project to undertake in January. It is a professional endeavor that will require travel, deep research, endless interviews, increasing disconnection from my family, anger, fighting, possibly even hatred and the disillusion of long-standing relationships. I suspect it will also cost me quite a bit of money, with the pay-off in the end still in question until the thing is almost done (my ambition is a Pulitzer Prize). I will mercilessly promote this work as it progresses, and I will acknowledge that I have already contacted a number of publishers, who have expressed interest. This is not my boasted about Editorial Presidential History (which is still in the works, nonetheless), but a different work that has been hovering in the background until legal barriers were surmounted, They have been. I start work in about an hour, researching and taking notes. I will now be getting a digital audio-recorder for Christmas. And warmer clothes, as I will be heading up north, on the outside fringes of the US, occasionally over the border into Canada.
Wish me luck, for I wish all of you the best possible fulfillment as the days keep coming. Since this site will likely take a hit over the next few months, I will nevertheless keep filling it up with random pieces, although only the occasional political or historical commentary (unless something happens, which it no doubt will, that requires immediate attention). No, most of this will probably just be like the notebook of the project–travels, impressions of interviewees and locations, and the unexpected and the degenerate situations I occasionally find myself in. A travel notebook, like authors of old used to publish a few years after their project was completed (or posthumously).
I will be in touch. Happy New Year and, to quote one of my favorite authors, Joseph Conrad, experiencing the last Christmas of his life and writing to a friend, “One lives too long. Happy X-Mas.”