The less said about this year the better.
Which is one reason I haven't said much this year.
The Breadbin has reduced its output by about half. One reason has been a deep lassitude that has pervaded my life in 2012; another has been a striking lack of anything good to write about (and as we were all taught, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all). Low-grade stress has been a constant companion, both personally and in the wider world, and for much the same reason: uncertainty. I'm a person who would much rather hear bad news, even the worst news, than no news at all, and 2012 has been very much a "holding pattern" kind of year, a "through a glass, darkly" sort of year.
The entire year has been a study in low-grade, carefully stoked media panic. The stock market has gone up and down, by my count, exactly 4783 times due to the Euro debt crisis and 3196 times due to the so-called 'fiscal cliff'. I've learned to discount the wild swings, convinced that each undulation is skillfully orchestrated by those who can profit from it, but the oscillations are felt far outside the cloistered world of the upper crust. This is, incidentally, something the upper crust consistently fails to grasp.
The constant up/down cycle of hope/fear, for me at least, provokes two likewise contradictory emotions: anger...and boredom. Wake me up when you people decide to stop manipulating my world, okay?
The uncertainty is everywhere. Will there or won't there be an NHL season? I'm far from alone in not giving a puck anymore; the lockout negotiations have been conducted with exactly the same cynicism that suffuses the stock market. Fans--who ultimately pay the freight for both NHL owners and players--are seen as nothing more than pawns, and I refuse to be anyone's pawn. If that means I can't be a fan anymore, so be it.
When will the world end? Your guess is as good as Mayan. Some people thought it would go poof when Romney was elected; some others are sure it has ended now that Obama's back. But the December 21st big boom failed to materialize. Another apocalypse stunningly averted. The mere fact that so many people took such a transparently hokey prediction seriously was deeply dismaying. (Greer notes that most of the people feeding the frenzy acted themselves as if nothing would happen on December 21...more cynicism.) But NASA fielded hundreds of distressed letters, some of which detailing proposed mass suicides, all because the world was coming to an end. Just as it did in 2000 and several times since. Do people have no memory?
Cynicism. Manipulation. Lovingly cultivated fear. Kids massacred in their kindergarten, and we're told it's because there aren't guns in schools. No wonder I've withdrawn from the world a tad in 2012.
There have been bright spots: of course there have. It took me about four years at FreshCo to feel the same level of comfort with the people that I feel here in a little over one. I freely admit I have carried, and will carry, a torch for the store I left--there are many good people there I fiercely miss. But there are good people here, too, and I'm now at the point where I look forward to seeing them each day. I've taken some tentative strides towards turning an online friendship into a real-world friendship, with promising results: for a man like me who doesn't make friends easily, this is news. Eva and I marked 12 years, and I am still in awe of this woman I married. In awe of, and in love with. Life, within the four walls of this Breadbin, is still moving along, mostly, as it should.
Mostly. Eva lost her dad to cancer this past year: that loss, and the manner of it, will reverberate for years to come. Some good has come out of it, not the least of which is that Eva has quit smoking once and for all. But a world without John Hopf in it is a world deprived. While life of course goes on, it does so under protest.
2013 is going to be an eventful year here. For one thing, I'm going back to school. More on that later in January. It will be a year of personal transformation: a pivot-point from the life I have lived--as lovely as it has been--to the life I really want to live. Because when the world is pumping cynicism at you, you have to respond with hope. And when you feel used, it's time to use yourself.
Happy New Year to all. Here's to 2013: may it be everything for you that it will be for us.