Things I Was Grateful for in 2020

Yeah, it was the worst year in memory, and it hit most of us very hard. However, at the end of each year and the beginning of the next, I try to remind myself that the world didn’t end (although we came close this time) and that there always seem to be a few good things somewhere in your life if you think about it or are lucky enough to have them cross your path. So here are some of mine for last year as, thank God, it disappears down the gullet of eternity:

My family. This one is a layup, I know, for any of us to thank our patient loved ones, but I am not easy to live with, and Janine and Lily make my life worthwhile.

We didn’t catch Covid-19. This one is pure selfishness but, let’s face it, we all did a dance with this invisible goddamn virus last year, and too many of us—the innocent as well as the arrogantly foolish—caught it, and too many of us died. We were overdue for another plague or pandemic, and this one tells me that our behavior as a species hasn’t changed very much since 1918, at least. Haven’t we learned anything?

Black Pumas. This one is pure joy. I discovered this band and was blown away immediately. Dear God, what a sound. They are up for a Grammy or perhaps many of them in 2021, and they sure do deserve one or many of them. You might already have heard “Colors.” If you have, that’s the Black Pumas.

Sometime Lofty Towers. The manuscript I began in 1997 as a “literary sword-and-sorcery novel” following the death of my father, and which I finally finished last year, is days away from being published through the good graces of Bob McLain at Pulp Hero Press ( I never even considered trying to find an agent for it or reach out to conventional publishers; I feel it would have been wasted effort. This novel isn’t conventional at all. But this is the best work I can do right now; I put everything I know into it; and I’m glad it’s finally going to be between covers.

Thursdays at noon. A group of us who used to work together and have since been retired or gone on to putting in our time elsewhere—Pete, Susan, Genevieve, and I—meet on Zoom each Thursday to engage in a meeting of the minds. We talk about anything we want to, we not infrequently crack each other up, and in general we keep each other company intelligently and pleasantly the way we did when we worked together over the years. This one hour a week helps to keep us sane, and especially did so last year.

Getting back in touch with Sheldon. Shel and I have known each other since the fourth grade. After college, we stayed in touch for years. Then things went quiet for no particular reason. However, we got together again remotely last year and have been chatting on email ever since, sometimes seriously, sometimes sillily. (Sillily?) Fun fact: when Shel and I were visiting once during the holidays in the 1990s, I ventured to ask him what everyone else in high school actually thought of me then because I was someone who truly followed the beat of a different drummer. He replied with one of the best lines of all time: “We thought you were strange but not dangerous.”

Chester’s Flaming Hot Fries. I suppose I could have managed to get through viewings of the DVD complete series of Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire last year without also munching on these spicy hot pipettes of gustatory delight, but we’ll never know, will we? I have become addicted to them.

Forward! May we each have our own special pipettes of gustatory delight in 2021!

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