Friday, December 30, 2011

Reflections & Remarks on the Year Gone By (December 30, 2011)

I never imagined a year ago that 2011 would turn out to be so life-changing. It didn’t start with a bang and won’t end with a whimper. But, it was neither the best of times nor the worst. It was mostly just lousy.
One of the best days was July 9th when I was at Yankee Stadium with my two oldest friends as we witnessed Derek Jeter get his milestone 3,000th hit. Even in a great year, something that momentous would stand out.
A month later the worst day happened of the blue when I was unexpectedly fired.
I’m not making any New Year’s resolutions or harboring notions of a great leap forward, but as the autumn of my life begins, I hope winter's down the road a piece.
Don’t get me wrong, I try to maintain a positive outlook, but with the few setbacks I’ve had, that has somewhat diminished. Gratefully, in regards to the outlook, several friends have been supportive.
Since August, I’ve tried to adjust to being jobless, because finding one — or any satisfying employment — at this point in time doesn’t look promising.
Leads have been few didn’t pan out. Weeks after one interview, I learned I was rejected because I wouldn’t “fit in,” which might be interpreted as a polite — and legitimate — way to let me down easy, instead of bluntly informing me I was too old. Nonetheless, if I was hired, it would merely have provided nothing more than a daily activity to get me out of the house.
I’ve had about a dozen freelance writing/photography assignments, which have not been especially financially rewarding.
To keep my writing skills fresh, I started a blog, and though it hasn’t drawn many readers, I continue to post a new column weekly. It doesn’t matter who reads it, but, presumably, most are friends and acquaintances, not Internet surfers seeking a clever viewpoint. Nevertheless, I’ll keep posting, if only for my own satisfaction.
Furthermore, since I have anyone to proofread it, I’ve become a better editor though I tend to tweak it a bit even after it’s posted and find an error.
So, now that I’m accustomed to the bleak job picture, much like millions of others across the country, I spend more time than I prefer, planning activities, errands for the upcoming week and puttering around my apartment.
Being idle doesn’t mean being idle.
I’ve cut spending to equal my budget reduction, but also realized that keeping my brain functioning — and my body — is just as critical.
We’ve all been cautioned that to ward off Alzheimer’s disease it is vital to maintain brain activity. In that regard, I do the Daily News crossword puzzle and Jumble six mornings a week. They’re not extremely complex, but it is rewarding when I usually complete them.
The harder part is physical activity. I’ve become sedentary as I spend more time at the computer and watch more cable news by day and a few favorite programs at night. I’ve also been reading more. Before the weather got colder, I’d walk around the Marine Park oval several times a week. I’ve been doing that intermittently for well over a decade now and it stirs my endorphins and gives me a feeling of accomplishment.
Now that I’ve bared myself, to some degree, here are a few things that ticked me off in the past year.
2012 is going to be a long year — politically. Anyone who’s paid attention to domestic current events has seen the yo-yo effect that continues to dominate the Republican Party’s presidential nomination race that will likely continue until one individual is harvested to end this exhausting ordeal at the top of the news every morning.
For the last five months, unless there was a disaster or tragedy at home or abroad, cable news networks began their 24-7 time slots with “breaking news” tidbits from the Republican debates and consequent Democratic reactions.  It’s mind-numbing to watch the same news over and over. Even before the first GOP battle at the voting booth in Iowa next week, and the presidential election almost a year away, we’ve seen a dozen debates and as many lead changes for the Republican frontrunner.
Americans apathetic to the political process likely turned a deaf ear to the chaotic GOP race from the start, while political junkies, who delight in such matters, cannot seriously be looking forward to ten more months of this.
Nevertheless, this is what we’ve come to expect from our limited democratic process and relentless news coverage.
Some names I’d like to read or hear a lot less about in 2012 include any member of the Kardashian clan and the Jersey Shore gang, especially Snookie; Lindsay Lohan should go into seclusion and straighten herself out before reemerging, and, last but not least, Donald Trump.
Celebrity weddings should be ignored. From now on, unless a couple manages to reach their first anniversary, there should be a mandatory blackout because, as we’ve seen lately, that goal is scarce.
It ain’t never gonna happen while there’s apparently an avid audience for it, but I’d be thrilled with a lot less media coverage of celebrity gossip that passes for news nowadays.
And if you’re a fan of reality shows, wake up and smell the staged dramatics. When it comes to television programming, reality has truly lost its meaning. 
Went to a movie, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” for the first time in months and it was very good, from the riveting screenplay to the first-rate acting to the stylish, spot on atmosphere on screen. (However, a few members of the audience supplied an uncalled-for laugh track during terribly violent scenes – which I may provide fodder for another column.) I never read the best-seller on which the film is based, but this version, surprisingly, is much better than the European version I saw on DVD. Due to graphic scenes depicting sadism and murder, which are key plot points, this ain’t a date movie.  I anticipate the sequel and plan on reading the second book in Stieg Larsson’s trilogy early next year.
Well, that’s my final column for 2011. I wish my regular and occasional readers a happy and healthy New Year. And if prosperity also comes your way, that’s great.
Thanks for reading!