So today we are sending out the last of the Christmas cards, some of them with a letter enclosed, and it occurred to me that all four or five of my readers out there might be interested in our Yearly Recap, too. Hell, it took me a WHOLE DAY to write:
At this house, our motto for Christmas letters is “All the news that fits, we print,”
but we still pledge to keep it relatively short. For 2007, this will be no problem
because, frankly, there are a few stretches of 2007 you wouldn’t want to hear a
The bad news first. Tracy underwent some ECT treatments last winter for a severe depressive episode and we’ll spare you the details because, actually, we don’t remember them. ECT is known for doing a number on one’s memory of recent events, so it’s been a year of surprises: outfits we don’t remember buying, e-mail correspondents we don’t remember having met… On the plus side, it also wiped out the memory of several really bad Disney movies, and it helped Tracy recover. ECT is very effective that way—but then, amputation is effective on gangrene, too, and there are good reasons why neither treatment has ever really caught on. Still, while humans can’t sprout grow new limbs, they can and do grow new brain cells. It was a long haul, but we are pleased to report that things are now back to what passes for normal around here. Work-wise, Tracy has several projects going: you’ll see her in the Civil War Times soon, she’s working on something for the NYU Law Journal which will involve traveling to The Hague to interview an eminent judge who sits on the World Court, the paperback edition of her book came out this summer, and there may be another book idea out there somewhere. Life goes on.
In extraterrestrial news, David’s working on a NASA project that would, if funded by the Powers that Be, map the universe’s distribution of Dark Energy. What is Dark Energy? you ask, to which the brightest minds at NASA would answer: We dunno. All scientists know is that it is a mysterious force which accounts for about 25 percent of the energy in the universe, and it is, like, totally awesome, dude: it sends stars careening around galaxies, it can bend space and time, and it keeps that donkey kid in back of you kicking your seat for the entire duration of a trans-Atlantic flight. The official name for the project is ADEPT (Advanced Dark Energy Physics Telescope), but around here we just call it The Map of Where Is, Is.
On the kid front: Rebecca is now 11, making her officially a ‘Tween, and so we have been introduced to the Great Big Honkin’ Attitude years. Not that Rebecca has ever lacked an Attitude, but up to now she had not brought it to bear on clothing. All that changed when she and Tracy went shopping for back-to-school clothes this year, and Tracy’s idea of fashion (subdued things with interchangeable components) fell victim to Rebecca’s fashion vision (spangles, sparkles, sequins and drapey things cut on the bias, all in hues unknown to nature). Compared to this kid, Porter Waggoner would have looked like a funeral director. Well, okay, maybe that’s exaggerating a bit, but still: you see the potential for conflict. Rebecca is also deeply into the Cat Warriors books, and can diagram all the cat clans and interconnections thereof for anybody who displays the faintest interest, as well as for lots of people who don’t. (Our advice: don’t.) She has also caught the Horse Virus from her Aunt Nonny, and as any parent knows, “adolescent girl” + “horse” = “second mortgage,” so thanks a lot, sis. Rebecca takes riding lessons once a week at a nearby stable, where, besides learning how to ride, she is also learning to work with an implement known as a “pitchfork.” Our hope is that not only will she learn some horsemanship but that her expertise may someday transfer to using implements known as a “yard rake,” a “mop” and a “broom.”
Suzanne started first grade this year and has already won two professions of love from little boys in her class, which puts her one up on mommy at the same age. But then, Suzanne has these adorable freckles, which gives her an unfair advantage. She is a bundle of spontaneous bursts of enthusiasm (told for the fourth time to get out of the bathtub one night, she replied, “Okay, Mommy, but first I have to DO THE WET NAKED DANCE YEAH! YEAH! YEAH! BABY!!”—and there went another 10 minutes) and non-stop creative energy. At home, this means piles of paper, markers, paint, clay and other art projects in various stages of completion all over the place. At school, this recently resulted in a phone call from the vice principal informing Tracy that Suzanne and an unnamed male co-conspirator had been thwarted in their plan to tie each other up during recess. Suzanne has been banned from even touching a jump rope until after the first of the year; fortunately, the school supply list does not include "whips" or "chains." Otherwise, she keeps us busy with Inscrutable Questions (“Who invented broccoli?” and “How dark is pink?”are a sample) and creative manglings of common expressions (notably, “Fruit of the Loo,” which Tracy is thinking of marketing in the U.K. as a new brand of toilet paper).
No exotic vacations this year; we spent ours this summer a whole 100 miles from the house, at a mountain cabin in the Shenandoah Valley, where we went to a county fair (lots of fun, and who knew pigs could be so squeaky clean?), spent the day at a water park, did a bit of hiking (which prompted another Inscrutable Question, this from Rebecca: “Why is the Appalachian Trail so steep?”), and learned that a tiny little mountain chalet is way too small for three high-maintenance females and one outnumbered husband/father about two millimeters from the end of his rope. The kids had a blast; Tracy and David survived.
So that’s the year. And now that we think about it, it hasn’t been dull at all. Really: how many people get to map the universe? Or get paid for putting words on paper, for pete’s sake? So, as usual, once we look at the big picture we realize the good vastly outweighs the bad, and that goes triple since the recent pathology report came back marked "benign." (See previous posts.) Compared to 99 percent of the world, we are filthy rich; by any measure, we are incredibly blessed. We hope this finds all of you similarly situated. Merry Christmas.