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The End of the Decade

So. Here it is the last day of the year, and there are two problems: (1) I have a bunch of Book Reports to do, and (B) I don’t know what they are. You see, I left the little thumb drive at my desk when I left the office a week ago, and the list was in a file on that drive. Silly of me? Yes. But there it is.

I do, as it happens, have enough memory to come up with a list of five or so unreported books. So I could spend the afternoon whipping through them. On the other hand, I am in a lovely house on a lovely day with some lovely family, and I may have better things to do. And the reports would, I hope, be better if I wait and spend some time on them. So I think I’m going to put them off, and then backdate them to today, so when I do my End of the Year List, I have the rightish numbers.

That’s more or less a warning that things will be slow here for a few days, and then look like they weren’t. As well as a general wish for a Happy New Year.

And while I’m thinking about Happy New Years, I have to ask if anybody else feels sort of, well, guilty about having had quite a good year and quite a good decade? I mean, yes, in the Big Picture, this was a nasty decade for a variety of reasons, and the year has been absolutely brutal in a bunch of ways, but very little of that affected my comfort and pleasure, except that I read about it and groused about it, and frankly enjoyed doing it, much of the time. In my life, I had two lovely children, lived in some interesting and pleasant places, read a lot of good books, ate a lot of good food, listened to very good music, had wonderful conversations with wonderful people, got to do theater again and had a lot of fun doing it, created this Tohu Bohu, bought a house in which I live quite comfortably, and just basically had a really good decade.

I wasn’t drafted to fight in the horrible wars, and almost nobody I know has had to fight in them or die in them. I distantly know a few people who were killed or hurt or bereaved by the destruction of the World Trade Center, but the terrorism thing had a very small direct effect on my personal life, as did the Katrina thing, climate change, the Bush administration, the financial collapse, etc, etc, etc.

In point of actual fact, I am one of those affluent, well-educated, middle-class, comfortable white suburbanites who is insulated from a lot of terrible things in the world (so long as they don’t actually happen on my block or to my immediate family). You know? Maybe you are, too. And it’s good for me to remember that, now and then. But when I read about the lousiness of the year and of the decade, I feel like I have to add that of course, for me personally it was pretty cushy. And I feel sheepish about that, as if not only should I have done more out of my own comfort to ameliorate the misery of others (which is certainly true) but also it would have helped, somehow, had I not escaped misery myself (which is not). Still, there it is. I hope the next decade will be as good for everybody else as this last one has been for me.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,