Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ten Months and Counting

The day I put the condo on the market -- May 22, 2009 -- I ran into my massage therapist in the locker room at my gym. “What? What?” she said, staring at me with concern. I told her what was up. She said she had never seen my eyes so shiny, my face so animated.

Three months later, as I lay on the massage table in defeat, the therapist said, “I knew you couldn’t sustain that level of exhilaration. No one could. I’m not sure it’s healthy, and I’m glad you have calmed down.”

On Monday, nearly 10 months after listing the condo, I dragged in for my monthly massage. My mood was quiet, closed, sad – and I suspect my face reflected that. “It’s been almost a year,” I whined. Then I drifted off to that other planet where I always go when I have a massage.

Later that evening, I practiced coping with the fact that I may still be living in the condo on May 22, 2010. Here is what I came up with:

A year is a long time.

“My financial advisor says I can retire, but not for another year.”

“We’ll get that debt paid off, even if it takes a year.”

“Twelve months from now, everything may look different.”

A year is a short time.

“Just last year, I was still a junior.”

“Twelve months ago, we were planning the wedding, and now we’re just three months from our first anniversary!”

“Twelve months from now, everything may look different.”

A year is a long time if you count minutes and hours while looking ahead.

A year is a short time if you count seasons while looking back.

All years bring some good, some bad -- and then we characterize them.

Annus mirabilis means “year of wonders” or “wonderful year.” You remember – Frank Sinatra sang about one (“It was a very good year…”) and collected the Best Vocal Performance (Male) award in 1966.

Annus horribilis is year of a different sort. You hear people speak of those kinds of years. “Last year was terrible…”

So what defines my past year? Much mirabilis: Joel and Patricia got married. Joel and Patricia bought a house. I got to spend Christmas with them, in the house. I have been inundated with work -- wonderful work, fun projects, unexpected assignments, much glorious work.

A bit of horribilis: The Cancer Fairy blasted me again – but (mirabilis) it was tiny, it was contained and lopping off the body part did the trick, requiring no further treatment.

Also, Lee Enterprises, which owns the Post-Dispatch, decided that they didn’t mean it when they agreed to provide the free health insurance I was promised when I retired. Soon I will be asked to find $7,000 a year to pay for health insurance that was promised as free. That just about wipes out my Moving to San Francisco Fund, but thank goodness I’ve been working hard. (See mirabilis.)

Of course, this is horribilis for all 150 people who retired under the yellow contract and also has sideswiped the people who retired under the previous contract and a lot of top management retirees, as well.

Like everybody else, I had a year that offered some good and some bad. Here are the words I am hanging onto:

“You need to stop worrying about selling the condo. You have a terrific agent, and you need to let her do her job,” counseled my massage therapist. “Besides, it hasn’t been a year yet.”


  1. Nostalgia, deadlines and hopes can make for a particularly thick and fragrant soup. The picture that memory paints so often is a different story from what sparked the memory. Hope and plans, they get us out of bed and motivated beyond the morning cup of coffee. Sweet when the manifest and an endless rock in the shoe when they don't.

    Still, a year is not yet up, and there are buds on the trees!

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  3. There's a correction in the 3/20 Post-Dispatch on A2. It says that Thursday's story regarding Lee employees' health insurance "incorrectly implied that the proposal would affect existing retirees."

    Crossed fingers that the correction is correct.