I started the new year with half my family present for ham and black-eyed peas. I had not been able to give the Frisco Alters their Christmas gifts until today so that was fun--I apparently scored with Maddie with a book that I thought was really sophisticated for her age but she badly wanted. It's a beautifully designed, partly graphic novel titled The Invention of Henry Cabrolet. Edie got a huge map of the world puzzle and had it all put together right after dinner. When she decided it was time to go home, she began organizing everyone's belongings. Both girls got small secondary gifts--things that had come my way one way or another but not through purchase--and Edie was almost more intrigued with her SPCA fuzzy blanket than she was the puzzle. We had a happy evening, and Jacob loved playing with his cousins, though Maddie snuck off some to the back room to read her book. A little after eight, Jacob made it plain he was ready to go home, drink his milk, and go to sleep, so now they are all gone. Mel had done most of the dishes for me, which was a boon, and I finished up the few left and am settled at my desk.
Last night I didn't exactly welcome the new year in. As I have for many years, I stayed home and treated it as an ordinary night, so by midnight I was sound asleep. But staying home on New Year's Eve, plus having to write a self evaluation for my boss, are both good occasions to reflect on the year past. I think one of the big lessons I learned is that in my office I am the boss, and I need to be less conciliatory and more of a decision maker. Recently, when I was faced with a difficult decision, Melinda said to me, "Make it a business decision." And although it may be late in the game, I'm learning to do that. For most of the year, my resolution to succeed at writing mysteries was strong, but it sort of went by the wayside the last couple of months. Certainly I have learned a whole lot, some of it most disconcerting, about the mystery publishing world--so different from the academic atmosphere in which I spend my days. In 2008 I shared some wonderful times with family and friends, even if my trip to Scotland didn't happen. And turning 70 was a major milestone for me--good because I feel I don't look or act seventy (okay, if my kids are reading this there are some major exceptions) but still I am aware that 70 puts you clearly into the senior citizen category. It's hard for me to believe that I am 70 and have a son who will be 40 this year. Good heavens! Where did those years go?
2008 was of course an unsettling year for people everywhere--wars, high gas prices, then falling gas prices with a failing economy, bizarre weather, you name it. But like most of the country, I look to 2009 with optimism. Poor President-elect Obama--I think we all expect him to work magic that cannot be worked. But I do believe he'll set us on the right path, and I hope Americans will realize that our various crises cannot be solved in an instant. What do I want for myself? More good time with family and friends (the family is already talking about a ski trip next Christmas). Success for TCU Press and opportunities to take advantage of challenges we're now missing because we're overworked. And, yes, I want to see my mystery accepted and published. And, a biggie for me, I want to lose 20 lbs. If Lisa could do it, so can I. I don't feel fat but the numbers on the scale horrify me. Having been so skinny for much of my early life ("Judy, dear, can you eat a little more"), I find it hard to see myself as overweight--but I am. So like every new year, 2009 brings challenges, hopes, wishes, and maybe something unexpected and wonderful.
I wish that for all of you.