A Long December

Ever since this song came out in 1996, it’s always found its way onto my winter playlist because, cockeyed optimist that I am, I always believe that “this year will be better than the last,” and with that and the right amount of alcohol, I find this somewhat mournful song cheery.  Some background…  In December of 1992, I was about to leave  Los Angeles, where I’d spent some time (my first out of Oregon) on a trial marriage that had turned out badly.  I was living in Laurel Canyon,  away from family and friends, and even any semblance of community, car-dependent as I was and “Hollywood” was the closest thing I had to call my neighborhood.

Despite its millions of inhabitants, L.A. is one of the loneliest places on earth; life’s greatest triumphs and tragedies are more than likely to occur in one’s car as the palm-dotted urban blight rolls past like the scenery in a dystopian Fred Flintstone cartoon.  The fact that it’s sunny and 70 at Thanksgiving is cold comfort indeed, when few bother to enjoy it anymore as they run themselves ragged trying to keep up with the daunting costs, both financial and spiritual, of living in a place never meant for human habitation and, like New York, overpopulated with rich celebrities and the social corrosion and inequity they always produce.

On Christmas Day I put the pedal to the metal (traffic was unusually light) to get out of there and go home, and I’ve never regretted it.  Unfortunately, no matter where we lived, neither Counting Crows nor I could point to any evidence that, since 1996 anyway, “this” year ever turned out to be better than the last; it’s been kind of downhill from there by any measure.  Who can forget the impeachment, the 2000 elections, September 11, the “War on Terror,” the 2004 elections, “impeachment is off the table,”  FISA, and Hope and Change turning, inexorably, into neither.  The list goes on…  No year of the last fifteen has been anything but worse.  But as I always say, the only thing you can control about this situation is your attitude.

As the New Year dawns, I look somewhat guiltily to the fact that, for me at least, business is good (though it may never return to Boom levels), I’m back in the town that I love, and though it’s colder than a witch’s tit, at least it isn’t raining sideways, and I do have furs.  More broadly, the so recently ascendant “small government” crowd has already been laid low by its ineptitude at handling a few global warming-induced blizzards, is cracking up over letting “teh ghey” invade CPAC, and is headed for an epic FAIL in uniting its corporatists and populists once in power.

There is a possibility, however slim, that “this year will be better than the last,” and I’m holding onto it.   Stranger things have happened.


  1. I admire your optimism CH. As that great American sage, Oprah Winfrey, once said:

    “Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”

    • cocktailhag says:

      I guess the best thing to hope for is to get it right, personally, and hope the debris from the mess others are busily making doesn’t land on your head. Happy New Year, Steven.

  2. avelna says:

    I too admire your optimism and sincerely hope that you’re right. Unfortunately I’m thinking that the title to your last post probably best describes that optimism.

  3. mikeinportc says:

    :) Just as I clicked , the CCs came on Pandora ( different song ).
    Love that song . Usually depressing, but sometimes, in the right/wrong frame of mind, it’s enjoyably depressing. Today , for instance . Just like the first warm day of spring ( then- now it’s really dark) , when just a couple days ago it was colder than the aforementioned tit, on top of the glacier. + no alcohol limit , as no work tomorrow. (Not that I ever approach any kind of limit anymore – damned grindstone – gets in the way of everything [& my nose is gettin' kinda short ;) ])

    I keep hoping for better, but not at the big-picture level . Just too depressing . ( Not that I mean to quit trying, or urge anyone else to .)

    • cocktailhag says:

      CC’s are a guilty pleasure of mine…. I like “Sullivan Street” and “Anna Begins” even better. I too find that I’m too tired most nights to drink as much as I should. Happy New Year, Mike.

  4. retzilian says:

    Well, the year started off pretty bleak, I had been unemployed for 7 months by that time, living on my Discover Card and my Chase Visa and $500 a week in unemployment, barely able to pay my heat bills and my only luxuries were watching movies, drinking decent coffee and buying cigarettes. But then I got a job.

    So, ironically, it turns out I made more this year, even with 4 months of unemployment, than I have since 1994, maybe even more. It would be the most money I ever made in my life. I might not even get a big refund from the IRS this year, although I probably won’t have to pay them anything.

    World-news wise, the year sucked, of course. But, at least I can eat, my children had a good Christmas, and eveyone is healthy. It’s the little things.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Great comeback, Retz…. I bet you were nervous as a whore in church as 2010 dawned. I just finished the floors at the penthouse (move-in next weekend, but I’ll still be painting final wall coats and hanging light fixtures after that…); it was touch and go but I made it. TWO, count ‘em, two, other owners in the building me are already nagging me to work for them, so it looks like for the first time since 2007 I can start telling people I’m six months out, as I prefer. Whether I’ll ever hit that income level again, however, I doubt. So good for you, and happy New Year, too. Let’s talk again soon.

  5. nancy says:

    Since you’ve been busy working (good to hear), you probably missed the news piece in the Seattle Times today about the premiere of an indie movie titled “Portlandia”. The subtitle is something like “where young people go to retire”. It had me chuckling all day. Hope your project has gone well.


    • cocktailhag says:

      Ah, Portlandia, herself, is just a few blocks from CHNN, and a lot of the characters sound spot on, which is partly why I don’t wear my furs as much as I’d like….
      I finally got a new post up… The owners move in Friday, and they will have floors, woodwork, doors, working bathrooms, carpet, and whatnot. As always, whew.
      Pictures in a week or so.