Thursday, January 2, 2014

Thoughts on Transitioning to a New Year

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," a famous scribbler once said and that about sums up my thoughts on 2013. I've been going through a little psychological crisis as I face 2014, my first full year of retirement and the year that I feel immensely pressured into deciding how I'd like to proceed with the rest of my life. After all, one can only work out, walk, and play tennis for so long. There comes a time when a person who's always contributed to society in her own small way feels the tug to do so once again. It turns out that sitting down and reading for hours at a time is NOT for sissies!

2013 was a mixed bag of blessings and strains. Retiring in the middle of the year and embarking on a whirlwind series of trips and moves gave me the false sense that I was only on vacation. Always in the background as I celebrated retirement was the worry for my brother who entered the new year with a serious illness to confront.

Now, as we enter 2014, it appears that the worst may miraculously be behind him and that I'll need to buckle down and write with more purpose than ever before. The problem is that I seem to have lost my ability to latch onto the bon mot, the perfect word or phrase that captures the essence of the novel, film or play that I want to tout. I've been so wrapped up in numbers - can I read 110 books this year? 144? - that I've failed to give some of them the attention that they deserve. I hate that my vocabulary and passion seem to be deserting me now when I need them the most.

My friend Don has gone out of his way to try to reignite the flame. For Christmas he surprised me with a sophisticated recording system in hopes that I would try making a podcast or a YouTube video to excite my book-loving audience. What do you think? Have I got what it takes? Can I become the next Nancy Pearl? I'll let you know how that works out.

Right now? Back to the porch and the first book of the new year, The Echo from Dealey Plaza by Abraham Bolden, a memoir from the first African American to serve on the White House detail during the Kennedy administration. It's an appalling story of corruption in the Secret Service and one wonders, after Obama's detail had to be disciplined during their time in South America, if the government had come anywhere near to fixing the blatant problems that seem to continue unabated in this supposedly elite group.

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