There Is No Cat

As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

One, two, three, four

Liz Lawley suggests counting our blessings as the year comes to an end. Normally, as a year exits, I'm cursing on its way out, particularly with the kind of years I had in 2001 and 2002. But 2003 turned out to be probably the best year of my life. I'm hoping 2004 builds on the great things that happened this year rather than being steps backward like 2001 and 2002 were. So here goes.

I started out the year unmarried. Not that that made a significant difference, since my fiancee and I were utterly committed to each other and had been together for a long time. Still, 2003 was the year we finally got married, six and a half short years after I first asked her. Of all the things and people in my life, I am most grateful for the lovely woman who agreed to be my wife. Those rotten years would have been unbearable without her; the good ones like the one just ending are even better with her.

Getting married meant gaining an extra set of parents. And that played a big part in the second huge change in my life this year. Early in the year, Laura said she wanted to buy a house this year. I was a lot less eager; I wanted to wait a year or two until we could put together the down payment. But late in the year, an opportunity came our way that was just too good to pass up; my dad got a job in Florida, and my folks needed to sell the house I grew up in. When we looked at the numbers, we realized that, contrary to everything I had always expected, we actually could afford it. And the timing was such that we would be buying the house just as the lease on the house we were renting was coming up. It was just too perfect; we had to do it. But it took a lot of help from both sets of parents to make sure it could happen. I am extremely grateful for two such wonderful sets of parents, and for the opportunity to buy a house that I've always loved.

As 2003 opened, my job situation was tenuous. I was working as an "independent contractor" for a small start-up of dubious provenance. The "independent contractor" is in quotes because I didn't want to work that way, but it was the only way they would hire me so they wouldn't be responsible for paying my taxes. They didn't pay much, but even that was too much for them; getting paid was a constant struggle. They still owe me for two months of work, money I don't expect to ever see. As the year opened, the company was falling apart, and the job ended at the beginning of March when we were kicked out of our office for non-payment of rent. Because I was officially self-employed, I wasn't eligible for unemployment insurance, just another way in which that company screwed me over. There was a lot that I liked about the startup experience, but dealing with the people who ran the company and getting them to live up to their commitments wasn't one of them. I spent March and April working on the wedding rather than looking for work, and not getting paid, of course. A couple of weeks after we got back from the (brief) honeymoon, I got a call from a contract house looking for someone to fill a job that I was perfectly suited for. In fact, I dare say there was nobody in the world better qualified than me; the job was doing almost exactly what I was doing before I was laid off in December, 2001, for the same company. Needless to say, I got the job. The timing couldn't have been better, the fit was good, and most importantly, they actually pay me good money, on time. Seven months into a three month assignment, I'm still there. In a year when too many of my friends who left my former employer by layoff or buyout are still on the beach and the economy is still in the dumps, I'm grateful to have a good paying, reasonably stable job.

The year just ending has felt like a series of projects. The wedding was a big project that I felt at times just might not come off. I did a lot of the work on the invitations myself, and a couple of miscues on my part meant they didn't go out as early as I had wanted. There were a hundred and one things to do, and when you're trying to pull the whole thing together, sometimes it feels like if one falls through the cracks then everything will fall apart. I don't know if anything did fall through the cracks, but the day itself was just magical, everything we hoped it would be. Friends and family of ours came from all over, and it was just really neat to have them all in one place, friends from different "compartments" of our lives, mixing and talking and making friends with each other. My brother gave an amazing, wonderful toast. A lot of our guests brought their kids, which added a whole other dimension and gave our photographers something else to focus on. We got some spectacular photos. The day was amazingly relaxed, something I never expected a wedding to be and something we were definitely aiming for. The whole weekend was just amazing, something I'll never forget. I'm grateful for the wonderful friends and family who were there to share it with us.

I turned 40 this year. At the time, I posted a half-joking acknowledgement of that here, but as the year has progressed, I find that I'm honestly very happy to be 40 years old. I love the sense of perspective that the passage of time has given me. I find it much easier to understand things, why things happen and that sort of thing, than I did when I was in my 20s. I like being 40. I'm grateful to be 40, to be happy to be 40, and for the sense of, dare I say it, wisdom that age brings.

The demarcation between years, like most boundaries, is an arbitrary thing of no inherent meaning. There's no reason to expect that it really makes a difference whether the calendar says 2003 or 2004 or 2001 or whatever. So maybe it's not unreasonable to hope that 2004 just continues all the great stuff that happened in 2003. Happy new year, everyone.

Posted at 11:11 PM


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This site is copyright © 2002-2024, Ralph Brandi.

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio

There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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