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Friday, December 8, 2000

December is a treacherous month. You can't let your guard down for a minute. I love the season, but it seems the Golds test us in the most wickedly ironic ways at the slightest opportunity.

As I was running my errands this morning, I dropped in at Suzanne's house to return the thermos I borrowed, not expecting anyone to be home. David answered the door, and I could tell something was wrong.

He had just this week finished getting his car in shape to sell. He has his eye on a pickup that would make things much easier, working long hours on construction sites in Marin. Last night as he was driving home the holiday traffic came to a sudden screeching halt, and his car was totaled before he could react.

He's okay, he says. Just sore, he says. But whatever it is that makes life such a minefield has rocked him again. Maybe things with the insurance company will work out. I hope so, but insurance companies have their own way of looking at these things, and it doesn't tend to benefit anyone but themselves. And it is, after all, December.

David is a fighter. It's hard to hold him down for long. He's independent and determined, and I have no doubt he'll find his way through this setback and come out even stronger. He doesn't need me to feel sorry for him, but I can tell you it shook me up to hear what had happened.

In fact, my next stop was Mom's house, and she could tell something was wrong as soon as I walked in the door. I don't hide my feelings well, and with Mom it doesn't even do any good to try. So I spilled, but I let her know he was all right. As I left, she told me to be careful. Nothing out of the ordinary there; she always says that.

Whatever you throw at me, world, you can't get me down, either. David's accident certainly puts my petty grievances into perspective. I'm not ready to say that my whole life has turned around after my epiphany (or whatever it was) this week. But somehow I feel better prepared to shrug my shoulders and stick out my chin when the buzzards start circling.

What prompts this spontaneous expression of bravado is something that came in the mail yesterday. (Every day the mail, already. Maybe this should become The Mail Journal, except that I'd only be able to write six days a week.)

The workers comp carrier wants to audit the Company, as they do every year at this time. They sent a notice, which arrived in yesterday's mail, that they plan to perform this year's audit a week from today. I suppose I can get ready for an audit in eight days — provided I have nothing else whatsoever to do. I'm used to getting a little more warning than that.

The notice announced that the auditor would arrive at the Home Office (a place I haven't seen the inside of since I moved out in April, as the insurance company would know if they read the reports I file every month, without fail, with a sizable check enclosed) at 1:30 pm on December 15.

I called the auditor at the number listed on the notice. He was, of course, out harassing some other poor unsuspecting office drudge, so I left a message and a number to call me back. So far, so nothing. I not only want to tell him where to go (so that he won't go to the wrong place, don't you know) but also that I had plans for that day (it's the day before Suzanne's birthday, and I was going to lunch with her and Mom). So could we please reschedule at a better time and at a place where I'll actually be?

These are easy audits, and it won't really take me that much effort to get ready. But I sort of resent the short notice and the one-sided nature of it. I remember a time when the company would call and ask what day would be convenient. This isn't jury duty, for crying out loud. I pay these people thousands of dollars a year, almost always on time. A little respect is too much to ask?

But I'm not going to let it get me down, no matter what.


My grandfather died in December. I lost my job at the shoe store, my favorite job ever, in December. And twenty years ago today, I came home from that shoe store, turned on the radio, and heard that John Lennon had been shot.

Few events can wrench your insides the same way losing one of the icons of your youth does. I listened to his music on that radio station for the rest of the night. Between songs, callers poured out their thoughts about him. I sat in the dark and tried to think about what had been lost, not even realizing what the magnitude of that loss would be.

For the previous 25 years, music had belonged to everyone; during the 20 years since that day, music and culture and society have become increasingly fragmented and divided. I have no illusions that the sixties and seventies were a time of innocence. We saw war, assassinations, rioting, all with the same music playing in the background.

But there was a spirit of community and hopefulness then that the Beatles exalted, and their music to this day makes me feel that there's a chance that one day we'll wrap ourselves in that spirit again.

Life is very short, and there's no time for fussing and fighting, my friend.

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