And now, a lifetime later. Years run into each other the way months or even weeks used to. If you're, say, 35 or older, you know that feeling. If you're still a kid, I hope you stick around long enough to experience it.
So no one is more surprised than me at how anxious I am to let go of 2005. Not that I'm especially ready for 2006, but 2005 sucked out loud, for me, and for this dream that is America.
For me, the low point of irretrievable loss was when my dog up and died in September. We'd noticed how much she'd slowed down during our week at the beach in July, but she was only 10, and I figured she'd have at least a year or two of slowly fading into her rabbit catching dreams before I'd have to put her down. It was not to be. Dogs, of course, don't pass on, or even just die. They up and die, every last one of them, and that's exactly how it was with mine. She got a little slower and a little slower over a three week period. The vet couldn't tell what the problem was. We tried a bunch of things: antibiotics, intravenous fluids. She'd rally for a couple of days, then resume her decline, lying on the living room floor for hours, unable to walk around the block or even stand for much more than peeing in the front yard. Her last night was one of her best for a couple of months. She made it to the dinner table to beg for some of her favorite meal, lettuce with balsamic vinaigrette and nutritional yeast. Next morning, she was lying pretty motionless, except for a tail wag or two. I decided on my way to work that today was the day. I wouldn't let her suffer anymore. Before I could call the vet, my phone rang. My dog up and died, damnit. At least she wasn't alone, but it was my job to have been with her. I scattered her ashes in her favorite places, the Atlantic Ocean, the Eno River, our neighborhood park. I felt good about that, and maybe there'll be a bumper crop of bunnies in the park this spring for her, to chase, ghostlike, at dusk, among the fireflies.
So, you sneer, how does losing a pet compare with losing a constitutional democracy, one that had endured, more or less, for nearly 200 years?
It doesn't, of course. Except for that feeling as your stomach drops about a foot when you click on the headlines and learn that the Justice Department is investigating to find out who blew the whistle on George Bush's blatant dismissal of the Constitution as a hindrance in the GWoT.
"President Bush broke the law and lied to the American people when he unilaterally authorized secret wiretaps of U.S. citizens," said ACLU executive director Anthony Romero.
"But rather than focus on this constitutional crisis, Attorney General (Alberto) Gonzales is cracking down on critics of his friend and boss," he said. "Our nation is strengthened, not weakened by those whistle-blowers who are courageous enough to speak out on violations of the law."
This is what we've come to. Every fear that the John Birchers and freepers mongered against liberals, Democrats, Socialists, and progressives has come to pass, embraced by those self-same assholes who proudly divert 40% of the US government budget to building useless spy machines and weapons of mass destruction which, if we are fortunate, will only be a problem when we have to figure out how to dispose of them, safely and unused.
Year's end, year's beginning. Tonight's demarkation, artificial and arbitrary though it is, must come to be seen as our line in the sand. To further the cliche, if we don't see it that way, our children will surely come to know it as the point of no return.
Continue reading Good riddance