It’s out with the old, or so they say, and in with the new. But not for me, not this year. This is my last column of the year 2008 and I am dragging my feet in every way possible to keep it from being done.
Maybe it’s the insight gained from that calendar editing job early in December: that the days really do seem to pass faster in December than they do in January. Or maybe it’s related to the sense that I acquired a few years ago, when I was in the middle of an onerous and seemingly endless financial obligation. As the expiration date began to loom on the horizon well meaning friends offered encouragement: Bet you can’t wait until the date of the final payment, they would say. Then it will be all over.
But I could wait, I replied. And I didn’t want those days to pass any faster than any others. Of course, the days and months flew by anyhow — all too soon it was over.
In the waning days of 2008, I tried another time-altering ploy. I had a New Year’s resolution in mind — clearing the clutter from my desk. (Truth to tell, make that “desks,” the one I totally lost control of and the second one to which I retreated after the first one was rendered unusable.)
Cleaning either one of them would be a New Year’s resolution of the highest order. But I decided to reverse the order of things. I would make the desk cleaning an end-of-the year project, with the goal of finding some white space before the stroke of midnight, December 31. With that in mind, I could mentally squeeze every minute out of the old year.
The plan worked well.
I chipped away at the piles of papers, the scraps bearing notes and reminders, the invoices, the check that never got mailed to the payee (the person I thought must be terribly disorganized to have lost my check), documents that might or might not someday be part of an important story, business offers that could turn my financial circumstances around (if only I could understand what the offer was).
I tossed some, I filed some.
And some I lingered over. A letter from the vice president for global online sales and marketing at Google suggests that we can outsource all of our advertising on our website to Google and “create a new revenue stream.” The Google VP crows that Internet advertising is increasing at more than 10 times the rate of all other media. That was in the spring of 2008. I wondered how he would word that letter in the closing days of the year.
Pete Hart, a friend of Joe Boyd, the Consumer Bureau founder who died in 2007, sent me a note in May of 2008 asking how he could obtain a copy of U.S. 1’s obituary on Boyd. At the end of his kind note Hart offered am intriguing possibility: “Finally, I also have an idea or two that might extend your excellent brand. If you’d like to have lunch sometime, I’ll suggest them to you.”
I stumbled across a CD that I had temporarily displaced. It contains a manuscript that a friend asked me to read. I opened it up and grazed through a portfolio of photos taken during the days of student unrest at Princeton University. Who needs 2009 when you can relive 1969?
A recent addition to my desktop morass was the new memoir by Win Straube, owner of the Straube Center office complex in Pennington. Straube’s book, entitled “Nobody Knew,” chronicles his days as a teenager during World War II in Nazi Germany. It’s a compelling story: volunteering for paramilitary training at age 9; living in Dresden during the “Slaughterhouse Five” days of early 1945; being ordered into the German army as a 15-year-old; and watching as his father was pulled away by the Russians, never to be seen again.
I was skimming through Straube’s book at the same time as “Valkyrie” opened at the movie theaters. Another goal, for either the old year or the new year: Read Straube’s book, see the Tom Cruise movie.
My time management plan worked well. But the desk never did get clean — neither one of the desks ever got clean. By New Year’s Eve I realized I wouldn’t come close to making my deadline, but I also resolved to continue the end-of-the year quest. It’s Tuesday, January 6, as I file this report. But I’m still clinging to my 2008 dream.
Am I cheating? Well, the other day I wrote out a check and dated it January 4, 2008. As far as I’m concerned the old isn’t completely swept out by the new until I’m able to write a check and get the year correct without thinking about it. That day will come soon enough — sometime in March is my guess.