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Happy New Year.

I have been trying to be succinct all day.  To formulate new resolutions  as that is my yearly custom. Or to reflect on this last year—well, you know what that has been like.  To feel some inspiration.  To engage some new or renewed energy for a noble task. 

At least, I think that is what I’ve been trying to do on and off all day.

But nothing comes. Instead, I scribble, starting down one path, following it awhile until it peters out.  And then I turn to chase another path and do the same.  Nothing sticks.  

And so,

Holiday lights and the Christmas tree are still a blaze.  I am still enchanted by the tree—crowded with decorations shimmering in light by night. Admittedly during the day, I cannot help by see the tips of branches turn downwards and the angel on top has become crooked.  I don’t know which look is true, or maybe I should say that it is hard to hold both images in my head—the wilting fading greenery with crooked angel and the fairy lit confection—and know that it is the same tree.

We did very little today.  Some cello, a bit of reading, a jaunt outside for prescriptions and some noodles for tonight.  Julia wanted long noodles, like we eat for good luck on Chinese New Year.  We need the luck today, tonight and tomorrow.  Good idea to eat noodles.

We worked on the puzzle that Santa brought. We had a puzzle that we began in the Spring and later abandoned.  It was too hard for us.  We finished the dragon and the fire and the pots of gold but the dark sections defeated us.  The unfinished puzzle sat on the dining room table until the puzzle and the table needed to be dusted.  I threatened to put it away more than once and Julia protested, but in the end we admitted defeat and I cleared the table.  This new puzzle is easier—more characters, less dark background and one very helpful hint.  Each piece is marked with a letter—A, B, C or D—dividing the picture into four pieces.  And so, it is the experience of putting together 4 250-piece puzzles instead of 1 1,000-piece one.  It almost feels like cheating to divide pieces first by letter before looking at anything else but I want us to succeed with this one so the big hint is much appreciated.

We ate our long noodles with sweet marinaded tofu and a spicy sauce.  We had cold shrimp on the side.  We had ice cream for dessert and watched three episodes of a  newish show on HBO called Star Girl.  Just before 10, Julia went to bed.  She does not understand the thrill of staying up until midnight.  More or less, I completely agree.  

If I make it til midnight and see in the new year, I will eat some pickled herring.  My mother always made sure there was pickled herring in the house for New Years.  She said it was a Ukrainian tradition.  Probably because I’ve always enjoyed eating herring, I never questioned her.  Right now, I am wondering if it is a real tradition or just something the my mother and I enjoyed. We liked so few things together that remembering that we both enjoyed this one simple food is reason enough to make it a tradition.

This 2020, this year that seems like one, long, gray, damp and windy March afternoon did bring some joy, but its challenges sucked so much spirit that there is not enough optimism left tonight to resolve to change bad habits and face new dragons with drawn swords. And of course, just because the new calendar goes up tomorrow, just because we declare a new month and year, there will be no dramatic change in circumstances, there will still be no gatherings, no theater, no hugs. And so, I leave myself with the words that David found in Jim Jones’ journal, words that David used in the last piece of theater he wrote. Words that at this very moment seem to be resolution enough for this new year:

“Just supposed that you are now doing and have been doing for quite awhile exactly what it is you are supposed to be doing.”

~art by Duy Huynh