Putting 2012 in the rear-view mirror


I took this one day last Spring, after a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. The tradition at Wrigley is that when the Cubs win the game, a white flag with a blue W is flown from the flagpole on the scoreboard in centerfield. When the Cubs lose, a blue flag with a white L is flown instead. If you look in the mirror real closely, you’ll see that it’s not a white flag being flown from the scoreboard. Most years, the blue flag flies from the scoreboard more than the white one does.

This year’s baseball season is still a month away from Spring Training, and more than two months away from Opening Day. I’ll have to put all of last year’s losing–a whole lifetime of losing, really–behind me, just like the flag in my car’s mirror suggests. I’m willing to move on, in the hopes that the Cubs will win for once in my lifetime.

But it’s a strategy that can work for all of 2012, too. Some good things happened, and some horrible things happened, but we all need to keep moving forward to make things better this year. If the Cubs win more than 61 games in 2013, we can say, legitimately, that they’re better than they were last year. But life itself doesn’t come with such an easily-defined benchmark number.

Whatever benchmarks I’m using to measure my life, hopefully they’ll all trend upward in 2013. And for anyone else who might read this, I hope that yours do, too.


CYW/OB Accomplished


Last summer, I wrote a piece about being by myself in a house on Cape Cod. At one point in my life, that would also have meant consuming alcoholic beverages throughout the evening. I never considered myself to be an alcoholic, but I never passed up the chance to have a drink, either. Alcohol was a part of my life, and I thought that was never going to change.

And then, beginning in late 2010, it did change. I gave up drinking for good in the summer of 2011, and passed the one year point without any alcohol sometime last summer. I wish I had done it a decade or two earlier, but what’s done is done. May my liver not take it out on me at some point in the future.

Now that 2012 is over, I’ve just completed my first calendar year without booze (or CYW/OB, as I’m calling it), since either 1982 or 1983. That’s nearly 30 years which–I don’t think I have to tell anyone–is an awfully long time.

My goal at one point in life was to live somewhere–anywhere–longer than I had lived in my hometown of Springfield, Illinois. I passed that goal a few years ago, and I haven’t had a similar one since, until now. Since I once drank for almost 30 years, and now I don’t do it any more, I’d like to go at least 30 years without having a drink. That’s something that could very well take me to the end of my life, and I’m willing to commit to that if that turns out to be the case.

Going through a calendar year without having a drink isn’t such a big deal, when viewed through this lens. But I’m going to mark it anyway, in the hope that there are more years just like it in my future. And there certainly were enough years that went the other way for me.

Quarterly Report #6

isi2012 007

As the year draws to a close, it’s been quite a ride for me and my humble little platform for addressing the world, both present and future. As I have done before, I’m going to put a few words together to reflect on the quarter gone by, and also look ahead to the future a little bit. Like the guy in the picture above, the moments where I feel like I’m soaring are great, but there’s always going to be a landing to worry about when it’s over.

I wrote well over a hundred pieces in this blog for the final three months of 2012, on topics including the re-election of Barack Obama, the release of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, art from days gone by, current events, and things I have written for other websites. And, as always, there was also a healthy dose of stories about mundane things from everyday life. Truth be told, those are the things I most enjoy writing about here. If I couldn’t tell these dumb little stories, I’d have to find something else to do with my time, and I have no idea what that might be. So my thoughts and energies will continue to be directed here in the upcoming year.

For 2013, I’d like to get more of my writing out into the wider world. I probably said something similar a year ago, and to some extent that’s come to pass. There’s so many things to say, and so little time available to say them, that it makes for a challenge I truly enjoy.It would be silly to do anything else.

As the teen years approach


There’s just a few days left in the year 2012, which will be the BrownElephantfirst full year that I’ve written this blog. I have many posts from the past year that I’m proud to have written, and I’ll soon put together a retrospective on some of them.


It’s been an interesting year, as I suppose they all are. But like allIMG00080-20100619-1727 good things, 2012 couldn’t last forever. 2013 is now coming into view, and that’s going to be lots of fun.


So let’s all enjoy what remains in this year, and then move onto the teen years of this century. I’ve never thought of it that way before. Let’s hope they’re nearly as interesting as our own teen years.IMG00303-20100804-1939

I was dreaming when I wrote this


As we begin the final month, either of the year or of civilization on earth, I’m reminded of Prince’s song “1999” from the album of the same name. The premise of the song is that if the world is coming to an end, we should all have fun before it does. My favorite line is one that Prince himself didn’t even sing: “Life is just a party, and parties weren’t meant to last.”

When the end comes, if it ever does at all, it would be nice to have a bit of warning, but I don’t think it will work out that way. If the Mayans are right, well, this should be one hell of a month. But I have a feeling that come New Year’s Day, a month from now, there’s going to be some Mayans with a lot of ‘splaining to do. I hope so, anyway.

Some thoughts on New Year’s Eve

Greetings from a crowded roller rink. I served as the driver (and will again before the night’s over), paid for the admission, helped with lacing skates, bought a cold drink for a thirsty little one, and am now guarding everyone’s stuff until it’s time to go home.

I enjoy blogging a lot (why else would I be doing it at this moment?), but in the grand scheme of things, nobody cares whether I do it or not. I would even place myself into that category. But the stuff I’m doing right now makes me downright essential, and I wouldn’t give that up for anything on earth.

Happy new year to you and yours.