Martin and I used to think that our best years ended in odd numbers.
In hindsight, I think we'd flip that analogy to fit any year in which we weren't having a great year.
For us — and I guess a lot of you, too — 2011 was a mixed blessing. I'm not an avid baseball fan, but there is something to say about "times up to bat": the more you put it out there, the better chance you'll have of scoring a hit, as opposed to an error.
And every now and then, you also hit it out of the park.
Granted, for Team Brown, there were enough errors for 2011 to turn us around on the assumption that odd years are our best. But we also had our fair share of hits, including the launch of four books. My two were The Baby Planner and The Housewife Assassin's Handbook. Martin's books were Fit in 50 Days, and on the last day of the year, The Ultimate New Year's Resolution Diet.
Not only that, but I saw one of my titles, True Hollywood Lies, achieve the ranking of 411 in Amazon Bestsellers, as well as #9 in Amazon's category of Books/Literature & Fiction/Comic.
On the first day of every new year, Martin starts off by saying, "It's a new year, and we're still here."
He means this, literally as well as figuratively.
It's an inside joke:
One new year's day, just after we moved to Marin County, we were walking our children into Mill Valley's Old Mill Park when the skies opened up. As the rain poured down, an elderly gentleman, standing in his garage called out, "You can stand here with me, if you want, until it blows over."
We were happy to take him up on his offer.
Standing there, we made small talk. I don't know how the subject of the man's wife came up. I guess it had to do with the fact that we'd just started another new year. With the openess that only comes with fresh emotional wounds, he said, "Yep, just this past new year's day, as we sat down to breakfast, she said, 'Well, it's a new year, and we're still here.' Then she dropped dead of a heart attack."
What a way to start the year: losing the person you love the most, whom you've spent a lifetime.
Any other issues are miniscule. They are a run in the pantyhose of your life.
To put things in perspective: he hadn't had a bad hair day. He had a bad hair year.
Whenever we're coming off a bad year, or we're trepidacious as to what the new year will bring, we remember that man and the wife he mourned.
And we count our blessings. Here are the ones I cherish most:
– We have great health, as do our children.
– We are still as madly in love today as we were on the day we married.
– We saw many of our far-flung family this year, making new memories even as we remembered the old ones.
– Our friends are loving, appreciative and a joy to be around. If only we could see more of them, more often!
– We love what we do, which is write.
You've got to love the fact that life is just one big tease,
*Photo: Uber-model Jean Shrimpton, by Richard Avedon. Talk about helmet hair!