Christmas 2011   

Season's Tweetings (that's what everyone says now), though Twitter must be nearly passe as I got a Twitter account this year (Bill_Muse) and everything I say must have fewer than 141 characters, like a Tolstoy novel. (Bonus points for a highbrow literary reference in the first sentence.) You are probably reading this on a handheld device via a social networking site, or having this text turned to speech to listen while you drive (set the voice to James Earl Jones because his voice is closest to mine). If you are reading this in email on a desktop, I pity you and your sad 1900s lifestyle. Your grandchildren must have trouble distinguishing you from the Amish and you will doubtless soon be the focus of a reality show about the quaint ways of yesteryear.

Only one big change for our family in 2011: Jackie left Seattle Country Day School abruptly upon completing 8th grade to pursue her dream of attending high school. She goes to Bush, a mere five miles up Lake WA Blvd from our house (yay!), but Veronica still goes to SCDS, so I have to drive to and from two schools now (boo!). I made many attempts to form carpools or worm my way into existing ones, but was rebuffed. No parent said it was because they wouldn't have their child seen in the vehicles I drive; what they said was that their carpools were full. I tried to impress them to no avail by making a series of perfect donut burnouts in front of their houses (which is not easy when you are wasted, though that's when most drivers attempt them). On the plus side, I know all the fastest ways across Seattle depending on time of day (sirens and flashing lights really help).

Speaking of lawbreaking, Beth got snared by a red light camera this year. The citation has the pictures and everything. Technically, I got the ticket because the car is registered to me, so I plan on sending in a picture of $124. If that fails, I will claim I was part of an Occupy The Intersection movement protesting the inequitable distribution of traffic light colors. (Red and green get a minute each, but yellow gets just 3 seconds? That is SO racist!)

Speaking of race, 2011 saw my return to running. (Runners often race; that is the connection.) I gave up running--actually, my knees did--back in the 1990s, but I have since discovered the barefoot running style, where one lands on the ball of the foot instead of the Nike-padded heel, just as 2 million years of evolution prepared me for, and I'm back to doing 5-milers. The only difference is that now different things hurt and everyone else has gotten very fast.

Speaking of fast, that is the speed Jackie is growing up. She is a teenager now and her sarcasm gland works perfectly. She loves going to Bush, says the kids are fun and nice, and got all As and a B her first term. She was an enthusiastic member of the Bush JV volleyball team whose 2011 season can best be described as character-building. Of the five high schools she applied to, I did not think Bush would take her because there was a question in the parent portion of the application that asked how my child could help further Bush's diversity mission. My reply was "She's a white, brown-haired, able-bodied, right-handed, height-weight proportionate, native English speaker with two parents still married. Best case for you, she turns out gay."

Speaking of gay, I am delighted in a merry and lighthearted way with how the main floor bathroom remodel turned out. I gutted it (with my helper Veronica) except for the tub, then went nuts with slate, marble, glass tile, and a pair of built-in vanities I made in the garage. Beth said she only wanted it to take two weeks, and if she meant 336 total hours, then that's about how long it took. As always, the real mystery is how long it will take to go from 95% done to all done, but some things man is not meant to know.

Speaking of knowledge, Veronica loves 2nd-grade at SCDS. She said "I always get the best teachers." She continues gymnastics twice weekly and can do many impressive tricks, such as a front handspring and cartwheeling on a balance beam (with spotters). She cartwheels spontaneously everywhere: hallways, store aisles, sidewalks; it is clearly her favorite form of transportation. She cartwheeled across the park and back, a city block each way. She does them one-handed. She does them while holding a beverage. If any college has a cartwheeling scholarship, she'll get a full ride. Veronica still believes in Santa, though she is asking the kind of questions this year that indicate cracks in her faith. Jackie gleefully spackles such cracks, but key belief pillars are weakened and the explosive of reason is in place; it's coming down like an obsolete Vegas casino any minute.

Speaking of things that get blown up or off, sock-based crafting has been taken in a new direction by Beth. SockPals gave way to FrankenSocks and FrankenTights: Beth takes socks, cuts them up, and assembles the different pieces into new socks. They're like feet quilts. They're selling well in two stores and a few flea markets. These items are loved by hipsters, makers, and burners (Google them), their non-ironic smiles forming above soul patches as they reach for wallets chained to skinny jeans.

Speaking of--Oh, that's just getting annoying. In July, the girls and I went skiing because we could; it was fun to see people ski in bikinis (except for that one dude). In August, I was a judge at the Seward Park Centennial pie-eating contest, where I extended my judging to participants' outfits and lifestyle choices, which just felt so right; I think I'd look good in a powdered wig. In September, the girls and I took our annual mini car vacation (the vacation is mini, never the car), this time around the Olympic Peninsula, where fun was had by most.

I hope your 2011 was similarly good.

Happy Happy Joy Joy,
Bill, Beth, Jacqueline, & Veronica