Not To Be Trusted With Knives

{December 28, 2006}   2006

2006 is a year that just can’t end soon enough. For months now it has been apparent to me that 2006 was just not my year. The first thing that comes to mind is getting divorced – while definitely the right decision for me, deciding to end a marriage of almost a decade (not to mention the events leading to the divorce) was not a pleasant experience. One thing that was helping to console me through this ordeal was that I was soon to finish my PhD and would be moving away to start a job that I can only describe as a dream come true. And then, due to circumstances I care not to discuss in a public forum (but which I can assure you were most decidedly unfair), my PhD defence was delayed by four months. But there was hope – my dream job would wait for me! It made those four months bearable, knowing that I would still get to move away, to get my fresh start and to be doing some fascinating research in an amazing location. Then, five days before the rescheduled defence I was informed that, due to unforeseen circumstances (and again, due to something completely beyond my control), my dream job had evaporated. It mattered not that I’d gotten rid of all my furniture, moved out of my old apartment to sublet a friend’s place “just for the summer” under the understanding that I’d be moving away to my new job in September. It mattered not that I’d turned down another job offer to take this one. Needless to say, that’s the last thing I needed less than a week before what was sure to be stressful event – defending a body of research before a committee of 5 professors and a public audience, where an insufficient performance could mean you don’t get your degree (!); but somehow, somehow I managed to make it through. It wasn’t the best performance I’d ever given, as I truly felt suffocated by the stress of it all, asking why, why, why did everything have to happen to me all at the same time?? But I survived and when the examining committee chair said the words, “It is my pleasure to inform you that the committee has decided to grant you your Ph.D.” I just wanted to cry with relief. Six years of blood, sweat and tears, finally come to fruition. It was August and it was one of the first good things that had happened in 2006. Sure I was now unemployed and homeless, but I had a PhD, dammit. Unfortunately, the bad luck streak didn’t end. Shortly thereafter, I nearly got another good job* in a fantastic location and I thought “my luck has finally started to turn!”… but then they decided to hire someone else. Someone else with more direct experience in their type of research. Sigh. And, since then, despite the multitude of resumes I’ve submitted – nothing. Four months of unemployment to end this seemingly endless year. Before this, I hadn’t been unemployed since… well, since I got my first paper route at the age of 8. In fact, I’ve had such a streak of bad luck this year that I had a law named after me – Beth’s Law.

But, recently, I’ve come to realize that my troubles pale in comparison to those of many people I know. I started thinking about this a few days before Christmas when my ex called to tell me that his best friend had just had a heart attack**. His best friend who is a mere 29 years old! Who the hell has a heart attack at 29 years old?? As I recovered from the shock of this unexpected news, my head began to reel as I started a mental tally of all the terrible things that have happened this year:

  • one of my closest friends tragically lost his mother to cancer
  • four of my good friends lost grandparents
  • one of my best friend’s aunts, at 47 years young, had a very debilitating stroke
  • my grandfather had heart surgery (which we are very thankful he has recovered from)
  • my grandmother had a heart attack (which we are very thankful she managed to survive) and was diagnosed with a breast cancer that is not being treated, as the doctors believe she could not survive surgery, chemo or radiation
  • a dear friend of mine had a tumor the size of a football removed from her abdomen (and we are counting our blessings with that one, as she seems to have recovered nicely, thank goodness)
  • one of my dad’s work colleagues drowned
  • like mine, my sister’s marriage of 12 years also ended; unlike me, however, she has a 2-year-old daughter

So I started to think about how the things that had gone wrong in my life personally paled in comparison to what people I care about have experienced this year. I’m healthy, my family is healthy and I haven’t lost any family members. And as I was mulling over this blog posting in my mind, my roommate, who is home for the holidays, called asking me to look up her friend’s cell phone number in her phone book. His brother was in a car accident, he’s in the ICU, unconscious, and she wanted to call and see how he was holding up.

It’s gotten to the point that I’m afraid to answer the phone. There’s only 4 days left of 2006 and I shudder to think what those days will hold. I’m holding out hope that 2007 will bring brighter days – a job, some stability and no more people having unexpected health issues at unreasonably young ages. Is that really too much to ask?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go unplug my phone and hide under my covers until the New Year, in the hopes that the Fates will forget to curse what is left of my 2006. Of course, since I live in a basement, that won’t help me if that big earthquake that Vancouver is overdue for hits, burying me in rubble***. Oh well, it will make a nice break from the hurricanes we’ve been having lately.

*and by nearly, I mean the words, “I would like you to come and work with me” were actually spoken.

**Paul, if you are reading this (and I know you are), all those times I told you to “go to hell” – I didn’t mean it literally. Yeesh.

***on the bright side, I do have earthquake coverage as part of my apartment insurance!

To be cross posted at Indie Bloggers.
Update: cross-posted here at Indie Bloggers.

et cetera