Monday, December 1, 2008

5 Reasons This Time of Year can Suck

A lot of people find themselves in a less-than-optimal mood during this time of year. Some of the reasons are pretty obvious and affect a pretty wide percentage of people in general, and others are custom-tailored for lucky individuals.

I'm lucky... despite all the reasons not to, I still love the concept of Christmas. Look past the crass commercialism, the issue of not being able to afford all the things you'd like to get for your loved ones and so on, and I still feel Christmas (and the other winter holidays) give humans a once-a-year reminder to give a shit about their fellow man. A more pessimistic person would probably find it depressing that people can't be that way for more than one out of twelve months, but screw it; I'm a "glass half full" person.

Still, I'd be a fool to completely refuse to acknowledge that December's arrival can bring in an off-putting element to many lives. Here are a few aspects of December that I, personally, could probably live without.

1. December 8.
I am not... repeat, NOT... a superstitious person. I don't believe in nearly anything that's not explainable by science. But over the course of my life, I've had a number of years where something odd seems to happen on December 8. Self-fulfilling prophesy? Perhaps, but if so, I promise it's within the depths of my subconscious. And it's not always a BAD thing, per se. On December 8, 1980, I performed at my very first public recital as a musician, and did very well. Then, on my way home in my parents' car, I found out that John Lennon had been killed while I was performing onstage. It's not always something that dramatic or memorable, but it seems that I've had an inordinate amount of relationship breakups, injuries/illnesses, career changes, car accidents, and other strange things happen on this date. I should also mention that there have been a good number of years that this date comes and goes and despite my awareness of it, nothing out of the ordinary happens. So, we're a week out from my Odd Day, and I'll let you know how it goes.

2. The NAMM Show.
The NAMM Show is my industry's Super Bowl, or perhaps its World Series, or some other analogy that explains the most important single event of a year in a particular business. in real life, I work in the music and audio products industry, and Winter NAMM is a giant trade show where all the manufacturers introduce their new wares. A good NAMM show can significantly impact the entire year of business for a company in my industry, and a bad NAMM show can really have an adverse effect. A few things about it: first, I really, really, REALLY dislike trade shows. I just do. Second, although NAMM is in January, it's the culmination of weeks and weeks of heavy work for people like me, who help create all the signs, brochures, video presentations, sponsorships, web updates, and other marketing elements that go into a show like this. So every December for the past 16 years, much of my time is eaten by getting ready for NAMM. I recall during one pre-internet year having to go into the office on Christmas Day to get some stuff done. It's not fun, and it doesn't get any easier with passing time. The one saving grace over the past five+ years that I've owned my own business is that I do prefer being able to set my own schedule, as opposed to being at the beck and call of some other person. But in any case, it's a lot of freakin' work, and at this very moment, in fact, I am procrastinating some essential NAMM-related work while writing this blog entry. Bleh.

3. Weather.
Don't laugh at me. Just don't. I live in Southern California, and it can be absolutely beautiful in December. But this morning, I awoke to an incredibly dense blanket of fog and a very surreal feeling of foreboding that came along with it. So, while we get no snow here, and the temperature rarely drops even into the 40s, and it almost never even rains, I still find the winter weather a little bit of a downer. I'll shut up now. Hey, I never claimed these reasons to be bitchy were legitimate to anyone but me.

4. People.
So, here I am, trying to find some goodness within the gloom of December. But let me tell you; the news is no place to turn for happiness and good times. Over the last week, we had a massive terror assault in Mumbai, a crowd of shoppers at a Wal-Mart in Long Island that stampled a poor worker to death, two guys that shot each other to death in a Toys R Us here in California, and more. What the fuck is wrong with people? Every time I start to think that we're making even the slightest amount of progress as a species, all I need to do is hit and I'm reminded that we're as bad, or perhaps worse, than ever. And those are just the people whose shitty behavior makes the news. There's a reason why I do all my holiday shopping online, and it's not for the great prices. It's that I don't have any love for circling parking lots for hours, being elbowed while getting on escalators, or dealing with surly seasonal employees at the mall. Anyway, people tend to be at their worst this time of year. Ironic, eh?

5. Money.
Not my money. I don't mind spending my money. In fact, I'd much rather spend my money giving gifts to people I love than limiting its use for mundane crap like paying my utility bills... where's the fun in that? But the problem I'm seeing is that more and more folks I know are out of work, or just not making ends meet, or are finding themselves so far in debt that there looks to be no path to climb out of their hole they've dug. But I'm not in a position to help everyone I know that needs help, and in the bigger picture, I don't know that handing money to everyone I know who needs it really DOES help them. It's just a bummer, even if it's not my personal bummer of the moment.

So, there are five things that seem to suck right now. And I'm really not going out of my way to dwell on those things. in fact, I'm happy and thankful for a lot of absolutely GREAT things that are going on in my life right now, and I never want to appear ungrateful for those things. I'm really not. Perhaps sometime later this month, when I find myself completely infused with the Spirit of Christmas, I'll make an equally nauseating blog post about happiness, love, the kindness of strangers, and goodwill toward men. But for now? Meh. And bah.

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