A New Year is Here 


By Joey Kennedy

Good riddance, 2017.

Welcome, 2018. And, thank God.

I hope when you look back on 2017, it’ll be a look back at joy. And wonderful events, milestones, celebrations.

Veronica and my 2017 was torture.

We lost four dogs in 2017: Onslow (pug), Elton (jug), Mary (bug), and Casey (pug). It was a bad year at the Kennedy Compound. We loved them all; we miss them all.

Casey was named after my mentor and former editor Ron Casey, who died in 2000 of a heart attack at 48 years old. Casey the dog was 10½ months old. He aspirated one night, even as Veronica and I were waking up every hour to check on him.

At 1 a.m., he was fine. At 2 a.m., he was dead. I performed CPR on him, but to no avail. Casey was our last puppy. We now mainly cater to older, generally special needs pugs.

But Casey was our hope in 2017. That hope was dashed.

I love the Rainbow Bridge, but not so much when we deal with it every quarter.

Yes, for us, and for our circle of friends, 2017 sucked.

Our close friends Johnny and Missy Norris saw their house burn. Then, not long after, they lost their three-year-old mixed-breed dog, Oscar, to a disease even Auburn University’s School of Veterinary Medicine couldn’t figure out.

Two other close friends, Rian Alexander and John Evon, lost two of their pups: Ted, a poodle; and Maddie, a pug. They, too, suffered the sorrow of losing Casey; they had bred him.

I don’t mean to be focusing on the dogs. Lots of people lost dogs, cats, and other family pets in 2017. But I do insist that the grief we and others go through when we lose a pet be acknowledged. This is real grief, and it continues, like the grief we feel when we lose a close relative or a friend.

Lots of grief for us in 2017.

But not only because of the loss of our dogs. The year seemed unfathomably long. Decades long. Painfully long.

I believe that’s because of the president we have. But, on the good side, we elected a senator we can be proud of. Thank goodness, Roy Moore, child molester, won’t be a senator.

Still, where are we going, America? Certainly not to great again.

“Great” is ruined for now. We’ll have to settle for “eh, hmmm.”

There is 2018, though. It’s the new year. Happy new year!

Didn’t mean to be a Donald Downer.

After all, any year is what we make of it.

After Donald Trump won the election and was inaugurated last January, I was physically ill for six weeks. Seriously, I couldn’t eat; I was nauseated; I couldn’t sleep.

Then I got over it.

I’m determined to make 2018 much better, even though the circumstances at the start look fairly grim. So be it.

I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions. The last time I did that, in 2013, I resolved to read Les Miserables, Victor Hugo’s epic novel. It took me six weeks, but I decided that was it for resolutions and me. (By the way, I really liked the book, but I’m not resolving to read War and Peace.)

And I don’t set myself up for failure by making resolutions to quit smoking or lose weight or never eat chocolate again. I know my strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths: Reading and writing.

Weaknesses: Everything else.

The best thing that happened to me in 2017, other than Veronica staying with me, was teaching in the University Honors Program at UAB. The experience was amazing.

The 115 or so students in the program are super smart. They are intimidatingly smart. They are bigly smart. The other five professors I worked with, Drs. Michael Sloane, Rusty Rushton, Stella Aslibekyan, Kevin McCain and Bill Blackerby, are geniuses.

Sometimes they made me feel like I’m an island. Surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water.

These students are Type-AAA personalities, and I’m not referring to the auto club, either. Before their nine-hour midterm and nine-hour final, they were nervous. I was nervous, too, because I had to grade a bunch of those papers. And grade them, I did. More than 400 papers.

The stuff I learned, I’ll never unlearn.

That means in 2018, I’m somewhat smarter than I was in 2017. That’s a good thing, right?

I know a little more about philosophy and science, religion and literature, psychology and, yes, journalism. What more can a curious person ask?

Knowledge is power. Let 2018 be the year of learning. Despite our sexual assaulting, addictive Tweeting president.

Let’s resist and change where we can, and accept those things we can’t. I stole that from somebody.

Remember, a new year is a time for renewal.

So I’m believing 2018 is going to be THE year. Yes, we have a lot of older dogs, but they’re going to make it. We have an older house, but it’s going to make it. And I’m going to continue reading. Just not War and Peace.

Happy new year, everybody!

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