New Year's Guide 2008

A little more than two years ago, my best friend of sixteen years got married. I was the only witness, and she was the last of my friends I still talked to. (She and her husband would later do me dirty.) Most of the people my age in my family are in a serious relationship, married and/or have kids. I really have no interest in such a thing, so I guess that's why I should turn to friends — but it's hard to make friends when you're not in a high-school lunchroom grouped together by who you think hates you. 

A few months ago my dad got laid off, just a year from retirement. We're scraping by, and when I need a job most, it's at a time when even college graduates can't get jobs. It's not fun going on an interview and explaining when they see your blank work history that you've been your family's "freelance grunt" for the past ten years, looking after people and doing various jobs they couldn't or didn't want to do themselves. (I'm not stupid — I got A's and B's in school — but I quit because I was tired of people fucking with me, and it took me too long to learn that it doesn't matter what people think of you.) That's when you can even get an interview. Most times I trek to the library after being told that (insert potential employer) only accepts online applications — only to never hear back. My poor parents, they've worked hard all their lives and deserve better than "scraping by."

As the year has gone by, I've seen various other family members in the hospital, family friends getting fucked with, and many good people crushed by the weight of the world. So many nights I prayed for things to get better — only to watch them get worse, as if god were mocking me. So one day I just stopped praying, just stopped believing in this great man in the sky and that he would help my family. I realized that all the hardships we've endured, we've done on our own. The hard work of many people kept my brother alive, not the words falling on nonexistent ears.

This year has left me friendless, angry and godless, so I say "Fuck you" to 2008 and I hope that 2009 has much better in store — not even for me, necessarily, just the millions of good people who deserve it.

Oh, and P.S.: To my bastard neighbors who built that new shed — thanks, dickheads, for killing my view of downtown. Fuck you.

Finalist

Jailhouse Rock

By Christine

In July of 2007, I got engaged to this guy I'll call "Bob." I was working at a company that his friend owned, and we set our wedding date for August 2008. Well, that didn't happen due to a series of events that made me aware of what a shmuck this guy is. I know, I should've known all along and all that, but that's another story. Well, to make a long story short, I ended our engagement in July 2008. Then September rolls around and I end up quitting my job because my ex-fiancé's friend not only threatened me but threatened the guy who worked with me, and to be honest, I don't need that kinda shit! So he calls me and tells me that he could see me either in jail or dead. I'm not dead, so — yup, you guessed it...I went to jail. For what? Well, that's another story, too. Anyway, I get community service and a fine, along with some classes. Not to mention while I'm doing all this (which has taken the better part of 2008), my father is diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer and dies.

I just wish this year would end. I have lost my job, my house and my dad, so here it is: This year should just die!



Head Games
What I learned from a hair-raising experiment.
By Michael Roberts

Like so many ridiculous situations, this one began with a joke — and I wound up as the punchline.

The time was early January, and I was at the dinner table with my wife, Deb, plus our son, Nick, then seventeen, and twin thirteen-year-old daughters Lora and Ellie, when the topic turned to New Year's resolutions. None of our spawn had thought about committing to one, and the possibilities put forward by Deb (like encouraging a pledge from the girls to stop cursing so damn much) were about as popular as a guy wearing a beer helmet at a wine-tasting party. In self-defense, the young folks shifted their focus to me, demanding that I share a resolution of my own. I sputtered ineffectually for a moment before blurting out the most absurd declaration that came to mind:

"I'm not cutting my hair for a year!"

This announcement wasn't a complete non sequitur. Earlier in the conversation, my loved ones had heartily ridiculed my mane, which had become quite unruly. Deb had last taken scissors to me sometime during the previous September, meaning that my hair had sprouted unencumbered for more than three months. That was a long time by my standards — or anyone else's — but I'd been thinking about letting the augmentation continue, despite two key considerations. First, my job at Westword requires me to interact regularly with important people in professional settings. Second, I'm ostensibly a grownup.

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