When I think about starting out the New Year, I picture a thoroughbred racing horse standing at the starting gate of the Kentucky Derby. Ready for a smooth stretch, but braced for the inevitable rough spots along the way. That's kind of the way it is for me. I hope for the best, but know that hard times are in the cards somewhere within the span of the next twelve months. This year has been kind of like that eager racehorse, nostrils flaring, ready to go. Then the doors of the gate swing open, I take a few galloping steps, and, POW!... I step smack-dab into a big ol' pothole.
Don't mean to complain, but the past week has been a rocky one. First, I return to work at my nine-to-five job (or technically six-to-two-thirty, if you want to be picky) and find that nothing has changed on that front. Things are still dismally negative in the automotive service business (my company electrocoats automotive parts for companies like Honda and Toyota) and there has been scarcely enough work arriving at the plant to keep the lines working half a day. This week alone I'll get in two and half days and put in for two and half worth of vacation time to make up the difference. At work we call this annoying "lack of work" LOW (in a way it almost feels more like AWOL).
This continues a precarious trend that has thrown the Kelly household in a vicious cycle of financial strain. Being off the entire month of November due to Ryan's injured leg (unpaid time), returning for two weeks to lots of LOW (partially paid time) and then staying home for two weeks during the holidays due to plant shutdown (unpaid time again) has led to a frustrating case of PNP (Pinch 'n Pennies) for us here at home. But like Merle Haggard sang in that old Christmas song, I knew that "if we made it through December, we'd be fine".
Then along came January and -- BAM! -- it just seems like more of the same, with no end in sight. On top of that, two of my three kids -- Makenna and Ryan -- have suddenly come down with RSV ( Respiratory Syncytial Virus), a viral illness that affects the lower respiratory system in young children. Apparently this was passed on to Ryan from a baby at daycare, then on to Makenna by him. Needless to say, there is much hacking and coughing and snotty noses, making the Kelly house seem more like a hospital ward. And I've been here for the past day and a half, playing Dr. Daddy, passing out shots of Children's Tylenol and Robitussen, wiping away a Niagara Falls worth of yellowish-green snot, and washing my hands in anti-bacterial soap nearly to the point of scrubbing the hide plumb off of them.
So this has been a less-than-favorable start to a brand new year for ol' Ron. I've been LOW, PNP, and dealing with RSV.
But, being the positive guy that I am (really I am, despite what this post seems to indicate) I know that, eventually, things will get better. Just in the past two weeks a couple of writing projects have surfaced that were unexpected; ones that have me downright excited. And, as February looms nearer, I know that the PNP situation will get better with a generous tax refund (now with three young'uns in the dependent square) and perhaps even a stimulus check sometime in the future (Mr. Obama, if you can pull that off for me, I'll feel a whole lot better about you sitting in the captain's chair in that big white house up North).
Anyway, that's how the first couple of weeks of 2009 have been for yours truly. Sitting here at the house, my wallet holding three dollar bills and a few crumpled WalMart reciepts, and ugly blobs of of dried snot decorating my black Marvel superhero t-shirt.
I know, deep down inside, that it's bound to get better. It is, ain't it? Please, someone -- anyone -- tell me that it's gonna get better...