Is it Me?

by Robert Gregory Browne

Is it me or has 2009 started off on the wrong foot?

I know we're bound to feel a little down after the holidays, what with all of their magic, the time with family, the spirit of generosity in the air — so it's only natural to miss that when it's gone for another year.

But in the two short weeks since 2009 began, here are some of the things that have happened that have completely bummed me out:

Donald Westlake died.  Donald freakin' Westlake.  The man who inspired me to be a writer.  Okay, technically he died in 2008 (New Year's Eve), but I didn't find out about it until '09.  And boy do I regret never getting the chance to meet him — which seemed an impossibility a few years ago, but not so much these last couple, now that I'm in "the business."  He will be missed.

My wife's uncle died.  He was coughing on New Year's Day and a few days later he was in the hospital, then we got the call that he had passed.  Quite sudden and very sad.  A man who loved to fish and always seemed to be happy.

A friend's relative was arrested for a major crime, which, of course, has had a negative and heartbreaking impact on the entire family.

Another friend's son was arrested.  One of a parent's many fears, so it certainly sent chills through me. Not that I'd ever expect my kids to be arrested, but I'm sure my friend didn't either.

And the worst of all is that my wife had a medical scare.  The kind every woman fears.

So 2009 hasn't been shaping up too well at all and I've been feeling a bit depressed.

But because I'm a guy who tries to look on the bright side (I can hear Brett laughing as I write this), I'm trying to concentrate on the good things that have happened or are about to happen:

My wife got news today that the scare was baseless, merely a glitch that reexamination cleared up.  So it truly was simply a scare.  Not the kind you'd ever want to go through, but fortunately all is well.

Brett Battles and I did an appearance last Friday at the Huntington Beach Library, and if laughter and books sales is an indication of people having a good time, then we must've kicked ass. 

I've got two — count 'em, two —  books coming out this year after a long, long wait.  WHISPER IN THE DARK drops the first week of February and KILL HER AGAIN will be released the first week of July.

I've been approached about participating in a new project that I can't talk about at the moment, but looks like it could be a lot of fun if it all works out.

And did I mention my wife's medical scare was baseless?  That alone makes 2009 a great year.

And as I look around at my small part of the world and my place in it, I have to say that I am truly blessed.  I'm healthy, there are people who love me, and despite these bad economic times, I'm not doing too bad.  So far, at least.

So, honestly, I've got nothing to complain about.  There are folks out there who would look at my life and envy me for what I have, so I should probably shut my mouth right now.

But you have to admit, 2009 has been off to a shaky start for many of those around me.  Hopefully that's changing.

How's yours shaping up so far?

18 thoughts on “Is it Me?

  1. J.D. Rhoades

    Sorry about all the troubles in the family, Rob. But great news about your wife. It’d be better, obviously, had you not had the scare, but at least that’s all it was.

    The legal troubles often have a way of turning out better than you expect, especially if the person arrested has no prior record.

    It’s January, which I’ve mentioned before is never a great time for me, so everything has to be taken in light of that. All that said, 2009 has sucked rocks so far.

    But we live in hope.

  2. pam claughton

    Glad to hear that your wife is well, and that hopefully the bad news is over for awhile. These are uncertain times, but so far 2009 is off to a great start. Lots of little things have been going my way, and I’m writing more regularly, which is a key goal. I’ve recently seen how focusing on the positive seems to result in good things happening…so am trying to remember that and expect a great year. (and of course do everything I can to make it happen.)


  3. pari

    Rob,I’m so glad your wife is all right. That’s wonderful.

    My Jan. has started out with some zingers as well. I think I’ll write about them next week. By then I might be amused rather than simply exhausted.

  4. Terri

    Hi Rob,I’m glad your wife is okay. Those scares can really knock the reality back into you. I thought 2009 was going to be a good least better than 2008 but…not so much. We just learned my daughter–who’s 17 and has cerebral palsy (though mild) now has type one diabetes. She seems to be taking it all in stride..or maybe the reality hasn’t quite hit.So, for now my life will be on hold while we learn what we need to for her and if this is the worst thing that can happen this year I’ll be grateful.Best to your wife.

  5. Brett Battles

    You’re right, Rob…I was laughing.

    Glad to hear your wife is fine. Give her my best.

    As you know more than anyone, my 2009 has also got off a bit on the rocky side, but things are starting to level out and even a few good things have started happening. So I’m kind of hoping the worse is behind me and it will only be good from here. (Okay, not ONLY good, but the majority!)

  6. Louise Ure

    I’m trying to feel good about the New Year … emotionally, fiscally, politically, globally … but too many friends’ deaths are screwing up that rosy-lensed optimism.

    Here’s to more good things in the months ahead. And a big whew! on your wife’s news.

  7. Zoë Sharp


    So glad to hear the news on your wife’s health.

    I’m another who’s doing their best to view the year ahead with an optimistic tint, even if 2009 seems to be doing ITS best to make that damned difficult at the moment …

    ‘Beatings will continue until morale improves’

  8. Rob Gregory Browne

    Thanks all. Yes, there is much relief here. My wife and I kept it private so that no one else would have to worry with us, so I’m glad we can live worry free for now.

    Terri, I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter. I’ll keep thinking good thoughts for her.

    And like Dusty says, we live in hope. In a few days, the country will be starting out fresh, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that all goes well from here on out.

  9. Allison Brennan

    I’m so relieved that your wife is in the clear, Rob. You’re right, that alone makes 2009 worth celebrating.

    My year started with a deadline crunch. I suspect 2009 is going to be the year from deadline hell. And, my daughter is on varsity basketball and the swim team, and there is an overlap in practice . . . and while basketball takes precedence (because it started first and she made the commitment), she wants to make as many swim practices as possible, which is at a club 30 minutes away because our school doesn’t have a pool. And because I missed over half the volleyball games during her volleyball season, I promised I would go to every home game and as many away games for BB . . . out of four league games, I’ve missed one, but my husband went to I’m not counting that as a miss 🙂

    I’m beginning to dread when my three little ones, all who love sports but are too young for most team sports, start playing regularly . . . They’ll all be in high school at the same time.

  10. Kaye Barley

    Rob – all good wishes to you and your wife, and I am SO glad she’s O.K.!

    My ’09 is starting out O.K. Not great, but O.K. Having a faculty member in my office having a screaming fit this morning has pretty much put me in a pissy mood, but all in all things are O.K.

  11. J.D. Rhoades

    “In a few days, the country will be starting out fresh, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that all goes well from here on out.”

    Heard a story on NPR this morning about how the President-elect loves to read and the publisher they interviewed thinks it will spur book sales. Silly story but I hope they’re right.

  12. Rob Gregory Browne

    I suppose it doesn’t hurt that he’s a writer as well. Assuming he actually wrote the books (and I think he did).

    And I’m sure there isn’t a writer here who wouldn’t kill to see a photo of him holding his/her book.

  13. Marianne Plumridge

    Rob, I’m so glad your wife is well and the scare was a false alarm. I went through a similar one of my own just recently and I’m the one who remained calm while I had to simultaneously scrape my husband of the ceiling and deal with the re-examination. And the bills that came of it that our hideously expensive medical insurance refused to cover. F*#@k you Blue Cross. On top of that I had another small scare Sunday night but has now resolved itself and hubby took a tranquilizer. 😀

    It’s also been a bit of a zinger zone for us personally as well, but the work has been fine. We are just having trouble getting the energy and the momentum started for the deadlines looming.

    Hope everyone’s days improve with the lightening sun. Rock on Spring! I’m sick of the arctic freezes…Cheers,Marianne

  14. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Really glad your wife is okay, Rob. Terri, I wish you and your daughter the best.

    I’m having a great New Year except for the construction noise. But there’s always something.

    It IS a new start this month and that’s thrilling.

  15. tess

    Rob,what a scare for you and your wife. I’m so glad to hear it was just a scare, and not the real thing. Let’s hope that 2009 is exciting for you — but in a GOOD way.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *