In the dead days between Christmas and New Year's, a person's fancy turns lightly to consideration of the past year. There are a lot of folks out there who are thrilled to see the end of 2008, and although the economy has not affected us and we've been spared health problems or natural disasters, I can't help but look forward to the new year with as much anticipation as I can ever remember.
My university went through a traumatic scandal involving the president and the board of trustees just as the fall semester began. Although our interim president and new provost are steadfast in urging us to look forward, not back, the pain isn't over yet, since suspicion naturally swirls around the search process for a new president. Financial woes have hit the institution that, sadly, have nothing to do with the recession -- they're entirely the fault of lack of discipline and transparency, leaving us in a multi-million dollar hole.
The anxiety of the presidential race took its toll on me for most of the summer and fall. I refused to watch debates or other coverage, having made up my mind beyond the slightest doubt sometime last year, and dreading what felt like inevitable mistakes, gaffes, pandering, and boneheaded strategizing.
Yet like much of the country, I'm sure, it felt to me like 2009 actually began at about 10 pm Central time November 4, when the stars (many of them negative, it must be said) aligned to produce the election of Barack Obama. And like much of the country, probably, I still shock myself with the realization that it actually happened -- that a black man with a foreign name could be accepted by a majority of the electorate.
Nobody expects the world to change instantly on January 20, 2009. It's going to be a long road to good times, and the presidency in this election cycle seems like something of a booby prize. But something did change instantly on November 4 -- the world's perception and our own realization of what America could choose to do and be -- and what we look forward to in 2009 is the culmination of that story. And if others are anything like me, we're also looking forward to bold action, shared sacrifice, and getting down to work at last.