Ring out the Old…


Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits…and sometimes I write. I am doing the latter while waiting for Kelvin, our venerable refrigerator, to be hauled away. Kelvin lasted a long time, taking the blame for disappearing food (“Who ate the last pork chop?” “Kelvinator!”) for two decades and change. It is the last original major appliance in the Hartlaub House of Hoo-Ha to give up the ghost. I bought it and this house twenty-two years ago — July 1, 1994 — when I was a single dad with three children. Four days after I moved myself and my brood into this residence and started making it a home a company named “Amazon” started in Seattle, Washington, with the goal of being the world’s largest bookstore. The new refrigerator wasn’t purchased from Amazon, but it could have been.

I won’t try to list all or even a few of the things that have happened in the world since Kelvin was pressed into service. I’ll tell you a few of the things that have happened to me. They were all surprises. I remarried. I had a fourth child. I’ve had stories published, had a supporting role in a feature film (which you all may yet see in 2017), changed my field of law practice, written some book reviews for bookreporter.com (which didn’t exist in 1994 either), and acquired a whole bunch of new friends (and yes, maybe a couple of enemies too!). Kelvin was a part of a bit of all of that, and it’s going to somewhat of a somber moment when the truck pulls up to haul it away, to be replaced by what more likely than not will be my last refrigerator, particularly if the new one lasts as long as the old one did.

“Somber” for me has usually been followed by “pensive.” It would be easy as the old year ends and a new one begins to reflexively list my New Year’s resolutions, and ask you to share yours as well. Instead, I’m going to ask you: what is it that you don’t want to do in 2017? Mine is easy to state, and hard to do, particularly because it soooo easy in my case to use age an excuse to do otherwise. I’m going to try however, to follow this rule: Don’t. Screw. Up. Now let’s see yours.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year! Be safe. We’ll see you on the other side of the New Year.



28 thoughts on “Ring out the Old…

  1. “particularly if the new one lasts as long as the old one did.”

    Don’t count on it. Odds are high that it won’t. Motherboard will give out ($250); some plastic piece will break ($250); etc.

    • Very true, Eric, although I was able to extend the life of this one by a couple of years thanks to You Tube step-by-step videos which treated the viewer like the total idiot he was/is. Maybe the same will hold true with the new one, which unlike the old one, does not sound it is playing the METAL MACHINE MUSIC album by Lou Reed on an endless loop.

      Unfortunately, what you said is likely to more sooner apply to me than the refrigerator, particularly about the motherboard. We’ll see. Thank you for contributing!

  2. What I don’t want to do is what I do best, that is let that past define who I am.
    Depression, regret and self-hate should, and I hope will, be replaced with a better understanding and more acceptance of who I am now as opposed to who I was then.
    I have no doubt that those three will stop by for a visit now and again but when they do I can hopefully just slam the door on them and go back to writing.

    • Wow, Ryan. I could have written that. I try to remind myself each day that looking in the rearview mirror all of the time is not only counterproductive but also dangerous. An intermittent glance or two is all that is necessary. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Joe, don’t know what the new year will bring, and I’m not sure I’m ready, but I’m going to try. Thanks for what you’ve brought to the (writing) table this past year.

    • Richard, you’re welcome, and thank you as well for your frequent contributions and welcome insight. We’ll see you on the other side!

    • Your’e welcome Terry, and thank you for stopping by. Without you and our other visitors, there would be no point to what we do. We hope to see you frequently in 2017.

  4. Good morning, Joe.

    Sitting at the top of Ohio and imprisoned by a level three emergency, it’s nice to hear from you.

    As Doc Mabry mentioned, thanks for all your posts over the past year!

    What I don’t want to do in the coming year is to let the busyness of life get in the way of spending time with friends. With moving and working over the past 3 months, life has been depressing. It’s time for a new year and new priorities.

    Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    • Good morning, Steve. I didn’t know that you were on a level three over there. I hope that ends soon. We’re not, although there are some people out on the road who SHOULD be! I hope you’ll get settled in soon…it’s tough to have been in a place for a while and then up sticks, it’s like nothing is right for a while. I hope/know you’ll find the balance soon. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours as well!

  5. R.I.P. Kelvin. Hugs, Joe, for your loss.

    What won’t I want to do in 2017? My answer is the same for 2016: fail, not keep moving forward in my writing career, and not make more free time for myself and family.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, Joe. Best wishes for a prosperous, healthy and happy new year.

    • Thank you, Sue. Sounds like a plan! We wish you the best on that. And Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, with much success, to you as well! Thanks for stopping by here so frequently.

  6. I like yours, Joe. Don’t. Screw. Up.

    I’m not a big resolution believer. My goals meld together without any big end of year demarcation. For example, I’m well on my way to setting up goals through 2017 for my writing. My projects are mapped out with obligations.

    On a personal note, I want to plan a couple of trips to see friends or travel with them, to enjoy life & replenish the creative well.

    Merry Christmas, Joe. Have a great holliday with your family.

    • Good morning, Jordan! That sounds terrific. Merry Christmas to you as well. And if your travels send you to Ohio or New Orleans, let me know. Maybe we can find a way to make a security guard nervous!

  7. “Hartlaub House of Hoo-Ha”. You never cease to tickle my funny bone. Thank you for your whimsical style. May your next fridge also bring you many years of good and faithful service.

    As to what I DON’T want to do next year (or any other year), I will never, ever allow myself to become a beast of burden for some hell-hole employer ever again. In the last month and a half I have learned what’s it’s like to be treated like a human being and I like it. There was a song by Aaron TIppin (not sure I remember correctly) that said “I like it. I love it. I want some more of it.” There ya go.

    • Thank you BK for your kind words and frequent visits this year. And best wishes for a long, fruitful, and enjoyable employment relationship. BTW, I think the song you mentioned is by Tim McGraw, but Aaron Tippin sure could have/should have recorded it. I like Aaron better anyway. But don’t tell anyone, okay? Have a good one.

    • Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. I am totally with you, Patricia. Your life will be happier. In so many ways. Have a great 2017!

    • I’m right there with you on that one, Patricia. I started tapering off FB months ago and now I hardly ever bother to log in. I don’t miss it at all. Except maybe the cute dog videos…

  8. Good post, Joe. I know how you feel about the fridge. Several years ago I moved out of a house with an ancient, but perfect, gas range into an apartment with a newer, crappier electric stove. I bought a countertop butane burner so I could still use my wok.

    The one thing I don’t want to do is stay locked into a state of non-writing due to depression and a sense of “what’s the use?”. I finished a first draft of a novel a few years ago, then put it aside for a few weeks as advised by Mr. Bell’s book on revision. Two weeks later I had emergency open heart surgery, months of recovery, then more surgeries, a few mini-strokes, blood clots, eye surgery, and crippling complications from diabetes.

    The first draft is still on my computer. I did submit the first 400 words to TKZ this summer and received many encouraging critique comments from everyone. Thanks for that. But it still sits just as I left it.

    So I’m hoping I can shake this curse and revise it, or scrap it and move on to something else. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone!

  9. Dave, thank you for your kind words as always, and thank you for sharing your experiences. It’s a cautionary tale, for sure.Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed by any means, is it? Thanks for helping me to appreciate TODAY and whatever happens, good and bad, so that I can make the most of it. And we’ll look forward to seeing that first draft published, Dave!

  10. Oh dear…I have to buy a new fridge this month or next. It’s like bra-shopping. I’m going to put it off as long as possible.

    Happy healthy New Year to you, Joe, my fellow bloggers and all our TKZ friends who show up or even just lurk. You guys keep us going!

    • Well, Kris, I just choked Diet Pepsi all over the keyboard. You’ve still got it. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

      Thanks so much and have a Happy New Year. I’m as always looking forward to your new book with my cold, wet nose pressed up against the doorglass!

  11. How is it I’m feeling nostalgic over your refrigerator? You are a writer.

    What I don’t want to do in 2017 is fail to publish my novel, six years in the making. I’m putting my vow here to make myself accountable.

    • Thank you very much, Nancy. You know what a compliment that is.

      As for not failing…as our colleague Mister Gilstrap has so eloquently stated: “When failure is not an option, success is guaranteed.” Just so. We look forward to seeing you front and center on the bookshelves, Nancy!

  12. Sorry about Kelvin. I understand the attachment, though. My dad had a deathtrap of a car that even charity wouldn’t take at the end, yet he was so attached to it, he had tears in his eyes when they hauled it away. It’s not the item, it’s the memories.

    What I intend not to do in 2017? I plan on not staying stagnant in my career. I accomplished a lot in 2016, and I won’t accept not doing more moving forward.

    Happy holidays to you and your family.

    • Stacy, I have a 1999 Honda Accord that I can’t let go of. It’s been to 38 states and has about 311,000 miles on it. I’ve had two mechanics tell me that I needed to get a new car. I just got new mechanics instead. I’m not a car guy but I totally get your dad’s attachment to his.

      Thanks for stopping by. I like your intentions re: not staying stagnant. It’s hard to hit a moving target; keep going. And Happy New Year to you and yours!

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