Last day of the year. I woke up a bit before 7, took the dog out, and went to work. Same scenario you read about hundreds of times.
We got a message from the principal, school will end at 3:30 today, to extend the three-day weekend even more. That means no Crazy Class. Part of me thought about this will affect my planning for the final exam review but I was also glad I could just leave earlier and kick back at home.
Lunch was quite a feast, I assembled a bunch of stuff I got at the imported food grocery store in Shanghai, with fried halloumi, hummus, tortilla bread with cream cheese, olives, pickles, hard-boiled eggs, salami and nuts. Then I went back to school. I only had three class periods with twelfth-graders and they went okay, I guess. I shook hands with coworkers, wished them a happy new year, and went home.
I spent the rest of the late afternoon and early evening watching documentaries, losing at online chess, listening to music, and drinking red wine. The girlfriend went to a wedding in another city, so it was just me and the dog. At around 9 or 10, I pondered whether or not I should go to the bar, see all my pals who’d sure be there, and do the whole cheesy countdown thing, but decided that staying put was a more desirable option. Fuck, I’m almost middle-aged now, I value my me-time above a lot of things.
I did go on a long walk with the dog, though, enjoying the quiet streets and crisp winter air. I walked along the canal, which is seriously picturesque, all lit up at night but with still gritty edges to it. The city built a pedestrian boardwalk just at the edge of the water, and when I walked under a bridge, I looked across and finally saw it, the legendary hermit dog. He dwells in a pile of rubble under the bridge in an area that can’t be reached on foot, and survives on food that benevolent old people lower there with a bucket and a rope. I heard about him but never could catch a glimpse, now he was there at the edge of the water. That filled me with heavy sadness, poor little guy.
My guess is he got thrown off the bridge as a puppy by some scumbag who didn’t want him, perhaps with the rest of the litter, and instead of drowning he made his way to his new living space. I heard about him for a while now, when I’d walk there I’d see old women leaning on the guardrail, gossiping, talking about that one time they saw him briefly, wondering if he’s even real. I once considered going there with my boat, but then what? He might be feral and full of diseases, and even if he let me “rescue” him, it’s not as if there will be a line of people looking to adopt him. His fate would be the same as all those bastard unwanted stray dogs, and what was awaiting my own little ugly bastard unwanted stray dog, if we hadn’t picked him up as he was living on garbage and little snack sausages the apartment complex’s security guard were chucking him.
That was as good of a time as any to reflect on the past year, and my own lot in life. It could definitely suck more, and all things considered, I have it good and am happy. My life is a bit mundane and even mediocre in a way, but with FOMO and social media and survivorship bias and some kind of hussling culture, it’s too easy nowadays to compare oneself disfavorably to abnormally successful people (or, people who project such a façade) and feel inadequate. I’m not very ambitious, I don’t particularly want to be rich or famous or leave a lasting legacy, I’m happy just drifting through life doing things I find interesting, and be left alone.
Which brings us to this diary. This is the last entry, and I still haven’t thought about how I’ll fill this void of free time. Maybe write a novel, maybe level up my Chinese, maybe I won’t plan anything and just be happy I stuck to it till the end. I’ll keep the 330 000-word file somewhere, and will decide whether I nuke the blog itself, or let it float on its corner of the internet like a piece of driftwood.
So this is it, then. Happy New Year to you and your loved ones, health, prosperity and all that.