On the upside, Nick’s blood sugar is 118 – a perfect 3 a.m. number. So that’s good. On the downside, I can’t get back to sleep. The dog was twitching in her sleep, nails scraping on the floor. I finally rolled out from under the covers, unable to bear the sound, crouched down next to her. For a moment I worried she was having a seizure. She’s old. Maybe she was dying right in front of me. The beginnings of panic bloomed. “Sandy!” I whispered, rubbing her side. “Wake up!” After a moment, she lifted her head, gave me a groggy look, then rolled to her side for a belly rub. Her legs stopped spasming. She’d been chasing rabbits in her sleep after all, not running into the afterlife.

I needed to check Nick, so I tiptoed up the stairs, stabbed his finger, let the test strip absorb the blood, exhaled when the number flashed. No need to dash back down for glucose tablets and food. No cause to correct and stay awake for follow-ups. I only realized the tightness around my heart when relief eased it.

But I stay awake anyway. My head hurts. Stress, I thought. It was an imperfect evening. The glass of red wine, maybe. I remembered I’d forgotten to eat dinner – a side effect of running from meeting to meeting in the evening. I’d neglected breakfast, too, racing off to do radio at 5:30 a.m. Wow, that was fun. Not the failure to eat, but the playing music and gabbing at people via the airwaves. (I did eat lunch. A fine slice of pizza at the new Paul’s Live From New York in Eureka.)

So I’m up, wishing someone had bothered to build a fire. A chill pervades the house. I’ve pulled the hood of my hoodie up over my head. My hands can hardly type for shivering. The cold yogurt I ate didn’t help. I think I’ll grab a blanket and put the kettle on for early morning tea. Be right back.

All right, I added a long-sleeved T-shirt between the short-sleeved one I was sleeping in and the aforementioned hoodie. (Side note: Strange to think a time existed when I slept naked. At some point, with the kids, pajamas became the norm. Maybe when they’re off in the world, I’ll return to a more au natural state.) The kettle creaks on top of the flame – I’ll have to catch it before it whistles, so as not to wake the rest of the house. The inside thermometer reads 60 degrees, which would be great if I were on the beach in the sun without any wind blowing, but is so much colder inside the house, in the dark, at 4 a.m.

Somewhere, not far from here, I’m sure, people are likely huddled outside, trying to stave off the elements without a house or a hoodie or any of the other material goods I’m fortunate enough to possess. I am cold, but not unlucky.

I haven’t figured out the new year yet. The big news is my oldest daughter moved to Southern California. That will need to be a whole post in itself. I didn’t make any formal resolutions – the aspects of myself in need of fixing continue to be. The desire to improve remains strong. I understand, intellectually, the courses of action necessary to achieve the desired results. The physical doing of those actions, however, well, therein lies the flaw. Sometimes excuses are true – I have a lot going on – and sometimes they’re just rationalizations. I’m not that bad, I’m mostly successful! I think. Even if I don’t attain perfection, at least I’m not a complete loser.

Not a very good motivational speech.

Feeling self-conscious about the self-indulgent self analysis. Maybe I need to spend more time focusing on others? Hmmm. At risk of sounding defensive (to whom, Jennifer?), I don’t think that’s it. Yes, here on my blog, I spew all about me, but in daily life, I take care of my family’s needs (imperfectly) and strive to do good. Some Puritan work ethic appears to run through the maternal side of my family – I can’t conceive of what it would be like to feel as if I work “enough.” All I can ever see is the room for improvement. I spend a lot of time in that room. I should probably get out more.

2012. I’m not sure about it yet. 2010 was brilliant – an amazing new job, international travel, a whole year of blossoming. 2011, full of sociability and good times and rewarding moments as it was, did not measure up. Is that a terrible thing to say? I worry I will hurt people’s feelings. It wasn’t you, it was me – a certain melancholy took hold and wouldn’t let me out of its grip no matter how much time I spent among people I love. Much (not all!) of 2011 was treading water, just sort of hanging in there, trying to maintain high standards, but unsure what I was measuring against. I want 2012 to be a year of stepping up. Not necessarily doing more, but doing better. Growing. Traveling. Taking what was good about 2011 (many things!) to new heights and leaving the lesser moments behind. And all kinds of vague, non-specific, generic sentiment like that.

What do I want specifically? To end the year with some savings. To go to Mexico. To help Kaylee move into the adult phase of her life. To make sure Nick’s health remains strong. To encourage Chelsea’s success in her ongoing life story. To push Bobby into finding satisfaction through art. To see the Marine Life Protection Act implemented on the North Coast and to have a next project to work on – to keep feeling like the efforts I put toward bettering the world matter. To surf and surf and surf. To read more. To lose the clichéd 15 lbs. because why not? To more regularly connect with the friends and family I don’t see enough whether in person or through writing to them more often and better. No more saying,”Miss you so much! Let’s talk soon!” and not following up. To keep writing. Maybe someday I’ll get good at it.