Dave's holiday letter
© David Volk

Dear Friends,

Long-time subscribers to the rant list know that I usually write a funny holiday letter this time of year filled with fanciful updates of the comings and goings of my family complete with made up relatives, political humor as well as jabs at anything and everything from the 365 days just passed.

I say usually because my heart just isn't in it this time around. Although I'm usually able to rise above even some of the most adverse conditions, 2003 has just been too hard and too painful to laugh at. It was supposed to be the year I made a go of my business as a freelance writer, the year I finally sold my humorous travel book and the time when my wife and I realized a few of our long-term goals. Instead, there was the Iraqi invasion, Shrub beckoned and my wife, a military reservist, got called up. She didn't get called to Iraq, for which we are both thankful, but she has been put in a situation where she spends almost as many days out of town on duty as she does at home.

We will make it through, but it has stretched the fabric of our family thin, left her stressed out and put us at odds on more than one occasion.

What irritates me most of all is that GW is her boss, a man who was too went missing and didn't report for duty with his own unit for more than a year during the Vietnam War. And don't even get me started on Weapons of Mass Destruction or supposedly pro-military Resident Bush's shoddy treatment of the reservists who are keeping all of the branches of the armed service afloat during "Operation: Enduring Vengeance for Daddy."

Suffice it to say, most of our goals have been put on hold.

That doesn't mean there weren't a few bright spots.

I did manage to sell a book, even if it wasn't my idea. It's called "The Snake Eats the Rat" and it uses quotes from the programs themselves to show the everyday wisdom we can learn  from watching reality TV. The only problem is that it means I have to sit through more than 200 hours of reality TV. And we all know what that means: 200 showers.

My wife got a new (used) car, a Subaru Outback wagon. It smells like it's burning oil, but it really isn't.

I got some great assignments this year from Seattle Magazine, I broke into a few new markets (and was acquitted of all charges), and I even got a free trip or two as a travel writer.

My wife and I went on a press tour of Portland, she got a free spa treatment, we stayed at a nice hotel and had wonderful free meals with great people. As enjoyable as it was, it wasn't near as nice as the Australia trip we had to pass up because of the call up.

I got to go to a National Writers Union gathering in California in the middle of winter, but I had to spend the entire weekend in a meeting room listening to people bicker.

I got a free trip to the National Writers Union's Delegates Assembly in Las Vegas, but I had to spend the entire weekend in meeting rooms listening to people debate issues (on the plus side, at least they weren't bickering).

I was elected chairman of the NWU's Election Committee, but that meant I had to get e-mails from candidates who seemed to have nothing better to do than snipe at me. I did get a free trip to New York out of it, but I had to spend part of it in a room watching people count votes. I guess I should have known that I was in trouble when one of the candidates I beat came up to me, shook my hand and said, "I'm not sure congratulations are in order."

While I was at Northwest Bookfest I also met a nice writer who offered to help get me a pitch meeting with an editor at Men's Health and delivered on her promise when I made it to New York. (The writer's name is Alix Strauss and you should buy her book, "The Joy of Funerals.") I don't know what will come as a result of the meeting, but I was happy to have the opportunity.

I got a chance to go by Guss Pickles on the lower East side and buy two containers of the greatest pickles in the world sold fresh out of the barrel while I was in Manhattan. In addition, I had chopped liver and a corned beef sandwich at the Second Avenue Deli long before anyone knew about Washington state's victim of Mad Cow Disease.

Speaking of opportunities, I also returned home to discover a number of exciting e-mails with great potential for my future. So, I do have some hope for the New Year, any way. I don't want to bore you with all of the details, but here are some of the projects I expect to be working on in the next year as a result:

I will be getting Viagra, Xanax, Valium and other drugs delivered to my door discretely all without prescription, which is a good thing because I will also be using the Penis patch and experiencing massive erections within seconds. If that doesn't work, I will be able to enlarge my organ without pills. Personally, I can hardly wait to get my organ enlarged because all we have in the house right now is a tiny piano.

Another bit of good news is that I will have plenty of opportunities to see the Paris Hilton. I'm not quite sure why this is a good thing, though. Quite frankly, I would rather have had the chance to see the Melbourne Marriott or the Sydney Sheraton.

I'm also told I will be able to make women desire me more, but I'm not sure my wife will be so pleased. Unless, of course, she is one of the women who desires me more.

As if that weren't enough, I will be stopping online spam forever, earning a degree on line, getting lower interest rates, investing in some amazingly hot stocks that are too good to pass up even if they are from companies I've never heard of. If I really want, I can see some woman named Jenna Jameson do unspeakable things as I save on cruises, name a star for someone special and get amazing rates on term life insurance.

I thank the good lord for the internet almost every day for without all these opportunities coming across my desk I would have almost no hope for the new year at all.

There were, of course, a few other promising developments.

The temporary disappearance of Rush Limbaugh due to drug addiction. While I would never laugh at another's misfortunes I am pleased that he is showing himself to be this era's Walter Winchell and is rapidly following the sour man who preceeded him into a spiral of addiction that will eventually leave him friendless, penniless, powerless and relegated to the dust bin of history.

The capture of Saddam Hussein. Since Resident Bush has reminded us so often of Saddam's ties and contacts with the Al Qaeda terrorist network, I'm sure that Hussein will finally drop the dime on his buddy Osama so that the Bushies will be able to end the war on terrorism. If what Bush has hinted at is true, I expect to hear news of bin Laden's capture any day now.

If I've missed it, please let me know.

Here's hoping your holidays were happy and that you get almost everything you want in the coming year,

David Volk