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The last day of 2017, I completed Charles Dickens’ quite lengthy “Great Expectations.” Reviewing the passages I highlighted, conveniently captured by Goodreads, following is the text that struck me most:

We spent as much money as we could, and got as little for it as people could make up their minds to give us. We were always more or less miserable, and most of our acquaintance were in the same condition. There was a gay fiction among us that we were constantly enjoying ourselves, and a skeleton truth that we never did. To the best of my belief, our case was in the last aspect a rather common one.

These words seem apropos to my recent writing about defining happiness. Having “Great Expectations” on the required reading list in high school is pointless really as this and other life lessons the book offers require decades of living for reference and reflection. I think it would be more beneficial to include this book on a required reading list for seniors.

New Year’s Eve is a time for reflection and a time for celebration. Lest you think I read my way through the festivities, fear not. It was arctic cold, but I adorned layers of clothing before trekking off to NYC. At the last minute, I also ran out to buy hand and toe warmers. Essentially, I packed for a trip to Alaska.

For the second year in a row, I was happy to stay on the east side of Manhattan, away from the insanity of Times Square. Stomp at the Orpheum Theatre was the first stop, an electric and imaginative percussion performance. The vigor and discipline required to pull off such high-energy theatrics is evident not only from the delivery but from the muscular builds of these performing artists.

Then off to Amelie Wine Bar for ambrosial French cuisine and an ambience of party fever complete with a red lacquer bar. The hour struck midnight while I was at the Comedy Cellar in the Village. It was an impressive lineup. Jessica Kirson was especially hysterical. Michael Che, of Saturday Night Live, stopped by after midnight and kept the comedy going. He’s one of my SNL favorites, so that was an extra bonus.

After New Year’s Day brunch, I proceeded with my choice of the first book to read in 2018: “Gut,” by Giulia Enders. I suppose this makes me one of a million or so people starting a new year with a focus on health. The truth is I need a little break from reading the classics and also believe we can never be reminded enough that we are what we eat. As Pip mournfully says in the quote above, we are always more or less miserable. But I think it’s better to be miserable with good health than bad. Or at least that’s my great expectation.