Fresh Start

I thought a look back at the old year would be a good way to start the new one.  I know that sounds weird, but it seems like the thing to do.  Looking back usually helps me gain some perspective as well.  Plus, I found a great little questionnaire to speed the process along over at All & Sundry’s blog which she has generously offered.  If you’d like to do your own, feel free to copy and paste and post your answers (or where we can find them) in the comments section.

  1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before? The only thing that comes to mind at the moment is starting graduate school…although, that is a pretty big step when you consider where I’d been academically.  And, the best part is, and I don’t believe I’ve told you this yet, that I earned an “A” in my first class in graduate school.  I was totally blown away because there were parts that I didn’t feel I had done that well.  And, then there were other parts that I knew I had mastered.  Still, there it is…graduate school.  A couple of other things come to mind:  I met two U.S. Senators this year and I was on a team that brought the Secretary of State to my university.  Also, I visited South Dakota, Mount Rushmore, and Baltimore, Maryland for the first time in 2010.  And I completed my first NaBloPoMo.  So, I suppose it’s been a pretty big year.
  2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next (this!) year? I didn’t really make any resolutions last year.  The one goal that I did attempt was to train for and run a marathon.  At this, I failed miserably.  Not only was I sick off and on for the whole year, but the Snowpocalypse 2010 made it nearly impossible to go outside for about a month.  For this year, I want to exercise more.  If that includes some road races, so be it.  Also, I want to continue to be excited about graduate school and excel as I have been doing.  I’d also like to make some inroads on learning a new language, but that’s sort of pushing the envelope probably and if I don’t keep that one, it’ll be okay.
  3. Did anyone close to you give birth? I assume you mean close biologically and not just spatially.  Thus, the answer is yes.  My sister gave birth to my beautiful niece Olivia in July and she has the biggest eyes you’ve ever seen on a baby.  Also, she seems to be a very happy little baby which is nice.  Also, my second goddaughter Emily was born in February to my good friends A. and J. and she is naturally adorable as well.
  4. Did anyone close to you die? My friend Scott Hicks took his own life this summer and that was painful for many reasons.  The Scott I knew was strong, faithful, and benevolent with his time and money.  So, for him to end this way was a shock beyond the fact that it happened.  Also, the fact that I had a nightmare that he died nearly two years to the day that it happened shook me a little when I realized it.
  5. What countries did you visit? No international trips this year, which is a shame because I dearly love to go to new places, but it’s not in the budget or the cards these days.  Still, hope springs eternal.
  6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010? A clean bill of health.  I was sick for a lot of 2010…not dangerously or critically so, but just not well.  I would love to go back to my days of no doctor visits.
  7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? I don’t tend to remember dates that much.  I remember my daughter’s birthday (May 4) and my wife’s birthday (December 3) and our anniversary (August 8), but beyond that, I don’t tend to remember dates from particular years.  So…probably none.
  8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Truly it was the completion of my first grad school class.  I know that seems to be a recurrent theme, but I don’t think many people grasp the enormity of this event in my life.  I didn’t care much for school after about sixth or seventh grade (except that one time in eighth grade when I got $100 bucks for straight A’s and blew it all on G.I. Joe toys).  High school was a necessary evil.  College was a wild roller coaster ride for many years and it provided several gut-wrenchingly awful moments for me and my parents and just completing an undergraduate degree seemed like a monumental task.  To even attempt grad school would be mental anguish for me, but so far it’s gone really excellent and I look forward to continuing.
  9. What was your biggest failure? I didn’t fail too spectacularly at any one thing this year.  I suppose that I’ll have to go with the marathon thing because I really did have my sights set on it, but a number of things conspired against me…not the least of which was simply time.  Marathon runners require a lot of time, even amateur ones…particularly amateur ones, and I just didn’t have the time.  Plus, with being sick and the weather patterns, it just didn’t happen for me.
  10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Thankfully no injuries this year, but illness aplenty as I’ve previously stated.
  11. What was the best thing you bought? We bought a Kia Soul this year which has been ideal.  We traded in an old 2-door Civic that was not the best option for the three of us for a sweet “HamsterRide” that has saved my knees from getting IvyCat in and out of the backseat.
  12. Where did most of your money go? Sadly, it went to food…and daycare.  That shit is expensive, yo!  And, we eat out way too much, but it’s easier than cooking at home with our schedules the way they are.  Plus, our daycare is wonderful and it’s totally worth the money for the care that IvyCat receives.
  13. What did you get really excited about? I tend not to be very excitable.  Seriously, I just don’t get that excited about things.  I will say that I was fairly stoked about being asked to go to the conference in South Dakota, only because I’d never been there before.  I also very much enjoyed my trip to Camden Yards while in Baltimore.  But, I wouldn’t say any of that caused a great amount of excitement.
  14. What song will always remind you of 2010? Music is big in our house.  We love a lot of music and we listen to a lot of music.  That makes it a little difficult to pick one song to encompass the whole year.  One song that does stick with me is “Party in my Tummy” from Yo Gabba Gabba.  It makes IvyCat dance and she now rubs her belly when she wants to watch YGG on TV.  And, I don’t know if it will remind me of 2010 or not, but that Cee Lo Green song, yeah, that one…and The Sound of Sunshine by Michael Franti & Spearhead.
  15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
    Happier/Sadder?
    I’d say happier. I’ve been getting happier for years now which has been great.  I used to be one miserable sonofabitch for no real good reason, but I’ve been happier over the last decade.  This is due in no small part to my beautiful wife, C., who continues to be a source of joy in my life.
    Thinner/Fatter?
    Definitely fatter.  My exercise regimen has been nonexistent this year and I resolve to do much better this year.  My knees, and probably my heart, will thank me for it.  Also, it might not hurt if I ate a little better.
    Richer/Poorer?
    Monetarily, we’re probably a little richer.  We’ve been managing our money better, mostly because we’ve had to, but we seem to be on the right track these days.
  16. What do you wish you’d done more of? I wish I’d been able to save a little more money and I wish we’d traveled more, which I know sort of contradicts itself.  I wish my Dad and I had been able to see more baseball stadiums together, but it just wasn’t in the cards.
  17. What do you wish you’d done less of? Worrying about bills, or school, or work, or just in general.  I’m a worrier, silently, but I still worry.  It’s just something I do, but I wish I did less of it.
  18. How did you spend Christmas? Christmas 2010 was somewhat the same as previous years although this year we actually opened gifts at our home on Christmas morning.  IvyCat was still a little unclear on the concept, but I think she’s starting to figure it out a little.  After that, we went to C.’s parents’ house and then afterwards to my parents’ house.  There are pros and cons to having everyone in the same city.  The pros being that you get to see everyone, the cons being that you spend a lot of time in the car.  During the event it’s a pain, but afterwards it’s totally worth it.
  19. What was your favorite TV program? Definitely Big Bang Theory.  I love that show and it continues to be fresh and funny.  If you’re a geek and you’re not watching it, well, you’re definitely missing out.  If you’re not a geek and you’re not watching it, check it out because it’s funny.  If you’re a geek and you don’t think it’s funny…you may be Dr. Sheldon Cooper.
  20. What were your favorite books of the year? I loved The Unforeseen Wilderness by Wendell Berry and The Miracle at Philadelphia by Catherine Drinker Bowen.  Those were books I read in 2010, not necessarily books written that year.  I don’t keep up much with new literature unless it’s something a favorite author wrote.  Speaking of which…Sarah Vowell, if you’re reading this, first of all, thank you, and secondly, I really need you to write a new book.
  21. What was your favorite music from this year?Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons.  That one is awesome.  I liked what I heard of ArchAndroid by Janelle Monae.  I find that I listen to a lot of music on the radio and I don’t necessarily know when it’s released or who it’s by, but these showed up on the WFPK DJ lists a couple of times and they’re ones I remember.
  22. What were your favorite films of the year? We didn’t get out much to see many films, but we saw a couple.  If you’ve not seen Winter’s Bone with Louisvillian Jennifer Lawrence, see it now!  And then when she wins an Oscar, you can tell the people at the party you’re at why she deserved to win and not somebody else.  If she doesn’t win, I’m sure Natalie Portman will win for Black Swan even though I’ve not seen it yet.  The trailer alone for that film is enough to put it on the best of 2010 list for me. Harry Potter 7.1 (as I like to call it) is naturally on the best of list because that entire series is consistently some of the best film making today.  Inception was visually stunning and I’m a big fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  I think that’s maybe the only films we saw this year.  Toy Story 3 was wonderful, but it was not on par with these other films.
  23. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you? I turned 36 this year.  On the actual day of my birthday, the city scheduled a snow day for me, so I got to hang out with my wife.  We took IvyCat to my parents and had a good lunch, did some Christmas shopping, and saw a sneak preview of the Reese Witherspoon/Paul Rudd/Owen Wilson/Jack Nicholson film How Do You Know which is a pretty decent romantic comedy regardless of the reviews.
  24. What one thing would’ve made your year immeasurably more satisfying? This is going to sound awful, but, honestly, I would’ve loved to have been able to quit my church job.  It’s a good job and the pay is great, but it would be great NOT to have to go church every Sunday and just occasionally call God up from my bed and say “This morning isn’t going to work for me, Lord.  You had a day of rest, why can’t I?”
  25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010? Due to the new job for 2010, I felt like I really had to step up my game in the fashion department.  I wore a tie 4 days a week for most of the year.  Even Fridays were not my usual t-shirt and jeans affair.  I did button downs or sweaters.  I even received a new 3-piece suit for my birthday which will start my 2011 fashion concept in high style.  I’m not really sure what a fashion concept is…I do like to be comfortable, so if that’s a concept, then let’s go with that.
  26. What kept you sane? Quiet time with a book.  My wife. Decent television. Wii Sports.
  27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010. Well, with the horrific tragedies in Haiti and Chile, the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the never-ending conflicts in hotspots around the world, and the constant poverty and hunger, one lesson that I have to remind myself of yearly if not more often is that I really am fairly well off and I would do well not to complain too much about the silly situation I find myself in, even if it seems monumental at the moment.

See you in the funny papers!

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