I haven’t blogged in a while. In fact I haven’t done much of anything that can be considered creative or original for quite a while which is kind of a problem when you write code for a living! I’ve been pondering this post’s possibility for a few months, and finally having been inspired by other bloggers and tweeters that have expressed similar sentiments, I’m going to finally get this done and get going on my new year.
2013 was the worst. How bad? So bad that the murder of two friends wasn’t even in the top three awful things that happened (though it’s a very bad idea to try to rank these types of things).
In February I lost my beloved grandmother. This wasn’t unexpected as she was 94 and had lived a long, long life but it still hits you pretty hard to you won’t hear her sweet voice again. She had always been the gravitational center of our family, around which all holidays and birthdays rotated. She could have been a professional singer and did an amazing Barbara Streisand imitation. I loved listening to her stories of growing up on the farm with 11 brothers and sisters and her amazing cooking.
In April my friends Gary and Chloe Thoreson, along with Gary’s brother Dean, were murdered by what can only be called a madman. I met Gary and Chloe via mutual friends during an annual summer outing to American Player’s Theatre, where we’d eat and drink too much before the show, struggle to grok the Shakespearean English in Act I, and nod off by Act II. Gary started out as a pig farmer/breeder, but became a coder by automating the family operations; He’d come to the MadDotNet meetings and the Geek Lunches when he could, always with a smiling, good-to-meet-ya face and something to share.
My mother died next, in June, of pancreatic cancer. This is one nasty disease. Six months after her diagnosis she was gone. We’re still recovering a little each day but we’re not there yet. I shudder to think about how different my life would be, how worse it would be, if my dad hadn’t married this woman before it was too late to shape me.
In early July I lost my best friend, my exercise companion, and my snuggle buddy, my…you guessed it… dog. We inherited our golden retriever Pickles at 1 year old and he was my constant companion ever since. I used to bring him into work, him running alongside me while I rode my bike and then panting for the next hour at my feet so loudly that I was afraid to call a client lest they think something unbecoming was going on in the office. The bicycle runalongs worked well almost every time, but if there was a squirrel or bunny that would dash across the bike path and I didn’t let go of the leash in time I’d go tumbling. I still have a scar from the time I tried to rollerblade with him and couldn’t let go fast enough! Once when I took him to play lunchtime Ultimate he took no interest at all in the frisbees, instead chasing the geese halfway to Picnic Point. I was so worried he was going to snag his leash and not be able to come back, but eventually he lost interest in the angry birds intent on drowning him and returned to shore shaking from exhaustion. I was shaking from fear. The day we had to put him down from the aggressive Lyme’s disease he picked up in our twice daily walk through the woods was devastating.
This next one may seem minor but I gotta get it written down so I don’t forget it. In August the dentist removed my last remaining baby tooth. I had some genetic “specialness” that caused no adult tooth to come in on the bottom left, so the baby tooth just hung in there. Now that specialness is gone too, and I’ve yet to get that implant.
One more funeral in December for my great-Aunt Gertrude, who not only married my grandma’s (see above) brother, but was also my grandfather‘s niece AND she was born one day after my grandmother. This was the first funeral of the year where I wasn’t a pallbearer – and just when I was getting to be a pro at it!
As one might suspect, all of this loss affected me greatly and to the point where I had my first bout with depression. I did not like it. Listless, uninspired, grumpy, and that hopeless feeling! It sinks and sinks and it feels like there’s no way out! Fortunately mine was situational more than chemical and as time passes I am starting to see the light again but I’m not there yet.
I pine for what else I lost; Because of the depression I could not think and definitely could not code and basically just lost all motivation. I lost a job working for a guy I really liked as well as a few of my clients. Through a serendipitous stroke of fortune around the time my mother was diagnosed I was offered a regular job with the U.S. Courts, who had been my employer for 13 years between 1991 and 2005 and who reinstated all of my lost sick leave. I ended up needing a lot of it this year. I can’t imagine where I’d be without that job, and the clients who stuck with me as well with patience and understanding.
If you’ve heard the expression “The Downward Spiral” they are not kidding. Around Thanksgiving, appropriately, I began seeing Facebook posts of people expressing gratitude for their various things. It definitely helps to consider all the things there are to be thankful for. I’m still relatively healthy and I’ve still got my Dad (who took me to Hawai’i for two weeks in September) and my family. In the spring and summer my baseball team helped me to keep it together and we ended up putting together a very good season. All year round the pickup Ultimate (Frisbee) game has kept me moving in the sunshine and they’re always full of fun and laughs (if you’re looking for a welcoming sport for all skills I can’t recommend Ultimate highly enough).
I was chosen to speak at a few events this year, which forces you to focus and get something done because your reputation is absolutely on the line! Thanks to Southwest Fox conference and the SQL Saturdays and User Groups including my beloved MadFox (since 1995!), Geek Lunch, MadDotNet and MadPass.
Most of all thanks to the people that I’ve met through and they’re willingness to share their own professional and personal struggles with me has really helped. It seems like whatever you’re feeling, you’re definitely not alone in this world.
So on to 2014, the year I’ll get my groove back things will get a little better each day. No matter what kind of year 2013 was for you, I hope things get even better for you too.