Simple Ideas

Happy Old Year

Lifestyle & Culture | December 31, 2011

There is something unsettling about the year changing depending on where you are on the globe. At some level, i think the new year should start for everyone in time zone where they were born. In that case, I'd have an hour left, as opposed to 4 hours left, in 2011. Just seems like slacking to be lagging three hours behind the others who were born on the East Coast. Thought I'd write a few words to ease that unsettled feeling, if you don't mind.

I can say that whenever the old year departs, it will depart having left me a happier person in the end. So I'm taking a moment. This is a moment of taking stock.

So how did 2011 go? At work, quite well. Late in 2010 I went to my dept chair and asked that I not teach with two professors who clashed with my style. I never said they were bad people, just oil and water. But with them out of the line up in 2011, the evaluations given by the students improved. Those were the end of class ratings, so I didn't give them as much weight. At the end of the class, you get a lot of "yay I passed" love. That is appreciated, but what I really appreciate is the 6 month to a year later love.

Those folks showed up in droves in the last quarter of the year. I could not walk down a hallway on a Monday without some former student coming up and telling me that "they tell all their friends to take my classes". That really is the sign to me that my job is making a difference. And at the end of the year, that is the kind of job I want to look back on. Not that people liked me, but that I did my job in a way that people remembered and recommended.

Surfing improved this year. Oh sure, there was that little incident with the skull fracture and the surgery and the larceny perpetrated by a TV personality. water under the bridge, big picture. Because big picture, I got two new boards this year and I learned how to turn them. Year one was stand up and go straight to the beach. This year, I got some new skills.

It was also the year that I taught my brother to surf. Ranked among the best moments of the year was surfing side by side with my brother. Two kids from the underbelly of PA learning to surf after the age of 50? Whodathunk? Doesn't matter, it happened and it was a moment that will never fade.

Then there is the future grandchild. My oldest is about 7.5 months into baking my first grand-kid. Arguably the focus of my life has been "live long enough to be a good grandpa". That focus appeared when my own grandparents started dropping dead about the time I was 10. I considered that very rude and changed my diet and exercise program to, I hope, provide for a longer span of gran-parenting to the grand-kids. No one can control the outcome, but you do the best you can with the inputs and see how it goes.

I talked to my Mom today. Yep, all my grandparents are now gone. And I'm down to one parent. That is the the last cushion a child has. The idea that as long as you have one parent alive, you got a generation left. Its false hope, because you never really know when your number is up, but at least you can thing you still have the prior generation running interference for you. And as 2011 comes to a close, I have Mom as the pulling guard while I sweep the left side of the line. Thanks Mom.

I spent the whole year in America. That may sound trivial or Jingoistic, but it was just how it played out. My last trip abroad was Korea in December, 2010. That was a fun trip, but I never made it outside the US in 2011. I don't see 2012 going that way, I expect I'll get the bug to head to Europe or Asia, but in the end 2011 was an all USA kind of year.

So with that in mind, I'll do a brief recap of how my last day has played out.

I woke up and got online to play a MMRPG. A friend who I've played with for 15 years but never met in person was there. We killed monsters and caught up. It was a good start.

I made breakfast and did my hour of yoga. I watched a documentary on the history of technology while doing yoga, very good piece of work. After that I went for run. I'd been unable to run for 6 months, but I just finished the healing process and am back. The best thing I can say is that for most of my life 6 months off running would have caused a massive depression. Now it just caused me to surf more.

After that it was time to package some books for shipment. I did that and headed to the post office. Only to find it was closed. Good move by the Post Office as they are oversubscribed. And the fact that I hadn't been there since last Christmas is a good sign that they didn't need that office. I biked to another office and mailed out the annual copies of our book.

Made lunch and geared up for surfing and food shopping. That was my moment of weakness. I hate food shopping. I should hire a food shopper and take this item off my weekly list of things to do. But it is still there. So I headed out to do both.

I surfed at Gator Beach where the Navy SEALS do their basic training. Not a great surf beach, but I can surf any beach with my longboard. It was a good workout, but I had a power outage a half hour in. That sometimes happens when my blood sugar goes wonky I think. It wasn't so bad that I had to stop surfing. I was just, you know, a little dizzy. Perhaps I looked more stylish as I tried to stay vertical.

Leaving the beach i was stunned that this was, actually is, my life. There are roughly 190 countries on the planet. But very few where you can start where I started...and end up where I was on that beach today.

I headed home after food shopping and unpacked my surf gear. Opened a great bottle of wine and hit the hot tub to reflect a bit more while I unkinked the muscles that the day had kinked. The wine was a 2002 Epitome from Pine Ridge in Napa. The wine was on par with the beach today. And the year as a whole.

So when I look at 2011, now down to the last 3 hours and 20 minutes out West, I have only one regret.

There is only one glass of wine left in that bottle.


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