Thursday, December 31, 2009

Mike's Top Ten Experiences of 2009

Well, it's about time to wrap this year up.  I'm going to look back on my defining experiences of 2009, this time in chronological order because a ranking attempt would be folly.  Then, I will look forward to 2010 and toast the new year!

There were a few negative experiences I think I can dispose of straightaway:

* Our house was robbed in August.  The experience taught us some valuable lessons, but I would gladly trade those for the bliss that comes when one does not shoot awake at night at every little noise.

* I survived a bout with pseudomembranous colitis in September.  I would be more than happy if I never experienced such a thing again.

* Some friends of mine were forced to endure a terrible ordeal due to the ineptitude, malice, and overreach of Arizona Child Protective Services.

* I finally ran into a time crunch that even good organization was powerless to overcome, and had to bid farewell to some enjoyable hobbies and interests in order to make the most of the rest.

* Finally, my right to free speech was raped, beaten, and buried by the FTC in December.

Still, notwithstanding the setbacks, I choose to focus on the positives of 2009:

1. Book #2 Sees Print

I still can't/shouldn't/won't discuss my non-fiction here on this blog because of author branding, but January 8th saw the release of my second book under my NF pseudonym, and it would end up being the best-reviewed book of my career thus far.  That is because it actually garnered one published review, and the review was positive.  Gotta love a lifetime batting average of 1.000 based on one plate appearance.

2. Las Vegas Nuptials

MLK Weekend 2009 was a huge hit, with Steph and I joining Jeff and Roxy Mink for a weekend in Sin City for their wedding at the Bellagio.  Jeff, Jay, Mark, Fred, and I reveled in a drunken frenzy the night before the wedding, bacheloring the way only Vegas makes possible.  Meanwhile, Steph took the Benjamin I gave her, the money I hoped she would make last at least the duration of the evening, and had a huge night at the card tables.  The wedding itself was broadcast live via webcam, and the reception set the Bellagio's house record for aggregate alcohol consumption by volume at a wedding event.  Steph and I got to enjoy a brisk, bright, scenic drive through northern Arizona while we were at it, and we returned just in time to watch the Cardinals finish beating the Eagles to earn a berth in Super Bowl XLIII.

3. Two Years Strong

January 27th marked our second wedding anniversary, and my parents gave us the cherished gift of watching Allie for a while so we could enjoy a quiet dinner together.

4. Texas and Oklahoma

I think my post on this blog just about sums it up!  Come to think of it, 2009 was the most I had traveled in a year since the last season I actively worked as a DCI Level 3 tournament judge, 2001-2002.

5. Workplace Upheaval

As detailed in this post, among others since purged.  The upshot was that the governor declared a rulemaking moratorium in January, which was continued by the legislature later in the year and won't expire until well into 2010, if then.  Most of the attorneys bailed on my office and sought greener pastures, which ended up working out just fine for me when the grim hand of layoffs never approached my division.  Then, in May, my boss retired!  She was a good person and helped guide my early career a great deal, but her political ambitions were at cross-purposes to my workaday approach to simple, efficient productivity.  Despite my workload actually growing in the wake of all the departures, I am actually less stressed now, because the remaining work is more in line with what I want to do as a writer, and my old boss's empire-building is no longer creating added workload.

6. Summer Nights

Despite a chronic lack of time on my part, this summer was one in which I actually got to see a great many of my friends and friends-of-friends and had fun doing it.  Aaron hosted his martial arts crew at his place for a few grillin' dinners.  Las Casas de Stenger y de Powers were the sites of fun poker games, UFC fights, and general merriment.  My friends Vince, Wade, and John, along with their significant others, joined Steph and me for couples' nights out.  Financial advisor Suze Orman wisely said "People first, money second, things third (if at all)."  I am happy that 2009 was a year in which I had the capability to put people first and really savor the experiences.

7. Revels with the Crew

In addition to all the fun I reference in the previous entry, Steph and I enjoyed an over-the-top night of drunken fun at Dangerous Dan Voigt's birthday party at the Kobe teppan grill.  Jay, Steve, and a few more of the crew were in attendance as we toasted to Dan's ever-encroaching senility.  Later in the year, we all joined one another here at home base to celebrate Steph's 27th birthday, and there was football and grilled steak and gameplay for all to enjoy.

8. Evelyn!

The clear #1 event if I had actually attempted qualitative ranking.  Evey has so far been the calm before her older sister Allie's unending storm.

9. Christmas with the Girls

I reached this topic here on the blog as well.  Christmas was exactly as I had hoped... though Evey didn't participate much except to make lots of people gush over her cuteness, Allie ran around for three straight days like she was trying to avoid incoming fire.  I truly can't wait until Christmases with both girls (and perhaps future children) old enough to fully take part.  Finally, and definitely not least, Steph and I were overwhelmed by the generosity of our families.  Truly unexpected and most welcomed.  We are very grateful.

10. Three Days of Indulgence

My friend Jason (RJ) Harris has been doing law school, National Guard, and campaigning for Congress nonstop for most of the year, and he finally got a respite for the holidays with school out, no military shifts, and a campaign hiatus.  Wade let me borrow his Humvee truck, and I picked up Jason at the airport with a nice slowroll, suggesting that I had bought the truck after selling a screenplay to Paramount.  (I told him the real story after enjoying his reaction.)  We went to the Cardinals-Rams game, complete with tailgating, and watched our beloved redbirds crush the hard-luck goats 31-10 in a game with four different players scoring touchdowns and three beautiful interceptions by our defense.  Far from sated, we headed out with Steph and Christina to Benihana for "dinner and a show."  We went and saw Avatar 3D and Sherlock Holmes, the former of which looked better and the latter of which told a far better story.  We tooled around town in the truck, visiting game stores (and playing the same slowroll about my screenplay) and meeting with friends and such.  Jason's final night had us joining Jay and Katie for some MNF and pizza, and then it was all over.  But what a vacation!

And now, 2009 is dead.  Long live 2010!

I am looking forward to seeing my girls grow up just a little more.  By the end of next year, Allie will probably be talking in complete sentences, among other things.

I will probably get a minivan at some point.  With Steph and I commuting together, we have a rare chance to continue consolidating our assets and turning that into hard savings.

After spending most of 2009 not publishing new material, I expect 2010 to be a veritable outpouring of content.  With no more eBay work on the horizon, time is a little kinder to me, and perhaps I will find more opportunities to develop material.

Mostly, I just hope all of you whose lives have intersected with mine are healthy, prosperous, and happy.  May your goals be within reach and your strides be firm and straight.

Cheers to 2010, the year we make contact!

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