Thursday, January 1, 2009

the year in review

So I know these "Year in Review" things are supposed to be done before the end of the year, but things have been busy for me lately. And the snowball-fight league entry also took precedence. So that being said, let's get to it ...

2008. What a year, huh? I've got a theory about leap years: they're always a little crazier than other years. I don't know if it's the extra day, or the fact that presidential elections and the Olympic Games tend to take place during leap years. And what an election, and what an Olympics, huh? Hey hey hey! There was that dude Phelps, and also Barack Obama. But you know, if I were to go over general events for the past year, it would take me forever. And I don't even know if I'd add much to what you could read in Time or Reader's Digest or the Drudge Report, or whatever source most people rely on to find out what happened in the past year. Today, for a change, this blog is going to be about me. Here were some of the highlights and lowlights of the year, in non-chronological order:
- Jan. 3: my niece Reese is born.

- Dec. 25: I spend Xmas with my sister in Chicago. Reese is now almost a year old, and thinks she can handle her uncle. I prove to her, with no uncertainty, that she is not ready to mess with her uncle.

- July 18: I hit the big Four Oh, celebrating the occasion in Essex Junction, VT, at a surprise party thrown by my excellent friends Dean and Caroline. Many in attendance are struck by the poise and dignity with which I make this transition into adulthood.

- Sometime in February: I come very close to circumnavigating Lake Monona on X-country skis. It takes me about 2 hours or so. I'm not sure if any of the early explorers (Lewis, Clark, De Soto) ever attempted this. Regardless, I feel exhausted and yet exhilarated.

- A couple days after Opening Day for baseball: the Mariners start to suck. Really suck. They have one of the suckiest seasons for a baseball team, at any level, of all time. In fact, 2008 proves to be a dreadful year for Seattle sports in many ways: the Sonics leave town, the UW football team has a horrendous season, the Seahawks fall apart. Thinking about all this weighs down on me for much of the year ...

- A couple days after that: I start following the Milwaukee Brewers and Wisconsin Badgers.

- Nov. 4: the Democrats bitch-slap the GOP on Election Day. I write a stirring piece about the presidential election. (see my "Chocolate Nation" entry)

- Aug. 31: my friend Mary Beth and I do the 100-mile Wright Stuff Century ride, and I find out that Lance Armstrong was wrong: it is all about the bike. I ride a 20-year-old Cannondale, while Mary Beth's got some fancy new number with a turbo booster for the tougher hills. When we get back to Madison, she drags my motionless form from the car and leaves me on my front stoop.

- Sometime in late March: Madison goes over 100 inches in snowfall for the winter. It is by far the snowiest winter in Madison history. I shovel around my house, including the big-ass driveway, for much of the winter in exchange for a small break in my rent, until my landlady finally takes pity on me and has the guy next door start doing it with his snowblower. Many people on the street recognize my courage in continuing to shovel for as long as I did.

- December something: a couple snowflakes fall on Seattle. The city goes berserk.

- Aug. 21: the birth of the blog "Mad City." The blogosphere shudders apprehensively.

- Aug. 23: my good friend Brian marries his lovely fiancee, Cindy. Everything goes smooth as a whistle, although one wedding guest is nearly lynched when he shows up in sneakers and piles waaaaaaayyyy too much food on his plate at the buffet table. My best man speech somehow shows up on YouTube, and to date has received 2 hits.

- Early March: trip to Hollywood FL for an oncology convention. My first trip to Florida! Spring break! I spend most of my time in the convention center, listening to presentations about chemotherapy.

- Late October: my long weekend trip to San Francisco. Yeah, it's on the blog somewhere ...

- After 11 (or was it 12?) years together, I bid farewell to my bitchin' 1987 Honda Civic and say hello to my deluxe new 1997 Honda Civic, Chip. Thank you, Chicago Craigslist!

- Mid-to-late December: the Swedish film "Let the Right One In" quietly slips out of Madison, causing more horror and consternation with its untimely exit than it ever did in the theater.

- The day after Thanksgiving: I sign up for a triathlon in Idaho, of all places, next June. I have decided to make the National Bone Marrow Registry my own personal cause for a while. After being exposed to myriad good causes within the realm of oncology - pink ribbons, research, patient support, Jerry's Kids, etc - I've decided that the NBMR may be the best of them all.

- Dec. 31: I'm faced with the depressing realization that even after sending semi-personalized emails to nearly 100 people, only about 5 of them have said they'll sign up for the NBMR. Including 2 people I haven't seen in at least 15 years. There's a long way to go ...

- Jan. 13, March 2, April 4, June 21, Aug. 11, Oct. 18-19: all completely mundane days.

- June 7-8: I attend the weddings of my cool friends Som and Leah in Seattle and Bellingham. That's right: they got married twice! Hopefully that's not illegal ...

- June 10: I arrive back in Madison in the morning, drive home, shower, dress, and go to work, inadvertently leaving my cellphone at home. I do rounds with the inpatient oncology team. I get paged: the hospital operator tells me my sister is calling. This can't be good, and it isn't: our mother died at home that morning, after a long illness. I tell my attending physician I'll be gone for a week, dictate several clinic notes that can't wait for my return, and go home.

- June 11: I fly back to upstate NY via Chicago. My sister joins me in Chicago. Somehow, without trying, we got booked onto the same flight to Albany.

- A few days later: the funeral. I see people I haven't seen in 10 or more years. My friend Duane, my closest friend from back home, shows up unexpectedly, along with my high school French teacher. My friends Dean and Caroline come down from Vermont. One of the saddest days I'll ever experience, but family and friends make it OK.

That's about all I can recall of 2008. OK, there was a lot more to it than that, but these were the standout moments, for good or for bad. As for 2009: in the words of a famous "statesman" who'll soon be going into Texile, bring it on ...

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