No, I suppose that’s not the best thing I can say about 2014. But it was the first thing to come to mind when I wanted to describe the year in a nutshell.
Sidebar: My Dad always used to say, “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” I always parodied it as “The shortest line between two distances is a straight point” or something like that. The straight point always made the mathematician in me giggle.)
This year marked my return to the world of the employed. I wrote about my first year at Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center a while back. In July, I unintentionally acquired the mission to coordinate a presidential visit to the Center. That turned out to be a huge shot in the arm both professionally and personally. I had not experienced any real successes for along time and successfully coordinating that visit was the kind of confidence builder that I didn’t know I really needed – but I did – much more than I’d thought. So for that opportunity, and for all of the great people at the Center and at the White House who contributed to that success, I am very, very grateful.
We lost Bella and gained Emmett as our family dog. While in my mind, the jury’s still out on whether this is a good thing or not, in moments of clarity, I recognize that Emmett provides me with a little bit of calm quiet time when we go on our evening walks around the neighborhood.
Of course, when I come home from work in the evening, he’s at the top of the stairs wagging his tail like a garrison flag in a tornado, his teeth are often bared in an aggressive grimace that rivals that of a battle-readied Klingon, and he’s growling in a way that to the uninitiated would be a clear indicator for future avoidance.
Oh, he’s also licking my hand as fast as his tail is wagging. In between growls, there are squeals of either delight or constipation. But so far, he’s not pooped, so I’m going with delight.
He’s a canine nutcase. But we have a mutually beneficial relationship even though he’s bitten me on a couple of occasions. So Emmett, and you’ll only hear me say this once, I’m grateful for your presence in spite of that time you sank your teeth into my left forearm.
And to Beth Geyer, Mistress of the Universe and Supreme Leader of All She Observes, I am grateful for you, for finding Emmett, for believing in him when I didn’t and helping me find his inner sweetness. Really, REALLY inner. And not very sweet when you get right down to it.
Oh, and thank you for taking such good care of me, Nate and Garrett. You do good work and we all love you! And you’re really, really pretty too, which is a plus!
I’m grateful for my Toyota Prius. At over 205,000 miles, it’s going strong, in good mechanical shape and still fun to drive. It’s unexpectedly comforting to have a vehicle that is reliable, comfortable and fun to drive even if the technology under the hood is ten years old. Thanks, Toyota, for making such a terrific car. (I just noticed that I was grateful for the Prius last year because I paid it off. Well, at least I’m consistent about something.)
I’m grateful to the U.S. Army for a number of reasons, but the latest isn’t even something that affects me. Thanks for sending my brother, Jefferson and his magnificent family to live in Europe for a few years. I mention this because back in 1981, the Army sent me to Europe to live and it was an overwhelmingly positive, life-changing experience that I really do cherish to this very moment. I hope that for him and his family it is at the very least an equally positive experience.
Another sidebar: I admit I am more than a tad envious. I’d always wanted to go back for another permanent change of station to Europe. So I am grateful for the opportunity to hear about their experiences over there.
Here’s a quote from last year. It’s not like my social life has changed much at all, so this really still applies:
“I’m grateful to the online community for keeping me company when I can’t get out of the house, which is pretty much always. Thank you for entertaining me, engaging me and giving me an outlet for socialization even if it is virtual in nature. I recognize that you’re all real people on the other side of my screen, and I value your friendship, your candor and your confidence. I’m extra grateful that I DO get to see many of you in person from time to time. Thank you for being so welcoming and so supportive.”
I’m pretty sure I’m grateful for a ton of other things, but at this moment, I am too sleepy to write about ’em all. So for the moment, I’ll be particularly grateful for the opportunity to count my many blessings at the end of this very eventful and positive year and say thank you to all my friends for just being. You all matter to me.
If I had to do 2014 over again, I’d do it with more comfortable shoes. Other than that, 2014…? You go in the “win” column!
Oh, and thanks for reading the stuff I post on this blog. It’s always a pleasure to interact with you even (especially!) when we don’t agree. Let’s make 2015 the year of cogent discourse!
And chocolate. Yeah, 2015 should have more chocolate.