Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 - A Year In Review

It is in our understanding of history and a reflection on our pasts that we better prepare ourselves for the future.  As we approach only one day remaining in the year that has been 2010, this naturally becomes one of those times for reflecting once again on what has transpired in the past year.

The traditional song that is sung in the welcoming of our New Year as the clock strikes midnight tonight is "Auld Lang Syne".  The lyrics for this tune (of the first verse and chorus, which we typically hear) are:

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

If your first thought is, even after reading these lyrics, that you have no idea what they mean, you probably aren't alone.  It is interesting to begin with a rhetorical set of questions, namely should old relationships be forgotten, not remembered, and the days of time gone by with them.  The chorus promptly refutes the point by giving a cheer to those very days of times past including the "cup of kindness" (in other words, a toast) in fond memory that we should not forget.

I won't lie in saying 2010 wasn't exactly an easy year personally.  It won't be a year upon which I will look back years from now and think "I really want to remember 2010" because it simply won't be true.  Not that the clock magically ticking from 11:59 PM on 12/31/2010 to 12:00 AM on 01/01/2011 will be as simple as turning a page in a book, it does change the chapter of our lives metaphorically.  We chronicle our very existences by the years we live, from the year we are born until the year we die.  What happens in between is dramatically different for each and every one of us.  No two people have the same story ... and that's what makes life interesting.

I wrote my last blog entry primarily as a reflection on my wife's passing in August and how I felt at the time.  Admittedly, this holiday season, the first without her, has been tough.  I don't feel the Christmas spirit, I haven't really enjoyed the parties / events I've attended, and the moments alone just aren't the same without her.  I remembered going through life as a single person in the first half of this past decade, and I didn't expect to find myself here again so soon.  If I'm being completely honest, despite the struggles of marriage, I really did want "until death do us part" at some distant point in the future, when I fully expected to be the first to go someday.

This year wasn't just about the passing of my wife, but I would be lying if that event wasn't the most defining moment in it.  Only a little over a month ago, I also watched the passing of my wife's grandfather, which happened roughly two weeks after I wrote my last entry.  His passing was less unexpected but no less sad.  He passed away in his 80th year (born in 1930), which feels so much different than my wife's passing in her 31st year (born in 1979).  The more difficult part of his passing was the long journey of Alzheimer's Disease that preceded it.  He suffered with the disease after a diagnosis that came earlier in the decade (roughly 2002 or 2003, before I had met the family).  I am comforted knowing that I spent a lot of time with this man, even in his declining years, and stuck in his memory for a lot longer than I ever expected (into 2009 at least and to a lesser degree in 2010).

There actually were some positive moments this year, so let me look back at those things for a while.  I was employed for the entire year for the first time since 2007 (which seems rather pathetic in hindsight, as I had a job for about 8 months in 2008 and 2009 was just plain ugly to be truly honest in bouncing between multiple short-term contract jobs).  I attended my first ever Cincinnati Reds' Opening Day (and the subsequent Opening Night as well, which I have attended in the past) ... when I unexpectedly scored a Club seat (after buying two view-level seats for Jen and me previously), both my wife and mother-in-law got the chance to go, too.  They saw the Findlay Market Parade while I was giving a presentation over in Covington to "earn" my way there.  Thanks, ATR, for your generosity.  This logically led to a Reds' season that just pleasantly exceeded my expectations, as Deb, Marge, and I (my treat) went to the NL Central-clinching game over the Astros in late September.  Truly a magical moment with the Jay Bruce walk-off home run (despite what happened subsequently in the playoffs) that will be an indelible mark in my memory.

I won't even begin to approach the year as a whole when it comes to just about everything, but I do think there were some memorable highlights  (particularly in the "extracurricular" activities).  How about those Saints?  The long-time laughingstock New Orleans organization of the NFL (notably once the 'Aints) won the Super Bowl over the favored Indianapolis Colts.  Although I honestly was rooting for Peyton and his Colts going in, I didn't mind seeing Drew and his Saints pull off a heartwarming win.  My UD Flyers won the NIT (I know, most would say who cares), but at least they won some post-season tournament of some significance.  The San Francisco Giants won the first-ever title for the SF incarnation of a Giants franchise that hadn't won a World Series since their days in New York.  All-in-all, it was an interesting sports year for the "underdog" in general, despite the fact the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA title (no shock for the second-most winning basketball franchise all-time).  Even the NHL featured a return to glory for the Chicago Blackhawks, who hadn't won a title since 1961.  Memorable for his absence was Tiger Woods' failure to record a professional golf title in all of 2010, first time in a full season for the former #1 golfer (now #2).  I won't be surprised to see him not only win multiple times in 2011 but to recapture his #1 ranking with relative ease.

In non-sporting highlights, this could be termed the political year of unrest, as Congress will be changing hands following a mid-term election of a majority of Republican candidates.  The House control will shift back to Republican control, and local congressman John Boehner will take over as Speaker of the House in January.  President Obama faced a number of challenges, although unemployment finally appears headed in a positive direction by year's end.  Taxes, budgets, Tea Party unrest, etc. will be highlights (or lowlights) of 2010.

I might come back for a bit more "prolific" view of the year, but too many other sites do that thing.  They can profile people like Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) over at Time or Julian Assange of WikiLeaks infamy (who will probably be a fairly prolific figure for some time).  I could pay tribute to so many celebrities who passed in 2010, notably (in this author's opinion, in no particular order) Leslie Nielsen, Lena Horne, Tony Curtis, Bob Feller, Sparky Anderson, Don Meredith, Gary Coleman, Blake Edwards, Irvin Kershner ("Empire Strikes Back"), Greg Giraldo, George Steinbrenner, Dennis Hopper, Rue McClanahan, Barbara Billingsley, Dixie Carter, Eddie Fisher, JD Salinger, John Forsythe, Lynn Redgrave, Merlin Olsen, Peter Graves, Robert Culp, Tom Bosley, and Teddy Pendergrass (although I could mention even more).