Year in Review? You Betcha!

I’m going to succumb to the Web-wide pressure to reflect on one’s year. Why? Oh, well, I guess it’s because I’m sick and don’t have any better way to pass the evening. Pizza’s on the way [I haven’t really eaten anything in two days, mainly because I’ve had next to no appetite], so I’ll settle in with a warm pie, a cold Gatorade, and a room-temperature keyboard to regale you with fun tales from my year. 🙂

Since IJSM.org wasn’t registered until 01/18/2001 [or so my registrar tells me, since I have to renew it soon], you don’t have a complete picture of my year from digging through IJSM’s archives. Heck, before May, you don’t have much content worth reading. The main reason for that is the fact that I was tossing all of my creative energies, writing-wise, at TOTK.com Sports, which taught me a lot about writing regularly. For that, and for many other things from that tenure, I am thankful, even if Ralph doesn’t always believe it.

Here’s how my year started: watching snow fall in Huntsville, a rare enough occurrence, and wondering if it would be enough of an issue to cause me fun whilst driving home. It did. 🙂
The past two New Year’s Eves, I’ve been a chaperone for the youth lock-in at church. Last year’s didn’t go well; one youth got into a tiff with an ill-equipped chaperone. I didn’t think we’d have another lock-in this year, but we are; however, I’m not on the list of chaperones. I’m happy of that fact.

But as I watched the snow fall, I chuckled to myself. “An inch, maybe, nothing more.” Well, when I trudged outside to go get my truck at about 7:00 a.m. New Year’s Day, I found out that it was closer to two inches, and it was great, powdery, snow-skiing-quality stuff. Not an issue up North, perhaps, but when you live in North Alabama, well, that’s another issue.

Huntsville, being situated in the foothills of the Appalachians, has a lot of hills and minor mountains, especially on the eastern side of the city. I live on one of those now, but in January, I still lived just north of UAH on Sparkman Drive, where the hills aren’t that plentiful. However, I lived on a hill there, too, and there were a few hills between the church and my old apartment. What normally was a 20-minute drive turned into a 45-minute trek–not counting the five minutes I spent valiantly attempting to surmount the hill before giving up and parking across the street.

Unpredictably, I feel flat on my face while walking up the hill. I dusted myself off, chuckled softly, and kept on going. I hadn’t fallen on ice or snow for a decade, when I’d lived in Ohio. Not even a couple 2″-of-glare-ice storms in Mississippi caused this man to look like a fool. But this year, I fell on my face–perhaps a fitting note for my entire year.

I spent my spring figuring out who I wanted to be. For one, I figured out that SGA wasn’t so important to me as to cause further harm to my GPA, so I decided to take a reduced role. [Amazingly enough, I am contemplating taking a larger role next year. Those of my local friends who’ve heard that have threatened to beat me. Maybe I should take that as a sign, but I probably won’t. I’m stubborn.] After quitting SGA, I thought I’d give all my time to working on TOTK, to the point of traveling again to Chicago to meet with Ralph. But soon enough, I figured out that my heart wasn’t in it: I didn’t believe we could change the paradigm, because the paradigm had shifted and we were being left in the dust.

The summer I spent resolving some of my internal struggles, mainly through writing. Some of you know this, as you’ve either read the IJSM archives or have read along as I’ve written. I’m not done, and I recognize that, as a human, I likely never, ever will be. But I’m better off for realizing that writing is a release for me, but especially in the area that’s most important to be released: my self from my earthly desires.

The summer also saw me make two very important friends: Amy and Noah. Amy I’d heard about for a couple years now: she and Heather were co-workers, and Heather babbled incessantly about this really cool chick. Jessica would chime in, too, on the rare occasions that I saw her. I’ve told plenty of Amy-stories, but the first time I met Amy was when I helped with Phase 2 of the Geek Country Estate Flowerbed Project. It was … interesting. I don’t think either of us expected who we got.

True to form, I got a good laugh from me knowing seemingly half of Madison County, AL: a friend of mine lived directly across the street from Amy and Jeff. It was really funny to me, even though I didn’t realize it right away. It still makes me laugh, especially since Amy and Jeff are convinced that I know everyone at UAH. I don’t, really, but some days, it feels like I do.

Noah, well, I got to know him on a lark. I sent him what amounted to a fan letter, wondering why he’d quite writing in his biolog. Well, that led to things I never would have expected. I hate to use labels, but they make sense only in this context: who would have thought that a gregarious, outgoing, straight, Christian male from Alabama and an introverted, painfully shy, gay, agnostic male from Texas would become good friends? I mean, it boggles the mind a bit: we’re pretty opposite on the surface. But as we’ve dug deeper, we’ve confirmed that we have a lot in common–and our breadth does promote some diversity and quality of friendship for us, anyway.

The fall saw me return to the classroom. I hadn’t taken classes since Fall 2000, which was a disastrously bad semester, since Mom’s stroke a week before classes started caused a lot of distraction for me and I was far too busy for my own good with SGA and TOTK responsibilities. I don’t blame anyone but myself for last fall, and in its own way, it needed to happen. I didn’t enjoy it, and I don’t like reflecting on it, but it made me a better man in a very Nietszchean way.

The fall also saw me become friends with Aaron, with whom I have a lot more in common, at least on the surface. Aaron was a good friend for me to find: at the time, I felt very alone in the sense of slightly wacky Christian white guys on the ‘net. There aren’t a whole lot of us, to tell the truth, although you’d think there’d be more, given the ‘net’s demographics. Anyway, in a span of a few months, I went from admiring his site to talking to him on the phone. I would have gone there a couple weeks back, but things conspired against me.

It’s funny, to me anyway, that after this year, a good local friend [Amy] went to visit a good far-away friend [Aaron], when that’s normally my shtick. Amy will tell you how much of a shy person she can be at times; that she’d jump out and pull a Geof and drive pell-mell to Illinois and meet a guy she’d never met speaks volumes of the effect that all her friends have had on her this year. I’ve been part of that, I guess, but the fact that I would develop two good friendships and push them together speaks a lot for how much I’ve changed this year.

I’ve always been about people, but very much in a superficial way. Now, I am much more relationship-oriented, focusing on getting to know people and nurturing relationships. If I mark down the highlights of this year, as I just have, I realize that this is the year I stopped thinking about things and causes so much and started being focused solely on people. If that, along with further developing my relationship with my family, is my legacy for 2001, then this was a very, very good year.

I will spend this New Year’s Eve at home, perhaps asleep before the clock strikes midnight. I will probably make some silly little resolutions, but that’s okay: I’ve already made the best resolution of all: that relationships with my God, my family, and my friends are the most important things.