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2011: My Year In Review

2011, as have the last three years, has been a tumultuous ride, that for the most part has not been very enjoyable.  The parallels to 2009, arguably my worst year since my mother died, have been uncanny.  I have tried to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it, as it always is, happens to be a train.  For the coming year, I go into it with a bright outlook, but I also know how these things lay out.  Just because the Calendar on the wall changes, doesn't mean the wall changes.  It's just a shinier, newer version of the same old shit.  What I need is to paint that wall.  To make it at least appear different.  We'll see.  You never know, maybe this is my year.

January came in with some harsh weather and caused my car to die. Not bad, for a $1000 investment, in which I put exactly $400 into it in two years.  $700 a year for a solid, reliable car?  Not bad.  January was going on like all others.  Playoff football combined with drunken debauchery and an awful New York Jets run that actually frightened me.  God forbid they ever win a Super Bowl, we'll never hear the end of it.  Things at work also started to get testy and in retrospect a lot of it had to do with my inability to stay home at night during this month.  While I don't think my work suffered, my life was starting to spin out of control and by the end of the month, things were not good.

February brought on the Super Bowl and my final day at my regular job.  I needed a change and while I couldn't afford it, my stress levels were at a high, as were my boss and good friends.  We made a clean split and while their was some awkwardness for quite a while, the true friendship came around and things are back to normal. In some ways, I think it was good and bad for both of us, but in the end necessary for our friendship to continue.  That will always champion a paycheck to me.

By mid-March I was nearly broke.  March Madness took it's toll as I was out, racking up credit card debt day by day.  The games, as always were incredible and I wouldn't miss it for the world (thank you Ronnie Milsap).  March was a quiet month in other senses.  My after school program was pretty much my only other outlet.  March was the month I started to cut back and withdraw quite a bit.

April brought baseball and saw me at home most nights.  I'd make my weekend appearance, but the times were tough and I actually started to get a little worried about the future.  The paychecks from the school kept me going.  I also got a job working with an old friend I hadn't seen in twenty years.  The work was a little ore physical than I was able to do, but I pushed forward.  I only worked a few days a week and the hours were crazy.  My hours are crazy, but this was nuts, because I didn't know if I was working five hours or nine.  That for me was rough, because the pay, for the most part was the same.

May was an odd month. I stopped working at the job for physical reasons.  I could barely walk when I got home and I developed a severe case of tendinitis, which caused me to almost cancel my tennis classes.  Luckily it was my left elbow.  May also saw me walk home one day over four miles,  The most I'd walked at one time since I walked seven, during a drunken stupor with a bunch of friends, nearly 15 years ago.  May also saw me go through an odd period.  I was nearly broke, but I donated tons of money (tons in relation to what I had). I just felt like I was lucky, despite not really having anything.  Towards the end of the month, I realized I may have made a mistake being generous at that time. Nobody looked down from above and smiled.  They never do.

June, I bit the bullet and went on unemployment.  I didn't want to, because I didn't think it was necessary, but I was behind on my bills and needed to take action.  Things had gotten really bad and it had to be done.  I also got a call from my father explaining he had to go to California for a funeral and to visit two sick friends.  He said his sister was to come up and watch my grandmother, but she backed out so he looked into a care worker coming in a taking care of her.  He suggested that I come up and he would pay me part of what she was to be paid for my assistance.  I immediately agreed and was off for a week in Ithaca.  The week turned into eighteen days and they were the best eighteen of the year up until that point.  I learned things about her I never knew and I bonded greatly with her and my father.  Not that we weren't close, but it changed things. It was a special time.  I also got to write blogs again and this was very important to me.  Five months of nothing was torture.  I needed this outlet.  During my stay, I read on Facebook about one of my friends running a lemonade stand and donating all the money to Alex's Lemonade Stand Fund. I couldn't be there, so I went online and donated.  The story of my friend's daughter's generosity of the time and money, was beautiful.  It's things like that which give me hope in the future.

July came in with a pocketful of some money and my birthday.  I partied it up, with baseball games and late nights.  I ended up in restaurants at 6am and was living life like there was not tomorrow,  Problem was I had no job and the money started to go quickly.  Towards the end of the month, i really had to pick and choose when I went out. Things got a little crazy in July. 

August came and started out with my brother offering to buy me a computer.  I said I'd pay him back and I will, but he was more concerned with me having one and paid for it up front.  I've done a lot in the past for my brother when it comes to little monetary things, but this was a very generous offer.  I was craving a computer and it was great to have one of my own.  I had gone an astonishing 20 months without one at home.  Early in the month I ran into someone and we started a bit of a relationship.  Out of respect to her, I'll leave all the details out, but lets just say, it was brief, but very real and very special.  I hope regardless of what happens we'll remain good friends.  I'll leave it at that. 

In September my life was completely out of control.  My drinking got to the point where I did things and said things I'd never do sober or even drunk in the past. I became a complete asshole, for lack of a better word, and things that normally would never have bothered me. I became jealous, obsessive and angry.  My mood affective relationships, friendships and everything about me.  It was an ugly time and I decided to stop drinking.  The halt lasted fully only five weeks and then down to once a week for two weeks and twice ended week 8.  I then got back into a somewhat unfortunate routine which wasn't too bad, but sleeping problems combined with a lack of appetite turned some nights into a shit show.  September also saw the collapse of my Boston Red Sox at a time when I needed some silly goodness in my life.  The night they lost was especially tough due to extenuating circumstances.  September also saw me walk away from a few friendships. For this, in many ways I'm happy.  I see and hear that the downward spiral has continued and I don't want to go back to that.  I'm content where I am.  Once again, I'll leave it at that.

In October a friend who was close to me lost her best friend.  I tried to be there for her and I think I was at times, but I failed in others.  I can only do what I know how to and sometimes that's not what the person needs.  I think for the most part I was, but who knows.  I felt for her then and I feel for her now.  Anyone who has lost that special person in your, knows how much more difficult it is this time of year.  Personally, I was back to feeling good about myself.  I had my after school program start up and I was thrilled.  Those kids are my lifeline.  They are the ones that bring me happiness and I think for the most part I return the favor.  There is something about a smiling child that makes you warm up, no matter how down you may be.  October started poorly, but ended pretty well.

November was incredibly warm.  Shorts and tee shirts didn't even get odd looks this year.  I had a wonderful Facebook conversation with an old friend who put friendship, true friendship into perspective and it gave me a sense, I was on the right track and my decision to let the riff raff fall by the wayside was the right thing to do.  November also brought on the epic emergence of Tim Tebow.  This Bible-thumping rebel rouser brought hope back to my Denver Broncos.  A hope that was lost the last five seasons.  He has made going out on Sundays fun again. Hope he has one more win in him to make it to the playoffs.  November also brought on a special Thanksgiving.  I won't go into details, because I do keep some things secret, believe it or not.  Let's just say the people surrounding the table were together again and it was special.  Very Special!

December started off so pleasant and then the news that a friend had died.  The wonderful and beautiful mother of my old boss and his two great kids had lost her battle with cancer.  Whenever another close to me dies of cancer, or someone who is close to the ones I love, it hits home.  With emotions I can't explain other to say it's like partly going through the pain of my mother's death again.  I took this one especially hard, because she was a great mom (and I don't say that often).  She was a special person and she was way too young.  She was the rock of the family, as all great mothers are.  I didn't see her often, but she will be greatly missed.  I also had one of the better conversations I've had all year with two people.  One was a great friend who I spent the day with and found out things about him I never knew.  It gave me a new perspective on his life and my feeling about him and his youth.  We'll always be friends, no matter what, but this changed things and for the better.  The other was a phone conversation where someone challenged me.  I was given nearly forty days to accomplish something and to be completely honest, I've only started and barely.  Sure I can blame being busy and away, but I now have twenty days and times a ticking.

The new year is upon us and I'm going in with an open mind.  I'd love to share this year with someone.  I miss that.  I would love to get a cat, but I have to really think about if it's fair to the animal.  My apartment is so small for me, I can't imagine a little kitten not being able to run freely. 

As I wrote in another blog, 2011 was the year of the woman and three women played a huge part in my life this year.  My new friend, who if only briefly, brought on much happiness.  My old friend who passed away and reminded me of how much I miss my mother.  Last but, definitely not least was my grandmother, who reminded me to enjoy life.  To enjoy the shade of a tree or a the crash of a wave.  She reminded me that life is too short (coming from a 98 year old) to waste time worrying about little things.  Today, she and my father dropped me off at the Ithaca bus terminal at 9:20.  In 55 minutes she was going to be prepped for a small operation.  She came through it fine and was back home this afternoon, but one thing she said stuck out to me.  At about 8:55, she said "I'm very upset I have to do this thing today."  She hadn't said one negative thing about it in the week I was there, so I was concerned.  She looked up and said, "I'm upset, because I don't understand why it matters if I can't have a cup of coffee before it."  When the biggest concern on you mind is not being able to have that first cup...that is the way we can only hope to live our lives!

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