Retrospective: 2009

2009 was a difficult year, filled with disappointments, struggle, and challenges such as I’ve never experienced before. But with the bad times, there were plenty of good times. Looking back on 2009, it’s clear that a LOT happened in mine and Jenny’s life. This is a look back at the past year, and some of the more major moments of 2009…

OBAMA INAUGURATION
Though everyone experienced this event in their own way, it’s worth at least mentioning again. For the first time, the United States has an African-American president. This is a huge step, and indicates just how far this country has come. Not everybody likes him, or agrees with his methods, but the fact remains that he was elected to the most powerful office in the world; not many people will forget what they were doing during his inauguration. It was one of the most historic moments of this country, not just 2009.

BIRTH OF JOSHUA RYAN RASMUSSEN
Our nephew was born on January 5th, 2009 at 9:04pm. He is honestly the happiest baby I have ever seen, and is adorable to be around. It’s my first real introduction to children at that stage of their lives, and it’s made me more comfortable with the idea of being a father. Since Josh’s birth, Jenny has taken nearly every opportunity she can find to spoil him. I’m optimistic that he’s going to be a gadget junkie, like his Uncle Brad, as he seems drawn to electronics. He also seems to have a love of books, which is surely a good sign. I will certainly nurture any interests he has in those directions.

THE C-WORD
In January, two tumors were discovered in my father’s bladder. This started a series of doctor’s appointments, trips, accidents, and surgical procedures that would culminate in the June 23rd surgery at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston to remove his bladder, build him a neo-bladder from portions of his intestines, and hopefully remove all signs of cancer from his body. The surgery lasted something like 9-1/2 hours, and it was a full 13 hours since he was rolled into surgery before we could see him again. Needless to say, it was a long day for us at the hospital.

The surgery was a resounding success, and no signs of the cancer could be detected after Dad was mostly recovered from it. He later had to submit to a series of preventative brain-radiation treatments, to ensure the cancer hadn’t spread. His type of cancer is typically found in the lungs, and about half of patients with it die from it spreading to the brain, hence the preventative measures. As of this time, the cancer seems to be completely gone. Here’s to hoping it never returns.

A FRIENDS’ WEDDING
On March 21st, we attended the wedding for two of our friends, who finally tied the knot after a 10-year engagement. Jana and Pedro Colon were married at a beautiful ranch near Katy, Texas, and spent their honeymoon in Washington D.C.–something I’m supremely jealous of. We wish them the best of luck, and a happy and healthy marriage.

YEAR OF THE e-BOOK
On April 1st, I received my Kindle 2 from Amazon.com. I have been reading e-books since 2000, on various devices, and made the jump into the mainstream e-book market a couple years ago with my purchase of the Sony Reader. Once I upgraded to the Kindle, I was truly able to make the e-book my primary choice of format, and 2009 resulted in $187.22 in savings over buying paper-format books. By the end of 2010, I will have already saved the cost of the Kindle, not to mention the environmental effects of not using trees for paper versions.

Also, as a result of the Kindle especially, I have discovered new authors, and new works I would not normally have read. A couple examples of this are This Is Not A Game, Still Alice, and The Speed of Dark. They are all excellent books, and were some of my most highly-rated books of 2009.

MISCARRIAGE
In early April, Jenny and I were excited about the prospect of becoming parents. Our hopes were short-lived however, as the baby miscarried. Jenny and I struggled with the aftermath of this for months. Though it still hurts, we’ve moved on, and still want very much to have a child. We’re planning to continue trying into 2010 and beyond, until we’re both proud happy parents.

APARTMENT WOES
On April 5th, our apartment was severly flooded by our malfunctioning washing machine, causing utter havoc in our lives for quite some time. Due to the handling of the issue by the Management and staff of Wildwood Forest, we chose to cancel our lease, and move out.

SAVING FOR A HOUSE
We moved out of our apartment, and into Jenny’s Grandparents’ garage room, in order to save up money to buy a house. We initially planned to be there for about 6 months, but that timeline has been delayed a bit by other factors out of our control (and a few IN our control). Fortunately, we’re getting close to having our savings prepared, and early in 2010, plan to start seeking out a house, and starting the process to get moved into our future ‘first home’. We’re both excited, and eager to find a house that we like, can afford, and can call home. (We’ll gladly take donations to our House Fund, should you feel the desire to give.) Of course this means most of our belongings are in storage, and inaccessible, until the time we move into our new home, so we’re appropriately antsy to get moved.

BASEBALL GAMES & AUTOGRAPHS
I received a couple sets of excellent tickets to the Houston Astros this year. They were 4 rows behind the Astros dugout, and right on the end of the aisle. On April 17th, at the game, Jenny procured the signature of future hall-of-famer Jeff Bagwell on a baseball for me. It’s currently in storage, but stored in a ball cube, along with the ticket stub from that game.

30TH BIRTHDAYS
I celebrated my 30th birthday on May 26th by cleaning our former apartment, and turning in the keys. I was technically on vacation though, and we celebrated that night by eating out at our favorite mexican restaurant, Guadalajara.

Jenny’s 30th birthday was a bit more celebrated than mine. I gave her her gift on Thursday, December 10th, her official birthday, and we went out to Main Event the following Saturday, where some friends and family met us for bowling, food, and laser tag. It was an enjoyable evening, and a good way to celebrate hitting our 30’s.

As a result of our 30th birthdays, both of us feel old.

I BECAME AN iGEEK
I have been making fun of Apple fanboys and line-waiters for years, but on June 19th, I became one of them with the release of the Apple iPhone 3GS. I went to the Galleria Mall at 5:30am to get in line and pick up my first iPhone. I actually do not regret the decision to go with the iPhone, and have enjoyed it immensely since I bought it. It has become indispensable to my daily activities.

DON & SAUNDRA VISIT TEXAS
My brother Don and sister-in-law Saundra visited Texas this year, over the July 4th weekend. I had only had a chance to spend time with Saundra twice before: at her and Don’s wedding, and then again at mine and Jenny’s wedding. So this was an exciting visit, as we got a chance to spend time together without the stress of a wedding. Though Dad was in the hospital recovering from his surgery when they arrived, we still had an enjoyable visit.

During their trip here, we went to Dallas, TX on July 4th, and visited the JFK Museum, and Dealey Plaza, where JFK was assassinated. It was an excellent museum, and a fun visit to a place none of us had ever been; we only wished Dad could have been there with us. There’s always next time.

BACK PROBLEMS DIAGNOSED
Starting July 9th, I began experiencing pain in my back and shoulder once again. This had occurred a couple times previously, but trips to the chiropractor had fixed it. Unfortunately, this time the chiropractor didn’t fix the issue. After the 2nd trip, it felt better for about a month, but then came back with a vengeance, culiminating in an emergency room visit at 3:30 in the morning on September 2nd. A shot of morphine and valium later, and I was feeling better, but still in pain. All of this resulted in a series of medical appointments–and bills–before I learned what the problem was.

On September 23rd, I was diagnosed with a herniated disc in my neck, which was causing the pinched nerves, and pains I had been experiencing. Surgery was the ultimate way to fix the problem, but considering the size of the hernia, and the non-crippling pain I was experiencing, it was recommended that I get a steroid shot into the area, which would shrink the hernia, and allow it to heal properly. I hesitated for a while before finally scheduling the procedure. I was very apprehensive about the injection; I’ve never been very good around needles. I relented and got the steroid injection on October 28th. I was pleasantly surprised when the shot did not really hurt that much. In all, it was better than getting blood drawn. It has resolved most of the pain, but every now and then, I feel a twinge in my back, and it seems to have moved a bit. For now, I can easily live with it. Hopefully I won’t need to have this done again for a long while.

MIRACLES OF MODERN MEDICINE
On September 3rd, I began taking Zoloft for anxiety. At my doctor’s visit, I brought up that I would get stressed out over the tiniest things, and that it was affecting every aspect of my life; work, home, even my social life. He prescribed me Zoloft, which I started taking, and a couple weeks later could feel the effects. It has done a wonderful job of helping me be more calm, and handle daily stresses much better. Sadly, if I miss taking it even for a couple days, I can feel the effects, and will be taking Zoloft for the forseeable future. I’m not upset about it though; I like the positive effects it has. The side-effects have been minimal.

WEBSITE CHANGES
Though something the average person would not care about, I’m most definitely not an average person. I began work in July on a database-driven book library. I had done this previously with earlier iterations of my website, but this time, I put a lot more work into it, taking my time to get it setup just the way I want, both for now, and for future use. With a little help from my friend Matt, I was able to get the site built exactly as I wanted.

I also got rid of the ‘landing’ page, and moved my entire precense to WordPress, which has quickly become my favorite blogging engine. The power that it provides is unmatched, and enables me to do some pretty amazing stuff quite easily. So that’s what you’re seeing here now.

Eventually, I hope to add Jenny’s books into the library, and to create a similar library for our movies. That’s a project for a later time, though.

CREDIT IMPROVEMENTS
With the importance of credit these days, this is a biggie. In August/September, the judgement on my credit finally expired, and no longer appears on my credit report. This was one of the biggest obstacles to us getting a house, and now it’s gone. Our scores have also improved quite a bit, and we’ve been very careful to pay everything on time, and keep our credit cards low. I’ll keep on monitoring it, and we should be continuing our upward-trend.

DEATH IN THE FAMILY
On August 19th, we attended the funeral for Jenny’s maternal grandfather. Though she was not close to him, we still wanted to attend. It’s always sad to lose a family member, loved or not.

TRIP TO SAN ANTONIO
In early September, Jenny and I took a weekend road trip to San Antonio, staying with my Aunt Sharron and Uncle Smitty. Mostly this was a discovery trip, as I wanted to find out information about my father for a book I plan to write about his life. He’s an interesting character who has lived a pretty crazy life, and will make for good material.

While in San Antonio, we ate on the Riverwalk, and did some shopping before heading home. In all, it was a nice weekend.

I HAVE ARRIVED
On September 11th (I know, a dubious date), I moved my work belongings into my new office. It’s on the 17th floor of an office building at the corner of San Felipe and Loop 610W with a view of the downtown Houston skyline. I can only say how lucky I am to be here, and how appreciative I am. I feel like I have finally arrived where I belong, and am getting what I’ve always wanted. It’s a pretty heady experience.

CAR PROBLEMS
My new car has seen some rough times lately. In late September, while driving to work, an object fell from a truck and struck my car, damaging the front bumper, grill, and hood. It was mostly cosmetic damage, but still required repair. Once I got it back from the repair shop, within just a couple of weeks, I had a severe oil leak, and had to take it to the dealership. Fortunately, it was a hole in the oil filter, and only required an oil change to repair. Since that time, my car has been running perfectly, and no more problems have occurred–which is what I would expect from a new car.

RENNAISSANCE FESTIVAL
We chose to go to the opening weekend of the RenFest, in order to save some money. It was $7/ticket cheaper to go opening weekend! Unfortunately, we chose the weekend that was cold and rainy, so it wasn’t nearly as much fun as years past. The ground was pretty soggy, and it was just cold enough to be uncomfortable without a coat (which we didn’t have). Attempts to purchase a cloak, or any kind of warm covering were met by exorbitantly high prices, so no purchases were made–beyond food, of course. We went with Jana and Pedro, who had never been to RenFest before, so it was fun to see their reaction. Sadly, the Ded Bob Show was somewhat ruined by the rain because people put up their umbrellas, which blocked the viewing, and he rushed through the show because of the rain. They still enjoyed it though.

2ND ANNIVERSARY
Our 2nd anniversary came and went, and we spent it at home, going out for dinner at Olive Garden and just relaxing. I got Jenny some flowers and a card, and I found a surprise anniversary card in my bag when I got to work. It’s hard to believe we’ve been married two years already. A lot has happened, but time sure does seem to fly. Can’t wait for our 3rd anniversary!

NEW DIGITAL CAMERA
Why would I mention us purchasing a new digital camera, you might ask? Well, simply put, it was a major purchase! We bought Jenny a Digital SLR camera (a Nikon D5000) as her combination birthday/Christmas gift. Originally we were going to get the D3000, but then got approved for a Best Buy card, so spent a little bit more and got the much better camera. Since then, we’ve used it quite a bit, and are starting to get the hang of it. The pictures we’re getting are fantastic, too. Jenny has wanted one of these cameras for a long time, so it was nice to finally get it for her. Though it’s ‘her’ camera, it’s really both of ours. But it’s hers.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KIRBY!
Kirby celebrated her 2nd birthday on November 24th, and we will have had her for 2 years on January 4th. She’s such a great dog, and is really enjoying having a backyard to run around in, and to play in. We’re almost certain that she’s pregnant and expecting puppies, but won’t know for sure until after the 1st of the year, when we take her to the vet for blood tests to find out.

SNOW DAY!
On December 4th, it snowed in Houston, Texas. It even stuck on the ground in many areas, as snowfall started accumulating for several hours. Most of the city closed down early, so people could get home before the roads froze. Houston drivers most certainly cannot handle icy road conditions! It was so neat to see snow falling heavily, and collecting on the ground. Large fields were pure white, and bushes and trees were frosted. It may not be that interesting to people who see snow every year, but here in Houston, it’s an event! Two years now with snow; last year it snowed on Jenny’s birthday, December 10th.

HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
Originally, Christmas 2009 was supposed to be spent in Michigan, with Don & Saundra. That was the plan for most of the year. However, when my back problems started up, I had to use a good chunk of vacation time for all the doctor visits, and ended up using the time I had set aside for our Michigan trip. It was heartbreaking not to be able to go (especially with all the snow up there,) but life goes on. We’ll just have to make the trip another year.

We went to Mom & Dad’s for Thanksgiving, since we missed last year due to illness. It was good to see them both, and spend some time with them, without going to a hospital, or running to a doctor’s office, or headed out the door to work. Thanksgiving dinner was good, and we watched some movies, and generally just relaxed. Of course, I spent a big chunk of the time there working on their computers.

For Christmas, we stayed home, with Jenny’s family. We had people over Christmas Eve for the white elephant gift exchange, and for dinner. Then Christmas Day, we went to Kelli’s house for the full family get-together, followed by Roy & Martha’s house for gift exchanging and stockings. In all, an excellent year. Late Christmas night, we went to the movies to watch “Sherlock Holmes”. It was a nice way to cap off Christmas.

NEW SPECTACLES
Just before Christmas, I went to the eye doctor to get checked out. I hadn’t been in about 3 years, so it was due. I was trying to get my visit in by the end of the year, so I could go anytime next year and get another pair, but it’s based on calendar-year, so it didn’t do me any good. Anyway, I picked up my glasses the day after Christmas, but haven’t started wearing them yet. Since there’s only a few days until 2010, I’ll wait until the 1st to start them. Might as well start off a new year with a new pair of glasses.

THE YEAR OF TELEVISION
Television was a huge influence on my life this year–moreso than previous years. Typically, I follow only a couple of shows, but 2009 was an atypical year for television viewing in my home. I’ve got probably five or six shows I’ve been following for several seasons now, and I even got addicted to a couple new shows this year. Among my new favorites are:

  • FlashForward
  • Mad Men
  • Californication
  • V
  • Stargate Universe

LOOKING FORWARD TO 2010…
The next year holds some potentially huge events, and it’s my hope that it’s a better year than 2009. This year was fraught with difficulties, and a lot of emotion and stress. 2010 could be precisely the opposite, should our plans work out the way we intend. Some of the events we look forward to are:

  • Purchasing a house
  • Kirby having puppies (and selling them)
  • Steven’s graduation ceremony from Texas Tech University in May
  • Our friends Uday and Margaret’s daughter being born
  • Getting pregnant and having a baby? (This will hopefully happen. Jenny’s not pregnant that we know of.)