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Dec. 31st, 2009 @ 10:29 pm What Just Happened?
Current Music: Joy Electric - A Glass To Count All The Hours [The Otherly Opus]
We've only a few hours left in 2009, and I wanted to take some time to reflect on this most momentous of years. Of course it's also the close of a decade, the third such closing I've seen in my life. While this was certainly one of the most monumental decades of my life-- what with graduating college, getting married, getting a job, buying a house, having a kid-- this past year certainly takes the cake. I want this journal entry to be a reflective record of some of the more incredible matters. Read it if you like, it is public after all. But this is more for my benefit than anyone else's. But if you do read on, I hope you like text.

At the beginning of this year, I said that it was going to be my year, mostly because of the silly coincidence that the final two digits coincided with my long-held moniker, zeronine. If only I knew what was in store.

Looking back over my journal entries reminds me that I was still doing some final work from the bathroom remodeling project on New Year's Day. Well, mostly final anyway. I still haven't put up crown molding. Maybe next year.

But what's more important about this memory is that in the midst of this project, right there at the beginning of the year, Deb and I found out that we were pregnant. I was covered in drywall dust when she came home with the news. The swell of joy and abject terror that I felt in that moment cannot be conveyed. I knew we had a rough road ahead of us, as the doctors had warned us that Deb was at risk for various complications and there was just a lot that could go very wrong early on in the pregnancy. That's actually the main reason that we found out so early that she was expecting -- they brought her in for tests at the first hint of something. After well over a year of trying, there we were, just a few months away from meeting this new person in our lives.

The pregnancy itself went pretty well. We got to switch to midwife care at a hospital outside of Boston proper (which would be easier for us to get to). Deb had slowly shifted her work schedule closer and closer to home as she grew bigger and bigger, and all signs pointed to a nice healthy boy. She was going to take August off from work entirely, an extension of our annual trip to SoulFest. I had saved up my vacation time since January. We had everything planned out. But as just about all of you know, our little boy had other plans for us. Seven weeks from the due date, Deb went into preterm labor and we rushed into the hospital. I had planned on packing our hospital bag the next day, I kid you not. The doctors were able to put the brakes on the process for a bit, but all of a week later, and still six weeks from the due date, we were on our way again. By this time, we were a bit more prepared. After the adventure of the previous weekend, we had rushed to get the essentials in order. The bassinet still hadn't come in the mail yet, and wouldn't for another few days.

But even for coming out so early, Lucien was big and healthy. Five pounds ten ounces, with an apgar score of 9.9, he surprised pretty much every nurse and doctor he met. Never needed an incubator or oxygen, never really caused any concern. Even so, he was in the hospital for 11 long, grueling days, during most of which we weren't allowed to stay there with him and had to shuttle back and forth. That was hard beyond compare, and I could drive the route to Newton Wellesley in my sleep at this point. But we had such great support from friends and family who came in to visit us and him. And finally, we got to take the little guy home.

And life hasn't been remotely the same since. Now Deb's a housewife and full-time mom, with a science degree that'll surely come in handy when he comes trudging in with whatever he just dug up out of the river out back. But today, Luc's getting close to eighteen pounds. Think about that: the kid tripled in size in four months. That's quite a feat by anyone's measurement. And while we've certainly had our ups and downs like any parent-and-child setup will, he's really been a great kid. Sociable, friendly, happy, content, healthy. He's met two of his living great-great grandparents at this point, which is pretty awesome. Who knows if they'll still be around when he's old enough to remember them. He even got to play baby Jesus at church this year. It's amazing to think that he's a whole new person that wasn't here this time last year. Well, he was a bean. He's still my Bean.

As amazing as having Luc enter our lives was, and I could never discount that, that was far from the only big thing that this year was about. Man, where do I begin?

We continued to update the house, and I hope I never have to move. Luc's impending arrival caused us to get our old single-pane, sash-and-counterweight windows replaced throughout the house. Ever since we'd really started trying for kids in earnest, we'd been living on just my salary, since Deb had been planning to be a full-time mom when the time came. This left us with a fair chunk of funding that we could put towards big projects, and the windows were one part of that. It took some wrangling and negotiation on my part, but I managed to talk Newpro down into our price range (and not a dollar more), and we have nice new triple-pane windows throughout the whole house. It's warmer and quieter here than it ever was. Well, quieter in that we don't hear outside noises or the wind whistling through.

We also finished up a few carpentry projects around the place over the year. I finished off the pipebox in the guest room, and I built a new closet in my study that has proven to be a much better use of the space than that old sink ever was. But we still did put a sink into the laundry room. A sink that turned out to be a lot more expensive than we'd ever planned on, but it's still good to have down here.

And of course, all of this was so that we could build out Luc's room. I still haven't put doors on it yet. I was supposed to do that this week while on vacation from work, but the whole family caught a cold that put the brakes on a lot of those end-of-year plans. Even so, the nursery is awesome, with a really sweet Super Mario Bros. theme throughout. Accordingly, the plush collection exploded to even more ridiculous levels than it was previously. So much so that we couldn't physically keep everything up on the entertainment center anymore.

The other big purchase this year seems to have caught a lot of my friends off guard. After driving ancient cars since, well, forever, this summer I actually bought a 2005 Cadillac CTS. Thanks to the previously mentioned multiple-years savings plan we'd had going, I even managed to get it without financing it. I hate being in debt, and this was a really big deal for me. Also? It was a fantastic feeling to drive into a Cadillac dealership in a twenty-year-old Chevrolet, wearing my standard t-shirt and jeans, and announce my intentions to pay cash for a new car. They probably thought I was a drug dealer. What I think most people don't realize about money is that in order to have it, you pretty much just have to not spend it. The very reason that I could afford to buy such a car for cash is that I had done the same to my previous car, kept repairing it until it was literally falling to pieces (and somewhat past that point), and very sternly set aside money for years. When we found out that Luc was coming, Deb looked at me and told me to go get a new car. We both knew that once he showed up, I wouldn't want to touch the money we'd saved for anything like that. So I shopped around for months, test-drove about a dozen different makes and models and years, and completely fell in love with the CTS. Again managed to talk the dealership down into my budget, and I didn't budge past that. As it turned out, I picked up the car all of two weeks before Luc showed up. Since the carseat lives in the Subaru, Luc has actually not even ridden in it yet. Though with the way I intend to treat this car, I hope it to still be around when it's time for him to learn to drive. That's not to say he gets to drive my Caddy, of course. But it'll be there.

Hm, everything really does come back to Luc here.

This year was also a big deal for school. I am now closer to the end than the beginning in two important ways. Firstly, I have taken six of the requisite ten classes, leaving two years left on this countdown clock. Secondly, I finished up the last of my required core material and now am free to take interesting electives until the end. Which led directly into the second class I took this year, a special topics class on MultiTouch computing. That was a lot of fun, and I got to write another game. If the youtube videos ever do make it out, I'll be sure to repost them all over the place.

Speaking of posting all over the place, my technological landscape shifted a good bit this year. This very journal slowly withered from neglect. What's most interesting to me is that while this is being entered into LiveJournal, most of the people who are going to read this, or even know that it exists, are going to see it on Facebook. My entire social circle seems to have migrated there, and almost none of my friends update here anymore. Used to be that I couldn't go half a day without missing a huge amount of content on my friends page here, but these days if I forget for a week, I can still catch up without hitting the previous-entries link.

The other big technological change is that I have finally got a smartphone. Having carried a Palm Pilot for years upon years now (I can't even recall when I got my first one), I very strongly resisted the pull for some time. Nothing had come along that was compelling enough, but the rise of the Android platform this year was enough to draw me over. I ended up with a Motorola CLIQ, and I've been fantastically happy with it. I have a few gripes, like I wish it had a better onboard calendar app, but overall it has changed how I interact with the world. I can now fact-check on Wikipedia while I'm just wandering around someplace. I can look up some name or term or oddity on Google to see what's what. I can update my journal or my status on Facebook wherever I am, and I can do the Twitter thing, something I hadn't done before. I can make note of a book or album or anything with a whole suite of apps that are just dying to assist my commerce. Having an always on ubiquitous computer in my pocket really is a big deal. It's also a pretty decent phone, which was important to me. Of course this has all jacked up my cellphone bill, but I've been able to drop down a few related others that more than make up for it.

While I've been moving forward technologically, I'm sad to say that I've been falling back physically this year. I have no illusions about it -- I simply have not been physically active enough this past calendar year. Sure, I've had plenty of excuses, but in the end, I know what I've got to do to get things in gear. I started the year in some of the best shape I've ever been in, and just let things slip. Thankfully, not far as I was years ago. So I know where I need to get to, and I know how to get there. I don't make resolutions, but that is something that I'd like to do this next year. My aikido practice has also suffered, and I'm not progressing like I ought. I feel stuck, and it is absolutely due to the fact that I don't get out there often enough. I want to fix that but still make time for my family.

I've been pretty busy musically, too. I got my music up onto bandcamp and got into the whole indie music distribution market. Somehow, in the midst of everything, I also released an album of ten songs in there. There are parts I don't like about this music, but on the whole I am very happy with it. Happier than I was with the last album, and I've actually sold a few copies of both now. To get things out to a larger audience, I started up a project on Kickstarter that was miraculously fully funded on the same day I posted it, thanks to some very generous friends. But even after that, a few more people joined on, including a couple of strangers. Now I'm two weeks from closing out a successful project, I'm working on material for a new album, and I feel more energized about my music than I have in some time. It's a good season.

I played fairly regularly at Park Street in the Sunday Night Band this year. Most of my appearances have been on the keyboards, where I try to pull in a lot of synthesizer elements that most other people seem to be scared to do. To my knowledge, I'm the only one to play a vocoder in that 200-year-old church. That's pretty sweet. I also hopped in on guitar a few times, and did a few offeratories. One of which was "The Ballad of The Blamed", one of my all time favorite songs. It felt great to share that song with everyone, and people seemed to at least enjoy it. I hope it touched someone the way that song has always grabbed me. I would really like to do that more often. I love playing live again, and maybe I should find more avenues for that.

I've played so many great games, seen a lot of good movies, and read a few great books this year. I wouldn't even know where to start on these lists. Maybe I'll come back and make a best-of-the-decade list or something at a future date.

Work has been nuts this year. Funny, for most 28-year-olds, the work life is probably the highlight, or at least the most-consuming aspect. Maybe that's why I haven't been promoted in a while. ;) In any case, I have been Busy. I dove into a few big OpenSource and Internet communities, and I'm even starting to make a name for myself in some of them. My research proposals finally got funded this year, after ages of trying and failing. Granted, nothing came through quite how I expected it to, but the sum result is that I have more than enough to keep my head spinning this year, and probably next. I've been getting involved in more standards body work, too. Not directly voting on things, but I've engaged the communities on a few things and at least made my voice heard. That's been exciting to see. I can only hope that I can keep it all straight going forward, and by the grace of God I will.

Which nicely brings me to a closing here. I fully believe and know that it is purely by the grace of God that I survived this year. Every amazing blessing, every shocking challenge, every breath.

It's been a hard year, with lots of adjustments to my well-arranged life, lots of stresses I hadn't known before, and an overwhelming flood of just plain old stuff happening. But it has been an amazing year. As many as these words are here, they don't do it justice. I am in awe of my life, and I hope to always be.

I haven't the foggiest what 2010 will bring. Lucien's first steps and words? Probably. New music, new project at work? Likely. Friends, family, trial, despair, confusion, elation, and so much in between.

Well I guess I do know what 2010 will bring. It will bring life. And I say to you, 2010:

Bring it.
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