I'm not sure if I'm proud of this, but I've worked for 9 different employers in the decade, including specific projects for at least 11 major clients. See if you can guess which ones weren't part of the career plan (some left anonymous due to confidentiality or forgetting):
Round Rock Independent School District
#2: Back To School
Sadly no grad school, but I took UT night courses for credit in WWII history and Civil Liberties. WWII included about a dozen films and only three books - I'd rather have had them flipped, but apparently most non-standard students don't feel that way (probably not standard students, either). Civil Liberties was exactly the kind of class I wanted - roundtable discussions each week, and flexibility (almost too much) in writing assignments. I've taken a short break from formal classes, but anticipate returning soon.
TOMORROW: What's #1? Filing my first auto insurance claim? Nope. Having USAA insurance? Closer...
I left Hawaii on July 26, 1985, and finally returned in November 2003. I had a week to explore old haunts, see friends again, and remember that the state hates me. Not the government - just the state. First it conspired with Minnesota to give me an ear infection on the flight there, meaning I had to avoid putting my head underwater. No problem - who wants to bother with the beaches when you're in Hawaii? Then our car got towed at the surfing competition, leading to a 2-hour search through ... um, interesting neighborhoods and several Hauli*-unfriendly people. On the plus side, I visited the library of the Mid-Pacific Institute and remembered a musty basement smell I strongly associate with books. Rereading that sentence, it might sound like I'm being sarcastic, but it was a truly wonderful experience.
#5: Stayed In Place
It's the first decade I stayed in one city (yes, I'm counting Pflugerville as staying in Austin). Relationships are stronger, and I had to pack far less times than in the 90s. The 80s only had one move, but it was across half an ocean and half a continent. From this steady base of operations, I did visit several places for the first time: Seattle, Tulsa, Indianapolis, Vancouver, Gainesville, Banff, Disneyworld. (I went near San Francisco for work, but I don't think I can claim it until I visit the Golden Gate bridge.)
#4: Real Estate
I bought a townhouse in 2003, when everyone said to invest in real estate because it "only goes up." That hasn't held true so much, but in fairness, the condo did appreciate 24% in 4 years before we bought the house. Owning a house has frequently made me appreciate renting, but I do enjoy having a place that is mine (and/or Laura's).
TOMORROW: School or work? I reject the tyranny of the or!
Not that I didn't exercise before this decade, but this was the first time I made sustained efforts simply to exercise, even if none of them stuck. My motivation to get to the fitness center before 6AM in 2003 was to set the TV to Buffy the Vampire Slayer reruns before the FoxNews/CNN guys showed up - maybe a little silly, but it worked as well as anything. I did more walking, biking, racquetball, weightlifting, and basketball (at various times) than I'd ever done before. Speaking of which...
#8: Played for an undefeated team
In the spring of 2005, I played in a church league on a team of 5 leftover players. Fortunately two of them had played junior college ball, and the other two were far better than I was. We went undefeated (including some great overtime games when we had no substitutes) all the way through a 10-game regular season and 4 playoff games. I was unquestionably the fifth-best of five, but my presence kept us from forfeiting a few games, and I contributed more than that on some nights - you know it's a fun team to play on when the double teams leave the tallest guy open. :-) But my favorite undefeated team was...
#7: 2005 National Champion UT Longhorns
If your team's ever won a title, you know what I mean. The rest of my viewing party gave up at 6 minutes to go down 12, but I had faith (although the kind that left me nervous enough to pace the rest of the game). We drove down by campus afterwards to briefly join the celebration and the feeling was just amazing. USC's hype and Vince's historic magnificence enhanced the experience incredibly (and made sure it will always repeat on ESPN Classic!).
On December 19, I had this grand idea to start a Top 12 list for the decade*, and post each of the remaining twelve days of the decade. Life intervened, but five days is plenty of time.
DISCLAIMERS: The list is not ordered by significance. Also, I will forget important moments - tell me if I'm missing something.
#12: Collected Classic Comics
As a kid, I collected Garfield books, but this decade I bought a few collections that will endure as classics. Complete sets of Far Side and Calvin & Hobbes sit next to the first 20 years of Dilbert and best of Foxtrot. I have enjoyed many hours of hilarity and tragic snowman corpses.
#11: Fantasy Became Cool**
3 Lord of the Rings movies, 7 Harry Potter movies, and I saw all but one at their midnight premiere. There's nothing like the energy of a full theater of anticipation (we'll ignore the Orlando Bloom fangirls who talked through all non-Legolas scenes - I'm still trying to forgive and forget). I'd waited 15 years for the LotR movies, and they lived up to expectations - Gollum's still the creepiest, most intriguing character who ever snarled on the big screen.
I'm not putting myself on a level with real writers (even nonprofessional ones who apply themselves), but I made my first serious efforts at consistent writing, and even more dangerously in front of an audience on these blogs. The story I put on the blog in September feels like the apex, but the hundreds of smaller posts mean just as much looking back.
TOMORROW: Who won a national title over a team that had already been crowned the greatest of all time?
* I opted for the decade because, while this year has had its moments (12 Days of Birthday, taking my cousin's son to see his first Harry Potter movie at the theater, among others), I will not remember 2010 fondly.
** As cool as it will ever get, at least.