2009: A Year in Review

When I sat down to write this I was convinced that 2009 was a fairly crappy year. I feel like I spent about half the year blocked by circumstance from doing the things I really wanted to do. But after compiling a list of how I actually spent my time I realize that while it wasn’t everything I hoped it could be it, it was still pretty freaking cool.

Here’s a list of some of the more interesting occurrences of 2009:

  • Went camping on a whim in the cold in Tyler State Park, read Walden in the woods, “lived like men”, admired the constellations in the clear air, tried to catch fish with bamboo poles, cooked over an open flame, and tried not to freeze to death sleeping on the hard ground. (Jan 9-11)
  • Finished my Flying Saucer 200-beer tour (begun in 2006) with a tasty Maredsous 10! Look for my plate on the wall in Addison! (Jan 19)
  • Lost my best friend for reasons that have never been explained to me. (~Feb 20)
  • Completed my in-person interview in Houston, the last step in the applying to the JET Programme. Stayed with my incredibly awesome cousin Chris (Feb 24). Eventually got JET alternate status, considered it, and finally withdrew my application in late June instead of waiting even more months for the possibility of teaching in Japan (I hate waiting).
  • My paternal grandfather passed away and my family met up in Simi Valley, CA for the funeral. Instead of simply grieving, it turned into an incredible, rare opportunity for all of us to get together and enjoy life. I’ve never had more fun with my family or felt closer to them. Lots of card-playing and midnight Del Taco runs. It’s also way more fun than I expected to drink with the family. (Mar 5-8)
  • Decided to undertake what I called Project Life Reset, with the intention of disconnecting from my current situations, eschewing ties to any particular location, living cheaply, traveling, and really living instead of simply existing. I wasn’t able to fully enact my plan due to exterior constraints, but the motivation is still there and constraints are nearly gone (2010 is going to rock!).
  • Followed my convictions and quit my job on the beliefs that now is the best time to do most anything, and that 9-to-5 is a deadend for me. (May 29) The view from the office I left to be in that world instead of just looking at it out the window.
  • Turned 25 (the last age I’m even moderately comfortable with). Getting oooold. Celebrated (grieved?) with friends at Gloria’s in Garland. (Jun 17).
  • Logged night after (late) night in the pool and hot tub over the summer, having amazing philosophical conversations, drinking copious amounts of alcohol with Matt, Richard, and other irregulars.
  • What started as a fast food run turned into an impromptu adventure one late night after I talked about experimenting with hobo living. We ate under a highway, wrote (harmless) graffiti, then walked miles in the darkness of abandoned Dallas train tracks, including a rickety, decrepit bridge 20+ feet over questionable waters. (Jul 1) The view when we finally emerged from the treed path of the tracks.
  • Spent many, many days at my café “offices” of Escapé and Java & Cha (mostly working on Raconteur and writing), to the point where the J&C girls would start making my drink before I even ordered—being a regular is fun!
  • Took up running. Started the Couch-to-5K program, something Richard had mentioned over the summer; made serious headway but stopped after getting sick and then the weather getting cold.
  • Visited my mother in Nebraska, put together a website for her (Aug 24), taught her about SEO, and drank Bombay Sapphire and tonics with my step-dad.
  • Fired a revolutionary war-style black powder gun (reproduction) and an original Winchester shotgun from 1897! (Aug 30) Reload!
  • Traveled to the Black Hills, SD: saw Mount Rushmore and lots of bison, as well as signs of an upwardly-mobile Chinese middle-class. =) (Aug 31)
  • Started my first company, Too Much Tea LLC (Sep 14)
  • Laura and I ran a 5K (Sep 19)! Probably no big deal but I’ve never been a very physical person and I never imagined I’d run a race of any kind. My running bib. Note the beer knurd shirt!
  • Attended the Fall Festival in the Japanese garden at the Fort Worth Botanical gardens (gorgeous!). Koi, ikebana, banzai, koto playing, sushi, odori, tea ceremony, taiko, oh my! (Oct 25) I shit you not, this is in Fort Worth.
  • Wrote and released (Nov 19) an app for iPhone called Raconteur.
  • Got in a horrible car accident on my way to Louisiana to see my family for Christmas. Totalled the car, lost the presents, but managed to escape mostly in-tact! Might have been live affirming had I not already been sold on life. (Dec 23)
  • Adopted an attitude of materialistic minimalism. Reduced my possessions. Not drastically, but a good start.
  • Read 19 books (not great, not horrible) 16 non-fiction, 3 fiction. Part of my library and a very tired me, packing.
  • Wrote TONS. Mostly unreleased, but I have picked up the pace of polishing and releasing since the start of 2010.
  • Stopped watching TV (I see a bit here and there but I don’t follow a single show).
  • Learned to better organize and track my life using a GTD-like system, ToodleDo, Raconteur, and a variety of on-paper methods. Projects, tasks, responsibilities, goals, and daily activities all recorded with decent regularity (though there is room for improvement).
  • Learned quite a bit about company structures, taxes, entrepreneurship, and marketing.
  • Learned approximately 400 kanji and increased my Japanese vocabulary with the help of Smart.fm.
  • Generated 118 business ideas (of varying quality) in one hour to prove it could be done.
  • Defined what I’m living for by identifying 67 life goals and planning steps to achieve them.
  • Generated and honed lots of great new ideas for company projects and made good starts on some.
  • Spent way too much money keeping my pets alive. They’d better be grateful. =) Mr. Sixxington and his thinkorswim monkey.

Things I’ve loved this year:

  • Sunday phở! Fills my stomach, anchors my week, and generally makes me feel good about life. The ultimate comfort food. I’m still partial to Bistro B (thanks, Keli). Photo by avixyz.
  • Sherlock’s. I can’t quite call it my favorite bar in Dallas (that honor probably still goes to Kona Grill), but nowhere but Sherlock’s has delivered such a reliably great experience. Always a crowd, always live music, and always great service from the coolest waitresses around (thanks, A., J., P.—you guys rock).
  • Gunpowder ginseng green tea from Central Market. Cheap and delicious. My everyday tea.
  • In books: The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb, Walden by Thoreau, and The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.
  • Git and GitHub.com
  • Tumblr (migrated from Wordpress Dec 11)
  • Dropbox. Never worry about losing anything again? I’m in.

Most importantly though, I have a better idea of what I’m living for than ever before. The happiest times in my life have always been the ones where I was living in greatest alignment with my principles, all else be damned. I’m almost back there. I also feel more capable in managing my day-to-day affairs and better at planning how to achieve what I want.

A giant thanks to all the awesome people in my life—you guys make me feel truly fortunate.