My Favorite Decade 2000-2009

My life from 1990 to 1999 was a whirlwind blur of grad school, graduation, marriage, new baby, divorce, and a series of not so great career decisions. Aside from the birth of my daughter, I don’t have a lot of personal highlights or fond memories for that time period. Bit sad, really.

As this most recent decade ends, I was suddenly struck by all the personally positive events in my life over the last ten years.  Sure, I lost more hair, endured the sting of failed relationships and changed jobs more often than I’d like to remember, but overall I had some real highlights.

The following is a list of events, choices or “things that happened around me” that were my favorites. It’s a nice microcosm of what was important to me over the last ten years. I wonder how indicative it is for the next ten years?

10.) Moving to Champaign, IL

Easily, the best decision I ever made. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for my hometown, but I could not move forward and still live in Effingham. I may have been comfortable there, but never challenged.  So, I moved in early 2001 to an apartment I still live in and have really never looked back. I made a few friends here, but it’s the town and its institutions I love more than anything – Seven Saints, G-Mart, Assembly Hall, Jim Gould’s, Art Mart, Virginia Theatre, Taste of C-U, The News-Gazette, That’s Rentertainment, Smile Politely, Sholem Pool, Jupiter’s, The Great Impasta, Ebertfest and so much more.

9.) Wizard World Chicago (1999 2008)

My personal mini-vacation for many years was attending Wizard World Chicago. It reignited my love for comics in the early years and kept it alive throughout. I have hundreds of great experiences and each con was a unique happening. My bedroom wall is a testament to various years of sketches acquired and books signed. I’m saddened at the decline of the convention into mostly featuring D-List celebrities. I’m hoping the first C2E2 in April will become a new tradition.

8.) My Brothers Wedding

My wedding was a small affair. It was a rushed, panic-inducing time. I never got the bride in a white wedding dress or much of a reception and I never really thought or cared too much about it. However, being the best man in my brother’s wedding was easily my favorite wedding/reception. He had an extravagant and lovely Christmas wedding eight(!) years ago with a massive reception I never had with great food, happy relatives and a great DJ. I gave a humorous and resounding best man speech, danced like a fool and I’m pretty sure a married woman flirted with me. Still, what I remember most was standing next to my little brother watching him well up as his soon-to-be-wife walked down the aisle.

7.) Voting for Barack Obama

I was not really all that political until George W. Bush. After Katrina and the bogus reasons for going to war, I thought Bush was a ridiculous caricature of incompetency. Several years before his announcement, I felt Obama was a legitimate candidate for the Presidency. The historic weight of my vote didn’t move mountains. Nationally, my state has been solidly blue for many elections and whether or not I voted for the man probably didn’t mean much. Nevertheless, participating in the process was exciting. The results were a mandate and even after a year I’m still pleased Barack Obama is President.

6.) I Purchase my MacBook

I bought two vehicles in the last decade, but by far the best major purchase I made was my MacBook. I was tied for too long to a desktop iMac and this new laptop afforded me the luxury of mobility. I’ve taken my MacBook with me on vacation, to the coffee shop, to the airport, everywhere. It’s not quite yet been usurped by faster and fancier machines. I fully expect my daughter will inherit it as soon as I purchase something new… probably a MacBook Pro.

5.) Illinois Basketball in 2005

This one is a bit of a cheat. I didn’t have anything to do with the team making it all the way to the NCAA Tournament Championship game. I had no personal stake in the team. I didn’t even meet any of the players until years later. At the time, all I did was cheer them on. Living in Champaign-Urbana during their magical run was exciting. The town turned orange and blue and everyone was a basketball fan.  I was lucky enough to have been able to score seats to a few of those early games. I’m not a big sports guy, but since I moved to Champaign University of Illinois basketball is one of my true favs.

4.) KISS Releases Sonic Boom

I never thought I’d ever hear a brand new KISS album of original material again. Having the album debut at number two on the charts (Damn you Michael Bublé appearance on Oprah!) was unbelievable. Having the tracks sound like classic KISS right there between Rock and Roll Over and Love Gun was beyond all hope. My fervent wish is the band decides they had a ton of fun in the studio and go back in and do it again. Even better.

3.) Visiting Grant in Phoenix

Since my friend Grant moved to Phoenix he quietly badgered me into coming out and visiting. For years, I nodded in agreement and then never could find the time. Finally, I afforded myself a week’s vacation and flew from spitting rain in Indianapolis to a pleasant 85 degrees in Phoenix. I spent my time with Grant and his amazing family eating awesome barbecue, swimming in their pool, watching The Hangover and getting ready to drive to San Diego for Comicon. Just writing about it makes me want to get on a plane and do it all over again (except for the driving to San Diego part. I’m sweating just thinking about it.).

2.) The Trip to Kings Island with my Daughter

As my daughter grew up, I decided we needed to take a few mini-vacations. The King’s Island trip was the farthest we’d gone for a weekend trip – about four hours. We arrived way ahead of schedule and couldn’t check into our room. Even though the weather was overcast with spitting rain, we ventured over to an adjacent waterpark and enjoyed ourselves on all the waterslides sans long wait times. The highlight for me was my kiddo facing her fear and jumping into 15 feet of water from a platform about ten feet from the water’s surface. I did it first and then watched her make that jump, break the surface, swim over to me and say, “I wanna do that again!”

1.) Starting a website

I bought and just started blogging. I jumped around through untold variations of themes and content. I jumped to a few other URLs, lost some posts, found some posts and generally, just became a better writer because of it all.

What will be my highlights in 2020 as I look back on my life? What will be the events and moments that marked my time and my friends and family? I don’t know, but I expect it will be wonderful.