Tuesday, April 22, 2014

2014 So Far: Bests and Worsts

Dear George,
When I was thirty or so I rarely considered whether I was having a good year or a bad year.  There were limitless years ahead, and I had more pressing things to worry about.  Now that I’m older, have extra time on my hands, and no longer have an infinite number of years ahead to enjoy, I’ve seem to be more preoccupied with assessing my quality of life.  My New Years resolution this past January was to do something special every day.  (Not super special – but at least somewhat special.)  I’ve managed to do that at least half of the time, but I tense up when I ask myself how many really big things have happened in my life lately.  Anyway, now that we’re almost done with the first third of 2014, it seems like a good time to evaluate the year so far.  To accomplish that, I compiled two lists: (a) my best experiences; and (b) my worst experiences of 2014 to date.  I encourage readers to try this for themselves since it’s an instructive exercise.  Here’s how my lists wound up:

Bests of 2014

·       Biggest trip: To New Orleans for six days in late March, visiting J and K and our grandkids V and L
·       Most enjoyable workouts: At my line dancing class
·       Best sheepdog outing places: Eden Park and Miami Whitewater Forest (tie)
·       Best OLLI class at the university (for 50-&-overs): Behind the Scenes in the Arts
·       Most engrossing sports event: The Winter Olympics (esp. ice dancing and halfpipe)
·       Best flea market expedition: Monthly Flea-n-Tique show at the county fairground in Dayton
·       Most nostalgic kid activity: Riding in a bumper car with my granddaughter V at City Park in New Orleans
·       Best hostess: Katja entertaining 20 members of the Contemporary Club at our house
·       Biggest family laugh: When I told my NOLA physician relatives that I’d given my primary care doctor my detailed blood pressure records in which I’d listed all my systolic numbers on one sheet and all my diastolic numbers on a separate sheet (very amusing to physicians) 
·       Cutest pet: My granddaughter V's tiny white bunny, Olivia Rosetop
·       Best museum experience: OLLI Tour of the National Underground Freedom Center
·       Best fashion exhibit: "Threads of Heaven" at the Taft Museum, featuring garments of the Chinese royalty from the Quing dynasty (some of which required 250 artisans to make)
·       Best photography show: Civil War photos at the New Orleans Museum of Art 
·       Best art show:  Steffen Thomas at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans
·       Best gallery visit: A Gallery for Fine Photography on Royal St. in New Orleans (with photos priced to $95,000)  
·       Best movie we've seen so far in 2014: Nebraska, with a demented Bruce Dern
·       Best TV show: HBO's True Detective with Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey
·       Quirkiest TV show: The Search for Bigfoot in Menominee County (National Geographic Channel)
·       Most enjoyable book: Jonathan Goldstein, I'll Seize the Day Tomorrow 
·       Best theater:  CCM's "Les Miserables" and Broadway tour of “Evita” (tie)
·       Best opera: Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale” at CCM
·       Most enjoyable jazz outing: Aurora Nealand and the Royal Roses at the Spotted Cat Music Club in New Orleans
·       Best outdoor music festival: Rhythm Festival in Congo Square in NOLA
·       Best lunch: Baked Drum at Peche in New Orleans’ warehouse district 
·       Best dinner: Three-course prix fixe at Jean Robert's Table with the Opera Guild group on Vine Street downtown
·       Best holiday outing: Easter brunch at La Petite France with Ellie and Sam M.
·       Most fulfilling dramaturgical experience: Directing my five-year-old grandchildren L and V in our homemade play about “The Joys of Spring.”
·       Most enthusiastic dog encounter: Noisy reunion with our sheepdogs Duffy and Mike at the airport on my return from New Orleans.

Worsts of 2014

·       Saddest event: Attending the funeral of a long-time friend and department colleague
·       Most distressing news: A friend’s recurrence of cancer after several years in remission
·       Poignant week: Family birthdays in the last week of February including my mother’s and my deceased brother Steve’s, as well as my sister Vicki’s
·       Worst effect of our unusually harsh winter: Car stuck in the ice and snow three times
·       Most unpleasant financial expense: $1500 in car repairs from subzero temps (broken hoses, brakes, etc.)
·       Most anxiety-provoking: Dogs’ arthritis, evident in their difficulty climbing stairs and struggles to get up from the hardwood floor
·       Scariest accident(s): Me falling on the ice while walking the dogs and then Katja tripping on the parking lot pavement (no persisting injuries for anybody)
·       Worst recurrent nightmare: Having to teach a graduate seminar though knowing nothing about the topic
·       Stupidest comment to a doctor: Telling the gastroenterologist that I was looking forward to my colonscopy
·       Most annoying age discrimination: Doctor cuts my Ambien dosage in half because of federal government age guidelines
·       Daily pet peeve: The University's shuttle bus stop at our corner for which patrons wait in our driveway and on our side lawn
·       Most chronic frustration: my crummy hearing
·       Biggest life worry: What to do with too much stuff (i.e., attic and basement filled to capacity)
·       Worst late-night snack:  Katja’s leftover fig pizza.
·       Neighborhood dog losses: Lucy (died), Archie (died), Prissy (ran away), Harmony (moved to Illinois)

Like every other year, life continues to be a potpourri of goods and bads.  Apart from catastrophes to friends, the positive things for me outweigh the negatives in 2014 so far.  While I never anticipated it, I think this is mostly a consequence of being retired.  A lot of the sources of external pressure, evaluation by authorities, interpersonal conflict, and daily stress disappeared from my life when I left the workplace.  Instead I get to spend a lot of time doing things I like.  This is an unique and special time of life.  My immediate plan is to appreciate and enjoy the rest of 2014.

G-mail Comments
-Donna D (4-27): absolutely wonderful david!!!
-Jennifer M (4-23):  I'm glad the good outweighs the bad so far! And it seems like the trip to NOLA created a lot of the good!

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