The First 10 Years of the 21st Century (2000-2005)

I didn't realize it until the other day, but as of tomorrow (1/1/10) we've made it past the first decade of the 21st century. I often wonder what I've done with my life those past ten years, so here's a (very long) recap. This way when my mind is completely gone I'll have this to look back on. Here is part one, years 2000-2005.


  • Lived in downtown St. Paul at the Pointe of St. Paul, which were apartments at the time. Brad was my roommate. We were on the 25th floor, had a large balcony and amazing view of downtown & the Mississippi River. Because we were down the street from the state capitol building, we also had a lot of politicians living there. Because of the free breakfast Friday's we got to know many of them. Lots of interesting discussions, and in the end you realize they are people, too.
  • Promoted to Business Director for Concept Group. Was overseeing/handling the accounting, HR, IT and management aspects of the business. It was four blocks from where I lived, so I often just walked to/from work. It was awesome.
  • Attended Metropolitan State University, working towards a double-major of business administration and organizational communication. I had a very high GPA and the teacher's loved me. I loved the institution as it was geared towards working adults who had actual experience in the real world (like me).
  • Traveled to California that year (San Francisco, Fresno - to see my friend Kevin -Yosemite & Napa), and also made many trips to Illinois and Iowa to visit family.
  • My parents/brother moved to Akron, Ohio; I made a few trips there, which was my first time visiting Ohio instead of just driving through it.
  • I turned 24 years old on May 15; Brad turned 30 on January 21.
  • For the first time I took an active role in local politics. I was elected Secretary for our precinct and attended the district & state conventions. I saw lots of politicians in action; most whom I was not impressed with, but a few others blew me away. I still follow a few of them closely, and I'm hoping one of them runs for President some day.

  • I was able to get tickets to the Presidential inauguration in D.C. However, I became horribly ill about six days beforehand with the flu, bronchitis and walking pneumonia. I was a mess, lost 15 pounds in 20 days, and couldn't do anything but sleep. I had to miss the event. I missed about 10 days of work, the longest ever (for a non-surgery related ailment).
  • Brad asked me to marry him on May 15, 2001 (my 25th birthday), in the kitchen of our apartment, around 6:30pm. The next evening we saw Billy Joel & Elton John in concert at the Target Center, which was an awesome way to celebrate.
  • Did my longest trip to California, with Brad, for 10 days. Hit Los Angeles, Dana Point, Fresno, Yosemite, Sacramento, Napa and San Francisco.
  • My Grandpa Suntken was moved to Ohio in August and into assisted living; he was suffering from either dementia or Alzheimer's. His mental health declined significantly after that move.
  • In mid-August I missed a step at the zoo and landed hard on one of my feet/legs. I ended up partially herniating the already torn disc in my back. I was on bed rest for a week.
  • 9/11. No one who lived through it will forget it. It really did seem to "change everything."
  • That Fall was the last time I took college courses; I did not get my diploma nor have I returned. The key reason was that the back pain increased too much for me to work as much as I did and also attend school.
  • My mom's side of the family threw a wedding shower for Brad & I on Christmas Eve in a mansion in Clinton, Iowa. It was the first time many of the family members met Brad, and he was welcomed with open arms.
  • Brad & I were married on March 2, 2002 at the St. Paul College Club in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was a high of 3 degrees with perfectly clear skies; it was very sunny. A blizzard had come through a couple days before, and the snow was frozen into blocks of ice. The ceremony started around 5:10pm (10 minutes late) and was done by 5:40pm. The reception was also held on-site; it was a great day despite the fact I was suffering from a severe sinus infection. We had 58 people in attendance; our closest family & friends. This was one of the best days of my life.
  • Living in downtown after 9/11 lost a bit of its appeal, so we moved to a rental townhome in Woodbury, MN. It was great, as there were walking paths nearby and it was a great place to go for a walk every day after work.
  • My brother graduated from high school in Ohio that June, and everyone was there for the event. I was so proud of him.
  • Brad had to spend time in Denver for his job, so one weekend I flew in and joined him. We spent three days in Colorado Springs, and it was gorgeous. We also did a trip up to Pike's Peak.
  • While driving home on Christmas Day from Iowa, Brad & I made the decision to move from Minnesota the next year. It was between Chicago and Cleveland.
  • I met up with my friend Moe in January in Chicago, who helped me scope out apartments (Brad couldn't take off work). He played a gay, interior-designer-oriented friend (though he is, in reality, none of these things except a friend). It was a blast.
  • I told my employer in February that my last day would be at the end of May. I had too many responsibilities, I needed to give them that kind of notice/preparation.
  • Brad & I spent our 1st anniversary at Walton Hills in Ohio. It was a great romantic getaway. We also spent time looking for places to live, and we found the perfect one the last day we were there. We put down a deposit and made a choice to move to Cleveland.
  • The firm I worked for did a photo shoot with fish, and afterward they gave the fish to the staff. I took two redcap goldfish & named them Fish One & Fish Two.
  • Right before our move, when I was spending all of my time at work wrapping up things, Fish Two died. I felt horrible, as I felt it was because I was so busy I had neglected him.
  • The moving truck left Minnesota on May 31; we arrived in Sheffield Village, OH on June 1. Fish One road with me in the back of the car on the floor. I bought him a bigger tank as a gift.
  • My brother had a head injury in June, after cutting himself with a knife at work and passing out from the blood. I have never been so scared in my life, as he was in intensive care and in critical condition. No one knew the first 24 hours whether they would have to drill his head to release the pressure. Luckily it got better on its own and he was allowed back home a few days later. I couldn't imagine losing my brother so soon in life. I was also grateful to be in Ohio instead of Minnesota so I could actually be at the hospital so soon after it happened.
  • Brad & I struggled to find jobs. At one point I had three - a temp job with Viking Husqvarna, a freelancer bookkeeper job with a graphic design firm, and I worked at a grocery store. It about killed me, especially with my back issues. Eventually I obtained a bookkeeping position at an engineering firm in downtown Cleveland. I drove about 20 miles, took the Rapid (train) into downtown and then had a 10 minute walk in the snow/rain/high winds. I kept the freelance bookkeeping job, as the money from both was still significantly less than what I made in MN. Brad got a job with a A/V retailer that Fall.
  • For the first time, I missed Christmas Eve in Iowa. We couldn't get off work, and we didn't have the money to travel. My family sent a beautiful centerpiece so we knew they were thinking of us.
  • The engineering firm I was working for was suffering financially. I worried for my job, as our department had too many staff (though most were near retirement). I was offered, out of the blue, a job with a health care consulting firm in the suburbs. One of the employees from the graphic design firm went to work there, and when the owner wanted someone who could do it all - accounting, marketing, business management, etc. - the guy thought of me and contacted me. I accepted the offer and started in April. After one day I hated it and felt I made a huge mistake. What was presented in the interview process was not reality. Though it was a group of 11 people, they were backstabbing, devious and arrogant. I could use more words, but I'll limit it to those three. There were a few great people, but the people at the top ruined the whole experience. I had never hated a job before, but I couldn't afford to leave so soon after I started, especially since it had been so hard to get a job in Cleveland. My commute was now 42 miles one-way, along Interstate 80.
  • We got another redcap goldfish & named him Norman. Fish One went around the tank ramming into him for a good hour , and poor Norman hid in the corner by a plant. But then Fish One showed Norman the ropes (including how to beg me for food by making a popping noise at the top of the tank), and after that they were awesome together. Fish One was always in charge, though!
  • Brad got a job with a A/V company that did home theater installations. He was doing sales & IT, and had normal hours. It was the first time both of us had 8-5 jobs!
  • My friend Chrissy got married in the Chicago suburbs. It was a beautiful wedding for a wonderful couple, and I was so glad we could be there!
  • My friend Maurice got married in Renaissance style. I was an attendant for him, and I was so honored! I represented "Earth", so my dress was green and in Renaissance fashion. We went there the day before to help set up in this log cabin in the woods. It was amazing and unforgettable. As all attendees had to dress up, Brad went as a monk. A big thanks to my mom for making our outfits!
  • With my job, I organized my first sales training. I also helped develop the materials and was responsible for some of the training. I also learned how to do video editing, which was a large part of the program. It was a huge success!
  • Brad & I went to D.C. for the first time since we moved to Ohio. We visited his family out there, and toured D.C. on a beautiful Saturday.
  • In December, my Grandpa & Grandma Grimm came to Ohio for a visit for about a week. It was a wonderful time, though I wasn't able to take off work during the week. One evening my Grandpa & I sat on the couch and recounted stories from years past. Later on when my Grandma, brother & mom had joined us, at one point my mom misunderstood my Grandpa and asked a really silly question. For some reason we all just cracked up for 10 minutes, tears in our eyes and barely able to breathe. I will never, ever forget that night and the words I exchanged with Grandpa. The most memorable - when he talked about the first time he met me. It was Christmas Eve, and I was 7 months old. My parents had driven from California and I was in the backseat in a car seat. Grandpa opened the door, took my little hand and said "Hi Carrie, I'm your Grandpa." I grabbed his hand back. He told me that "Even though you were too young to know who I was, I felt like you and I had a connection...and we still have that connection and always will."
  • For Christmas Eve we made it back to the farm; there is no better place to be on that day than the farm. Grandpa was there, as always, at the front door to welcome us. He was also by the door when we left - again, as always! - to give us a big hug and kiss, and to tell us goodbye with tears in his eyes but a grin on his face. It was the last Christmas I would get to experience this tradition.
2005 (the worst year)
  • My back and leg pain worsened to the point where I decided to have surgery. Artificial disc replacement had been approved by the FDA in October 2004, and the surgeons I had seen over the years recommended it over fusion. By late February it was on my schedule for May.
  • I finally quit the freelance bookkeeping job with the graphic design firm. It was time, and I was making enough money at my main job to drop it.
  • Brad & I came across a new cluster home in early April that we decided to buy. We had to close on it in less than three weeks, and it was our first home purchase.
  • We closed on our home on May 6; moved on May 7. Had Mother's Day celebration on May 8. My back surgery was on May 11, which was also my Grandpa Suntken's birthday. I took it as as lucky omen. By that time he was in his own world, so he had no clue who I was or what was going on. Still enjoyed visiting him, though, as he was almost reliving his life backwards. He often thought he was still working for Swiss Valley Farms and that my dad worked for him. My Grandpa was stuck at the "hotel" (really the nursing home), so my dad was doing the rounds for him. I remember the time my Grandpa was so upset because he said he got a call from a farmer who said my dad cut the money he was getting for dairy product. He told my dad that the farmer was a hard worker, had a large family & needed the money. I often wondered how many of these types of occurrences had really happened way back when.
  • I was home from surgery by May 13. On May 15 I went out with Brad and my family to Olive Garden for a meal, and then to Home Depot to get a few things for the house. It wasn't even a week after the surgery! It was a miracle.
  • I went back to work part time after Memorial Day. The first day I came home around 12:30. My mom was in the living room painting & Brad was upstairs. He didn't come down to greet me, so I went upstairs to him. He had been laid off work due to lack of work. The "irony" is that Brad asked his boss if he had to worry about his job before we bought the house and the guy said things were fine and we should buy it. What a jerk/liar.
  • By early June I felt normal again. I was leading, for the first time in years, a truly normal, energetic life. I felt my age, now 29. The surgery was a success...or so I thought.
  • Brad & I went to our first Formula 1 race in Indianapolis. Only six cars raced because of tire issues, so it was a rip-off/disappointment. The six cars basically used it for "testing", there was no racing. What was worse was that when we got back home I started having back pain again. This was the last time I felt "normal" - June 19.
  • In early July I went to the surgeon to determine why I was suffering with back pain. This would be a search for answers lasting over three years. No one could find anything, so I the pain injections and tests started up again with no clear results.
  • That summer my Grandpa Grimm was sick, but no one knew why. He wasn't himself.
  • In early July our basement flooded after three big rains. Turns out our footer drains were connected to the street sewer system. The builder made a change in the field and didn't document it. We lost some stuff, and the clean-up was a mess, despite the fact the builder coordinated/paid for the clean-up. We had water damage, plus a bunch of mulch, leaves, frogs and fast food containers in our basement, and the water was 12" high at one point.
  • In late July Brad got a temp job at a college in Cleveland. Luckily it turned into a permanent position.
  • At work I became involved in a new product line - medical retail clinics, such as MinuteClinic, but for hospitals to own. I flew to Minnesota & Wisconsin to research the models directly, and developed the whole process for us to sell to clients - site/partner exploration, a feasibility model,a business plan and an implementation plan with time line. I was really proud of it, and it became a big part of our business.
  • In August/September my Grandpa Suntken's health declined. He kept having mini-strokes. His mind was completely gone. He was admitted to the hospital several times and became unable to eat. He also would only say the word "No" and nothing else.
  • October 3 around 4:30pm my mom called me at work. My Grandpa Grimm was in the hospital and they thought it was leukemia. That night I had to go to the car dealership and sign paperwork to get my new car (which I couldn't postpone because my other car was 11 years old and having issues). It was a horrible, unexpected and devastating day.
  • October 4 I drove my mom to Iowa to see her dad/my grandpa. We got there too late so we waited and saw him on October 5. I had to go back home for work so I took a 6:30pm plane home. I told my Grandpa a quick goodbye, though he was so bad off that he didn't say anything back.
  • Also on October 4th Brad's sister had Zoe & Roman; our first niece & nephew. It was great to get such wonderful news despite everything else going on.
  • October 7 it was confirmed; Grandpa Grimm had leukemia. Doctors told him he had two weeks to live. He chose to go back home to the farm after he went through the last round of transfusions several days later.
  • October 8-9 Brad & I went to the hospital in Iowa. On October 9 my Grandpa & I exchanged goodbyes. I still remember what was said, but I'm not writing it here. It's personal. I was so grateful that he was having a good day, and that we had a one-on-one conversation. There was laughter, tears, hugs & kisses. I left knowing I would likely not see him again, which was devastating.
  • On November 5 I met with my dad & brother for lunch at a Thai restaurant. My mom was in Iowa with her dad (who was still alive & fighting). After lunch my dad asked if we wanted to see Grandpa Suntken, who was out of the hospital. We said yes, but when we arrived he was sleeping and snoring loudly. He sounded congested. The nurses said he had been difficult that morning, so we decided not to wake him up and left.
  • On November 6 I got a call from my mom around 6:30am. I thought my Grandpa Grimm had died; I was wrong. Instead she told my my Grandpa Suntken was admitted to the hospital in Akron & I needed to go meet my dad there. He was diagnosed with pneumonia; he could not breathe on his own and was given a respirator to see if his condition would improve. He was "asleep" the entire time; he never woke or communicated with anyone.
  • On November 10 Grandpa Suntken was taken off the respirator with my dad & brother present. I had been forced to be at work by my employer. However, it became clear he would not last long, so I was called for and drove there immediately. We sat in his room from 4pm-9pm. His stats were steady; the nurses thought it could be 24-48 hours. My dad insisted we go home and get some sleep; he would stay there. He insisted that he walk us to our cars. Adam & I told Grandpa Suntken goodbye in our own words. He was a strong, stubborn German until the end. I just walked in the door to my home when I got a call from my brother. Dad went back into the hospital and to a family waiting area where he was going to see if he could sleep for a bit. They had been paging him while he was with us at our cars. My Grandpa Suntken had passed away almost immediately after we left the room. A nurse friend of mine says that's common, that people wait to die until they are alone. My poor Dad never got to say goodbye. It was another difficult day.
  • On November 15 we buried Grandpa Suntken in Davenport, Iowa. I had written a seven page eulogy on the trip there, and I read it in lieu of having someone else read it/talk about his life. What made it 3x's harder was the having my mom's family - including my Grandma Grimm - in attendance. Grandpa Grimm was still alive, but we knew it was short lived. This would be the first of two family funerals that year. I wanted to see my Grandpa Grimm after the funeral, but Brad & I were sick and couldn't risk making him sick. We drove home the next day very sick...the trip took forever.
  • On Christmas Eve the Grimm family gathered at the farm as always, but instead of evening it started around 1pm. My Grandpa Grimm was failing quickly, we knew it wouldn't be much longer. We worried he wouldn't make it this far, but he had. He was in his makeshift, first floor room most of the time. Everyone was quiet & whispering. The mood was somber, but what he wanted was to have Christmas Eve, complete with ham, Christmas tree and gifts. We were going to make sure he had it. Before we opened gifts my uncles helped him to the couch in the living room. My aunt Krista sat by him, talking to him. It was the first time I had seen him since October. His sight was almost gone, he was thin, frail, and not himself. He did not have the twinkle in his eye or the upturned, laughing lips. At one point my aunt caught my eye and motioned for me to come over. She got up and I sat in her place. I held my Grandpa's hand and he actually held mine back - tightly. We actually had a conversation in sentences; from what I learned afterwords it appears it was the last conversation he had (he only said one-word phrases on a few occasions after that). Again, I'm not going to share what was said because it's private. However, I will say this. I find it so poignant that the first encounter I had with my Grandpa was with him holding my hand and I holding his right back...and the last encounter I had with him was the same. I sometimes find my hand in a clenched fist on a car passenger seat or on a couch, and I think of Grandpa; I like to think he's right there holding my hand. Brad, my dad & brother left for Chicago that night but my mom stayed behind.
  • December 28 at 2:30am EST I got the call from my mom; Grandpa Grimm had passed. Many of the family members were in the next room sleeping, keeping each other company. He had made it to his favorite time of year - Christmas Eve. He spent one last Christmas with the family, that was his wish and he made it. That was what he was about: family. He was filled with love and laughter, and without him life just isn't as bright. I'm so grateful to have 29 years of memories with him.
  • Brad & I drove back to Iowa on December 30 for the visitation; the funeral was December 31. I wrote a few pages about him and read them during the funeral. That evening (12/31) Brad, my brother & I went to Old Chicago in Davenport. We bought pizza and beers, and toasted to the Grandpa's. We also toasted to the end of what was our worst year. 2006 couldn't be any worse, could it?

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