2010 Wrap-Up...9 Days Late

I always like to wrap up the year on my blog, but this year I failed by about nine days. Not entirely my fault. Just like the rest of 2010, while I should have had some free time during the holidays like most people, instead I found myself at work on three out of my four days off for the New Year holiday. But don't cry for me, because I had my fun before & after.

2010 felt like a horrible year, but when I truly stop to think about the reasons why it has to do with two key elements in my life: Work and Cleveland. I hate my job that has caused me to put in easily over 800 hours of overtime this year, and I hate the city we currently call home. But there were other areas of life that I really can't complain about.

Travel - though I only used 9 hours of vacation time out of my 80 hours this year, we managed to hit a lot of places in short mini-vacations. Seattle, WA in January, where I showed my husband the hidden gems in the city & Cascades that I remembered from living near there from '89-91. For Brad's birthday in January we took our first Amtrak trip from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, where we stayed at our first Kimpton hotel & dined on the best meal of our lives at famed Morimoto's. In March we went to Baltimore for a one-year surgical follow-up for me, followed by a trip to D.C. We saw the new Ford's Theatre exhibit, which was met with great disappointment. It rained the whole time, but we did manage to make it to Charlie Palmer's restaurant by the Capitol building to celebrate our eight year anniversary (several days after the fact). We also spent some time with Brad's sister & her twins & their father, during which time we made my first trip to Gettysburg. Let's not go into that, since it was raining the whole time and in total we only got to spend 3-1/2 hours there. Brad was in a crappy mood due to the rain & all of the travel, so rather than spending the night there and heading home later the next day, we started heading back that night & stayed somewhere in the middle of PA that was no where near as awesome as Gettysburg. That's definitely a place we will visit again, hopefully in 2011.

In May I went south of D.C. for a software convention, as we were doing a huge software conversion at work this year & I thought it might be helpful. The convention was a solid learning experience, but the best part was that I found my hotel in the middle of John Wilke's Booth assassination escape route. Without a map, I found my way to the places he had been, and in the complete darkness of a rainy Tuesday night, I found the Garrett farm location where he died. I was quite proud of that accomplishment, and it put what I had learned in books & on TV in a completely different frame of mind. There is no better history than exploring the lands for yourself if the opportunity is available! In July we went to Iowa for my cousin Anna's wedding shower, and quickly headed back to Illinois that night. On the way we stopped by Sterling, IL and drove by the three homes we lived in during our seven years there. We also stopped in Dixon with my parents and ate at "The White House", which was a shack that served fried foods like chicken & fish, along with a salad bar. Eating there as a child was a very special occasion, and while the other adults at my table looked down upon the establishment, it took me back to a great place in my childhood. The next day Brad & I went to my first Cubs game at Wrigley Field, where we had seats right behind home plate courtesy of one someone I work with. The energy from the fans was the most positive, and the natural arena was a welcome change from most stadiums that constantly assault you with graphics, music & stupid games with mascots on the field. Afterwords we went to the Sears Tower (now called the Willis Tower), where I vowed never to go again due to the ridiculous crowds and crappy views.

In September over Labor Day weekend we traveled again to D.C., first stopping by Frederick to visit the sister-in-law, niece & nephew & their dad. The kids wouldn't leave my side, which was a bit humorous when you think about how non-kid oriented I am. While the grown-ups left me behind to fend for myself, I found myself playing tea party with Zoe on my left side, and smash/race trucks with Roman on my right. They vied for my attention the entire time, which can be exhausting...but also can make a person feel pretty loved. Brad & I took the train from Baltimore to D.C. and stayed at another Kimpton by the White House. We ate at Asia Nine, went to the Smithsonian (U.S. History) and came across a couple who was fairly new to the U.S. and wanted to find the White House. They were also very keen to see those things that all tourists must see, so since the sun was rapidly setting we suggested to go to the Lincoln Memorial, which they had never heard of. We hopped in a taxi and made it in time to see the most spectacular sunset, while explaining to them the history behind the Lincoln Memorial & the National Lawn in general. We walked together to the WWII memorial, and finally to the White House where the couple was greatly disappointed to see such a plain, small house for the leader of a huge country. That night later resulted in me taking Brad to the hospital for a rash on his leg, but luckily it was nothing serious; it just was not the best way to spend our last night in the Capitol.

In October we traveled once again to Iowa for my cousin Anna's wedding, where I read two bible passages during the ceremony. What an honor! Took Amtrak from Cleveland to Chicago, then rented a car for the rest of the trip. The next day we - Brad, my parents and brother - went to see what was my first Chicago Bears game at Soldier Field. As wonderful as Wrigley was, Soldier Field was even better. It was like a religious experience, and I forget how many times I found tears of happiness in my eyes. We lost, but once again the Chicago fans know how to keep a positive, upbeat spirit that makes you want the game to never end, even if it does end in a loss. Brad & I took the train home, where it was wonderful to just listen to a book on my iPod & fall asleep, not having to worry about driving six hours back home.

Also in September I took a trip on my own to visit my long time friend Moe. It was a short trip, less than 24 hours, but we ate a good meal & spent several hours in a casino drinking & talking away.

In December we drove to Chicago and spent the night before Christmas Eve there in an effort to beat the snow storm coming in. Unfortunately on Christmas Eve it snowed very hard in Iowa and we barely made it to the farm for our yearly celebration. As always it was a warm, happy place, and I cherished the sights and sounds of our yearly tradition, knowing my Grandpa Grimm was with us in spirit.

The other big change was a move to downtown Cleveland, though as of now it is still temporary. We moved our of our home in April so we could finish some upgrades & so I could eliminate my two-plus hours on the road each day. We put the house on the market in August, and have had a lot of showings and interest. It's great to hear that people find your house perfect, but when it's followed by "But they have to sell their house first," it's frustrating. But in the meantime we have had the pleasure of living downtown where I'm six blocks away from work and Brad is now 20 minutes away instead of 1 hour and 20 minutes from his job, though his work hours are not as demanding as my own!

My brother finished his four year degree in electrical design in November, so we took him & the parents to Red, the Steakhouse in Beachwood to celebrate during the Thanksgiving holiday. Brad & I arrived early so we had a glass of wine in the bar. Within seconds we realized who was sitting next to us - Iron Chef America Michael Symon & Bob Tuschman, Food Network Programming Director. Both are from this area, so we shouldn't have been surprised. It was interesting because they were talking a bit about work, so it was fun to eavesdrop.

Of course this year was another year where things were not so good when it came to the subject of health. My father has been ill since January and no one knows why. Unfortunately my mom has self diagnosed him, which has led to him barely being able to eat a thing because she thinks he has food reactions that cause him to have vertigo & migraine headaches. I don't think it's that, and worry quite a bit that he'll die before his time because my parents were too stubborn to find real answers. Don't get me wrong, doctors make mistakes all the time, but I worry something more serious is at work - but also hope I'm wrong. My Grandma B. was diagnosed with lung cancer and has been receiving treatments. A year ago this was a woman who thought she would live forever, but now I get the impression she feels she won't be around in a year. Time will tell. Her husband, Roy, was put in assisted living for Alzheimer's. Such a horrible disease. To make matters worse, in December he was diagnosed with spine, bone & lung cancer and given six months to live. Though it didn't happen in 2010, I'll say it here - Roy died on Wednesday, January 5, 2011. It was a surprise as there were no signs, but it happened peacefully. My Grandma was not with him; she got a voice mail on her answering machine that he had passed away during the day. Roy was a kind soul who I did not know well, but always treated our family very well. He was soft spoken & kind, and when we were kids he would send us gifts from the road as he & my Grandma traveled often. He knew I loved history, so he would send me very old (1800's) books that he thought I might enjoy. Considering we hardly knew him, I found it kind that he did such a thing, especially since my Grandma never seemed to remember our existence. Roy didn't have children of his own from his first marriage, and I believe he felt like we were the family he didn't have. He never overstepped his bounds, as he knew we had wonderful, blood-related grandparents, but was just a good man that I hate to see leave us. But then again, with the Alzheimer's he had already left us.

My own health has not improved this year. In fact, it has gotten worse. It appears I have a partially herniated disc at L4/L5, but will spend 2011 verifying how bad it is and determining when I need to have surgery. My joints are a mess and I live in significant pain every day. I suffer from some depression and often wonder just where my breaking point is. But I have a wonderful family & great group of friends that keep me fighting the good fight.

So that's 2010 in a wrap-up. I spent New Year's Eve day at work until 8:30pm, when my wonderful husband prodded me to come home & rest. I did just that, and we both were asleep by 10pm. He had been sick with some weird cold, I was exhausted from work, and I guess both of us are getting older. We made up for it the next few days though, but that's for another post. Our 2011 travels need to be its own post.

My hopes for 2011 are to sell our house, move to the D.C. area & for me to find a better job that I enjoy. I'd like my health to improve, but I'm not optimistic. I'd like to continue my travels, and I'd also like to write more. There are a few things in the works, but again, that's for another post. I hope everyone out there had a great 2010.

2010 is now officially over!

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