The year that was - adios, 2006
...Wow, I flee from the outside world for a week at the beach and come back to find James Brown, Gerald Ford and Saddam Hussein have all kicked it. Strangeness. Makes me wish I still worked in a newsroom.
My first New Zealand Christmas was a good one, though, and my kiwi in-laws did a fine job making me feel at home, complete with Christmas turkey, "crackers," and apple martinis and croquet on the lawn (ah, summertime...).
We've only 8 or so hours to go in 2006 here down under, where we're the first place in the world to welcome the New Year (which means we're always ahead of our time). OK, the remote Chatham Islands (part of NZ) just east of here are actually the very first place to see 2007, like 45 minutes ahead of us, but then we're next.
So it's time to take stock a bit and look back at the last 12 months. It's definitely not one of those years where I lean back and think, man, I haven't done anything with my life this year. If anything, there's been a little too much change sometimes, but hey, "it's an adventure," right?
Things I accomplished in 2006:
• Moved 6,000 miles to a foreign country, which we've been threatening to do ever since Avril and I got married in 1999... And somehow we kept our sanity and marriage intact during this past year. Left Oregon after 4 1/2 excellent years, sold most of our possessions, quit my newspaper job and entered the realm of vagabond layabout-slash-stay-at-home-dad. Avril returned to the work force and we sold one Subaru and bought another. Yeah, that's enough for 10 years, let alone just one!
• Embarked on our swell Mega-America Trek 2006 between leaving Oregon and leaving America, visiting 10 states, traveling 5,500 miles and seeing tons of old pals, amazing sights and wide-open spaces along the way.
• Self published a surprisingly affordable little book collecting most of my newspaper columns from the past 10 years or so which everyone who loves me really should own.
• Watched our little Peter really turn from a milk bottle-suckin', diaper-wearin', babbling toddler into a "real boy," one who'll be 3 years old (ack!) in just a couple months' time.
• Saw the most excellent Richard Thompson in concert for his "1000 years of Popular Music" show.
• Interviewed the rockin' Alice Cooper (and saw his fab, freaky show) and blues legend Charlie Musselwhite.
• Comics superstar Jeff Parker gave me my first actual appearance in a comic book – of course, I'm a henchman who gets stomped on by The Hulk, but so it goes...
• Caught up with lots of old friends this year, and was especially happy to stumble across the old high school girlfriend I hadn't seen in 16 years (all praise Google), meet her husband and kid and generally feel really old but glad we caught back up before I fled American shores...
• Said good-bye to a lot of "stuff" and places this year, but the hardest was giving up my lovely little Kudzu cat whom I'd owned for nearly 12 years since she was an animal shelter kitten. Good buddy Christian and family took 'er in, but it doesn't take away how much I miss the danged little fuzzball.
• Had exceedingly unpleasant minor male-type surgery back in January which I won't go into much detail about, only to note that I hope to never have to wear a catheter again. Eurgh.
• Accepted the grim reality that my hairline is indeed receding at a ridiculously fast pace (I look at photos from just a year ago and I weep, baldly). On the other hand, I grew a decent beard for the first time in my life to kind of make up for it. Well, it's all hair.
As for '07, who knows what it holds? We have to remind ourselves that we're still very much "in progress" on this whole life-changing migration thing. I have yet to find some kind of work, probably part-time, Peter's got to get day care, we really do need to move out of my in-laws' house and stop imposing on them before too long, and the million other things that go with "starting over" again in a foreign land... But so far, it's all gone better than we'd hoped. I just have to remind myself of that when the days are gray and I get a bit homesick for the land of 80-channel TV, cheap CDs and long road trips through the desert. Happy 2007 to you and yours!