Thursday, January 01, 2015

2014 - Loss and Gratitude

2013 was a tough act to follow, and I knew that going into it.   I had just hoped it would be a good year, having to follow 2013, which was the best year.   Taking a look back, it's hard to really just call it a good year, or a bad year.   It was definitely a year of challenges and hard losses.   A constant barrage of grim news stories and tragic headlines made a lot of us worry about the future of this country and the world.  And, 2014 might be remembered as the year that too many funny people left us, just when we need them most:  Robin Williams, Joan Rivers, Sid Caeser, David Brenner, John Pinette, and Jan Hooks.  And I lost a remarkable number of role models and favorites from my era:  Frankie Knuckles, Ann B. Davis, Alexander Shulgin, Rik Mayall, and Mark Bell from LFO.  I also lost two every day heroes, my father-in-law, and a mentor from my lost youth days. 

Still, with all of the challenges and heartbreaking losses, I leave this year with a thankful heart; thankful for every minute I got to spend and every smile I shared with the love of my life, Tony.   And, I'm so thankful for every giggle, squeal, and snuggle from our little guy.  And I'm thankful for long walks among the trees.   These are the only things that could possibly make the rest bearable.   

In the first week of the year, a polar vortex brought the coldest temperatures in over 50 years; down to 5 degrees here in "Hotlanta."   Of course, mid-month took me to toasty warm Chicago in January for my annual work conference.  And, when I got back home, we got a forecast for an inch of snow across metro Atlanta, which led to an amazingly uncoordinated effort to close all schools and businesses at the same time, which led to a million car traffic jam across three counties, which led to thousands of drivers stranded in frozen gridlock, which led to me sitting in my car in traffic for NINETEEN mother f*&#ing HOURS.   So, yeah, January wasn't my favorite month ever. 







February started off with a great show at The Fox, "Book of Mormon," and a beautifully foggy morning hike up Stone Mountain.   And, then Atlanta was hit with another polar vortex, a shards of ice storm, and then an earthquake in Augusta.   Certainly it was the end times coming, so Tony and I made a quick work-sponsored trip to Chattanooga and Knoxville.   Miraculously, spring did start to prepare its entrance around mid-month, and a few beautiful Stone Mountain hikes made everything okay.  







Spring marched on and brought some normalcy and a quick work trip to Memphis and a beautiful sunset over the Mississippi River.   The month began with the passing of hatemonger Fred Phelps and ended with the passing of a man who spread love all around the world, Frankie Knuckles.   Tony and I hiked up Kennesaw Mountain for the first time, you know, because we're unpredictable, and the little guy made his first hike up Stone Mountain.   And, we were warned to beware the ides of March, as we might fall victim to a Cuteness Attack.


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April was packed full of fun stuff:  a Saturday night comedy night at The Village Theatre, "Tennessee Queer" at the Plaza Theatre, a work trip to Nashville, a quick visit from my former work wife, and a much, much needed family trip to Savannah and Tybee Island. 
 








May brought some big work changes for me with a new role, because apparently I made the mistake of telling the Universe that I wanted a new challenge.   May also brought marriage equality to my home state of Pennsylvania, and, on a completely opposite note, brought Tony and I to Blue Ridge for a weekend getaway in the North Georgia mountains.  







I survived another June.  I have this "thing" of having tumultuous Junes.   So much so, that Stimpy and I have been joking about the terrors of June for nearly 14 years now.   This June started off with the little guy's first birthday party and it was perfect, and no personal tragedies befell me.   But I did watch icons of my personal era slip into history with the passings of Ann B. Davis, Rik Mayall, Alexander Shulgin, Casey Kasim, and Lucky.  







I spent way too much of July in bed with back muscle spasms, but some awesome hikes with my guy at Raven Cliff Falls and Cloudland Canyon cured me.  







August came quietly, and on the 9th of August, my Tony lost his dad.  And everyone who knew him lost some magic in their lives.  In his 97 years on this planet he became the king of invention, the master of joke-telling, and the captain of charm. He showed us all how this life was meant to be lived, and the was the best father, grandfather, and father-in-law I've ever known. I will miss that smile, always.

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I look forward to every Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, mainly because of House In The Park, and this year, we brought the whole family, including little Boo Boo, which was, of course, one of the highlights of my life.  

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After a long summer of work stress and career anxiety, I had my first good month, work wise, in September, along with some particularly beautiful Stone Mountain hikes, some outdoor yoga with Molly, and a nice visit from my most favorite mother-in-law.  





 









October brought a visit from Brian, which included a nice hike in Cloudland Canyon and a bone-chilling ride on the new monster Ferris wheel downtown.     An extended family visit to a local corn maze and pumpkin farm was a perfect way to spend a beautifully chilly fall evening.  










November was kinda awesome.   Tony and I had a fantastic weekend in St. Augustine with a couple of spectacular walks on the beach and a nice sidetrack visit to the Okefenokee on the way back home.   We celebrated our nine year anniversary at Mali and a few days later we marked my 44th big day with a hike up Stone Mountain.  And, the little guy sang "Happy Birthday" to me, which was the best birthday gift I've ever had.   









December was a whirlwind of work, holiday parties, and, of course, some good hikes.   One of the real highlights for me was a night of deep house music and DJ Pierre at The Music Room.   We took Boo Boo to see Santa, which was hilarious (for us, not him), and we spent Christmas Eve together, as a modern modern family.   Tony and I had a downtown day on the last day of the year, with a visit to the new Center for Civil and Human Rights, then brought in the New Year with the extended modern modern family.