Friends asked if I intended to write the annual letter since I haven't been updating the blog and I thought. "of course!" and then I had this realization: I am 37 (sometimes I forget my age but just did the math to verify) and the label "single, broke and (sort of) fabulous" still applies. That's just sad. That's probably why I don't update the blog anymore. It was all fun and games in my early 30s but now it's just pitiful. You know you are thinking it so I'll just own it. In my defense, I have to share that Kathie Lee and Hoda (totally reliable sources!)said new research shows there is a gene that causes singleness - clearly I have that gene!
After a bit of additional reflection (I spent a lot of time alone so there's plenty of time to reflect. In fact, probably too much time!) I went back to something a beloved colleague of mine said this year. She looked at me and said, "Jen, you make the best out of every situation and you really live life to its fullest." Hmmm, not sure I truly live life to its fullest (My passport is expired. I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan. One could argue I'm not fully living my life.) but she has a point. I really do try to make the most out of life. After all, we only have one life to live! That, by the way, was the final line of the "One Life to Live" (soap opera, duh!) theme song in the 80s. Anyway, on with the letter.
Dear Friends and Family,
Happy New Year! I enjoyed your Shutterfly/Walgreens photo center Christmas cards full of pictures of your (not furry) children or (not so) exotic vacation photos. I couldn't corral all my (furry) children in a space close enough to photograph them together, so once again I decided to forego mailing cards. So, if you didn't get a card for me I don't hate you, I'm just too lazy to send cards. At least I'm not one of those "Merry Christmas" mass text people - I can't stand those. I realize the senders mean well but it's not my thing. Anyway, 2014...initially I thought 2014 was a mixed bag but really, after the turd of a year that was 2013, I realize 2014 was pretty awesome.
Sure, there were some challenges. I'm getting old and starting to have health issues. True story. For example, I went back on The Pill. No biggie, right? Wrong! I'm no spring chicken and apparently The Pill is for those youngsters. Why, you ask? Well, because it caused me to develop not one, not two but three blood clots in my right leg. At least it was a trendy malady. Seriously, 2014 was like the Year of the Blood Clot. I know a ton of people who developed them. Mine was the least serious of them all, however, it seriously screwed up my running and you all know how I love to run (will get to that later). I then had my varicose veins treated (because I have the vascular system of a grandma apparently) and that further sidelined me. Then, just this weekend, I threw out my back, presumably from sleeping on an old, terrible twin mattress with my 90lb dog and two cats at the home of my parents. In fact, I'm popping Vicodin right now. Needless to say, I'm ending 2014 a little chubbier than I started. In April I will run the Big Sur Marathon and can't wait to recommit to my physical health and wellness - just hope my body will cooperate! Other not great stuff - my dad's cancer returned and I had to say goodbye to Lucy, my best furry friend ever. And George Clooney got married (WTF!). Tough stuff, people, tough stuff. These things were difficult - are still difficult - but I don't want to dwell on them right now.
Despite these setbacks, challenges and loss it was a great year. A bucket list year, in fact.
Before I get to the bucket list (is the anticipation killing you?!?), I must share the mundane but important. I traveled so much (so, so much) that I finally have Hilton gold status and once again have silver status on Delta. Two years ago I missed silver by one trip. With all the travel I am subjected to for work, I relish any opportunity to get to board early and not get treated like steerage. So yes, I'm bragging here.
Thankfully, some of my travel was for fun. Well, the type of fun I'm in to - when you travel somewhere to run a race. I went to LA for fun (to run a marathon), the Finger Lakes (to run a half marathon) and Chicago (to run a half marathon, not to mention COUNTLESS times for work).
I celebrated my 37th year of being single by renting a "pub cruiser" and peddling (and drinking) all around Grand Rapids on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.
My home value went up and my neighborhood is well, boring. I won't say I miss the crime but, I must admit, things are so not exciting around here. I'm surrounded by normal people! And, not one but two big breweries are moving in to the neighborhood. What's next? A trendy gastro-pub? Wait, we're getting one of those too. So, life in the 'hood is not so 'hoody. Sigh.
Now, to the bucket list stuff.
I "won" two lotteries! No, no monetary prizes involved.
Less than a month after the blood clots developed I completed the AJC Peachtree Road Race. It's the largest 10k in the country and has always been one of my dream races. My BFF Peasley road tripped to Atlanta with me and we had a fabulous 4th of July. I'm so thankful I got to experience this race and really hope to do it again because it was just really fun.
Then, there was this. It was, without a doubt, the greatest day of my life.
I completed the New York City Marathon.
Twelve percent of people with names in the lottery got in and I was one of the 12 percent. The marathon was everything I hoped it would be and more. I don't want to get all sappy here but, I will, so indulge me for a moment. In 2009 I watched the marathon on TV. Don't ask why. I was not yet a runner. I watched the thousands of people take off over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and thought, "Someday I am going to run that marathon." That thought never left my mind. All the running, all the struggles with fitness and weight led to that moment - the moment I crossed the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Of course, there were 50 MPH winds (really, hats were flying off heads) and I suddenly had to poop with no porta-potty in sight so maybe that moment wasn't as perfect as I had hoped but after a few successful porta-potty visits (sorry, I'm a runner, we talk freely about our bowels. It's a thing.) I could relax and enjoy my 26.2 mile journey through the five boroughs of the greatest city on earth. It was incredible.
Then, there was this.
Well, not this exactly. Yes, I mean, this year I became the proud owner of this Hillary iPhone case but this case is important because it played an important role when this happened:
Yes, that's Hillary Clinton. Yes, I took that picture. And, yes, I used the phone covered in the Ready for Hillary case. Oops! In the excitement of seeing my idol, I sort of forgot her photo was on the back of my phone so if she looks surprised (or, as my friend Emily said, "scared") it's probably because she was looking at herself when I snapped this photo. Sadly, I was not able to slip Hillary my resume when this happened so that's on the to do list for 2015.
Hearing Hillary speak is another bucket list item I can check off.
Sorry I don't have the usual snark for you this year. Maybe it's the Vicodin. I'm still snarky - just ask my favorite co-workers. One actually thanked me for the snark in his Christmas card to me. I haven't lost my edge, don't worry. However, when I reflect on this year I have to be genuine. I'm thankful for my health, even though I complain about my issues those are nothing compared to what some people my age and younger are dealing with. I'm really thankful for my friends, new and old. This week so many people offered to help me out when I hurt my back - I'm lucky to have these type of people in my life!
So, what's next? I guess I need some new bucket list items. And no, not things like "marry George Clooney" (I will dwell on this for a minute - I'm glad he didn't marry a bimbo but I still wish he would have married ME!)...things that could actually happen. While most of you chase your children around the house I'll sit on my couch with my Vicodin, watching "the" Netflix and pondering my next moves that will help me live life to the fullest. Or as full as it can be living in this mid-sized Midwest city and working in the nonprofit world...
Happy New Year!
P.S. If you read this letter every year, you'll remember in 2012 I noted the crack in my kitchen ceiling. It's still there. I sort of patched it myself, meaning, it's still there. I've still got my edge! Maybe I'll actually fix it in 2015? Nah. I'll use that money to take a trip!