Lots of great moments in the last year. Several things stick out.
First off, I finally learned what it was like to make six figures a year. The money was awesome, but I was fairly miserable. I didn't have enough to do and the hour commute each way was killing me. I lasted five months, then quit.
I quit for two reasons: One, to work on my book, and second, to try working for myself. Now that the year is over and I have results, I can see that this lead to an 80% pay cut. I get a little stressed about cash at times, but on the whole I'm happier than I've ever been in my professional life, and that makes me happy in my personal life.
I wrote a book this year. I spend a lot of time trivializing this in my mind and to people I know. Regardless of how well it sells or how much I can make from it, dude, I wrote a fucking book. I don't know why I make that out to be less than it is. Maybe it'll be more real for me when I can hold it in my hand.
I really solidified some relationships with some of my volleyball kids this year. While it gives me the parent itch, this kind of relationship really fills a certain void for me. I talk to them frequently, and they tell me what's going on in their lives. Even if it's stupid teenager/college bullshit, I don't know, it's gratifying that they want to share it with me. It's like I had enough impact on them for them to reciprocate the effort in some way. I've grown really fond of my all-star setter in particular. She's such a smart kid, and I can tell she's destined for success in anything she does. I want a kid just like her.
I developed a great deal as a programmer. Some of that I attribute to my experience at Progressive, and a lot of it I attribute to writing the book. I feel more comfortable than ever in my abilities, and I get off on the idea that each new thing I try will allow me to learn something else. When I go to the book store, there aren't books I want to buy, because most are now beneath me. I'm transitioning from absorption mode to creation mode. It feels good, considering my total lack of formal training in college.
I barely had any fast food in 2004. I realized late in 2003, when I managed to lose around 15 pounds, that it's just generally not good for me. I'd still like to lose perhaps another 20 pounds, but without fast food, I at least don't have the digestive issues I used to have. I'd get the shits every other week when I had fast food on a regular basis. Now if I could just adopt some of my vegetarian wife's ways in terms of eating green stuff.
We didn't travel as much as in previous years, but we had some nice trips. A volleyball trip to Baltimore got us into another Medieval Times, we had good Japanese food in Chicago, a killer CoasterBuzz Club event in Cincy, and a really nice stay at Universal Orlando.
I think the highlight of the year, for me and Steph, was just better understanding what makes us happy. For her, it led to a new graduate program and career outlook, for me it led to self-employment. I'm really proud of her for all of the realizations she's had and the courage to react to them. For me, my realizations involve short-term risk, mostly financial, but to get up in the morning and look at a to-do list that is wholly your own is an awesome feeling.
All things considered, it was a pretty good year (after three shitty ones). Let's see if I can make 2005 even better.