Friday, January 01, 2010
JW's 2009 Retrospective
2009 was a year of extremes for the Westerns. Started great & ended great, with a few speed bumps along the way. Below are some of the notable events from our last year of the decade.
I decided during the fall of 2008 that I'd run two half-marathons in 2009. Despite two injuries sustained during the training process, I was able to complete at least one this year. The Mardi Gras Half Marathon started at the Superdome, ran through the French Quarter, went up St Charles Ave, into & around Audubon Park in front of Tulane, then back down St Charles to finish in front of the Superdome. 2 hours & 20 minutes later, I felt not-so-hot physically, but was spiritually energized for having crossed the finish line.
2009 marked my first Mardi Gras back in New Orleans since graduating in 2004, and perhaps more importantly, my first since Hurricane Katrina. Ashley & I went with our friends Freddie & Kadee and found a spot on the Endymion parade route near Canal & South Carrollton. After the parade, we had dinner at Vincent's Italian Restaurant on St Charles. So much fun.
Tour De Houston
This 20 mile bike race through Houston was something I decided to do on a whim, but really gave me a sense of connectedness to the city. My friends Brian & Evan decided to tackle the race with me, which started at Discovery Green downtown, left the skyscrapers towards the greener avenues of the Heights, and then eventually ended up back at Discovery Green. Prior to the race, I hadn't been on a bicycle in over a decade, so despite a sore bottom & legs, I consider it a success!
In what has become my annual birthday celebration weekend in New Orleans, Ashley & I met up with our friends to soak in two days of music at the Fairgrounds and then frolic in the French Quarter at night. In addition to seeing some world-renowned musicians at Jazz Fest, we also wined & dined at Arnaud's & Emeril's NOLA restaurants, and found my favorite absinthe at a bar in Pirate's Alley.
After renting 3 different domiciles in Delaware & Texas since being married in 2005, Ashley & I purchased our first home in September. It's located in The Woodlands, and has fantastic proximity to The Woodlands Town Center and downtown Houston (about a 25 minute zip down I-45). We're still unpacking boxes and picking out furniture, but we were able to get exactly what we wanted in the house, which is awesome.
The low-point of 2009 was definitely a disc injury in my back which ultimately required surgery in October. While surgery is never convenient, the injury persisted throughout our move into the new house and half of our last semester in grad school. As you might imagine, I was hesitant to go under the knife, but was thrilled once I was no longer in pain. Pro tip: never hurt your back. It's terrible.
Grad School Trip
Fall 2009 was my final semester as an Auburn MBA student, and the capstone course required a week on-campus commitment the week after Thanksgiving for client presentations and exams. Since my brother has a townhouse in Auburn, I flew in the day before Thanksgiving so I'd get to go to the Iron Bowl, too. It was great getting to meet the on-campus students, whom I'd been working with for 2 years but had never met in person. The 11 day trip was capped off in grand fashion, when it was announced my 4-person team had won our group competition in client presentations.
Both Ashley & I finished up our masters degree programs in December, and we felt it important to actually attend each of our graduation ceremonies. So the second week in December we flew down to Tallahassee for her graduation from Florida State University. It was a beautiful campus, and despite some inclement weather we had an excellent time. The following weekend we flew to Auburn for my graduation. I did not have the opportunity to attend my undergraduate Commencement Ceremony at Tulane 4 years earlier due to Air Force commitments, so graduation at Auburn was all the more special.
Now with a move, grad school, and injuries behind me, I'm looking forward to some extra time & optimistic about new opportunities in 2010!