The end of 2008 arrives tonight (a second later than you'd expect though, on account of the leap second). This year has been marked with many life-changing events. In fact, I'm quite sure I'll never forget it. I wish it was all for good reasons, but the bad will reinforce the good just the same. I look forward to an obviously challenging 2009 with determination and gusto.
I started 2008 with a goal already in my mind: I would ride the MS150 bike ride from Houston to Austin. It was ambitious for me, and was the first real fitness goal I had ever set for myself. I trained on practice rides all around Houston and made sure that I had enough time in the gym. I rode with the St. Arnold Brewery team with my friend Ryan who had already done the ride several times. When the time finally came, the ride proved to be every bit as challenging as I had imagined. The overnight in La Grange was freezing cold, the second day started with a pain I care not to recollect, and the ride through Buescher State Park was easily the most taxing physical experience of my life to date. But I made it. I rode over every hill, I plowed into the wind, and I took myself across the finish without walking my bike once. I'll remain proud of that for a long time.
Unfortunately, this year was marked with the loss of some remarkable people. Shawn's father Bob was someone I'll significantly miss. He had a singular mind and wit that I always appreciated. He was a good man, and I was sorry to see his battle against a failing heart end so soon. Shawn is forever better for being his son. I'll never forget the people that all came to say goodbye to such an unforgettable man.
Another loss was the sudden passing of Alan's brother John. While I didn't know him well, I once did. It broke so many hearts to see him go so young, and rightfully so. His life had only just begun. He, too, is remembered by a great many who loved him.
After the sadness of loss had run its course, however, the joy of new life washed over us as we welcomed Christopher, Shawn's son, into the world. He is a beautiful child, and he will no doubt grow up to be a great man. I hope to do well as his godfather and provide help and guidance to him as he grows up in this ever changing world. It is an honor to be part of his life, and I look forward to see him grow.
Speaking of an ever changing world, the United States became the battleground for change as the 2008 presidential election came around. George W. Bush's term in office ends in twenty days, and taking his place will be the junior senator from Illinois, Barack Obama. His election is momentous, and I am proud of the role that I was able to play in his being chosen, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. I was able to serve as a delegate at our county convention, casting my vote for Obama and ensuring his eventual nomination in Denver. I voted for him in the general election and helped raise the level of debate when I could. I am excited to see the course our nation will take with him at the helm.
Professionally, 2008 proved to be a mixed bag. Our team continued to develop the trading platform we had designed, and with every software release it became better and more solid. Our efforts were recognized across the business, and I found myself filling a larger role every day. However, with the widening economic distress gripping the banking industry, we eventually found our business being shut down by UBS, forcing a layoff of our workforce. I saw several talented people lose their jobs, and unfortunately became a victim myself. I am uneasy entering the next year unemployed, but optimistic. I can only remain confident in my abilities and attempt to be recognized. 2009 could prove to be a pivotal year for my career, and I look forward to the challenge.
Of everything that has happened this year, large or small, they pale in comparison to the most important thing of all. 2008 will live in my heart forever, since it is the year that I met Tianna. In my history, I have found many reasons to be cautious about relationships, and when we first met in April I had reservations. There was always a voice inside me though, telling me to forget the past and realize what it was that I had found. Tianna is a loving, understanding woman that truly makes an effort to understand me, which I realize is no easy task. We quickly became close and, after about 7 months of being together, I knew that I would never know a love like the one I had found with her. I told her that I couldn't imagine life without her, and asked her to marry me. With her at my side, I feel like my life can begin to evolve and grow in new ways, better ways. I look forward to the life we'll share and the family we'll nurture. I love her in a way I had always hoped to love; completely and without complication.
Some days, it was the best year. Other days, it was the worst. Looking back, I'm glad for 2008 and have very few regrets. I learned what I could and took the good with the bad. I await the new experiences, and hope that everyone has good fortune and happiness in the year to come.