2018: Year in Review

What a year it’s been. I’m sure I say that every year, but this one has been particularly full of ups and downs.

January: Made lots of small cross stitch samplers for friends and coworkers. Went back into therapy for a few months. Matt helped out with robotics, I did not. Made several trips to the local trampoline park with Lizzie. Started winter ballet class. Took one of our cats, Willie, to the vet to figure out what made him lose lots of weight – turns out he had liver damage which didn’t really have a treatment. (He’s less skinny now but whines all. the. time.)

February: Spent a weekend in Florida to see my parents, brother, and sister-in-law. Visited Johnathan Dickinson State Park for the first time since I was a kid. (Finally!) Learned how Instagram Stories works. Spent an entire Sunday by myself in DC.

March: Went on our annual ski trip with friends, probably the last one we’ll ever take to Davis, West Virginia. Threw a St. Patrick’s Day party with decorations Lizzie helped me make. Got a light snow.

April: Lots of letters written – over 50 in total by month’s end. (Note to self: Don’t do this again.)Ate our first dinner of the year out in the porch. Weekend in Shenandoah. Attended the Unicorn Festival.

May: Trip without Lizzie to Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. Ran out of craft projects while on vacation for the first time ever. Slimmed down my yarn stash quite a bit. Got a horrible eye infection.

June: Weekend at Great Wolf Lodge with family. Lots of trips to the community pool. Saw Sound of Music sing-along. Homemade super hero cape for Lizzie. Switched up anxiety / depression medication – so, so happy I did so. Got new coffee table and side tables for the living room off Reddit, of all places. Found out my dad had a new cancer recurrence and needed to start chemo, after all.

July: Family reunion in Edisto Beach, South Carolina. 13 people in one house for 4 days – whew! Went off dairy, soy, and gluten in attempt for solution to tummy and skin issues.

August: Stopped elimination diet due to horrible abdominal pain. After several tests, found out I have Crohn’s Disease. Spent a weekend in Shenandoah with friends. Start of birthday party season for Lizzie’s friends.

September: Lizzie started Pre-K (and loves it). Spent weekend in Florida for my birthday. Old friend from LA came to visit – went to Harper’s Ferry, National Museum of African-American History and Culture, and National History Museum during his visit. Lizzie took her first ballet class at school. Off to Italy with Lizzie.

October: Italy trip! Shenandoah weekend soon after. Had first colonoscopy and learned of colonic stricture. Found out my mom has breast cancer. Made our own Halloween decorations for the living room. Lizzie dressed up as Ariel (in a store-bought costume she decided she wanted at the last minute), Matt as Prince Charming, and me as a bee. Handed out candy with neighbors on our driveway, taking advantage of unseasonably warm temperatures.

November: Saw a surgeon to talk about stricture repair options; confirm with second surgeon that surgery was only valid course of action. Spent a weekend in NYC for a friend’s 35th birthday. Several cycles of feeling fine for a few days then miserable for a few. Had family and friends to our house for Thanksgiving.

December (so far): Lizzie turned 5! Had a right colectomy and am home, recovering and trying to use it as an excuse to fully relax.


How was your year?

That time when I met Chuck Yeager (but had no idea it was him)

(John from the Chris Brake Show commented that I should be allowed to respond to the day 6 prompt – writing about the most interesting person you met the last year – with my over 10 years old Chuck Yeager story. And I do things strangers tell me to do. Wait, no, that sounds wrong. Oh, never mind. Here’s that story. I’ll continue my trek through other prompts tomorrow.)

When I was in twelfth grade, I got to meet Chuck Yeager. I spent an entire afternoon with him, talking to him, even. And I had no idea it was him. Because, while I really am a detail person, I can be pretty unobservant.

It was at the 2003 FIRST Robotics Championship (though, then, I think we all still called it Nationals as it had just switched formats) in Houston, Texas. I chose to volunteer at the even rather than spend the time hanigng out with my team and watching our matches because the food was better and I got to hang out more with my friends from other teams (like Matt, who was still just a friend at the time). That year, my job was assisting with field reset. So, I sat the edge of one of the four fields and, well, reset the game pieces between matches. That year, it involved stacking up a bunch of plastic storage bins at the top of a ramp (and trying not to fall on my face stepping over the low railing).

Occasionally, we’d have some VIP come through who needed to be told what FIRST was, how the game was played, and get a calmer play-by-play. Though I didn’t know the volunteer coordinator that year, she brought several folks by for these talks. One of them was an older man, with bright eyes I was simply introduced to as “Chuck.” His assistant or handler or whatever she was dropped him off and told me she’d be back an an hour or two. Like I did with the other VIPs – mostly Vice Presidents of Outreach for defense firms or car companies – I did my little FIRST 101 speech. He asked a few questions and commented on the apparent skill of the teenage robot creators and drivers. Then the woman came and fetched him, thanking me for taking the time to talk to him. I smiled and turned back to the match that was going on.

“So – did you enjoy talking with Mr. Yeager?”

I think my brain took a full ten seconds to put it together. Older man. Bright eyes. Named Chuck. Seemed to know about engineering. Yeager.

Oh, my. I’d spent a good two hours talking to Chuck Yeager. CHUCK YEAGER. Yes, the man who broke the sound barrier. And I just rambled on about robots and made small talk about the competing teams. We even sat in silence for stretches of time.

Maybe it was a good thing. He’s probably tired of talking about speed records and being a pilot and having it pointed out that he was a pioneer. I talked to him like a normal person who wants to know about something I am passionate about. Or maybe he thought I was an idiot for having no clue who he was and not fawning over him, at least a little. But I’ll pretend it was the first thing.