Weekend Assignment #246: Surprise!

For this weekend’s Assignment, Karen said:

It’s been a mindboggling year in many ways, and not all of it has been good news. Let’s focus on the personal and the positive, shall we?

Weekend Assignment #246: A strange and sometimes difficult year is drawing to a close. Tell us about something that happened this year that was a pleasant surprise for you personally.

Extra Credit: Are you looking forward to the new year?

This year will be remembered by history for many reasons, but mostly as a year of change – not all of it clearly in a good direction, but the verdict won’t be known for certain until some point further along the road. At least by the end of the year, gas prices here in SoCal had dropped from well over $4 per gallon to under $2, but as a friend of mine observed, it’s unfortunate that so many people have had to lose their jobs along the way. (Hey, did you hear the news? We’re in a recession!)

Closer to home, though, we haven’t had it all that bad. Tall Paul and I are both still gainfully employed, and we have a nicer roof over our heads at the end of the year than we did at the beginning. My car spent the weekend in the repair shop and didn’t get out until four days and $1600 later, but we don’t need to replace either of our vehicles yet, and while this is a setback, it’s not crippling. The family is healthy, for the most part, and insured. We have our complaints about life – who doesn’t? – but this year especially, I feel that it’s important to appreciate how good our lives really are.

I’ve blogged about some of the year’s pleasant surprises in other posts, but just to look back at a couple of highlights:

The best surprise this year is almost certainly our aforementioned new home. We were reasonably content in our old apartment. Although we occasionally talked about finding a new place, we knew there weren’t too many rental options in our area that had both the space and pet-friendly policies we needed, so we figured we’d be signing another lease there in October. The opportunity to lease a larger three-bedroom townhome in a nicer area of town for a guaranteed term of 18 months and a reasonable monthly payment came up unexpectedly and was just too good to pass up – so we’re very glad we didn’t! Now our only worry is that our landlords will decide to sell the house (which used to be their own home) when the lease comes up, and we won’t be able to stay; in the meantime, though, we’re doing our best to enjoy it!

Another nice surprise for me was how much I really liked Wyoming. Our road trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon was the opposite of a surprise – we’d been planning it for a year – but I’ve never really been a great-outdoors kind of gal, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. (Fortunately, I married a guy who’s not so great-outdoors himself, so we stayed in comfortable hotels all during the trip.) Despite the fact that the timing of our trip coincided with the gas-price peak this summer, I’ve always enjoyed long-distance car travel – being close enough to observe the changes in landscape and wildlife, and see what the cities and towns are like – and our trip through California, Nevada, Utah, a little bit of Idaho, Wyoming, and back through Utah and Arizona was a very good one. Wyoming in June is utterly beautiful – some of the higher terrain is still covered with snow, the temperatures are chilly at night and pleasant during the day, the daylight hours are long, the air is clear, and there were gorgeous views everywhere we looked. While another nice surprise on the trip was what good travelers the kids were – or became, after the first few days – Tall Paul and I both want to return to Yellowstone, and will probably go without them the next time. We’ll just drive around in the park and pick places to stop for awhile, set up the cameras, and wait to see what wanders by to have its picture taken.

I haven’t thought too much about 2009 yet, really. At this point, we don’t have any major plans, other than NOT moving (the beauty of an 18-month lease)! I have no real desire to change jobs, and neither does my husband, so hopefully that won’t be forced on either one of us. There’s some traveling I’d like to do – perhaps a family trip to DC, possibly BlogHerCon ’09 in Chicago or ComicCon in San Diego (which Tall Paul has been wanting to attend for several years now), but probably not both, since they’re around the same time in July. I definitely intend to continue my blogging and expect to expand my blog-community activity, and I hope I’ll have the chance to meet more of my blogiverse friends in person! (SoCal book bloggers – how about it?) I wouldn’t say I’m really looking forward to or dreading the new year – I’ll just try to take it as it comes.

What about you? Are you eager to say goodbye to ’08 and embrace the possibilities of 2009? Did you have some unexpected good luck or good times this year that will help you remember it fondly?

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  1. While I am looking forward to ’09, I’m a little nervous that we aren’t going to get as much good news as I’d like. Hopefully, by the end of ’09, we can look back at the end of this year and be happy that all the bad news is over with. I’m not counting on it though.

    I am looking forward to my trip next year with my wife. She’s taking me somewhere for my birthday but I don’t know where.

  2. Mike – Well, that will definitely be a surprise for the big 4-0, won’t it :-)? And your birthday’s only a couple of months away, so you’ll know pretty soon – can’t wait to find out where you’re going!

    I think you make a good point – we want change to happen faster than it probably will, and like it or not, things may even get a little worse before they get better.

  3. My promotion was definitely the most pleasant surprise of 2008! As for next year, well – gotta be prepared for the worst and hope for the best, right?

  4. Next year we have to renegotiate the mortgage. There’s excitement for you!! Oh, and judging from the way it’s leaking right now, put on a new roof. Urgh.

    Something good… You know, we have nothing planned, but I don’t anticipate bad things. (Even the roof was planned for: we always knew we’d do it the spring we had to renew the mortgage. We were just hoping it wouldn’t start leaking before then…)

  5. April – That’s the power of negative thinking, right ;-)? And that promotion seems to have been a VERY nice surprise for you!

    MaryP – Ah, the joys of home ownership. They don’t always bring good surprises, do they? But as you say, you knew this was coming…and if it costs less than you anticipate, that would be a nice surprise!

  6. Wow! That’s a lot of activity for a year.
    The Yellowstone trip is something I want to do.
    Maybe in 09.
    Have a wonderful holiday season.

  7. Hooray for your new home, and hooray for what sounds like a great trip! I hope you get to made a few of those trips you mention in ’09. I was last at ComicCon in the early 1990s, and it was huge then. I shudder to think how much bigger it is now, but I’d still like to go back one of these years, for the right guest(s).

  8. I’m excited about 2009 – although right now I’m on pins and needles to see if we’ll do anything for New Year’s eve. Always such a let down. But somehow always important to do something fun.

  9. LarryG – It was a great trip. Hope you get to make it one of these days – bring your camera, and an extra battery and memory card!

    KFB – I’m not sure whether ComicCon or BlogHerCon is more intimidating, really. ComicCon has three advantages, though: I wouldn’t be going alone, it’s within driving distance, and we could stay at my mother-in-law’s house for free. And it may turn out to be neither one…we’ll see what unfolds.

    Vanessa (Chefdruck) – I am not a big New Year’s Eve fan. It will be a quiet evening at home after work for us, most likely. We’ll make sure we stay up till 9, though – that’s midnight on the East Coast :-)!

  10. This is a year that will go down in the history books, even if only a small blip. It is good to think about the positives this year. Our heater broke down last week, but it only cost $60 to repair! That’s something. 🙂 I think my trip to Hawaii this past summer and Anya coming to live with us are the big highlights of my year. And like you and your husband, my husband and I are still working. My husband’s company is doing surprisingly well despite the condition of the other financial institutions in the country. I really hope it continues on that same positive note.

    I am so happy for you in finding your new home. It really does sound like a good fit–and good timing. I so enjoyed reading about your trip earlier in the year.

    I am very much reading for 2009. I mean, when else will I be able to list 09/09/09 as my birthday? Two thousand eight was a rough year for me in many respects and I am hopeful that this next year will be better. I do count my blessings, however, that I continue to have such a wonderful man by my side, a house over my head, a decent job, and three terrific animals that bring me such joy.

  11. Wendy – That will be a very nice milestone for your birthday! I think the year ahead will have a lot of challenges on the large scale – the economy, politics, etc.; it’s not all going to turn around instantly, and I REALLY hope people will be patient, even though that can be a challenge itself.

    Personally, I hope for smooth sailing, but know better than to plan on it :-). I hope it will be a better year for you in some ways, and that the good things will just get better :-)!