I've never been so eager to close the door on a year as much as I have for Year 2014. Physically, this was our hardest year ever. Emotionally, our second hardest. I'd wear an "I survived 2014" T-shirt…if…so many had not. I'd laugh away the year, if it hadn't been such a damn serious one.
Let's just face it, 2014 sucked.
Thanksgiving week marked the first two-month period since June 2013 that I wasn't inside a hospital, rehab center, or a long-term facility. Not for me, but for two dear octogenarians. 2014's midpoint was exceptionally low when at the end of June, both of them were in different hospitals, on opposite sides of the city, during the same week.
My mom's partner passed away in September, she was at his bedside, as she was with my father in 2005 - the culmination of weeks upon weeks of daily hospital visits and care she provided to her "third husband" (love in our later years is complicated). Having spent most of 2014 doing everything I could to make it easier for them to be together, this loss felt deeply unfair. The most I could muster was a tweet.
Today I am down an octogenarian, he passed away last eve with my other octogenarian at his side. Sbohem Miles, máme tě rádi.— Betsy Kimak (@betsykimak) September 18, 2014
After about fifteen months of intermittent caregiving, with at least eight emergency room trips at three different hospitals, a few weeks in ICUs, and a few months in four different care facilities, things are less hectic now.
Throughout this time, we managed a few big wins with the house. I planned to carve some time during the holidays to catch up on a year's worth of blog posts...then...the flu-mageddon.
I think this year more than any I learned the value of presence, of physicality. A kind word, a card, a phone call…all of those actions matter so much. But a helping hand, whether to steady a gait or to haul a dozen boxes, that's invaluable. We never know what to say or what to do during times of crisis, especially when it involves our parents. But having been through this three times now, I can say: just be there. The rest will work itself out. Yes, it's awkward at first, and uncomfortable, and distressing, and intrusive, and confusing, and painful. Just be there anyway.
So perhaps I'm being a little too hard on 2014, as difficult as a year it was, we learned to yield to chaos, disorder, change, and to gratitude.
And we discovered a deeper appreciation of the mundane.
Over a few weeks in fall we finally caught up on Sherlock. In S1:E2, The Blind Banker, Watson looks for a job after the war - this passage is gold:
Sarah: You're, um, well you're a bit over-qualified.
Watson: I could always do with the money.
Sarah: Well we've got two on holiday this week and one's just left to have a baby. Might be a bit mundane for you.
Watson: Ah no, mundane is good sometimes. Mundane works.
I always loved the feeling of starting with a clean slate for New Year's. Not so much this time, 2014 will be with us for awhile longer as we still want to document some before-and-afters, if only just for us. I don't want to let those memories go even if they represent some of 2014's less important events.
And as it turns out, mundane is good for you - documenting life's trivial moments may enhance memory and wellbeing.
So that is our New Year's wish for all: may 2015 be filled with thousands of the tiniest...most delicious...and loveliest...mundane little moments. May you find time to write about them, and we'll try to do the same. Let's celebrate the mundane. xoxo.
It's been awhile since our last update. There were some technical problems with the blog, and ongoing health problems in the family...we even passed our one-year house anniversary in February without so much as a peep. But mostly, we're flat-out exhausted.
Just consider this a reboot. We have much to share - some photos, a few ideas, and maybe even the inkling of a plan, but we don't want to wait until the chaos has settled because we're starting to realize it never will. So instead we're bringing you back in with us, embarrassing as it may be.
We didn't heed the advice and have been multitasking a few too many projects. Studies show that multitasking stunts creativity and rewires our brains in ways that make it impossible to concentrate deeply. Or multitasking may be good for the brain. So we're either wrecking our health or getting super smart.
(Sleep kills. So does lack of sleep. Ah! Don't confuse me! - Portlandia S4:E1.)
One thing we've learned so far is that absolutely nothing is easy or simple about this house. Even with the diversity of architecture in Colorado, mid-century moderns are comparatively rare here and finding people who are familiar with the house structure remains a challenge. Case in point: last summer we had four HVAC companies visit to see if there's any possibility of adding central air conditioning. These are not incompetent people! Though we did lose confidence in the one who asked where the crawl space was.
"Never give up" says Geek #1.
Before we bought the house we were living a quiet and structured existence. Geek #2 enjoyed minimal distractions in her own hacker hostel - no attachments, no worries. It was tidy and banal.
"I decided my life is too simple, I wanna complicate the hell out of it," Harrison Ford's character Quinn Harris utters in Six Days Seven Nights, which about sums it up for us: we were too comfortable. But there have been days where we've yearned for the old apartment living. Things didn't work better and they certainly weren't cheaper, but now we've skewed a bit too far outside of that comfort zone - both emotionally and physically.
"Life is all about tradeoffs, and most good things - whether successful startups or great relationships with your family - require you to put in the time," says Chris Yeh, a Silicon Valley angel investor who writes about technology startups and work-life balance.
Yeh's blog is just the motivation we need to keep moving forward with our little bootstrapped mid-century startup. As we head into Year 2, we've already had two HVAC visits to see if we can at least make it a more comfortable one.