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Counting my blessings for 2009

Dude, I’m tellin’ ya……..

I’ve noticed in the last 30 days or so how a handful of people have addressed me in a very soothing, friendly, caring tone about how I shouldn’t worry; the year 2010 is going to be much better ” than this past year was for me “. These reassurances come from people that care about me and are very sincere in their positive thoughts toward me. I really appreciate them and their encouragement for sure.

I’ve made similar spoken gestures to some friends that “2010 is going to rock for both of us !  ” . But I’m not telling them that their 2009 was awful or disappointing. I’m just saying that the coming year is going to be a kick-ass one. There’s no reference to their past year at all. The well wishes I receive almost always point out how bad 2009 has been for me.

But despite the challenging year it has been on a financial level, 2009 wasn’t all that bad for me. Really, no shit….it wasn’t. I know I bring it on myself with all the griping, grousing, and bitching that I do. But the people who are the most close to me……the ones that really know me….understand me and my sense of humor….they know that I am kidding 90% of the time when I bitch and moan. It’s a comedy act. Call it a defense mechanism. Whatever. But most of my tirades are of a George Carlin tilt. There’s always some chuckles to be found within. I’ve been told that if I took some of my “anger” and “resentment” up on-stage and polished it into a proper show, I might make some coin. 

So I do acknowledge that to those people who don’t know me well…..which I guess is about 3/4 of my acquaintances……they think I’m often mad or unhappy. There’s an assumption that 2009 sucked. Hell, I said it sucked big-time in my last post (yesterday). But the entire post about my 2010 resolutions was meant in a humorous vein. That’s what most of the people in my real-life daily encounters seem to miss about me and my personality. I guess I’m just not that damn funny.

The truth is, except for a dented sense of self-esteem from having nowhere to report to every day—-and the resulting financial burden—-2009 wasn’t all that bad a year for me. I’ve enjoyed it.

In January, I was fresh out-of-work and we had a new incoming President ready to take office on 1/20/09. Nobody…..and I mean nobody was hiring. Even so, my work ethic and personal drive saw me apply for 30-40 jobs and garner my first interview of the year. I’d been out-of-work for three weeks and already broke that barrier down. The almighty interview.

But with no one really hiring before Obama got sworn in and started implementing his strategies for the economy, it was a dead market. So while it was bitter cold out and a slushy, snowy mess most days, I was sleeping late and enjoying the holidays and ready to get back to hardcore job searching in February.

Which I did. And I haven’t stopped.

In the meantime, I’ve again put the work ethic that my parents gave me in motion and have found at least a dozen ways to make money this year. I’ve done everything from the traditional odd jobs of helping people move furniture and other manual labor to donating plasma twice per week at the local center. I’ve gone to focus groups downtown and answered on-line surveys. There’s been product trials like toilet paper and dishwashing detergent for cash rewards. A friend of mine throws me an occasional computer project.

Thru careful, conservative game play and a strategic approach to when I play, I’ve made money in 2009 playing Texas Hold ‘Em on-line. I just won an 18-man tournament on Christmas Eve for $72. It’s not a mint, but that’s not the first time I’ve won over $70 in these things. And my original out-of-pocket investment was $60. I have that back in my wallet and now play with “their money”. One of my keys is to only play one tourney per sitting. If I win, I don’t think I’m “hot” and try to win another tourney back-to-back. I walk away. And if I lose my game, I don’t get mad and try to force a victory in the very next game. Again, I walk away.

So when I lose, it is typically $5.50.

And when I win, it’s somewhere between $9 and $250.

There’s a number of other ways I have made some spending money in 2009. And thru those earnings, I went to 5 baseball games this year. That’s the most in about four or five years—when I was working all the time. I’ve already been to 3 Chicago Blackhawks games this year and now my brother just scored us tickets five rows behind the glass for January 14th. Again, that will make the most Hawks games I’ve been to in 6 -8 years.

From about May thru October, I took a nice 12-14 mile mountain bike ride or a brisk 5 mile walk any damn time I felt like it. The most exercise I have had in almost ten years. I loved having the summer off and getting outdoors every single day.

The highlight of 2009 though was easily the Caribbean cruise that I went on with my entire family for my parents’ 45th anniversary. I was six months into unemployment and I there I was swimming in the crystal clear water of Megan’s Bay in St. Thomas  (Virgin Islands). That was just a few days after I hit four deuces in the ship’s casino to the tune of $250. Spending the quality time with my entire family, the hot women, the beautiful weather, the food, the drinks……..easily the highlight of 2009.

Factor in stuff like seeing the Dick Ourada Band three times, my buddy Dave Johnson’s band West 34  five or six times, my buddy Phill’s annual summer BBQ extravaganza, his annual Christmas party spectacular, the Bulls and Hawks playoff runs this past April/May with all my buddies at the bar……..

…….going for the best hot wings in Illinois (and a few coldies) every other Friday afternoon with my former coworker/mentor Steve and often my brother, getting together with all of the guys in my fantasy baseball league numerous times to talk some ball and drink a few beers, having dinner over at Phill’s countless times with his family all year long, the whole recent holiday season with my sister and her family…………

……the women that have taken pity on me and gone out for dinner, drinks, movies, etc. throughout the year {and sometimes settled for the diner at the local bowling alley}, the housing arrangement I secured where I went from a 800 ft. condo to a 3 BR house with a backyard, the fact that I just played in the Super Bowl of my fantasy football league after a great season (I lost the Bowl), the good times and the laughs with all of the boys I watch football with every Sunday………

……..of course all of the new people I met this year and the new friends I made here, there, and everywhere.

So I’m hoping you can see how much I enjoyed 2009. I do hope 2010 is a better year for me simply in that then it will truly kick some ass.  

And I’ll be buying y’all drinks along the way as it does.

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