Originally I was going to post a list of resolutions for 2009, but I decided this would be more fitting before I get to the resolutions.
You were quite a year. That's a bit of an understatement. 2008: You shook me like a bad mother. But, unlike many poor souls before me, I made it out alive.
To be entirely honest '08, I have come to a point in my life where the time flies by so quickly and the years blend together, it's hard to keep things chronologically straight. What I do know however, is that you came in like a lamb and went out like a lion. Shit, maybe you didn't come in like a lamb... my point exactly.
Whichever way you came in, you most definitely left with a roar. More like a "ROOOOAAAARRR!"
As I recall, 2007 left me jobless and homeless. Thankfully my father and his wonderful wife were more than happy to take me in. That is where we met '08. My first sober memory with you is watching the Illini lose to the USC Trojans in the Rose Bowl. (Tying dates to sports memories is a good way for an old man like me to reference things.) I was dating Jessica at the time, and I watched it at her place, with her dad, Peters and Krista. It was as expected, a tragedy.
Jess went back down to school after break, I went on with living at home, collecting unemployment and working part time delivering pizzas. At this point I had been offered a room in a Champaign apartment. I took the offer, and could not wait to embark on my next chapter.
Winter turned to spring and unemployment was running out. Time to search for a job. That I did, one I found. Perhaps the worst ever, aside from the pay. FedEx Kinko's (now FedEx Office, for those of you keeping score). It was corporate hell. It paid the bills, but the guilt that built up inside me, knowing I would be quitting by mid-August left me apathetic. I had no other choice. It was not the company I felt guilty leaving, but the co-workers I barely got to know. But goddamn, did I lie to them...
I worked at Kinko's for just over 3 months. I probably called in sick a dozen times. I always had an excuse though. They always bought it. They were going to send me to Orlando for a training seminar. I never showed up for my flight. Management despised me for it, but I sweet-talked my way into their good graces very quickly. Just about a month later I left for Champaign, and soon FedEx and the suburbs, would become ancient history.
Or so I thought. You were not ready for me to go. Something had to be done to stop me. This may be the biggest gripe I have with you, '08. It's far beyond a gripe actually. Three letters I never, EVER imagined having to deal with: D, U and I.
I headed South on a Monday, after spending a great majority of the previous Saturday in the Bartlett Police Station. My D.A.R.E. instructor was my arresting officer. I won't mention names to protect the innocent... no, fuck that- Tammy Schultz. But in her defense, she was very polite, aside from the five tickets she gave me. Yeah, five. Wait, maybe six..? Whatever, ridiculous.
I pulled into the garage of my apartment complex - home. I was greeted by Kyle and Hannah. We met up with the Commie and decided that it would be a good night to drink. I had a meeting the next day at D.P. Dough, where I had been hired via craiglist/email two weeks prior. The funny part is that I did so while on the job at Kinko's.
I started later that week at D.P. I had previously delivered pizzas for a handful of joints up North, all of which - good money. Calzones are another story. I couldn't pay for gas let alone rent. Not to mention the whole doing dishes and cleaning floors bull shit. Not for $5 an hour assholes, not me.
I dealt with the BS as long as I could bare it, whilst seeking further employment. I applied online to Best Buy, the Apple store and a handful of others. PetSmart called me up within 48 hours of application submission. Teresa asked me to come in for an interview. As far as formal interviews go, this was like first grade shit. Got the job: pending drug test results!
Yeah a few of my roommates are smokers (the wacky tobacky). So, yes I dabbled a bit, barely even got high; I had not smoked in so long. It's most likely for that reason that I got a call late the following Sunday, "Ryan? It's Teresa from PetSmart..."
(They don't call back to tell you that you failed.)
I had already walked out on the other job after a night of fearing for my life to make twenty bucks.
I got thrown right in, 2008. I was a natural. I know that you talk to '07 and '06 who are friendly with 2002-05, who know very well that retail has always been my thing. Seven years in hardware is still seven years in retail. And having been in management for most of that time, my instincts to lead set in right away. Before I knew it Teresa was recommending me for the vacant management position.
I blew it, Phil (store manager) was not a fan of me, it wasn't in the cards. Thanks for loading the deck '08! But, it worked out well - I got the lead spot which included a well-needed raise. I was happy with my job for the first time since god knows when.
Speaking of blowing things (keep your mind out of the gutter), I had sent an email to the Booze News, a student-run "alternative" publication on campus. Basically, an Onion-esque, weekly. The semi-attractive editor loved it. I was in. On a Thursday night I was called to a meeting. And by meeting I mean drunken initiation; as close to a fraternity pledge as I ever hope to come. I had a few too many a few too quickly (take note: this becomes a theme), and before I knew it I was falling through a glass table, while simultaneously shattering any chances I had at becoming the best writer the Booze News ever had.
And speaking of booze...
I would quickly become friendly with nearly every co-worker at PetSmart. Not hard to do, considering the majority were students, like me, who loved to drink and despised retail. Nothing like the loners at D.P. Dough. Cool people. Cute girls, down-to-earth guys, no complaints. And me being the social butterfly suggested a bar crawl.
Naomi and I organized it. We became friends, I crossed the line (heads up! another theme) and suddenly I was short a girlfriend. I had come close to this point on numerous occasions over the past few months. Moving close to the person you love, when you're used to dealing with long distance, is apparently just as hard as the opposite. The other variable: moving from Gilberts (never heard of it? exactly) to a campus filled with beautiful women. Distraction and temptation were everywhere: work, campus, my apartment, you name it!
But Jess and I managed to have some good times together, between bouts of nearly ripping each others' heads off. Until she finally had enough. She broke up with me almost right away, and this time was different; she was actually breaking up with me. Then we started hanging out (in the biblical sense too). Good times, but only to cause harder times. We almost cut ties entirely after some more fighting and a drunken mistake or twelve.
For the last month and a half, you've been decent with me. I have enjoyed being single, and '08, you've pretty much kept out of my way. You're sneaky though, and can not be trusted. I don't sleep well with one eye open and I have kinks in my neck from constantly looking over my shoulder, waiting for permission from Father Time to strike down upon me.
And sure enough 2008, you were granted it. At just the last second too. First came the bait. I took it. I played with it for awhile, rather conservatively, waiting to see what move you might make next, or if it was even you on the other end of this fishing line. Maybe there was no line at all. I either convinced myself or was too hungry to care. You caught me, and didn't spare throwing me back. But you just let me flop about on the dock, a slow painful death. I wasn't even cooked or served, just left to rot.
So, '08, it has come the time to bid you ado, and with great pleasure indeed.
It's funny though... I'm writing this letter to you, a year. As irrational as a letter to Santa, God or Congress. I think this letter is really for me, just like that Christmas list from little Timmy, or a goodnight prayer. (Letters to Congress are just a waste of time/paper for all parties.)
Of course this letter is for me, this whole blog is. But it's also for the readers. And it seems as if there are more of you all the time. I'm not like Perez Hilton or anything, but every time I get a comment from someone new, a Facebook post, a voter in the poll, or simple hear that another friend has been reading, I get a bigass smile on my face.
But back to you 2008: FUCK YOU! 2009: I hope you're not friends with that asshole. If so, I don't care, fuck you too. I am being Ryan this year, and if you're with me, you're with me. If not, I'll deal with it.
So, without further ado...
My apologies, regrets, etc. go out to you*
(*Names will not be mentioned necessarily, but if you recognize something stated here that refers to you, please, please feel free to comment (anonymously if so chosen) to merely accept my apology.)
To my co-workers outside of Champaign: for all my bull shit excuses and lies, making your jobs more difficult and lives more stressful.
For that matter, to the rest of you, all of you, whose lives I have made more stressful. Stress sucks - if anyone knows it is me. Forgive me, and let me know what I can do/stop doing to reduce the stress in your life. I love helping friends.
To those of you I have made uncomfortable in situations that should be stress-free.
To friends and family I have let down in both times of need and otherwise.
To anyone I have offended (probably everyone).
To my parents (all four of you) for not listening.
To the lady I rear-ended three years ago, and drove off because you wouldn't pull over. (Trust me, my car was worse of than yours, but I hope you're okay.)
To my many debtors. I hate money, but I still owe you all some. (The check is in the mail.)
For getting so drunk I don't even remember.
For forgetting to take my medication.
For leaving without saying goodbye.
For holding grudges (ugh, a total pet peeve of mine). Really sorry.
For playing dumb/pulling the ignorance card.
For not calling/texting/messaging back. I'm typically pretty good about this but don't hesitate to call me out if I fail to reply.
For pawning my shit off on you.
For not thinking before I act.
For blaming my Dad/Mom/family.
For taking everything/everyone for granted.
For the herpes (joking, seriously, joking).
For not believing in and/or trusting you.
For awkward moments (caused by me/my actions).
For blaming you.
For not being the best person I can be all the time.
For betraying you.
For talking behind your back.
For being more apathetic than sympathetic.
For forgetting your name (brain fart).
For not trusting my gut.
For throwing you under the bus.
For not reaching out when I totally should have.
For being such a shit that I had to write all of this out, and not being able to deal with it when it was pertinent.
Guys, I am really sorry. I know this doesn't even begin to make up for the shit I have caused/damage I have done, but I have to start somewhere. It's here, it's now, I'm sorry.
These are more than just words. These are admissions of guilt, distrust and disgust. I'm clearing my head, getting my life back together. Where that will lead me, who knows! But it's gotta be better than the land of no friends - that place sucks.
I love you all, and I hope you know that. I'm looking forward to a GREAT, productive, superduper 2009, and it won't live up to it's potential without all of you. Like I said, FUCK YOU 2008!!!!! We'll always have the memories...
There were good ones.
I have my drinking under control now, but I will admit that it got a bit out of hand. Not to the point of getting in the way of functioning, but enough that it was a problem. Before I wrote this I Wiki'd the "12 Steps" and was quite surprised to see that tha majority of steps involve the idea of God. Do they have 12 steps in non-Christian cultures? Is there even a need for 12 steps in these cultures?
The whole thing seems ludicrous to me. I do not, never have, and never will need 12 steps. I'm not putting together a dance routine, I'm fixing my life. I do things differently, now and forever.