For me, 2006 was an extremely eventful and life-changing year. It started with the death of my Dad on the 6th of January, at 15:12. When I found out he had died, I wrote a letter to him. Even though I knew he would never read it, I needed an outlet for the thoughts and feelings that were overwhelming me. My Dad had previously put my sister in charge of his final affairs, and she scheduled his funeral exactly a week later. As he had been cremated, there was no wake, viewing, calling hours, or whatever it's called these days. Rather, it was a simple funeral service. At the front of the church was an ornate chest which contained his ashes, sitting upon an unadorned table. Nearby was a montage display of various photographs of him that I had arranged. My sister had asked me if I would say a few words (in effect, a eulogy) at the service. I agreed, and through many tears, publicly read the letter that I had written.
My Dad is the first person in my immediate family to have died, so it's not been easy for me. An even year has gone by now since he's been gone, and it's finally getting to where the pain is at a level I can stand without crying or shutting out my emotions. I still miss him, especially when I'm up real late, when everyone else is asleep and the neighbourhood is quiet. It's actually kind of apropos, really. When he was still around, he'd call me during the day while I was at work, and I couldn't spend much time talking with him. And I wouldn't think to call him back at night until it was late, after he'd already gone to sleep, so I'd be up thinking about him and wishing I could talk to him. Here I am a year later, finding myself up thinking about him, still wishing I could talk to him. But tomorrow I can't call him, nor the day after, nor ever. If that sounds sad, it's because it is, still.
In February, my wife went to a teacher's job fair at SUNY (State University of NY) Cortland. Several North Carolina school districts tried to entice her, but she focused on Wake County, and was signed on with an “early contract”. The way I understood her explanation of what that means is that she was hired, but had yet to be assigned a position. Although we'd been talking for years about moving down South, at that point, I wasn't ready to bet the farm on the early contract thing.
In May, I wanted to celebrate our wedding anniversary with a trip, so when I asked my wife where she wanted to go, she surprised me by asking if we could go to North Carolina. She explained that the Wake County School System was holding a local job fair, and that they had asked her to attend so that she could be assigned to a position. Thus our hope of moving finally became a reality. As soon as we got back to New York, I gave a two-week notice of resignation at work, because we had decided that I would be in charge of the logistics of moving.
June 5th was my last day of work. In the days that followed, I got us a set of cell phones, segregated the services on my home network (separating the web and mail services from all the rest), worked on all the small home repair projects that had been building up, and began looking for a place for us to live near Raleigh, North Carolina. The last item on the list almost turned out to be a show-stopper, as I had a very difficult time finding one via the telephone and the Internet. It wasn't until the middle of the next month that we were actually able to sign a lease on a house.
In July, I finally managed to make arrangements to “bury” my Dad's ashes at the plot reserved for him in the cemetary next to the church in Richland, New York, where his father, a minister, used to preach. To avoid all the extra hassles involved with an actual burial, we decided to simply spread the ashes over his grave. It was a warm, pleasant, summer evening. Later that month, after my wife and son were done with school, we took a trip to Niagra Falls and Marineland. That same weekend, my brother Bob became the proud father of a beautiful baby girl. A week after that, my wife, my son and I drove to Cary, North Carolina and spent our first night in our new home. And the last week of July was spent loading a moving truck, driving it to our new home, and unloading it.
We didn't have enough room in one truck for everything we wanted to bring, so the first week of August was spent going back to New York, loading another moving truck, driving it back to North Carolina, and unloading it. The rest of August was spent getting driver's licenses and vehicle registrations changed, setting up new bank accounts, and finding our way around our new home town. My wife had to attend several meetings to get ready for her new job, and school here started in August, as opposed to September in New York. As well, over the next few months (from August through October), I made several trips back to New York, first to move the last of our belongings into storage, then to work on getting the house ready for sale, and finally to run several errands ancillary to our move.
September brought me the opportunity to attend my first meeting of the local Linux User Group (TriLUG). At the end of the month, my brother Don married his fiancée, Carrie, with me as his best man. It was good to be with all my family together in one place again, but the reunion was made bittersweet by the absence of my Dad.
The next month, October, brought the end of all my trips back and forth to New York. I was so fed up with all the endless travelling that I decided that all other work needed on the house would thereafter be contracted out. It was costing me too much time, energy and money driving back and forth. I still hadn't begun looking for a job yet, and money was starting to get tight. My second attendance of the Trilug meetings was this month, and also turned out to be my very first presentation there! At the previous meeting, I had expressed a willingness to give presentations, and it turned out that they had yet to schedule someone for October, so they signed me up. This was also the month that my wife, son, and I spent several weekends exploring our new home state. The first trip was to the beach at Wilmington. We stayed overnight so we could spend the next day on the battleship there that is now a musuem, the U.S.S. North Carolina. The weekend after that, we made a day trip to Pilot Mountain, which is near Mt. Airy, North Carolina. This trip turned out to be a full frontal assault on my fear of heights. I didn't realise until we were driving up the mountain what it would be like. This particular mountain is quite unique in that there are no other mountains for miles around. It's like being on the top of an extremely tall tower with nothing around. Although it's very beautiful, because of my fear of heights, I came very close to becoming a gibbering idiot.
The very next weekend, the first one in November, we went to visit my sister and her family in Greenville, South Carolina. While we were there, all of us went to the town's Falls Park. In this park is a U-shaped, suspension footbridge called the Liberty Bridge. Prior to the trip to Pilot Mountain, my fear of heights would have made it impossible to walk across this kind of bridge–you can feel it bounce when you're walking on it, and it's a good 30-50 feet above the ground. However, it seemed almost easy after having lived the nightmare of the previous weekend's experience (although I walked like an old man who'd crapped his pants as I crossed it). To me, it was a milestone event to make it across that bridge and back again too! A weekend later my mettle was tested yet again. My new friend Alan, a new pilot, had invited me to fly with him in a two-seater airplane. When I told him that I was willing to give it a try, but my fear of heights could wind up being a show-stopper, he proposed a plan that would give me an out if it didn't work out: We would take off, then immediately come back around and land. If I then decided it was too much, I could get out and wait out the rest of his flight on the ground at the hangar. I made it through the first take-off and landing, and after a minute of some forced slow-breathing, told him to take us up again. Although the entire trip lasted a couple of hours, I managed to make it, albeit with very white knuckles. And I didn't cry like a baby or scream like a girl! However, it wasn't until the very end of the trip that I got up the nerve to look out my side window for more than a mere glance. But it signified one more battle that I won in the fight to conquer my fear of heights.
November also brought me two job interviews. The one for Red Hat was a day-long affair, meeting with several different folks, but it didn't pan out. The one for Opsware actually involved a face-to-face interview, and two telephone interviews. This is the one that turned into an actual job offer. It was exciting to talk with the folks there, and since starting I've met most of the folks with whom I'll be working. Although it's too early to make definitive pronouncements, I have to admit that it sure seems like a good fit for me, and so far I seem to be getting along well with everyone there. We'll have to see if I still feel so rosy about it after the “honeymoon” is over.
December's Christmas-time brought yet another trip, again by the whole family. My son was overjoyed to discover that we were going to Disney World. The game plan was to spend a day travelling to Florida, a day at Disney's Magic Kingdom, a day at the Epcot Center, a day at my wife's cousin's house, and a day travelling back home. It was fun to watch my son bouncing in his britches as we waited at the Disney monorail station, he was so excited to get inside. And at the end of both days at Disney, even though he was rubbing his eyes to stay awake, he didn't want to leave: the first night we stayed until the place closed at midnight, and the second night we didn't leave until 11:30. And although he didn't want to go to my wife's cousin's house on the last day, he ended up playing with his cousins there (one is his age, the other is a year older) until two in the morning. And although we hadn't seen them for some thirteen years or so (before all our kids were born), it was as if we hadn't missed a beat. As the cliche goes, “A good time was had by all”. And on that note I'll now end my review of the year!