A Look Back at the Year That Was 2010

And you ask me what I want this year
And I try to make this kind and clear
Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days
Cuz I don’t need boxes wrapped in strings
And desire and love and empty things
Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days
— Goo Goo Dolls

2010 was a year unlike any other I have ever experienced; and in many respects hope not to experience again. To classify the whole year as a “bad year” would be far from the truth because it wasn’t all bad, in fact much of it was great. However there were moments in 2010 that all we could do is pray for better days.

2010 started off exactly how 2009 ended which was great. Jenn and I were in a groove, she was working close to home, we both were doing well at work, and wereenjoying married life. Of course it didn’t hurt that Jenn was cruising around town in her new BMW which to this day she still loves.

I will never forget a night in mid-February. I was playing a video game in the family room, and Jenn was on her laptop in the bedroom surfing vacation deals online. I remember Jenn yelling to me saying “you have to check out this deal I found”. Within an hour, maybe two, we had booked an entire week vacation to Barcelona, Spain through an amazing British Airways deal. This was the sort of vacation that Jenn and I always talked about before we got married. Booking last minute trips and just going wherever we decided to go.

We left for Barcelona on March 3rd and came back on March 10th. It was truly an amazing trip. We stayed half of the trip in a beautiful hill top hotel, and the second half in the city. We were fortunate enough to be in the city during a snow storm which was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. Barcelona as a city wasn’t our favorite European destination but had a great time taking in all of the beautiful landmarks and enjoying the amazing cuisine.

Barcelona Trip 2010

Right after we got back from Barcelona we went with Jake and Amy for a full day Disneyland adventure. It's one of those places that's near impossible not to have a great time at. Plus living within 10-20 minutes of Disneyland makes using an annual pass even better.

Disneyland Trip 2010 with Jake & Amy

One of the big decisions we made in 2010 was to get a puppy. To prepare for this we packed up our stuff and moved from our 1 bedroom 1 bathroom apartment in Newport Beach to a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom town-home in Irvine. The move was as smooth as you would hope and the transition to the townhome was seamless.

We picked up our puppy (Bentley) in late March.  At the same time Jenn’s job moved her from 10-15 minute commute to an hour plus. We realized within a few days that our current working life was in no way going to allow us to take care of our adorable Bentley. We returned Bentley to the kennel which we purchased him from and found out a week or so later that another family had purchased him. Since then I have talked to the new owners and hear he is doing great. It was an extremely tough decision, in some respects devastating, but the right decision.

Jenn & Bentley the Puppy

In mid-April my whole family went up to San Louis Obispo, California for a huge surprise. My dad arranged a rather elaborate plan to take my mom up there for the weekend to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. What my mom didn’t know was that the whole trip was actually a surprise renewal of their vows. It was a really awesome experience, and pretty incredible to see my parents make good on something they told us they were going to do growing up which was renew their vows on their 25th wedding anniversary.

My Parents Renewing Their Vows

May of 2010 was sort of the calm before the storm. It was really a pretty normal month. We went down to Pasadena with Jenn’s parents to the Gold Class Cinema which are these high class movie theaters with loungers and food service. Jenn and her mom saw Sex and the City 2 and her Dad and I saw Prince of Persia. In all honesty the food was better then the movies, but the experience was pretty incredible.

Later in the month we said goodbye to one of our favorite shows on TV, Lost. Jenn and I were late to the party; we watched the first five seasons during the time between the Season 5 finale and the season premiere of Season 6. We were hooked. We of course said goodbye to the show by throwing a mini finale party which was fun. If your curious I loved the finale, Jenn liked it but wasn’t as thrilled as I was with it.

On the first week of June I found out that I was being promoted to a Business Analyst 2. Jenn and I went out and celebrated the same way we did when I first got the job by having an amazing dinner at Ruth Chris Steakhouse in Irvine. It was sort of surreal that a year and half after getting the job we got something to celebrate again.

Later in the month we spent two nights down at the Hyatt Grand Champions in Indian Wells, CA in a one bedroom casita. In 2008 we had stayed in a 2 bedroom casita and I had posted a YouTube video on our room. Hyatt contacted me and thanked me for the video by giving me two free nights to come back and enjoy the resort again. We used this time to unwind and enjoy the very hot desert sun. We ate some great food, saw Toy Story 3, and lay by the pool drinking pina coladas. It was a perfect quick getaway.

I have always been a big fan of water parks, but no one else seems to share my enthusiasm. I did however get Jenn, Jake, and Amy to accompany me to Wild Rivers in Irvine for a day of water slide enjoyment. If it was my choice we would have stayed all day, but the three out voted me and we spent a good 5 hours enjoying the many different slides the park had to offer.

Later in the month we took a road trip out to Arizona for my Grandma’s wedding and also to R&R once again in the desert sun. We had a nice time out in Phoenix/Tucson, outside of the wedding we spent the majority of the time just relaxing and enjoying our surroundings. If we thought it was hot out in Indian Wells, it was even warmer out in Arizona.

Phoenix Trip 2010

Something Jenn and I have always loved is going to see plays. When we moved out to Orange County we kind of got away from it, mainly because we weren’t sure where to go. That all changed in August when we got the theater bug again starting with In the Heights at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. By the time the year was done we saw a total of 5 plays by the time the year was out and I would predict just as many in 2011.

Off to See In The Heights at OCPAC

From this point to the New Year, it feels like everything was going 200 mph. On Labor Day weekend we decided to once again take up the idea of just getting up and going somewhere, but this time we were off to Las Vegas. We spent two nights out there at the Trump hotel. This was by far the most fun “mini vacation” we have had in our short married life. We saw The Beatles Love Circus du Soleil at The Mirage which was incredible. We also gambled a bit, ate some great food, and spent time at the pool.

Vegas Trip 2010 @ The Trump

It was only two weeks later Jenn and I hit our first big milestone as a married couple, our one year anniversary. We celebrated it at the Terranea Resort in Ranchos Palos Verdes, CA which was a gorgeous resort. I had done some pre-planning for the big day so I got us dinner reservations at The Chart House which was great. When we got back from dinner I had the concierge decorate our room with rose pedals, chocolates, and a big Happy 1st Anniversary sign in the room. We had a wonderful time at the resort and celebrating our first amazing year as a married couple.

Our 1 Year Wedding Anniversary at the Terrenea Resort

October ended up being a crazy month. The month started off with great news, Jenn got promoted to a Project/Program Analyst 3 which was great. We went and celebrated at Pascal’s a French restaurant down at Fashion Island. It was a very well deserved promotion and it was something we were both super excited for.

A few days later I was fortunate enough to launch the newest version of Darkstation.com, which was a much needed upgrade. The system is now running on the very reliable WordPress and just looks a lot cleaner then the site ever has. We have already started to see a huge improvement in visitors and in the feedback from fans of the site which has been great. The transition to the new site wasn’t perfect, but I can happily say that we are now up and running at 100% and doing great.

The New Darkstation.com

It was only a week later that I got a call from my parents while eating dinner at Panera by our townhome that my Dad had been diagnosed with a tumor in his brain and they were going to need to do emergency surgery. The next week or two was literally a blur. Jenn and I rushed down to Riverside and only a day or two later he was in an all day surgery. It was an extremely stressful couple of weeks but the good news is that as of right now he is on the road to recovery and doing really well.

With all the stress we were even more excited to take a break from it all and spend a week out in Cancun, Mexico. We stayed at one of the nicest resorts I have ever stayed at in the Excellence Playa Mujeres. The resort was all inclusive and we really used up as much of it as we possibly could. One of the best moments of the trip was when we went ziplining and off-roading at an adventure park called Xplor. It was so nice to just sit back and let loose again.

Cancun Trip 2010 Day 5 We Feel Young Again

Jenn and I at The Excellence Playa Mujeres

When we got back from Cancun we settled in for the holidays. We went to go see Peter Pan in a theater in a round setup which had rave reviews but we didn’t care for it all that much. We spent Thanksgiving morning with Jenn’s parents and the afternoon with mine. It was really nice to spend the time with family and to be able to just relax.

It was only a week later that we all found out the worst news of our lives. On December 3, 2010 Jenn’s mom passed away at home in her bed. As you may remember reading from last years “year in review”, Jenn’s mom has been battling lung cancer for the past two years and had been winning the battle. She was an amazing lady. My fondest memories of her were anytime we were doing something competitive. I remember the first time I played Monopoly with Jenn’s family and her dad bowed out quickly and Jenn and her Mom trying to team up to eventually beat me. In fact now that I think of it I don’t think I ever beat her in anything, that’s probably why she wrote “winner” on any e-mail or card she sent me.

She was an extraordinary woman, full of life, full of hope, and full of joy. From the moment I met her we always clicked, and she always made me feel like part of the family. She was always an amazing supporter of both Jenn and I and rooted us along the way. I look back at the 7+ years I knew Jenn’s Mom and I just look back and know I am a better person for having known her and been around her. I know I speak on behalf of both Jenn and I when I say we miss her deeply but cannot wait to see her again in heaven.

It was only a week later that the load continued to build as we had to put down Jenn's parents dog Sparky. There was a day or two where it just didn't feel like things would ever get better.

The year ended out kind of as you would expect after reading about our last few months, a bit numb. It’s one of those feelings where there is so much grief, so much emotion, that it’s hard to even know where to begin. We celebrated Christmas at my parent’s house which was a lot of fun, and enjoyed the rest of the day at our town-home, concluding it with the family tradition of watching National Lampoons Christmas vacation.

Decorating the Christmas Tree in 2010

This year had a few of those days that you pray never happen. We all know we are going to have those days but no matter what you do you’re never prepared for them. When it's all said and done there is nothing we can do but look forward to a much better 2011.