And so here it is, December 31, 2014, approximately 8:11pm as I start writing this.
Professionally, this year was as good as I have experienced. FOUR major premieres (Minnesota Movements, the short opera Bedtime Story, Tenebrae, and the first in the Urban Legends series), more performances of Rational Exuberance, and an article on Morton Gould’s West Point Symphony accepted for publication. One of my works was selected for a performance in Plymouth, IN, and not only did Amanda and I get to attend the performance, both my parents and her parents (along with an aunt and a cousin) were able to attend as well. I go up for tenure/promotion this next academic year, and all signs point to success in that endeavor. I was able to organize my research plan and my compositional output (the aforementioned Urban Legends series), and I really feel like I am at the top of my game.
The polar vortex hit on January 6. Two days later, our beloved Dachshund Julie suffered what was most likely a pretty severe stroke. The little girl held on for a couple of months, but on March 10 a decision was made and that night, with Amanda by her side, she left us. Similarly, our cranky old Hep Cat suffered kidney failure in mid-October (more on the timing of that in a moment), and – true to his spirit – left us on November 11 in the vet’s office while she was preparing to do what needed to be done. (We refer to this as Hep’s last middle finger to the world – “You can’t fire me! I quit!”) The hole in our hearts has not yet healed, nor is it likely to. Julie and Hep were family, and now our family is smaller.
The reason we had to leave town in mid-October, when Hep suffered the beginnings of his final illness, was because of another loss. Jay Flippin, the greatest total musician I have ever known, lost his battle with liver cancer on October 16. Dick Cheney still breathes air and Jay Flippin is dead – it makes you angry. Jay was and is who I want to be when I grow up. A true polymath, he spoke several languages and was as at ease discussing theology, science, and history as he was behind a piano. There are very few people for whom this is true, but in Jay’s case it is true: This world is better because Jay Flippin was in it.
My beloved wife had some health scares as well; to respect her wishes, I won’t go into detail, but suffice it to say there were long stretches of existence on pins and needles. She is fine now, thankfully.
November brought a loss of a different kind; a good public servant named Jay McNamar was voted out of office and replaced with a decidedly less good public servant. Jay was (technically, as of this writing, still is) my state rep, and I’m glad he got to serve. My anger over this and other events (like Ferguson and Eric Garner) led me to say some pretty heated things, and at least three family members have severed their relationships with me. But I must and do stand behind what I say.
I don’t know how much more blogging I’ll do, but I don’t think I’m done yet. I have some plans to make my web presence (something I should have more of as a composer) stronger, and blogging might fit into that. I don’t want to spam everyone, though.
Also, a lot of people on Facebook want me to be Secretary of Education, so I got that going for me.
So now it’s 8:45pm CT. 3 hours and 15 minutes to go in 2014. Here’s hoping 2015 continues what 2014 started professionally, and wipes the slate clean from the personal annus horribilis. Good luck to one and all in 2015, and let’s leave everything a little better than we found it.