Annual Poem 2020

Dear Friends and Family,

As I start to write my yearly poetic salute,
All I can think is “I want to give this year the boot!”

As the year began, I was hopeful for a better shot
than ’19, but what a shitstorm 2020 brought!

The first two weeks of the year were going OK, but—
I suddenly found myself unemployed, my job cut.

Knowing myself, I had to leave the house for some time,
Otherwise I’d spend all my cash on Amazon Prime.

I took a sudden solo eleven-day road trip
Across the country in my blue electric spaceship.

I drove and saw Virginia friends, then down the east coast,
To see Uncle Paul and Oma, my Floridian host.

I slept in my car on the way—safe but NOT deluxe!
4,000 miles but I spent less than thirty bucks!

Then off to Atlanta with the exchange student folks:
Time for friends, a Superbowl party, and lots of Cokes!

Back home, it was time to find a way to pay the bills,
I drove, helped students, and taught new Tesla owners skills.

(I’d get a real job—Dan would assist till one came through
But I wasn’t prepared when he lost his job too.)

In San Fran in mid-March watching an 8-hour play,
(Harry Potter), Coronavirus changed the world that day.

The trip’s real goal was to meet up with college roomies
And try lots of wines, but the world had turned so gloomy.

We had jointly survived the 9/11 abyss
Surely together, we could support and get through this.

Back in Colorado, all the side jobs had vanished:
No rides, Tesla closed, the exchange students were banished.

April 1st—a new job! The planets surely aligned—
I became Director of Marketing (and design).

I feel lucky that at least my job was working out,
While access to toilet paper and soap were in doubt.

The new job is in finance—essential if you ask.
So I went to work daily in real clothes and a mask.

A year post-split, open to date, I had to be stealth.
Staying home alone was not good for my mental health.

Covid meant meeting for walks in the snow or the rain,
On the phone, or breaking rules to fly a Cessna plane!

School’s last quarter was remote, as the death toll mounted.
What a hot mess, thankfully those grades never counted.

Kid time was filled with board games, neighborly driveway talks,
Family Zooms, and painting cartoon characters on rocks.

As 40 approached, I had one last goal on my plate:
See North Dakota (#50!), my “Best for Last” state!

Being June, I didn’t have to worry about snow,
’Twas great to see the city (and woodchipper) of Fargo!

Given the year, warm weather was a lovely reward.
I went out often with my two standup paddleboards.

I’m not the most hyper or active or sporty,
But a spread-out lake party was a fun way to turn 40.

After some trial and error, I found a guy that I like.
A guy who loves travel, adventure, and learning named Mike.

July 4th was the first chance we could do some roaming
In the stunning Tetons and Yellowstone area of Wyoming.

More exploring, and hiking, and photos, and marches
Around Utah’s parks: Dead Horse, Canyonlands, and Arches.

I often took the kids to explore natural scenes.
Making lots of new memories, away from their screens.

Steve, a school friend moved from the Shenandoah Valley
To Roxborough, in with me, with his sweet dog, Callie.

Mike and I explored breath-taking National Park jewels:
Capitol Reef, Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon via mules.

Lake Powell on a hot Labor Day—a great tradition!
We got stuck driving back due to whiteout conditions!

This summer, we hit twelve national parks in total.
They’re worth your time—my advice isn’t anecdotal.

The new school year brought hybrid, then full remote learning.
Hope schools open soon, when new cases are downturning.

Brin, 11, tall like her dad, is in sixth grade now.
Despite this year, she has held it together somehow.

Garrett, 8 (third grade), has friendships he maintains,
Making playdates, playing with puppets, and keeping sane.

Coronavirus was an unwelcome newcomer,
My Halloween suit showed this year was Dumb and Dumber.

Brin is aging out of costumes, but I won’t make a fuss.
Garrett, however, was an Imposter Among Us.

Election results mattered to me—though first in flux.
Votes aside, I can now use my real name at Starbucks!

Covid-aware holidays were quiet and low-key,
A silver lining to the year, I hope you agree.

This year was filled with too much death, tough times, and bad luck,
Let’s say together, “2020, you really suck!”?

I hope your upcoming year is far better than this.
For once, this is a year I definitely won’t miss.

Now is where I’d ask you to come visit, at least once.
But let’s hold off for widespread vaccines—let’s say six months?

2021 will be better, I must believe.
Kamala, Brin, Garrett, Lucy, Callie, and Steve

January and February (clockwise from top left): skiing, surprising Courtney on my secret roadtrip to Virginia, helping Brin shop for the Father-Daughter dance that was canceled due to snow, visiting with Charles in Atlanta, seeing EF friends Michael and Nicole in Atlanta, exploring the Denver Art Museum with Brin, enjoying Atlanta’s beverage of choice, arriving back in Colorado after my solo roadtrip, tormenting Lucy, visiting with Zeeni and her new puppy, seeing Uncle Paul and Oma in Florida, Garrett dressed as Albert Einstein for his second grade Wax Museum project.

March and April (clockwise from top left): exploring San Francisco via trolley with college roommate Shanelle, masking up for the first time with the kids (and Brin already owned these masks to share), Gare and Brin’s first day of remote school, Garrett couldn’t believe that the shelves were really that empty, saying goodbye to one of the exchange students (Marta) before she had to go back to Spain early, playing a board game with Garrett, painting rocks of various characters to hide around the neighborhood, book club went virtual, at the very last show of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in San Francisco before all theaters were closed, enjoying isolating in the redwoods near Napa Valley with college roommates Lecia and Shanelle.

May through early July (clockwise from bottom left): the Cessna (single engine) plane I got to fly, the view of my neighborhood from the Cessna, paddleboarding with Brin, exploring Fargo with my wonderful guide and friend, Beth, celebrating my joining of the very elite “Best for Last” club (people that have visited all 50 states, but specifically those that visited North Dakota LAST), 40th birthday party at the gravel ponds at Chatfield State Park, all dressed up for the famous July 4th Cody Nite Rodeo with second cousin Taylor, visiting with cousin Jodie in Cody, exploring West Thumb in Yellowstone with Mike, paddleboarding with Garrett (he still doesn’t love his picture being taken), there is an honorary woodchipper outside the Fargo Visitors Center (with the real one used in the movie in the building), enjoying the “purple mountains majesty” of the Grand Tetons.

July and August (clockwise from top left): Dead Horse State Park in Moab, Utah; finally hiked to Delicate Arch (in Arches National Park) rather than seeing it from a lookout on the other side; paddleboarding with nephew Jordan while he lived in Colorado; panning for gold in Idaho Springs; Brin climbing above Urban Air; overlooking Canyonland National Park; Lucy came paddleboarding too (and hated it!); 2,200 feet straight above the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park’s Gunnison River (don’t look if you’re afraid of heights!); Brin showing off the year-round snow along the Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuously paved road in the US in Rocky Mountain National Park; exploring Grand Lake with Brin, Garrett’s best friend Leo, and Garrett; tubing in spectacular Deckers, CO with Lexi and her girls, Valorie and Lillian; discovering my very first HB19-1298 EV charging protection sign in the wild (I spearheaded this bill, and managed to see it through to become law in 2019).

Labor Day weekend (clockwise from top left): sitting on a chair-shaped rock in the middle of nowhere on the outskirts of Goblin Valley State Park in Utah; bridge over the Virgin River in Zion National Park in Utah; overlooking the Grand Canyon from a very skinny ledge 4,460 feet above the canyon floor; hiking through the water in Zion’s Narrows on a beautiful, hot day; Angels Point (along the North Rim) of the Grand Canyon; Bryce Canyon National Park at Sunrise; Capitol Reef National Park; Goblin’s Lair in Goblin Valley SP; Wall Street in Bryce Canyon; in the Virgin River in Zion; on my trusty and awesome mule, Highball as we made our way down the Kaibab Trail into the Grand Canyon; Mike overlooking the Grand Canyon at sunset.

Labor Day through late October (clockwise from top left): surfing the Great Sand Dunes (the largest in the US); Halloween graveyard cupcakes (I didn’t get to make nearly as many treats as normal this year due to Covid); paddleboarding with Emily, a friend from my Jobie Days in Herndon, VA; Garrett dressed up as Sonic the Hedgehog for “Dress like a Movie Character Day” at school; the famous Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park; Four Corners Monument (where AZ, UT, CO, and NM all touch) was closed due to Covid (the Navajo Nation has been severely impacted by Covid); at a Haunted House in Denver; exploring the landscape around Lake Powell at the Glen Canyon National Recreational Area (on the Utah/Arizona border); on our paddleboards near Lake Powell’s Lone Rock; Lucy trying on her dinosaur Halloween costume (she’s thrilled!); with dear friends Lexi and Cathi; the kids battling for the inflatable lounge.

Halloween through Christmas (clockwise from top left): celebrating how Dumb & Dumber this year has been with Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey)’s famous tuxedos (with a special shout out to the wildfires that devestated Estes Park, which is where much of Dumb & Dumber was filmed as a stand-in for Aspen); getting ready to go trick-or-treating with barely costumed Brin and Imposter Garrett; shocked at all the candy the kids were getting; Lucy in a shed-reducing leotard; Garrett and I made Among Us ornaments for his friends; even masks can be integrated into a Halloween costume, as this Jim Carrey mask demonstrates; the Play-doh Among Us ornaments we made; channeling our inner goofballs for a dance number; exploring the Christmas lights in Glenwood Springs; snuggling with Lucy and Callie (in the Christmas sweater); our Elf Bella arrived with a mask; Christmas morning with Steve and Brin.

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