A few more highlights and memorable moments from 2005...
* Amsterdam. Amster-"damn!". Spent a weekend there back in May hanging out with some online friends and man, what a crazy weekend. One of the best weekends of 2005. (MAY 10)
* Florence. I love this city and got to know it a lot better in 2005. Can't wait to go back. (OCT 19)
* One of the most memorable moments of the year almost saw me and my Italian friend Fausto drown in a near-tragic fly-fishing incident. (SEPT 12)
* Holidays haven't meant much since being overseas away from friends and family, but this year Thanksgiving was special because the wife prepared a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner. (NOV 25)
* The X Man turned 2 in 2005 (DEC 14 & 15). In fact, watching him grow has been a constant highlight. Nothing really prepares you for being a dad and seeing how much your child changes in such a short amount of time. I swear, sometimes I catch myself just staring in awe at him and how fast he is growing and learning and becoming a real little man. I can't wait to see what happens in 2006. The X Man had a highlight of his own in 2005 as he got to spend almost two full months meeting his mother's family and friends in both Hong Kong and the Philippines.
All in all, 2005 was quite a year for me. It was a year of changes and adjustments, as it was my first year as a civilian since 1998. But experiencing Europe as a civilian is 100 times better than as a member of the military. More freedom, more money, etc. Wonderful.
Saw a lot of movies in 2005 but the only one that stands out was the last installment of the Star Wars franchise, which I had been anticipating since I first saw Star Wars as a first grader in 1977. The funniest movie I saw all year was by far "Team America: World Police". I'm not much of a reader but I read a few books in 2005. The one I enjoyed most, believe it or not, was Jose Canseco's "Juiced". I can't say that there was any new music in 2005 that really made a huge mark on me with the exception of U2's "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb". But that was definitely my favorite CD of the year.
Sportswise, the highlight (other than the Pats' Superbowl win) was seeing Charlie Weis return the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to glory. The Celtics and Bruins have been a lowlight for about 15 years now and 2005 was no different. The Red Sox had a disappointing 2005 as well, culminating in their losing Johnny "Traitor" Damon to the New York Yank-me's. As I look forward to 2006, the sports highlight will undoubtedly be the World Cup, which takes place in Germany.
Being in Italy means that food and wine are always a highlight and 2005 was a perfect example of that for me. As I mentioned, I discovered the best food in all of Italy in Bologna. We also found a new favorite local restaurant (Al Mulino's) and I discovered a new favorite dish - the Scallopini al Curry from Ristorante da Fernando nearby our house. Best thing I've ever tasted in my life.
I made alot of new friends in 2005. Some the ones that come to mind are Mike and Grace, Bill and Cielo, Jori and Ton, Felix, Fausto and Zora, Jermane and Denise, and a few others. I also reconnected with a few old friends that I haven't seen or talked to in years but who I now consider among my closest friends (and you know who are...). I also said goodbye to some special people in 2005, the hardest being 1SG Michael Bordelon and SPC Tran, both of whom were killed in Iraq. Sadly, Mark and Jane went back to the States, which was a definite lowlight of 2005. They've only been gone a couple weeks and we miss them immensely.
So here's to 2005, another year in the books. And looking forward to a great 2006, which starts in about 6 hours....