2004 Holiday Newsletter

Those of you who received my 2003 holiday newsletter -- sent (ahem) last March -- should not be surprised that this year's newsletter recaps only the past ten months. However, even this abbreviated timeframe was chock full of memorable events ...

On March 18, my father turned 80! This milestone in my father's life wasn't properly celebrated until Easter weekend, however, when the entire Jewell clan and dozens of friends and neighbors descended on the Fairfax home. Even my girlfriend, Janice Lai, flew in from Hong Kong for only four days for the occasion. To see how much respect and love my father has engendered in his 80 years was an inspiration to us all.

On April 29, I spent the afternoon in an attorney's office signing and initializing a stack of documents until my hand went numb. When I had signed the last form, the attorney congratulated me and handed me the keys to my first home. Yup, in 2004, I joined the ranks of home owners, taking possession of a two-bedroom condo in Arlington. In many respects, home ownership has completely transformed me. I used to derive an enormous amount of satisfaction applying a coat of wax to my convertible; I now get a similar feeling polishing my ceramic stovetop. Instead of wandering the aisles of CompUSA shopping for computer hardware I don't need, I now seem to make weekly trips to Bed Bath & Beyond. I love that my condo is a 15-minute bike ride to DC and is within walking distance of a supermarket, but more than anything, I love entering the place, closing the door behind me, and knowing that the floor beneath my feet belongs to me.

Janice returned to Virginia in July, only this time she brought three pieces of luggage with her and held an open return ticket. Nearly three years of sustaining a relationship separated by 12 time zones had come to an end, and a new chapter in our relationship had begun. Living together has been both rewarding and challenging for Janice and me. We've learned much about ourselves and each other in the past six months. Janice has done remarkably well given the fact that her tourist visa makes it very difficult for her to find legal work. She keeps busy teaching Chinese -- both Cantonese (her native tongue) and Mandarin -- to adults and children. At last count, she had 15 regular students, and with the help of the Internet, more requests are coming in. In November, a multimedia company producing a National Geographic documentary hired her for two weeks to translate video footage. Janice will return to Hong Kong at the end of January; I will join her there in February. We will fly back to the US together on February 14 -- a 36-hour Valentine's Day that will mark the second phase of our new relationship.

On September 18, there was an addition to the family when my brother Andrew and Anna Corfield were married. Once again the Jewell clan all gathered together. Maybe it's because my father turned 80 this year, or perhaps cohabitation has something to do with it, but for some reason I've felt especially happy seeing family and friends this year. For this reason, I'm thankful to Andrew and Anna for enduring the headache and stress of wedding planning and pulling off a very memorable wedding weekend.

I celebrated my five-year anniversary with Advanced Solutions International in June. The merger between Active Matter and ASI has been a bumpy ride, and, sadly, a number of colleagues and principals I greatly admire have moved on as a result. While 28 vacation days per year and opportunities to work in Europe and Australia would be difficult to abandon, 2005 is shaping up to be good year for job seekers. It may be time to dust off the old resume.

I'm happy to report that all my joints held up this year, and only a lack of opportunities prevented me from playing more soccer than I would have liked. In a good week I'm participating in two and half games. Much to Janice's dismay, when I'm not playing soccer, I'm watching it on television. I try to explain to her that there are many leagues and sports I'm not watching -- this doesn't seem to help.

This newsletter summarizes my life between March and December 2004, ten months that were bracketed by two horrific world events. On March 11, 200 Spaniards were murdered in a single act of terrorism. And on December 26, over 130,000 lives were snuffed out by a tsunami. And in between, from Iraq to Sudan and many other places, countless others suffered and died. In a truly violent and miserable year, I've enjoyed the continued good health and support of my parents, the pleasant company of family and friends, and the love of a girlfriend. For these things and many more, I feel very lucky and very thankful. May this newsletter find you and yours happy, healthy, and hopeful in this new year.


2004 Holiday Newsletter Photo Album