What is the best news you got this year? The worst?

Every December, Molly likes to wrap things up by asking me (and lots of other people) to play the High/Low game. And every December for the last several years, I’ve obliged and provided her with the most awesome and the most awful parts of the previous year. Usually it’s a couple from Column A and a couple from Column B. This year’s debrief may happen in the same place that last year’s did, Kayo’s Dinner House in Bend, over happy hour. We really like to do it up right. I might just print out this post and hand it to her.

So, here’s the thing. You think that the best news is going to be my niece Avery, right? Yeah, I would have thought so too. But here’s the other thing. Avery – while the most awesome thing ever that ever was in EVER – was not exactly news. I mean, I knew she was coming. Learning about her existence 364 days ago was certainly the best news of 2010, but when I think about what came to me unexpectedly, like bolts of lightning (sparkly, funtimes lightning for the good news and sad, gut-punching lightning for the other), my high/low news-wise for 2011 looks a little bit different. This is not to say that there isn’t a (possibly super annoying) post coming in the next ten days enumerating EVERY SINGLE BIT of 2011 goodness (heavy on the Baby Aves of course), but this isn’t it.

The best news of 2011 came in March, when I learned that a paper I co-wrote with three other people was going to be published in this journal.

Health Affairs, April 2011

This publication came after about 21 months of work on the paper and one rejected submission to a different journal. Even after learning that we had been accepted for publication, it didn’t seem real. I don’t think I actually believed that I was a published author until I had a hard copy of the journal in my hands and saw this.

Yes, I totally wore the glasses so I'd look smarter.

If you think maybe I’m sounding a little full of myself right now, please know that my boss kept me humble by roundly mocking the Glamour Shot-ness of the photo.

Speaking of the boss guy, he was also the bearer of the worst news I received this year. A month or so ago I went into his office for our weekly check-in meeting and began running down my list of projects that required his guidance. About ten minutes in, I realized that he was being totally weird. He was saying yes to everything I asked for, deferring to pretty much all my decisions and not pushing back on anything. Something wasn’t right and so I did the thing I do when I have figured out that I’m probably about to hear something that I don’t want to hear. I just kept talking. And talking. And talking. And then eventually I had to stop. I let him get about three words in before I interrupted and said, “I think you’re about to tell me something I don’t want to hear and I just need you to know that it’s been sort of a rough day, so if I start crying or something, please don’t freak out.” And then I shut up and listened while the guy who has been the best boss I’ve ever had told me that he was leaving Legacy and moving to New York to take a super spectacular position at Columbia. It was kind of the worst. And the best of course – he deserves it completely. But for me, the worst.

See, when I started my job a little over three years ago, I hated it. I had OWNED my previous job. I mean, I rocked it so hard. And then I started this job and had no idea what I was doing. The worst part was that no one else seemed to know what I should be doing either. I fumbled around miserably for about six months and then it all started clicking and I stopped wondering on a daily basis, “Now, WHY did he hire me?” Some of this confidence came from my own ability and a lot of it came from Jack knowing that I was the right person for the job and trusting that eventually I’d figure that out too. He leaves me (and the organization) stronger and more capable for having had his leadership, which is great, but in the end, he leaves. Period.

He prefers when I give him a hard time and we just talk baseball, but he indulged this request.

The nature of this post surprises me. Normally my high/lows are about my personal life, and in a year when I had the tremendous fortune to draw the long end of the stick on nearly every occasion, I wouldn’t expect the best and worst bits of news to be work-related. That they are tells me a couple of things. One, that I am pretty damn lucky that the worst news I received this year really isn’t all that bad and two, that I am pretty damn lucky that my job can make me this happy.


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