As for the conclusion of 2017…

Geoff Barnes
Dec 31, 2017 · 4 min read
Grace and Winston with you a perfect 2018

Dec 31, 2017

My dearest gentle reader,

As I write this, the sun begins to set on the final day of 2017. Good riddance, many will say… and so we won’t talk about the new Star Wars movie. No, 2017 will always be remembered as the year Jack and Alex joined the Quaker Valley High School marching band, trumpeting and saxing the football team as it claimed its first ever Pennsylvania state championship title. Although we didn’t get to see all the games, I went to several. Notable among them was the regional playoff game at Heinz Field — it was a defensive slogfest, with a final score of 2–0, the winning safety having been scored in the first quarter, before our voices were yet hoarse from yelling or our bodies frozen from the rainy cold. No one could have foreseen such a glorious conclusion to the season.

As the year began, all that was on our minds was sleep. Grace was still sleeping in 3-hour bursts on a good night, and the whole house suffered. January and February saw a rash of travel, some for Geoff for work, some for the family. In the month starting toward the end of January, I had occasion to visit both Switzerland and New Zealand for work. In-between those two trips, Julie and Grace and I visited Julie’s parents in Florida. I left Grace and Julie in Florida to go to New Zealand and, when we rendez vous’d two weeks later in Pittsburgh, Grace had not only learned to crawl, but was also sleeping through the night. I had begged Julie not to sleep-train Grace without me and my support, but she thought she didn’t need me, as I recall. In fact, her specific words might have been, “No. No way. You’re too much of a pushover. I’ll do it while you’re gone,” or something to that effect, I don’t really recall, the details escape me, etc, except she definitely said exactly that. And sure enough, when I got home, Grace was sleeping her now-normal 11 hours a night, proving that the more I leave to Julie, the better things turn out.

In late April, Julie, Grace, Conner, Alex, and I went to Dallas to celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. When asked who could fathom 50 years of marriage, everyone’s faces but my parents’ drew blanks — a refreshing change for a family known for knowing every damn thing. We had a beautiful and relaxing time that weekend, and I wonder if, in hindsight, we’ll connect it to having been humbled by the longevity and tenderness of my parents’ marriage.

In June, both Grace and I celebrated birthdays within a week of one another, as will become tradition. She turned one, I turned 45. While I do look a little older than she does, I think she’s aging well, and I’d appreciate it if you’d cut it out with all the gray-hair comments and so forth. Let her live her life. She’s just a baby, for crying out loud.

Fall was a busy time for the Barnes family. At long last, Julie got her therapist’s license. This is huge, and we’re not sure which drawer to put it in while she continues to enjoy pure motherhood at home with Grace. Also on the professional front, I changed teams at work. I still struggle when people ask me what I do, though. My best explanation these days is that I write the things Google says when you tell your Google Home to buy dog food or paper towels, as I’m sure you just did moments ago. Oh, you don’t have a dog or use paper towels? Well, you’re going to have to take my word for it: this is the future. Paper towels are super convenient, dogs need food, and someday soon you, too, will talk to a robot virtual assistant in the cloud.

Speaking of robot assistants in the cloud, Google presently tells me that it’s time to head upstairs to start getting ready for our New Year’s Eve out on the town, and who would I be not to heed the calculated prompts of a perfect being? Owing to that (or blaming it, whatever), it is time for me to cut this short and wish you a happy 2018. Rest assured that, where this note falls short of previous years’ in terms of volume, interest, innovativeness, cleverness, fun, informativeness, writing quality, design, layout, photography, or other such nitpicky criteria, it is a function not of my abilities, dear reader, but of the times in which we live and the bad actors therein. No collusion.

With that trademark mix of sincerity and sarcasm that can only live a respectable life in a holiday newsletter, I wish you the very best 2018 possible. May all your needs be met, your dreams come true, and may you never be tracked through hyperspace.


Geoff, Julie, Conner, Jack, Alex, Grace, and Winston

P.S. Thanks, Obama.

Geoff Barnes

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Senior Conversation Designer at Google. Painter. People are messy.