– Ben Martens

2003 Year In Review

December 31. It seems like every channel you turn to on TV is having their “year end review” show. Sounds like a good idea to me. I present you with “2003: A Studio711 Presentation of 2003 Because the Year is Almost Over and this is a way to Present the Recap Presentation.” (I might have to work on the title.)

It’s hard to believe all the stuff that has changed in the last year. Last January I was just getting the hang of this “real life” stuff. I was making some great friends and starting to have a social life after the transplant from Purdue to Jersey. I was just transitioning out of my first work assignment and moving into some new stuff. (ARG! STRUTS!)

Then all of a sudden around March I found out I was going to Eagan. Surprise! In retrospect, I think it’s a good thing I went, but I spent a lot of sleepless nights stressing about it. The planning and move were a hassle, but by the end of June, I found myself packing up.

Right before that move, I took a trip with Jay and Melissa up to Maine for a fantastic weekend at Camp Ticawa. We basically did… umm.. nothing. And it was one of the best vacations I’ve ever had! The only bad part was leaving the unadulterated beauty of the woods of Maine behind and crossing that bridge from NYC into Jersey. Yuck.

That job up in Eagan was an amazing experience. My three main assignments up there really stretched my technical abilities as well as my soft skills. However, the best part of the job was definitely the new contacts I made and the perspective I got on the company. In college, your success is almost completely dependent on your own knowledge. But when you hit the real world, you have to add in a lot more skills. Not only do you have to be good at what you do, but you need contacts. You need to know who to call and where to go when you need an answer to a question, advice on a problem, or someone to take some work off your shoulders. On top of all that, I learned how much it helps to get some perspective on your company. Lockheed is huge. 125,000+ employees. I’ve only been exposed to two sites of our worldwide company so I don’t claim to come near knowing it all, but I did learn a lot just seeing how Eagan operates. It was really interesting to see what is similar between Moorestown and Eagan and also the things that are different. I’m not going to go into a lot of specifics here because I know some of you are taking offsites (Jay and Mel) and I’m interested in seeing what perspectives you come back with. It’s a lot of work and extra hassle, but I can guarantee it will be an eye-opening experience. It’s one of those intangibles that’s hard to explain until you’ve been there.

On a less philosophical note, I got mixed up with a bunch of guys down at ProKart Indoor in Burnsville. The first time I went there was with my cousin, Chad. We spent 8 minutes out on the track and I was hooked. Couple that with the fact that I didn’t know anyone around and I had a weekend activity. I spent a couple full days there racing anyone that walked through the door. I started off slow but picked it up quickly. On the fifth day I was at the track, I broke the track record (a record that to my knowledge still stands 3 months later!) One of the managers there noticed me and invited me to join their top league. That was definitely and experience, but I kept on learning. I’m definitely going to miss racing out there every week, but don’t worry, I’ll be back in Minneapolis somewhere along the line. I’ll stop in to defend (or reclaim) my track title!

This summer will also go down in history as the summer of weddings. I was invited to 4 weddings in a span of 5 weeks! All of them were over 700 miles away. I ended up having to miss Lisa’s wedding. (Sorry Lisa!) But I made it to the other three. It was definitely an interesting experience for me. It was my first time being in any weddings, and I was in 3 in 5 weeks! First Jim and Kristy in Lafayette, IN, Kevin and Heather in Grand Forks, ND, and Mark and Becky in Evansville, IN, . I had a great time at all of them! It was a lot of travelling, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Emily and Brian got married in September but I didn’t make it to that one either. So many weddings! Congratulations again to all of you.

The one blemish on my summer of travel was that little incident southern Minnesota. Thankfully noone was killed in that accident. As far as I know, his lawsuit with AllState is still open so that might make for some interesting blogging in 2004. Let’s just hope it doesn’t.

That all happened the week after the great weekend in Chicago when Mel came out to visit. We stayed with her sister and family, introduced her to Wrigley Field, and had a great time!
And let’s not forget the short week down in Sannibel with the family. Good times, warm sun, and the ocean. Another great vacation!

Now I’m back in Jersey hanging out with the old crew again. It’s good to be back. I didn’t miss the traffic or the (lack of) scenery, but I definitely missed the people. Err.. well, not all the people… just my friends really because Jersey people tend to be jerks in public.

It was a big year. My rough estimate puts me at about 16,000 miles of major trips this year. What will next year bring? Who knows? Hopefully I’ll stay in one place for a while. Classes start at Drexel so that will take a lot of my time. Jay, Tyler, and I are also thinking about getting a new house. But really, there’s no way I can predict it. If you asked me last January to write about the year I thought I’d have, there’s no way I’d come up with an article like this. And that’s what makes the future so exciting… every day is a surprise!

[UPDATE 12/15/05] I moved the post from “Inside My Head“ straight into the blog. I’m afraid it will get lost if it’s not in the database with everything else. The old page is here: 2003 Year In Review