Another year gone!

Joe and I had a busy 2018, taking advantage of new opportunities and really settling into our lives as Houstonians. Can you believe we’ve been here for four years? When we moved here, we’d been moving every year for the previous six years- sometimes multiple times in the year. I didn’t want to come to Houston, initially, but with the incredible year we had here, I can safely say we’re doing well here. Buckle in for another installment of the Peterson year in review.

Joe and Ceres

Joe decided that 2018 would be his year “dedicated to the worship of the goddess Ceres, goddess of grain.” Thus, he undertook the task to perfect his bread baking process—from establishing a solid sourdough starter, to experimenting with ingredient balance (and the environmental difficulty of baking while living over a humid bayou!), to shaping the loaves and creating a perfect crust. He started making enough that he was taking it to friends at work, and I even took some to work sometimes. We get invited to parties now because Joe brings free, amazing bread to people.

[Bread picture?]

Andrea and Lizzie for Congress

As I alluded to at the end of last year’s letter—and no doubt if you’ve followed me at all on social media this year—I went to work for Lizzie Pannill Fletcher to oust a 9-term incumbent Republican in TX-07 for the House of Representatives. First, we had a stacked Democratic primary with seven candidates; I joined the campaign in January and we came out on top during the March primary. Up until that point, I was working as a field organizer with volunteers; I made new friends for the first time and began to grow close to some of my coworkers.

Of course, no one got over 50% of the vote with seven candidates, so we went to a runoff that lasted through May. For the runoff, I moved over to photography and social media because I’d been carrying my camera with me all over before that. It suited me, and I got a lot of positive feedback over time. Eventually, Lizzie won the runoff 2-to-1, so then it got real.

We were in a Democrat-vs-Republican election suddenly, where we had to shift gears from showing how liberal we were to showing how moderate we were. Lizzie always did a great job of sticking to her guns (for lack of a better phrase); even when it was frustrating to be seen as a "corporate,” “conservative” Democrat—which was obviously incorrect—she just kept to her message. And when Republicans came for her and said she would do any number of wild things, she put out an ad responding directly to their attacks. As for me, I kept following her around with a camera and running the social media realm for the team. The New York Times even posted an article about how challenger candidates were out-performing incumbents on social media and singled out our race on the map! I couldn’t help but send that around—that was my job! And the NYT saw it.

Lizzie wound up winning by a couple more points than I had allowed myself to expect. I went into Election Day, removing myself from the outcome. After 2016, there’s no way I’ll ever put all my emotions into an election again. But we won! So I need not have been so removed. I’m looking forward to what Lizzie can do in Congress.

Our families are all doing pretty well.

On the Peterson side: In February, Joe’s brother in San Francisco welcomed twin baby girls, and in September, his sister Katie in San Antonio welcomed her son, Ben. Being quite a lot closer to San Antonio, we got to be around a bit more for Katie’s pregnancy and the new baby, though not as much as I’d have liked, with the campaign happening. We got to be in Fort Worth for Joe’s cousin Jack’s graduation from TCU and see some of the Arizona Petersons as a result. We’ll be visiting Joe’s parents in Portland for a brief bit over Christmas, in addition to the many trips they’ve made down to Texas this year. Joe got to visit with his brother Zack in the midwest earlier this year, and also had the shortest of visits with his recently repatriated brother, Sam, just a few weeks ago.

On the Gomolak side: my mom is still working at COPE and spent a good amount of time this year figuring out how to give raises to people working in the shelter and establishing a program for victims in remote areas to speak with social workers. My stepdad JR had eye surgery that corrected cataracts he’s had since birth (!!!), and got to retire in August. My sister Katie has been working to break into the museum scene in Las Cruces, while her husband Nate has been working with Organ Mountain Outfitters (a pretty cool place to pick up New Mexico t-shirts!), though now he’s likely to strike out on his own now. Their two dogs are fun.

Baltimore, Washington, and Mandy’s Wedding

Last year, my best friend asked me to be in her wedding. She lives in Baltimore, and Joe’s never been to DC. So we made a whole trip out of seeing the sights there. I did not bring the correct footwear, which I tend to think I’m usually pretty good at, so I was complaining a lot. I only really had a day to visit DC with Joe, but while I was getting ready for the bridal shower, Joe got to continue walking and taking trains all over. I had a great time seeing all our old friends who gathered for this; Mandy, Kathy, and I see a lot of each other, and fairly regularly see our high school friends Nicole and Amanda, as well—but we were also able to see friends we haven’t seen in years, including good friends Gretchen, Brittani, and Laura.