I've figured out that I can pinpoint my general level of fatigue by pouring coffee in the morning. If it comes out of the coffee maker clear, or if it doesn't come out at all, I must be fried.
Making the coffee -- grinding the beans, putting them into the machine, pouring water in the reservoir, setting the start time -- is basically the last thing on the nightly chores list, the last thing I do before taking a shower and going to bed. And I screwed it up for three consecutive nights in mid-November. I forgot to grind the beans one time. I forgot to fill the reservoir once. I forgot to set the start time.
You will never, ever hear/read me complaining about my job. I'm still stunned that I have it. I work a 60-hour week, and while I'm completely exhausted on Friday night, I'm never emotionally drained. I love it. But this year was a chore, both nationally and locally. Mizzou's November was something even more than that. It fried me, and all I had to do was write about it.
Boycott. Coaching change. Yelling, yelling, yelling. November was the most significant month I can remember, for any number of reasons, and we'll still be learning about its significance in the coming months and years.
2015 was something else. A Missouri athletic program blessed with so much continuity through the years (basketball coaches aside) was tasked with replacing probably its two most important individuals: athletic director Mike Alden and, obviously, football coach Gary Pinkel. Missouri heads into 2016 with new faces in those two roles; of course, that just makes it like the rest of the Mizzou campus, which is overloaded with new faces and interims at the moment.
2015 was trying. When the football team announced an intended boycott in solidarity with race protests on campus, it split apart a fan base that is habitually fraught with fault lines. All of Missouri's built-in differences -- urban vs. rural, Kansas City vs. St. Louis, midwest vs. southeast, Republican vs. Democrat -- surged into public view. Politics is always an elephant in the room; late in 2015, it was shooting water around and pooping on the floor.
2015 was frustrating. Obviously. The men's basketball team began the calendar year with two wins, then lost 16 of 18. The football team had a defense as good as ever but lost seven of 12 because of a historically inept offense. The starting quarterback, the face of the program, got suspended twice.
And even the sports that saw success finished with a disappointing twinge. The wrestling team had designs on a national title but finished fourth at nationals. The softball team got bombed out of the stadium by UCLA in the super regionals. It's never bad to be a Mizzou fan, but some years are more fun than others.
Basically, 2015 was good for one thing: reminding you to appreciate the good years more and talking yourself into a brighter year ahead. And if you're looking for optimism, the current batch of Mizzou freshmen that plied their wares this calendar year is a good place to start. Terry Beckner Jr. and Drew Lock. Kevin Puryear and Terrence Phillips. Cierra Porter and Sophie Freaking Cunningham. Amanda Sanchez and Paige Lowary. Alyssa Munlin. Tanner Houck, Brett Bond, and Trey Harris. Et cetera. Mizzou names have littered all-freshman teams of late, and while that doesn't guarantee future success, it has given Missouri one hell of a batch of fun youngsters to root for into the coming years.
2015 was a test. And now it's over. I'm pretty happy about that. And I've got some pretty good coffee brewing if you want a cup.