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Monke: 2013: A year of curveballs

As I write this column from my future in-laws’ kitchen table in Harlowton, Mont., I can’t help but reflect on how much this year has meant in the grand scheme of my life.

This was the year I got engaged, received a life-changing promotion, remembered what it was like to live with a college student when my fiancée decided to go back to school for licensing in her field of study, adopted a military dog with about two weeks notice and, just when I thought things were settling down in time for the holidays and a boatload of changes coming at work, I lost my grandpa just days before Sarah and I were called to Montana to visit her ailing grandfather.

This year has taught me — if nothing else — that no matter how positive life can be, there is always a negative to balance out life and, for lack of a better term, bring us back to reality.

I was convinced this was going to be my year from the outset. I knew Sarah was going to say yes just like I knew the 49ers were going to win the Super Bowl. She said yes a week to the day before San Francisco blew its chance at a sixth Lombardi Trophy. ... Balance.

At the beginning of the year, I was growing weary with my gig as sports editor at The Press when the opportunity to become our newspaper’s managing editor presented itself. In a matter of days, I went from being able to do my job blindfolded to starting something completely new and learning as I went.

The transition, however, has been great. After a few bumps in the road, I’ve settled in. We have an amazing staff that I believe to be one of, if not the, best in The Press’ long history when it comes to the quality of content. We are making strides at improving our newspaper every day and our editorial staff plays a big role in that.

This was the year that I also learned that becoming engaged basically means that you’re already married. You just haven’t spent the $20,000 to help seal the deal yet.

I had my reservations and my arguments when Sarah said we were getting a second dog. My future sister-in-law had learned her military position was transferring her to Washington, D.C., and eventually to Europe and she wasn’t going to be able to keep her 12-year-old dog. To me, we had our hands full with our own dog, Noodle, and knew it would be difficult to bring home a second dog.

Not only did we adopt Donavon — things have gone well with two dogs in the house — Sarah told me about a month later that she had decided to return to school. That meant less money coming into the house while she replaced lazy weeknights with projects, online classes, a re-examination of my dislike for agenda-driven professors and lots of long hours.

But Sarah got through it easily and now, after a change of heart in what direction she wants to take her education, we’re down to a couple semesters and an internship before a new chapter begins in our lives and a life of two full-time incomes resumes.

If this year has taught me anything, it’s that each year is full of curveballs. Some of them you drive into the outfield and others you whiff at.

The only pitch I know that is coming my way in 2014 arrives on June 7 — our wedding day. And if one thing is certain, it’s a day that will have plenty of curveballs.

After a wild 2013, the New Year is going to be a welcome change and I’m sure it’s going to be just as interesting as this year.

Monke is the managing editor of The Dickinson Press. Email him at, tweet him at monkebusiness, and read his past columns and features at

Dustin Monke

Monke came to The Dickinson Press in July 2006 as the newspaper's sports editor and was hired as its managing editor in March 2013. During his tenure at The Press, Monke has won multiple awards for sports reporting, feature reporting, column writing, page design and photography. He was a key part of The Press winning the North Dakota Newspaper Association's General Excellence and Sweepstakes awards in 2009 and 2012, and oversaw The Press' Sweepstakes and General Excellence wins in 2014, as well as its national first-place honors for Community Leadership in the Inland Daily Press Association and contributed to the first-place Inland award for Investigative Reporting. As the newspaper's editor, he writes an occasional Sunday column, is a member of The Press' Editorial Board, contributes feature stories and breaking news, designs pages, and oversees the day-to-day operations of the newsroom and editorial staff. In his free time, he enjoys watching sports and action movies, exercises whenever his schedule allows, and spends every minute he can with his wife and son.

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