2017… what a year it’s been.
It’s certainly been a year of firsts. During the summer we took Monki on her first big trip, where she met most of her father’s side of the family for the first time. She was a trooper when it came to flying extended distances and experiencing new things! I even got the chance to write it up for the magazine, which was cool.
It’s always nice to be able to share my feelings and experiences with people other than… well…me and whomever actually reads this blog. On that same trip, Monki and I had significant birthdays, her first and my fiftieth, both of which left me, for various reasons, with mixed feelings I’m still sorting out. One the plus side, though, we did get to celebrate at Disneyland Paris! Rasa and I also celebrated our first anniversary and Rasa turned 25, so there were plenty of reasons to celebrate all year long.
I also did more shows with Aga-Boom this year, including a stint in Kuwait, a definite first for me. Also got to spend time with them in Spain (the mainland in Figures over Easter and the islands, Tenerife, in October). I love doing the clown shows and there’s always something new to learn while doing them. Having never been to the Canary Islands, that was exciting, and next year it looks like there’s a trip to China on the books. Can’t wait to see my write-up about that trip!
Work and the one trip overseas, that was the extent of my travel for the year. Even the big trip wasn’t as crowded with tourist stuff (there was certainly a bit, just all in one or two cities) as we’d normally do since we spent more time with just family. I also didn’t get a chance to go anywhere during January, something I’ve done pretty much every year I’ve been living in Lithuania. I missed it. Not because I didn’t go anywhere, but because staying in LT in January gets depressing. It’s dark a lot of the time and sometimes it’s good to get away just to see the sunlight.
Work-wise, it’s been a decent year. I haven’t written as much creatively as I’d have liked to – I was supposed to do a script for a video game but, ultimately, it wasn’t a good fit so I left it and honestly felt much better. In the non-creative writing front, though, I did okay. I was promoted to Copy Editor over at David Magazine, so I’ve been doing that while still writing at least one piece a month (on average) and I have two pieces of comic book academia coming out in 2018, really looking forward to seeing those in print. But then, it’s fun to tell the missus “Sorry, I can’t do that, I have to read comic books.” That also goes along with my dissertation, which I’m taking a break from in order to jot down these end of the year notes. The topic is about the political use of Superheroes in WWII and should be finished within the next month, meaning I should have the degree come June or so – a long time in coming to be sure. As I think of it, the journey really started in 1978-79, when Jimmy Kimmel and I decided to be clever and read comic books in our A.T. class at Matt Kelly Sixth Grade Center as research for creating our own heroes. Billy Zard, one of the heroes I created, is still floating around my head someplace but now, I’m looking at these creations from a totally different viewpoint and still thinking it’s clever that I figured out a way to get to read comic books as part of doing my work.
Speaking of reading, that damned dissertation has taken up a lot of reading time and energy, meaning that almost everything I physically lay my eyes on was for a purpose. The book reading for fun usually happened at night in bed, when I turn to Rasa and ask “should I read for 30 seconds?” before proceeding to do precisely that. I often can’t keep my eyes open for more than a page or two nightly. So instead, the bulk of my book consumption has been done audibly. I listen to a lot of books over the course of a year (and yes, even some of them have been for research purposes). Writing the diss itself has been a challenge since academic writing is SO very different from how I make the bulk of my living (both in practice and teaching how it’s done). Thankfully, Rasa is damn good at the academic stuff (she’ll be graduating with her Master’s and then a PhD program or employment changing the world – maybe both – are in her future) so she’s been helping me, acting as an advisor. Seriously could not be doing this without her.
And because I like tracking things, I track books as well. According to Goodreads, here is my year in books – unfortunately, it shows my shortest book, at 12 pages, as On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers. The book is actually much longer, but since it’s the audio version… ah well. I’ve also filled out my annual reading challenge. I didn’t really do the David Bowie one, just didn’t happen, but odds are I’ll do another one next year. If you want to join in and play along, awesome. Let me know and we’ll compare notes! I didn’t do to bad, I must say. Been catching up on classics I’ve never actually read and expanding my mind a bit with some of the Great Courses as well as just enjoying some fun stories. I’ve expanded my library and been thinking of new hobbies to take up once I have more time (stop laughing, it could happen!)
There’s been the general ups and downs as well – dealing with government bureaucracies and disappointing outcomes to unknown situations. At the same time, there have been great friends, both locally and far away, who have been there with support and encouragement and just generally wonderful presence.
Then there’s Monki.
What a terrifying joy she is. Everyday she learns something new and provides enjoyment and frustration and an undiminishable reservoir of love. I’m hoping in the coming year to write more about her and my thoughts and feelings as she’s growing up. She’s smart and funny and kind and annoying and wonderful and worrysome…all at the same time. And I wouldn’t have her any other way. Love her to core of my being!
Last year, I implored everyone to listen more. This year, it would be great if we could all think more. Don’t believe everything you see or read or hear just because you want it to be true. Be willing to admit you made mistakes and try to do better. Now that Monki is growing, and I’m getting older, I’m terrified that I won’t be around to watch her grow. I’ve already started taking my own steps in that regard, I’ve lost more than 25lbs and I’m still going, making plans to get into better shape in the coming year, but all of that doesn’t mean anything if there’s no world for her to grow up in. Everywhere, people are so divided and have stopped communicating, and yeah, it scares me.
So as we all head into the new year, listen, think, and care about the people around you. And I’ll do the same.