2018 Year in Review

AdobeStock_219577534.jpegAnother one in the books…

Again, the year was marked with new and exciting things for all of us, including some new travel destinations and some interesting work things.

Back in January, I did the bulk of the work on my dissertation. Got it about 90% of the way there before hitting some administrative stumbling blocks. With some of those finally resolved about mid-year, I started working on it again, but with the new semester and other commitments getting in the way, I actually hope to have it finished and off to review for defense by the end of the upcoming January. It’s a process, to be sure, but when it’s done, it’ll totally be worth it, right?


My teaching load remained about the same, and I’m having fun with my classes. I was even asked to give a talk about how I approach student retention to a group of Ukranian professors, which was interesting to say the least. I’ve also been providing my native english voice to a variety of projects, including a text book for 8-10 year olds learning the language. Future generations of Lithuanians will grow up  hearing my accents and pronounciations.

Over at David, things have been going well. Been stretching my creative non-fiction muscles, which has been fun. In fiction, looks like Poppe Culture will get an official release early in 2019 and I’ve begun work on a sequel. Also hope to have some short pieces finished through out the coming year.

Aside from that, travel this year was a blast. First, back in March, there was the first of 2 Aga-Boom trips. This one to China. I’d never been to any of the Asian countries before so not only was it interesting to experience the culture once there, but the whole process of getting a travel visa was its own wild ride. Plus, I got to go to Shanghai Disneyland with my buddy Zack (who plays the clown “Dash” in the show), which, for me, was a huge added bonus! The second Aga-Boom gig was a one-day affair just outside of Barcelona. It was a logistical nightmare of missed connections and delayed trains but the show was great and it was nice to see Iryna, Dmitri, Anton, and Zack again, even if it was just for a few hours.

Returning from China, though, I had just a few days to recover before grabbing the whole family (including Rasa’s mom) and we headed off to Rome for Easter. I got to see things I’d missed the last time I was there and hey, how many people can say they saw the pope deliver his Easter mass live and in person from the grounds of the Vatican? (okay, so several hundred thousand, but still, never thought I’d be amongst them!)

The only other major trip we took this year was a pre-birthday celebration for me and Monki to good ol’ London town. It’s amazing how much difference a few months can make in her young life. When we went, just before she turned two, we had to change plans due to short attention spans and bouts of car-sickness, but now, we’re thinking she’d actually rather enjoy a repeat of that trip, and be able to to appreciate it much, even a mere 6 months later. Not that we all didn’t have fun, but she’s so much more aware of what’s happening around her now, and able to remember and recall it in conversation with her mom (she still doesn’t talk to me as much, but she understands what I say just fine).

And really, speaking of Monki, she is amazing and frustrating and loving and funny and every other emotion under the sun. As the year ends, she is learning how to ride a scooter, since the tricycle and wagon are old hat by now. She’s also graduating from her education videos (we love Little Baby Bum and Cocomelon) and moving to more narrative fare like Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom. We’re working on getting her into longer works, but we figure she’s still got some time at this level. She’s big for her age, wearing size 4t, and becuase she’s so clever in some aspects, we tend to forget that she is still only 2 1/2. She’ll do something silly or have a tantrum about something and we have to remind ourselves that she’s not nearly as big as she seems.

She certainly has her own sense of style and will balk when you try and put something on her she doesn’t want to wear. Light colors are her favorite, pinks and pastel blues. And she loves the Disney princesses. She also loves to see small animals, but only from a distance. Up close, dogs terrify her and cats…well, she hasn’t really experienced cats yet. She’s also discovering books and stories – asking to be read to before bed. I’m looking forward to the day when we have family reading time (my own 2018 reading adventures is chronicled here)

We had a bit of a medical scare here a few months back (everyone is fine now), but when things happened, it clarified some things for me, about friendship and community. It is hard to live in a country where you don’t speak the language nor understand all the customs, where it’s very easy to feel alone and isolated.

So as we head into 2019, again I ask that we all take some time to understand that our words have power and carry meaning. What you said “as a joke” may not be taken that way and it’s no sign of weakness to actually take someone else’s feelings into consideration. I know, it’s so easy to be thoughtlessly cruel and much harder work to be kind, but give it a shot. The dividends are certainly worth it.

Happy New Year! See you around!

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