2020 – Looking back to look forward

shutterstock_710565352It’s strange to think that yet another year has passed, that in the arbitrary marking of the start and end point of the annual circle of the planet around the sun, we’ve come around yet again. But we have and so I’m going to set down some thoughts on the 12 months which just passed and 12 which are in front of us, just to take stock.

The two biggest things which happened this year were we moved into a much nicer and considerably larger apartment and Rasa started her PhD and is now a Junior Researcher and busy writing articles, book chapters, consulting on projects and, oh yeah, that pesky dissertation. As for the apartment, aside from the fact that it’s on the 4th floor, the advantages are too many to count. First and foremost, Monki has her own room, complete with her Owl Bed and all her toys and her own cupboard (closet). She also has bookshelves jam packed with books, which get read to her every night. She picks what she wants and we (mostly mommy) read them to her.

I know it’s cliche to say it, but watching her grow this year has been fascinating and phenomenal. At the beginning of the year, she was 2 1/2 and even though she had her own personality it wasn’t nearly as developed as it is now. She’s much more self-aware and creative these days. Yes, I know this is normal child development, but since this is my first child, I’m still reveling in the wonder of it all. For example, six months ago, we took her to Disneyland Paris for her birthday. She had a good time, for sure, but now, every plane she sees is heading to Disneyland. And now, she keeps asking to go back. In these past few months, she’s had the dawning understanding of what Disneyland is and what it means and now she knows all the characters a bit more. In other words, she groks.

This year we also started going to the public pools, beaches, and water parks a bit more. Being in the water is one of Monki’s most favorite things (but then, that can change on a daily basis, so…) and since she’s getting bigger and the bathtub (yes! our new place has an actual bath tub!) may not suffice in terms of swimming for her, I have a feeling we’ll be heading to the pools more and more in the new year.

The other nice thing about our new place is that we can have guests over. In addition to hosting both my parents and my sister, we’ve also had several members of Rasa’s family overnight or, in the case of her mom, for more extended stays. And we’ve had a couple of friends who were passing through town crash on our couch. In all, it feels wonderful to once again be able to extend hospitality. For me, that’s a pretty big deal, being able to open my home to family and friends, and, as Bob Dylan might say, offer “shelter from the storm.

As a family, we didn’t do too much traveling this year. Aside from the trip to Disneyland Paris mentioned above, we did a bit of traveling around Lithuania when my folks were here, as well as a brief trip to Stockholm on an overnight ferry! By myself, I went to London in March for a weekend to see a few shows and hang with a few friends. This looks like it might become an annual thing, as I’m already booked to go there again in a few weeks. I miss my theatre (not to mention English language bookstores and geek shops!). I also got to participate in an international project which meant a three day getaway in Skopje, North Macedonia. There’s another country checked off the bucket list!

In other personal news, I started a new gig as host (Prof. Jaq) of Generation Geek, a series of videos presenting introductions to various elements of geek culture. We’ve only put up 4 or 5 episodes so far, but ideally, we’ll be back in the new year. This has all been in conjunction with Comic Con Baltics (where I was the video face of the event in 2019 and hope to be even more involved in 2020).

I’ve also started running to get into shape. Like anyone starting a new thing, I’ve become slightly obsessed with it and that doesn’t look to slow down in 2020. Through The Conqueror virtual run series I’ve just set a goal for myself to travel 1800 miles under my own power from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. This is in addition to the other virtual races I pick up along the way. Thankfully, I have an understanding wife!

All in all, it’s been a good year. Sure, there have been down points, but the up ones have outnumbered them. My hope for the new year is to keep that trend going. I’m also going to try and put down more of my thoughts here. My own writing has taken a backseat to various other aspects of life and I’m going to do my best to remedy that. Be it short book or film or TV reviews or longer thought pieces about the state of my life or even, if things are on our side, some new fiction. Yes, I’m still writing for David (both fiction and, mostly, non-fiction) and even getting a few assignments for other magazines and book chapters, but I want to get back to my own fiction, my own stories. I have some ideas, but we’ll see how it all plays out when I write this letter a year from now.

Hope you all have a wonderful 2020!

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