Here we are again at the end of yet another year. Twenty-twelve. Weren’t we just celebrating your arrival a short time ago, 2012? Didn’t you just get here? I thought maybe, but then… well, it doesn’t seem so long ago now that I think of it. You passed us by so quickly. You flew by. And you evaporated into the ether of our lives, moments whisped away like smoke out the car window. And now you are, well, history. It’s been fun.
2012 was a busy year. A lot happened: There was change and there was stasis. There were moments of levity and there were moments of weight and fraught, sleepless nights. Claire grew. I ran, took photos, and wrote a lot. We all worked a little more, played a little more, learned a little more, and inched a few months closer to whatever destination awaits us at the other end. But in the end it was just another year… gone.
This is my annual New Years Eve Post. It is the eighth time I’ve taken the time to write out the details of my year, each time I’ve done so a little different than the last. It is long. My longest New Years Post ever, clocking in right around the eight thousand word mark (which isn’t that much considering I recently passed the three-quarter million word mark on this blog as a whole!) And I’ll admit: It is completely narcissistic. It is a gush of personal reflection on a year gone by for no other purpose than to do it. After all, it is just something that I do every year. I do this. It’s just me. I write this stuff. You can read it. You can ignore it. Whatever. But, either way and whatever you choose you’ve been warned.
Without further delay then, I present:
The New Years List, Eighth Wonder of the Blogiverse Edition
First, what are you leaving behind in 2012?
A few things. As usual, some ideas about life, the universe, and everything got recycled this year. It happens. We change, grow, re-think ideas about things. If you don’t — if you stay static — you stagnate and whither. I think so at least. But more concretely? What am I leaving behind in 2012. I’m thirty-some pounds lighter. That’s thirty-five pounds of fat spread across over a thousand kilometers of trails in the form of blood, sweat and tears.
How did you make money in 2012? How might you briefly describe to others what you do for a living?
Every year for the last couple I sit down to write this list and need to put myself into the awkward position of explaining my job. Thing is, I don’t tend to define myself by my job. I enjoy my job. I think I do well at my job. But I’m a work-to-live kind of person. So, part of me always sits back and (casually) wishes it was just a matter of saying: I do _____X_____ or I’m a ____Z____. It isn’t, of course. It never is. Though, I’ll admit, with my current job it has certainly got a little easier than all those weird, convoluted project management jobs I used to do. Here’s the short version: I work for the local municipality. I am a purveyor of digital information on that municipality’s behalf. I am officially an “information architect” for a government website, a website that gets over two-million legitimate hits a month and (more importantly) an architect for the corporate intranet which does about one-tenth that much traffic, but with about one-twentieth the audience (so you do the math…) This year I did a lot of business analysis, information architecture, usability review and testing, and inter-branch department collaboration process development. I sort information, think about things, sort some more information, and try to get people to understand that the Internet “isn’t just a fad” and that it “isn’t going away” and “yes, you need to put some thought and resources into having a useful presence online.” Mostly it’s great and I meet a lot of interesting people, learn a whole heap about my city and how it works, and — as I said — I really do enjoy my job. I never really know what each day, email, phone call holds for me. I just get a problem, solve it, and move on. And that pays the bills.
What do you wish you’d done more of? Less of?
More? Reading. Aloud. Alone. Wherever. I didn’t read very much in 2012, and what I did –quote– read –unquote– was very often just audio-books, not so much read as read-to-me. I still read more than the national average, which is sad in an indescribable way, but this year I read a lot less than my own average.
Less? It’s not so much that I *wish* I’d done less of this, but more that I probably *should* do less of this: I’ve got into the bad habit of nickle-and-diming up my credit card each month on digital purchases. And it really is only a few bucks here and there: A Kindle Daily Deal for 99 cents, or a can’t-pass-it-up Steam sale game for a meager three bucks, or the latest Humble Bundle for a few dollars, or that cool app for my phone for a buck and change. I kinda wish I’d done a little less buying and a little more getting through all that content I’ve bought and downloaded.
How would you describe the world from your perspective in terms of:
Angry. I sat down and tried to think of one really defining technological innovation for the year and what did I come up with? Well, lots of recollection of patent battles and Kickstarter missed deadlines and sales injunctions and flopping IPOs and disappointing OS updates that pulled features (*ahem, maps*) or looked good in the design phase but buckled under first exposure to the public. I couldn’t really give one awesome thing that stood out except that in 2012 everyone in the tech world seems very angry, bitter, litigious, vindictive, and petty at everyone else in the tech world. Lamest. Upgrade. Ever.
Perhaps merely because I’ve actively avoided the troll-pits of so-many online news forums — one positive off-shoot of Facebook and G+ is that it’s tougher to be a hater when everyone knows your name and can exclude your stupidity by de-friending you — I have seen somewhat less of the divisive, angry gush that had me feeling somewhat overwhelmed last year. It’s still there, but I would argue the metaphorical pendulum of cultural positivity swung back into the black in 2012: it was kind of a year of hating the haters, beating down the bullies (online and off), and standing up for individual expression. Heck, one look at the “Gangam Style” craze that swept the web over the last six months, rocketing a song of such sugar-coated ridiculousness (and I’m personally responsible for at least a dozen of those video views) to the most-watched YouTube video ever, one can’t help but notice that the cultural tolerance for putting up with epic-levels of individuality and strangeness was waaaaay up this year.
A replay. It was either a year of re-elections or it was a year of the-same-old-shit: overseas fighting, political infighting, lying politicians. None of it surprising. I stepped back and, well, it wasn’t that I stopped caring, but I stopped getting overwhelmed and publicly opinionated about it all. Maybe that’s the wrong tack to take, but I needed a year or two off from the excitement and frustration of being defined by narrow minded political presumptions and labels.
Seussian. If only because every time I turned on the radio, it seemed like the the news was basically reflecting the bizarre dichotomies of a Dr. Seuss story: corporations versus nature in the building of massive oil pipelines (a’la The Lorax), people stealing Christmas presents from donation centers (a’la The Grinch), the on-going struggles of the middle class (a’la Yertle the Turtle), and of course so many LOL cats wearing hats.
As much a realist as I am, my optimism for the human race remains largely intact.
What three experiences will always remind you of 2012?
1) Pixelated: My 365 Project I would have been remiss if I wrote this whole list and didn’t at least once mention the photo-per-day project that overlapped in it’s majority into 2012. I started back on September 1, 2011 and until August 31, 2012 I took at least one photo per day and posted them on my gallery. It was an often-gruelling, occasionally-rewarding, usually-frustrating experience. Remembering, planning, and feeling creative in repetition, every day for a whole year was an experience that (admittedly) left me a little burnt out on snapping pics for a couple months afterwards. But for those reading this on New Years Day… it’s the first of the year and a great day to start your own photo-per-day project.
2) The Calgary Comic Expo with the Bro We geeked out one day back in April. I don’t think I wrote much following it, not at the time, at least. But early in the year I spent some coin and bought a pass to the annual entertainment expo down south-ward and also splurged on a pair of half-decent seats for the big (nerd shades at the ready!) Star Trek: The Next Generation cast reunion. We showed up just in time to get through the over-sold gates. We wandered and spent some money. We hit up a couple panels. We saw some celebrities. We heard Adam West talk. We ate junk. We gawked at the people crazier than us. And, as the day closed out, we attended the nerd-fest-of-the-decade as the cast of TNG re-congealed in front of thousands of frenzied fans — the couple in front of us actually getting engaged just before the show — and wallowed in our geek-ness for a few glorious, guilt-free hours. It was great.
3) Half Marathon Training and the Races It is a major theme in this list already, I know, but I did a crap-load of running this year. I ran over twelve-hundred kilometers, most of it between April and December. That is like running from Edmonton to Vancouver. I hurt. And I’m tired. But I’m going to keep going. To top it off all the running was part of some epic training. I participated in a life-changing clinic over the summer (and I don’t throw those words around lightly!) We had a pair of amazing instructors who dragged us to a new level of endurance and strength and changed our whole outlook on the sport. It was a painful, sweaty summer that was capped by my best half-marathon ever. Then it was a freezing cold autumn as I kept up my endurance to run the Las Vegas half-marathon with another really good time. 2012 was the year I stepped up my running. I’ll remember it for that… and hopefully top it next year.
What are the details (events, memories, etc.) surrounding important days in your life in 2012:
I had the day off. It was a Friday and my regularly scheduled D.O. came up by random luck, so I didn’t need to go to work. I took Claire to school in the morning, had a couple hours to myself, and then picked her up again (to the sound of twenty-some five-year-olds singing “Happy Birthday” to me en Francais.) The gals took me to Five Guys burgers for lunch. Claire and I went to the pool and her piano lessons. Karin cooked a nice dinner. And I drank a twelve dollar bottle of Trappist beer while I played video games with my wife.
I was a mere couple of days off from running the Derby Half Marathon. The Fringe was on. Claire was at her grandparents, and we were one-child-short of a family night out. All that made us feel a little younger, more care-free and a little bit more willing to have an evening to ourselves; We hit up the fancy Culina restaurant for a casual two-hour meal, wandered through Old Strathcona for a while, looked at some of the outdoor Fringe Theatre stuff, and just generally had a quiet evening out. Nine years. Might need to do something special for the next one, huh?
c) the holidays?
For starters, I had six days off and yet I only need to take a single day of vacation. Christmas was on a Tuesday and we prepared for it with four full days of mixed activity: I helped out at Claire’s kindergarten party on the Friday and her and I followed that up with a trip to the theater to see the re-release of Monsters Inc in 3D. It was cold — really cold — and all we really wanted to do was hibernate in the house — which I did for most of the Saturday. Sunday, we did a brunch with my running crew, and the next day we packed up the car and drove to Red Deer for the annual Xmas-Eve festivities with Karin’s family. It was a houseful there, so Karin and I ended up crashing at my parent’s (empty) house while Santa filled all the stockings back where all the kids slept. Christmas Day was stocking-fever in the morning, then it was off to the bro’s house in Calgary for a big afternoon meal and some more gifts. We were back on the highway by nine-ish and back to Red Deer for one more night. Boxing Day would have been mostly a quiet day, me doing a little e-shopping and putting in a healthy dose of Amazon orders while still in my pajamas, but then Claire got a wiggly tooth and worked at it until she lost it, causing a little first-tooth drama before we headed home. I capped the day with a freezing, bitter-cold -20 C, 9 km run with Mary and Greg, and passed my 1200 km calendar goal with a victory lap around the Recreaction Center. I was back to work by the 27th.
d) new years?
Writing this as I am in the days leading up to the publication of this epic-length post, as it (automatically) goes live on the Monday evening that is New Years Eve leading into 2013, the plan — as it currently stands — is that we (a) hosted a bit of a party at our house, (b) checked out the fireworks and festivities in the nearby park with a roster of invited friends, and (c) ate lots of delicious food as we rung/rang/ring in 2013. This is merely the plan, of course, and it will follow a (hopefully shortened) day of work and a lot of house-cleaning (as yet to occur as I write this.) My fifth running of the Resolution Run, the annual five kilometer new years day run awaits the morning after. And then… 2013, as scheduled.
How would you describe your life from your perspective in terms of:
Digital. I mean between making lots of home movies, taking lots of pictures, expanding this (and other) blog(s) and Claire really, legitimately getting into video games for the first time this year, a lot of our fun has — in ways both positive and negative, I’d argue — revolved around digital entertainment. And interaction. And creation. We had a lot of fun creating things, too. We’re not just passive, insert-pixels-in-our-brains folks, either.
Bigger. Karin’s brother got married on twelve-twelve-twelve: December 12, 2012, a Wednesday evening chosen mostly for the date, I assume. I now have a new sister-in-law who brings along with her two awesome kids (from a previous deal) all of whom have been great new additions to the family.
Scattered. We had a year of being terrible friends, I think. Between busy work days (and nights), illnesses too frequently corresponding to social events parties, and our day-to-day life just sort-of in-congruent with anything resembling a social-life… well, we were probably off most folk’s radars this past year. We’ve been absorbed with work and fitness, and we don’t pick up the phone and just invite people over as often as we should. That said, I’ve seen a lot more of my running pals and made some interesting acquaintances there. So, yeah… scattered.
Noted. Food and I have always had sort of a mixed relationship. I loved it for how it tasted and hated it for what it did to me. For a few weeks in March and April I did this little experiment with coffee: I gave it up. I’m addicted to coffee — I admit that. And for at least one of those weeks I felt the gnawing agony of mild caffeine withdrawal course through my brain. It had a very distinct texture and feel to it, so much so that when I started the first phase of this “eating better” thing at around the same time something odd happened: I got the same feeling. Giving up mindless eating gave me the same distinctly textured feeling in my brain and something odd clicked: I had a mild food addiction. It’s funny what just acknowledging an addiction can do to help resolve it. It will be a life-long struggle, I’m sure, but my life from the perspective of food changed very much early on this year and hasn’t been the same since.
Distant. I ran over 1200 kilometers in 2012 and lost 35 pounds. I weigh less now than I did in high school, and can run about twenty-times as far. Five years ago (almost to the day) I signed up to take a five-k running clinic on the notion that I’d need to keep up with my daughter as she grew up. Now she has to work to keep up with me: that’s progress, I’d say.
Stable. Karin has been busily squirreling away extra payments onto the mortgage, yet somehow we still have some cash to throw around on vacations and toys we don’t really need. I can’t complain.
New. Having lost some weight I was actually forced by sheer practicality to go buy new clothes else become a walking bag of droopy fabric. New work clothes. Some new t-shirts. A new suit. And I’ve been wearing my new sports coat to work so frequently my boss is starting to wonder if I’ve been job hunting… uh, no. I’m in fashion for yet another season. Though, with this year’s trend for flashy, colourful running shoes (straying from the standard white) and my failure to upgrade, I’m a little deviant in my jogging attire.
Compared to this time last year, you are:
a) happier or sadder?
A growing, healthy family. A shrinking healthy me. A stable job. A brilliant, glowing daughter. And going into the tenth year of marriage with a wonderful wife by my side. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t one of our happier years.
b) thinner or fatter?
I’ve always fluffed my way through this question writing things like “probably this” or “generally that” but ever since I spent the summer of 2012 watching and tracking as the scale showed me a progressively lower number, in the back of my head I knew I was going to get to write about it right here: beyond a measure of a doubt I am thinner. Six months of concerted effort, pain, and forced will-power in an effort to slim down to a weight tolerable for running half marathons has left me roughly thirty five pounds lighter than I was this time last year. I even had to buy a new wardrobe (as noted above!)
c) richer or poorer?
My awesome wife, though I grumble about it sometimes, keeps us on the straight-and-narrow and off the red side of the ledger. Hearing all these reports about “high average Canadian consumer debt” or people living pay-cheque to pay-cheque…” well, I don’t judge because if it wasn’t for the great girl I married that would be me too. In 2012 we paid off more of our mortgage than we needed to, we enter 2013 with naught but the same owing, we live and (both work) in one of the richest regions in one of the richest countries in the world, and I officially have a vested pension now… so we’re feeling pretty flush at the moment.
d) focused or distracted?
Part of me wants to report being as distracted — or distract-able — as ever, what with unfinished projects and a messy house and my work-space generally looking as though it has been hit by one of those epic super-storms of the last year. But between the focusing on my running, focusing on my eating, and really nailing down a few of my more major creative projects — namely, finding a solid voice in this blog in the last six months — I would argue that I landed on the focused side of the equation this year.
e) responsible or irresponsible?
I was just thinking about this the other day, what with the holidays blurring by in a whiz-bang of family frenzy. I was writing about earlier in this list that I haven’t read all that much this past year… that my book-count is low for 2012. Thing is, reading for personal enjoyment is one of those “free time” activities you do when you are not obligated or distracted by responsibility. Like, when you’re not distracted by the responsibility to be a good dad and play games or just hang out with your daughter. I get more responsible every year, it seems, but in a good way. This year was no exception.
What was your biggest achievement of the year? Failure?
Achievement. I’m going to brag this up for the bulk of the post, of course, but burning off nearly twenty percent of my body weight, dropping two pant sizes, and generally getting down in weight to where people notice — that was an effort that will be hard to duplicate in the future. My achievement next year will need to be not gaining it all back through laziness and sloth. Ask me again in twelve months.
Failure seems like, perhaps, too harsh of a word, but I started a whole bunch of really awesome personal projects that haven’t quite launched. A kids book, a running map website, more writing, a photo compilation and probably a bunch more I can’t even remember. In many ways I bit off a little more than I could chew. I’ll call them failures because it’s a failure to focus and just-get-something-done already.
Did you travel? Where?
Yes. Again, yes. Though it was something of a mixed bag.
At the end of February, passing across the leap day, and into March we spent a whole week in Anaheim California. We had, months earlier, booked a family vacation to Disneyland: Claire’s second trip, my third trip, and Karin… well, who’s counting anymore? The weather was spectacular. We had booked a number of awesome elements in advance, including VIP seats for the big Fantasmic show and a lunch at the costumed character dining experience, Ariel’s Grotto. But then the suck happened: two days in Claire came down with the flu. She wasn’t sick to her stomach, but she crashed into a lump of tired, cranky, disinterested mess. We’d spend an hour in the morning getting her prepped for a couple painful hours of dragging her (like terrible parents) around the park. We even rented a stroller for a couple days so we could push her from ride to ride and so that she could sleep. But in the end it was just an all around sick-trip and we made the best of it that we could, Claire completely out of it for most of the best parts. We had fun, but the lingering memory will be the sick kid we had in tow: it will always be “remember that time we went to Disneyland and Claire got really sick?”
The first weekend in December had us paying another visit to the United States. This time, after nine months of dedicated training, and four months of anticipation, Karin and I left Claire with my folks and flew down to Las Vegas so that I could participate in the Rock and Roll Half Marathon. Five years ago I’d never thought I’d bother going to Sin City — I’m not a gambler, drinker, or a shopper — but now I’ve been there three times, never once for any of the more widely advertised reasons. We traveled down early on a Friday morning, and were checked into our hotel before lunch leaving us two days for exploration and one specifically for the race. We saw a Cirque du Soleil show (despite a ticket snafu), ate a whole lot of food (can anyone say sushi buffet?) walked a lot, wandered even more, and enjoyed the relative warmth (leaving minus twenty and snowing back home) and blue skies. I ran the race in the wind and the crowds, right down Las Vegas Boulevard for a rare and awesome perspective on the city, pulled through with a respectable time, and finished feeling pretty good. We came back home the next day to not much fuss… other than a flat tire waiting for us at the Park’n Fly.
Get? Gadgets. Over the course of the year I’ve acquired a couple new cameras (a point-and-shoot that’s already on the verge of disintegration and a new GoPro just a couple weeks ago now), a new phone, a digital photo frame for my desk at work, a gaming headset, and a variety of other bits-and-bobs to support the all of the above. I’m spoilt.
On the other hand… while I don’t want to imply that I’m jumping on any of the hater-bandwagons, I did throw some support behind a few different Kickstarter projects last year and not a single one has delivered. None are lost causes… not quite yet, anyhow. But all had deadlines of “by the end of 2012” when I dropped my coins in the bucket and well… let’s just say it’s getting a little late now. The whole nature of Kickstarter is investment and not purchase, though, so I’ll just say I’ve got confidence that someday, somehow, both my investment and my patience will pay off positively.
What ___________ will likely remind you of 2012 and why?
a) website – I hate to say it, but the website of 2012 (for me) was Facebook. I tried (in my own pathetic way) to take a stand against my frustration with Facebook this year. I grumbled at the whole idea of social media. I vented. I pulled most of my stuff off of it. And I tried to pry others away too. But no-go. So in 2012 I quit Facebook cold-turkey. I rebelled. I protested at the fact that the “good old days” of independent blogging and the girth of creative outlets by so many friends had simply become a lazy stream of ethereal and transient status updates. I moped that all this energy was being pumped into feeding a corporation (now public) that was openly harvesting and selling our online lives. It irked me. It steamed my brain into a ramen-noodle-like-soup. But then… well, I missed things. I got left out of runs. I missed events. I didn’t hear about friend’s moves, babies, or life-struggles because it was all happening in this stupid, closed, little electronic ecosystem that has (hopefully temporarily) won the dominance of the internetz. So then, I rejoined Facebook in 2012. And now, as 2012 draws to a close, my love-hate, just-barely-tolerating relationship with Facebook is stable… but yeah. I’m not exactly sure how to feel about that some days.
b) movie – Earlier in the year Claire and I took some time and did a daddy day at the movies. We saw The Lorax. We see a few movies together, at home and at the theater, but The Lorax was special. Not only was it a pretty good movie, but the story holds a special place in our hearts if only because — waaaaay back five years ago — I painted a Lorax mural on her wall before she was born. That, and later the same day we bought the soundtrack — and if any little girl could find a way to wear out a digital music file Claire would have made good progress on those ones.
c) song – While I could probably toss out the likes of Gangam Style as a contender for this prize, I think instead I’m going to put out there a cover of the Dragonborn Skyrim Theme by Peter Hollens & Lindsey Stirling (look it up on YouTube) that was so awesome when I first saw it I bought a copy of iTunes. It sticks in my head not because of sheer awesomeness and its association with a game I played far too much of, but rather because of this: one summer day I was out running by myself and this song came over my headphones. See it was this epic run that was at a kind of turning point in my training. It was one of those moments of epiphany or self-realization or something. I was getting faster and stronger and this music flared up, like the soundtrack to that inspirational moment, and I just went with it, motoring down this trail in the trees, bounding, leaping, nearly flying with a lightness I rarely felt when running and that is so hard to duplicate. In my head a switch flipped. Inspired, or something, I registered for my half-marathon when I got home. It is an oddly geeky song, but it became almost a theme for me and my running as the year pressed on.
d) art – At the risk of straying into gaming territory, I’m going to say 2012 was the year of Minecraft art. From mugs, t-shirts and posters, to my brand-new Minecraft toque, to the numerous pictures, drawings, stories, and (yes) 3D paper models Claire has created in homage to the game over the past year, all this Minecraft art has left me feeling a little… blocky… but in a good way. Not only that, but my post on carving a Minecraft pumpkin from 2011 hit a crazy number of page views over Halloween 2012. Can anyone say Gourd Art? I’m thinking of something 8-bit-epic for the new year, something with paint and wood and big, too. And documented on this blog: always documented! But more on that later.
e) game – We got a copy of The Kids of Carcassonne for Claire earlier in the year and though you probably figured I’d start talking up a video game, it was a board game — the first one that required some semblance of strategy beyond rolling a dice and moving around a board — that tops my 2012 gaming list. Claire and I have played so many rounds of this game this past year, laid out on the living room floor with a big pile of tiles and meeples, that I dare not count. But when she started regularly beating me at it — without parental assistance or by me “letting her win” — I knew I might have a sly, strategic kid on my hands.
What was the best book or story that you read and what was your greatest literary discovery for 2012?
Hands down, reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline made my year. I reviewed it earlier in the year with the words: “What I discovered was an epic geek adventure through the near-future chaos of a somewhat contrived, but fully enjoyable, fast-paced and lingeringly haunting story to satisfy any gamer, geek, or techno-hobbiest of my survived-the-1980s generation.” Nothing has topped it so far. Technically I listened to it, the audiobook read by Wil Wheaton, but I was running at the time — for the most part — so I’m counting it as mind/body fitness multitasking.
Describe the best picture you took — or that was taken of you — in 2012
With the gush of photos I took this past year, what with my 365 Photo Project and all, it’s a tough job to nail down one epic photo that I want to highlight. There were highs and lows, good pics and not-so-good pics. There were days of utilitarian photography and there were days of true inspiration. I could list off a dozen really nice pictures that I snapped, but flipping through my galleries I noted that the one picture that floated to the surface of all my sorting and all my shuffling was a simple picture of my daughter sitting in the flowers.
We had a daddy day. It was June. And we took the dog for a walk in the nearby off-leash park. Everything was in bloom and we were all around feeling quite carefree. My father-in-law would quickly tell you that those were not so much flowers as they were some kind of noxious weed. But to a four-and-a-half year old girl? Whatever. Claire was more than willing to frolic and pose and frolic some more, and for a brief moment she was distracted in a small meadow that was dashed with literally thousands of little white-and-yellow daisy-like flowers on tall stalks. I got right down in the grass, played with my focus and snapped a few dozen awesome pics. A few were great. One stood out, and still, six months later, is my mobile phone wallpaper and the cover of my 365 project photo gallery album. There was something nearly perfect about the day and the moment captured therein, and so it stands out.
Thinking ten years in the past: reminisce. What do you recall or what event stand out most of all from your life and beyond in 2002?
The obvious change from 2002 was (now just a short couple weeks after adopting a second sister-in-law) that my first one entered the family ten years ago. Derek and Shannon got married in 2002, and that seems ages past. We were living in Vancouver — or I should say I was was living in Vancouver and then after my brother’s wedding Karin packed up and followed me back West, promptly ending what had been (up until that point) a largely long-distance relationship. It was a full year. Karin got her first real job, we got our first apartment together, moving out to Burnaby in the fall of that year. It was then that I got my own digital camera, that 2 megapixel wonder (the same one that eventually got stolen) that fostered my first forays into experimental digital photography — though I wouldn’t brag up any of those photos too much now. It was a pretty care-free time, though mostly a time of getting through the early years of life far away from family.
a) happy: There was a day in late July when, after a whole summer of tears, training wheels and tantrums on the side of the nearby trail system when Claire could suddenly ride a bike. It was like something switched and — glory of glories — she could just go. After that there was nothing stopping her. We would run behind her just to keep up and often couldn’t even do that. We’d go to the park and our little daughter who would barely stray ten feet from us was suddenly saying things like “I’ll meet you at the park, kay’daddy?” Between that and losing teeth and going to Kindergarten there was a happy day in there somewhere when I realized my little girl was growing up.
b) sad: But only relatively. I think it was about February 28th, in a hotel room in Anaheim, California and three blocks from the front gates of the “Happiest Place on Earth” (TM) — and I realized my four-year-old who had been so-looking-forward to an awesome family vacation in Disneyland had an epic case of the flu. Our remaining time in the parks was tolerable, a sick kid who only wanted to sleep and “go home!” whining her way through some rides and parades, coughing up both lungs with nothing to do but forge on. I learned that the second-best way to feel sad is to get significantly sick on vacation and the best way to feel sad is to watch your kid get significantly sick on vacation. She slept through most of it.
c) angry: On the morning of July 12 I went downstairs to inspect the damage from the hailstorm that had pounded our little corner of the city overnight. In a year of mega-storms and crazy weather-related disasters, I probably have little right to complain about a silly vegetable garden, but the crushed mulch that was the remains of what had until that night been a promising vegetable garden was not just heartbreaking, it left me rattled and angry. Don’t ask why. I can shake my fist at the sky, too, y’know.
d) defeated: I don’t actually recall the exact date, but it was in early June when I opened up an envelope from the Federal Government and received notice about my “Failure to File” my GST complete with an outstanding bill in the neighborhood of three grand — owing! Uh, what? A few sleepless nights, lots of phone calls, and about a thousand page-loads of the Canada Revenue website later, we finally sorted out that I’d basically missed filing an all-but-null form back in 2007 and it had come back to haunt me. In the end, it was a kind of government scare tactic and I only actually paid about thirty-bucks before they settled and closed the account, but there’s nothing like that “oh-shit” moement that makes you feel like going back in time and slapping yourself five years ago for being a lazy moron about some minor paperwork.
e) victorious: It may sound a little crazy considering it was my fourth attempt at a half-marathon, but when I crossed the finish line on that morning of August 19, feeling great, having run what I could honestly and truly call a strong, solid race with my best time ever (and still) there was this sense that I had accomplished exactly what I had set out to do.
What kind of plans or goals have you made for 2013 with regard to ___________? And why?
a) family – I could tell you that we have these great family plans, but the reality of it is that often we’re just taking it day-by-day. We’re not the perfect family, the three of us and our wimpy dog, but we try. And we’ll keep at it. I’d like to tweak my skills with regards to being a dad and a husband… that’s always a good thing, right? And I think I’ve done a better job of freeing up my summer, so maybe some more vacation time is on the agenda this year. But beyond that? It’s all pretty happy going forward.
b) body – I’ve now pretty much entrenched my fitness goals around running for the foreseeable future. Barring disaster or injury, 2013 holds in it the goal of exceeding my distances and race-registrations from 2012 — a worthy and lofty goal to be sure. I’d like to do three half-marathons, run a total of 1500 km, and — maybe, just maybe — there might be a full marathon in the mix too, but I’m not committing until at least April (and following some more “hackable me” goals.) I keep telling myself I’m going to need new shoes pretty soon. There are lots of reasons to do this, of course, not the least of which is the epic shift towards becoming a healthier, happier person. We should all challenge ourselves at something, though I wouldn’t suggest everyone take up running (get off my trails, grrr!) Running is just my thing: it’s how I’ve spent the better part of my “thirties” and part of me sees all this training as a kind of defined juxtaposition to how I spent my teens and twenties. Five years into this whole epic running adventure, I just continue onto the next big goal: bigger, better, faster, longer, whatever.
c) money – We’ve been really studious lately with our spending and paying down the mortgage. I think we’ll just keep pace and see how things shape up in the shadow of yet another recession.
d) knowledge – I know. Not many of my readers would agree with my view of the universe… and I’m mostly fine with that. Thing is, I’ve spent my whole life — the meager thirty-six years I’ve been granted thus far — on a kind of metaphysical journey to better acquaint myself with many different ideas: I’ve quietly glavered in various states of existence. I’ve read science, philosophy, history and all varieties of literature that explores the human condition in multiple weird and exciting ways. I’ve listened to a whole variety of points of view on a range of complex and conflicted topics. I read some, and then I write some. And then I read some more, think some more, wonder some more, and usually go for a run in there somewhere, too. The natural offshoot of all this scattered information processing is simply that my brain has marinated in some fairly deep and lofty ideas that — and I suggest this in all possible humility — many people have been wiser than me about and avoided thinking on more than they needed to do. At least that’s the sense I get. I mean, everyone probably does this to some extent, but… well, no one talks about this stuff very much so I sometimes feel like I’m the only one who’s obsessively crazy about these ideas. It sounds pretentious, I know. It sounds dick-ish, I know. But I’m just a guy who’s brain won’t stop blending this crap together and trying to make sense out of it. The consequence, much to many people’s chagrin I’ve found, is that my perception of the universe seems to be slightly askew from many of those same people who are chagrined about it. Not better. Not worse. Just different… and in many hard-to-explain ways and on many difficult-to-elaborate points. And I try not to write about it or talk about it too much because people tend to think I am trying to alter their perception of the universe — and they don’t like that. I don’t claim to understand anything any better than anyone else, but in 2013 I think I’m going to try and explain my position to others a little better than I have done in the past. We need to talk about this more. This probably means more reading and more writing, of course, but… well, we’ll see. It seems quite lonely being different, after all.
e) self – Last year when I re-invented this blog and narrowed my topics, I set out on this course that had a two-fold purpose. One, it was meant to align my writing and make it more interesting. I think it has done a reasonable job at that. Two, it was also meant to focus my life a little bit more. I’ve always had a bit of a scattershot approach to things, dabbling shallow in so many little hobbies and projects. By focussing on a set of topics and creating this (accountable?) persona that does these five-or-so things with my life — running, gaming, blogging, photography and being a dad — I simultaneously created this positive push to both (a) get myself out the door and actually do those things and (b) constantly improve, hone, grow, refine, and stretch the limits of those hobbies, projects or roles. For example, people ask me all the time how I stay motivated to run: easy, really. I stay motivated because I’m writing a blog about it and hundreds of people are reading about my training. A little more than a year later I think I’ve got the hang of being defined by these five things and in 2013 I’m going to work on those things — for myself, selfishly or not — and keep writing about them.
Thinking ten years in the future: prognosticate. What do you think the world will be like in 2022?
Ten years seems so intangible at the moment. I mean, time seems to be moving quite quickly, but then I look at ten years ago (as I did a few questions back) and read some of the stuff I wrote ten years ago, and then I try to imagine life even five years ago before Claire was born and… wow! Just… wow! Time is mysterious.
In ten years I’ll be the father of a fifteen year old high school student. Fifteen. Learning to drive, perhaps? The days of Daddy Daze and yearning to hang out with her old man will be long over. I’ll be someone tolerated, I suppose, and I’ll have another ten years to wait after that before I’m an acceptable movie or meal companion.
I’ll be forty-six. Not old. Not young, either. If all goes well, and if I stay healthy and on the track… well, it’s odd that one needs to start adding that caveat to the answer to these questions.
The world will be interesting. It always is. There are a million tracks it could take: peace, war, boom, bust, rising to better things, falling to the worst, or just ticking along as we expect it to always do. Sometimes I feel like we’re on the cusp of something, what with talks of another looming recession and so much gun violence in the States, and the weird weather emerging over the last couple years escalating into a weekly news occurance. But we humans look for these patterns, though, don’t we? Chances are things will gradually decay and we won’t notice that until it’s too late. Or chances are we’ll find a technological fix for things: the problems of today are the businesses of tomorrow, right? Phones and computers will be smaller, digital storage will be vaster, ideas will be more complex, money will be worth less than it is now, and ever more we will creep towards something we can’t quite imagine. I’d like to think like an optimist this year and suppose that I’ll be just as happy, happier perhaps, in 2022 than in 2012. And I’ll just leave it at that.
Explain a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012:
I alluded to this earlier with my rambling food-slash-addiction comments, but I think one of my biggest take-away lessons from the year is that “willpower is a choice” — no, really. I mean, it’s so easy to convince yourself of something and let your conscious, unconscious, sub-conscious, ego, id, whatever convince you of something else. That’s easy. But all these demons we battle every day that are occurring as clashes of electrons swarming around our brain… I think, and I’m pretty sure I can think this because of my experiences this past year, that all these pieces are under our control if we want them to be. I like to think that I “hacked” my own brain in 2012. I called it my “Hackable Me” project, but in the end it was just making the decision that I was in control of my own impulses and desires, and that I was responsible for them, too. And not only do I think I successfully acknowledge that fact, but I think I successfully acted upon it as well.
What is one thing you’d like your kid(s) to know about the year 2012?
Despite the fact that no one really believed the world was going to end on December 21st (a’la the Mayan Apocalypse Prophecy of 2012) a lot of people tended to act like it was anyhow. I tried not to, but I’m just one guy. For me, 2012 was a good year.
One quote that sums up your 2012 is:
“I can’t believe I’m stronger than my dad!” – Claire, after extracting her own (first) baby tooth. She really is growing up.
One word that sums up your theme for 2013 is: