I’m supposed to say here something about how fast the year passed, or that it was swell and amazing and full of new opportunities. It’s the new year, right? It’s a reflection on the wonder and awesomeness of the past three hundred and sixty five days, no?
I’m gonna break from tradition and say this instead: Good riddance, 2015. I don’t blame you for being a lame duck year, but I’m looking forward to a fresh start in 2016. Maybe you were a good year for other folks, but… yeah: 2015? See ya. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Ok… so maybe that’s a bit harsh. But between angry politics, online trolls, terrorism, the envrionment, mediocre weather, the slumping economy, the people who react to a slumping economy, the businesses who react to a slumping economy, and the rest of us who need to keep on smiling through all those reactions… well, I’m tired and ready for a fresh start.
Oh, wait: the States are having an election next year right? Maybe I’ll just sleep through 2016…
Deep breath. Smile. Okay, maybe I’ll just recap on this past year first before we all sentence it to the gallows. Ready? Let’s go. This is my official 2015 New Years List. Enjoy.
First, who are you leaving behind in 2015?
Family-wise, we made it through the year without any major losses, and ditto on the friendship front. That’s always a positive thing.
All that said, one of my quasi-co-workers was killed in a crosswalk late in the year which put a damper on the holiday season around the office. And yet, when loss doesn’t strike too close to home, I would say that it leaves some extra room in the old heart to think about and consider the too many other losses around the city, country and world these days.
How did you make money in 2015? How might you briefly describe to others what you do for a living?
My job is roughly the same job as I started in five years ago. It changes and evolves, and is never really the same job day-after-day. And having hit the five year mark in November, it is officially the longest I’ve worked anywhere. On any given day I am a cross between a digital librarian, a book editor, a business consultant, and a creative-technological guru… always with the need for infinite patience: making the web useful is more challenging than I often give it credit for.
I’ve also learned that stories of my job do not make riveting conversation fodder.
What do you wish you’d done more of? Less of?
Given some of the running-related injury issues I faced this year, I wish I’d spent more time on some cross-training: y’know, strength, core, cycling. I plan to fix that going forward and am already on schedule for some big cross-training changes in the new year.
On the other side, I realize I spend too much time in my own head: worrying, fretting, plotting out improbable futures and lost opportunities. I think I need to do less introspective panicking and more just-doing.
How would you describe the world from your perspective in terms of:
a) technology? High definition. It didn’t seem like things got any faster or smaller or innovative this year. Our stuff just got crisper and clearer. I noticed all the Boxing Day sales were for 4K UHD tvs this year, and at reasonable prices, too, and upon reflection I think that summed up the year in tech: nothing mind-blowingly stellar or life-changing on the technology front for 2015, not that I remember, but just tools with more resolution — literally or symbolically. That, and yes in 2015 we finally got a product called a “Hoverboard” — but it was just a powered, self-balancing, two-wheeled skateboard with a tendency to catch on fire when the batteries got too hot. Eat that Marty McFly.
b) culture? Increasingly entitled. We hear and read and witness the words and behaviors of a population that knows every facet of their so-called rights, but seems to forget both (a) their corresponding responsibilities and (b) that every action has a consequence. I can barely stand being on social media anymore for the rage that bubbles through the layers of entitlement and our “me-first” culture. Driving has become a daily act of asking “who’s going to flip me off today for going the speed limit though a school zone?” And I’m torn every day between feeling sadness for the people who gambled everything on big oil and are now turning up a loosing hand… and frustration at how some of those same folks are lashing out at an indifferent world that in reality owes them nothing, no matter how much they might believe the opposite.
c) politics? Changed and charged: We had two major elections this year, a provincial election in May in which the left-leaning NDP party rolled historically over the long-reigning conservative party, and a federal election in which the centrist Liberals rolled over the long-reigning conservative party. Notice a trend there? Parties change. Politicians will always be politicians. But –and maybe I’m just noticing it for the first time in my adult life– a lot of people have really started to react very badly when they don’t get their way. The internet is on fire with the friction of partisan hate. The media cannot seem to land on ground that isn’t rocked by scandal, real or invented (mostly in the name of click-bait, I assume). And independent news-in-name-only groups have blossomed and thrived in a culture intent on having a tantrum about so-called-issues they clearly only superficially understand. I kept myself very informed, but reigned in 98% of my opinions and kept them to myself.
d) philosophy? Can I say bi-polar, or is that pop-psychology? Either way, all I see around me are strict and harsh divisions of ideology and purpose. It’s sad and frustrating and angering all at once. And you can’t even just exist in that kind of world without just accidentally contributing to the gaping split.
e) prospects? I’d like to think it’s still strong: I don’t think we can cooperate well enough to destroy ourselves quite yet.
What three experiences will always remind you of 2015?
1) Star Wars. We started the year running the Star Wars Half Marathon in Disneyland, hundreds, thousands, of people dressing in fan gear, from simple logo’d t-shirts to the Wookie I followed through TomorrowLand. Claire and I played Disney Infinity (more than we should have) and we updated our set with the newest Star Wars add-ons, and I shared my geekiness with my daughter. And then, as the year closed –almost literally– we watched the new film on the day before New Years.
2) Newspapers. As I’ve attempted to explain (and justify) to multiple people in the last few months, I decided to subscribe to an actual printed newspaper this year. Early in October we signed up for a weekend subscription to the Globe and Mail, and while this may seem like either (a) a trivial thing or (b) a weird thing for two technophile internet geeks, it emerged from the desire to have access to one media source that had not been usurped by the modern phenomenon of trolls: in the name of openness (though more likely just for click-baiting) every online news site opens their comments to the universe and the result is the worst of humanity smeared across the bottom of nearly every single news story. To me, it’s become the equivalent of using your newspaper as toilet paper… then trying to read it after. I’m looking at you CBC.
3) Coverage. Without going into too many incriminating details, I’ll just say I got called on more than once to pull up the slack in various places of my life. Usually it’s about as thankless as it sounds.
Without asking them, what are three words your ________ would use to describe their 2015?
a) spouse 2am Phone Calls
b) kid(s) YouTube is Awesome
c) parent(s) Need Stronger Locks
Without asking them, what are three words you think that your ________ would use to describe you in 2015?
a) spouse Mid-Life Crisis
b) kid(s) Personal Bank Machine
c) parent(s) Opinionated Hyper-political Know-it-all
What are the details (events, memories, etc) surrounding important days in your life in 2015:
a) birthday? I turned 39 and it was a snowy day in Edmonton. The first of the white stuff had fallen. Karin had taken the day off to get her tires changed (coincidentally to the weather) and it turned out she needed some other work done, so we went to the tire shop after a hasty birthday dinner at home and then spent most of the evening waiting for the mechanics to finish up.
b) anniversary? We were traveling. We’d driven out to the west coast, and on the day of our twelfth anniversary we spent a full day in Victoria, BC, being tourists and on holiday. We spent most of the morning in a museum, killed the afternoon wandering around a castle, and then I went for an epic run through Victoria-proper. Generally: seafood, sights, and sunshine.
c) the holidays? We spent Christmas eve with the in-laws in Camrose, the kids anxious to open gifts and all testing each other because none of only one of them still believed in Santa but none of them knew that there were any skeptics among them. We spent most of Christmas day in our pajamas, watching bad movies and playing games and finally packed up and drove home later that evening. As we flipped the porch light on to let the dog out to pee, the neighbors noticed and the phone rang, and five minutes later we were in the middle of yet another holiday party eating deep-fried turkey and various French cheeses. We got to bed pretty late.
d) new years? The plan, as I write this a day before New Years Eve seems pretty standard: fireworks in the park, random friends over for dinner and drinks, and staying up late to ring in the new year — or at least until the kids get sleepy and everyone bails. New Years day marks yet another five klick run in the 2016 Annual Resolution Run. Fortunately, it’s supposed to be right around zero Celsius.
How would you describe your life from your perspective in terms of:
a) fun? It’s true that life seems to speed up as you get older. Finding free time seems like such a rare and precious thing. Fun has been filling the scattered spaces between the must-do things and other obligations. In those spaces we’ve cross-country skied this year, camped, swam, gardened, lived in our city and out of it a bit too. Driven to local places and places a little more out of reach. We’ve geocached and sometimes just wandered through the woods near our house. It’s not exciting in an epic way, but it’s fun between the busy spaces of our lives.
b) family? Life gets blurry as you get older, hanging out with people who are linked genetically or by the legalities of marriage, and we all try to figure out our ever-changing and evolving roles in a family full of varied opinions and strong personalities. Yet, we had a new addition this year, too, and you’d never imagine how one little kid can smile so much at her goofy uncle.
c) friends? The year of the text message. I’ve been pejoratively referred to more than once as a teenage girl for the amount of time I seem to have spent text messaging a laundry list of some interesting and fun people this year… though often it’s to arrange running adventures, so that’s a good thing, right?
d) food? Claire has been learning to cook more and more, and we have been stretching our cuisine. If I had to sum up my own palette in a word it would be: sriracha.
e) fitness? Apart from another round of injury, I exceeded my total running distance over last year and ran thirteen races, six of them half marathons.
f) finances? I think everyone is starting to feel a little thinner in their wallets this year. We’ve been lucky to not feel the direct hit (in terms of pay cuts, etc) but the price of everything has gone up, and the worth of anything with value (investment, etc) has gone down.
g) fashion? I’ve gone through a lot of multi-coloured running shoes this year, but most everything else is status quo.
Compared to this time last year, you are:
a) happier or sadder? It’s going to be a negative list this year. Topping things off, I’m going to admit it has been a year full of stress and frustration in many ways. It’s not easy to admit when you’re feeling blue, but this has been a blue-tinted year.
b) thinner or fatter? Along those same lines, and keeping this as simple and vague as I should: some of my stress came from being injured and not running as much. Stress plus not exercising as much plus indulging a little more… well, you get the pattern here and can probably do the math, too.
c) richer or poorer? Tied into all that other bits has been the economic dip that has occurred. Everyone is stressed because we live in a place with an economy that is highly dependent on a single, volatile resource. That resource has dipped significantly in value, meaning a lot of people have lost their jobs, become angry and violent, and taken their rage out on the government, their fellow citizens, and of course the spun-up perception of external threats. I’ll climb back off my soapbox now and just say that the simple answer to all this is that I think we’re all feeling poorer these days.
d) focused or distracted? So, of course, stress from life, the universe and everything has a way of draining you. Think of focus and willpower like a liquid in a jar. You can drink it with a straw, and eventually you get to the bottom and that’s when you’re out. No more focus, no more willpower. There are times when refilling that bottle is fast and easy, and there are times when you are drinking it just as fast as it fills, so in effect the bottle is always empty, even though you are able to get dribs and drabs, and focus in fits and bursts. That second one was this year. The always-empty bottle has been filling by drips.
e) responsible or irresponsible? And at the end of it all, I’d like to think that wrapping my heart around this crazy year of little dribs and drabs of frustrating bit and pieces in the vastness of things that should be good but don’t quite add up that way, this has forced me to become a little more responsible, or at least take more responsibility –though I’m never sure if that’s the same thing or not.
What was your biggest achievement of the year? Failure?
It’s not like it’s been flying off the shelves, but after a couple years of work I self-published “Baylee the Bee” that little e-book picture book that I’d been working on for a couple years. When Claire was about 4 or 5 I’d written this little poem about a bee named Baylee. I don’t know exactly where it came from, but the next thing I knew I was doing art and contemplating rolling the whole thing together as book. Years later, after picking and poking and slowly putting the pieces together (one of which was buying a new computer to run the ebook software) it’s out and live. Maybe that’s it, but it was a pretty big accomplishment for the year, I think.
Failure? I think at one point I had some grand plans about being a dad blogger… I’d call 2015 the year of failure on that front. I’ve dropped it –at least archived it as a stand-alone effort, for reasons that are many and sometimes incongruous — and I don’t foresee any major effort to resume it as an independent website again in the near future.
Also, I missed the mark on my 12 half marathons in 12 months. I ran half of that. Which is in itself a big accomplishment but simultaneously a fail. How does that even make sense?
Did you travel? Where?
Our one out-of-country trip this past year was a too-short long-weekend spent in Anaheim at — you guessed it — Disneyland. The theme of the weekend was Star Wars Meets Frozen, as Karin and I both participated in the First Annual RunDisney Star Wars Race Weekend, Karin completing the 10k on a sore knee and I finishing the half marathon (the first of many this year). As soon as the buzz of the Star Wars races subsided, all that was left in the afterglow was a whole lot of Frozen –which of course, Claire loved.
In August, we decided to do a more local vacation, and took two weeks to drive out and back to visit Vancouver and Vancouver Island, returning after a ten year absence and noting the remarkable change that has happened there since we moved away. We were hosted by a laundry list of folks who all seemed to have slipped off the prairies and have started sliding west towards the coast. We spent a night in the interior, then a few more nights in Vancouver. We crossed over on the ferry and bummed around Nanaimo for a couple days, kayaking in the ocean and visiting with my former boss who retired out there. Then a couple days in Victoria marked the turn-around point and we did the whole thing in reverse, across the ferry and back through the mountains. Sadly, some August snow greeted us as we crossed back into Alberta and went off to find our puppy.
I couldn’t have known a year ago that we’d be replacing my vehicle in the meantime, but as these things tend to go the decision came on suddenly and in the wake of a repair estimate that brought up discussions around good-money-after-bad and opportunity costs. We ended up buying the new truck, and despite the many questions I’ve faced since (as apparently I don’t “seem like a truck guy”) I’ve been wanting something for a long time that was a little more utility-based than my little hatchback could ever be.
Not get? I keep hoping for a window at work, but that didn’t pan out this year either.
What ___________ will likely remind you of 2015 and why?
a) website – Strava, again, if only because it became that social media profile I wanted to keep updated, unlike the other ones –Facebook or Twitter or the blog– which start to feel like social obligations towards a bigger thing. Strava actually makes me a better me, not just like I’m pretending to be that.
b) film – Star Wars. But probably only because the idea hung across the year and re-watchings over the holidays (see “experiences”) not to mention the co-branding everything, everywhere for Christmas, and then our year concluded, almost literally, with seats at the new film.
c) song – Something by Taylor Swift, but only because I live with an eight year old girl.
d) art – Baylee the Bee. I can’t say I’ve been promoting that book nearly as much as I should be, but I’ve seen that little vector graphic so many times I think I could draw it in my sleep.
e) game – How many years in a row can I say Minecraft? I don’t think I’d want to even wager a guess at how many hours we spent on this game, especially now that Claire and I can co-op through the Steam Link. She watches Let’s Play YouTube videos and then we do two things: (a) build things in peaceful mode and (b) play –essentially– Minecraft make-believe, wherein we eat breakfast, go on adventures, and then I tuck her into bed each night.
What was the best book or story that you read and what was your greatest literary discovery for 2015?
This was the year of my conscious and deliberate rediscovery of literature. I’d followed the path that so many other have followed: too much tv, too much internet, too much screen-time. So in 2015 I read over three million new words across twenty five novels: it was not epic, but it was five times more reading than I’d done any other year since… well, a long time. I read twenty five books of varying quality, each which deserves a paragraph for or against it, but I think my best literary discovery this year was simply that: the motivation to open a book again.
Describe the best picture you took — or that was taken of you — in 2015
It was again another solid year for video, but my photography suffered. On that note, and as I wrap up my project to record 5 seconds of video every day –which I did!– I will say that one recent photo stands out, probably because it’s recent but maybe also because it fits into the spirit of this year’s photographic efforts. It (a) is a picture I took, (b) it’s a picture of me, (c) it’s actually a screen capture from one of my 365 daily videos and (d) it got a lot of likes on the social medias, so it must be okay. A couple weeks ago I went running through the fresh snow of the trails. The snow was perfect. The light was perfect. And I caught the angle just right to spin the light around a staged bit of video. So, it may not be the best or only good picture I took, but it represents.
Thinking twenty-five years in the past: reminisce. What do you recall or what event stand out most of all from your life and beyond in 1990? As 1990 rolled to close, I was just finishing up the first half of the ninth grade. About to enter the final semester of junior high school, I have some very vivid memories of my life around this time: my friends, the eclectic group of nerds that we were who spent our lunch hours walking to the seven-eleven and talking about science fiction. We were all band geeks because the only other group that got better school trips than the band were the sports teams and heck knows that none of us were athletes back then. I would walk home each day lugging my saxophone and a bag full of books. It seemed like a forever walk, but it was only about a kilometer to our house, and then I would walk some more delivering newspapers on my paper route while listening on my bright yellow Sony Sports Walkman to tapes that I’d recorded off the radio. Life seemed complex, but it was anything but.
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 2005? That was a year of transition. It was the year that we took possession of our house after five months of watching it get built. We packed up our belongings once again, all of it in the back of the little red truck, which we got rid of a few months later, and moved it into our first –and so far only– house which was still surrounded by an mud pit needing to be landscaped. A few months later we got Sparkle. She was the result of having a real home, and also the early motivation to fix it up: build a fence, and a deck, and at least put down a little patch of grass where she could pee. A few months after that I switched jobs and started driving out to Nisku every day to work on that crazy little project that would last about four years and give me more than a few grey hairs. I started the last year of my twenties and pondered the ripe old age of thirty just over the horizon. Life seemed complex, but it was anything but.
What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory because they made you…? And why?
a) happy: June 10th… when we walked over to the library basement to witness the Canadian citizenship oath ceremony in which our neighbors were participating.
b) sad: November 13… because the night Paris was attacked, yet again, and yet again another western city attacked for having modern, western values in an increasingly ideological world… it was heartbreaking for a spectrum of reasons, not the least of which was for the people who died there.
c) angry: Exact date unknown, but probably the day I read those hyper-political trolling, racist, hurtful comments at the bottom of a news article on the internet. Oh, wait: that was every day.
d) defeated: July 26th… when Karin had to come pick me up half way through a run because my legs cramped up so bad I could barely stand… let alone run.
e) victorious: May 5th… because politics. Enough said… especially since I know some of you still feel exactly the opposite.
f) surprised: April 26th… when after months of re-training, I set a new PR on the half marathon. Edmonton Police Foundation Half!
What kind of plans or goals have you made for 2016 with regard to ___________? And why?
a) family – Not just more time with Claire, but more quality adventure time.
b) body – I’m leaning pretty hard on the idea of another Marathon before I hit 40. You’d think you just say it and then start training, but.. no. It’s a pretty huge decision.
c) money – Buckle down. Save. It’s winter.
d) knowledge – I work with 300 random people, of whom I’ve probably spoken to 30. And I don’t know anything about any one of them. I think I’d like to at least double that number this year.
e) self – I need to get my head around the last few months of my 30s. I keep saying I’m cool with it, but.. yeah.
f) creativity – More writing, writing, and writing. Novels, stories, and blog posts. And refining that damn book into something worth reading.
Thinking ten years in the future: prognosticate. What do you think the world will be like in 2025?
The year my daughter turns 18 is the year all my hair falls out and I get a recurring ulcer that will become a regular and frequent guest writer on this blog.
Thinking twenty-five years in the future: prognosticate. What do you think the world will be like in 2040?
On a serious note, in 25 years I think we’ll have a much better idea of how we’re doing on the environment. If I’m still around at 65, the effects of our efforts to slow or correct climate change should be apparent. Sadly, holding babies this past holiday season, it is one thing that crosses my mind when I look at them: we’ve left you a world that your generation is going to need to fix… or you simply won’t get to think 25 years into the future without pondering your very survival in it.
Explain a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015:
Sometimes you think you’ve worked for something your whole life, you climb a long mountain trek up a dangerous and treacherous path, and then you think you’ve reached the summit and you look out across the horizon and from the new vantage you can see a lot of other peaks that would have been just as rewarding to climb, and maybe with even better views. You can either be happy with the mountain you just climbed… or not. And you can then choose to set up camp at the top, or maybe go climb another mountain.
What is one thing you’d like your kid(s) to know about the year 2015?
I guess I’d like her to know that she had a much better year than her parents. She went to school and got straight As in the second grade. She travelled with her parents to a place that was new to her but all-too-familiar to them. She competed in her first dance competition. She conquered swimming lessons and started private piano lessons. She had more friends than she could count and her family grew with the addition of yet another little girl cousin. Her parents may have been dealing with the harsh realities of being middle-aged parents, responsible and trying to stay afloat in the thankless grumble years of their careers, but she did more than okay in 2015.
One quote that sums up your 2015 is:
“I’m proud to say I didn’t die on the toilet but I did club Chris to death while he was taking a shower.” – Mr. Big Red
One word that sums up your theme for 2016 is: Apricity.