Saturday, January 01, 2011

A Very Good Year



I enjoy the progression of the holidays. In October, we celebrate the worst in us: our fears. And in doing so, we exorcise them. In November, we reflect on that for which we are thankful, and celebrate those things that are good in life, yet so commonplace that we don't notice them: our family (note that this is the day when everyone gets excited about eating the most mundane and flavorless foods). In December, we celebrate that which is best in us: generosity and caring. For most adults, it's a time when giving yields good feelings in the giver, a reminder of how we should feel any time we act selflessly. Then we have a week to reflect on the last year, celebrate it, and plan for a new start. Curmudgeons smugly note the arbitrariness of dividing our life up into solar cycles, or of picking this particular date to mark the transition, but I say you need some kind of unit of time to provide perspective, to mark your progress.

For me, 2010 was a very good year. This was the first year of my life where I can say that I'm not doing anything I don't on some level enjoy. No stupid job that I have no interest in. Maybe I'm a little old to be reaching this point, but that's fine. I took my retirement first, spent my 20's and 30's with no real stress in my life, working jobs I didn't have to think about when I wasn't there (and barely thought about when I was).

Not doing anything I don't enjoy is very different than what I would have thought it would be like 10 years ago. I know it can't possibly be true, but I feel like I'm busier now than I was two years ago, when I was working two jobs and editing video during every spare second. There's just always something to do, always something to stress out about. But I like it. I feel alive and fulfilled.

In the last year, I've become a better teacher (an ongoing process, I'm sure that will be true every year as long as I work as a teacher, which I assume will be forever), taken improv classes and performed in four improv shows, and Bobbie and I started a podcast, completed a script with our collaborators, and put on what will hopefully become an annual comedy festival (although my contribution to the last was limited). Not to mention that I completed all the paperwork and hoop-jumping to clear my teaching credential. And I plan to build on this foundation in 2011.

With all these things happening, this blog sometimes got a bit neglected, and that will probably happen again in 2011, but this blog isn't going away. I need this outlet, if only to get persistent thoughts out of my head. So if you follow this blog, I appreciate your patience. I also appreciate you reading personal posts like this which I'm sure are of no interest to most people. I appreciate you putting up with posts on music and politics when you're waiting for me to write something about movies or TV, or vice versa. I'm entering the third and final week of my Winter break, and I'm going to try to get a few more long pieces up this week, posts that I've been working on for a while. I also intend to start a new series that will work with shorter posts that I can put up quickly, which will hopefully make my writing a bit more productive.

A lot of people are giving up their blogs and moving to Twitter. I'm gonna stick with this, because I'm a long-winded guy, and I just can't see how you can communicate much of anything in 140 characters. Besides, I have Facebook, which at least gives you a little more space, and has a built-in audience of all these people I apparently know from high school and college (I'm pretty sure the 250 friends I have on Facebook is about 5 times the people that read this blog, and much more than I could get to follow me on Twitter), with the added bonus that Facebook feels much more adaptable to real, two-way communication. If you want to read my snarky one-liners and random links, feel free to add me on Facebook--I pretty much accept anyone these days, unless it's a comedian that I've never met, and I enjoy the connection it can give us.

Goals/Resolutions for 2011:

1. Pick up a second class. This has to be first priority, because we need some more money coming in. Unfortunately, I'm stuck in limbo on this at the moment, as I wait for my cleared credential to arrive in the mail.

2. Begin the process of grad school. Not saying I'll actually be in classes by the end of the year (it would be nice), but I intend to get the ball rolling. It's becoming clear that my employment options will continue to be very limited until I can put at least an M.A. after my name.

3. Return to stand up comedy. Bobbie suggested this goal. At first I was resistant. I don't like doing stand up, it stresses me out. And with the blog, the improv and the podcast, I don't feel like I'm lacking in outlets for expression. But it would be the thing to pull me out of my comfort zone, which is important. I barely even get nervous for improv performances now, so I need something to make me a nervous wreck. Besides, I work in the comedy world, so I feel like I can't really get respect unless I can put myself in front of the mic.

4. Finish the 50 Films of the 00's series. Entries one, two and three are up, and I intend to have the fourth one up before the end of the week. These are difficult, but I should be able to write about 30 more films in 12 months.

5. Figure out some way to incorporate exercise in my life. I was hesitant to include this on the list, because I have no plan for how to make this work, but it really needs to be done.

6. Successfully barbecue a pork shoulder or butt. I bought a smoker last summer, and dabbled with it a bit, but never really went all the way. And going all the way means producing a plate of smokey pulled pork. This summer, it will happen.

7. Learn to fry chicken. Today, I am going to cook blackeyed peas and turnip greens, and get some KFC to go with it, because I have never successfully made fried chicken. By January 1, 2012, I intend to have my technique down and be able to fry the chicken myself.

There are a few smaller things, like creating an RSS feed for the podcast and stuff, but that seems like a good start. Happy New Year, one and all. Let's show 'em how it's done in 2011.

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