the past comes crystal clear – 2018 in review

30 Dec

It’s Sunday evening, December 30, as I write this. After spending a nice afternoon out catching a pretty decent jazz trio at Castleburg and maybe stumbling into another open mic/performance/emcee opportunity at another venue in Scott’s Addition (we’ll see where that goes in the coming weeks…), I’m sitting at my kitchen table drinking a Jameson and Diet Coke, setting aside my library copy of the Springsteen autobiography (I watched Springsteen on Broadway on Netflix the other evening, which was at least partially inspired/adapted from the book, titled, kinda obviously, “Born to Run”) to pop open the laptop, figuring it’s time to reflect, as a little bit of alcohol in the system inspires, on the past (reference my friend Mikey Mason’s “Drunkards and Philosophers” AKA “Beer Powered Time Machine”, though we all know the original is better, and one of my favorite songs ever), and given the particular moment, with thirty hours or so left until the calendar turns over, on the past year.

It’s really kind of been a mixed bag, if I’m to be completely honest. The nation is in turmoil, with the economy churning, the stock market swinging wildly by hundreds or thousands of points each day, depending on the whims of the President’s 5:00 AM toilet tweets; the government’s been shutdown again (though not my part this time) for the third time in a year, and the Cabinet has a turnover rate of over 30%, with my Department without an official lead after a dramatic resignation letter/never mind, “You’re Fired” sort of situation last week. I don’t see that improving in the new year, to be completely honest. It is, as has been described many times, a Dumpster Fire™ and will probably only get more interesting when the new Congress takes over next week. I shall be watching closely; but more importantly, my pay pool/salary adjustments based on the case I made with the “look how awesome I am” write-up a few months back will take effect (I’m no longer on the GS schedule, but the NH, and I’m not sure how this bullshit applies to me), and I’ll know whether all the hassles I have to put up with are going to be worth putting up with for another year, of if I should start seriously shopping for another position in the public service (with 22 years in, the pension’s hard to give up) and be a rat diving off a sinking ship (which the rumors say my particular organization likely is). I dunno.

Outside of the whole career thing, this year’s not been awful. I’ve kept myself at a pretty consistent weight, and my doctor tells me I’m doing all the right things; I’m a bit behind ’17 on my biking miles (I blame the month I spent in Aberdeen MD for work, though I hiked a hell of a lot), but I did a 35 miler this summer, and I’m averaging 200+ push-ups a day in 50 rep sets, so my physical health remains pretty great, and I think the doc and I have found a decent regimen of drugs to deal with my anxiety/chronic depression. I am, weirdly enough, in the best shape of my life at age 44. I still struggle with stress and anxiety, but it could be a hell of a lot worse.

Musically, I may have had the best year ever, looking back at it. I’ve had my work released on two different CDs (Fantastic Geeks and Where To Find Them and a pop-in on Metricula’s peformance on Streamer Song Swap Vol. 2), performed on both coasts (both solo and as part of various bands), and all over the mid-Atlantic region, as part of the Blibbering Humdingers, Dimensional Riffs, and under my own name at a bunch of open mic opportunities and filk convention 2x10s, had music I’ve been involved with get airplay on podcasts all over the internet, and got my first songwriting credit on a recording (even if it went over like a lead balloon every time we’ve played it live), been accused of being a musical whore for hire (I sat in with *four* different bands at Ravencon 13.5 this year, as well as other folks here and there), wrote a metric assload of songs as part of February Album Writing Month, and maybe six or seven of them are any good. Also, starting in February, I’ll be hosting a monthly open mic night at Castleburg Brewery and Taproom, which I really hope goes well, and I’ve got some other feelers out there (as mentioned above). Also, I think 2019 might be the year the Chuck (or whatever I decide to call myself) album will actually surface. It helps that I’ve found a wonderfully supportive musical community who encourages me and makes me feel like I’m valued; I’ve really, finally, gotten some confidence in my role as a solo performer and vocalist, and it’s pretty damned awesome.

As far as the family goes, my eldest and youngest continue to kick all kinds of ass at their various school endeavors, and my middle child has finally seemed to mostly find his footing with school, passing everything for the first half of the year, and starting to play guitar as well, and it’s given us something to bond over a bit, which is really rather nice. Also, my lovely wife has really started working in earnest on her business of creating clothes and Irish Dance solo dresses (we’ve spent winter break setting up her sewing space), which I think is really going to be successful, based on the work she’s done this year.

So….yeah. Work kinda sucks, the world kinda sucks, but personally, I’m healthy and successful in the pieces of my life that I get real validation from. I think I can live with that. I’m really hoping that this coming year goes well – I’m not sure what I want, though I’d like to continue the success in the personal and creative stuff that really matters to me, and maybe make a little more money and maybe even some validation (I’m not holding out for pure satisfaction) in my professional endeavors, so I can get my financial house in better order.

So yeah, that’s really about where things sit for now. I usually do a “by the numbers” post, and I still might, but who the hell knows. I might just coast through the rest of the year and enjoy myself.

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