2018 kind of sucked

I started my 21-day “complaint free” experience in January of this year and after a couple of tries, I managed to go the full 21 days without verbalizing a complaint to another person. I became much more aware of how often others complained–often, I suspect, without them even being conscious of it–and I became very aware of what came out of my own mouth. Since I have a preference to not prattle on unless prodded (prodding me can lead to excessive prattling), the transition from “complain about the weather along with everyone else” to “just smile and not say anything” was easier than expected.

But it didn’t last.

I tried again. I even got the official purple Complaint Free World bracelet. It’s the child size, as I have strangely thin wrists. I could blame my lapsing back into a semi-complaint-filled experience because of the weather–not that it’s bad, but that when it gets cold I’m wearing long-sleeve shirts and jackets, so the bracelet isn’t visible most of the time to remind me not to complain about stuff.

But that’s an excuse, because I did get through the exercise successfully when the weather was cold and wet. It was January, after all, as I mentioned in the first paragraph.

So what happened? Well, a few things. The problem is they were spaced just far enough apart that it felt like, as the old saying goes, “if it’s not one thing, it’s another.”

My health was kicked in the junk this year. Speaking of my junk, I did not have a testicular cancer scare like last year, so that was good.

Instead, I got a tooth infection in a tooth that had been broken for years. That it hadn’t gotten infected much earlier was pretty much dumb luck. Once it did get infected, it had to be dealt with immediately, so I had to pretend to overcome my existential fear of dentists and get what remained of the tooth yoinked.

It actually didn’t go that bad, though keeping stuff out of the resultant gap while it healed was tricky.

But just as I recovered from that I experienced an odd “too hot/too cold” sensation at work. This was May, so neither condition really made sense. I would shiver for ten minutes, then sweat like I was in a sauna for the next ten. I looked up the symptoms and found they could apply to almost anything, but I know my body and its sordid history, and this smacked of YAI. Yet Another Infection. I was right!

I guessed bladder, but it was my kidney. They’re pretty close, so it was a good guess. I waited a couple of days to see a doctor, because I slipped into Guy Mode (don’t need doctors, don’t need maps, don’t need instructions–you know, basically DUMB). I spent a night running a high fever, felt utterly delirious, and was so weak that when I did go to the nearby clinic it took my hours to work up the energy to make the three block trip.

On the plus side, the antibiotics killed the fever amazingly quickly, and I recovered fairly quickly after. The kidney has been a (literal) pain a few times since, but the most recent blood work (which took two arms to obtain successfully as my left arm apparently contains no blood) indicates it is on the mend.

Did I mention that the antibiotics I got for the tooth infection turned out to be another I’m allergic to? Another all-body rash and this weird sensation that my face was glowing (it was, as confirmed by co-workers).

Then my knees gave out. For years they have been getting worse when I crouch or kneel, but I don’t crouch or kneel a whole lot, and running (and walking) was unaffected, so I really didn’t pay much attention.

This spring I paid attention because suddenly my knees really didn’t like it when I went jogging. And when I say suddenly, that is not hyperbole. It just happened, like a tipping point was reached and now my knees were Sore Knees. I watched my running pace get worse and worse. It was discouraging and depressing. I thought I might have to stop running, which has become my go-to Zen relaxation thing since I started back in 2009.

But then the knees…well, they didn’t exactly improve, but they did seem to hurt less. Was I just getting used to it? Whatever it was, my pace began to improve and by summer’s end I was pretty much back to normal, speed-wise. The knees still get sore, but they recover, and it’s never so bad I need to stop. So thumbs sideways there.

My weight loss has been more like weight maintenance. The problem is I’m maintaining at about 15 pounds higher than I want to be. My partner and I are going to suffer diet together for the new year, so I’m hoping there’s more progress there.

Work has been a bit of a trial for various reasons. It’s not terrible or anything, and I don’t want to go into detail on a public blog, but suffice to say it has had its share of frustrations. I don’t see it improving much, unfortunately, but you never know.

I only made it 22,222 words into my 2018 National Novel Writing Month novel. On the plus side, I am committed to continuing it, and did an actual outline, a major change for me. Other than the blog and NaNo, my writing has been pretty quiet this year. This was not my plan.

BC voters voted by over 60% to keep the first-past-the-post system for provincial elections. The referendum ballot was a muddled mess, so I think people probably would have voted for whatever was listed first, no matter what it was.

But 2018 has not been all bad. On the positive side:

  • I have developed (ho ho) an interest in photography and now take all kinds of photos with my smartphone. I don’t know if I will graduate to a dedicated camera again, but it’s already changed how I view the world. I’m always looking for a good shot. You can see some of them here. Looking for shots has the side effect of making me see (and appreciate) detail than I skipped over before. The world is a richer place now.
  • It hasn’t snowed this winter and none is in the forecast. (Technically I think we got a little wet snow while I was in bed a few nights ago, but it was gone by the time I woke up, therefore NO SNOW).
  • After buying a bunch of mechanical keyboards, I finally found one I really like, the CTRL from Massdrop, with Halo switches that are clicky, but not clacky, if you know what I mean.
  • I started baking bread.
  • I finally learned to love the treadmill. Well, maybe not love. More…not hate. (Also, the treadmill is now way easier on my knees than the elliptical.)
  • I remained donut-free after renewing my vow.
  • Um. The world didn’t end?

I may add more positive things later. While the year mostly sucked, I continue to be more optimist than pessimist, so I do not dread 2019. Next up: my New Year resolutions list, because everyone needs a good laugh.

2016 in review: In which some cosmic entity laughs at all of us

2016 was an interesting year in that ancient Chinese curse sort of way.

Here are my high and lowlights of the year.

The Good

  • work is fine, if busy and a bit stressful; I assumed a temporary leadership role for a month with zero preparation and came out intact
  • started and finished the year without any running-related injuries
  • recovered nicely from an injury in the late spring and ran all through summer and into fall
  • also did not let falling almost literally on my face keep me from running when I tripped big-time on a run in August
  • an entire year without Stephen Harper as PM, yay!
  • Star Trek Beyond was better than the trailers suggested–not great, but a pleasant surprise
  • kept writing regularly on this blog with minimal gaps
  • took part in my eighth consecutive National Novel Writing Month contest
  • did not fall while out in the snow
  • all medical tests came out fine, including the dreaded poo-on-a-stick

The Bad

  • I started the year around 170 pounds and vowed to get down to 150 by year’s end. As of October 13th, I was 153.7 pounds–within reach! As of today, I am 165.9 pounds. I am now only within reach if someone suddenly bursts through the door and performs liposuction on me. This is very disappointing and I resolve to do better in 2017. The main culprits were a) lack of running b) lack of walking (I typically walk about an hour each day) and c) no change in diet. Apparently I ingest more calories than I burn off most days. I’ll be eating more sensibly and exercising more in the year ahead.
  • four significant snowfalls in December. This is weird and unnatural for the lower mainland. Stop, snow!
  • ended the year with a sore back (since recovered) and a cold (still ongoing)
  • running routine fell apart in mid-October due to lack of light after work and a bad cold; still working on putting together a new routine, which is complicated by the above-mentioned snow
  • 60 million Americans voted for Donald Trump, possibly the least qualified person to ever be nominated by a major party; thanks to the inane electoral college system, he won, despite getting 2.8 million fewer votes than Clinton–now the world gets to experience what a narcissistic, bullying, ignorant, sexist, venal, racist manchild is like as president. Thanks, America!
  • floundered in NaNoWriMo 2016 at about 10,000 words in. My vow if I do it again is to outline and plan like never before (because I usually never plan or outline)
  • fiction writing limped along and sputtered out by year’s end–I have taken some steps to address this for 2017

The Ugly

  • I now know that tens of millions of Americans will literally vote for anyone (or possibly anything) as long as the desired tribal affiliation is attached (either an R or a D)
  • it really seemed like a lot of celebrities died this year; some probably felt they had targets on their backs by year’s end
  • terrorism became the favorite means of nihilism–a discouraging and depressing trend that benefits no one and nothing
  • racism and nationalism are surging everywhere. It really feels like we are entering one of the darker phases of humanity.
  • polar ice caps continuing to melt; climate change is happening regardless of the feelings of deniers

I’d say 2017 couldn’t possibly be worse but in fact, it can! Here’s hoping it won’t be.

And good riddance to 2016.

2009 in review: The ‘me’ edition

In which I offer tidy lists summarizing the year that was.

The Bad

  • getting laid off — on Friday the 13th, no less (of which there were three this year)
  • hurting my right calf while jogging and being forced to sit out for four weeks as a result

The Good

  • writing over 12 short stories
  • taking part in National Novel Writing Month and completing a novel in 21 days (currently undergoing a second draft)
  • exercising with free weights (started with 10 lb dumbbells, moved to 15 lb)
  • taking up jogging (every other day, up to 10k runs now)
  • started dating again (with, ahem, mixed results but I’ve met lots of people, had some fun and made at least one new good friend)
  • began tinkering with programming again
  • kept off the weight I lost in 2008 (currently around 146 pounds and holding steady)
  • made lots of posts on this blog (whether this should go under Good or Bad may be a question of taste)

The Neither Good Nor Bad

  • with the layoff, my bike didn’t see much use, as I mostly rode it to work
  • the weightlifting regime didn’t give the results I was hoping for, so I am reworking that
  • all of the dating did not get me a snugglebunny but this is not unexpected, since the whole thing is a crapshoot

I shall return and edit these lists as I recall other high and lowlights of the past year.

Next up: The Year in review: The Global Edition