A few years back, I did these Worbemustie awards on my site. It was a way to look backwards and forwards — backwards to the bests and worsts of the previous year (did I accomplish my goals?) and forwards to the next year. The bests, worsts, and musts.
You know, The 2016 Worbemusties.
We start with the bad news first and end on a hopeful note:
Worsts of 2015 ::
- Death — my favorite cousin of 19 committed suicide. The world’s a bit dimmer without her, a bright light went out in the world.
- Legal — a relative had a seriously heavy deposition for the felony charges of a family friend. Pretty brutal on the family.
- Scare — There were a ton of ties with this one. My step-dad had a heart attack last week and got stints put in, two grandparents broke hips and one went in for heart surgery, another grandpa currently in the hospital for the same kind of thing, my sister-in-law almost lost her baby, and I almost died multiple times due to brain problems — more on that in a follow up post.
- Disaster — my childhood room caught fire with my sister in it and they ended up soaking half of my mother’s house with the firehoses. They’re all okay, but they spent a good chunk of the year in a random rental house with smoke damage on most of their possessions.
- Betrayal — had an older man who’s really close to me replase in a serious way to something he’d cut out almost twenty years ago.
- Podcast — This one is a shame, seeing as how much I thoroughly enjoyed Gungor’s The Crowd, The Critic, and The Muse. But worst podcast was easily The Liturgists. Though I like a couple of episodes, by and large the podcast infected a great many friends of mine with some terrible theology and, what’s worse, plain old incomprehensible philosophy by articulating the kind of nonsense that no respectable thinking person would say such as “you can be an atheist and a Christian at the same time.” I know of no atheist or Christian of sound mind (read: who can reasonably articulate his or her thought in a clean line of logic) who would also make a claim as stupid as this. It’s on par with saying not just “black is white” but “black is black and also white” or “an orange tree and hemp are the same plant but also different but also exactly the same.” It’s nonsense and this kind of stuff plagues the podcast — on par with the same kind of vapidity Ben Witherington rebuked when he saw it in Rachel Held Evans’ new book (and rightly so). If I awarded Worbemusties stars, The Liturgists would be a starless void in the universe of podcasts.
- Book — Combustion Engineering. It’s not on the worst list because it’s a bad book, even though it’s a bit of a slog. It’s on the worst list because I’ve been despairing ever since discovering that given enough pressure and energy, basically everything explodes. That’s a title for a poem: Basically Everything Explodes. A bit nihilistic… until you realize how stable the universe is in spite of this. Pretty cool, though bleak, and also evidence that I read tons of great books this year.
- Song — “Welcome To New York” may well be the most un-New York thing I’ve ever heard. Luckily my buddy Darian made a better version that’s… well… a bit more blunt.
- Accident — I somehow managed to touch the visor on my father-in-law’s car and break them completely off of the roof. Twice. He was visorless for a good chunk of the year.
- Wordcount — Had a day where I wrote about ten words primarily because I was thinking so much about an internet meme. This is why “healthy it up” is on my musts for 2016.
- New Year’s Resolution Failure — My first to-be-published novel is not finished. It’s on its seventh revision, but it’s unfinished for a very good reason: the agent I’ve wanted since I was eighteen sat down for lunch with me and talked over my work and swapped novels. He gave me a thorough, honest critique and paved a clear path to publication. That was in July and it’s taken this many months to get it close. After I finish beta notes (which are growing more and more encouraging), I’m submitting it everywhere in February, 2016.
Bests of 2015 ::
- Funeral — over two-thousand people showed up for my cousin’s funeral to comfort the family. The outpouring of love in my hometown was humbling and moving. Getting choked up thinking about it…
- New Life — two-way tie. I’m a double Uncle now. Tara’s sister brought us a girl and my brother Heath sired a son. I AM A DOUBLE UNCLE. FEAR ME. The latter, my nephew, farted on my finger the first time I changed his diaper. He will pay for this. The former, my niece, I’ve yet to meet and will in a couple of days. I’ve told the family that I call dibs on her for the week since they’ve all been down to Florida like a billion times.
- Reunion — my 10-year took place in August and it was great to see all of my high school friends again. Unlike most classes, ours seemed to have less cliques and borderlines, so it was great to see everyone getting along and enjoying each other’s company.
- Party —This NYE party from which I’m typing this piece was pretty killer. Got to reunite with all of my old friends from Southern, Illinois.
- Podcast — Writing Excuses. Unlike most chatty rambling on writing out there on the internet (much of mine included), Writing Excuses has episodes for every writer at every stage of the journey — EVERY stage of the journey — and it’s always, “Fifteen minutes long: because you’re in a hurry and we’re not that smart.”
- Time Off — writer’s retreat in Salem, MA with tons of writers I respect. Finished my novel, finished three articles, a short story, and started a screenplay that I finished four days later.
- Adventure — Tie: Tara and I went up to Beacon, NY for our anniversary and down to Eureka Springs for a retreat. The former was the first time we’d spent an entire day at a coffeeshop reading since dating one another (no phones allowed) and to travel that far carless without a guide. The latter was the first time we rented a car and man oh man… we took that sucker everywhere including straight to the best corned beef and mash I’ve ever tasted.
- Meal — Tie between the Stroganoff at Ocean View Café and Korean BBQ at Don’s Bogam.
- Book — Elon Musk: SpaceX, Tesla, and The Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance. Look, I know everyone’s cheesing out over Elon and whatever. Set that aside and let me talk about what this book meant to me.
- Song — I normally don’t like the music that I write, but through the help of the Songwriter’s Guild here in Brooklyn, I wrote a song named “Inkwell” that I’m marginally proud of. Proud enough that a full-length album will come out later in 2016 under the name Mearcstapa. I try things. You know this.
- Kiss — best kiss I earned this year came after I bought Tara these hand-crocheted white gold earrings. They’re crocheted from gold wire.
- Wordcount — Wrote a full-length screenplay in the seven days that followed the aforementioned writing retreat. First time I’ve felt like my old self since my early Joplin days.
- Accomplishment — I started a long serious of projects and again sold more professional works than I sold in 2014. If I keep up this pace, the prolificacy will be great in twenty years!
- Phenomenological/Numinous Experience — Just last week, on a walk, the rain falling on my face while walking in a dark neighborhood in Long Island. Cried like a child. Felt known. Prayed some honest prayers. Had a similar experience in the cave in Joplin for the photonovel shoot /
- New Year’s Resolution Fulfillment — completed pre-production, production, and post-production on The Joplin Undercurrent, the second in this medium of photonovels that Mark and I created (the first being Cold Brewed). This thing was pretty emotionally taxing on me, so I’m happy we’ve slayed the beast. Even without the novel done, I guess one major work is better than no major works.
Musts for 2016 ::
- Write — every morning. Got out of the habit and it shows in my wordcount and exhaustion in trying to fit it in everywhere.
- Healthy it up — by working out at least four mornings a week, taking my full Sabbath, using Freedom to stay off the internet for useless things, and actually writing in “quality time with Tara” as an actual task on my action step list — in general, my action step list has gone by the wayside, so I might need to reread Making Ideas Happen myself soon.
- Blog — 100 posts before 2017. They don’t have to be big, profound, or even great. The simply need to be steady. I’ve been away from regularity for far too long on here. That changes now.
Love you all. Take great care of one another. Become you-i-er this year — truer, kinder, more gracious, peaceful, and joyous versions of yourselves.