Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 in Review

2015 was a Year of Tremendous Ups and Downs for me, more so than any in the past ten or fifteen years (2011 comes close). As I do at the end of every year, I try to pass along the best and worst of what I’ve read, saw, heard, and experienced.

Best book read (nonfiction):

The Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda (and no, I didn’t become a Hindu, but the book was an incredible and moving read)

Runner-up: (tie)

Watching Baseball Smarter by Zack Hample
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Best book read (fiction): (tie)

Read nothing truly outstanding this past year. A lot of good stuff, but everything seemed to come with an exposed, swollen Achilles heel. With this in mind, a tie between two masters – Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny and Double Star by Robert Heinlein.

Worst book:

That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis. Hated it. Couldn’t finish it.

Reading notes:

I read 58 books cover-to-cover this year, 21 fiction and 37 nonfiction. Need to read more good fiction in 2016 to balance the scales. This number also includes two self-published books I bought off Amazon (and does not include reading my own!) I also read Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ (658 pages) three times in the past twelve months. I read it twice before in the early 2000s. Since it is so sublime and meaningful to me, it is exempt from voting this year.


Bounced from one unrelated topic to another, to varying degrees of depth, over the course of 2015:

Crusades > Catholicism > Baseball > Working Out > Self-Publishing > Unemployment > Nietzsche > Hinduism > Tom Clancy revisit > Physics revisit > War in the Pacific > Discworld > Gormenghast > Return to Working Out > Return to Catholicism > Arthurian legend > Finnegans Wake

As you can see, I had a very, very diversified year.

Best Trend:

Self-Publishing, without a doubt!

Best Movie Watched: four-way tie

The Interview (comedy)
Happy Go Lucky (indie drama)
Birdman (mainstream drama)
Cabin in the Woods (horror)

Can’t recall seeing any real good SF, but enjoyed Vin Diesel’s Riddick a lot.

Worse Movie Watched:

Mission Impossible V (or whatever the number of the latest incarnation)

Guitar achievements:

(1) Finally learned how to play “Here Comes the Sun” by George Harrison and Jimmy Page’s guitar solo the Honeydripper’s “Sea of Love”

(2) Wrote another album (8 or 9 songs). Have to start writing down these tabs …

Worst (Yet Paradoxically Best) Experience:

Being laid off in May

Undisputed Best Experience:

Hitting the Publish button on my first book, Oncewhere Walked the Whale

Best bonding experiences with the girls:

With Patch (age 6/7) – spending the day together at Van Saun Park

With Little One (age 10/11) – learning Self-Publishing with her at my side

With Both – going to Turtleback Zoo in August

Best family experiences:

(1)   Four baseball games (and taking my two little ones into NYC via bus/taxi):
        May 2, Citi Field: Nationals 1, Mets 0. Sat in highest row behind right field foul pole.
        Jun 22, Yankee Stadium: Phillies 11, Yanks 8. Sat in the first row of the left field bleachers.
        August 17, Yankee Stadium: Yanks 8, Twins 7. Sat 14 rows behind home plate.
        September 21, Citi Field: Mets 4, Braves 0. Sat halfway up behind left field foul pole.

(2)   Weeklong vacation visiting the in-laws in Hilton Head

Song of the Year:

As with last year, dunno. Not been into music much lately. Didn’t buy a single music CD all year. Classical music, once a love, bores me. Opera, once an infatuation, grates on me. Classic rock is … yawn. I need to discover something new. (This happened to me before, in 1998.) Perhaps I need to make it a ritual, when I take the girls to the library every Saturday, to borrow something weird musically and give it a listen during the week.

So, alas, this category must remain vacant for 2015.

Personal Milestones:

98 weightlifting workouts (since May)

147 miles walked (since May)

275 hours worked on the whole self-publishing thing (since May)

Painted Little One’s bedroom purple and light blue in August

Power-washed and restained my backyard deck in September

Family Milestones:

Little One’s grammar school graduation / starting middle school

Patch’s 4 goals scored this past soccer season

Wife’s new job – upward and onward, keeping Battleship Hopper afloat!

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Hwyl fawr, 2015, mai y flwyddyn nesaf fod yn un gwell!

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