2011: The Year In Review

December 19, 2011

It looks like Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s are all upon us, so it must be time for my annual year in review post. 2011 has been eventful on a national and international level, and certainly there’s lots to talk about in my personal life as well. The biggest story for this country has continued to be the lousy economy. As the 2012 election nears and the GOP squabbles to select a front runner that appeals to die-hard Republicans and also Tea Party fruitcakes, Obama’s popularity has sunk to record lows. For the life of me, though, I can’t see why. For me, two of the biggest stories of the year were directly influenced by Obama, and they’re both positive: we killed Osama bin Laden, getting some much needed payback and closure for 9/11, and the war in Iraq effectively ended, with combat operations ceasing and the last troops being pulled out this month. How damaging the war was for our country and theirs in the long term only history will show, but, as I mentioned recently here on the site, the fact that Obama promised to end the war and did it should not be overlooked. It needed to be done. The very fact that we’re no longer spending money on what for years seemed liked a genuinely ceaseless conflict is unquestionably going to help the economy. And I believe that the economy will  pick up…but we need to give it time. That’s why railing at Obama doesn’t really make any sense, although it is partially his fault for setting the bar impossibly high. He talked about hope and change, but there wasn’t a reliable time frame for that, and people wanted an instant fix. It just wasn’t going to happen. Too many mistakes had been made in the economic sector. Still, though, I feel like he made some huge strides as commander in chief in 2011, and there’s no doubt I’m voting for him again next year. Whoever the Republicans come up with, it’s guaranteed not to be a better choice.

The Arab Spring was a big story in 2011, what with Egypt overthrowing Hosni Mubarak and Libya ousting and executing Moammar Gadhafi. These are positive strides, although I greatly fear that anything approaching representative democracy is a long way off in both of those countries, what with the tribal warfare and long-standing religious tensions that have been part of life in the Middle East for what seems like time immemorial. Here in the US, the Occupy Wall Street movement got a lot of attention, and while I sympathized with the demonstrators at first, I was quick to lose faith in what they were doing because they seemed not to have any coherent message, and because they very quickly became guilty of hypocrisy. The movement still exists, and surely will, as long as economic imbalance exists in this country (and that’s not changing any time soon, believe me). I’ll be curious to see what happens with the dissidents in 2012, and whether they can manage anything productive through the dissatisfaction that they successfully brought to the nation’s attention.

In my personal life, I can now say that I’ve been living in New York for just about two and a half years. Time flies, doesn’t it? I moved from Borough Park to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, in January with Megan, and I’m happy to report that the two of us have been very content here, not only in the neighborhood, but in our current apartment. It’s not as big as we’d like to one day have, but it meets our needs for now, so much so, in fact, that we recently signed on for another two years here. 2012 and 2013, it looks like you’ll know where to find us, and I must say, it feels kind of nice to have that stability. Speaking of stability, now that 2011 is drawing to a close, I can also say that I’ve been at the same job, with the same security company, for almost two years now. That’s the longest, by far, that I’ve ever kept the same position. I won’t say that it’s what I want to be doing for my whole life, but I’m not going to badmouth it at all. It enables me to pay rent and bills, if not to have too much left over after, and gives Megan and I health care, even if our coverage isn’t the best in the world either. As far as personal health, I had a couple of scares this year. I had part of a tooth knocked out at a wrestling show, which led to hours of expensive and painful dental work, in a life where, unfortunately, that’s been a recurring theme. I hope to God I don’t lose any more teeth, because I feel like I have precious few left at this point. I also found out that I have a heart condition called Wolff Parkinson White syndrome, or WPW. I talked about it here on the site earlier, but suffice to say that it’s an extra, abnormal electrical pathway in the heart that can sometimes lead to rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, or even, in extreme cases, cardiac arrest. The option was given to me to have an ablation, that being a kind of heart surgery where the extra pathway is destroyed through use of a mild electric shock. However, as of this time, I decided not to go through with the procedure. After doing some research, it’s my understanding that most often people with this condition remain asymptomatic, and as long as that’s the case with me, the surgery doesn’t seem necessary. I will continue to monitor my overall health, of course, and if there are any changes I’m sure I’ll be writing about it here on the site.

I did some traveling, with a trip to Cincinnati this past summer to catch up with family and friends, and most notably to Atlanta back in April for Wrestlemania 27, the second Wrestlemania I’ve attended and a fun and thoroughly entertaining time. I saw several other good wrestling events this year, including TNA’s Bound for Glory in Philadelphia in October and WWE’s Survivor Series at Madison Square Garden in November. Being a wrestling fan on the East Coast provides you with a lot of opportunities, and I’ve liked taking advantage. In other sports news, the Reds failed to win their division, and indeed failed to even finish with a winning record. Maybe next year will be better. The Yankees were a disappointment too, for although they won the American League East, they were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, in five games, by the Tigers. Again, next year I can only hope for an improvement. In football, the Bengals have enjoyed a resurgence, with Andy Dalton replacing Carson Palmer at QB. As of this writing they are 8-6, and still have a chance to make the postseason as a wild card. Even if they don’t do it this year, they seem to have the young talent base to be formidable in the near future.

On the writing front, all I can really say is that I kept plugging away at it. For the first half of the year, I spent a good deal of time trying to generate interest in the memoir I wrote in 2010. I got some books about how to find an agent, wrote a synopsis of the manuscript and a proposal, and inquired to several agents and editors who specialize in nonfiction. Few of them responded, and none of them favorably. It’s frustrating. What I keep running into, though, is that if you don’t actually know somebody in the industry first, it’s nearly impossible to get an agent to so much as glance at your manuscript. My skill has always been in the writing itself, and not in the self promotional aspect. Eventually I gave up trying to get someone to look at the memoir, and for now, it’s gone the same place the first three books did, namely nowhere. For most of the year I’ve been working on my fifth book, genre fiction this time, a crime novel in the same vein as Elmore Leonard or Robert B. Parker. I made the conscious decision before I started that I was going to make it as commercial as possible, so this time, when it’s done, maybe it will be the project that finally, finally, gets my foot in the door. It’s approaching the 200 page mark, progressing nicely, and I hope to have the rough draft finished sometime in 2012. I did manage to get some stuff published this year. 2011 saw my work landing in seven different publications, Scrawl, The Stone Hobo, 40 Ounce Bachelors, Mouse Tales Press, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, Scissors and Spackle, and Oysters and Chocolate. Six of the seven were online or print lit mags in which my work had never before appeared. I was paid next to nothing for pretty much all of them, which has been another recurring theme in my life these past few years, being published often but seldom paid. I can, however, say that after 2011, my work has now appeared in nineteen different publications both in the U.S. and abroad, both online and in print, and I’ve amassed a total of twenty-four publishing credits. It’s comforting to know that at least a few people agree that I have some discernible talent. It goes without saying that I’ll be working hard toward my goal of eventually getting a book out there throughout the year 2012. Maybe this will be the year it actually happens.

As far as 2012 goes, I can’t predict very much as far as my professional life, either as it relates to the writing or my day job in the security industry. There’s no reason to think that there will be a dramatic change in either, though you never can tell about such things. Obviously I’ll keep you all informed here on the site concerning any fresh publication news as it occurs. I know that my mom has been talking about getting Megan and myself, along with my sister Ann, to vacation with her and her husband Russel in Vancouver this coming summer, so we’ll see if that actually materializes. I know that my father has talked about getting us to Cincinnati for a big family Thanksgiving, but that’s eleven months away, so there’s really no telling if that’s going to happen either. I do try and make it a point to visit Cinci at least once a year, so do expect to see me show up there at some point. The presidential election is going to be big news eleven months from now as well, and I imagine I’ll be writing about it quite a bit as it draws near. Who the country elects will play a big part in where we’re heading both as a nation and on the global stage. Of course, the Mayan calender ends toward the end of 2012, and some believe that means the Earth as we know it will also end. I can’t tell you the truth of that either, but it goes without saying I”ll be watching it unfold, and if I’m alive to tell the tale, rest assured I’ll be commenting on it. I’d like to thank all the regular visitors to the site, always assuming that there are any, besides my family and closer friends. I’ve spoken before about how blogging in some ways feels to me like writing letters and shooting them off into space, since my blog, at least, doesn’t seem to generate a whole lot of active conversation. But even if nobody reads these posts, I have come to enjoy writing them, if only to use them as a kind of live journal of my thoughts. It’s nice to have a forum where I can spout off about anything that comes to mind, and there isn’t really anyone that can stop me. POWER! UNLIMITED POWER! HA HA HA HA, ahem, excuse me, sorry. Got carried away there. Hope everyone enjoys the holiday season. See you in 2012, when it all ends…or does it?

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