Thoughts On 2015 and Looking Ahead to 2016

Another year has come to pass.  We humans have survived yet another lap around the mother star.  2015 has had, like all years, it’s ups and downs.  Some really cool stuff happened like the sending a space probe to Pluto, vertically landing a rocket (I knew I should have bought SpaceX stock several months ago), and discovering water on Mars are just a few of the highlights I can think of right off hand.  This was ‘the future year’ of Back To The Future II.  My enjoyment of the internet and wearable electronics outweigh my disappointment of not having a flying car and not having a computerized Ronald Reagan taking my order at a 1980s nostalgia restaurant.

Looking back on 2015, I accomplished most of my goals.  I set goals every year instead of resolutions.  I actually write down my goals (i.e. make at least 30 blog posts, get my amateur radio license, get rid of my clutter, etc.) and I rewrite them at the end of every month in a journal just to remind myself to keep going.  The two goals I’m most proud of are getting my Amateur radio license and having more visitors to this blog in 2015 than 2014.  The only real goal I didn’t accomplish was losing another sixty pounds.  I started off well as I lost fifteen pounds in the winter months to start 2015.  But things fell apart about late May.  Having a college buddy visit for a whole week in June when we went out to eat and hit sports bars several nights in a row didn’t help the cause.  Things got even worse after the week in the Black Hills for Matt’s wedding.  I’m not blaming my lack of staying on track with diet and exercise on my best friend but friends do sometimes get you in trouble.  But those are the friends you should hang onto.  If the worst Matt causes me to do is eat like a horse for much of a summer, well there are worse things he could have involved me in.  But he’s one of these tall guys who’s skinnier than a rail and can eat whatever he wants and not gain an ounce.  He’s only a few pounds heavier than when he graduated college thirteen years ago.  I simply won’t even try to keep up with guys like him anymore.  In August, my last living grandparent died.  Went through several weeks of pulling all night internet research and computer game marathons at least three nights per week.  That caused even more weight gain and mental health issues.  My car wreck in late October didn’t help the effort any as it made exercise nearly impossible as I had a few weeks of chronic back pain.  But that’s all cleared now.  It wasn’t until mid November did things return to a sense of normal.  And now I’m where I started 2015, at least weight wise.

I also decided to get somewhat more cultured in 2015.  To this end I watched a few foreign movies on Netflix.  Also watched some classic movies like Citizen Kane, some Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns, and saw 2001: A Space Odyssey.  The only Stanley Kubrick movie I saw previously was Full Metal Jacket.  I guess my impression of 2001 was it looked like a mashup of Jane Goodall, Buckminster Fuller, and Carl Sagan on bad acid trips.  This was the sixties after all.

For 2016 goals, I want to lose at least sixty pounds.  I also want to post to this blog at least forty times.  I want to have more visitors to this blog in 2016 than 2015. I want to write poetry again as I’ve been lazy about that for two years.  I want to revive some of my older writing ideas.  In years past I wrote rough drafts for two truly lousy novels. I’m going to see if I can find those old files and dust off the cobwebs.I want to continue to save at least ten percent of my monthly pay.  I’m saving up in part because I want to take a couple good old fashioned American road trip in a few years.  I haven’t been to the East Coast before.  That is one place I want to visit.  I’d love to see autumn in New England and visit some of the old Revolutionary and Civil War battle sites in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.  Sometime within the next five to seven years I’d love to visit the Deep South too.  I have a couple college friends from Alabama who are always raving about the barbecue places and good diners down there.  Here in Nebraska, we don’t really have a specialty besides steaks and prime rib.  In short I have a few goals for 2016 and beyond.

 

Thoughts on the Holidays with Mental Illness

The end of the year holidays are upon us once again.  For some it means going back to the old childhood hometown and gathering with family.  Others will go out in the pre dawn hours to fight the hordes in one of the greatest and time honored of American traditions, buying junk.  Spent one holiday shopping season working as a retail store clerk years ago.  It gave me a renewed appreciation for store clerks working at such a hectic time.  We were often understaffed and running out of popular items.  Not very fun.  I was quite a cynical Scrooge when it came to the holidays for several years afterward.  To a degree I still am cynical about the holidays.

The holidays have long been a stressful time for me.  I really haven’t enjoyed the holidays since I was ten years old.  By the time I got to high school I saw the holidays as little more than a series of senseless rituals and activities attempting to capture an unobtainable ideal of happiness and joy that exists only in fantasy.  Part of my stress comes from watching others strive for this fantasy ideal of the perfect Christmas or Thanksgiving and they try to include me in that nonsense.  The holidays aren’t going to be perfect and to expect them to be is insane. So is going to any store on Black Friday.  I can imagine just observing the mob mentality in any major mall or box store would be a good case study for any psychology class.  But maybe in the future the crush of crowds in stores will be replaced with online realtors’ servers getting overloaded during the holidays.

For me going to even the supermarket between Halloween and Christmas is stressful.  Too much sensory overload and stimulation from all the decorations, piped in Christmas songs, and Salvation Army bell ringers.  Too bad there aren’t any really cool Halloween or Labor Day songs.  And the only places I ever heard St. Patrick’s Day Irish songs or Cinco de Mayo Mariachi music were in pubs, Mexican restaurants, and bars.  For me, the real fun of the end of the year holidays come after Christmas and watching college football bowl games every night for two weeks.  My New Year’s Day ritual is pretty much grilling steaks or brats and watching football all day.  So it’s not like I’m a total Scrooge.  I’m just selective about being Scrooge.

The sensory overload and overstimulation while working with schizophrenia during the holidays often make the holidays tough for me.  Anymore I’m just happy with going to my old hometown for a couple days and enjoying the extended family.  Actually the family gatherings aren’t that stressful even though I enjoy the Easter gatherings more because of the better weather.  But to all my readers, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanza, Happy Winter Solstice, Happy Saturnalia for any student of ancient history, and Happy Birthday Sir Isaac Newton for my scientifically inclined friends.